Friday, 30 July 2010

The Invention of Dr Nakamats

[My last film!]

Question: Who put the Bomp in the Bomp-she-bomp-she-bomp? Answer: Dunno, but I'd guess Dr Nakamats.

The Invention of Dr Nakamats is a wonderfully endearing movie about a wonderfully endearing man. Dr Nakamats claims to have invented all sorts of things, and while he holds over 3,000 patents, I'm not convinced that they are a) all useful or, b) entirely work.

But what the heck, he's a nice guy, doing well for himself, more than slightly eccentric, what more could you want? This movie is when he is encountering his 80th birthday (and he announced a new invention on that day!), and follows him about his daily activities. (And you'll get a slice of Japanese life as well as his own.)

Definitely a movie to be enjoyed.

[The City Gallery really needs wider seats.]

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I've Been Watching...

This time: The War Machines. They hardly bothered with the DVD really. There are a couple of features on the Post Office Tower itself, and a bit about the restoration, and that was about it.

The story is quite tight, especially considering that many four parters can feel padded. We get the set up of WOTAN taking over, the first War Machine coming out, the second one breaking free, and then the final confrontation. Four solid beats that are played out well, as well as exiting Dodo and bringing in Polly and Ben.

And just how big are Polly's eyes? They seem huge on screen! And it seems clear that they brought in Ben for the action sequences, so not sure what that says when they felt the need to being in Jamie next season.

Nice decent story, like it a lot.


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Thursday, 29 July 2010

How I Ended This Summer

How I Ended This Summer is described as a thriller... but I wouldn't say so. There an only be "thriller" if there is danger, and that requires parties to have knowledge, which only happens for around 1/4 of the movie. Now, "tense drama" on the other hand...

Two people are out recording readings (for something, doesn't matter a lot), when the more inexperienced one gets news the older one doesn't, and matters rapidly go downhill from there. While nearly qualifying for "slow cinema" itself, it paces itself slow to build up the sense of loneliness and isolation that really drives this movie.

It's a finely crafted tale, focusing on one "Pasha" Danilov, and we follow his slow descent into, while not madness, it does get very close to it.

Now, it is two hours, but well worth it.


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The Case of Moffat and Gatiss

Woo. Not content with reinventing Jekyll, Steven Moffat has decided to take on Sherlock Holmes as well, and update it to the 21st Century. Co-creating it with Mark Gatiss, but we know who's going to get the credit in this partnership.

It's three episodes, hour and half each, and, as mentioned, has this in the modern day. John Watson is an ex-army medical soldier who saw action in Afghanistan, although the only real "updating" of Sherlock has been to make him into a texting fiend, and change his drug habits just a little.

The first story is amusingly called "A Study in Pink". I see what they did there. There are some familiar beats, with the ole 'scratched up' device indicating drunkenness. And when Sherlock asked the key question of "who", I immediately jumped to the correct conclusion, so it's a little disappointing when Sherlock didn't until it was forced in the audience's face. Also interesting they show some of how Sherlock does his induction, so the audience is, for some things, up there with him.

And Mark Gatiss also shows his mug. He tries for creepiness, but can't quite pull it off. And there's an interesting character moment when Watson (played by an immediately recognisable Martin Freeman) hits on Gatiss' assistant. He is a woman-player after all.

Definitely want to watch to the other two, but... just two? I already want more!


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Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Where can water catch fire? In GasLand. This is one scary movie, about the natural gas energy production in America. Unintentional film maker Josh Fox captures lots of personal stories about how people's lives have been ruined due to the process of natural gas extraction screwing up the local water supply. Leading to, amidst other problems, the ability to light water on fire.

Watching this, I have to ask: is there any industrial sector that isn't overwhelmed by corruption, greed, coverups and general all round ass-hatted-ness? Perhaps there's a story on forestry in New Zealand that needs exposing? Certainly, from this and other documentaries I've seen, I'm surprised America is still existing as a country...

