chronovore: (sweater)
"What takes a long time to get finished will be finally good" - Ulrike
chronovore: (sweater)
Mulan
And why not? Movie is still better paced, and has better music than Frozen. There’s also no opportunistic male betrayal casually thrown in as a lever to pry apart siblings. The message of culture being important but also needing to evolve has never been more important.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Mark Millar’s casual douchery is more subdued here than in WANTED, and there are no peanut-butter-craving rats in this, so: WIN. The observations on class and entitlement were my favorite bits. The action was epic, and very few plot steps were nonsensical. Nice to see Sam Jackson doing something quirky, to boot.

Taken 3
Should have been taken back and shot. The Brian Mills character has gone from a security consultant to a Special Forces veteran with a top secret record. No longer a clever and resourceful beast of his own history, he now uses his cellphone in a stolen police cruiser to “hack the LAPD” while being chased. Also, after handling stepdads in the best light in the original movie, why fall prey to the lamest of clichés about them now? It was nice seeing Brian’s team step up and risk everything to help him, and the LA setting was well handled; otherwise, though: bleh.`

This is Spinäl Tap
Sorry I can’t get the umlaut on the “n” like a true fan would manage. This movie is still perfect. Watching Tap go through its various eras, mocking each of the music of the time is just so glorious. I enjoyed every minute.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
I fell asleep. In fairness, this was 1:30AM for me, and I was having a rough flight, but for a Guy Ritchie movie, it was somehow a slog. Their take on Moriarty was interesting, but it doesn’t explain why Sherlock doesn’t just wetwork the Professor during their initial meet-up when he states that Watson’s family is also a planned target. I know I’m arguing logic in a movie with Cossacks who parkour but, hey.
chronovore: (sweater)
nihil obstat |ˈnīhil ˈäbstat| noun(in the Roman Catholic Church) a certification by an official censor that a book is not objectionable on doctrinal or moral grounds.ORIGIN Latin, literally nothing hinders.
chronovore: (sweater)
Horrible Bosses (1) - A fun, by-the-numbers comedy which openly acknowledges its connection to Strangers on a Train, only to throw most of that connection out the window before the halfway mark. Jamie Foxx’s “‘Motherfucker’ Jones” character was a highlight. Bonus points for Kevin Spacey as a believable dickbag boss, and double-bonus points if I can find a supercut of Jennifer Aniston’s horny dentist clips on YouTube.

Horrible Bosses 2 - I lasted the first 10 minutes, as the tone had changed to some kind of three-man Dumb and Dumber sight gag comedy, with fake gay sex on live morning TV as an opener.

The November Man - Pierce Brosnan as a CIA assassin, protecting Olga Kurylenko from... well, eventually everyone else in the cast. It’s not a bad movie, but several clichés I’d hoped would not come into play did. The action sequences were good, and most of the spy craft was kept believable, including a couple of red herrings thrown in for good measure. It’s possibly down to direction, but the acting is very ham-handed across the board. Olga Kurylenko never had a chance, because she’s inherently awful, but even Bronson and the CIA boss, Bill Smitrovich, I’ve seen be able to act, but not so much here.
chronovore: (sweater)
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark ダークフェアリー : I figured Guy Pearce and Guillermo del Toro with faeries would be an automatic win. Nope. Self-indulgent suspense scenes instead feel like lingering establishing shots. Casting of the daughter was odd; she looked like she /could/ be Katie Holmes’ daughter, but she’s Guy Pearce’s daughter, and Katie’s the stepmom. I guess a daughter that looked like Guy Pearce would be a different kind of horror movie. I quit halfway through this turd.
Justice League: The New Frontier: Lots of fun superhero stuff, cast against the Cold War and McCarthyism. I liked the older costumes, including a costume transition for Batman. I want to pick up the Darwyn Cooke original works now.

oblivion

Oct. 13th, 2014 05:02 pm
chronovore: (sweater)
I watched Oblivion. I really wanted to like this movie, but there are too many “wait, what?” moments peppered throughout it for me to consider it serious SF. There are so many ways they could have made this movie suck less.

