DID YOU READ

Insert Credit: “L.A. Noire”

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Insert Credit endeavors to suss out where you should be allotting your video game allowance, sifting out a single title from many and crowning it as The One Game You Need to Get This Week. Don’t consider these reviews, gentle reader. Rather, think of Insert Credit as a mix of hands-on time, informed opinion and intuition.

For the week of May 18, 2011, you should insert credit into: “L.A. Noire”.

For the most part, Rockstar Games’ protagonists have been rebels, people who object to the order of society and/or find themselves on its fringes. If they do make their way to the center, it’s by virtue of bloody reprisals and vengeful comeuppance. From the nameless punk criminal in “Grand Theft Auto 3” to put-upon boarding school student Jimmy Hopkins in “Bully,” the outsider status of Rockstar’s hero characters probably accounts for a lot of their fan base. Their games give you a way to buck the system with the consequence of being arrested.

In “L.A. Noire,” however, you’re the one doing the arresting. Police detective Cole Phelps–portrayed by Aaron Staton of “Mad Men”– maintains the status quo of the social order. You play as a rookie cop and climb through the various desks of the Los Angeles Police Department. “L.A. Noire” faithfully falls in with the tropes of the procedural genre: go to a crime scene, find clues, talk to people who might know something about the crime, use found evidence to expose their lies and/or guilt.

As the game’s writer and head of developer Team Bondi Brendan McNamara has offered, it’s essentially a TV show in video game form. “L.A. Noire” privileges the skill of observation more than anything else. As the actors’ MotionScan-captured faces animate with tics and tells, you confront the veracity of their statements. You can even skip out on the chase scenes and gun fights if you’re having trouble successfully passing them.

You might call it bloodless for the way it de-emphasizing the run-and-gun, but the action is merely shifted to the battle of wills between Phelps and the suspects. No, these faces don’t look real. Better animated than in other games? Yes. But real? No. Yet, there’s something hypnotic about the eye rolls and spasms of the Persons of Interest you interview. On the proving ground of criminal culpability, it’s interpretative skill not twitch reflexes that win the day. A lethal headshot will always have its charms but there’s something satisfyingly addictive about throwing a piece of evidence out that explodes a weak alibi. As you play, you earn Intuition. While this feature is present as a mechanic that lets you strip away false answers and find clues easier, it does feel organic to the way a police career might be built. Of course, you’re getting better at busting bad guys. You’re supposed to, right?

Of course, Phelps does run up against a system to buck, that being the rampant corruption plaguing the LAPD of 1947. But, even in his battles against that perversion of service, he’s righteous in a way Rockstar hasn’t programmed into its games before. The MotionScan technology used by “L.A. Noire” is new and presents a gap between the relative fidelity of the faces and the animations of the character bodies. But the odd brand of intuitive tension the game creates elevates beyond being simply a bunch of Murder in Uncanny Valley sequences and into something far more satisfying. Who knew being a cop would feel so compelling?

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

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It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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