Jan 7, 2014

The List: Looking Forward to 2014

By Wine & Pop Staff

FILM



The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7)
Almost all of Wes Anderson’s filmography contains a sorrow underlying the whimsy. Moonrise Kingdom seemed to be the apex of this idea, feeling almost like an essay on how the defeated find hope in French New Wave and Futura. The Grand Budapest Hotel seems to deviate from this trend and return to the sheer comedic blur of Fantastic Mr. Fox. The story concerns a painting called Boy With Apple and the hotel manager (Ralph Fiennes) who inherits it. Intrigue follows, and Fiennes’ lobby boy (newcomer Tony Revolori) helps stash the painting. The remainder of the cast is stunning, from Anderson regulars (Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman) to recent converts (Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton) to newcomers (F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric). The way Anderson plays with time here sounds fascinating as well: different aspect ratios were used for the various timelines the film juggles. Kingdom was Anderson’s best since The Royal Tenenbaums, so Hotel has a good deal of pressure weighing on it. That apparent divergence of genre, more madcap than melancholy, could be a wise step in proving that though the director has recently created a near-masterpiece that explains the emotional underpinnings of his films, he’s far from finished exploring his signature style. (Josh Oakley)



Nymphomaniac (Part 1: March 21; Part 2: April 18)

Of all the things I’ve written about on this list, Lars Von Trier’s upcoming film is the furthest from a sure bet. Antichrist and Melancholia, Von Trier’s last two films, are both mixed bags. Those films both knocked their soul crushing conclusions out of the park, but were bogged down in some really troubling gender politics and long sections that didn’t enhance the mood or the narrative as much as they were clearly supposed to. What made them work was their willingness to show the most extreme possible representation of their pseudo-religious or apocalyptic themes. While Nymphomaniac’s subject matter isn’t nearly as fantastical as its two predecessors (it appears to be a woman’s life story told with emphasis on the sexy bits) its execution is likely to be just as over the top and confrontational. Whether or not it is actually enjoyable is sort of beside the point. I tend not to watch Von Trier movies because they themselves are good but because the conversations I have about them with other people are almost always interesting. I can’t imagine that his take on a four hour-long sex epic could deliver anything less. And hey, if it sucks, it’ll serve as the final nail in Shia LaBeouf’s coffin, so at least there’s that. (Ian Cory)


The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)
John Green’s great novel The Fault in Our Stars was saddled with the qualifier “for a young adult book” because of the age of its protagonists. But the weight of Green’s look at teenagers diagnosed with cancer had a mature pull that many adult artists struggle to wrestle with. TFiOS didn’t speak down to its characters or its audience, more interested in the reality of loss than simple, trite platitudes. The film adaptation, with which Green seems heavily involved, will hopefully bring that same level of distinction to the screen. Director Josh Boone has only one coolly-received feature to his name, but screenwriters Michael Weber & Scott Neustadter scribed The Spectacular Now and (500) Days of Summer. Those films are both deeply flawed, especially their scripts, but the former proves, at least, that star Shailene Woodley can deliver a knockout performance with those writers’ materials. The behind-the-scenes credits seem unpromising, but Green’s vlog-updates from the set give the impression that the writers and director have hewed closely to the novel. That’s not always a good thing, when adaptation work as fan-service more than art, but it could mean that The Fault in Our Stars will be able to transplant the heart of the book to a different medium, keeping the depth and heartbreak intact. (JO)



Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1)
Guardians Of The Galaxy is a rather unknown comic series. When I tell people about it they have no idea what I’m talking about. Which is why I’m very excited that the series is getting its own film treatment later in 2014. Very little has been released about it, except for some teaser stills, and a leaked gif of Rocket Raccoon shooting a machine gun (spoiler, it looked fucking awesome). But regardless, it’s a film I want everyone to be excited for. It’s great when unknown source materials get wider attention, whether it is through TV (The Walking Dead), or video games (The Wolf Among Us), and Guardians is definitely something that deserves more attention. In my opinion it’s a better version of The Avengers, which everyone can’t stop obsessing about, and is much more ridiculous in the best possible way. Plus it stars Chris Pratt, who’s proved himself to be quite a good actor over the past few years, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel as a giant tree man, and Bradley Cooper voicing a talking raccoon that shoots guns. I can’t think of many things more awesome than that. James Gunn is helming the film (both writing and directing), which is a huge relief considering he also writes comic books. A comic book writer directing a comic book movie should ensure a spectacular movie with a great understanding of the source canon. Look forward to this film coming out this August, and check out the comics if you can. You won’t be disappointed. (Mike Horky)



Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (Aug. 22)
Long overdue for a sequel, 2005's Sin City, based on the excellent gritty noir graphic novels by Frank Miller, was one of the best comic book based movies to come out in the decade. Not only was it one of the best, it was also one of the most faithful, with the directors using the original comic book panels for the movie's story boards, and having them handy during filming. With Frank Miller now sharing directorial duties with the returning director Robert Rodriguez, the follow up is looking to be just as grim, violent, and faithful as the original. While the first movie was based solely on stories from the comics, the sequel will have two additional all new stories written specifically for the film. It's unconfirmed whether the new stories are being written by Miller, or by screenwriter William Monahan. Much of the movie's original cast will also returning as well, including Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, and Rosario Dawson. The film will also have a number of new stars this time around: Eva Green, Jospeh Gordon-Levitt, and (oddly enough) Lady Gaga. Frank Miller's output in the last few years hasn't been met with same level of critical acclaim as his older work, and his personal politics have stirred up controversy. Here's hoping that the guy who wrote the best Batman comic of all time can find his footing again. (Milos Markicevic)


Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (Nov. 21)
Mockingjay is easily my favorite of The Hunger Games trilogy. I thought I’d rip that confession off like a band-aid given that I’m in the microscopic minority on this one. I think the third book deepens the thematic content of the series, reveling in the cynicism author Suzanne Collins has for government and the world at large. Compare the epilogue of that book, moody, distant, with hints of mild comfort but not joy, to the masturbatory fan-service charge of Harry Potter’s final words. Collins had no interest in coddling readers, and Mockingjay is filled with weight, a realization that the world cares little about you being the “hero”. People need to eat, and people don’t want to die, and there’s not much more to life beyond that. The second half of the book (which likely won’t make it to the screen until 2015) is a smart twist on the action setpieces of the first two Hunger Games novels, exploring the Capital in a new, tragic light. I do worry that the second Mockingjay film won’t have the guts to be as gloomy in its conclusion as the source material, but that shouldn’t be a problem here. Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence, who brought a skillful hand to that entry is back for both halves of Mockingjay. Lawrence understood the right balance of adventure and grimness, remembering to make Fire fun while imbuing it with the proper amount of heaviness. This film will be lighter on action, more focused on characters and relationships than the previous film. Let’s hope that Lawrence can still strike that winning balance in a slightly different context. (JO)


Boyhood (TBA)
Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy (for now) has proved the director’s ability to create a thoughtful tale over long periods of his career. The most recent entry in that series, Before Midnight, was one of 2013’s best films, a gorgeous and heartbreaking portrayal of what love means after a decade rather than a single night. Linklater’s upcoming (tentatively titled) Boyhood was filmed over the course of twelve years. The aim of the project was originally to show a child aging, captured within a single actor rather than shuffling casting. In interviews, Linklater has said that the film’s ambition grew, becoming a look at family in every dynamic. The time over which Boyhood was filmed contains some of the director’s best and worst efforts, so it’s difficult to know exactly what quality, what version of Linklater this one will feel most like. Regardless, the idea is fascinating, and that fact that the audience will be privy to the young actor’s childhood and teenage years makes this something of a condensed version of Michael Apted’s Up series. The possibilities for thematic content, and emotional depth, are nearly endless, and knowing that Linklater is still capable of a masterpiece like Midnight gives some assurance that Boyhood will be one of the great films of 2014. (JO)