What I liked:
It was really pretty. The tech was pretty. Turns out it was almost all meaningless, due to the main plot conceit, but it was neat.
The music was awesome. Like Tangerine Dream produced by Hans Zimmer.
The effects, especially the landscape shots were just gorgeous.
I’m always happy to look at Olga Kurlyenko.
Tom Cruise is fun to watch.
A fairly subversive but insufficiently explored subtext about each of us unthinkingly carrying out our role in society, which is actually being ruled by entities which don’t have our best interests at heart, and are running drone attacks on those who could potentially ally with us.

What I didn’t like:
Vika is made out to be an unlikable person; the idea that the two of them would get along for the duration of the three year contract in isolation is unrealistic but, already, I’m arguing about something realistic in a world of cartoon logic.
The repeated phrasing of “Are you an effective team?” is an unnatural phrase which should have greater impact or some larger reveal, but it’s just a key point on which Vika can be made more dislikable.
The story is basically nonsense.
No, really: utter nonsense. The idea that the aliens are playing some weird memory game with Vika and Jack to keep them docile, when it’s later revealed that the aliens had “thousands” of Jacks cloned as dog soldiers in their invasion, is inexplicable. Or, rather, it’s explicable but in a movie as short on logic and thin on story, why not throw in some exposition?
THOUSANDS of Jacks being used in an invasion, but now dozens or hundreds of cloned Jacks are now being used as drone maintenance men, so let’s go through the trouble of setting up designer houses and rebuilding -- or inventing -- our tech so that it can be used by humans.
Hm... the aliens have managed to make their way to Earth, and have set up factories for harvesting energy, which need to be protected by drones, because the drones are made to largely look like human technology...
WHY NOT JUST USE WHATEVER TECHNOLOGY YOU USED TO GET TO EARTH, AND USE IT ON EARTH, INSTEAD OF MAKING STUFF WHICH CAN BE USED BY YOUR CONFUSED CLONE WORKFORCE?

...Jesus.

Also, everyone else hit by alien/drone weapons is burst into charcoal tidbits. It’s a great effect. Morgan Freeman is not burst into charcoal; he has time to give a last soliloquy -- and a bit more on top of that.


I’m glad I saw it, I won’t see it again, and people who are comparing it favorably to PKD’s oeuvre need to read some more books to understand what separates wheat from chaff.
chronovore: (sweater)
Penn & Teller made a movie about their friend, Tim Jenison, inventor and creator of Video Toaster and LightWave. Tim is obsessed with the work of the Dutch artist Vermeer, and explores various optical devices which may have helped Vermeer achieve the stunningly realistic look in his work. Tim sets about re-creating Vermeer’s The Music Lesson.

Jenison is clearly, very, very smart except for the part where he willingly lives in Texas. The experts brought in to look in on Tim’s process included famed British artist David Hockney, due to his earlier research on Vermeer suggesting that a camera obscura had been used, and Prof. Philip Steadman, who has provided proof that some form of optical device must have been used in Vermeer’s work due to the consistent size ratio shown in the work produced from Vermeer’s studio. There’s also Colin Blakemore, whose credit in the cast took up three full rows of text to display all his honors. Apparently he knows a lot about vision.

This was a fascinating and surprisingly humorous work. Very inspiring.

movies

Sep. 27th, 2014 10:19 am
chronovore: (sweater)
The Karate Kid without Karate; Jackie Chan as Sifu not-Miyagi: I really liked it. I don't like just about anything Jackie's done from a Hollywood studio, I don't like Will Smith's son, and I don't like remakes, but this was pretty fun. I'm still not sure why Chan needed backstory added for his surliness, but he had good chemistry with his student. The bad-guy Sifu looked really cruel and arrogant. I halfway thought they'd add a fight between the teachers, but I'm glad the only fight shown with Chan is him beating up children. (Ha!)

