Thursday, 31 May 2012

Bad Weather

What do you not want when in the sex trade? Bad Weather

Okay, read that summary of the movie carefully. It's about sex workers on the remote island of Banishanti, and how their livelihoods are under threat of climate change. Yeah? However... the climate change aspects of the movie are almost 'oh yeah, there's this going on too'.

What it really is is a 'slice of life' movie of these women on Banishanti, how they are basically here against their will (but remain here as they have been dishonoured and have made a life for themselves out here). The most they do with climate change is the odd shot of water and the local crazy man/poet talking about things ending.

Not a bad movie about the rights of these woman, but not what was advertised.


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Cart Johner

Gah! Okay, I watched it, and it was two hours too long.

So, John Carter went to Mars, and became Amazing White Man to solve all problems of all other races. Which is probably true to the original story, but I never read it. Anyway, yes, he fights, and then looks gloomy, then fights some more. The story isn't worth taking note of.

But what I was noting more as I watched was the production design of the CGI ships, and to a lesser degree the creatures. They reminded me incredibly of Star Wars, the recent movies. Did Lucas Arts do CGI work on this? The ships could so easily turn up on any of those planets that I started associating George Lucas with this movie (which would explain the story).

Is it too much to ask that there isn't a sequel? Oh...


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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Disappear in Light

Put on a play, and then Disappear in Light.

This is the movie of the play. Actually, that's wrong, this is the movie of the part up to the play, but not the play itself. It's the movie of the production of the putting on of Jo Randerson's play Good Night The End.

And it's damn good. With the director doing everything herself, she documents the getting of money to initial meetings of people, to some rehearsal (she wasn't allowed to be there, but then she did get 120 hours of footage as it was), and the opening night. If you don't realise what it takes, this is a must watch movie.

And afterwards, we had  Q&A with the director herself. She put a lot of time into this, and it shows.

Go see this if you have the chance.

[No trailer.]


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The Interrupters

When you're faced with violence, you need The Interrupters. These are the people, in Chicago, that are a part of the black neighbourhoods that intervene when there is black violence.

These people get involved, and try to make a difference, telling their stories, and a fair few of them were on the wrong side of the law before they became part of the Interrupters. We get quite a few stories, and sometimes things come out for the better, but not always. But while watching, I wanted to say 'you think you've got it bad? Watch Carte Blanche, and then start complaining.'

Definitely an eye opening movie to watch.


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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Andrew Bird: Fever Year

He's having a hell of time, he is Andrew Bird: Fever Year.

I was hoping for a documentary about this chap, about his time of trying to get through a year of touring while not well, being eccentric and interesting... What I got was basically a concert film with some minor details about his life and how he goes about creating music.

Which would have been more interesting if I knew who Andrew Bird was and liked his music. I didn't, and while I might like his music if I wanted to, I'm not interested in another musician to follow at the moment. So yeah, this wasn't a movie for me. So much so that I was bored during it (although I didn't walk out like someone else did). Can't win them all.


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Yeah, I went to see the latest Will Smith movie. I admit it. I didn't pay for the ticket, and I saw it in 3D.

So Will Smith is like "Damn!" and Tommy Lee Jones is Old and... yeah, this is like the other movies. Only now, Will Smith goes back in time so they can do a lot of jokes about a black man in older New York (although they only end up doing the one). And someone else can play K who can do more stunts that Tommy Lee can. And Tim Curry is in it, as played by Jemaine Clement. Also K seems to have given up his old love from the first movie to have a new romance, because everyone wants that...

Yeah, this movie is like the other ones. Will flails around while his partner (either Tommy Lee Jones or now Josh Brolin (doing a great young Tommy Lee Jones)) plays the straight man. A lot of 'these people are aliens' jokes and call backs to previous movies (no Tony Shaloub however).

Amusing, and pointlessly 3D (like most 3D is). Still, a fun way to while away the time.


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Monday, 28 May 2012

Driven Angry

Wanna see a bad ass movie? No? How about a wanna be bad ass movie that actually cartoonish? Okay then! [IMDB doesn't say this is based on anything, so I'm wondering if this is a take on Ghost Rider.]

So Nick Cage is on the trail of a cult that took his daughter's son, and hook up with token woman Piper (Amber Heard) to do so. And there's lots of driving, some of which is done while being angry. And... yeah. There are some 'revelations', which I'm not sure are supposed to be surprising or not (it's hard to think they would be), that don't really add anything except for allowing for a few scenes of being more 'bad ass'.

And you can tell it is 'bad ass' because it's synonymous with 'degrading to women'. The filmmakers will probably say 'we have Amber being kick ass, so that absolves us of everything else we do', but it doesn't. Expect a lot of nudity and smacking around of women. (There is also some smacking around of men, but far less, and hardly any male nudity.)

Nick Cage is being grunge, Amber Heard is there to be the kick ass excuse for women degradation, and William Fichtner is there to get the best moments (is it just me, or does he look a lot like Christopher Walken?). And Billy Burke also gets a lot of lines, but... let's be honest, no-one is in this movie for the stellar acting opportunities, they are there for the slow-mo shots and fire lots of guns.

So if that's what you are looking for, go for it! But nothing special...


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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Four Horsemen

At the end of the world come the Four Horsemen.

The end in this case being the collapse of America, and possibly the global economy. Basically, we're screwed, and here's why. Empires, Banking, Terrorism, Resources. We're done! Unless we change to a completely different economic structure.

And while this movie takes a hard line with how screwed we are, it doesn't do too much with how this can be fixed. Fine, you can suggest 'let's do a new tax structure', and then wait for the revolution... but none of us are seeing this happening any time soon.

