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Through the computer monitor and back

Gaamer

Ukraine, 2012 | Oleg Sentsov
Oggs Cruz checked in from Manilla to see the Ukrainian world premiere Gaamer.

You are alone. Everything you see is strange, definitely not of the world where you were born and raised. Your forearms and your hands, the only parts of your body you can see, are curiously muscular, wrapped in space age protection, and brandishing a rifle-like mechanism. You run into a corridor. Running is easy, so you attempt to jump, as soon as the corridor ends to reveal an empty space. The world you're in definitely does not follow Earth gravity, since your jump was higher than normal. You land straight in the middle of the space.

Your few seconds of peculiar inactivity in the middle of the empty space is interrupted by a quick yet ominous buzzing sound. You got hit. It didn't hurt but the red gauge floating on the upper left corner of your field of vision shows that it had a significant damage to your life. You turn around and see the perpetrator, wearing a purple suit of futuristic armor, charging towards you. You fire your weapon, and after moments of sparks and noise, body parts erupt from where your opponent used to be. You let out a sigh of relief. A few seconds later however, the familiar ominous buzzing sound makes another appearance. You got hit again, and as always, it did not hurt. The only difference now is that that is the last time you'll ever get hit, at least during that insignificant painless life that only lasted for a minute and a few seconds.

Videogames have really changed. From the pixelated single player adventures that had definite storylines to finish, games are now designed to be immersive and addictive, complete with manufactured visuals that are close to reality and a certain capacity for socialization. Videogames have not only created worlds, they have created lives that are as replaceable as ammo, leading to world rules that do away with morality and the sanctity of things that are normally sacred in the real world. Videogames have allowed us to live second lives that are presided over by the very simple law of kill or be killed. However, these secret second lives, lived only inside wired bedrooms or paid game hubs, are but mutations of the uneventful and painful real lives that gave way to them. The distances between these lives are short. But to travel back and forth, unmindful of the repercussions of being sucked into the seductive delights of a life with hardly any rules and complexities, poses an inherent danger.

Oleg Sentsov's Gaamer explores the gap between these two lives. Through the story of young Koss (Vladislav Zhuk), who has just been expelled from vocation school but is unaffected because he believes he has a future in gaming, Sentsov paints a portrait of a very mundane life that struggles for some sort of significance. The nameless Ukrainian town that finds itself as the setting for Koss' unremarkable coming-of-age offers no opportunity for excitement. The commuter tram plies its daily route with the same ticket lady inspecting if each passenger has paid their fare. The youth are on the verge of crossing over to adulthood, choosing which particular path would lead them to satisfy their responsibilities with the most ease. Most of them talk about college or work or fulfilling an ambition leftover from an unaccomplished childhood. They wilt away, thawing towards university, or some hobby, or some vocation. All in all, it is a town that aspires for character. Its residents, as a result, can only long to escape from that lifelong boredom.

The pleasures gaming has provided Koss are countless. In his troop, he is a leader, wise in all aspects related to Quake. In the gaming world he thrives in, he is near invincible, allowing him to travel from his town to the capital to win the nationals, paving his way to compete in California along with other anonymous gamers from around the world whose possible dull lives tempt them to do better in their artificial second lives. Those pleasures, like the artificial lives that end as soon as enough hits are absorbed, are temporary. The excitement wears off. The redundancy of real life beckons. Koss has to abandon the fantasies his dissipating childhood has left to live a life that is unadorned and ordinary. Gaamer, in demystifying that particular subculture that has successfully separated generations by exquisitely pointing out the obvious sheens and motivations of those stuck commuting to the game world from the real world, exposes the need for escapism especially from the droll experiences most of humanity is forced to swallow.

In the end, even cinema is an escape. It has to be exposed for what it is. Its portrayals of truths and half-truths should be placed in a perspective of fiction, of being created by another human being. When Koss has readied to graduate from being a gamer to become an adult, he sheds his jacket and prepares to sleep. A celebratory song plays in the background, and Koss, from being melancholic in his delayed decision to grow up, beams a smile, and looks at us. The same way that he broke the barrier that separates videogames from real life, Sentsov breaks the barrier that separates cinema from real life. By revealing the artificiality of his creative exercise, he deepens his agenda, cautioning the world from being too enchanted with second, third, and fourth lives lived vicariously through avatars that are either controlled from a mouse and keyboard or directed by intellectuals behind the camera.

