Wednesday, 31 December 2014

From One Second to the Next

Hey, do you like to text while you drive? Then you're a jerk! And if you don't believe me, then watch this documentary.


This doesn't present facts and figures, this gives emotional stories from people whose lives have been impacted by someone texting while driving. And you know what? Given how humans work, this will probably be more effective than any dry factual documentary will ever be.

[END]

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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Black Coal, Thin Ice

This was another of them Festival films I didn't see at the time. The paragraph description did intrigue... but I have to say I'm glad I watched it in my usual faster method.

While investigating a murder, a cop gets shot (although his partners get killed). Five years later, he has drunk himself down, but comes across friends on the force who remind him of the case as they have found new information and new crimes associated with the woman who was the unlucky wife at the time. Only now it seems like death is following her around, which doesn't help as the cop now falls for her...

This was billed as crime and drama, and I've seen a few of those before from Japan, so was set to get into this... although it was more drama than I was wanting, and very little crime. It's quite a slow moving movie, and is happy taking time to overly let scenes play out. Not that everything has to be frenetic editing, but the pace could have been quicker.

I'm sure it works better for others, but not for me.

[END]

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Monday, 29 December 2014

The Interveh

Yeah, I saw the movie that North Korea tried to deny the world... and I have to say I'm on NK's side with this. This is not a good movie.

Pretty much the basic plot is already known, so there's not much more to say on that front. Two idiots get an interview with Kim Jong-un, and are waylaid to make it an assassination plot. What wasn't as so revealed were the jokes. There is funny, there is painfully funny... and then there's just painful. Guess where this lot lies? I've never been a major fan of American humour at the best of times, and this is certainly going for the low brow quotient. I will allow that the last half hour is semi-decent, but that doesn't make up for the preceding hour and a half.

Seth Rogan's humour doesn't appeal to me, so there's that. And James Franco is giving a performance to win no favours anywhere. Randall Park is the Supreme Leader... and he isn't just the butt of many jokes (although certainly there are many at him), as everyone gets mocked here, Americans and North Koreans alike.(And they even have more men kissing each other than women kissing each other.)

End of the day... no, this is just not a good movie. If North Korea hadn't said anything, it would have passed without comment. But now everyone will subject themselves to this rubbish to find out what it's like... oh, smooth move, NK, smooth move...

[END]

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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Trainscenedance

I haven't heard brilliant things about this, and I have to say that the trailer doesn't fill me with confidence, so it's taken me some time to get around to watching it.

Will and others are all about using technology to better ourselves, but RIFT is about using technology to end our dependency on technology (with one line in the movie acknowledging that that premise is stupid). And so RIFT blows everything up, but not before the power of love uploads Will into the internet, because women = emotional beings that will do anything stupid to further the plot, amirite bad script writers? And then in the second half of the movie, technology is made to seem creepy and terrible with how it's saving everyone and everything, but as long as there's love, there's no need for civilisation. Yay?

I can't say there are wonderful performances in this. And the effects look pretty, but I'm still not sure how they justified the whole nanotech (I think?) crawling through the ground and flying into the sky bits. By the end of the movie, this just seemed like a luddite wish come true.

Yep, the not great things about this were justified. It's just... meh.

[END]

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Saturday, 27 December 2014

DW: 8.Xmas

Given that we have a Santa Claus, I will say that Nick Frost does a good job. However... do we need a Santa Claus? And this episode manages to be Christmassy, and not Christmassy at all.

First up, I'm not a fan of 'is this real?' stories? It's far too easy to leave it on the note of 'but are they really out?', which is where most of them end. Or they do get out, but the audience is left with the questions of 'are they?' whether that's intended or not. Which just throws away any sense of achievement the heroes have. That said, old Clara was a great fake out and would be a different and interesting way to see Jenna off the series, but no, that didn't happen because they all woke up... (Or did they?????)

Second up, when thinking back on this... this episode feels amazingly inconsequential. Even with it all being a dream, what happens? They go to a base at the North Pole and there's an Alien rip-off (as lampshaded by one of the characters), and... that's about it. They run around with the creatures, but what is achieved? The biggest enemy they overcome is waking up! Really? It's not that this is a bad story, just that it just isn't anything.

Okay, let's talk Santa Claus. It's all right, because it's only a dream... or did they????? One or the other, Moffat, don't try for both. And we already went down the 'fairy tales aren't real' route with Robin Hood, and Claus was based on an actual instance, so... what exactly is the point here? Don't worry kids, Santa is real after all!

But yes, good job Nick Frost. And generally good performances all around. Michael Troughton is... on screen. And just how much can we crowbar in (the excellent performance of) Samuel Anderson into every thing? Is the next season going to harp on about him too? Still, a nice send off (if indeed it is a send off).

This one might get better on a second watch, but at the moment it's a middle tier Christmas story.


Next time: C S Lewis story? No wait, that was a nephew...

[END]

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Friday, 26 December 2014

In the Name of the Moon

What's this? A Sailor Moon cosplay documentary? But of course! And another project I Kickstartered that I finally got around to watching.

This is about a group of nine women that got together (by one means or another) and started cosplaying as the Sailor Senshi. They started back in 2009, and went to quite a few cons, but grew apart. This is their story, and also them getting together for basically a last hurrah in 2012. We follow them as they try to redo their costumes and attend the actual event. We also get some talking heads of two experts, one who knows about Sailor Moon, and one who knows that cosplaying and going to cons is like a religious event. And yet it isn't as bitter sweet as it could be.

These are friends, and they are having fun. They put a lot of effort into this and it shows. Certainly they get a lot of appreciation at the cons. (And negative comments online, because internet.)

To be honest, there isn't much in this, aside from the fun of a group of friends cosplaying, and yet that's enough.

[END]

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Thursday, 25 December 2014

A pressie from Maddy!

Madonna has a new album coming out... in March 2015. But before then, you can preorder it on iTunes.

The album is Rebel Heart, and she's been talking up the song Unapologetic Bitch on twitter. So, as you can tell, this is going to be a slow romantic album along the likes of True Blue... or not.

And as part of pre-ordering, you get the first six tracks to download! Woo!

And here's the first track off the album: Living for Love. (Which is a hardcore electronic love song...)

[END]

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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Tim's Vermeer

When you hear that Penn Jillette and Teller are involved in a film, your first thought wouldn't be about someone trying to recreate an artist's style from the 17th century. And yet, this is what they did.

Tim Jenison is a friend of Penn's, and a successful inventor. He was captured by the idea of how Vermeer painted the pictures he did, and had a eureka moment and came up with a rather simple idea using mirrors. After a few trials, Tim (not a painter) could recreate images in the style, and so set about recreating the Music Lesson. And by 'recreating', this movie shows that he did indeed recreate the entire room with accurate glass windows, rugs, chairs etc (which he also made himself). And then the painting... (which, if it wasn't for the fact that he was part of a documentary, he would have given up on). At the end... it looks like this is a good guide to producing your own Vermeer's (assuming you have a few spare months, and period accurate materials...).

Given I know little about Vermeer's paintings, I'm willing to accept this as a plausible explanation for how he worked. I remember reading something about how mirrors and camera obscuras were partially responsible for the Shroud of Turin and Leonardo Da Vinci was blamed for that (because, hey, big name!), and that was a few centuries before this, so why not indeed? I'm not sure many people would be willing to put in the effort these days (especially when it's so much easier to stick your mug in front of whatever you want an image of), but again I must confess ignorance of modern painting practices. Perhaps it takes years to do a really good piece?

Anyway, an interesting documentary about one man's vision to see an idea through to completion, and provide an explanation that's escaped many others.

[END]

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Paranothing Island

Okay, going in, I knew I wasn't in for a treat, but as you may have noticed on this blog I watch a lot of bad movies. And this one is no exception.

Back in 1927, there was this made island that was just a large area for two pubs and lots of docking area in the swamp land. A floating bar, if you will. In a beat, one owner lost, and killed himself... and thus, the legend of The Caretaker was born??? Current day, young punks come to the island to be bartenders and prove there's no paranormal going on (despite that you can't prove a negative), and get stuck there after dark. And then weird things happen. By which, I mean faint outlines of CGI people, and bar stools being knocked over. Somehow, this is terrifying, and they barely get away with their lives... no wait, this is a horror movie, so they don't, but more people did live than I was expecting.

This features a lot of people who, I'm guessing, agreed to appear for minimum wage? The budget presumably went on Lance Henriksen, who is in this movie because... I don't know why. And the villain was played by The Sam Raimi, because that was cheaper than actual effects. Much like how the darkness was achieved by blinding amount of moonlight.

A movie that feels built around "hey, we found this neat location they'll let us shoot at" rather than an actual story worth telling.

[END]

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Monday, 22 December 2014

Fold Cusion

There are early signs you are watching a bad movie. Starting with shooting down UFOs is a key point, then jumping to some scene which is only there to say "hey, this woman is a badass, because she's a woman!" is not going to endear me. And the story goes down from there.