To be honest, after this, I'm basically going to live long enough to watch the world crash and burn... fun!

(In the trailer I saw, there is the line 'we were told to break any law. We have lawyers. If you break a law, then the law is wrong'. Never happens in the movie. :( )


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Dancing with Dictators

When you are a foreigner in another land, to get by, sometimes you need to be Dancing with Dictators.

This is the story of Ross Dunkley, trying to run a paper in Myanmar. He's an Australian, so they don't really want him. The paper must undergo censorship before it publishes, which seems to involve his 51% silent local partner, so there's that problem. Then they cover the elections, which is just dubious and, well, not an actual democratic election... and then things get dangerous. The film crew are deported, two foreigners working there have 'visa problems', and Ross also has problems and is convicted of crime against a woman...

During the last half hour, I was expecting a 'and then he was killed' moment to happen any second. It just shows how much these dictatorship run countries just keep a stranglehold on everything. (It reminded me of Who Killed Chea Vichea?)

A movie to see to get an eye opening view about operating in another country.


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Incessant Visions

Do you experience Incessant Visions?

Erich Mendelshon did, and he used those visions to design buildings. And, strangely for an architect movie, we actually get to see the architecture! Yes, we also get his life, in particular his life with wife Louisa, but we also get to actually look around the buildings he made. Very odd thing to happen. And they do look very nice!

We get quite a few different people commenting on them, and the weakest of these are his descendents, which is a shame. Anyway, good movie for the life and creations of an architect.


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More like No-stars!

Do you want to see a travelogue set in the generic parts of Mexico? Then get yourselves a sci-fi movie!

What we have here are two people stuck in Mexico (or further south) and they need to get back to the USA. One is a creepy unlikable guy, and the other is a woman unhappy in her life. So of course you expect them to have sex at some point, spoiler: they don't. Anyway, they have to get north to the stats, and on the way they have some nondescript encounters with nothing, and eventually learn that their sucky lives are still sucky.

Oh, and there are monsters around because Mexico got infect by space bateria or something. (And I don't think the resulting monsters obey evolutionary rules...) You would hardly believe there are monsters because the first third is the two sucky people, the second third is travelling with others with hints of monsters, and the third is them travelling by themselves with hints of monsters. It's like the movie is shy about showing the reason people might want to go see this movie. We do get one full on moment with the monsters.. in the dark and hard to see, so what's the point?

This movie stars... some nobodies I've never heard of, and while the CGI is pretty enough, it isn't anything to justify a movie. The entire movie is pedestrian from beginning to end.

In the end we know who the real monsters are. The filmmakers.


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Saturday, 26 May 2012


Can anyone be a guru? Can anyone be Kumare?

That's the question director Vikram Gandhi asks as he takes on the Kumare personality. If he can be a guru, anyone can. (And anyone has been.) He sets himself up, gets followers, and tries to teach a few things that he does indeed believe. And, ultimately, as he must, he reveals himself. (Which, to be honest, goes better than I thought it would.)

What he finds out along the way is that making connects with people is a powerful thing. People are wanting to connect, and investing in a seeming authority of a guru is a way of doing that. There's a reason we have so many 'cults of personality'.

I'm not sure how many non-skeptical people will watch this. There are some amusing moments, but it also very telling about how humans work.


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Carte Blanche

How do you deal with the guy that lets people have Carte Blanche?

Back in late 2002, Jean-Pierre Bemba had control of the MLC (Movement for the Liberation of Congo). During that time and after, the MLC moved across Congo, raping, murdering and pillaging. This movie shows the consequences of that, in the form of witness testimony and showing how people are still living today after surviving that.

And of the people trying to bring a form of justice. The film covers the court hearing that would lead to a trial, but as we get to the end of the movie before we hear the outcome, you can guess how well that went. [Actually, it did eventually end up in a trial, and Bemba is currently on trial.] The problem is: can you prove the guy at the top is responsible for how those below him choose to carry out those orders? It ain't easy.

This, by the nature of who they are talking to, is a more emotive film than pure documentary. Since this isn't seemly to be used to bring Bemba to justice, maybe a film about the trial itself might be in order?

[No trailer that I could find.]


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2 Portal 2

So spent the entire day (more or less) yesterday playing Portal 2. And not by myself! Yes, at last, I managed to co-op with someone! I far prefer co-op to PVP, and the chap I played with is a great guy, so it was a fun experience.

Having already seen others play it a long time ago, I did recall some of the rooms, so I let the other guy (no, I'm not going to name him, as I didn't ask if I could) take the lead. That said, some points I do recall taking ages to work out, so was willing to drop big hints after not too long. That further said, I didn't remember everything, so was discovering it again, and some of those maps are very hard indeed! (And it's been a while since I did any Portalling...)

While there was the challenge of the game itself, there was also the challenge of the meta-game, namely achievements. There were a few that we spent time making sure we got, even when it had nothing to do with the level we were dealing with. An annoying one dealt needed luck, but we eventually got there for both of us. And another one we straight up looked up where to go for it, it wasn't worth the effort of making sure we checked every single level... However, I am very impressive concerning one with a cube. I didn't think we'd get it at all, and then first time, bam! We got it! Huzzah! (Well done to the other guy for working it all out.)

However, we also used the in-Steam chat facility. Which caused major hiccups on the computers when trying to connect to each other while loading the game, and then we couldn't talk to each other during loading screens. That was irritating. And has anyone brought an in-game hat? The only ones we used are the free ones. (Nice looking hat though.)

So, yes, co-op'ing is fun, and I look forward to more of it!


