Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Thousand Monkey on a Thousand Computers...
More of that Digital Age Thang

George Lucas made a great observation in his commentary on one of the original three Star Wars films (Do you really need to know which one?). He talked about how people complained about the fakeness of digital special effects, specifically in dealing with characters or creatures, to which he then asked "does a guy in a rubber suit look less fake"? I hadn't exactly thought of it that way. My feeling up until then had always been: If it's new technology shouldn't we work with it an hone it (ie. make it look real) before splashing every screen with it? In truth, many times it's no worse and a lot of times it's much better looking than rubber suit effects. For me personally, I just always liked having something real (ie. tangible, actually on set) more to having actors act against things that aren't there.

However, it isn't just 'to rubber suit or not to rubber suit,' now it's a decision on whether to build anything at all. On one hand, I understand it. Working on graphics and whatnot on a computer vs. hand drawing them definitely has it's advantages. It does create a certain speed (certainly in editing and refining), but opens up a whole other issues with just about everything else. Part of the problem is hacking away at a computer for hours on end. I noticed that guys in the model shops who worked with their hands showed little of the fatigue that guys working on computers all day in other departments showed.

The reason I bring it up though, goes back to my initial paragraph about what I said about what George said. Why is it that for all the improvements in the technology, the movies themselves haven't gotten much better apart from the visuals? No matter how much or how often people complain about it, still no one seems to realize, you gotta tell a story first. (Ironically, you can go even further and ask: Why with all the computer technology in the world haven't we seen any new Shakespeares? But I risk a digression.)

Which brings us to our case in point:

Casshern (2004, d. Kazuaki Kiriya)

The Story: With the world divided into two warring factions, a brilliant scientist, while trying to create replaceable body parts for dying soldiers, inadvertently creates a race of destructive supermen and resurrects his son into the only being that can stop them.

The Review (of sorts): In some ways I wanted to pose this against the American feature, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004, d. Kerry Conran). Even better, I wish I had seen the French feature, Immortel(2004, d. Enki Bilal), to also bring it into the discussion. All three used similar techniques of almost wholly digital worlds with filmed actors in them to tell their stories. Just comparing the two doesn't seem to work well enough with a third out there, and I've got too much to say on the one I started with.

Ok, it's sort of granted that one of the problems I have with Casshern is a convention that's often shows up in certain Japanese cinema, namely the anime-based stuff. I've seen it in a couple of other features, both animated and live-action. It's a kind of cinematic short hand. Having never looked into it far enough, I assume that there's an assumption that because the story already exists (either in novelized or in television series form), then there's no need for fully hashing out all the details. In the case of Casshern, the movie was based on a 70's animated series called Robot Hunter: Casshan (Shinzo Ningen: Casshan), though from what I can tell about the series (I know I've seen an episode or two at some point), the movie is fairly different. Still, this narrative style of sorts isn't quite enough for me to totally forgive some of the movie's faults.

For instance, we know that there's a war going on in the world, but we're never quite made to understand enough about the war, nor do we ever see enough of it to really understand how it's affecting this movie world (other than everything being dirty and industrial) because it's removed from the action. There is some explanatory exposition and some sporadic flashbacks, but it's never quite enough. Though this horrific reality molds and shapes everything about the story and it's characters, it's been left too far into the back ground. That's only for starters. The movie does move along pretty well for the first half hour, and the engagement does stem beyond just arresting visuals. Dr. Azuma, who we've gotten to know pretty well, appears close to completing his experiments when.....well, that's the problem, I'm not sure what to fill in the blank with.

The tubs that contain all the body parts are struck by some sort of metallic bolt of lightning. You know, the kind that comes out of nowhere with no explanation whatsoever. The kind that remains as some sort of symbol, not to mention the kind that turns mysterious body parts into a new kind of superhuman. Of course, by now, you realize that this is the same kind of that resurrects dead soldiers...well, only if they're the sons of the scientist whose tanks these are. From there it only gets clearer....(unfortunately there's not many ways to inject sarcasm into the printed page, however)...and boy does it look cool. (That actually wasn't sarcastic.)