So we start with UFOs being shot down and because of that, cold fusion bombs! Then Agent Badass is sent into Russia to find the source, but is in trouble because parts of the USA are working with the Russians to help set this up, so she's been compromised. But not before she and Agent Contact do sexy stripper dances (no, they are not sexy, and I sped up the video more to get past them quicker). And they both beat a lot of men up because they are badass women, dontchaknow. Fortunately, two women prove to be better than any number of waves of highly trained solders...

The acting isn't... great, but, as mentioned, most of the movie is "women are badass because women" right? The lead Lila Body (who is shown as Lila Adams on the onscreen graphics, even though people clearly say Lila Body!) is played by Sarah Brown, who otherwise does stunt work, so it's clear why they got her. And the other female lead, Michelle Lee, looks to have been in more than a few action movie. It's just a shame the writer and director felt the sexy stripping dance scenes (yes, more than one) was needed. No, no they weren't.

Yep, bad movie, realised that going in, went in anyway. Please, you don't.

[END]

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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Housie

Before there was House (which I may talk about some time), there was House... which isn't confusing at all, so it's better to refer to it as Hausu.

With a small family problem, the school girl Gorgeous decides not to go away with her father and new would-be mother, but instead to go to her aunt's house, and drags all her friends along. Her friends are Melody, Fantasy... er... (this is like naming all the dwarfs), Prof, Sweet, Kung Fu and... Mac. This seems simple enough, but already the cinematography of the movie is suggesting weirdness, and then slowly, because this is a horror movie, the girls are killed off one by one. Sometimes in rather weird and bizarre ways. (You've probably heard of the piano death scene.) But because this is a Japanese movie, you know everyone will get out fine...

Yeah, okay... uh... I'm not sure I have the words to describe how weird and surreal this movie it. I can certainly see why people cite this as a horror movie to be seen to be believed. It can get rather difficult to watch, with some amazingly odd choices of how to cut from one scene to the other, and how some scenes are shot, not to mention rather strange takes on characters (which might be more typical Japanese takes?).

It's... different. And if only there was some way for you all to watch it...

[END]

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Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Badabook

This originally played at a film festival, and I missed it there, but now I have seen this Australian horror film.

A single mother and her son are trying to get by, but the son tends towards the fantastic a little too much, and the mother is just worn down trying to deal with it all. She loves him and reads him books, but when they read Mister Babadook, things start going a little strange. The kid now thinks Babadook is coming after them, but the mother isn't ready to accept that anything odd is going on... until she really can't avoid it anymore. Which may be too late.

This is more thriller than horror, with heavy symbolism for what the mother is going through. Almost too much so that the horror elements become rather muted and secondary when given the mother's arc and how invested the movie is at making that seem real. It's rather unbalanced, all up.

The acting isn't bad, with Noel Wiseman putting in a... "performance" as the kid. Essie Davis has the lead role and isn't bad, but another couple of takes might have made things better still. And the Babadook itself is... inconsistently realised. And I have no idea what the ending is supposed to represent.

To be honest, I'm glad I saw something else during the festival, and just caught this on my own time.

[END]

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Friday, 19 December 2014

Arrash

With the recent two parter combing the series of Flash and Arrow, why not talk about them? And Peter is also!

One element I liked was that in the Arrow episode, they point out the rather severe tonal differences of the show. Arrow is a lot darker, and Flash is so much brighter and upbeat. And it's not that one show has death and the other doesn't, there has been plenty of death in Flash, but that show doesn't get down over it. Perhaps in a season or two when it's built up some characters we might care about, and then kill them, maybe then, but not for now. The metahumans get silly nicknames (that just so happen to be their DC supervillain names), and the show is lighter. Which does give Arrow a problem, in that no-one wants doom and gloom all the time. I'm still watching, but it's easy to believe that others aren't.

Anyway, we have this two-parter... which isn't actually a proper two-parter, because there's no continuing story from one episode to the next, it's just one lot of characters turn up in the other series and then vice versa. It was nice, but what was the point? We already know they are the same universe, and the shows tried to tease the idea of 'who would win?' between Flash and Arrow, when it's kind of clear that the guy who can outrun arrows has a bit of a leg up...

It was also kind of disappointing that Flash went with Rainbow Raider for their emotion manipulating villain. Psycho Pirate is there begging to be used, and opens up the whole possibility of Crisis... And Arrow used Captain Boomerang, who is more known as a Flash villain! Because Arrow doesn't have any villains of its own to reference? Then again, Arrow is referencing Ra's Ah Ghul at the moment, which is more Batman... use your own rogue's gallery, dammit!

It's nice to see superheroes on TV (and I'm loving the references Flash is giving to the CBS Flash series), but there are better things to do with cross-overs. (Let along that Flash and Arrow hook up with Green Lantern more often than each other.)

[END]

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Thursday, 18 December 2014

New Amsterdam Forever

Have you heard about the series that's set in New York and features a chap that's immortal, living with his son that is elderly, and helps solve crime? Yeah, I've seen both of those shows! When I started watching Forever I felt there was something familiar, but couldn't put my finger on it. Then someone reminded me of New Amsterdam. [Amusingly, there's a book called Forever that claims to have a similar premise, but neither series claims to be set on it.]

New Amsterdam was a series that only lasted eight episodes (because Fox) that screened in 2008. The main guy, currently going by John Amsterdam, was around when New York was New Amsterdam, and he was made immortal until he found the woman who was his soul mate. In the pilot, he appears to do this, but it's obvious that the series would be over quickly if he actually did meet your mother (I see what I did there), so of course he picked the wrong woman, but the current part of the series was focused on that storyline while solving mysteries.

However, while Forever has gone for 11 episodes so far, New Amsterdam did so much more in the fewer episodes it had. In Forever, the main chap is afraid people will find out he's immortal, and meets someone else who claims to be immortal... and that's about as exciting a premise as they are getting to. However, in New Amsterdam, they discussed racism, alcoholism, police corruption, rape, conning people... yeah, it went for the big punches, and they worked too. What the hell is Forever doing? [Although Forever does have Burn Gorman, so that's something.]

Basically, for a better, and gustier, take on the idea, go look up the older series.

[END]

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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Star Warsian

[Reminder that this is the open beta test game, so spoilers ahoy.]

There we were, out near the mountains, three days hike from base camp... exactly where we wanted to be. Nearby is a valley, and in the valley is likely the ruins we are wanting... and there they are.

Walking through the ruins, we see a dome in the distance that draws our interest, and we spend time chatting about the masonry... which is why the lizard barbed beast things are able to get the jump on some of us. While the others are attacking, I run away... I mean, I get into a suitable position, then convince the beast I'm confronting that it is terrified of me (go dark side points!). I frighten it away, two of the other beasts are killed, and one is wounded enough it runs off. Victory to us!

In the dome, we find a wizened old man who is a servant of the great Sith Lord who resides here. We talk carefully for a while, but then his madness gets in the way and he attacks us... ineffectually! I reach out and peacen his mind... at which point his mind snaps the rest of the way, as he realises the impact of the nearby Sith Lord has had on him.

So of course we go after the Lord. We're PCs! We find a tomb in which there are still standing statue, a large sarcophagus and... bigger beasts. Two of us run for the sarcophagus, because of course the beasts will stay away from that... I mean, attack us anyway. Sigh. And then the Sith Lord appears... or does he?

We get the sense there is more going on here, the form of the darkness is what we bring with us! We attune ourselves with the Force, bring peace and quiet (and get hit some more), before finally turning the Light Side victorious. And, nicely, in the clean up afterwards, get ourselves some lightsaber crystals. Sweet!

From there to pastures greener... [And a bit of a break before we return to the gaming table... for things I can't talk about.]

[END]

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Newsroom now old news

And that's it. No more. The series is over. Aaron Sorkin is dead, long live Aaron Sorkin!

Series three brings things to a close, by changing the way the series works, by being different, and by tying back to the first episode all over again. Which makes me want to go and watch series one again... which I have on BluRay, with commentaries and such.

The series was just so brilliant. People have raved about Aaron Sorkin's writing before, and it is good... and there are a lot of monologues (as one of the characters points out!), and while he does tell you definitely what he thinks, he gives the audience a chance to think as well.

And then there are the character relationships. So much back and forth and who ends up with who... It is both simple and complicated and realistic. (And I do know that's three somethings.)

I really need to watch West Wing, which I also have on disc (DVD not BluRay).

Fantastic series, and I look forward to whatever he comes up with next.

[END]

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Monday, 15 December 2014

Moon High

Another would be pilot, this time from SyFy. This one is a mystery on the moon.

A convict doing work on the moon finds a flower, and then the area around him explodes! His brother comes in, and happens to be a high poobah of authority and starts investigating. There's a thing with the Russians, then other cultures get involved, and... it all gets a bit silly really.

To be honest, I was thinking of Moonbase 3 most of the time. And Moonbase 3 is a far better show than this. There was a lot of "ooh, look at this special effect" but the story is rather lacking. Possibly because this is a pilot, and thus they were hoping there would be a full series and be able to explain it better? But you ain't gonna get a series if the pilot is a mess, as this is. (And this has Bryan Fuller behind it.)