Jodorowsky's Dune (TBA)
If you were to make me choose one film maker I find to be criminally underrated, it would be Alejandro Jodorowsky. However, it seems he's been getting some recognition as of late thanks to a shout out from Kanye at one of his rants concerts. Jodorowsky has created some of the most challenging and fascinating surrealist films in the last century. His very first film, Fando y Lis, filmed in Mexico, instigated a riot and ended up being banned. But this didn't deter him; since then he has created films such as the surrealist western El Topo and the psychedelic religious madhouse Holy Mountain. But Jodorowsky has not only been a filmmaker; amongst other things he's also been a renowned comic book writer since the 1960s. When he moved to Paris he collaborated with famous French comic artist Moebius (who unfortunately passed away in 2012). The two formed a fruitful relationship that resulted in the amazing comic The Incal, and a number of related spinoffs. Years later Jodorowsky would go to court with the creators of the 90s sci-fi film The Fifth Element over charges that film was an direct adaptation of The Incal (I've seen both and there are innumerable similarities). In the 1960s Jodorowsky was asked to helm the adaptation of Frank Hubert's sci-fi classic Dune. For the project Jodorowsky once again teamed up with Moebius, and even hit up Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel to score some of the music. After a number of budget issues, and a film script that was rumored to clock in at 14 hours of screen time, the project fell apart and the rights ended up being bought by another company which resulted in David Lynch's adaptation. Since 2011 a production company has been creating a documentary that explores the behind the scenes of Jodorowsky's failed production and shedding light on what could have been. After a successful screening at Cannes last year the documentary is set for a US release later this year. (MM)


They Came Together (TBA)
This is one of the most hesitant selections on the list. Director David Wain’s cinematic track record is wonky. He’s given us the modern classic Wet Hot American Summer, a sublime film that assumed the form of an 80’s camp-comedy parody, but used that frame as an excuse to pour incredible jokes and setpieces into a purposefully sloppy narrative. But his most recent effort, Wanderlust, cared too much about its weak story, and surrounded it with lazy “look at these hippies!” humor. Luckily, the upcoming They Came Together sees the director reuniting with Wet Hot co-writer Michael Showalter. The premise of the film finds Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler as a meet-cute couple in what’s ostensibly a romantic comedy send-up. This could either be a boring, too-late and tired spoof of tropes that have already been mocked for the past decade. Or those basic ideas could be the backdrop for a Wet Hot-esque gloriously slapdash comedy. The supporting cast seems to point to the latter, especially with the return of WHAS standout Christopher Meloni, and the curious addition of Michael Shannon. But a great cast does not automatically promise a great comedy (see: Wanderlust), so the verdict remains out. But if They Came Together is able to crackle with the promise that it has, it could be another genre-defining powerhouse. (JO)

MUSIC



Sanctuary by Vex (Jan. 21)

This band is an old one, and was only active for a brief period in the mid 1980’s, but Vex was a crucial part of the Anarcho-Punk circuit that left their mark on the bands that emerged in their absence. Coming out on the 21st of January, this upcoming album is a limited-edition release of their complete discography and although the material isn’t new this is a very welcome revival. Their brand of punk, sounding as though sung from a realm of ghosts, is appropriate as it reaches out and ignites our inner anarchic deviant while inspiring us to imagine sounds outside the rigorous demands of style and genre. You can check out what the title song sounds like and remember how things could be. (Rron Karahoda)



The Houseboat and the Moon by Federico Albanese (Feb. TBA)

