Film #165: Inside Out (2015)

p1307955201-3Director: Peter Docter & Ronnie del Carmen
Language: English
Length: 94 minutes
Watched: 23 Oct 2015

I watched this movie after hearing about it a lot in reviews and other places, and seeing a lot of gifs and other screencaps from it on the internet. A lot of people had been saying that it’s a return to form for Pixar, and it definitely seems to be the frontrunner in the race for the Oscars next month.

It’s an inventive idea, that each person’s head has in it a cast of emotions running the day-to-day happenings inside their brain. Without the stuff going on inside the head throughout the movie, the rest of the story isn’t particularly complicated: a girl called Riley and her family move across America from Wisconsin to San Francisco, and shortly thereafter, she reacts badly and gets very homesick.

Inside her head, the character of Joy (excellently performed by Amy Poehler) is trying desperately to keep control, and to keep Sadness locked away, but a spat between them leads to them getting thrown out of the control room – reflected in real life by Riley becoming numb with a kind of depression, and having her other emotions – Anger, Fear and Disgust – take over. Joy and Sadness then go through a series of antics to try and get back to the control room.

I think the movie was very well-balanced, and the comedic moments contrasted well with the relatability of the emotions that Riley goes through upon moving so far from her home. As such, I was affected quite strongly, as I can see some of the way she acts in my own life too.

It also has a simple message that to me, seems obvious, but has to be recognized, as it’s easy to forget: having a balance between joy and sadness in one’s life is necessary, and one shouldn’t try to repress sadness too much, as it’s an important part of the human experience.

I also loved looking into the other characters’ heads – we only get brief glimpses, mostly in the closing moments of the film during the credits, or during one particular scene with the parents, so ideally I’d like to see more!

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Game #31: Hocus (2015)

hocus-1Creator/director: Yunus Ayyildis
Language: none / English
Length: 50 levels plus, probably a maximum of 2 hours
Played on: 16 October 2015

This seems to be a pattern with me: every so often I’ll remember that my phone can play games, get bored, and download one to try late at night. Then I quickly realize that the games are often boring, or they try to foist paid-for upgrades or extra lives on you.

One of my biggest “successes” has actually been Bejeweled, but that’s a highly addictive game and perhaps dangerous for that reason. Another more recent game would lock up if you lost all your lives in the hope that you’d shell out for a lives pack. I quickly deleted it when I realized its sole purpose was to rip me off (Bejeweled, by comparison, encourages you to buy but doesn’t lock the game if you don’t: it’s more subtle at making its money but also more permissive of casual players who won’t spend anything).

But by contrast to those games, this game is a lot simpler, and doesn’t try to make you buy anything – in fact it doesn’t have in-app purchases as far as I can see. It also goes for a minimalist design, which is nice, but the dinky music got to me very quickly.

Each level is a kind of maze on an Escheresque impossible 3D structure. The little cube that you control will be stopped by any crossing bar in the way, and you have a choice of which of the three dimensions to travel in. It’s a cute little idea and it’s well-executed overall.

The downfall of the game is that although many levels are difficult at first glance, and sometimes you can’t see an effective way to get to the exit, I didn’t play a single level that I couldn’t “brute force” – that is, in almost all cases, I could just keep experimenting until I accidentally found the answers. I think this is perhaps a problem with any maze.

So that’s a shame. It’s probably not worth trying, if it comes to that. I’m sure there must be something better for iOS out there.