Liza, the Fox-Fairy [2015]

liza_the_fox_fairy

Also known as Liza, a rókatündér by Károly Ujj Mészáros – a director completely unknown to me before this. Saw this at Orion, the theater of the National Audiovisual Institute which primarily manages the Finnish Film Archives.

So we have Liza, who’s been alone for all her life. She has this idea that, when she turns 30, she’ll meet the love of her life at her favorite restaurant – slightly desperate dreamer that she is… Unfortunately that makes her (not really) imaginary friend angry. Instead of love, Liza finds potential lovers dropping dead like flies. The police get involved thinking that Liza must be behind the deaths. The sergeant assigned to the case does his job, but following Liza around predictably makes him fall in love with her. It takes a while, but finally Liza reciprocates and they break the curse. Nobody dies anymore.

Romantic comedy is a genre that I usually avoid with a passion. I don’t think I really realized that Liza, the Fox-Fairy is one, when I decided to watch it. When I found myself with an unexpected few extra hours at hand and noticed that it was playing at Orion, I headed there without second thought. I originally considered this for my program during last year’s Love & Anarchy Film Festival, but in the end it barely missed the cut, so I didn’t give it a second thought, although I’ve forgotten why I was originally intrigued by the film.

Comedies are difficult to start with. Add romance and usually these films start with a few laughs, then run out of jokes, and introduce something that should engage the average viewer – romance. Unfortunately, the romance is usually half-assed at best. There’s no charisma, no chemistry, no ideas. It’s just something to carry the film to full feature length. Once the romance is done (yes, they do get each other), they end with a few more jokes and hope that the audience remembers the jokes… The pattern is so prevalent, that I can’t really figure out, who wants to see more than two of these.

Appears that this style of film can be given a better treatment. After seeing the film my first thought about why this one got romantic comedy right, was that this is a comedy, so it manages the non-comedic bits by doing them over the top. That’s getting it backwards though. The integrity of the characters or the story is never compromised for comedic reasons. Instead the comedy is in seeing the events from the outside. Ok, there’s some scenes that are there purely for the comedy, but they are handled delicately in order to keep everything intact. You get a story that is by itself very touching, the characters have chemistry and the romance is built with time, care and loving – but it’s presented in a quirky manner reminiscent of the likes of Wes Anderson, and Takashi Miike’s earlier pieces that were still infused with mind boggling associations and lacking polish. Despite being quirky, this avoids the traps of the American indie films – it’s more than its quirks.

  • Director: Károly Ujj Mészáros
  • Original Title: Liza, a rókatündér
  • Watched on: August or Septempber 2016
  • Watched at: Orion
  • 5/5

 

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Recently I Have Been Mostly RPGing…

Unsurprisingly, my Great Adventure Game Project has not progressed as expected. Long story short, my little personal time has been spent on table top RPGs recently. The thing I have done for this project is that I spent some amount of Zorkmids on GoG summer sales and now I have pretty much a complete library of games for the project. Now I just need to find the time for playing them…

I have very little time for me time projects altogether and right after getting excited about adventure games, I got excited about table top RPGs again… What can I say, I’m easily inspired – too bad I don’t have the time to follow up on all of the inspirations.

A friend of mine set up an RPG discussion channel and I found some other general RPG communities as well, so I’ve been engulfed in inspiring table top RPG discussion. As a result, I’ve been getting up to speed on what has happened in the scene, since I was previously active.

As a result of the inspirations, I signed up with a Pathfinder game rolled by the GM. Some nicely grim and Lovecraftian elements to it. Maybe some dozen sessions done by now. The first big arch is going to be finished next session. Probably should see, where we head after that during the session as well. Been most excellent just to get to play a bit.

Rise of the Runelords

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As a result of not finding more games to sign up with immediately, I also ended up rolling up a Pathfinder campaign of my own. I haven’t been GMing in nearly 20 years, so I decided to go easy on myself and go with ready made stuff instead of rolling up my own. As I was pretty familiar with the rules having signed up for a campaign a few months earlier, as there’s an endless amount of ready made stuff for it, and as there must be a reason for its success, it was an easy decision to go with Pathfinder. After some browsing of the adventure paths, I noticed that the Rise of the Runelords adventure path had been re-released as an anniversary edition. One hardcover edition, way cheaper than buying the six piece paths individually, still in print, adventure path is still regarded as one of the better ones released by Paizo – another easy decision.