And while Josh gets lots of personal stories, there is one aspect that's largely missing, that of the corporate response. Although it's very clear that this is due to none of the corporations wanting to be interviewed. The best we get is at the end of complete weaseling in hearings. There's an Act trying to get into place that will severely curtail this issue, but, of course, as that would hamper the amount of money that can be made, don't expect to see that get into law any time soon...

GasLand is a scary movie that will fire off alarms bells at how anything obvious could be so ignored for so long. Definitely see this.


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Encountering Dark Sun

Since we didn't have enough players, we did something else last night. In our case, we got out the D&D Encounters Dark Sun characters and ran through a few scenarios. Two facts became evident:

Although I am no Dark Sun fanboy, what I experienced hasn't put me off it.

And I died. Both encounters. Man, that sucks.

The first game, we might have done better had we picked up on some subtle GM cues. Eh. Maybe next time. The second game, we won, although I didn't. (I rolled for the bad guys after I died, factor that in how you will.)

The pre-gens aren't in any way optimised either. Creating Dark Sun characters will bring about its own thread on min-maxing, but I haven't looked for them yet.

Still... I'm not against another Dark Sun game...


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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

I've Been Watching...

And also perused The Twin Dilemma. Now, yes, I won't be listing this in my all time favourites, but this isn't that bad. This is yet another "story rewritten by Eric Saward", so not surprising it's a bit of a mess. That said, while I'm sure it's supposed to be character development, cut out most of "the Doctor and Peri in the TARDIS" scenes, and it would be improved dramatically.

And, since they spent time bitching about it, let's talk about the coat... Meh, I've seen worse. It is extremely distinctive, but I can't deny that a change of outfit to something more subdued wouldn't have gone amiss. Still, it says "eccentric" and "alien" which is what the Doctor is.

This DVD does mean the entire ouvre of the Sixth Doctor is around, although I haven't watched it all yet.


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Monday, 26 July 2010


Also known as L'affaire Farewell. This is about the fall of the Soviet Union in the 80s, with one professional spy and one not so professional spy. (No, it's not a comedy.)

In fact, it's a thriller. Will they be found out? And just how much does the Soviet know about American secrets? (It seems: everything!)

The ending does go on a little too long, and eventually does a dramatic reveal then ends. Huh. Oh, and it has Willem Dafoe in it!


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The Ghost Writer

Hey, it's a Roman Polanski movie! The Ghost Writer is about... well... a ghost writer! (In fact, we never do find out his name.) He is helping out on some political memoirs and starting finding out more than he wants to about the ins and outs of who's working for who. I'm not entirely sure of the exact connections going on, and not sure why the final revelation is so shocking, but I'm sure it all makes sense to someone.

But, hey, check out the cast list: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, James Belushi, Jon Bernthal... I am wondering how many signed on because of the subject matter... and how many said yes just because it's Polanski...

Decent enough movie, although could be clearer.


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Police, Adjective

Police, Adjective is part of the "slow films" genre. Ye gods, now that's a slow film! Enjoy long sequences of watching Christi walking along after someone... of him eating... of him sitting in an office... I'm sure that is enjoyable to someone, but I had trouble keeping my eyes open at parts...

Which isn't to say it's a bad movie. It's about a police officer that doesn't really want to bust some kids for smoking drugs, but the law says he has to... so we see him dragging his heels. And that's the movie essentially...

Say it's "product of a particular culture" at fault, but watch on fast forward... and still find it slow.


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[Big movie day today.]

I really can't tell the difference between a documentary and a normal film anymore. Puzzle is about a woman who discovers the passion of completing puzzles. However, her husband isn't that interested, and her kids are doing their own thing, so she ends up keeping this world to herself for a long time. And this includes getting together privately with a partner to enter the national championships...

This is a charming film, that draws you in. It's hard not to jump to conclusions as an audience member, things that should be said to get the characters working better together, but of course that can't happen.

An enjoyably sweet movie (with a hint of bittersweet). [Enjoy this untranslated trailer.)


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I've Been Watching...