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Friday, 25 May 2012


Fox animated movies are generally at the lower end of the scale... and this movie is definitely at the lower end of that! (Although I have never seen Shark Tales, which I suspect is the lowest.)

The exciting story involves a bird being birdnapped and brought up in the city, is then taken out to a more rural environment and has to win the heart of the girl... which is just like any other 'out of fish' story! Bob makes the point that formula isn't bad, it gives the chance for the movie to focus on something else, eg characters. However, I can't say that they tried that hard with the characters either. The big schtick is that the bird needs to accept his roots... I mean, learn how to fly, yeah, that's it... And it's about as exciting as you'd think.

Fox always makes a deal about the stars it gets, and here we have Jesse Eisenberg (who does a good job, although sounds a lot like NPH at times... ironic as that's who he is replacing!), Anne Hatheway, Leslie Mann, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx,, Jeremy Clements... okay, not as big as some, but still you hear the voices as the actors more than experience the characters.

A nothing special movie that is alright if you must watch an animated movie, but there are far better ones out there.


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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Five Star Existence

Living with technology, we are living a Five Star Existence. Which a good thing? Bad thing?

The film is basically interviews with people who only have one name and they deliver dialogue over cinematic shots. I'm not sure if I was too distracted by the cinematography (certainly it didn't feel like 90 minutes), but I think I missed the point.

A lot of the people are talking about how disjoint we've become because of technology, how dependent we are, how negative it is, and yet how pervasive and necessary it is. And then some people are presented whereby if it wasn't for technology, they wouldn't have a lifestyle of normal existence, let alone five star. So... the point is? We should switch off? But then we wouldn't be able to have this film telling us about it.

While not reaching didactism, I would appreciate a little more clarity on what this film is trying to say.


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They are the black middle class of South Africa. They are the Forerunners. And they are taking part in a very disjointed movie.

I'm thinking this movie wasn't aimed at me. For a long time in the movie we see the four main characters in their world of being middle class, and I'm not sure of what the excitement is. As middle class myself, I'm going 'is there something special about this?' If we had more context for why this was unusual (presuming it is, it is a movie documentary about it), then that might mean something. It's as if the movie thinks we already have that context, and this is just a piece of the puzzle.

And then we get them interacting with the more cultural (read: older) traditions, of going back to the village where they lived, of joining with family, of interacting with others who deal with that, and then we see the conflict. Although it's very abbreviated and thus seems one step removed from being a problem. They do interact, so where's the tension?

This film would have benefited from being longer and giving more context.


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The Hungry Tide

[This is playing at the DocNZ festival, but I saw the shorter SBS documentary version.]

The islands of Kiribati are slowly being swallowed up by the ocean. To help stop this, a group, involving Maria Tiimon, go to the Copenhagen conference to try to get countries to agree to policies to restrict carbon emission and keep temperature rise down.

Well... I could have told them how that was going to work out. And I think you can too. The conference did agree to setting up lots of money to help the islands combat the oncoming tide. Go on, guess how effective that is being...

While this is terrible, it does not surprise me in the least that big countries (they mention China and India, but, yeah, like the USA cares more) isn't interested in what is happening out in the ocean. On the other hand, when we get a meter rise in the water and lots of countries are adversely effected, then we might see some movement. (And New Zealand is going to get screwed too, most of Wellington and Petone is on reclaimed land, and a meter rise will wipe that out.)

This is a story of a culture in danger of extinction, but it's not going to be the only one.


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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Vigil the Huntering

The next day (yes, we got some sleep in despite a kid with untold power running around, we gathered together to work out the plan. Watching the club security tapes, we see the kid dust a few people, but just push around others. (And then the video is uploaded to the internet!) Robert and Jane talk with the mother, who seems a little detached, but otherwise not too helpful.

JB visits a Haitian shop and gets told that six more will die (linking back with what he saw in a mirror in a motel room), Jack talks to some guy off screen, and I hear about an attack on a hobo. Rounding the other two up, we head out there. Robert and Jane, meanwhile, visit the morgue and Jane gets in to see one of the dead from the nightclub, and takes some hairs, but they refuse to disappear in the sunlight. Probably normal human then.

On the other hand, we visit the hobo attack scene, and after I find another hobo lady for Jack and JB to talk to, I wait by the scene. Agnes (the old lady) tells a tale of how John (the hobo that was attacked) used to turn into a dog, before the kid turned up killed him, before sniffing the air and setting off. Looks like the kid can sniff out weird creatures. Checking out the scene myself, I find a rat skull on thong (which I'm careful not to touch. Others not so careful report that it is slightly warm to the touch, moreso than you'd expect, and possibly slightly vibrating).

Poking around on Facebook, we track down the kid's friends, and one mentions a Codex. A few calls brings us to the Nineveh Codex, and looking up pictures in the local library shows that it has the Sign of Marduk on it. Whatever that all means.

As night pulls in, we do some B&E to investigate the kids house, and find the Codex in his room, but nothing in the basement where the ritual was done. Examining the Codex (and hi-res photographing it) reveals that the left hand of a murderess buried on unhallowed ground is needed to create a Subtle Key to control some supernatural creature. Not having a proper key means that the creatures eat you and create an Unman. Guess we'll find out if the woman really was guilty or not.

And then we head back for Robert's meeting at Travesty... and the general vicinity of where the kid was last seen going....


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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Dim Silhouettes

Ah, the latest Tim Burton film with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Which is most of them, but this is the latest one. Based on a soap opera, as it happens.

