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Guardians of the Galaxy — I'm not sure what you guys liked about this. I liked the first one better; the action seemed more human-level, while 2's CG felt like it dominated the entirety of the movie. I'll watch it again at some time that is not 2AM on a fucking long flight. I really wanted to like this more; maybe the second time's a charm?
 
F8 of the Furious is the cinematic version of what I visualized when playing with Hot Wheels and action figures in my youth, plus the realistic family drama of a Mexican telenovela. Adolescent humor, girls in hotpants, and plenty of destruction to go alongside the vroom-vroom races. It's fun, but nothing else. 
 
Ghost in the Shell was MUCH better than I'd expected. The visuals are better than the writing, a pretty common occurrence lately, but I was surprised how much of GitS comic style, attitude and basic theory they managed to put into this new work, while deftly avoiding Shirow's tendency toward UTTERLY FUCKING OPAQUE political subtext. I'll probably buy this just to watch the purdy pictures.
 
Unlocked stars Noomi Rapace, one of my current favorite actors, alongside a surprising appearance by Orlando Bloom. I had no idea this movie existed, so was completely open for whatever it delivered. It's a good, possibly overly convoluted spy movie, where Rapace plays an interrogation specialist for the CIA (they do some hand-waving about her birth and accent) who is on psychological leave of absence, but is called in for an emergency job. Things get hairy quickly. It was good, not great. 
 
Kong: Skull Island is a fun action movie with just the right amount of social/ecological commentary. I enjoyed that they placed it in an earlier era, and against the backdrop of a war which we more clearly lost. They could have put it up against our successful but lackluster Desert Storm, or the ill-advised GW Bush follow-up, but by putting it in the era of Viet Nam, it was clear what kind of dilemma the military had been facing, and why they might long for a black-and-white struggle against which to pit themselves. 
 
Also saw Jeepers Creepers with my family, and was pleasantly surprised. I'd heard it was a good movie, full of surprises. It has snappy dialog, good twists, and reinforces my belief that no-one should ever visit rural Florida. Ha ha, Justin Long.
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The Girl with All the Gifts — This film had me enrapt from start to finish. This is a sterling, fresh and fascinating take on the zombie genre. If anything, this is an altered perspective on the statement made in the novelette, I Am Legend. I was never sure which way the story would go, and in the end I was fascinated with the varied and complex emotions it instilled in me. There are a couple of odd continuity problems in the story, but nothing ruinous. The girl who played the lead is going to be huge.

Swiss Army Man — The Daniels, as they credit their shared writers/directors effort, do a passable Michel Gondry imitation, including sweded films, makeshift scenery, and the volume of fully three films' worth of twee intimacy. Along the way they leap gleefully past every limitation of good taste to indulge in fart, shit, vomit, and boner jokes, as Hank (living but emotionally dead) and Manny (dead but emotionally alive) collaborate to rescue each other from their predicament, finding the meaning of love or at least true compassion along the way. It's never clear if we're actually dealing with a man who was stranded on a deserted island, or if it's simply a figurative one. The ending is fantastic, but does nothing to clarify the so-called reality of the film's preceding scenes. 

GTA

Jun. 6th, 2017 07:35 am
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Re-playing STILL more GTA5 singleplayer on PS4. I've realized that many of the things I didn't see in my 360 playthrough were probably broken at game launch. Franklin's cab company purchase and its associated "special fare" mission were broken, that's well documented. Calls to Trevor from Martin's elderly wife didn't happen, but her emails arrived, I think. There are lots of small notes that add to the overall story experience.

It's also gorgeous. As much as I raved about Watchdogs 2, GTA5 does a better job of representing the southern california environment than WD2 does of San Francisco. Something about the sky, the air quality and the depth of visibility, how colors and saturation shift in the distance, and the depiction of mountains, hills, rocks… well, Rockstar nails it perfectly. No knock on the WD2 effort, which probably didn't cost $200M to develop.

HOWEVER, jesus, speaking of Ubisofting, Trevor's submarine mission to get all the toxic waste, and AGAIN with Michael and a dinghy to search for sunken submarine pieces, this is just a tremendous amount of time-wasting, un-fun, exasperating tedium. I remember thinking "NEVER AGAIN" when I did the 360 version, and I should have kept to that; instead, I'm kinda looking at that Platinum Trophy and thinking, I like this game well enough that I want a full-completion, and that little OCD demon is sitting on my shoulder, nodding.

anime

May. 25th, 2017 08:42 am
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I have a soft spot for '70s-'90s anime, and love the character/mecha designs and such, but anime seems to have increasingly crawled up its own ass in an ouroboros-like attempt to appeal to its already-overserved core audience.