This features mainly men, and the few women around get to be in pretty dresses, because the moon... yeah, um, what? Just another thing that annoyed me. (And now I'm thinking the better show of Star Cops.)

And you know what? I would rather rewatch those other series I mentioned, than talk about this more, so off I go!

[END]

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Sunday, 14 December 2014

Rule Breaking

I listen to a fair few RPG podcasts, and recently (well, actually for a while, but came to the fore recently) some particularly annoying issues bugged me. And now I'm going to annoy you with them! And, to be honest, this is largely because I get anal over the rules.

"This game isn't very good." Hey, guess what. I've played with that mechanic before, and perhaps you're PLAYING IT WRONG! Yeah, if you're applying the rules badly, there's a chance you'll have a bad experience. In many cases, I'd like to reach in, slap them, and then run them through a game properly. But it gets worse when they keep coming back to it. If you don't enjoy it, stop doing it, or get someone who actually knows what they are doing.

"Just roll me that." And then there are times when they claim to know the rules, and yet clearly don't and make it up. The mechanics are there for a reason, if you aren't going to bother getting them right, why bother using them at all? When you make up some of them, but use the proper mechanics otherwise, the game won't be balanced, so no wonder you're having a hard time telling a decent story. It becomes either too easy or too hard, so it's not an enjoyable experience. A cakewalk is not necessarily a good thing.

"We're gonna house rule a few things." Similar to above, but here's there is a deliberate choice to avoid using some of the rules. And it can get quite extensive. Which then leads to... why bother using them all? There are very few mechanics in games that are so tied to the narrative and/or atmosphere that you couldn't just use the setting with some other system. There are many hacks for a reason. I'm aware of at least three different cyberpunk rule sets, so it's not that hard. Again balance comes into it, but please, it's not that hard to pair a setting you like with a system you know and can use well.

There are many things that bug me and can make me stop listening (from audio quality to just the sound of someone's voice), and there are plenty of listening options out there, so this is just three things that can be addressed to make for a better show.

[END]

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Battle of CGI Armies

It's been two years since I read the book. I saw the first movie two years ago at the theatre, and haven't seen it since. I saw the second movie one year ago at the theatre, and haven't seen it since. So clearly I was perfectly positioned to go see the third movie....

Which launches into it without a recap scene. Sort of like the movie wasn't supposed to be split there, and it continued directly from the previous scene of the dragon flying off... But Smaug's a wimp, so it's back to the mountain as everyone and their army gets together to surround it / invade it / fight everyone else. And since I have read the book, I was ticking off in my head major scenes as they appeared on screen. Now, this isn't all battle. There certainly is one, and yes, you'll be hard pressed to tell what's going on, but it does take a breath as relatively quiet moments happen. I'm not going to say who lives and who dies (my main prediction was wrong), but I will give away that Bilbo does make it to the later early trilogy... which I now kinda want to see again.

In front of the local (ie NZ) screening there was a wee behind the scenes recap of the filming from LOTR to Hobbit, and various actors saying how great New Zealand is. Not sure if that'll play elsewhere, or if they'll drop in other country names. Most likely not play it at all. Nice touch, but it almost felt like it was left on a "we'll be back" note...

Acting and production was good as ever. I saw this in 2D (which was far emptier than the sold out 3D screenings), and while I sort of would like to see what 3D does for this, not wearing those glasses is a bonus. (But maybe later.) And while I generally can't tell which dwarf is which, it's pretty obvious which one is Billy Connelly.

So that wraps it up... and no, it didn't feel like it needed to be three. I will watch it again... when the full extended edition three movie BluRay comes out...

[END]

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Friday, 12 December 2014

It's a Christmas Terrahawks

Terrahawks is, without dispute (waits for instant dispute), the best Gerry Anderson production of all time. And as recognition of this (and maybe because there is a new audio series), the company has put out A Christmas Miracle free for online viewing.

So here is the official YouTube video, unlike all the other copies on YouTube:

And it will be taken down on the 10th of Jan, and no doubt I will fail to update this post, and you'll just have to go buy the DVDs to see it.

[END]

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Live, Monty Python, Live!

Earlier this year there was a live show, screened in many places, of the Monty Python gang getting back together and performing some great skits. And they were great skits. However...

This was just some of the greatest hits. And they nearly remembered all the dialogue. (And for some reason, probably because it was part of the bit, they thought the audience needed the text of the Philosopher's Song to sing along with it. Not likely, Bruce!) And another problem was that... they were only on stage half the time. The rest of the show was clips from the shows and the occasional dance number. Well done, dance number, but not exactly the Pythons performing. Sure, they're getting old, but we still want to see them.

In a way, it's like the Fry and Laurie Reunion I saw as well. We reminisce about what a great time we had with the old gags... but there are no new gags. They went on to other stuff, and have their individual careers. It's nice to have the gang back together, but we can jut as easily watch the old recordings if that's all we're gonna get.

I laughed, there were some nice nods to Chapman, but I couldn't help feel disappointed that there wasn't an extra kick of unseen Python to it.

[END]

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Star Warsian

[This adventure is in Open Beta so I can talk about it... however, this also means I can spoil it. I'm not sure what the adventure is, it might be the one in the book, but best not to read too far if you are likely to play it.]

Following the advice of our mentor, we head out to a far off Rim planet, to a resort. There is a tale of some ruins out there, and that the force is strong with that one, so that is what we seek. [Again, if you're aware of that plot hook, and don't want to be spoiled, read no further.]

We arrive at the resort under various flimsy covers (I'm a holovid scout, looking for new locations), and quickly settle in. Talking around, the only people who know about the outside of the resort are the guides that lead hunting parties, so we can't get a hold of maps to look for the ruins. Talking around, we do find out that there is something strange up north, including a previous hunting party that went missing. We try to talk our way into going looking for them, but no luck... so we'll just go hunting north anyway.

The way is long and... not that hard really (some really good survival rolls), and then nearing the mountain to the north, we find the missing party. With guides going psycho aggro and the hunters being easily led. I try to talk to them, but nothing doing. Combat it is! One guide is shot down, I talk the hunters down (go me!), and we stun the other guide into submission. With them heading back to base, we bravely stay behind, because there isn't enough room on the speeder, and don't ask about the ruins nearby, I'm sure we won't go anywhere near them...

[END]

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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Berberian Sound Studio

Since I missed this at the film society, now's a good time to catch up with the first film of the year: Berberian Sound Studio. Starring Toby Jones as the Dream Lord! Well, starring Toby Jones at least. Although...

In this, Toby Jones arrives at the Sound Studio in Italy, brought in to be the sound guy for an Italian Horror Movie (don't call it horror). He's not quite used to this genre, and this is an extreme version with extreme violence to women (which we never see, this is about the sound after all). However, the producer treats the women in the cast like crap, and there's tantrums and the film hits problems... and then the last half hour hits. It goes... kinda surreal. I'm not sure where the last third of the movie was going (but to fair I wasn't entirely sure where the previous hour had been). I think this is one of those things where I need to get someone to explain it to me.

Toby Jones is good, as all the cast are. Much like how we only get the sound of the movie, we fully get that the characters are terrible, which speaks to how well they are acted. The production is simple (only like three sets), and there's a lot of attention, unsurprisingly, played to the sound of the movie, although again I suspect I'm not getting large parts of what's intended.

A different movie, and perhaps I will get it more after reading up on it.

[END]

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Monday, 8 December 2014

The Durm

This was a one shot pilot (although it's been referred to as a tv movie... they'd make it a series if they could) screened on MTV... and I'm not surprised it didn't turn into a series, 'cos it was largely rubbish.

Vivian turns up at college after a somewhat sheltered life, and gets a nice large room to herself in a dorm... which stops believability right there. Also there are about five other people in the dorm, men and women, and she ends up friends with them, and they kind of help her lust after a TA. Only it turns out that (after half the movie is gone) there are supernatural elements to what is going on, and the room is cursed or something, and the other people are witches and turning her into a sacrifice... only the power of the witch possesses her and she turns the tables on the lead woman against her???

The ending was really quite confused, and the main reason it falls through. Not that the rest of it was worthy, with it being mainly bad soap opera teen drama angst. The movie spends far too much time working up that drama that you'd think that's all it's supposed to be. And the supernatural elements come in far to late to save it.

With this whelming success, we probably won't see too many 'tv movies' like this from MTV soon.

[END]

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Lords and Ladies

I know other plays are available, but at the time, I caught the follow up, as it were, witches play, Lords and Ladies. This was in 2005 and it was on at the Gryphon Theatre.

I can remember the set up for me going to the play, because this was a work related thing. I was on the social club committee at the time, and saw the play was on, so ended up being the one to organise a group booking. Which was not without a few problems, mainly caused by the theatre not being able to confirm the seats were available at the last minute due to overbooking... as it happened, we did all make it, but not without putting a few people out with plans that were touch and go. (Because I was the one organising it, I was the last in the theatre as I had to wait for the late comers, which meant that while the rest of the group was up the back of the theatre, I was at the front!)