Similarly ethereal yet rich in quality but absolutely different in nature is Federico Albanese’s upcoming debut album The Houseboat and the Moon. This Italian composer first made himself known within the underground network of Milan by playing in several bands before finding himself working in cinema for 5 years. He comes with a sense of dramatic flair as he mixes piano with electronics, and adding a touch of what sounds like Pink Floyd to give his work a space to it that makes it stick out from the plethora of ambient music that currently floods the contemporary classical scene. For many contemporary classical musicians right now, this is the album to look out for. While you wait you can listen to these teasers. (RK)



The Unnatural World by Have A Nice Life (Feb. 4)

2013 was a banner year for long awaited albums finally seeing the light of day, but one record was conspicuously absent by the time the ball dropped. Ever since releasing their double disc debut Deathconsciousness back in 2008, Have A Nice Life’s ever growing and rabid fanbase has been clamoring for a follow up. And now, after excursions into black metal (Nahvalr) and dark folk (Giles Corey) Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga have finally regrouped for a second full length, titled The Unnatural World. Normally one would expect that after vanishing for six years the band would lose some of their initial spark, but if the advance single “Defenestration Song” is anything to go by, Have A Nice Life have only deepened their focus, recapturing their mix of post punk, industrial, post rock and shoegaze without losing their signature production style or mastery of all things dark, sad, and slightly unnerving. That said, it's only one track, giving the duo plenty of chances to surprise with the rest of what is sure to be one of the best albums of the year. (IC)


St. Vincent by St Vincent (Feb. 24)
It’s hard to drum up hype for an artist who has made consistency their calling card. The self titled 4th album (not including Love This Giant, a collaboration with David Byrne) from Annie Clark’s St. Vincent project is unlikely to be a dramatic reinvention so much as an affirmation. Even the title itself doesn’t point at anything game-changing, simply stating “this is who I am.” But then again, showboating has never been in Clark’s nature. She’s undeniably a skilled musician, perhaps indie rock’s last guitar hero, but her interest has never lied in shredding or using that skill for anything other than crafting good songs. Her ability to drown listeners in oceans of noise and highly complex textures is always tempered by her humane and approachable sense of melody. The two singles from St. Vincent prove that she’s only gotten better at this balancing act. They’re both densely arranged and ornate art pop songs that at their core are about incredibly mundane and universal concerns. At this point in her career Clark is a known entity, and the release of St Vincent won’t make the kind of waves that a newer artist of similar quality would, but by no means does this mean we should stop paying attention. (IC)



Abandoned City by Hauschka (March 17)
A lot of contemporary work is focused on creating a sense of space or making you feel alienated. There’s a sense of hypertension that seems to gnaw at the imaginations of many composers. Hauschka is usually not so different from this paradigm but his upcoming album Abandoned City seems to have stumbled onto something incredible. A master of the prepared piano, he has found a way to capitalize on the industrial nature of the instrument. The first track “Elizabeth Bay” is a fusion of avant-garde and electronic timbres that hit the ground running. Listen to “Elizabeth Bay” and be inspired. (RK)



Melana Chasmata by Triptykon (April 15)
Triptykon’s first album, 2010’s Eparistera Daimones, was nothing short of a triumph. Formed out of the ashes of Celtic Frost, Triptykon proved that Thomas Gabriel Fischer might be only the person who can play the occult/Satanist angle straight in the 21st century and be taken seriously. While every other metal musician pushing 50 has either packed it in or become content to recycle old patterns, Fischer has successfully learned new tricks and beaten younger bands at their own games. Both live and on record, Triptykon updated Celtic Frost’s primordial sludge and surrounded it with sounds typically found in bands inspired by those same original innovations. As such, Eparistera Daimones seemed like a summation of Fischer’s entire career while also establishing the entire history of extreme metal as his legacy. It’s hard to tell exactly where the band can go from there. There’s a chance that they’ll just do a repeat performance and solidify their unerringly bleak sound (Fischer himself said, “The album will be extremely colorful. And all those colors will be dark”) but given Fischer’s tendency to pull hard left turns when people least expect him to (see Into The Pandemonium) it's hard to say until we hear the first single. (IC)