Urusei Yatsura or Ranma appeal to EVERYONE. Crayon Shinchan is funny to everyone. But girls whose legs turn into battleships, or an academy for lesbian witches begins from an intent which itself is highly suspect.
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 Beautiful World by Devo just came on, and I felt compelled to post in that LJ way, which is now the Dreamwidth way, and that's way good. 

"Makes me want to say, 'It's a beautiful world!' for you, for you, for you! It's not for me!"

Had a fantastic weekend out with a friend who is leaving for Tokyo soon, and another who lives in Tokyo but came down for BitSummit 5. So many inspiring people and experiences there. Stayed at 9 Hours again, for the win. It wasn't as cheap as previous times, but still a clean and relaxed environment to crash at. 

Here's an answer I recently posted on Quora about working in Japan:

It’s rough. I worked in US game development for 8 years at five companies, and then over 10 more years in Japan at one company, before returning to US game development. From nearly every angle, developing in America is more rewarding than in Japan.

The salary is lower in Japan. I took at 15% pay cut from my US Art Director salary to take a corporate Director position. Some friends have taken closer to 50% pay cuts when joining a Japanese developer.

The hours are consistently longer in Japan. In 20 years, I’ve worked crunchtime in a number of companies; Japan demands more. A non-crunch workweek was ~50 hours but, prior to delivering builds, 60–65 hours was common, and we would be in 70~80 hours a week across 7-day-weeks for the last several months of any project.

Consideration from the company for the individual is largely unheard of in Japanese dev. It is culturally normal to see one’s efforts as part of the group’s, and this mentality of course carries into the workplace. It is critical to get tacit approval from superiors, because one is making a decision for the company as a whole, not just on one’s own responsibility.

On the positive side, my Japanese teammates were consistently hard working, diligent, faithful, and consistent. They would deliver on promises consistently, and largely communicated well when things were not going as planned. As a manager, I never felt left in the lurch. 

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I have rarely been more disappointed in a movie than Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom. I learned afterwards that it is based on a comic book, which has a significantly different art style. The movie clearly wants to be similar to a Laika film in its character depiction. The designs are very similarly proportioned, the shots' framing are sometimes similar, and the general tone is clearly aping Laika. However, I've seen Laika films, I know Laika films, and this is no Laika film. The entire movie looks like it is made from the pre-viz work that would go into a real movie. The lighting, textures, pacing, editing, etc. are all waiting for an editor to have their way with them before being passed to the people who will film the actual content.

My first thought was that it was older. We've all gone back and watched the original Toy Story and been shocked at the image quality – how it seemed amazing at the time, and now it's just weak sauce. So I figured this Frozen Kingdom maybe had been made in 2010 or 2005 – that might have explained it. – Nope, it's a 2016 film. Or at least that's when it was released… maybe the initial work was done much earlier, and it was shelved while waiting for a release?

It just feels like I got suckered in. The cast has Ron Perlman, Christopher Plummer, and Jane Curtain. It seemed like it would be a legitimate production!

It was not.
chronovore: (sweater)
It hadn't dawned on me that the Russian ownership of LJ means that, with the new TOS, being supportive of LGBTQ issues is against their federal laws and therefore against TOS.
http://boingboing.net/2017/04/08/six-to-end.html
So I'm dreamwidth-bound, it was nice seeing you. Hit me up over there.

Rogue One

Dec. 19th, 2016 03:38 pm
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Saw it. Loved it. Yeah, it's the least Star-Warsy Star Wars movie, but it worked. There are SW fanthings out there whose favorite post-Original Trilogy works are the Rogue Squadron novels. I bet this movie works just fine for them.

I honestly didn't see the end coming that way. I assumed it would go down differently because it's a Disney movie, but DAMN that was a satisfying, beautiful way to handle things.

The CGI characters were fine. It was surprising, but well handled overall -- but I agree I would have preferred to keep it slightly less front-and-center. Some people think one character was handled better than another, but I thought they were equally well-done, but imperfect.

K2-SO had me laughing aloud repeatedly, and Donnie Yen's character had me cheering.

Complaints: Forrest Whittaker was misused; there is some backstory there we should have seen, but didn't. He was Frank Booth-ing it up big time, and we have no idea why. Exposition was handled clumsily, without exception. Character names were mishandled; I have no idea what Yen's character was named. Captain Andor's name is two opposed conjunctions. Who the FUCK designed the Empire's server farm? That thing is five flavors of bullshit. I mean, cool, but it was apparently the same guy who designed the Death Star's impractical tractor beam control. Oh, forgot that the shot of Mustafar should have been labled "MORDOR" because, Jesus, could they lift any more from the visuals of LOTR?

