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Warcraft (you strategize and kill monsters in a fantasy world, usually connected to a whole network of other players) and don’t expect to learn much from the latest geekumentary, Beyond the Game. This Dutch film by Jose de Putter takes a cue from the insightful and popular The King of Kong (a movie where two guys vie for the best Donkey King score) and tells a story about two of the best Warcraft players who are stars on the professional circuit. Sky (his computer name) is a Chinese kid who came from humble origins and was regularly beaten by his parents for refusing to give up video games. Grubby is a quiet Dutch guy who chooses to play the evil characters because they are more interesting. MadFrog is a retired master who seems haunted by his former life. This film is quite arty and cinematic but somehow this doesn’t work for the subject matter – shots of typing fingers and intense eyes don’t really explain what’s going on in the game or why it is so compelling for the players or the thousands of fans who pack convention halls to see the masters square off against each other. This is really interesting material but by the end of the film it isn’t clear what makes this game so addictive or who the master gamers really are.
For the Love of Movies. It starts with silent movies days when newspapers simply produced a summary, to the 1970s when film criticism was an important affair and rival critics courted acolytes to bolster their own theories. This is really an introduction to the topic but pleasant and informative. I knew only one story from the heyday of film crit (the controversy over violence and humour in Bonnie & Clyde, from the great book Pictures at a Revolution) and this actually comes up in the film as a turning point. There is a funny interview with a critic for hire attending a press junket; he and journalists like him are the ones who work for a papers and radio stations no one has ever heard of and come up with the glowing quotes for every terrible new film. There are some hokey moments here but it’s not a waste of time.