Since I'm on a more relaxed time table, I've managed to watch some more Doctor Who. Merely several months behind now!

Anyway, I made my way through the ten hours of The War Games. Although I have a portable DVD player so I can watch bits and pieces while lying in bed, the player wasn't good enough to play disc two, which had problems. Fortunately, my main DVD player worked fine with it. Phew, though I'd have to shell out another $60!

As for the Games themselves... yeah, the story works. Although it is almost a "greatest hits" of Troughton, in that he gets captured (several times), is mistaken for others (spies), impersonates people in charge, and even gets to be in a base under siege. Aside from the lack of monsters, this is his entire time writ small!

And I have to mention the Devo outfits of the War Lord people. Seriously? They need eyewear because they have bad eyes against the light, but... seriously? Not just darkened rooms them? Full brightness plus wrap around cardboard? If I may venture an opinion, they do look just on the silly side of ridiculous.

The behind the scenes make the point that it wasn't supposed to be a ten parter, but as this is Troughton's farewell, it's a good send off.

As for other extras, not surprised to see a historical piece on the Zones, and thought Paul S should have been in the comics bit. And as for Devious... um... we can only hope that's all anyone ever sees. But the DVD makers like putting parts of documentaries on (eg Stripping). Anyone know which DVD is part two of Dudley Simpson's music?


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Sunday, 25 July 2010

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

This is more a "behind the scenes" discussion, in which a group of us discussion the world situation and flesh out details about the powers in place and the state of other nations.

There will be more of these later, so this is World Building 1.


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The Room

Since The Room is screening as part of the festival, I thought now was the time to check out the RiffTrax version of it.

According to the blurb, there is audience participation, throwing props, repeating dialogue and the like... sounds to me like someone's trying to recreate Rocky Horror for the new millennium. But there's one vast different. Rocky Horror, in an of itself, is a great movie! The Room is just... bad. Really bad. And not even a good bad like Birdemic. It's just rubbish.

It's about a guy and his fiancee who cheats on him, and... stuff. And people randomly enter, randomly leave, the main guy says "Hi" to everyone, and there's a weird kid... frankly, the plot isn't worth following. Oh, and there are sex scenes which... are there in the movie.

Basically, when the main star is the writer, director and producer, that's a good sign that you are deep in self-delusion territory and that this is someone's much loved, albeit crap, picture they just had to make.

Just watch the trailer, and consider that to be an end of it.

[I don't know where they got those end quotes from...]


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Saturday, 24 July 2010

A Town Called Panic

Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! A Town Called Panic is a wonderfully funny, bizarre and totally surreal movie that has to be seen to be enjoyed.

It's a feature length (from the TV series - I now want to see that!) episode featuring Indian, Cowboy and Horse, and the absolutely madcap hijinks they get up to.

Frankly, it's too wacked out for words. Just watch the trailer:


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This one is going to be controversial with a large group of people, but it is based on history. Now, usually when one says that, it usually means "here's an idea that was written on a napkin", but in this case, this is an actual historical collection of events. (That said... there are some liberties taken, and certainly Hypatia is killed with more kindness than was actually given to her...)

Not sure why this movie wasn't called Hypatia, but instead the director went for a more general form Agora, being akin to "forum". Certainly a lot of this movie is about the "debate" (in a very loose sense) between Christianity and other religions, and about the practices of Christianity used at the time (ie death to unbelievers). [While Christianity is involved, to be honest, it could be any religion in a power situation. Feel free to consider if Muslim was cast in this role.]

However, I did find it rather tricky following the detailed motivations of the people involved. The more broad themes are easy to spot, but I did get a little lost as to who was who. Still, good acting all around, and Rachel Weisz rises to the part.

Check it out for a rather dark moment in human history.


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Visually stunning epic... but not perfect. There's a nice soundbite for you, but I suppose I'd better explain more. This is an original piece by Christopher Nolan, but I can see where he might be better sticking to other writers.