Back in the past this dude spurns the love of a woman who, it turns out, is a witch, so she curses him to become a vampire and has him buried away. Nearly 200 years later, he's back baby! And then tries to restore the family name after the witch (who is also still around) is running the town businesses. And there's also some story about the woman he loved being, basically, reincarnated, but that's only when the movie remembers to reference it. The movie has far more fun with Depp as the vampire, and then with Eva Green as the witch than with anything else going on.

As a cohesive whole, the movie isn't a cohesive whole, more a set of loosely related set pieces, that aren't that brilliant. It's only because of the great acting on display that I was happy to watch more, but I did tire of the story very quickly. Along with Depp and Green, we have Michelle Pfeiffer, and cameos by Christopher Lee and Alice Cooper.

Mildly fun, this is Tim Burton after all, but not overwhelmingly so.


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Monday, 21 May 2012

Who Killed Chea Vichea?

As everyone wonders, Who Killed Chea Vichea? While I don't want to spoil the ending, I will say that it is a mystery for all time.

A more appropriate question is: why was Chea Vichea killed? He was the president of the Free Trade Union, and supported Sam Rainsy, the leader of the most progressive party Cambodia had. Which isn't saying that much, but this is important political context. After an election that no-one one, Chea Vichea was killed, and two men were arrested and sent to prison for his murder. Two men that the film quite firmly shows are innocent of that crime, and are set up by the police. The corrupt police and the corrupt judicial system. And the corrupt Prime Minister of the country (who is still in power).

What I do like about this movie is that many people have their eyes wide open about why this happened, and about the chances of anything being done about it. The police have their scape-goats, Cambodia has some political system now in place, and the US has good commercial ties. And from that point of view all is right with the world. That people died to bring this about isn't of concern to them.

I am cynical, and this movie is an example of this entirely in action. It's an interesting watch, but this is just one example of this practice out of many...

(If you speak Khmer, you can find the full film on Youtube.)

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Work Hard, Play Hard

What do you want from life? Work Hard, Play Hard? Well, you could film some shots and then put it together and pretend to call it a film.

Seriously, what the freak? There is nothing going on in this. We see the new Unilever building, we observe some "assessments", and a software presentation. And lots of shots of insides of buildings. And that's about it. Oh, and something about a team building exercise. No cohesive story line. Just a bunch of shots stuck together because the director had them filmed.

There's a lot of people talking management speak, but the biggest 'saying nothing' is the film itself. The pointlessness of this movie is easily summarised by the last shot: a zoom in on the background, and then cut to black... done.. no credits... nothing...


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Boot in Pusses

Haven't watched the movie just yet, can't remember the trailer (if I saw it), so prediction: there will be a lady cat who will be just as good (if not better) fighter than him, who wont fall for his charm and completely captivate him. And, by the end of the movie, they will be partners in every way a PG movie will show...
Now having watched it... I was more or less right. Considering the parent series was trying to mix the normal plot line up a lot, this movie was rather straight forward. Before Shrek apparently (although I don't see any reason why this needs to be a prequel, it could occur any time), Puss encountered his 'brother' Humpty and together they went for the magic beans to fulfill their childhood dream of getting to the golden goose. And yes, there is a lady cat, Kitty Softpaws, involved. The first two acts are decent enough, but the last one is a bit of a mess, with the revelation making the first act pointless, and then there's the last boss battle which still doesn't provide anything new plot wise...

Fine, this is a cash-in then. This also follows Dreamworks standard policy of big names for the voices, with Antonio Banderas joined by Selma Hayek (I initially thought Penelope Cruz, it was going to be one or the other), Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris. And surprise guest voice by Guillermo del Toro. Decent performances from all of them, as you'd expect.

So, yeah, fun but not innovative. I expected more, but still enjoyed it.


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Sunday, 20 May 2012

Of Steam, Steal and Murder

Things happen! Leads are followed up on! By damn we will find these missing scientists, over their dead bodies! Actual happening with plot development and returning characters! Go go go!

It's been... how many sessions? (And how many cancelled sessions?) At long last, we get on to dealing with the missing German scientists, which we have been building up to. I totally did not remember all the clues we had, and then we point to a place just like Sylvan Pines... and yet, I do wonder how Bert found us dealing with this adventure, and how much he helped us...

Check out Game 56. Rapidhare. Hotfile.


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ZOMGie Dice!

While I don't like Zombies, nor computer games fighting zombies (mostly), I do like a game where you are the Zombie. As in playing Zombie Dice! The rules are pretty easy (it is meant to be a pick up game), but you can also watch the video below to see people playing it).

The fun part is... there's an app for that! Now, the app is just you versus a computer zombie (with various amusing names), which is a fun quick game when you have a minute to spare. The computer wins more than I do, and I do wonder if there is some help there... but, eh, it's all fun, so fine.

There is a paid version, for a whole NZ$1.29, which lets you have eight players, a combination of computer and real players, which I grabbed because I want to support the app, and if I find some friends, we can have a game together.

Anyway, fun, as I said, so get the free version at least, and lose time to Zombie Dice!

(Note: not a paid commercial... unfortunately...)

(They also did Ticket to Ride, and there's an app for that, it is looks like it was broken with an update, so never mind.)

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Saturday, 19 May 2012

Call It a Balance in the Unbalance

And continuing people of note, we have Miguel Adrover, fashion genius, who does things that, well, let's Call It a Balance in the Unbalance. As far as I can tell, he takes existing fabrics and turns them into different clothes, but came up with a few (accidentally) controversial items and now his career isn't what it was.