St. Carolyn by the Sea by Bryce Dessner (TBA)
Bryce Dessner of The National is at it again with a new suite of three orchestral pieces (one of which is the namesake of the album) which is shaping up to be very grand and triumphant. It’s an exciting change for Mr. Dessner and I am personally curious to see in which directions the three piece will go. It’s the perfect opportunity to flex his compositional muscles and show us just how talented and capable he really is. Listen to himspeak about the upcoming work! (RK)



Six Albums From Top Dawg Entertainment (TBA)
While the rest of us were settling down for the Christmas season, the Anthony Tiffith of Top Dawg Entertainment casually dropped a tweet suggesting that the label would release six albums over the course of 2014. At first glance this seems completely insane, but if you do the math it works out. Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron has already been announced and it's been two years since Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul put out albums, which gives them plenty of time to have cooked up new material. After pissing off practically everyone with his "Control" verse, Lamar will have a lot to prove with his new record, but given his track record, as well as continued support from Dr. Dre, chances are he’ll do fine. The rest of the label is less of a sure bet. I liked Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul’s last records fine enough, and both have done well on the guest verse circuit since then, but still have a while to go before they reach the heights of Lamar’s good kid m.a.a.d. city. Newer signees SZA and Isaiah Rashad are even less sure bets, but if they’re anywhere near the quality of their label mates they’re sure to be in the upper tier of the year’s releases. And finally there’s Jay Rock, routinely ignored in favor of his younger and flashier cohorts, but by no means a slouch on the mic (seriously, go back to “Money Trees” and tell me he doesn’t kill it). It’s a hell of a line up, and if things go as planned it's likely to crown TDE as the best label running in hip-hop. (IC)


Chance The Rapper (TBA)
If anyone’s going to challenge TDE’s coup for supremacy it isn’t going to be from the usual suspects. Most people will be looking eastward, towards Pro Era or A$AP Mob, and while I’ll certainly be interested to see what they produce this year, I’m not convinced that either crew has it in them to strike the balance between aggression, melody, big ideas, accessibility, forward thinking and well studied homage the way that Kendrick Lamar did in 2012. Barring something truly unexpected, the newest addition to hip-hop’s big leagues will come from neither the east nor west coast, but the Midwest, still young and restless after all these years. Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape was one of 2013's most fascinating, if uneven, hip-hop releases. It showed that Chance had as much aptitude for bouncing off the walls with infectious energy as he did for showing the human face often ignored in the discussions around Chicago’s gun violence. And while it was easy to see elements of other rappers in his flow (imagine a young Lil Wayne’s voice attached to Andre 3000’s elasticity) the combination of those elements proved to be completely unique to Chance. All of this sets the stage for a landmark debut album, one that could easily shatter the six hit TDE combo. (IC)


When the World Began and Ten Billion Hearts by Stevie Wonder (TBA)

Back in October, Stevie Wonder came out and said that he’s planning on releasing two albums in 2014. Not only are they Mr. Wonder’s first albums in eight years but he claims he’s been listening to a lot of rap and that he feels inspired to take it in another way. If there’s a single artist I trust without question, it’s Stevie Wonder. His music is always fresh, human, and innovative. With his exposure to young blood like Janelle Monáe, I can only anticipate that these albums will once again raise the standard of what it takes to be a musician. (RK)

TV



True Detective (Jan. 12, HBO)