The idea is that Leonardo DiCapro can enter people's dreams (through some unspecified gizmo) and is hired to do a job... which he and a team do... and then the movie ends. It really is rather straightforward. Even the character twists and such can be spotted ahead of time, and certainly the base plot doesn't deliver any surprises. It says what it's going to do... and goes ahead and does it. Right. Yeah. Thanks for that.

But it's all about the characters... but they are as straight forward as the plot. Only Leonardo gets any hint of a character arc, and see if you can spot the end before the movie is halfway over. Which isn't to say that there isn't any good acting, there's great acting, just no stretching of the actors.

But it's all about the special effects. And if you've seen the trailer, you've seen most of the effects. Which are less impressive in the actual movie. Hum...

Yeah, decent enough movie to watch. Just... not brilliant.


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Friday, 23 July 2010

The Most Dangerous Man in America

Before Watergate (and leading up to it) were the revelations of the Pentagon Papers... which, I have to admit, I hadn't heard of before. But this movie, The Most Dangerous Man in America, reveals the history of these papers and, more particularly, that of Daniel Ellsberg, who risked going to jail to reveal these papers.

Daniel Ellsberg had a role to play in the ongoing Vietnam War, and was on the side of the war... for a while. Then he had his eyes opened, found out several truths about it, and decided to reveal all. After this big build up, the focus changes to the papers that ran the story, and the landmark decision that freed papers to publish 'top secret' documents.

However, and from a cynical point of view obviously, no-one really reacted to the contents of the documents, rather wanted to know more about the man, and there was a lot of focus on him. Certainly in today's world where it seems a story of a kitten playing with string can trump an item about world leaders conspiring to invade countries for oil, this doesn't surprise me at all.

Anyway, this documentary is about Daniel Ellsberg, and gives an interesting portrayal and reveals the truth about the Vietnam War. Interesting indeed!


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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

[I should have reread the blurb. I had this down as a movie to see, and went in thinking it was a documentary about the bird flu epidemic... I wish!]

There is no way to adequately describe just how bad this movie is. I will say that this is the "Manos" of this festival. Birdemic: Shock and Terror is one of those movies that is so bad people are already laughing at it during the opening credits.

The movie's "hero" (in these sense of this being the main male lead) is an exciting salesman... who, in an exciting sequence, leaves his house, drives along, gets petrol, drives some more, then gets out and goes into work. [The director's idea of "panning shot" is to put the camera on a tripod and then jerkily swing it along to hopefully capture the person walking. Don't even mention "framing" as clearly no-one did to the director.]

He hooks up with a fashion model, and they go out to a pumpkin festival, and... a bunch of completely meaningless scenes happen that are in the movie because they were filmed. Maybe. I don't know. Scenes end as actors give up saying their lines, and cuts are jarring and badly used. Ugh. [Check out this example of "ACTING!"]

Anyway, then a bunch of eagles and vultures attack, and there are cameos by various nobodies who espouse how this is all the fault of global warming, only no-one can understand what they are saying as the microphone on the camera is mainly picking up the wind whistling by.

The attack involves bad eagle and vulture gifs superimposed over whatever was filmed. The trailer below just can't hint at it properly. Other "special" effects include suddenly materialising guns with infinite ammo, and eagles that explode when dive bombing. And I know also know why people were paying with coat hangers before the movie. Before the movie... when I was innocent....

This movie has to be seen to be believed, and then somehow unseen because it's so bad.... and they're working on a sequel!

[I would be watching Oceans right now, but it was booked out.]

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[This is on at the Festival, I saw it at a different screening.]

This is a damn fine movie. Splice is about scientists doing things because they can. [I've often held to the principle of "if it can be done, it will be done" when it comes to science.]

Clive and Elsa are scientists that combine DNA from all sorts of different animals, and create... blobby alien things that hold amazingly useful medicinal compounds. Cool! Then they go the next step and "splice" in DNA from the most dangerous animal of all... man. Or rather, woman. Yeah, that can't go wrong. (There's discussions around needing to generate all sorts of chemicals together to get the embryos to grow, but that doesn't explain it really... what the hey, it's a movie! Run with it!)