I say 'as far as I can tell', as I wasn't sure when some of the scenes occurred. Context is absent, and I had the impression that there was a lot of story to do with Adrover that the documentary expected the audience to know. Certainly I had no idea, but the movie wasn't telling me. Perhaps the director was too close to the topic to realise?

Decent enough, but could be more complete to get the point of a lot of what happened, what it meant, and what went wrong...


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The Man Who Changed Shanghai

L E Hudac. That who is The Man Who Changed Shanghai.We get to meet him through his three children and footage that he himself shot back in the day. He had quite the life, born in Slovakia, but considered himself more Hungarian. After experiencing war in Russia, he made his way to Shanghai, and continued his career in architecture.

We see a few buildings, but not many. Mainly it's about the children's memories of their father and their childhood, which is an interesting look in itself into the life style of white people in China. They had quite the luxurious life.

It's a nice examination of one person of note.


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The Witch Watch

As a frequent reader of Shamus' blog, of course I was going to pick up the book he wrote The Witch Watch. (Despite the basic sounding similarity, it is completely different to Mogworld.) You can read a taster here. And you should. The summary is: a good book, go read it. With a few problems.

Gilbert was dead, but is brought back into the land of the living, and isn't particularly happy about it. Neither are the people who brought him back, because they didn't intend to. And go begins Gilbert's new 'life', leading to the Witch Watch, and dealing with the black arts. All within Victoria-esque London. [Shamus captures the Victorian English phraseology well, causing some minor dissonance when suddenly encountering American spelling of some words.] Yeah, that's not a lot of story I'm telling you about, but hey, you can find out about it yourself. I did.

The characters are well realised. Gilbert, Alice and Simon all 'ring true', and stay consistent throughout the book. (Which is impressive considering you've got a guy in 21st century America writing a young lady in Victorian England.) Each character has little touches that help them stand out, for example Alice's ribbons give her a distinct note of personality. The world also has been worked out. Magic is present, and Shamus has given a lot of thought as to how it works, and how people deal with it.

I also liked the illustrations (by Heather, wife of Shamus). There should have been more of them!

However, I do have two (related) major issues with the book. The first: Pacing. We have an action scene, smash cut to a talky scene, then cut back to action. It kills the sense of momentum, and made it easy to put the book down and do something else. Secondly: America. To me, the entire section involving the journey and the being there was, to be honest, padding. I see no reason to have it. It could have been anywhere, there was nothing plot related to be gained from the fact that it was America, aside from giving time to for the bad guys to do things (and even then that could easily have been compressed). The entire America section could be excised without harming the story.

That might sound like a killer to enjoyment, but it wasn't. I enjoyed the book, happy to get back to reading it... and Shamus said he's thinking of writing another (book in general that is, not a sequel to this), and I look forward to reading that as well.


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Friday, 18 May 2012

NY in Motion

Turns out this documentary, NY in Motion, is about the development of motion graphics, expressed through interviews with many people working in the field in New York. Um...  there was some interesting bits to it, but it did read a little like you had to already know the topic before watching the movie. And just because this is a good excuse for weird camera angles, doesn't mean that the documentary should indulge in it to make for hard watching.

So... a decent documentary, but, having seen it, I wouldn't have minded missing it...


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Colours Curling Dog

First session for me, three movies. It started late, so that was an issue (similar to last year)...

The Colours Duet:  A look at two different artists who approach art and inspiration from two different directions. Mildly interesting.

Gone Curling: Down in Central Otago, the town of Naseby is home to curling. Particularly outdoor curling. Which, with global warming, is becoming a problem with not enough ice forming. Old men like their curling, but for how much longer?

River Dog: A very interesting look at the impact of cattle grazing on a river and one man's fight to try to keep the river clean. Definitely not an easy task, and one not helped by the Greater Wellington Regional Council not doing a damn thing. Until this film forces them to... produce a pamphlet!

After the session, the directors of the last two films showed up for some Q&A. Nice! But it did go on so the next session was very tight for timing...

(This was the only trailer I found on youtube)


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It's back again... again!

Yes, it's time for the Documentary Edge Festival! And, as such, here are the movies I'm interested in. (Some of the others playing I would have seen had I not already have seen it.)

Disappear in Light A backstage look at a interesting person trying to get a play together.
Bad Weather I'm not sure if this is a 'look at this culture' film or a 'look at climate change' film. Will see.
Forerunners Can a modern person be traditional?
The Hungry Tide A story of a subculture facing extinction.
The Interrupters Trying to bring peace to an urban environment.
Five Star Existence Too much technology?
Four Horsemen Has the global culture changed everything?
Work Hard, Play Hard For some reason, I like architecture films.
Carte Blanche Can we fight against inhumanity?
Dancing With Dictators Inside look at a first time democratic election.
Who Killed Chea Vichea Who did kill him?
The Man Who Changed Shanghai For some reason, I like architecture films.
Call it a Balance in the Unbalance A look at a crazy genius.
Incessant Visions For some reason, I like architecture films.
Kumare A skeptical comedic look at Indian gurus.
Andrew Bird: Fever Year A backstage look at a genius at work.
NY in Motion A different sort of architecture film.
The Colours Duet / Gone Curling / River Dog A triple set of interesting looking movies (shown as one block).

As ever, blogging everything I do get to see. Each movie is $15, regardless of length, but there is a card to allow for the fifth movie at $5 off, and the tenth one free... feel the love!


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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Old Logan Man

[Yes, I kept thinking of that old man Logan...]

I've read Kingdom Come (and have the sequel to read at some point) and was informed of a similar project for Marvel featuring Wolverine... well, Logan actually, for reasons that are part of the story. It's the future, and the heroes are gone, and the villains are in control, basically a couple major villains carving up America. Logan is trying to live a quiet life (ha!), when Hawkeye gets him involved in a delivery that involves a road trip across America, so the various parts can be shown off.