ANYWAY: Awesome.
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Watched Justin Lin's and Simon Pegg's 2Trek2Furious this morning. Beyond isn't a great movie, and there are missed opportunities on just about every front. I'm mildly grateful that the action sequences are coherent, though they also suffer from an impracticality level that is difficult to discuss in a movie which features casual teleportation devices and humanoid aliens who either speak English natively, through a translator, or have mysteriously learned it from ships' logs. The new aliens have vaginas for ears, which is in line with Klingons having clitoral foreheads, through one of them has a facehugger on the back of her head.
I am still not tired of watching Quinto-as-Spock (he nails it), Urban-as-Bones, or even Chris Pine playing the Kelvin Timeline's Kirk who is ALWAYS GETTING HIS ASS KICKED.
The final battle was oddly, unnecessarily wrongly long.
spoiler )
Happy I saw it. It's muuuuuuch better than Into Darkness, but still problematic from a fan perspective.
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I work in Unity; my partner had me purchase Unity Pro so we had parity in working environment; we didn't want ANYTHING to bite us in the ass over version differences; little did we know, Unity is capable of fucking up ANYTHING.

My initial license is $75/month and doesn't cover iOS builds. Soon, Unity allows for iOS builds in non-Pro subscriptions, but with a splashscreen. My clients don't want a splashscreen.

I spend three weeks sorting out with Unity how to make this happen, because (a) the fuckers didn't respond to net inquiries through their site for 10 days, until I called them out on Twitter, and (b) the solution was actually right in front of me in a mail which allowed for a subscription upgrade... but Unity had not included any form of language in the offer about what is actually included. NONE. Not a damned thing.

When support finally confirms that the offer will get me splashscreen-free deployment on iOS, I proceed through payment. Despite Unity having my CC information on-hand for my existing subscription, it requires me to re-enter my CC info. This engages a new in-frame "Verified by Visa" step which requires another re-entering of the same data. After that, it wants me to establish a password for Verfied by Visa, which I do. After that, it drops me back at the Unity store page:

DECLINED

Not only declined, but as I found out today, nearly a week later, it had triggered fraud protection on my CC, so the other charges I've made since then were blocked without notification. I spent nearly an hour on the phone with the bank today clearing all that up.

My CC is again available for use. I re-initiate the process for buying the "new Pro" subscription for Unity, but now the price on the specified site (only accessible through my special offer mail), which is supposed to be $75/mo through 12/31 instead shows $125/mo.

I'm as mad as a cat forced to wear wet pajamas.
chronovore: (sweater)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Æthelred_the_Unready

'"Unready" is a mistranslation of the Old English word unræd (meaning bad-counseled), a twist on his name "Æthelred", meaning noble-counseled. It should not be "unprepared", but rather "ill-advised".'
chronovore: (sweater)
Had a dream last night that bronchitis was a demonic presence and had lodged in my nasal passageway just noseward of my right eye. It was going to be in there and causing pain until I could get it exorcised. I woke up several times during the night with a headache in that spot, so I thought it was real. I couldn't wake up enough to realize that it wasn't demonic, so every time I woke up it was my impression that the headache would be endless. 
chronovore: (sweater)
Lyle was hunting geese in the Northern Minnesota woods. He leaned his old 16 gauge against the corner of the blind to take a leak
As luck would have it, his Labrador dog Ginger knocked the gun over, it went off, and Lyle took most of an ounce of #4 shot into the groin.
Several hours later, lying in a Duluth hospital bed, he came to and there was his ER doctor, Sven.
"Vell Lyle, I got some good noos and some bad noos. Da good noos is dat you’re going to be OK. Da damage vas local to your groin, dere was very little internal bleeding, and I vas able to remove all da buckshot.
"What's the bad news?", asks Lyle.
"The bad noos is dat dere vas some pretty extensive buckshot damage done to your pecker. I'm going to have to refer you to my sister, Lena.
"Well, I guess that isn't too bad," says Lyle. "Is your sister a plastic surgeon?"
cut for punchline )
chronovore: (sweater)
In the Scorpion TV show, as encouragement for his team of four geniuses, the lead character at one point trots out a line: "We have a collective IQ of 700!"