Ghibli's Tales from Earthsea: I was excited about this when it was first announced, but never got around to watching it until recently. It's not really watchable. I got through about half of it, but gave up. It's tepid. Gorgeous scenery design, but everything else is bog-standard anime, no Ghibli flavor except character design. The son is not the father.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: Yup, that was a movie. The first half is pretty fun; I was prepared to enjoy the movie a lot, and had zero expectations, so when this medieval/mythic/fable Europe setting begins with sketches of missing children pasted on milk bottles, I was immediately ready for a goofy ride. The movie doesn't bother with euro accents, either; even Gemma Arterton adopts an American English accent for her role opposite Jeremy Renner. Stuff explodes, people get shot (yes, medieval shotguns... and tasers... and record players for that matter), and weirdly Deadite-looking "witches" descend and harass the local population. It is, however, oddly unsatisfying.

Actually, come to think of it, just a little more of a push, and this could have been Army of Darkness 2, with all the guns and quips, and explode-y bits. Add just a little more humor, shift the backstory just a hair so that Gretel is just some girl Ash saved, and it could work. Too bad.
chronovore: (sweater)
Amazing. Easily his best work aside from Brazil. If I understood more about christianity, I'd probably have liked it much more... or much less, if devout. It plays a lot of games with the structure of christianity, modern business, corporate takeover of our lives, and privacy, both physical and virtual.

I bought it the day it came out; it went to digital release same day as its limited theatrical release. Apparently the distributor has made a mess of its release, which is really sad. Christopher Waltz and David Thewlin are both amazing -- Matt Damon's rather good as well.
chronovore: (sweater)
Watched The Queen of Versailles, a documentary covering the David Siegel family's fall from prosperity. The documentary was originally planned to show the building of America's largest single-roof family dwelling by the owner of the world's largest timeshare company.
Then the 2008 financial crisis hits, and it is revealed that the Siegel family is living as far outside their means as the rest of America. There is some blame-casting; some areas Siegels fail to take responsibility for their own decisions, and others are legitimate complaints about the systemic abuse by banks.
I keenly felt the uneven hand of fate, where Siegel is just some chump who had one good idea, rode it out into a sizable fortune, and invests his time in making money rather than paying attention to his family -- though it's arguable that his 1950's Dad Syndrome /is/ his way of showing love to his family. Meanwhile, due to his lack of introspection and self-evaluation, he appears to commit on his family many of the same errors his father did.

The movie is named after the "Queen" however, his wife, and I was utterly surprised at how much sympathy I would end up feeling for her. She seems like a legitimately caring and loving person, with a lot of problems, but whose reliance on money is less of a problem than her need for external validation.

It was a surprising and intimate picture of a well-off family experiencing a crisis. There are many moments of universal wisdom espoused, with many of them offered up nearly unconsciously, and crafted into the larger narrative in a very engaging manner.
chronovore: (sweater)
Finally got around to watching HUGO. I'll have to watch it again to appreciate the storytelling techniques and implications of the various scenes' construction. I could tell I was watching something layered and nuanced, but then Chloe Grace Moretz opens her mouth and it's like she's acting in a different movie from everyone else, except for possibly Sasha Baron Cohen, who was also hamming it up. My guess is, along with other directorial choices like having Ben Kingsley speak directly to the audience during the big reveal, that both Chloe's and Sasha's acting techniques are pointers to other eras of cinema, just as Georges Méliès' actors in his films employed exaggerated body language.
chronovore: (sweater)
I gave up and put on the air conditioner today, when a waterfall of sweat was running off my arms despite sitting directly in front of a fan.

This country is trying to kill me. 
chronovore: (sweater)
This morning, Tom Cruise was in Japan as part of this "Loop Tour" to support All You Need Is Kill's launch next Friday. I felt compelled to watch, as this is apparently his first-ever appearance on a Japanese morning show.

There is ONE WOMAN who is responsible for most or all of the Japanese translations of American films. This senior citizen is apparently the unquestioned queen-god of this niche, and has some kind of political stranglehold on it. She also manages to get herself attached to any major star who comes to Japan and, unlike other translators, gets a name credit shown, is featured on camera, etc. She is, essentially, a celebrity after a fashion.