It's a decent story, told by Mark Millar, and an enjoyable read. While I'm not a Marvel fanboy, I could still enjoy it, although there may be minor points I'm not getting (it didn't seem to be written to appeal to continuity junkies, but then I wouldn't know if it was). The reason for Logan not being Wolverine is an interesting one, although you can see it coming and everyone is waiting for it...

But that reason is a key difference between Kingdom Come and Old Man Logan. In KC, there's a whole new raft of 'heroes' introduced to kick the story onwards, with Magog and so (it's been a while since I've read it). The point being: it introduces a new plot device never seen before. In OML, the key 'what if' point is... what if the villains behave competently? Indeed, in KC, we get new creations, so we wouldn't expect that to occur in normal continuity, but why couldn't OML happen? (Aside from they'd never do it because it would mean major changes and might jeapordise their profit margin...) I suspect Wolverine wouldn't be such a competent bad-ass without the plot point helping him, but still, why aren't the villains acting more competent? Why not be a credible threat, for an actual change?

Sigh. Comics. Mainstream ones particularly. Anyway, decent read, check it out, and wonder why there aren't more like this...


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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Why are we trying to be LinkedIn?

For some reason, I decided to join LinkedIn. Possibly because I have aspirations of professionalism? Anyway, I knew a few people on there, they wanted to be in a network, and it has a reputation of decency, so...

However, the website does not live up to a professional reputation. Ironic? No, just annoying.

Let's start with how it wants to link in everything. It wants to get people from my email, so it grabs a list of people... but I've never heard of some of them before! What? And apparently it sent them all invites to join my network. What?? Some of them haven't heard of me either, so I can only imagine what annoying number of invites they get to join random people...

And it throw in a link to my Twitter account... ultimately why I would want to have a link to Twitter, I'm not sure, but it's not just adding a reference to it in my account, it's giving LinkedIn permission to actively scan my twitter feed for other people I follow/am followed by... What???

Then there's the issue of referring to school then finding out they meant University and trying to work out how to correct that. And that it, for some reason, decided to list my current employment three times. And where's a good place for achievements that aren't major honours or awards?

Seriously, why does anyone trust this site with anything? I've heard it's the in thing for work related peoples... but I'm not believing it...


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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Beware Greeks Bearing Technology

For they will inspire many a documentary and even the odd crazy theory. In a recent National Geographic documentary, two people build a version of the Antikythera mechanism, and what an amazing device it is. It can predict the sun's movements, the moon's movements (including the ability to seemingly speed up and slow down), the motion of the planets and eclipses. All with the turn of a handle, and in a small compact device.

At least, as far as we can tell. X-rays and examination of the old, crusted dial tells us some of this. What's not clear in the documentary is where examination ends and speculation begins. Still, these things were known at the (broadly speaking) time when the mechanism was built, and this would have been of interest, so why not have your own personal orrery?

But the amazing part is that this was built years before the recognised beginning of gears, and there are a lot of gears used. There has to be some time when gears were first used, so why not the ancient Greeks? But was there gears before them? Surely this is so incredible that it came from aliens? (This is mentioned, but quickly dismissed, thankfully.) There is the valid criticism that why haven't we found more example of gear use, or other similar devices? One explanation offered (and this is far as the program went) is that devices were made from bronze, and the metal was reused. I'd like a better solution than that, but the program skims over it. Could this be a case of 'we just don't know'? If so, better to admit that than to leave a conspiracy sized gap...

This is certainly a fascinating device for what it could do and for the time it was made. It's a shame we don't have more of it and more of others like it.


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Monday, 14 May 2012

Look out!

I went for a walk, doing as I finally threatened: going to the Mount Victoria Lookout. And here's proof!

And then I went to the Centennial Memorial!

Take that, people who haven't been there! (And pictures during the walk too!)

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Sunday, 13 May 2012


On top of Mount Victoria, completely where I wasn't expecting it, is a memorial to Richard Byrd for his Antartic work. Considering I've been listening to Beyond the Mountains of Madness by the Yoggies, it was coincidental.

(Also, pictures are available.)

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I Rate This 4

Was this based on a book or something? It's a generic movie of a school teen with powers, and in this case is an alien, who is hunted down by other aliens.

Not only is the basic idea generic, but you can see what's coming after the first 30 minutes. As in no character proved to have a surprise twist, everyone was what you thought they were, and at no point did anything interesting happen in the plot that distinguishs this from any other movie. Which is why I'm wondering if this is from some popular book, because the movie is a boring hack job as it is.

Cast wise, we get two pretty blond women, a bunch of good looking young guys, and Timothy Olyphant. None of them really stand out, because the writing wasn't anything to speak about, and none of the actors tried to do anything within what they were given. Perhaps the director decided to phone it in?

I have no idea if we'll see Number Five (I presume that'll be the sequel), no sign of it that I am aware of, but we can hope it won't happen. Only see this if you've run out of better movies to watch.


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Saturday, 12 May 2012

Holy Batman Terror!

You've probably heard about it already, so I'm not going to go into details. Basically Frank Miller wrote a Batman vs al-Qeada comic, DC said no, so he find&replace'd the hero names and published it Holy Terror.

Basically, Catwoman and Batman... I mean two character that aren't Catwoman and Batman are boning each other when a suicide bomber goes off, then others do. In retaliation not-Batman hunts a bomber down, tortures him, then kills everyone else. Nope, not exaggerating. Obviously Batman wouldn't normally have killed people, but this is Miller's anti-terrorist piece, and there are reasons DC stepped away...