There’s plenty of murder on television. Far too many programs seem to believe that the only way to create drama is to kill a main character, or have a main character off someone else. As overblown as the subgenre is, that doesn’t mean that some of the content isn’t actually good. True Detective looks to be yet another show that makes it difficult to complain about how many cop shows there are. This series, should it make it past its initial season, will follow the anthology model of American Horror Story, connecting its stories in theme and genre rather than character or plot. The first season stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. That’s enough information for a season pass, especially given the remarkable work McConaughey has done in the past few years. Michelle Monaghan, a great actress often underserved by weak material, will hopefully be given a chance to shine here as well. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the project is its auteur sensibility. One director, Cary Fukunaga, oversaw every episode, and showrunner Nic Pizzolatto wrote the entire season. This isn’t a completely new approach (aside from occasional aid from Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K. writes and directs the entirety of Louie). But it could be fascinating, a blend of cinematic mini-series and longer-form storytelling. (JO)


Review (Feb. 27, Comedy Central)
Finally. For Andy Daly fans, Review (formerly Review with Forrest MacNeil) has been a promise since 2012. The Comedy Central series, based on the Australian Review with Myles Barlow, finds the host reviewing activities, such as divorce or stealing. It’s a brilliant concept, and Daly is a perfect choice to lead such a program. On Comedy Bang! Bang!, he’s one of the most consistently hysterical guests. He has a manic enthusiasm that usually covers up a deep well of depression and often ends in his jumping out the window (cue sound effect). That wide-eyed, drug-addled state will suit this kind of dark, satirical comedy. With this and a podcast at Earwolf, Daly is shaping up to have quite the 2014, and few people deserve it like him. He’s one of the most gifted comedic presences we’ve got, and though Comedy Central has a knack of beginning shows only to quickly axe them, 2013 turned out to be a boon for renewals. Even if we only get a short run, it’ll likely be a good one, and a great spotlight for an under-appreciated member of the modern comedy scene. (JO)



Game Of Thrones (Spring TBA)

One of the pet theories that Josh and I have bounced around is that a great deal of TV shows reach their peak in their 3rd season before beginning the slow descent back to earth. There are plenty of exceptions of course, and Game Of Thrones is definitely one of them, but not for the reasons that I would like. Namely because despite having two of the greatest moments of the entire show, Season 3 was also bogged down by a few very slow moving side plots that ultimately spread the show far too thin. But here’s what gives me hope, for better or worse, Game Of Thrones has never functioned like a normal TV show. Its willingness to slow down and keep track of such a wide cast might make it suffer in the short run, but it also makes the climaxes and confluences that much more devastating. It's also heartening to remember that Season 3 and 4 are two halves of the same book, and thus, it's possible that some of the more meandering plots of the former might end up being much more valuable to the story in the later. Regardless, Season 3 proved that practically anything could happen and that show will pull absolutely no punches to see its story through, and if that isn’t exciting, I don’t know what is. (IC)


Better Call Saul (TBA)
When Saul was introduced in the third season of Breaking Bad, I didn't like him at all. I found him annoying, an unnecessary addition to the show's already excellent cast, and a lazy attempt by the show's writers to introduce some (much needed) comic relief after the intensity that had accumulated in the first season and a half. Needless to say he grew on me as the show went on, and news that a sequel-prequel spinoff starring Saul is in the works has fans such as myself excited. Breaking Bad was one of the greatest television dramas to have ever aired, and since its conclusion last year there's been a void that no show has come closing to filling. Those worried that the show won't be as good as Breaking Bad should put some of their doubt to rest because Better Call Saul is in good hands. Two of Breaking Bad's writers -- including creator, Vince Gilligan -- will be helming the new series and Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have already expressed interest in reprising their roles as well. Those two things alone make it my most looked-forward-to show for 2014. On top of this we'll finally get to see Saul in an actual courtroom, something Breaking Bad never really explored. Now, I just need to find something to hold me over until the show's airing... (MM)

OTHER



Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (Feb. 25)