So she's on with The Cruise Missile this morning, and translating everything back and forth for him -- but seated across from him is Mari Sekine, an announcer who speaks native English after having attended International School and graduating from Emerson. But the native speaker is relegated to speaking Japanese to Cruise so that the self-aggrandizing "translating talent" can fulfill her role.

I don't know why, but it bothered the shit out of me. Something about dealing with established hierarchy over competence, or respecting political barriers rather than embracing efficiency, I suspect.

Yeah, that's it. I can feel myself getting riled up all over again.

Anyway, movie opens next week, and I'm looking forward to seeing it.
chronovore: (sweater)
Previously felt like, Oh, hey, I'm awake at a bright-and-early 05:30, it must be summer.
Then I saw swarms of mosquitoes outside and thought, It's really summer now.
But then last night I woke up to being barnstormed by mosquitoes at 02:00, 04:30, and 05:00 and am fucking knackered for it. NOW IT'S SUMMER.
chronovore: (sweater)
The weather today is pretty great; I mean, it's grey as all get-out, and it's threatening to rain until sundown if the weather reports are to be believed, but right now there's no rain and the breeze is making me pretty happy to be alive and working from home next to an open window and screen door looking out on the deck and yard.

I'm putting in a little time each day into a couple things which are important to me. I'm either working out, learning Japanese, drawing, or training myself up in skills which other people have lately needed from me. The phrasing in that last part is pretty intentional; the database work I'm doing, I'm interested in but not really passionately pursuing.

The customer who wants the DB work done also wants it put on the web, as FileMaker has a web-ready feature which will theoretically allow me to post the Solution (front end + DB) on a web server and it'll "just work." I'm not convinced of that, but I'm hopeful that it won't be horribly painful. In the meantime I'm brushing up slowly on web skills I've let atrophy since 1999, which essentially means re-learning everything except "web sites are just a bunch of files on a server." Apparently the tools are all heaps better now, which is nice.

Crap, spent too much time dallying. I'm going to jump into work, but it's worth noting that the sun is out now, the breeze is still here, and the weather doesn't really get any better than this in ANY season. WOooooo~!
chronovore: (sweater)
Fable 2 was a wonderful, engrossing game for me, and Fable 3 is total crap. I'd give the former 4 out of 5 stars, and the latter 2.

I have been desperately trying to figure out what the difference has been between the two experiences. I'd summarize it as:

  1. This Sanctuary "menu" system, where I navigate my character in an aleph, managing my inventory, clothes, spells, etc. is bloated, heavy, counterintuitive crap. My butler, John Cleese, telling me that there's new DLC available EVERY FUCKING TIME I show up is straining our relationship.

  2. Sanctuary "menu" for my Inventory meant I have an armory somewhere, where my character can change his equipped weapon, spell, and firearm. Somewhere. I spent 25 hours in this game before realizing that (a) spells get changed in the armory, and (b) I already owned all the gauntlets which cast spells.

  3. There is no need to actually travel anywhere 99% of the time; Fast Travel will pop me to the Quest location immediately, so I have no sense of journeying anywhere. Oddly, Fast Travel sometimes seems to put me RIGHT where I need to be, and other times it will put me further away than I was before electing to Fast Travel.

  4. They tried to do something interesting with the "Make a promise" (required to advance the storyline), and then introducing conflict/agony over fulfilling the promise. Sadly the game's own economy makes it circumventable fairly easily, and in the most boring manner possible: I can donate my own sizable reserves to Albion's treasury, eliminating actual consequences. If this worked, it would have been really impressive, even heartbreaking. But it doesn't.

The final confrontation in Fable 3 is worse than in 2. It spends a heap of time implying there'll be a huge battle against an even larger foe than the previous, seriously epic battle for the throne, and ends up being a waltz down Main Street Bowerstone. The game squanders its potential for emotional involvement at every opportunity.