But what I'm not sure about is if this is a Poe or not... Just how serious is Miller? Fine, he might be anti-terrorist, but is he so single-minded that he only sees them as one-dimensional people that should be slaughtered? Or is he wryly trying to decry such tactics? It might be clear to some, but not to me as I read it.

I'm sure Miller will continue to be seen as brilliant, but this could be the start of him Dave Sim'ing...


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Friday, 11 May 2012

Not so bad

You know what we haven't gotten so far? An overabundance of people screaming about the end of the world later this year. Sure, we have some, but I was expecting it to be much worse.

In fact, take a look at the trend for 'end of the world 2012'. There was a huge spike in end of 2009, and a smaller spike last year... so the closer we are, the less people are caring? If we look at 'end of the world mayan', then we see this 2009 spike again, and activity last year. It creeped up mid 2011, moreso than end 2011. [2009 was, of course, the year of the movie... of the year.]

Far from drawing erroneous conclusions from limited data, but I think this tells us a lot. Basically we have people making hysterical statements about how everything will come to an end. But what that is making people do is look for information. And finding out that, hey, it isn't really a thing, despite what those pundits (who are probably trying to sell their latest book o' trash) are screaming about.

This is hardly original. Look up information about anything people scream about and you will find it isn't the forest fire they claim. And so, 2012 will just die away to nothingness... especially in eight months time (aside from maybe some books looking at the phenomena of the event...).

Basically... The More You Know...

(BTW, there is a reason I'm talking 2012 in this post...)


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Thursday, 10 May 2012

We have the technology

Still making my way through Futurama, when they used this song. It was familiar, so I looked it up, and hey, something interesting...

Lookie! It's in colour!

Of course, this is something that Doctor Who fans would love to see. We know from some existing behind the scenes photographs, and various descriptions, that the sets and costume had lots of luscious colours, that we just don't get the slightest sense of in the black and white picture.

Some effort has gone into a colourisation, by fan BabelColour:

And we want more! Clearly, from the above, it can be done. Yes it takes a while, but it looks great. BBC, you looking for a way to wring more money out of fans who have already brought the DVDs, then again with the revisitations? You can only go so far with animating missing episodes, but think of what you can do with whole stories available again, this time in sparkly gloriousness! It's a money-spinner, you know you want to!

Colour Doctor Who... it will happen!


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Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Wellington Harbour by Night

Why? Because I was there.


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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Gathering the Magic

I'm a big fan of Loading Ready Run, and will watch pretty much anything they do. So why not Magic: The Gathering? Because I have no interest in the game, maybe...? Anyway, they got into it again a few years ago, and it led to good videos, but then they took it another step.

One thing they do is live Drafts on their Twitch TV channel. Watch them play and interact with them! Woo! Of course, they go for the funny more than the serious, and that also shows up in their play. So, yes, it is MtG, but it is MtG filtered through their humour, so that makes it better. (If you go to the video tab, you can watch their past games.)

They also run fortnightly videos on MtGO (O=Online) Academy, where they come up with bizarre decks and play those. (As they say 'we are willing to spend tickets to play these deck ideas so you don't have to!') These are recorded for release, so no live interaction, but they still like bantering amongst themselves, so it still works. (You should be able to download them for watching offline, but the download capacity is spotty...)

If nothing else, they are good background noise while I'm doing other things...

(Hey, it's not like I'm pimping their CheckPoint!)


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Monday, 7 May 2012

Fan Redemption

There are two fan films that came out that have a connection. See if you can spot it...

Browncoats: Redemption. After Miranda, the Alliance has taken a reputation hit, so decide to hit back. One officer is assigned to make an example of a Brown Coat crew, but there's a lot of history there, and more than one person is wanted... Redemption! This is definitely a fan crew. You can tell by the amount of enthusiasm some of the actors display, overcoming their lack of acting ability, and their ability to do a second take. (Seriously, there are a few scenes where you do wonder why they couldn't try it again...) It takes a while to get going, but the story and characters are nicely intertwined by the end. Also keep an eye out for a few famous faces... You know, seeing this, you'd think I'd be pining more for Firefly, but, no, it's hard to see how they could come back to the crew we know. The time of Serenity has passed. Time to move on... but still, time for some more fan movies...

Dragon Age: Redemption. Apparently enthralled by her time on Dragon Age, Felicia Day penned a wee storyline about her character and, with her connections, got it made. Certainly it looks impressive, however the storyline isn't the complicated. A party comes together on the trail of a bad guy mage, and they must overcome their own histories to overcome him. Although there doesn't seem to be that much Redemptioning going on, more like just Revening. Certainly this has a lot higher quality of actors than the above, and more make up, etc. This was done with Bioware's permission, and I'm suspecting money, so there is that. Since I haven't played the game, I have no idea how much it links in with the universe, certainly there is some info-dumping and a lot still not said. It's a wee fantasy movie on its own, but playing the game would make it make more sense. I have it (Origins at least), so... some time...


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Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Evangers

Interestingly this seems to have been released here a week before America. Don't know why, don't care, all that matters is that I went to see it yesterday.

So, anyway, Sean Connery creates a device to control the weather and the Avengers... no, wait... Loki does some stuff, and the big names from other movies fight each other for a while and a lot of CGI happens, and everyone cheers! What, what do you think happens? It's a big action superhero pic! Go, go, go! Boom, boom, boom!

But, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleson, all excellent, we've seen them before, and they do their roles right. (The first Black Widow scene you know exactly what will happen because this is a Joss Whedon film.) As Bruce Banner we have Mark Ruffalo... eh, I'm not convinced, possibly because we haven't had a whole movie with him in, maybe because I don't think Joss (yes, I'm critising Joss... or possibly the numerous script doctors he inevitably had to deal with) got the character quite right.

It runs over two hours, and there's a lot packed in, but I'm not seeing this as the culmination of the recent Marvel movies. I prefer to see this as the start of the big cross-over movies, actors willing. This could be the start of a very expensive friendship...

(BTW, last line of the film... spot on humour for the hard core nerds! I laughed! [Not counting the post-credits bit which isn't in the International version because: America!)


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Saturday, 5 May 2012

Holy F-ing Circus

This is a dramatisation (or comedisation?) of the events the Pythons faced having recently completed Life of Brian. It involves casting people to look and sound exactly like the Pythons, and act out scenes that parallel moments from the film or other Pythonic moments.

The film does focus on Michael Palin as the main Python to follow, with John Cleese in second place. Terry G doesn't really fair well, Graham Chapman is fairly generic Graham, and Terry J is more Palin's wife than Terry J. It is rather odd seeing them via different actors, as there is definite moments of dissonance when they do replicate the roles accurately, and yet something is always sitting not quite right.

The main event the movie builds up to is the 'debate' John and Michael have on the Friday Night, Saturday Morning show. I haven't seen the actual interview, but I thought they fared better than presented here, although the outcome is probably right. Which pretty much applies to most of the scenes: not exactly as written, but close enough.

It's a decent enough take, but it does come more from 'let's do a love letter to Python' than 'let's tell this particular story'.


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Friday, 4 May 2012


I'm watching Futurama, and came across their version of this song. Remember it?

Yeah. I think I first came across this when swapping mp3s with a friend years upon years ago. (And I mean so long ago, the best way to get any decent sized media storage was to actually take your 200MB hard drive over and plug it into their computer - yeah, I did that to!) Anyway, I think I got part of it then, and it's a hell of a song, instantly catching, so wanted to hear the rest of it. And this was before the whole internet to easily browse on (or even difficultally browse on). Let alone download something over the ol' 300 baud modem...

However, there is something haunting about this song. In many ways, it's a science fiction novel in three minutes. Certainly it evokes various works by Clarke and Asimov. The imagery just sparks with only a few words.

And there aren't many songs that can do that... but can you suggest any?


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Thursday, 3 May 2012

DW: Shada

This is the fourth (I think) adaptation of Shada, and it's the most Gareth Roberts adaptation of them all! There are definite moments when he is channeling Douglas Adams, and there are more than a few overt references to DNA's work, but a lot of it is Gareth.

The basic plot involves Professor Chronotis calling the Doctor to Earth because he (Chronotis) has a dangerous Gallifreyian artifact. However, Skagra (with full, sensual lips) is also looking for the artifact for his own nefarious schemes that will change the nature of the universe... Of course, Gareth follows the basic plot line of the story, but throws in quite a few scenes we haven't seen before, mostly made up by him. In most cases these extra scenes work well, however the ending involves wrap up that would never have been so pat in the actual series.

To be honest, some moments are trying to hard to replicate DNA. Gareth established his own style of writing the Fourth Doctor (which is why, I presume, he was the one tasked to do this), so when Gareth goes full Douglas it sticks out. On the other hand, it flows well when Gareth is writing his normal way, so it's a shame there are clunker segments in the story. While it's nice to pay homage, there is a consistency note.

Hopefully now, this will wrap up the Shada merchandising... at least until the Special Edition DVD comes out...


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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Emerging 143

In Spain, it is Emergo, in the US, it isn't. It starts out with many strikes against it. The main one being this is another entry in the 'paranormal investigators investigate a weird place with fixed and handheld cameras'. Which means that a lot of camera angles are strangely positioned, or else jump around too much to make out
what's happening on screen.

As said, this is an investigation. In this case of a particular apartment, where strange things are going on. And, to the movie's credit, it gets weird straight away with lots of loud thumping and such, and doesn't muck around with a slow, slow, slow build up of very small things. (Although one moment does involve the slight movement of a wooden bench, which is the sort of ridiculous thing we've come to expect.) Indeed, there is so much actually happening, you wonder why they are either a) staying there, or b) haven't called in much better scientific investigators. But in this world it seems there is no supernatural, only things that haven't been explained, because everyone knows about psychokinetic energy and... a whole bunch of completely spurious pseudo-scientific claptrap various characters spout like it is supposed to mean anything. Although the 'explanation' is more interesting than 'oh, look, it's the devil'.

Which is where the movie should be rated better. While the set up is very familiar (too much so), it does try different things, such as actual phenomena happening, and a non-standard acceptance of the strangeness. This should make it nouveau, but the expected familiarity is working against it. There even are a few actual effect scare jumps (although I admit I wasn't paying complete attention, make it easier to be startled). Being a Spanish film, this isn't an American cookie-cuttered reproduction.

All of which means this is worth more watching than other 'paranormal reality' movies... just a shame this is another 'paranormal reality' movie...


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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Why aren't you watching this?

Two Best Friends Play is a hilarious version of Let's Play, in which Pat and Matt play video games. Or rather, Matt plays a game while Pat bitches about how bad Matt is. (Which he does seem to be, to be honest.)

Aside from one offs, they also do full Let's Plays, in this case of the Silent Hill game Downpour. And it (the game) is really, really bad. But their playing is really, really funny! Up to thirteen parts now!

I'll have to go back at watch them play Raccoon City.


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