...and here's where we hit a small snag with my memory. The only reason I know the play was Lords and Ladies is because I found it on the 'net. Other than the events around described above, I can't remember anything about the play itself. I'm sure I enjoyed it, certainly had a good view, and I like the play, but... yeah. Maybe I can recall there was a castle set...? But that's about it.

That's a shame because of all the work they put in, and I got nothing. I really need to pay more attention to plays and go out and see more.

[END]

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Saturday, 6 December 2014

Wyrd Sisters

Speaking of Pratchett, I have seen a play of one of his stories. Namely, as you might guess, of Wyrd Sisters. Now, over here in New Zealand we don't get a lot of people putting on his plays, so this was something special. At least, back when I'm talking about. They look to be a little more common these days, although I've entirely missed them.

This was back in 1998. I can pin that date down because I had a friend come over from Australia for a convention, and that timed nicely with us seeing this play. However, I can't remember where it was. Somewhere near St James, I think, but definitely on the cheaper end than that theatre. (It's possible it no longer exists, and searching the internet reveals nothing useful.)

The play itself followed the story pretty faithfully. I can recall two particular incidents. One is when the demon is summoned. (I'm fairly sure that the demon was played by the director.) The demon is mucking around and tips over a mug... which is still got some liquid (water I assume) in it, which, of course, spills on the floor. That wasn't supposed to happen. Which then lead to the occasional actor slipping on the floor, and the line said more than once "damn those imps".

Another moment was when the witches were putting the sleeping spell on the town. I have no idea if this is in the play or not, but the end of it was timed for the mid-play break. And that exact moment when Magrat is kissing the Fool, in which moment they froze... and stayed that way for the entire break! Now that's dedication!

It's a pity I can't remember more, but that's what happens when your memory is terrible. And to prove that, that wasn't the only play I saw...

[END]

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Friday, 5 December 2014

As Below, So Above

Someone decides to delve into underground passages because they want to get a scoop for themselves? Yeah, I've seen The Tunnel. Although that isn't an original story even then. Strange things underground? That's what this it.

A researcher (not Lara Croft, or even Sydney Fox) is on the hunt for the Philosopher's Stone, and tracks it to a place under Paris. She gets the help of a local crew of catacomb runners to find her way around, and down they go, but they don't go through that passage because that's bad. But then the one passage through bones they do take leads back to that passage, and they have to go through there, and weird shit happens. Fortunately, she does find the Stone, but things fall apart and they have to go through Hell. Through the actual gates of Hell. And people start dying, but will they get out?

I do like the sense of claustrophobia this movie gives. There is a lot of tight corridors, and the camera shots emphasize that, with the limited lighting... but... the shots are just stone passage ways, so it's hard to know where anyone is, and one bit looks a lot like the other and... it's shaky cam/found footage style camera work. It's more justified for how they go through events... but then they clearly have footage of surreal supernatural elements so now more people can go investigate it?

This was actually shot in the catacombs of Paris, so there is that... just feels like a basic production was slapped on it to justify that.

[END]

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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Raising Steam

This is the latest Discworld book... at least, the latest I read. I gather it was published a year ago? Man, I am way behind the times here. I'm surprised there's not another one.

This is about the invention of the steam locomotive, and the impact that has on Ankh-Morpork and nearby places. Moist von Lipwig is put in a position of power to help guide it, and slowly it spreads out...

And... I have a large problem with this book. The bulk of it feels like it's all set up for a plot that never actually happens. It wasn't until we were in the middle of the big "fight scene climax" equivalent that I realised this was supposed to be it. The railway is built up, and built up, and there's a small political sub-plot... but nothing feels like it's the major driving force. Just lots of little pieces that bring us to the end of the story. There isn't a mystery or slow exploration or anything to unveil to give a sense of development or progress, so I felt that this was very weak.

Still a good read, and quite humourous, but very light on plot.

[END]

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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Star Force and Destiny

Yes, I'm talking about Star Wars. No, I'm talking about the trailer. I'm talking about the RPG instalment, Force and Destiny.

We spent the entire session just setting up our characters for next time. I'm playing a Nautolan male, who is a Mystic Advisor. Where in this case, I'm advising for free love, and shouldn't we all just get along, and I have the force powers to back that up and make you want to sleep with me... yeah, okay, I might be heading towards the Dark Side sooner than later.

One irritating point is that we need to spent xp on the same things as before, stats, skills and talents, and also force powers. So it feels like we are diluted more than other characters. Yes, I have two force powers, but I don't have any talents to go along with it. Well, we'll see how this plays out.

And my name, I chose after much deliberation of what is a suitable Nautolan name, and properly reflected my status as the face character who is all about the good times. Brah Dpitto.

[END]

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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Predestigination

Okay, this is a time travel movie, so you have my interest...

A time agent goes back to be a bartender, and hears a strange tale of a person's life... which then gets more complicated.

I won't say any more, indeed I may have said too much already, because this based on a story. A rather well known story (spoilers). Which, as soon as you click as to what the story is, the movie becomes boring. And even if you didn't read it, I reckon you could predict a lot of the 'twists' anyway. We know what's going to happen, so we end up just sitting around waiting for the movie to get on with it and present the moments we know are coming. Not great.

The acting is decent. Sarah Snook has more of the starring role than Ethan Hawke, and does a better job as well, although I didn't buy the prosthetic transformations for a moment. And the time travel prop is a neat gimmick, and I can see people making that for fun.

So yeah, once you get it, it doesn't hold attention.

[END]

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Monday, 1 December 2014

Prototype: Gear

Gear. Setup is: In a future where robots fill our daily lives, a young girl loses her family to a killing machine which ends up becoming her only family.


I keep saying "part of a story", but that's what this is. Moreover, this feels like it is the opening scene or similar, or possibly denouement. But a complete story? Nope. And, to be honest, the screen shot on the video kinda gives it all away. Not to mention, I'm not going to go with the main hero being a spunky young kid on the wrong side of the law without some justification she's not just a snotty little criminal punk, and we don't get that here either.

Final ranking, from lowest to highest. POLIS. The Liar's Chair. Memory 2.0. Hacked. Gear. Whipping Boy. Drakken. Shut-Eye.

[END]

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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Prototype: Hacked

Hacked. Setup is: A gritty Sci-Fi chase film about two young women, unjustly accused of murder, who escape custody and begin posting video content online in an attempt to vindicate themselves of the crime, find the real killer and evade a secret FBI manhunt.


Another example of world-building, and/or another example of a part of a chapter of a larger story. This feels like part of a bigger arc, possibly a mid-season cliff-hanger. The only problem is, I have no interest in what's going on, so I'm not tuning it to see what happens next. We get a quick dumps of exposition, but they don't work, and while I can see that we are supposed to care about the two leads, I can't say that this makes me do.

[END]

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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Prototype: The Liar's Chair

The Liar's Chair. Setup is: An eloquent cowboy, four criminals, and a delicious bag of tortilla chips.


Umm... okay. It's lighter than the others. Definite sense of humour going on. But... I'm left with "and?". Again a classic story retold, but nothing much happens with it. The core seems to be the character of the Cowboy able to talk a mile a minute, but that's about it. I'm not invested so don't care if he wins or loses, or even if he is supposed to be the one I'm supposed to care about if he wins or loses. Just... meh.

[END]

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Friday, 28 November 2014

Prototype: Whipping Boy

Whipping Boy. Setup is: A man who works as a human punching bag to relieve others of their stress gets caught up in a noirish mystery pertaining to a strange device that everyone's after.


This is good world building. While Shut-Eye is still winning as a short movie over all, this one looks to have a lot of promise to be a full fledged movie. We get given a lot of culture in a few short space of time, and we get the sense that there is a full world set up and working in which we are having a peek. As a short, this doesn't quite work because the setting needs more understanding, but the promise is definitely there.

[END]

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Prototype: Memory 2.0

Memory 2.0. Setup is: A tale of love lost in the distant future where people relive their fondest memories with virtual reality. Everything spins out of control for our Hero as the lines between reality and the virtual memories begin to blur..


Nope. From the start, you can see where this is going, and it doesn't do anything new to get there. Just pop in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The only reason I would want to see a longer version of this is to get a better explanation of what's going on. It's rushed, and does itself no favours in doing so.

[END]

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Prototype: Shut-Eye

Shut-Eye. Setup is: Next Corp nears the launch of its greatest product ever: a mind app that removes our need for sleep. But when the son of the CEO discovers horrifying side effects, he must choose whether or not to bring down the giant corporation that his father built.


Okay, now this is more like it. These shorts are supposed to be more on the sci-fi edge, and while POLIS is, Drakken was standard dystopia. This movie asks the question "what happens if we remove our need to sleep", and it goes dark. This is nicely self-contained, and all you need to get the full story. The effects are well used, and aid the story, and the acting is great. The ending could be a little more ambiguous, but this is my favourite so far.

[END]

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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

An American in Paris

Okay, I haven't been to as many movies at the Wellington Film Society as I should have, and this is the last one for this year, but An American in Paris is a good one to go out on.