As ever with science movies, this is ultimately more about the procreative urge of women and how men and women get on differently with children, and how a third person can really break up the dynamic of a couple... (there were a few moments when I simply thought "jealous much?".)

Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley and Delphine Chanéac completely carrying the movie, making it a fascinating set of performances to watch. Brandon McGibbon really looks like Adrien's brother, Simona Maïcanescu is familiar as French Woman in Power (hmm... she's also in something called Dante 01... I want to see that now!), and, hey, look, it's David Hewlett!

Very good film, go check it out!


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Before They Were Dators

People seem to be referring to this as a Robert Rodriguez film. Interesting, as most people refer to films by their director, but this one is by the writer and producer. Was Nimród Antal nothing more than a hand puppet?

When people go see a movie with "Predators" in the title, and it's marketed as a sequel to Predator, let me ask you: what do you expect to see? If you say "aliens with weird crab like faces going around killing people", you'd be wrong. Barely a third of the movie is about that. The rest, ie bulk, of it is about the people, the other "predators", that are their, about how they get on with one another and how they survive.

And you know what? You'll be crying out "bring on the alien crab faces!" too! We don't care if the tough guys have families. We don't care if they are bad or good! Or even if they kill each other or kill Predators! We want to see the Predators! We want to see the Predators predating! Alien Crab-Faced Death already!

What we get of them is nicely done. Some upgrades in their tactics and some evolution of the Predators themselves (although I'm not sure they ever evolved kissing with faces like that). But since the movie is all about the every day predators that surround us, you'd be forgiven for not noticing.

Okay, okay, it's not all sob stories and in depth backgrounds. In most cases, we barely find out people's names. But we don't care! Adrien Brody, get out of the way! Alice Braga, down in front! Topher Grace, get on outa here! Their appearances might give an extra kick to their careers, but they aren't Predators!

A rather one-sided review, I'll admit, but really I'm complaining about how the build-up didn't meet the movie. Not the first time that's ever happened, I'm sure you'd say. So yeah, check out this "Robert Rodriguez" flick, but just be prepared to spend a lot of time with no actual Predatoring happening...


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Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop

aka The Banksy Film. Exit Through The Gift Shop is about street art, about the artists, about Bansky, and about the development of a new artist... although there was something slightly fake about this movie I'm just not sure of. Thierry seemed a little... off, and then there are the moments when we are watching the camera man himself being filmed... (could be a recreation, but...). [I would not be surprised to find out this was an art project in and of itself.]

Anyway, this is a great movie about the development of the street art art scene. Various artists are captured, and yes even Banksy himself makes an appearance, of a sort. Some great moments are captured, and some great art is captured. And then there's the development of Mr Brainwash. Hum. (Didn't know he did the cover art for Madonna. Neat.)

A good movie, recommend it if you documentaries, or the art scene!


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Inside Job

Who did it? Was it you? Or was it... Them???

This film looks at the people responsible for the Global Recession, and shows how it was an Inside Job. (Yes, this did remind me of Micheal Moore's Capitalism, although without the small people being showed.)

This film looks at the major players involves... and interviews several major people as well! Not just academics, but also the high ups in the International Monetary Fund, and even the Financial Minister for France and the Prime Minster of Singapore! Although several people are not in this film... guess what role they played.

There is a financial terms that get thrown around, but the movie, and the blame, can be summarised as: several American companies found a way to make money, and they did so while pulling political strings to let them do so, and then their house of cards collapsed, but the leaders got out with lots of money, and those people are still in charge.

Seriously. Many of the major players under Bush (and before) are there still under Obama. WTF, America? Does no-one learn over there?

A better film about the collapse than Capitalism, and voiced by Matt Damon!

[Can't find a trailer, so I'll just link to the main site.]


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Yarh, I be a Pirate's Cove

Yesterday's game o'DnD didn't happened, and other players took the opportunity not to turn up, but for those that did... we had options, eventually settled on playing a game of Pirate's Cove.