Now like I said, a lot of this is by-the-books for animé stuff, but unlike some of the better written animé series or movies which take the time to at least hint at the mysterious goings-on (even if they never really explain it), this one just keeps sweeping by like a whirlwind. Additionally, things just keep happening to pop up to take care of the things that just happened to happen. For instance, for reasons unknown, our resurrected hero's body is going out of control because of the powers injected into when he was brought back to life. Not to worry though, because his girlfriend's dad just happens to have a cool body armor that will contain it...and...allow him to whoop @$$ at no extra cost. Ok, fine. Moving on. (There's a shot of the helmet Casshan/Casshern wore in the series which furthers my suspicions about this being plot-line shorthand since it's an obvious nod to the predecessor.)

Let's turn to our "villains." I put that in quotations because frankly...it's not really clear. What's funny is that in most of the reviews I've looked at for this film, everyone seems to think it's pretty obvious that the newly formed superhumans, "Neoroids" as they name themselves, are villains. This bothers me because I'm not sure that's what the movie was saying (not that I know what it was saying exactly). For one, when the Neoroids are slaughterd by soldiers as they escape Azuma's lab, it seems to be a pretty downbeat display. They're naked, dirty, frightened, and that's before they start getting mowed down. When they kidnap Azuma's wife (ok that's bad), there's a whole subplot about her bringing out their humanity. Oh, not to mention that our hero murdered the people who the regenerated body parts were made out of (who now reformed into the Neoroids, etc...see what I mean about this plot?). The weird part is that yes, in between this, they do perform some standardized villain-type bad stuff....hmmm...like attacking the "hero", and trying to wipe out most of humanity....Now wait a minute...

I've talked about the villains, but what about the "good" guys, or at the very least, every other character in the movie. Well there's the general and council who are shown as nothing but self-serving war-mongering old men. Then there's the general's son, who overthrows the council, but also turns out to be an immature and petty war-mongerer. There's Doctor Azuma who is really only trying to save his wife's eyesight with the cloned body parts which is kinda selfish and in this way is also feeding the war effort. Our hero, Casshern, ran off to fight in the war against his father's wishes, committed war atrocities, but who did get himself killed trying to save someone else. Only, upon his return, he basically just whoops @$$ against our too sympathetic villains, and the general's son's army whom we don't really care about anyway. In other words, nothing all that heroic. You could say "Well, he's trying to save the human race," but the only problem is that this dirty war-filled selfish nasty world doesn't seem worth saving. To be honest, I found the lead "villain" comparable to Roy Baty in Blade Runner...and in this case, it almost seeme like he would win. I would've cheered for him, except I knew that Casshern would inevitably still save the day.

But boy, it looked prety darn cool! And I'm absolutely serious. It did.

So the point seems to be something about man's inhumanity to man (or super-man) and something about scientific irresponsibility. In this case, I know a lot of this stems from philosophical strains that have filtered down through the generations and into the Japanese cinema as a result of events in World War II that the Japanese were responsible for (experimental atrocities against war prisoners) and that they were attacked by (nuclear weapons). Granted the series has wandered away quite a bit from it, but it's the same breeding ground that the original Godzilla was born in. The problem is that nothing about this movie is clear...and no, I don't think that was the point. The point seemed to be: Make it look cool. The rest seemed to be an attempt or a failed attempt to fit in all the other stuff.

Having confused themes, and grey area issues are not wrong in and of itself...but an adventure movie is not the place for them. Take Apocalypse Now. As a dramatic piece, it contemplates the horrors of war, the confusion of morality, and it's "hero" isn't much of a hero in the same way as say Hercules or James Bond is a hero. Imagine a Bond movie where the lines were all confused and bizzare, and you found Ernst Blofeld to be a more sympathetic character than Bond. Sure, you might appreciate the originality of it, but I doubt it'd be the entry that you liked the best. Even having a well rounded villain isn't a bad thing, in fact I appreciate it, but it doesn't work very well if your hero doesn't get the same consideration. What really does it here is that our "hero" has the look and would-be feel of a superhero, and we all know there's nothing grey area about Superman or Spiderman (at least not like this movie). Not that you can't do it, but it's got to be developed far better than this, if you're going to try. (If they were trying here, they didn't try hard enough.)