So does a preschool classroom full of five-year-olds. What a stupid thing to say. Hardly genius. 
chronovore: (sweater)
...this is a stupid idea full of poorly considered consequences, but Japan, a nation with a dwindling population and underpopulated rural regions should just start flying Libyan refugees in by the planeload. 
chronovore: (sweater)
I've been on a Guillermo Del Toro kick, so I rewatched Blade II and Hellboy. Blade was just about as good as I'd remembered, with plenty of very comic-book styled action and gorgeous visuals, from the ruined Eastern European industrial and rave settings to the indulgently slick artifact-like technology of the vampire strike team. I was surprised to see how much of Blade II GDT brought with him to his TV series, The Strain. It was also surprising to see Red Dwarf's "Cat" and Defiance's Datak Tarr in the vampire strike team, and Norman Reedus on Blade's support team. I had forgotten or perhaps never noticed how much CG is used during some of the fight scenes -- not the exploding bodies, of course, but the leaping about and vampire-kung-fu scenes have some particularly elegant-for-its-time transitions to-and-from live action actors. This turned out to be true for Hellboy as well.

Everly was a 99¢ special, so I took a chance on it. In general, I don't think Salma Hayek is often hired for her acting skills as much as her figure. She wasn't bad in this, which surprised me. On the other hand, the script was just frustratingly bad. It felt like someone wanted to write a more comic book version of Kill Bill, but include a nearly single stage, theatrical set in which to show it. Plus add a little grit and maybe some torture porn. I can't stand the latter. Just so much stuff didn't make internally consistent sense. I'm fine with suspension of belief to just about any degree, but I can't stand when the Reality Gauge needle is shoved around like a bullied victim in a school yard.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was great popcorn fun, and that's about it. M:I 3 and Ghost Protocol are both movies which made an impression. I could tell you about all kinds of scenes in this one, but the overall plot was less satisfying and coherent than JJ's previous outings.

book notes

Aug. 11th, 2015 08:03 am
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"Clarity is an overrated component of storytelling. James Ellroy’s The Big Nowhere, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and David Peace’s Nineteen Seventy-Seven are three of my favorite crime novels, and I don’t think I could explain their plots with a gun to my head.
What matters in crime fiction is feeling. It’s attitude, atmosphere, dialogue, mood. It’s the idea of one or more individuals going up against institutions of great power. It’s the idea that the underworld exists, right in front of you, all the time, and you just have to look."

Grantland, on True Detective's second season
chronovore: (sweater)
Noticed last night that one of the lights is out in the kitchen, so today I removed it, took it to the store for a match, and bought a new one. I had the clerk recycle the old fluorescent bulb.
I got home, plugged the new one in, turned on the row, and it turns out I've replaced a working bulb.
chronovore: (sweater)
Trying to figure out when I should stop playing Batman: Arkham Origins.
There are a heap of 'Cheevos I won't be getting. I never manage to get the "all the special moves and gadgets in a single combo" Achievement, and the Combat/Predator Challenges I usually do well, but not Gold Medals across the board. I'm not going back to Deathstroke or Shiva for a perfect victory. I'd just get frustrated. I also won't be touching the tacked-on multiplayer component. No, thanks.
I finished the main story several days ago, then went and did the assassins which weren't part of the main story, then did all the murder cases (neat, simplified use of either Remember Me "rewind" feature), and am now cleaning up Blackgate escapees and collecting Enigma packages.
I just cannot believe the interminable number of Enigma Packages. Earlier, I beat up all the Enigma Data Handlers, revealing all the Packages, OR SO I THOUGHT. Later more Data Handlers were added, meaning I had to backtrack and get more Packages from areas I thought I'd cleared. Also frustrated when a Package is either higher than can be seen while gliding, or hidden underground in one of those indoor sections. Especially the ones I couldn't get on the first time through the area, during a mission. It feels like I have collected a hundred of them, but I've still got 2~3 dozen Packages on the map.
Apparently if I collect all the Packages, there is a way to finally get into the locked door at Enigma's HQ, and I can arrest him. As the most consistent source of cajoling in the game, I'm tempted to play that one all the way through.

THE GOOD: This is probably the best Batman game out of the lot, and it was made by Splash Damage, not Rocksteady. SD clearly understands not only what works from Rocksteady's formula, but has gone further with the established art direction and added more clear color, lighting, and structural landmark cues which make navigating a more intuitive effort than in Asylum or City.

Moreover, the story has a clear arc which is a joy to play through, definitely capturing the angry and brooding nature of young Batman, even if he has a lot more toys than Miller's Batman: Year One ever enjoyed. Unlike the previous games, I can actually tell you what the story consists of despite taking place in a sprawling open-world game. Very satisfying.

Which is part of the problem, I think: I'm done with the story, save Enigma's capture, and it is difficult to motivate myself to keep playing, like a comic which seems to have wordless panels with random character placement even after the story has completed.

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