Quite a fun game! You are a pirate, you have a ship, and the aim is to get booty and upgrade your ship. However, if you decide on the same port as another pirate, there be cannons a-firin'!

There is strategy involved, deciding which booty to go for, and with other players go for, and during combat is where luck comes into it. You rolls the dice and you takes yer chances. And ye be fighting either the other players or you gang up on one of the legends of the sea (I fought Blackbeard!... and I lost...)

At the end of the day, you wants to be high in fame. I was... last equal. Then the two of us fought and I sent the other pirate down to Davy Jones' Locker, so I not be the worst pirate at sea. Oo-arh!

While I'm not a big PvP board gamer, this was much fun indeed!


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Tuesday, 20 July 2010


[Unfortunately was too sick yesterday to get to any movies.]

A movie that is more about piano tuning than piano playing? What's up with that?

Well, more accurately, a movie about the passion people have for making sure the piano is at its best when used as an instrument. A Pianomania if you will.

The film follows tuner Stefan Knüpfer, a piano tuner, who is there to help piano players, and we meet a few, get the best they can. An interesting documentary where the love of the medium is what's really on display here. Each piano has its own personality, it would seem, and getting to know that is as important as how to use it.

A decent documentary, and a recommendable one.

[Yes, the trailer is in German. An English translated one can be found here.]

[This was at the Penthouse Cinema in Brooklyn. First time I'd been there. Not a bad place, but I chose a bad spot to sit. Definitely need to factor in travel time when going there.]


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Sunday, 18 July 2010

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

It starts out so simply, a bomb threat that will kill a lot of people. We find it easily enough, but dealing with it takes a while. And layers must be pulled off before everything is revealed.

And then at the end, it all goes international...

Have a listen to Game 18. (The silences you hear are when I'm speaking.)


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Saturday, 17 July 2010


Have just finished spending many weeks slowly working my way through Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. I've seen the first two seasons often, had seen bits and pieces of later seasons, hardly anything at all of season five, but did know one thing.

It got worse as the seasons went on.

But since I never watched it all, I couldn't really comment on the entire run. But now I have.

And, as it happens, I was right. Great first season, decent second, mediocre third, unmemorable fourth, and what the hell was up with season five? Seriously? The whole Seefra thing was just stupid. It's a series called "Andromeda" and basically that's what the fifth season wasn't about. I know shows reinvent themselves, but... actually, suddenly remembering Blake's 7. Yeah, no reason for that.

Basically, I'm on board with Robert Hewitt Wolfe here. He got kicked off the show in season two, and that's the obvious point when the series went down the toilet. After the show was over, he penned a wee Coda to explain it all, but aside from seeing his vision (which, while epic, was over the top), doesn't make the bad taste of what we got any better.

Would Gene Roddenberry have been proud of it? I can't say, but I think they should have stopped with season two if any of them wanted any dignity to remain in the show.


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Friday, 16 July 2010

Summer Wars

[A short was played before this, really a music video, and the director was in the audience. It wasn't good.]

Go. See. This. Movie.

But if you want to know more than that: Summer Wars is a terrific anime movie, about a family getting together for a birthday, as well as the world being destroyed by the internet. This can't really be called a coming of age movie, although the main character is a teenage boy, but it's more about a family banding together to face overwhelming odds.

Although that part isn't really until later on, and in the first half it's more about the family itself, and it really entertaining. The odd collection of personalities work well, and revelations happen that, while predictable, are still a solid core component of the movie.

Then the second half kicks off, and while it isn't "all action, all the time", there are some absolutely fantastic moments that will move you. Very, very well done.

So let me say this one more time: GO! SEE! THIS! MOVIE!


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Space Tourists

This is sort of a documentary, in that it has a basic story it's talking about, but doesn't quite have enough of a connected line through. It's more a couple of related short pieces that make up a whole.

