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GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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Napoleon Dynamite DVD Napoleon Dynamite DVD Review

Moon boots and 'Tater tots; together in a movie at last!

Publisher: Paramount

Fri, 17 June 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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This is an unusual flick and not everyone will like it, but I sure do. The characters are odd (at least when compared with more typical movie characters) and not even particularly appealing, the pace is sedated, the humour is subtle and subdued and the plot is barely even there. Yet, for me, it mostly just comes together and works, in a quirky (that's an overused adjective, but still the most appropriate one in this case) kind of way.

From the inventive "vibe-setting" opening credits (accompanied by the song "We're Going to be Friends" by the White Stripes) until the end, Napoleon Dynamite just does things in a way all of its own.

Napoleon Dynamite was directed by Jared Hess and he also wrote it, along with his wife Jerusha Hess. These people (incidentally, they are supposedly Mormons; that's not some kind of joke, I just read that about them and figured I'd throw it in) aren't exactly household names. To be honest I have never even heard of them before. But I suspect they'll have themselves quite a loyal following if they continue to produce material like this.

Napoleon Dynamite screenshot 1
Nothing I write could make this pic funnier than it already is

I could see them getting that "cult status" that certain writers and directors manage to attract. They just might find themselves (whether they like it or not) mentioned along with the likes of Kevin Smith, Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brothers. I do mean that as a compliment, in case you were wondering. Actually, some people already are talking about the Hess duo (especially Jared) that way. I have noticed that it has become somewhat trendy (among movie geeks at least) to quote Napoleon Dynamite's dialogue.

The title character is played extremely convincingly by Jon Heder (another person I'd never heard of before, but that's okay- I don't think he's heard of me either). Heder fully is Napoleon Dynamite here; so fully, that you completely forget it is just an actor playing this weird dude.

Napoleon is a geek, but not the "cool" kind of geek, like the Buttonhole army (hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it). He's more of a nerd, I suppose. He's really a total, hopeless loser in nearly every way. Napoleon looks completely silly with his Ronald McDonald-esque hair, his moon boots, his daggy T-shirts, his hollow gaze beneath huge rimmed glasses and the braces on display in his perpetually gaping mouth.

Napoleon befriends his high school's "new kid" Pedro (Efren Ramirez with an equally believable performance), who is probably the only person on the planet as uncool as he is. Tired of being outcasts, the two decide that Pedro should run for Student Body President against the far more popular (and bitchy) Summer Wheatley (played by Haylie Duff. She is Hilary's sister. I gather neither of them were named after Homer Simpson's favourite beverage).

There are a few sub-plots going on as well, such as the one involving Napoleon's brother Kip (Aaron Ruell, he's not well known either, but if you ever watched the show "Reno 911" on pay TV you might recognize him) and Uncle Rico (Jon Gries, likely best known as Harvey in Welcome to the Jungle/The Rundown) which I won't go into here because...I can't be bothered.

But, honestly, the story never seems to be too much of a focus in Napoleon Dynamite. It feels like it is there more as just a framework to help keep things in some kind of order. The movie is much more about putting these unusual characters in a variety of situations and observing how they act and develop from beginning to end. In that sense, I think it is very effective, but if you just want a straight forward plot-driven movie, you may find this one a little meandering.

The film is set in Preston Idaho in our present time, or close to it, but it does have a retro feel to it in many respects. The décor of the houses, the clothes everyone gets around in and so forth, it all has a distinctly 80's (or even 70's in some cases) look about it. Apparently though, according to the director and others who actually live/d there, Preston really is like that. The place is just stuck in a bit of time warp. This works in the movie's favour and really helps add to its highly distinctive nature.

Napoleon Dynamite screenshot 2
Yeah...just read my previous caption and repeat it for this one
What will make or break Napoleon Dynamite for the majority of viewers is whether or not they find it funny. I certainly do, but this kind of humour (and to a lesser extent all kinds of humour) will work well for some and not work at all for others. Here's an example of the films dialogue, spoken by Napoleon in his droll voice just after he first meets Pedro:

"You know, there's like a butt-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bo staff."

Obviously it works much better in context, but if you find that line even slightly amusing you ought to give the movie a shot. If the line leaves you wondering why the hell anyone would find such a thing funny…it is a pretty good bet you won't dig this flick too much. There is nothing wrong with that either way, humour is extremely subjective at the best of times and in this case it is even more so than usual.

When, or if, you get into Napoleon Dynamite you might be surprised by just how much you find yourself caring about these oddballs. The desire to cheer for the underdog kicks in, though it is never shoved down your throat that you are expected to react that way.

There are only a couple of extras on the DVD, so it loses some points in that area, but the commentary track is pretty good at least.

Another notable thing about Napoleon Dynamite is that the movie has no swearing, no sex scenes and no violence. Not once did I find myself missing any of those things. I mean, I have nothing against any of those things either, but just the fact that the movie works so well without them goes to show they are, often, far from essential.

I like this movie very much and say it is one people really should watch and see for themselves if they like it too. That's the only way to find out whether you'll just shrug and put Napoleon Dynamite back on the shelf after viewing it, or watch through it a few more times...and maybe even start quoting the dialogue yourself.

by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman

What are you gonna do today, Napoleon? Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!

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More DVD Movies

Press Release. National Treasure 2 Coming soon to DVD
Comic Book The Movie. DVD Review
Laugh out Loud. DVD Review
Farewell to Heath Ledger

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ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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