Thing is, for all the money, time, and effort that had to be poured into this movie, it almost seems a total waste because it only seemed to work in little pretty moments. However, pretty moments don't make me want to watch it again, nor would I recommend it to anyone (except as a curiosity. Bear in mind I love Fellini's Satyricon which I still can't satisfactorily explain, which I would recommend, but it was an artsy movie.). It needed a story first. A really good story. I think that there were the elements for one in there, but they needed to either be cleaned up or expanded upon to make them work better. Having said all this, I don't want to make it sound like artless trash. After all, if it was totally artless, I would have never finished watching it, or I would have only I would've been more annoyed. (Of course the flipside of that is if it was really really artless and artfully trashy, I would have enjoyed it more, but for all the wrong reasons.

So back to the point we started with: Visuals and special effects, particularly in this new breed of all digital movie, are still supposed to be tools of the story. No matter how realistic they may get, they don't take the place of a well-told story. The stop motion monsters in a Harryhausen movie may now look hokey as all heck, but as long as the stories are better, then I'll stick with the goofy monsters. Hopefully more people feel the same way about it...and eventually maybe the movies will begin to reflect that. Hopefully.


(P.S. I did like Sky Captain quite a bit. It was a little light on substance, but it made for an entertaining and cohesive story which was all it was trying for.)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Feeling the Temptation
Where are you when we need you now, Run Me and Run Run?

Ok. Does everyone in class today know where noodles came from and who we have to thank for spaghetti? (There's an opposite end of that with rice, but for the sake of where I'm going with this, we're gonna leave it out.) That's right, from China to Italy with that pool-game Polo fellow. So that's a weak premise for switching coasts from the Italians to the Chinese, for some much needed relief.

Now, the great SB studios have of course come back to light here again in recent years. For the uninitiated, that SB stands for the Shaw Brothers. You didn't think Quentin Tarantino slapped that logo onto the front of Kill Bill for no reason did you? However, I don't write these things to give you the total rundown on film history. Fire up your favorite search engine and you can find likely all you'd ever want to know about the Shaw Brothers. (Ok, ok, here's a good place to start: http://www.kungfucinema.com/)

The reason I bring them up is not for their well-known contribution to the cinema world of some of the finest martial arts films ever committed to celluloid. Let's face it, most anyone who knows the Shaws knows that fact and knows it well. So no need to enter the 36th Chamber on this go around, nor do we need to sample each of the five deadliest venoms. No my friend, that is another day.

Fact is, the Shaw's made all kinds of stuff. Much like the Italians, they would follow world trends in genre pictures. Granted they never made westerns (though martial arts films are often traced to American westerns), but they did follow other popular cinematic genres. One such was the spy/criminal mastermind film which is an odd blend in a way, but let's face it: James Bond didn't do much in terms of what the CIA would consider intelligence or counter-intelligence. The idea may have come from the Cold War, but most of these films didn't deal with it very directly at all. Over the top villains, unbelievable heists, meglomaniacal threats, and a hoard of gadgetry tended to be the order of the day. Most of these films have been forgotten in time which is largely understandable as they often paled in comparison to their Majesty's Secret Service predecessor. They're kitschy as all get out, but for me, that gives them that certain special....something. (I gotta soft spot a mile wide for Coburn's two Flint vehicles.)

I don't know if they made any others, but the Shaw's took at least one crack at the genre.

I'm proud to say, I watched it.

The Temptress of a Thousand Faces (1968, d. Chung Chang Wha)

The Story: After a series of baffling crimes, Hong Kong police become determined to bring to justice the criminal mastermind the Temptress of a Thousand Faces; however, the young female police officer hot on her trail finds that the Temptress may not only want the riches of the world but also her boyfriend...and her life.

The Review: Whoa, did I just write that? Now that's a plot and half...and all in 76 minutes (that's what the case said, I timed it out to 80 minutes and some change)....which means it doesn't always make a whole lot of sense, but damn it's a fun hour and a quarter.

The sets for the temptress are garish and ridiculous. The costumes are garish...well, if you've seen pictures of your relatives in the 60's, the costumes might have just been normal. There's a goofy (by that I mean bad) comic relief guy. The ending, like the very ending just pre-credits, makes no sense. Most of all, if you can't figure out who the Temptress really is in the first 10 to 15 minutes...well, you need help (or to watch a whole lot more movies, Sparky).

Yet, it's infinitely loveable. That's the part that's hard to explain.