Space Tourists is about buying your way into space, in that we follow the story of Anousheh Ansari, who paid for a ticket into the Russian space program. Mention is made of how buying a ticket like this diminishes the integrity of the space program, but considering the alternative is no program, I'm going for the side of capitalism.

Also its the story of Jonas Bendiksen, who is photographing the influence of the space program on Russia and the Soviet Union, and related to this is the story of the scrap merchants who pick up the discarded pieces. When booster rockets fall down, people are there to grab it and sell it. And farmers find pieces on their land and make their own use of it.

It goes on a bit too long and, as mentioned, doesn't have an entirely coherent through line. Not a bad movie, but could do with tightening up.

[I saw this at Te Papa's Sounding Theatre. Seats are padded wooden affairs. Not that comfortable, but I've sat in worse. Not sure several hours could be spent there, but I made it through the movie.


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Is has beginnering!

Today the festival begins! The New Zealand Film Festival! At least the Wellington specific version of the New Zealand Film Festival! As with the Documentary Film Festival, I'm heading to this.

Some differences: I'm not going to try to go to a film every day. If I make it, I make it. If I don't... eh... Also, this film festival actually has ten trip tickets... to the day shows, still pay full price for the evening/weekend screenings. Humph.

But yes, I will be blogging movies I go see. Looking to watch two today...

Films I want to check out: Splice, Agora, Inside Job, Pianomania, Space Tourists... anyone else going? What films? (And I know the Melbourne Film Festival starts soon, and we have a few films in common.)


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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Typical Example of Windows

My laptop has a fair few problems with it. Far too much stuff clogging it up. Really could do with a reformat and start again (probably upgrade to Windows 7).

About 20% of the time, when I've booted up, Explorer hangs and needs to be restarted. Not sure what's going on there (and if anyone can point out useful information as to why and how to stop that...).

But what isn't my fault, but Windows being Windows is when I close down. And something stops it from closing down, it brings up a screen saying:

The following programs are still running:

* Explorer.exe
Playing logoff sound

To close these programs and restart your computer,
click Restart Now.

You may lose work that you haven't saved.

Really? It can't close down because it hung while trying to close down? Yeah, there's something working right there! Now, there is a solution, namely use a shorter close down wav. Sounds good. Although the generic close down sound takes but less than a second! That's too long??

Anyway, how about the Wilhelm scream? Something in a TARDIS? Something else?

(Actually, I have my own file I like. Let's see how well that works. Worse case, bye bye Exit Windows sound...)


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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

War on Scales 15

After a breather, we set out wandering around the castle. Some might say that there should be some logic to the progression through unexplored territories, but those people aren't PCs and likely to find random battles. We went up, around, then found a way down and into where some creatures and humans were.

The humans weren't really an issue, with the shifters being a bit more of a problem. Them and the iron cobra. However, with the minions out of the way, we were able to concentrate on them and quickly put them down.

Since the others were already heading down one corridor, they continued down, never mind leaving behind unexplored areas. (See above about wandering.) In one area, they found some cells, including one old man with some canaries, but he wasn't too interested in leaving. Huh.

They also found a crypt and something to attack them. Suppose I'd better help. While there was only the one of it, it could duplicate itself, so that help take up time. That said, we did beat it down, but then it decided to run away. Huh. Wuss. In the crypt area, we found a device to help up locate ale. Yep, that'll help.


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Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Watch a book on TV!

Been meaning to look into this. BookTV is a a YouTube channel to promote books. Good books for preference. Can't say that I've heard of the books they are talking about, but that could well be the point, to promote them! Also have author talks and other stuff.

For example, this advert review for the Kobo. Wasn't convinced by the idea, and now that I've seen a little of it in action, it looks like a cheap and nasty knock off. People are emphasizing the cheap, but I really think we should demand more for our money that this. This looks like the sort of third-world product you'd seen being sold on TradeMe. Ugh. (That said, I might be willing to buy one for a third the price...)


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Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ah, Humph...

Slowly working my way though I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

You will be missed.

(And, yeah, another DVD to get.)