In Paris, a struggling artist is struggling, but gets a hit when a visiting lady likes two of his paintings. While dining out with her, he spies the girl who would take his heart... who is also seeing a friend of a friend of his. Oh, the laughs! Who will she end up with? And does it matter when there's so much dancing?

For this is a dancing movie. Gene Kelly is the artist (with someone else providing the painting), and quite a few times in the movie he breaks out into song and dance, as was the style at the time. (And he wasn't the only one.) And then there's the 17 minute dance sequence at the end, which... while nice, isn't really needed (and was largely included when one of the actresses was unavailable).

This is the first Gene Kelly film I've seen, and it's good... although the girl he is chasing is half his age, so there's a "creepy uncle" vibe about which man she will end with. But then she, Leslie Caron, was mainly hired for her ballet ability, which we get to see a few times, and is pretty damn good.

So, yeah, a good way to end, and here's to next year!

[END]

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Prototype: Drakken

Drakken. Setup is: A wandering warrior protects a small town from marauders in a post-apocalyptic, dark fantasy setting.


This is better. A fairly classic story about a bad man who has his own morals and is better than other bad people. And yet, still going dark there. I like it. This could be part of a larger story, but enough is told here we don't need to. A basic setting, common people types, it gets on with it, and done. And it doesn't even need a lot of effects to do the job.

[END]

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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Prototype: POLIS

Prototype is a competition that puts together new film makers with studios with resources, and they are down to eight finalists, and you know what that means... easy series of posts time!

First up is POLIS. Setup is: Set in the distant future, POLIS is a sci-fi thriller about David Porter, a young telepath whose search for his mother threatens to uncover a utopian society's horrifying secrets.


Um... okay, this is supposed to be a short film, sure. But with just over eight minutes of run time, we get barely five minutes of story. And this... it's a scene. There's little context to it, nothing is really resolved. This is part of a chapter in a longer story. Yes, you can tell short stories, but they should be complete in and of themselves. This isn't.

[END]

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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Tablytop

Did you watch Wil Wheaton play board games with his friends before? Did you watch Season 1 and Season 2? Well, did you know there's a Season 3? Well, there is, and here is the first episode.


And you can thank me for that. I helped to fund it. I helped make it IndieGoGo. (Okay, me and over 22,000 other people, but I did my bit.) And because I'm a special backer, I've seen an episode you never will! (Unless you were also a backer at that tier or higher...)

[END]

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Friday, 21 November 2014

Because... Desert Bus?

So I haven't been posting about Desert Bus, because I did that a lot previously. But this...

Two people from MLA turn up, find out about Desert Bus... and randomly decide to auction off a houseboat vacation, because... see above! I won't say what it went for, you can watch the clip, but that escalated quickly.


Oh, and my auctioned MTG Mana Rug went for US$407!

[END]

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

A Puzzle

Here's a Puzzle for you. A is moving down, B is moving up, and C is moving up. C is moving faster than B. When will C pass A?


Answer is hidden from the front page.

What rule is likely here? Murphy's Law! Which states the worst will happen, and so C will pass A at the same moment they are trying to pass B.

Having been C may times, this is very annoying, and yet continues to happen. Dammit!

[END]

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Reign of Winter

Last time, we had two of our party off by themselves. They wandered through the caverns, and... failed to take the proper left, and ended up at a cauldron we knew well. So they sent us a message, and we traipsed through the caverns until we found them. Well, we could either rest up, recharge spells, etc., or we could go on and kill...

KILL it is!

We back track more until we get to a trapped room. I happen to know where the answer is, so we again go through the entire system until we end up basically at the entrance with the Ettin, where I fail to win any friends. But the others talk her down, and we have the answers we need, so back again, do the puzzle correctly (barely, in some sense), then on to the final iron doors... where we are nearly stumped, but manage to get through.

And finally, we hit the last room! The one room we haven't found in our meandering! Inside, we find a large cavern, a deep pit, and... a centaur... and then huge frost giant huge centaur thing! Fight, Fight, Fight! It gets a little annoying in places (Nanoc gets frozen in ice, yay!), but we perform a beat down, because of course. Some close calls, but there you go.

However, we are after the keys, and the pit is the place to go. There are a few problems with it, but us speedy ones get down, find one key, and get out without too severe a problem. And then, hey, we are handed the last key! Woo! And we are done!

[And we are running late, so we are outta there, with some clean up to do, but we will be taking a break from this as there is a beta we want to try out...]

[END]

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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

See the New Century

I've mentioned the Cartographer's Handbook before... what? Actually, it seems I haven't. The Cartographer's Handbook is the first part of the New Century series, written by Alex Shaw. It's an alternative history series set in the 1880s after a civil war ruined the country... and then the Wendigo came.

And, now he's turning that into a series of videos, with the audio book illustrated by photos, both vintage and otherwise. And he has a Patreon series running to fund this and future seasons.

[END]

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Monday, 17 November 2014

The Novombor Mon

Hey, Pierce Brosnan, I'm in! And he's with Roger Donaldson, a pairing I remember from Dante's Peak, it's gotta be good!

So James Bond... I mean Peter Deveraux is an agent on a mission that went badly, so he gets out, only to get pulled in for an op five years later. Only, he doesn't have the whole truth, and so the person he's going to save gets killed... and that person is his wife! So begins Peter getting to the bottom of what's going on, which involves a Russian President candidate and a missing woman, and his old CIA friend turned against him and...

It's actually a lot more boring than it sounds. This is, with obvious reasons for why this connotation came to mind, a badly knock off of a James Bond script, with Brosnan's Bond coming to mind, especially when there's a replacement Valetin Zukovsky! It's a lot of blah, and I predicted the big reveals. Just not amazing.

The acting is fine, as is most of the production, but it just doesn't elevate the story to watchable. Not surprised it didn't get a full world-wide release.

[END]

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Even more Desert Bus!

It's that time of the year again, and they've already been bussing away for 24 hours. Check out Desert Bus for Hope for charity donations. They've even gotten themselves a nice large lunar module to run things out of.

And I have my own contribution. If you like rugs, or Magic the Gathering, check out this MTG Mana Rug! The auction starts at 3pm on Nov 20, and runs for eight hours.

Here's a neat video (created last year) all about it:

[END]

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Saturday, 15 November 2014

IB-een there

The International Baccalaureate is a replacement for University Entrance exams, and are internationally recognised. If you are in NZ, and want to go for an international university, this is better than the NZQA. It's not an easy exam, it takes two years to build up to it, and over your summer break, you are expected to write a substantial essay that provides some major contribution to a subject of interest (with in the realms of the fact you are year 11/12).

One school around here that's doing IB is Scot's College. According to the article, they started it back in 2010.

However... they did give this a go back in the mid 1990s. How do I know? Well, confession time, I was at Scot's College, and I was in the program.

There were about a dozen of us, and we had a separate class and was supposed to be more advanced learning. We still did the year 11 exams, so that was fun... and then most of them pulled out. So it was me and someone else. Over the summer break, I was aware of the essay, but didn't really do anything about it, and had no idea what we were supposed to be doing... and then in the second year, the one guy pulled out and I was advised to also do that. (This was near the beginning of year 12 so not too much of the year was wasted.)

Interesting to see they brought it back, and it looks to be working... but I was there 15 years earlier. (#Hipster!)

[END]

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Friday, 14 November 2014

What if...?

Avis does try harder?

You never will buy better than Briscoes? (*)

Burger King does taste better?

Coca-cola does refresh us best?

Energizer Batteries do keep going and going and going and going?

Gillette is the best a man can get?

Nike just does it?

Pepsi is the taste of a new generation?

Tip Top takes us home?

You can't beat a Trumpet?

Will you always be a kiwi if you love Watties sauce?


(*) You know "you'll never buy better" could be read as a threat...

[END]

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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Warld of Worcraft

There's a WOW documentary that's been released for free... so yeah, what the hell, let's watch it!

This does a good job of covering the basics. We get the start of Blizzard, then build up to WOW, and then we go through the expansions and how the company dealt with them. Interspersed are little clips from people saying how much they like WOW and remembering their favourite bits and what not. It's all very luvvie really.

This feels more like a promotional piece... which it probably is. It's all very pro-Blizzard and isn't everything they do wonderful. A more in depth documentary might have touched on problems WOW had (I assume there are some) and other companies that tried to mimic the WOW formula, and how they failed. But really, this is a large behind the scenes extra feature.

As for WOW itself, I can't get into it. Occasionally I might think about it... but it looks just like running around spamming fighting moves. I like some of the cinematics, but the actual game play is just running around on a large field. Eeehhh.... not to mention I don't have the time sink. (I might go for DCU Online, but can't get that to work.)

It's free, so watch it for that... but not for an in depth analysis of WOW itself.

[END]

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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Needs more Cooks

I often don't take notice of viral videos. If I do, it's usually 'oh, that's what people are talking about... okay' and then move on to something else.

But considering Adult Swim is involved in this, which I wasn't aware of. And I caught a brief description of it on Overthinking It. Well, I had to look it up...

And this is so worth taking notice of.


[END]

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Deliver Them from Wevil

Hey, it's a supernatural cop drama action movie. Never seen one of them before.