For one thing, it's a certain innocent charm that movies of this type and era have. They've aged into a sort of quaintness despite all their would-be hip swagger. After all, the direction isn't inept, in fact it's quite good despite the li'l gaps in logic. The acting is good. There's plenty of action, a little silly romance, and well...yeah, the comic relief which only works because it's hokey. Not to mention that Hong Kong is filled with scenic places for exciting and exotic locales. (It's sort of disappointing that later HK flicks didn't make more use of the scenery rather than just the city.)

Part of the seling point certainly is Tina Chin Fei, our intrepid policewoman, who again has that sort of charm and beauty of the era. She's beautiful. She's sexy. And she can believably whoop a whole lot of @$$ (I can't be sure, but for nearly every fight seen she appears to do her own stunts, excepting of course when she's fighting with the Temptress who's disquised as her). Admitedly, half of this has to do with the fact that she spends a lot of her onscreen time running around and throwing down in her underwear. Think about that for a minute though. Again it harkens to the innocence. It's not sexy lingerie, it's just underwear, and she's never in less than that. Yet, it was enough to make me mention it...sadly we can't go back to that more engaging tease. (Of course, you have to wonder why the Temptress keeps stripping her down each of the three times she kidnaps her.)

Whether you enjoy this movie or kind of movie also depends on how you approach it: watching it for what it is, as opposed to endlessly comparing it to everything since it came out. Take the fact that the Temptress's hundreds of henchmen and henchwomen fire hails of bullets on our heroes, and yet never hit a one (not even one of those "awww, c'mon" shoulder wounds). Now for me, that's part of the fun. For others, it'd be the beginning of the derision (ie. "This sucks...that's so unrealistic."). That's without even going into the whole "that guy's taken 400 shots and hasn't reloaded yet" thing into consideration. (I was tempted to really count the bullets but was caught up in the fun.)

The Temptress of a Thousand Faces is good, clean (well marginally smutty in the same way as a classic pinup), goofy fun of a type I hope to one day rediscover in some new way on the silver screen. (You know, once this golden age of constant porno is over.)


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Let's Do it Different...Just Like Them....
Believe it or not, I'm gonna talk comics.

I wait until Thursday to pick up my new books. As I'm only regularly reading two titles, I don't go to the shop much. Of course, that isn't the only reason that I don't go.

For one, I don't need to read nor collect the umpteen billion Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, or X-men titles. That's half the reason I had initially dumped comics oh so long ago. It was about the time of Inferno, when you had to buy all this crap you don't normally read just to follow a story. No dice. I don't mind the occasional spin-off or limited series. In fact, sometimes I really like them. But I'm not buying Speedball #5 just to keep up a story. (Someone out there reading this is so nodding his/her head right now.)

Now when it was just Batman and Detective Comics, I could dig that (much like Superman and Action Comics...though I never liked Supes' books). Amazing Spiderman and Spectacular Spiderman, I read them both. Web of... was a bit much. Once the McFarlane solo-line came out, they were pushing it, really pushing it. And as for the X-books...(This needs a new paragraph.)

When it was X-men, X-factor, and the New Mutants, I could follow along. It was essentially three different generations. X-factor was mostly the original team. X-men was sort of a blend of the second generation and whoever they picked up along the way. New Mutants were the students, the newbies. That was all fine and good. They croseed over fairly regularly, but you didn't have to read more than you wanted to. Then that damned X-force came along. Then Jim Lee gets his own X-book. The story line of X-men went all over the place, and never has recovered. Now it seems like every character, team, villain, and alternate time-line gets its own book. Well, I, for one (who used to like it), couldn't care less now.

(Part of that is the fact that of those half-billion characters new and old that litter the series...they all talk like Wolverine now, who is, in and of himself, way overexposed as it is.)

Much of the rest of the titles, I just don't generally care for. As for the indies and such, well, every once in a while there's a good 'un. Thing is, I've just got this thing for the classics (ie. Marvel and DC). So sue me. Problem is, the characters I like have either mostly vanished, or get their own books only to be canceled within the year. (I'm still lamenting the death of the last Captain Marvel comic...good work Peter David...I did what I could to keep it going every month.)

Sure I just ranted on that for half a page, but that isn't what I came for.

Truth is, there's one overlying reason why I won't pick up most stuff, why I hate even flipping through, why I'm disgusted with comics in general....