I also enjoyed Fable 2's open-world stuff more than 3's. The town jobs actually had some variation in gameplay, there were a few extended non-main storyline missions, and the minutiae were kind of fun to manage. I also enjoyed fighting.

Fable 3 has that Bioshock Infinite problem where it's no longer necessary to work for anything. I never looked into upgrading my weapons because fighting was never a challenge. When I looked into it, I found I'd never used magic effectively; I used Vortex/wind the whole game. I never even knew weapons could be upgraded by performing some challenges -- why not start the Hero with a weapon which sucks, but has easily-met upgrade conditions? This would educate the player naturally. Fast Travel, again, here. There's no reason to actually run anywhere, so there is no perception if distance or place.

Anyway, it's done. I finished the last tolerable Achievement last night, and now it's on to the next thing. In the end F3 was an education in what NOT to do.

maidentrip

Jun. 4th, 2014 02:47 pm
chronovore: (sweater)
A documentary following the journey of 14-year-old, maybe-Dutch, maybe-New Zealander, maybe Neptune's own brood, Laura Dekker. Born on a boat, and spent the first five years of her life sailing, this film follows her attempt to become the world's youngest person to circumnavigate the earth alone in a boat. Gorgeous film, well paced, and inspiring.

Much of the film is shot by Laura on her boat, and on land with assistance by a film crew. Laura's not rushing around; she visits many ports on her journey, meets a number of interesting characters, and sees many overwhelmingly gorgeous sights. On the water, we see a number of unbelievably beautiful vistas, sunrises, sunsets, and an unfortunate set of storms.

It was an interesting set of mental gymnastics for me. I was worried for her throughout, and also cheering her on. I couldn't let my daughter try something like this, even if she was interested in doing it. Laura's father has raised one of the most independent and singular characters I've ever seen.
chronovore: (sweater)
2011年に以前の会社から引退して、あんまり日本語を書いていません。
最近英会話の仕事を再起動して、僕の生徒さん達が英語日記を書き始まりました。とても良いアイデアと気がつきまして、僕も書こうと決めました。今日から僕も日本語日記を書きます。

正直言うと鉛筆と紙で書けば良いと思いますが、面倒くさくて時間掛かり過ぎて、まだそこほど忍耐が有りません。

えぇ、と... 1ヶ月前からジムに行っています。素晴らしいです。エンドルフィンは本当にたいしたモンです。運動し終わったらとても気分が良くなります。ムードも精神も上がります。今日も行きます。逆に暫くジムへ行かなかったら少しダウンします。短期になったり、怒りやすいなったり、大変です。中毒はこんなかな?

とりあえず以上です。日本語が出来る友達、失敗かミスを気がついたら教えてください。よろしくお願いしますぅ!
chronovore: (sweater)
99¢ rental on iTunes. I really wanted to like this movie, it has Dichen Lachman in an electric blue shock wig, so I was inclined to cheer for it in all ways possible. Sadly, the characters are hard to cheer for, making poor decisions and being entirely unreasonable. Well, it's about love -- maybe that's OK since "love" or lust are involved, but the kind of demands these people were making on each other, I would have walked from any relationship or encounter like these.
A group of actors who met during various Joss Whedon efforts (Cabin in the Woods, Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible; Joss and Jed as well as Eliza Dushku get a shout-out in the credits) got together to make a completely predictable and staggeringly unrealistic romantic comedy about mostly alcoholic oddly-named young people in what may be Los Angeles. I barked laughter at a couple points which may have been improvised. I spent most of my time shaking my head and shouting "FUCK OFF" at the screen. The writing fell flat and was was kind of creepy left-and-right. There were some wild stabs in the dark at literary structure, but sadly a wild stab in the dark was more of a gut wound that left it bleeding out slowly.
The typical noughties rom-com camerawork was solid, the musical score was fun, and the twee-as-fuck soundtrack was pretty charming, but the audio was uneven, and the overall length and pace needed tighter editing.

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