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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
An important film for those who believe in artistic expression, 23 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Playing Columbine focuses on the the video game "Super Colombine Massacre RPG!" which has been reviewed as a sick and demented portrayal of the upsetting Columbine High School shooting which took place on Tuesday, April 20th, 1999. The video game touched a nerve with many people who considered it as a slap in the face to the victims and the families of the victims who endured the reprehensible events that occurred that day.

At first glance and with an uneducated opinion I too was a bit shocked at the audacity of the programmer, but without actually playing the game itself I found myself in the position of "judging a book by its cover" so I decided to try to be impartial, play the game and watch the documentary about it.

I came to the realization that I prejudged and wrongly so. In the information age we all live in it's easy to get wrapped up in media over-saturation and condemn something in which we have no first-hand knowledge of. To do so is irresponsible, and is such in this case.

Playing Columbine serves as a historical autobiography of Danny Ledonne and his accidental notoriety of creating his controversial game and its effects. It's autobiographical because it is directed by Danny himself and is, in my opinion, executed quite well. The film takes a look at mainstream media as a whole and how his game is considered to be part of that media, but also treated separately, as video games haven't yet crossed the threshold of simple entertainment to true artwork. Making that argument is a difficult one and is illustrated within the film.

Films which have depicted identical situations to the Colombine Shootings in complete graphic detail, such as Elephant and Zero Day, are critically acclaimed and hailed for their artistic achievement, while video games which depict the same scenarios are condemned and shunned by, not only audiences, but festival events which claim to be an outlet for such expressive works.

The film describes, convincingly, that there is artistic integrity in video games and this is where the film truly delivers its message. At this point the viewer realizes that the game itself isn't necessarily the focus as much as the intent the game and games like it try to convey. That intent? Emotion. Every great work of art makes the viewer feel something profound and to create something that will misdirect the emotions and bring them to a place they never thought possible through a "simple video game" is truly a work of art.

The film also fairly represents the opinions opposite of the artistic side. Notable interviews are present with Jack Thompson, a noted attorney and video game industry critic, and Tim Winter, the Parents Television Council President. Both have thought provoking insight to what the impact of video games have and the film shows this in a balanced manner. Their interviews come off as an intellectual opposing viewpoints rather than vilified zealotry. Quite a difficult task, especially for a director who is so tangled within the story itself. Does this give the film no point of view? of course not, the film is heavily weighted towards the artistic viewpoint, but to put one's ego aside and fairly represent the opposition is what is truly at the heart of journalism. Michael Moore could take a lesson or two from Danny Ledonne.

As far as criticisms go I have to say that the technical aspects of the film are rather lackluster, but that's to be expected for a rather low-budget film and especially for a feature directorial debut. Lighting and art direction are kind of put on the back burner to give way to the excellent storytelling which is as compelling as it gets.

This film is truly a work which is to not be ignored. Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, love it or hate it, has caused an uproar and opened the door for discussion on both sides of the argument of artistic expression and the extent of our first amendment rights.

7 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
A pleasant surprise, 8 June 2009

At first when I thought of watching this movie I had all of the negative doubts one would have about another "rapper movie". I thought that it would fall into the same clichéd traps so many large budget films tend to gravitate towards. What surprised me first was the story of the young boy who turns into the famous rapper and by "keeping it real" has to pretend to be a gangsta. .I felt that the duality was quite strong and felt quite real. That is paired with the record company creating a feud with Nate, the main character, and his longtime friend, Razor. The young actor, Sheaun McKinney, who plays Nate does a great job portraying Nate's inner turmoil while trying to keep up his street cred and retaliating against razor. Acting in this film, for the most part, is well directed and well played out with a couple of exceptions in the minor roles. This is to be expected in an independent production. The overall visual styling and editing were very good, but still showed traces of the work of an amateur. Certain edits seems a bit abrupt at times and others were a bit confusing as to what the intention was. Overall however the shots seemed well planned and very well lit.

My final verdict is 7 stars for a well put together film that kept me entertained and appealed to me visually. I will be sure to check out Lee Cipolla's work from here on in.

To give a one star review would be foolish and ignorant of the obvious hard work and talent this director has truly shown on only his second feature film.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Master Shake creates Ol' Drippy, 8 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Out of all the ATHF episodes, this has to be one of my favorites. Master Shake, being the selfish slob that he is, has turned the kitchen into a veritable wasteland filled with dirty dishes and food which could be considered science project material. The result of Shake's neglect is a large form of mold which becomes a living creature. Meatwad calls him Drippy because he constantly is dripping mold everywhere. Drippy's character is pretty much the alter-ego of Shake. Shake being the egocentric, loud-mouthed, obnoxious, and self-centered character he is, Drippy is kind, well-mannered, and selfless in his welcome yet short appearance in this shows series. My absolute favorite quote from him is "Idle hands spend time at the genitals" as he's raking the yard. By far this has to be one of the funniest episodes I've ever seen and really makes you love this character, but he doesn't last very long. Truck...Boom. <-- There's the spoiler.