Ogg Cruz

Gaamer (Oleg Sentsov, Ukraine 2012, 92')



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Gaamer

Februari 2012 #340

Slow Criticism 2012

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G

G-FORCE
G.I. JANE
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF THE COBRA
Gaamer
GABBEH
Gabrielle
GABRIELLE
GADJO DILO
GAINSBOURG, VIE HÉROÏQUE
GALAXY QUEST
Gallipoli
The Gallows
Gallows Hill
Gambit
THE GAMBLER
Game
THE GAME
Game of Thrones (Seizoen 5)
Game of Thrones Seizoen 1
GAMER
Le gamin au vélo
GAMLE MAEND I NYE BILER/OLD MEN IN NEW CARS
GANGS OF NEW YORK
Gangs of Wasseypur
Gangster Squad
GANGSTERBOYS
Het gangstermeisje
GARAGE
GARAGE DAYS
GARAGE OLIMPO
Les garçons et Guillaume, à table!
THE GARDEN
GARDEN STATE
GARFIELD
GARFIELD: A TALE OF TWO KITTIES
GARPASTUM
GAS, FOOD, LODGING
Gasland part I & II
GASTON'S WAR
GATTACA
IL GATTOPARDO
GAY
GAZON MAUDIT
Les géants
GEEN BEREIK
GEEST UIT DE POLDER
GEGE
Gegen die Wand
HET GEHEIM
Het geheim van Delft
HET GEHEIM VAN MEGA MINDY
GELUK IS ALS GLAS
EEN GELUKKIGE HAND
DE GELUKKIGE HUISVROUW
EEN GELUKKIGE TIJD
GEMINI (SOSEIJI)
Gemma Bovery
The General
THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER
GENERATION KILL
LA GENÈSE
GENESIS
Genius
GENOVA
LES GENS NORMAUX N'ONT RIEN D'EXCEPTIONNEL
GEORGE MICHAEL: A DIFFERENT STORY
GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE
Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye
GEORGI AND THE BUTTERFLIES
GEORGIA RULE
GEORGICA
Gerhard Richter Painting
GERMINAL
Geronimo
GERONIMO: AN AMERICAN LEGEND
GERRY
GESPENSTER
GET BACK
GET CARTER
The Get Down
Get Hard
GET HIM TO THE GREEK
GET LOW en de arthouse-western
GET ON THE BUS
Get Out
GET REAL
GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN'
GET SHORTY
THE GETAWAY
Gett — The Divorce Trial of Viviane Amsalem
GETTING EVEN WITH DAD
GETTING HOME
GETTING MY BROTHER LAID (MEIN BRUDER DER VAMPIR)
GETTYSBURG
GEVANGEN OP JAVA
GEVANGENEN VAN DE GROND
DE GEVLEKTE HOND (A PIEBALD DOG RUNNING ON THE EDGE OF THE SEA)
De geweldige beer
GFP Bunny
THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS
GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI
GHOST IN THE SHELL
Ghost in the shell
GHOST IN THE SHELL 2
GHOST RIDER
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D
GHOST SHIP
GHOST WORLD
THE GHOST WRITER
Ghostbusters
GHOSTS FROM THE PAST
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST
Gianni e le donne
THE GIFT
The Gift
GIGANTE
GIGLI
Gimme Danger — Long Live The Stooges
GIMME SHELTER
Ginger & Rosa
GINGER SNAPS
THE GINGERBREAD MAN
GIORNI E NUVOLE
The Girl
GIRL 6
Girl Most Likely
The Girl on the Train
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
GIRL, INTERRUPTED
GIRLFIGHT
THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE
Girlhood
GIRLS UNITED
GLADIATOR
GLADIATOR
LES GLANEURS ET LA GLANEUSE
GLAS OP CELLULOID
Glassland
Glee the 3D Concert Movie
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS
THE GLIMMERMAN
GLITTERBUG