(Drumroll, please.)

It's the artwork. The most important part.

Now, obviously, I'm writing this, and it ain't some namby-pamby "Me and Jessica went to the mall today. I'm so bored. I want a fudgesicle," kind of blog. I write it like an article or essay...albeit a half-ass one...but still something of an investment. I also write on the side, and I've always been a big reader. I like stories. I like good writing. With a comic book...it doesn't always have to be the best, and even if it is....it's still only half the job.

It's like that Derek Jarman flick, Blue. Basically it's a blue screen for an hour and a half (and I mean that literally...not in a Matrix/Star Wars blue screen way) while you hear a story go on. Now that's an interesting experiment, but not much of a movie. It's visuals. You gotta see something. Imagine if the Godfather had been made on a Troma scale instead of Francis Ford at Paramount. Sure the story might've been good, but I don't think you'd remember it as well or as fondly.

Hold on though, I'm not saying that the art is cheap or necessarily bad. Certainly it is in some cases (Is it just me or does Rob Liefield's stuff still look like the sh!t wannabe artists scribble in the corners of their notebooks with heavy metal logos around it?), but not in all. No, the problem I have with it is that it's generic...but in a very specific way.

You're waiting for me to elaborate, right?

Jumping back to when I was a kid buying comics in the 80's, me and a bunch of my friends were wowed and impressed when we got our first look at an issue of Lone Wolf and Cub. Sure we had seen Robotech on TV and what have you, but that wasn't the same as the artwork on the printed page. Lone Wolf was our first exposure to the manga style, and being something different and totally stylish it stood out. Then Marvels' Epic arm put out Otomo's Akira and we saw a newer and sci-fi version of that art. We didn't have the internet yet, and animé hadn't taken off, so we got it in slow doses.

Well, what happened since then?

We got flooded with it. Japanese-style comics are all over the place. Funny thing is, just like American comics of say the 80's, if you see enough of them, you realize how similar it all looks. There are always a few standouts, but most of it can get pretty pedestrian. As popular as it is, it's not surprising that the American companies might pick up a similar look for some of their titles. However, you wouldn't think it would spread over into nearly all of them.

What's more there's a whole mess of indy titles that are the exact same way.

I can understand why people like it. It's simple and often direct. The more cartoony it gets, the more it becomes like a visual arts shorthand. In that sense it's like an abstraction of sorts...well, boys and girls...do you know what the problem with that is?

If you don't know how to get to the really simple abstracted form from the complex form...if you just skip ahead to the simplified version...well, chances are you don't do it right...and chances are it looks either a) blandly generic or b) like crap.

Take a moment to surf the net, and you'll find hundreds if not thousands of examples of what I'm talking about. Lots of folks who don't understand things like anatomy doing crappy drawings of would-be animated forms. It's a copy of a copy. They're copying some manga they like while that original manga artist is bringing together years of a specific Asian drawing style onto his page.

Not to mention that any general anglicizing of things is bad. For instance, do you like Jackie Chan's Hong Kong efforts or his more Hollywood efforts? (And I assume you know which are which...Operation Condor was not a Hollywood project.) Ever seen The Big Brawl (aka. Battle Creek Brawl)? I still shudder. It's not that Hollywood can't do it...It's more that they shouldn't.

For me, it's the same with the comics. Sure some of them don't look half-bad...but they all look the same. I like diversity. I like being able to turn to something new. You don't get that if the two biggest comic producing countries in the world look more or less the same. Right?

Maybe, it's all just another sign that it's all on its way out the door, or while I wasn't looking it got away from me somehow.

Like that realization you get when you realize that MTV isn't aiming at you as a demographic anymore because you're too old for them.

That kind of thing.

In some ways, maybe it's good.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Best Laid Titles
Most of my Romance language skills are all about snuffin' people...I wonder why?

Now, I made a decision I may live to regret, and put my e-mail up in my profile for this thing, but I guess if you wanna talk shop about the stuff I write on here (when I write on here), then be my guest. If you wanna pay me to write the kind of stuff I write on here...well, even better. (I'm sure the letters are gonna come pourin' in on that one.) Just make sure it don't look like...oh, I don't know...ads for Viagra or cheap Rolexs or mortgages or...you know...Spam.

Moving on.