After some prep time and finding a group, we’ve now played through two sessions. I’m still finding my feet and so are my players, but thus far fun has been had. During the next session the story is shifting gears and the first major action of the campaign will be encountered. As this is D&D based stuff, the campaign is very combat oriented – down shifting happens only rarely and for short times. But railroading and high octane action is easy enough to GM, and as there are a few newbies in my group of players, it should be nice for them to get into as well.

Ropecon

Also went to Ropecon – a big Finnish non-electronic gaming event… or a scene event… Not sure, what it should be called and not sure, if it’s the biggest, but to me, it is the one and only gaming event of the year in Finland. I was able to attend only on Friday, but what a nice day it was.

Unlike most of my Ropecons, this time my schedule was very tight. After getting in, I headed straight for the table top RGP sign up desk to sign up for Fate Core Combat Academy GMed by Petri Leinonen. Got to do a bit of history by spending the first “etuilulippu” (priority ticket) in the history of Ropecon. Everyone was given one for the whole weekend to pick a game to attend with priority over others. I was going to attend only this one game, so obviously I used my ticket to make sure I got to the game. The game itself was an introduction to the Fate Core mechanics using a heavily railroaded scenario designed to introduce the mechanics one by one in a Star Wars setting. Petri has been running the scenario several times prior to Ropecon, but due to scheduling conflicts, I missed all the sessions previously. This time I got in and it was a fun ride. Unfortunately the game started some 20 minutes late due to the time it took to sign up people for all the games starting at the same time and as a result, we missed the ending of the scenario. That obviously was not the point of the session, but would’ve been nice to see, how things ended up, as even with this kind of rules heavy, story light session, Fate Core manages to set up exciting things in capable hands. It’s easy to fall into character and into the scenes of the story. It’s easy to be dramatic and to find usable things to do in all scenes with all characters. Had immense fun and got exactly what I was looking for – my mind is now racing with ideas about campaigns I could run with the system. Firefly and Star Wars are the top candidates for now, but we’ll see, when I’ll get to those. I’d like to start by getting the scenario material from Petri and trying to run that introductory scenario by myself, so I can use the scenario as a sort of Fate Core GM Academy for myself.

That took me well into the evening. After a quick snack break I headed to Roolipelaajan peruskoulu: Kaaoksen ja järjestyksen välissä (Roleplaying 101: Between Chaos and Order), a lecture held by Sanna Koulu and Pekka Hänninen. Basically they were going through what a player can do in various table top RPG games to make the game more interesting and fun for everyone. Basically the message was to introduce some order in chaotic games (sandbox settings) and to introduce some chaos in ordered games (amusement park rides). The things discussed have been bubbling somewhere in the back of my consciousness, but I’ve never really got them out into the open and under more scrutiny. Again my head went racing forwards. Some thoughts about steering my players towards some direction in the campaign I’m GMing and on the other hand some thoughts about improving my game in the campaign I’m playing in.

Altogether two nice inspiring bits of program. At that point I should’ve headed to sleep according to my regular schedule, but with all the thoughts racing through my head and with a lot of friends heading to the bar, I went for a few beers to relax and to meet up with people I see far too rarely. The new venue worked very well. Oxygen didn’t run out and despite the venue not being as intimate and as atmospheric, it still felt like Ropecon. Got to get to know the layout of the location a bit better, before I’ll feel at home there, but that shouldn’t be a big issue. The only complaint I have is that the table top RPG room assigned to Fate Core Combat Academy, there were over half a dozen other games running and the acoustics was not up to that – I spent a lot of time concentrating on blocking out all the phrases drifting to my ears from the other tables and we had to use a lot of voice to hear each other in our own table. That should be easy to fix though and altogether I have no wish for Ropecon to return to Dipoli after this first year in Messukeskus.