GLORIA
Gloria
Glory
Gluckauf
GLUE
GNOMEO & JULIET
GO
GO GET SOME ROSEMARY
GO WEST, YOUNG MAN!
GOAL KICK OFF
God Bless America
GOD IS MY DJ
GOD TOLD ME TO
GOD'S LONELY MAN
THE GODDESS OF 1967
THE GODFATHER DVD COLLECTION
GODS AND MONSTERS
Gods of Egypt 3D
GODSEND
GODZILLA
Godzilla 3D
DAS GOEBBELS EXPERIMENT
De goede dood
GOHATTO
Going in Style
GOING THE DISTANCE
GOING TO SCHOOL WITH MY DAD ON MY BACK
Gold
GOLDEN BALLS
THE GOLDEN BOWL
THE GOLDEN COMPASS
GOLDENEYE
GOLDFISH MEMORY
Goltzius and the Pelican Company
GOLVEN
GOMORRA
GONE BABY GONE
Gone Girl
GONE IN 60 SECONDS
Gone With the Wind
GONIN
GOOD ADVICE
GOOD BYE, LENIN!
A Good Day To Die Hard
The Good Dinosaur
THE GOOD GERMAN
THE GOOD GIRL
THE GOOD HEART
Good Kill
A GOOD MAN IN AFRICA
GOOD MEN, GOOD WOMEN
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
Good People
GOOD ROCKIN' TONIGHT
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
THE GOOD SON
GOOD WILL HUNTING
A GOOD WOMAN
A GOOD YEAR
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
GOODBOY!
GOODBYE BAFANA
GOODBYE LOVER
GOODBYE SOLO
GOODBYE SOUTH, GOODBYE
A GOOFY MOVIE
GOOISCHE VROUWEN
Gooische Vrouwen 2
Goosebumps 3D
GORDEL VAN SMARAGD
GORDOS
GOSFORD PARK
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
GOSSIP
GOTHIKA
GOUD
DE GOUDEN SWIPE
DE GOUDLIJN PARAMARIBO — DAM
LE GOÛT DES AUTRES
GOUTTES D'EAU SUR PIERRES BRÛLANTES
GOYA'S GHOSTS
Gozaran — Time Passing
GRACE IS GONE
Grace of Monaco
GRACE OF MY HEART
LA GRAINE ET LE MULET
GRAN TORINO
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Le grand cahier
Grand central
Le grand soir
LE GRAND VOYAGE
La grande bellezza
IL GRANDE COCOMERO
GRANDE HOTEL
La grande illusion
Il grande sogno
The Grandmaster
GRAVE DANGER
THE GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES
Gravity
GRBAVICA
GREASE
GREAT ECSTASY OF ROBERT CARMICHAEL
Great Expectations
GREAT EXPECTATIONS
The Great Gatsby
GREAT KILLS ROAD
GREAT MIGRATIONS
The Great Northwest
THE GREAT RAID
The Great Wall
THE GREAT WHITE HYPE
GREEN HAT
THE GREEN HORNET
The Green Inferno
The Green Inferno en Knock Knock (Eli Roth over)
Green Lantern 3D
THE GREEN MILE
Green Room
GREEN ZONE
GREENBERG
Greencard Warriors (Miriam Kruishoop over)
Greetings from Tim Buckley
The Grey
THE GREY ZONE
GRIDLOCK'D
DE GRIEZELBUS
GRIMM
Grimsby
THE GRINCH
GRINDHOUSE: DEATH PROOF
GRINDHOUSE: PLANET TERROR
GRIZZLY MAN
De groeten van Mike!
Gromozeka
HET GROOTSTE VAN HET GROOTSTE, ABRAHAM TUSCHINSKI
GROOVE
GROSSE POINTE BLANK
DE GROT
GROTE KLEINE MUIS: CIRKELIENTJE
DE GROTE TOVENAAR
DE GROTE VAKANTIE
De grote Zwaen
GROUNDHOG DAY
GROWN UPS
Grown Ups 2
THE GRUDGE
THE GRUDGE 2
Grudge Match
GRUMPIER OLD MEN
GRUMPY OLD MEN
GUANTANAMERA
The Guard
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
GUARDING TESS
GUERNSEY
Güeros
La Guerre est Déclarée
GUESS WHO
A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS
GUINEVERE
GULLIVER'S TRAVELS 3D
GUMMO
The Gunman
THE GUNS OF NAVARONE
THE GURU
GUS VAN SANT BOX
El Gusto