Konami's video game franchise Castlevania has been around since 1986. That's almost thirty years of vampire slaying protagonists taking stabs at Dracula. During this time the series has taken small steps towards reinvention, the biggest being 1996's Symphony of the Night, which introduced the popular "metroidvania" style of gameplay. The formula was used as the foundation for most of the series' hand-held sequels, but after six games, things were getting stale. In 2010 Konami released Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, a fresh reboot unrelated to the convoluted timeline of the original games. Developed by Spanish developer MercurySteam, the game drew fire from long-time fans but MercurySteam proved itself competent in delivering one hell of a game. Borrowing the mechanics from games such God of War and Shadow of the Colossus, Lords of Shadow was fast paced, fun, and one of the first Castlevania games to nail 3D game play- something the series has struggled with for years. In addition, the game featured top-notch voice acting (Patrick Stewart!) that really breathed life into the story and its characters, distancing itself from the hammy anime style voice acting of previous games. On top of all this you had breathtaking graphics, and one of the most beautiful musical scores heard in a 7th generation game. The game was a surprise hit and injected the series with some much needed life. Now the sequel due for release this year has everything that made the original so great and then some (including its returning voice cast). MerurySteam are hammering away at all of the last game's shortcomings, making what is looking to be an excellent sequel, and, after years of playing the role of vampire hunter, you'll also finally take the role of the famous vampire antagonist himself. I'll bite. (MM)


Watch Dogs (Spring TBA)
Media -- be it books, film, television -- often has a way of reflecting and encapsulating the political events shaping the world in the time they're created. The last few years have seen numerous stories of corporate hacking, government sanctioned spying, and whistleblower leaks coming into the national spotlight. One of the biggest stories last year was Edwin Snowden's revelatory leak that shone a light into the extent that the NSA was collecting people's personal data, using methods that many critics have deemed unconstitutional and Orwellian. Just a few weeks ago Target announced that hackers had stolen 40 million customer credit cards, making people once again question how safe their personal digital information is. Ubisoft's upcoming game Watch Dogs is looking to explore such questions -- whether the idea of privacy will be something lost to the history books, and what are the repercussions of living in a cloud connected world. Watch Dogs puts you in the shoes of a hacker in a not so distant future Chicago -- a time where entire cities are hooked up online and essentially run on computers. Everything from traffic lights, public transportation, to people's cell phones are online and hackable. Taking the open world 3rd person sandbox style popularized by Grand Theft Auto, the game is looking to mix up the sandbox formula by introducing hacking as an integral game play mechanic. Early footage has shown a mission in which your target is located at a party being held at the Chicago Theater. After a quick phone hack, you walk inside and find yourself in a glitzy art event. Suddenly, data pops up on screen giving you the name, age, profession, and even sexual health (HIV positive or not) of the people you pass by. Finally you find your target but he flees and a chase ensues. Outside the target is about to escape by car, but the character quickly hacks the traffic lights resulting in a swarm of cars crashing into your target. The extent of hack types in the released game remains to be seen but it's looking to be one of the most exciting and intelligent games to come out in years. Originally slated as a launch title for the PS4 and Xbox One, the developers have postponed the release to touch up the game. Expect an official release date sometime this year. (MM)



The Return and End Of Homestuck (TBA)

We don’t know when, but soon the end will be upon us. At some unknown date (probably April 13th) this year, Andrew Hussie will post the remainder of Homestuck all at once. This is exciting for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, Hussie has done an excellent job building towards this climax, patiently pushing together the story’s various elements and disparate threads until they’ve all become irreversibly tangled. Most of the fandom will beg for a clean resolution, but if the ending is anything like the rest of the story, then it's likely to be obtuse and perplexing, ultimately leaving fans with more to chew on as Hussie rides his proverbial horse into the sunset. But no matter how it ends, certain parts of the Internet are going to explode. The intensity of the fan reaction, as well as the inevitable confusion from those not in the know, will truly be a sight to behold. So while I will probably spend most of 4/13/2014 glued to MSPA hitting refresh like there’s no tomorrow, I’ll be sure to take a few breaks to watch Tumblr try and digest, dissect, and pay tribute to the final update. (IC)

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