You guessed it. If I've surfaced for however long it takes me to pound one of these out on the old keyboard, it has to be a Spaghetti Western.

So let's get to it...shall we?

MATALO! (1970, Cesare Caneveri)

The Plot: Nasty bandits settle into a ghost town where they torture some young people and an old woman while deciding how to double cross each other and make off with the gold they stole. (Don't get much thicker than that does it? In this case, it doesn't need do.)

The Review: I'm not going to lie to you, this movie doesn't fit into the standard definition of what you would call good or bad. Take anything at the local cineplex today and each one of those features is probably either good, bad or somewhere in between in very simple standard terms. Matalo!? Well, it's just something else. Most would call it bad, but I thought it was nearly genius (for the first half anyway).

Much of my love for Spaghetti Westerns stems from the fact that I consider them pure cinema. (I'm bound to have mentioned this before). Primarily, they use the iconography and plot of American Westerns with little of the cultural or historical ties. In Matalo!'s case, as with others, they also don't make much use of dialogue: the movie is told in moving pictures. Although...

Yes, if you find mention of this movie anywhere, the number one aspect of it that comes up is Mario Migliardi's blistering Jimi Hendrix's death rattle style guitar score. If it were more well known, this movie could be pointed to again as one of the precursors to music videos. The score ties the movie together more than the scant dialogue. It sets the mood. It explains what we're seeing which is often as brutal and mean as the music is ear peircing. (Now I watched a DVD dub from an old VHS...It would now be a wet dream for me to get a nice print of this film and do it up in 5.1. THX style.)

This isn't much of a review is it? That's the trouble with this movie...I can't only give it to you in impressions and broad strokes.

For instance, the acting. Well, since everyone is dubbed (and not a top notch job), that's always tough to say. The bad guys are repulsively bad, so that's good. The bad girl is hot enough, vampish enough, and slut enough for her part. The old lady is visibly disturbed. The good guy does a good job of getting his @$$ handed to him for 2/3's of the movie, but is believable when he finally comes around. Nonetheless, they're simply icons plugged into the whirlwind. Lemme try to explain:

The movie's is well photographed. Whether it's the usual Spanish vistas, the dilapidated town, or our nasty unshaven villains, the camera captures it well. The camera moves with a sweep and a distance. Like the music, it's another character of sorts. Sometimes, it just stands back and watches. Sometimes, it joins in the action. Sometimes it jumps behind one of the character's eyes. Mostly the characters are just out in front of it, moving and dancing to the score and what there is of a plot.

In between, there are jarring cuts and flashes of images. Artsy stuff, which again only works because of how everything else works. The editing in some sense seems almost out of control, but in that good way that could only come from good editing.

For about an hour, it was perfect in a way. (I actually had to turn it off at one point about twenty minutes in because I was too much in love.) So here's the part, where I sort of review it a little more critically.

Everything was beautiful and maniacal until the boomerangs showed up. Boomerangs. In a western. Hmmm. Now I risk being hypocritical, because glancing above to my line about 'pure cinema', it doesn't appear as though I have room to complain. Not to mention that I already said the movie was full of artsy stuff. However, I counter that there's a thing called unity of vision. For instance: If Eraserhead had had go-go dancers show up in it, it wouldn't have worked. Some could argue that anything could've gone in that movie. I disagree, it had a singular vision and even it could've gotten too weird. Even in the strangest world, you can't have a free-for-all.

Of course the boomerangs go to work in the final shootout, where a lot of it fell apart for me. At this point, there were a few weak attempts at humor. One character reappears out of nowhere, and for no good reason. Oh, and when they use the boomerangs, they don't quite get it right. As I understand, the ones aboriginies use for hunting don't come back, they're meant to go in one direction. Anyhow, the final shootout, though way over-the-top, wasn't nearly as fulfilling as I was hoping based on the first twenty minutes. (C'mon, it's a spaghetti, of course there's gonna be a final shootout.)

All in all, I have to say that this movie gets a new warm place in my heart. You'd certainly never get it made in today's film market. Even if you could, it wouldn't come out the same. The few crazed genre flicks that do come out are either too low budget, too pretentious, or lack any real artistic vision or merit. It takes a really ripe and industrious movie market to end up with these flicks (which the Italian's had for a good long time).

Maybe a Matalo! style video game might be the way to go?