Sarchie is a cop with a 'radar' that lets him detect weird stuff happening, and he and his partner go around being all macho and actiony and beat up people who are bad guys. We soon get to where some crazy shit happens and one guy is going around driving people crazy and being all weird, and then there's a priest who gets involved.

This movie is quite good, and I remember remarking on how this movie was good at building atmosphere. However... then we hit the end of the movie, and it falls to pieces. I'm about to spoil it, but sod it, it's not that good. But I will hide the paragraph from the front page to be nice.

The cop and the priest capture the bad guy, and he's possessed... so, of course, we need an exorcism! But how this plays out is that the priest says "exorcisms have six parts, the build up, the fake out, the big effect, the let down" and whatever... then the movie progresses through those steps without any variation, so we know exactly what will happen, and there is no suspense at all. And this is the last section of the movie, the big set piece! It's a complete waste of time!

Okay, the acting is decent, even yes Eric Bana. I did mistake Edgar Ramirez for Enrico Colantoni in a wig. I can't recall any particular effect of note, there's a lot of  'let's keep the camera off the action' method for hiding the bad guys, and even the big set pieces don't do anything too amazing. This does help keep the movie 'realistic', but realism went out when they brought in possession.

This could have been a good movie, with a good set up and build up, but the ending is a waste of time.

[END]

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Monday, 10 November 2014

DW 8.12

Let's start with the positive. I like what they did with the opening credits. I have trouble buying the opening set up, but that's a nice selling point. However, the rest of the episode...

The Master, although insane, is a genius, and Missy... is just plain insane. This was her big plan? Create a cyberarmy and give it to the Doctor? What? That makes no to less sense, especially when she keeps thinking the Doctor is going to die. Still, just as well UNIT didn't check her for technology, and ordered the guards not to move is Missy got out, or anything, or she wouldn't have been able to enact her plan at all.

The Cybermen should be a horrendous threat, the idea of upgrading to machine and losing your soul... but they just become big stomping robots. There's no real impact to them anymore. They have to have "here's a Cyberman with emotions and still human" to give them any differentiation from genericity. And the moment with the Brig... I want to like that, I really do, but Nick isn't around, so just feels like a failed second best.

And the big secret of Clara? How has Missy being using her? Yeah, that went nowhere. As well as Missy collecting people from across time and space after the Doctor has been there, knocked off in a line of dialogue. I knew Moffat wasn't going to come through, but he's not even trying!

This has not been the best season, and now, an episode shorter than previous, it comes to an end. ...whatever.


Next time: Really? Why?

[END]

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Two Guns

Is this supposed to be an action movie? Because the main action is how many words the two leads can spit out.

Two guys plan a bank heist, but end up with more than they bargained more. Firstly, too much money. And then neither guy is who they say they are and are at work for bigger forces... and then there are even bigger forces involved.

This could easily be considered a farce, certainly it hits ridiculous levels with who's involved, and who's betraying who, and the rather absurdist length various characters go to to get what they want. And through it all the two leads crack wise and bullshit everyone and generally be better than everyone around them (more or less, they are set back, but hey, they are the heroes of this movie!).

So yes, Denzel Washington and Marky Mark are decent in this, although both do too much talking. And then we add in Bill Paxton and Edward James Olmos, neither of them taking this film seriously either, and I don't know if this is brilliant or high levels of stupidity.

Should you see it? Sure, but make sure you have appropriate levels of expectation about the comedy and the action.

[END]

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Saturday, 8 November 2014

SortaStellar

Yeah, it's that new Nolan film, and yes, it's too long. (And this is after the too long trailers. Seriously, do we need 15 minutes of rubbish before the movie starts?)

In THE FUTURE the world sucks, but fortunately NASA is an underground agency with budget and everything, because it's not like the world leaders would try to concentrate on protecting themselves or anything if the world went bad. Cooper just so happens to be an ex-NASA pilot, and finds the place, and it given the mission to go find a nearby (via a wormhole) world were Earthicans can live free and roam wild. And then it goes wrong, as these things do, because this is a movie. And because this is a movie that was supposed to be for Spielberg, the ending is... I can't say, but it made me want to punch someone.

For the most part the acting is decent, but the direction gets in the way. There are far too many scenes which are nothing but talking, and Matthew McConaughey's low down drawl spins out the already too long scenes further. And that's when you can here them. The music is by Hans Zimmer, and we are given plenty of time to enjoy it because it's so loud you can't hear anything else... including dialogue.

I can see what Nolan was trying to do with many scenes, I just don't think he quite got there, and the ending revealed things which most people probably already guessed.

[END]

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Friday, 7 November 2014

Anna O'Malley

It's the Mickey Smith movie! Well, not really, but the opening could easily be a Doctor Who episode. And the main reason I'm mentioning Mickey is that this movie stars... and is directed by!... Noel Clarke.

Mickey wakes up, finds himself in a van with a trapped kid, and then they escape... only to be smacked down. He wakes up again somewhere else, kicks lots of butt, and goes down... and repeat. Eventually a story comes out of people controlling other people, but it's given out in fits and starts and is largely a mess.

Okay, I'm going to be honest, and before I realised that Noel Clarke was the director, I was intending to hammer it a lot, but now that I know he is... I know who I'm hammering. This movie takes advantage of the conceit of the mind control guy momentarily coming back to himself to have lots of different vignettes, and most of them feature Noel Clarke beating people up in gloriously choreographed sequences... that commits the horrendous directorial decision of slow motion - fastmotion - slow motion again that directors use to make action look cool when there's nothing else going on. And it's annoying. Please, directors, stop doing this.

There is also a lot of plot convenience in that the woman just happens to be there when the guy needs help, and somehow Mickey (okay, he's not called Mickey, but let's call him Mickey anyway) manages to pick up and retain skills and knowledge while under mind control, and...

The acting is fine, but everything else could use work, including the title. I have only a superficial idea why it's called The Anomaly, and I'm sure there are far better titles available.

[END]

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Thursday, 6 November 2014

International Antarctic Centre

On my last day, I went to the International Antarctic Centre. There I experienced an ice storm, which wasn't that bad (although I was wearing two jackets). Saw some penguins, experienced a movie in 4D and saw lots of Antarctic related stuff.

[Sneak tip: If you want a free trip to/from the airport and Christchurch CBD, take the free Penguin shuttle!]

No photos, but videos.
The Hagglund ride might not be than filmic, but it gives you an idea of what we went through.

Penguins are fed!

And then I walked from the Centre to the Airport:

[END]

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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Christchurch Tour

The second day I was there, I went on a tour (a three hour tour). (I decided against the Lord of the Rings tour because there's only so much "here's a hill where they filmed a scene" I can take at the moment.)

Lots of photos of the tour.

And for videos, me walking through Mona Vale:

And after the tour I went through the Canterbury Museum and then walked through the Botanic Gardens:

[END]

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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

To Christchurch!

Last week I went down to Christchurch... because! I've been there for work often, but not really for a holiday, and I wanted to take a look around at what happened since. But rather than go down there directly, I took the indirect route, and took the Ferry over to Picton then the Coastal Pacific down to Christchurch... where I then got a bit lost. Christchurch, more sign posts for us tourists!

Photos of the trip are here.

And for videos, we have Picton:

On the train:

And a wee piece of Kaikoura:

[END]

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Monday, 3 November 2014

DW 8.11

And here we have it. There are some great lines, but the big reveal... is something many people saw coming. Oh, in fact, I'm just thinking about the last bits of the episode and getting so depressed by how prosaic it all is...

I'll admit I didn't see Danny dying, but I should have expected it. And then of course the Doctor and Clara would go after him (with some nice moments from the Doctor), although... why then hasn't the Doctor gone after many other people who have died? Adric, nope, he's dead, but the boyfriend of a companion, he's in there! (And fortunate that Danny was one of the ones uploaded and not like many of the other dead peoples.) I was getting a Of the City of the Saved vibe, but that's ridiculous... this is clearly far more plausible. (Was Doctor Chang uploaded or just annihilated? Seems a waste if just vapourised. Then again, after saying she would wait for him to say something nice, he then says something nice, so not exactly worth saving.)

I had forgotten the Cybermen was in this, so it wasn't until the Doctors got in the lift and the doors closed that I clicked on them being Cyberman eyeholes. But was it just me, or do we still not know what the three W words are? And just the hell would the Master/Mistress care about the Cybermen? He's worked with the Daleks before, but surely he considers the Cybermen beneath him? (Certainly didn't care about them in The Five Doctors.) This story sounds more like "let's bring back the Master... and pair in the Cybermen!" rather than have any particular plot reason, but then again that is very Steven Moffat.

And let's talk about the big reveal of the Mistress..  which many people predicted. It's like Moffat picked all the most boring reveals, perhaps to be different? Which didn't work. And the Mistress doesn't care about Clara much, so what's with all that? Next episode has a lot to pay off.


Next time: I didn't see the trailer, but the set up is amazingly Army of Ghosts, so something akin to Doomsday?

[END]

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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Papa Machete

Not only is this a film about fighting with machetes, it's also something I Kickstartered!

This film is about Professor Alfred Avril, one of the last true proponents of machete fighting. We are given a short look into his life, and also see some machete fighting in action (usually with him wielding a machete one handed while holding a bottle of drink in the other hand - and soundly beating his opponents).

And by short look, I mean this is ten minutes long. I could have done with more, especially I was hoping to find out more about the fighting itself (and would it be worth it having an RPG character with the skill), but that's not what we get.

This is currently making its way around film festivals (I got to see it because I'm a backer), and can recommend to check it out, no doubt either as a leader for another film or packaged with other short films. But it whets the appetite more than it satisfies.

[END]

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Gideon's Army

Gideon is the chap who caused the case that meant that everyone was entitled to a lawyer. And so Gideon's Army is about Public Defenders in the (American) justice system.

This movie focuses on the lives and jobs of Public Defenders and some of the cases they have to deal with. We get some of the people they are working for (the movie mainly shows us black men, I'm not sure if that's because of who was available, or some bias of the movie maker). Public Defenders have to put up with a lot of shit, and a lot of the time, you do wonder why they continue (not why they started, but why they put up with their clients). And many don't. But we are with those who do, and see their passion to continue.

Now, this is an interesting movie from that perspective of what they put up with, but... that's all there is to this movie. We don't see anything about the system, about why we need Public Defenders, what changes are happening (if any) to ease their burden or enable the system to work better (often people in this movie say that the system has problems), nothing along those lines. It's just example after example.

Basically, this movie raises the profile of Public Defenders, but I feel like it could have done more.

[END]

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Friday, 31 October 2014

True Detective

With the last two episodes, it's time to actually focus on the mystery.

Episode 7 gets into the mystery, and brings things up to date. It seems without a family, the show has to get into the case. But there still isn't really a full Chambersian influence yet, the Yellow King stuff is just dressing. You could swap out with any other names and get the same things. Certainly no hint of anything supernatural. That all said, although this looks to be just humans being capable of bad things, this is not going to end well.

Episode 8 and... it remains dressing. It's just people being people, and this reaches its rather desultory conclusion. It's hard to say the case is about anything, and certainly there isn't really any feeling of achievement when the final pieces drop. Indeed the last clue/trail is just what needs to happen because of plot, not because of the long lengths of detective work they've been doing. And then in the final moments, the show goes for a human connection again, and gets on firmer, if wishy-washer, ground.

There's decent acting in this show, but nothing crime wise that hasn't been done before, and the Lovecraftian angle is overrated. The only reason to watch is for the characters, but that isn't enough to drag this out over eight episodes.

[END]

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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Tru Detecti

This show is having trouble expressing what it wants to be about.

Episode 5 has some attempt at cosmic horror, a little different from episode 1. This is wrapping up the 1995 portion of the story, and giving us more about the present day case. There's also a big (for this show) action piece, in which we clearly see people are lying, but they are the heroes, so that's all right, it's all over now... but it isn't.

Episode 6 shows that this show isn't about the crime at all. Which it hasn't been all along, but this episode puts that front and centre. The personal lives of the leads come tumbling down, and the mystery is completely incidental. There could be anything going on, and the detectives would still act the same way. This is where it is "true detectives", because it is truly about the detectives and nothing else matters.

[END]

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Tr Detec

And so it rolls on.

Episode 3 is just them going places and talking. What is supposed to be happening here? What is drawing people in? It's only because of the context that I'm still watching, and I can see it has potential, but huge slabs of nothing is happening. Most of the action is around the personal lives of the cops, although there is now the promise of something relating to the case actually about to happen. But I'm not sure I believe it, even when I will see it.

Episode 4 is... did I watch these in the right order? What does this have to do with where episode 3 left off? We do get some advancement of the plot, as such, but it's largely 'in the way filler'. We need to talk to X, well first you need to contact W, and then go to R, and then P, and then Z, and then... really? How is this not padding? Even the character arc of the leads is abruptly advanced. Was this written by someone else sneakily?

At least we're halfway now...

[END]

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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

T Det

I've heard many people say True Detective is good, and that there's a Lovecraftian connection with the King in Yellow and that, so let's give it a go, with reviewing two episodes at a time... which gives me a nice wee series of posts.

And I'm not going to use the L work again, the King in Yellow is from Robert W Chambers, so Chambersian it is!

Episode 1 reminds me a lot of Hannibal. Similar style, and the first murder victim involves deer antlers. It's a slow build, and I'm sure I lost the connection between some of the plot points at one stage and wondered why they were investigating an older case. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey do not play compelling characters (in that I don't feel compelled to keep watching them), and if it wasn't for the Chambersian connection I know is coming, I probably wouldn't get past episode 1.

Episode 2 continues the slow build. I hope the entire season (of just eight episodes) isn't just slow burn of the mystery, as that's already getting tiresome. The two leads aren't getting much better, and the characters do not seem to have any sense of subtly. We do finally get a proper name check of the King in Yellow and Carcosa, but a name is about all it is. The previous cliffhanger worked in that it told us why this series is set when it is, but this one is just a very lame reveal.

[END]

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Monday, 27 October 2014

DW 8.10

Right at the beginning we have several things which irritate me and will probably never be resolved. Good start, episode! One fairly innocuous one I can mention: since when has the TARDIS has a GPS "you have arrived" announcer? And why will it never come up again?

The whole forest out of nowhere is a more interesting set up than what I thought was going to happen based on the trailer last week. I thought the Doctor was going to take them on a school trip, instead it's a magical mystery tour in the present day... in which a massive reset button is pushed at the end and conveniently no-one will ever remember, despite the number of digital footage and such around.... eh, what? Then again, no-one remembers the Daleks or that there was a huge alien spaceship...

On one hand, this is a nice tight story in which we get to focus on just a few characters and developed. On the other hand... WHERE IS EVERYBODY? Yes, they get told to stay inside, but rubbish! Any opportunity for people to get out and loot will be taken, let alone people just getting out and enjoying the new surroundings. Then again, we are talking about a planet which 100% voted to kill a new moon creature. The Doctor Who New Series Earth sucks.

This is all because the story isn't about the forest (and I totally picked that the forest was a good thing early in the story), it's about Danny and Clara and the relationship with the Doctor. With the kids providing colour commentary. And being annoying. Yeah, those are some damn irritating kids, and I'm sure we will be subjected to them again. And no-one minds they know about the TARDIS and such now? Anywoo, once again Danny and Clara and that's nice character development... but it's repeated character development. This is just Danny finding out about the Doctor again, we've been there. And, to be honest, The Caretaker did it better.

This story took a while to grow (sic) on me, but once I got into the groove of it, I did settle back and enjoy it. It's not a brilliant episode, but it's better than many others this season.


Next week: The beginning of the End. Again.

[END]

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Sunday, 26 October 2014

OlderBoy

We turn now to the American remake, because god forbid the idea of Hollywood coming up with their own ideas.

The plot is largely the same as the Korean version, except... and this is a big except...

I don't know if this is because the American writers didn't get it, or they thought Americans wouldn't get it / be able to put up with it. The original is two hours, this is one hour forty-five, and the missing section is basically: the emotional core. The characters, in the original, have time to develop the emotional link, and we think there is something there. Here, it's just "they are together, because they are man and woman and this is how movies work". There's nothing. And the villain of the piece doesn't get any real fun, and doesn't get to fully establish himself either. It feels a lot less personal here than in the original, and that just pisses me off.

Josh Brolin is fine, but everyone else is largely one-note, because of this drive of the plot to be about the action and miss the point of the story. And yes, they re-do the corridor sequence, but of course make it longer because this is the remake. I can see that being the one piece of this movie that people will talk about as they do the original.

If this is all you see, fine, but check out the original for the actual movie.

[END]

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Saturday, 25 October 2014

OldestBoy

I've heard about this Korean movie, so let's give it a go. It gets... weird.

A man is heading slowly on his way home, via the police station because he's kinda over drunk. His friend gets him out, but then the man disappears. He's locked up in a room for fifteen years, then suddenly he's released. And so begins his revenge streak to find out what happened to him. And along the way, he finds a woman to love. The reasons why are slowly unveiled, and in the last half hour... I am so not going to reveal any of that, except to say I didn't see that coming, and admire the movie for going there.

One of the main reasons I heard about this was the corridor fight, which is a side on view we have while the man fights his way past a crew of guys, in one long uncut shot. There's a lot going on there (although you can spot various moments where the blows aren't quite hitting, and a few moments where they give various actors time to catch their breath). It's a decent sequence, although I suspect there are a lot better sequences out of Korea these days.

The acting is decent, with the actor playing Woo-jin Lee (the nominal villain) probably having the best parts. Min-Sik Choi as the "hero" Dae-su Oh has a lot to do both physical and mental, and I can't imagine it was easy.

This is a part of a trilogy? Hmm, I might try to find the other two some day then. In the meantime, there's something else I have to watch...

[END]

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Cthulhu Dissected

A while ago I picked up a copy of Dissecting Cthulhu from the YSDC store, and just recently read it. And it was quite good.

This is a collection of previously published essays about Lovecraft and his work, and other people who picked it up. There are many essays pointing out that the "Cthulhu Mythos" was created by August Derleth, which is a nail hammered many times.

Another point is Lovecraft's inspiring places. There's one article that points out the many bad things Will Murray does.. and this is followed with a Will Murray article about some other place!

Fortunately, there are a few articles talking about Lovecraft's work and ethos. There are also articles treating the mythos entities as researchable things, which goes against the ethos.

This is an interesting read, but the conflicting essays are a little annoying. That said, that is what happens when you are dissecting Cthulhu...

[END]

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Open and Out

Okay, I probably need to take a break because I spend far too much time trying to catch up with current shows that get around to writing up blog entries, so we gets simple posts like this, which is basically a youtube vid with commentary.

Supernatural had a rocky start, and then, it has been pointed out, that it's been treading the same plot for the past few seasons. But I like it and will continue to watch it.

One aspect I particularly like is the opening credits. They change every season, and they fit the theme of the season. But the best part... they are only around five seconds. With lots of long opening sequences, with shots of various actors and panning shots to show off effects and... nope, not with Supernatural. Quick shock shot, then back to the show.


Usually others only have short openings when they are under a time squeeze, but we could do with more shows that actually care about getting to the content.

[END]

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Reign of Winter

A convenient raven turns up with a 5,000gp diamond in its claw. After some bargaining, it is swapped for various items the party has, and now they have a nice diamond... which they eventually get around to casting on a Raise Dead.

Nanoc is back! [I like to play my characters "all the way down", and since Nanoc wasn't completely gone, back he is!]

After spending some days resting and recuperating, we get back into it and try to find where the bad guys are. This leads us to looking down the passageway with all the runes that nearly killed us before (and did kill Liddac!). Mage and Felgard decide to head down... and we split the party!

They go down the runes, Mage nearly dies, but they make it to the end and re-enter the field with the old crone, who tells them off for returning. And they find the chap from the previous encounter who invisibled and ran away. Pressing on, they go exploring more.

Meanwhile, the rest of us go the other way, and find ourselves back in a room not that far from the entrance. We sit a while, then go through a room with a petrified forest before ending up back in the room.

After poking around, Mage and the Bard find a room with two Frost Giants guarding a door. Bravely they attack using fire, then run away.

We go down another passage, to find a Frost Giant and a young pregnant maiden in flagrante delicto. That doesn't stop us attacking, and the three of us take down the Giant without too much of a problem. And then the maiden touches Nanoc and makes him go weak [Losing Strength is my new Being Cursed]. So then they bravely and nobly kill the pregnant woman... who turns into a hag creature thing, but still. Without wanting to wander around more, we settle in for the night.

Mage and the bard do hit and run tactics to kill the giants, and that works well. But where will they go next, and will the party ever regather?

[END]

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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Melody of Berlin

It was a two-fer this week!

Melody of the World (1929): This is an assembled film of images from around the world, in black and white with sound! The music is well set to the images, and the images themselves are paired up to show off how similar some human (and animal) activities are. Although some of the moment were, I thought, a stretch, for example elephants picking things up and people picking up a canoe. This is more likely an example of convergent evolution than common ancestor (although there's probably some of that too). I was also reminded of the Qatsi trilogy in the blending of themes and images, and I should get around to watching that again sometime. Still, well done.

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927): Another film by Walter Ruttmann (as the above one was), and again we have the mixture of images (although this is a silent film with later composed score) giving us the impression of music as the images play off either other. There's a nice flow and beat as we start with the waking of the city, following people through the day, and then the night life. It's nicely done, and I kind of wish there was natural sound in it, but we have the above film for that.

[END]

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Monday, 20 October 2014

DW 8.09

Does this count as a Doctor-less episode? Not really, although it would have been a fairly simple day for Peter Capaldi. Overall, I liked it.

We start with an interesting premise of people sucked into the walls, and of the TARDIS shrinking. (Easier prop management? Although I'm sure Jenna wasn't particularly excited about hiding in it.) And then the Doctor is trapped... which, while potential, doesn't really impact on him not being around. It's more of an opportunity to get Clara to experience what it means to be the Doctor. And yet... we don't really get a full sense of what it means to be the Doctor as Clara doesn't really have a lot of tough decisions to make.

Decent performances all around, I liked Chris Fairbank's prickliness. Good performances from our two leads as well, and we'll see where the Clara / Danny relationship goes.

Although I only just watched it, I can't say there is anything more amazing I want to talk about. High rating episode, but could easily be seen as filler. And yes, I spotted the Pixar reference. (Not sure if the other train is a reference to something.)


Next week: Oh, school trip gone wrong. That's never happened before.

[END]

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Why so Serial?

We all like Batman, so who doesn't want to see more Batman? Batman, Batman, Batman.

In particular, the 1949 15 part serial Batman and Robin, as screened in theatres. So this meant that each episode, around 17 minutes each, ended with a dramatic cliff hanger, often involving actual cliffs! Only to resolved by finding out the heroes escaped just before the dramatic explosion seen last week. Ah, the 'get 'em in again next week' ol' cinema serials.

This particular adventure involves a character known as The Wizard. Who can remotely control cars. And he has his own gang. Against them are Batman and Robin, two people clearly dressing up in costumes with no gadgets to speak of. And with the fighting ability of a stunned koala. Also featured daring reporter Vicki Vale. It's a basic story, but definitely set up for a serial, and for the times, and would only pause current day Batman for about five minutes.

But I didn't watch it by myself, as such. Instead I saw all the episodes with the aid of Rifftrax. They just recently finished the series, as part of their once-a-week Riffs. (Shorts are a lot easier than full movies.) If they are sensible, they'll offer a package deal, but the whole lot is easy enough to get. Go for it!

[END]

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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Mudbloods

Mudbloods is a movie about Quidditch that's just been released... and I forgot I had a copy of this ready for me to watch because I Kickstartered this.

This movie mainly follows the Quidditch team at UCLA and their team performance of the year (of 2011) and their action at the New York Quidditch Cup. Outside of the context of this being a game from a fantasy series, this is actually fairly full on contact sport (with one particular nasty injury happening), and co-ed, unlike a lot of other sports out there. Actually, I'm reminded a lot of touch rugby, except these people are running around one handed.

Okay, let's talk about a large aspect. They are running around on brooms, basically holding them between their legs, giving them only one had free. And yes, that does look rather silly. And phallic. And the Snitch is a guy who has a ball in a sock around his waist that the Seekers have to grab. This is what happens when you need to adapt a fantasy game. And admittedly, after a while, you do just see people running around, scoring goals and throws balls at each other, not too dissimilar to other sports.

The main characters we follow are Alex, the man who put the Quidditch competition together. Tom, the captain of the UCLA team. And Katie, a Harry Potter fan who has a lot of HP merchandise. They are nice people, and realistic about this. These people aren't going to be superstars of the world, but neither are they unhappy with their place in life.

Aside from it being Quidditch, this could be many other sport movies. But it is Quidditch, so there's that.

[END]

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Friday, 17 October 2014

A whole lot of Toot

They say (whoever they are) that you learn something new every day. For instance, the other day, I learnt that the Mount Vic Tunnel is haunted.

Ya what now?

It seems that back when the tunnel was constructed, one man killed his significant other and buried her body. And now her ghost haunts the tunnel. But don't worry, you can ward it off by tooting. And that's why people toot inside the tunnel.

Yep. That's why. No other reason.

For example, people like being annoying and the toots echo nicely in the tunnel. And that's a popular tunnel at night, especially when drunk, when tooting might be the thing to do. Just like in the Terrace Motorway Tunnel, only people don't talk about that being haunted.

Never mind that I never heard of that story and my family have tooted in there all the time.

So no. Just no. Move along, preferably with respecting the noise level, but there's no ghost to see here.


[END]

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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Smash and Grab

I got a large backload of documentaries to watch, and so am likely to click on random files, not remembering what they are, and watching something. For example, The Story of the Pink Panthers.

The Pink Panthers, in this case, is a group of jewellery robbers that operate in Europe, They started in Yugoslavia and after events in that country turned sour, they spread out into Europe, and we follow their story from those beginning to some of their jobs, and through how they happen. It starts with the woman casing the joint (so be suspicious of all women), to the men coming in later and grabbing things (speed is important here), then the courier taking the diamonds and jewels to a contact, who would then refine the diamonds and (mainly) sell them to Americans.

This movie makes this sound almost simple. Just go into a jewellery store, nick stuff, and done. Although there's more to it than that, and the police / Interpol are cracking down on them and have caught quite a few... although there are always more, people willing to try risk for quick and easy money. And I'd be lying if I couldn't see the appeal... although I have no talent for it (although I would say that, wouldn't I?).

Because this involves discussions with actual Pink Panthers members, while a lot of this is actual footage of people reenacting things, of discussions with police members, the scenes with the robbers tend to have a more animated take, with basic representations. And yet, they are well done, and go get a good sense of the emotion conveyed (though use of the eyes, and changing postures).

Quite enjoyable, although the take away message shouldn't be "go on, give this a go".

[END]

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