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Saturday, 10 July 2010

Don't go there, America

There have been a few, a really really few, number of shows which were British and America remade them that turned out any good. However, if we look at their sci-fi record, it's not good. Seen the Red Dwarf pilot? Or the Red Dwarf pilot? Or Life on Mars? Or the IT Crowd pilot? (Okay, not sci-fi, but geek cool that we like.) No? Good.

But then there are rumours of an American version of Doctor Who. Wha...? Even Americans are against this. Fortunately, it isn't true. Although RTD does place the idea from a certain far away land...

[Examples of good adaptations: Sandford and Son. Three's Company. The Office.]


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Friday, 9 July 2010

The place that is of belonging to the one known as Fermat

After ordering, I, of course, had to watch it. The quote on the cover is "Pi meets Cube with a dash of Saw." Why anyone would want to have a dash of Saw is questionable, but I can see where they got Pi from. But I would agree most with Cube, with a set up of House on Haunted Hill.

The tagline is "Death by Numbers". Sort of. It's more "Death by Lack of Numbers". The setup is that four people are invited to a retreat (given the invitations presented in the movie, I was immediately suspicious, and would have disobeyed), where they are locked into a room. If they don't solve number puzzles, the room gets smaller (hence if they lack the number, they die). And, as this happens, there is of course the requisite revelations that not everyone is who they are first presented to be, and flashbacks fill in gaps, etc., etc.

Speaking of the number puzzles, I got some, didn't get the others. (I did get the first puzzle, even though it was in Spanish!) I recognised a lot of them (which was how I knew some), but I am wondering if there was a final puzzle on the PDA which was left unsolved (or may have been an easter egg for viewers, although if so I suspect the lack of Spanish would prove to be too much of a hurdle). But I wouldn't place them in the "only geniuses could solve these riddles". (Then again, others may disagree.)

The actors are good, with them all having to give several layers of performances. The production is good for first time directors. I would say I didn't quite get a proper sense of the layout of the room, and it was hard at times to get a sense that the room was shrinking. Still, the story is more about the characters than the room, and that works well.

Not the greatest film, to be honest. Not really that much a horror film, but a decent watch.


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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

War on Scales 14

Oh woe, we could all die, any second, the big beastie is... lying dead on the ground. And the other creatures are running away. Okay, fine, maybe a little GM-fiat in there just a tad, but we did shift from potential TPK to barely getting an extra scratch.

Still, with that fight out of the way, we find ourselves in the village of... um, not sure we ever found out the name. They have a tower. And a bakery. And a wall. And a caravan park. And... that's about it. We aren't the most popular people, having killed the messenger and possibly drawing the wrath down on the village. The wrath of who? Of the Queen of the Drylands. Whoever she is. None of us have heard of her. But the gnoll turned up and said he was getting stuff on her behalf, so who knows if she's even real?

The next day, we take a bearing on the next landmark we are after, and head out. And onto the next, and the next... three days later, we reach a dwarvian castle stronghold thing, but can't see anyone in there.

Going in, we do see.. straw dummies. Huh. And then the portcullis falls and we are fighting. For an annoyingly long time, with us being pinned by javelins [restrained] and poisoned [weakened], meaning this gets drawn out. And we sort of split the party. We batter them around, they batter us around, eventually we call it quits and declare ourselves the winners.

So the rest of the stronghold awaits...


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Monday, 5 July 2010

DW: Blood of the Cybermen

[Once again it can't be me who plays this, just me who posts it.]

It's the Cybermen and they're out for blood! They attack in the night and fly away and... hang on, might be a bit confused there.

Anyway, it's about how Cybermen were frozen in the pole and now they are being dug out. Wait! Before you can say "It's a Tenth Planet reference!" this is the North Pole, not the South, so there is no similarity at all. And, to be fair, there isn't. There's far too many other stories this is ripping off, it doesn't need to go there. (Think "space ship buried in the ice and slowly being dug out" and you're there!)

The game feels a lot shorter this time. That might be because I'm getting better at it, but it just felt like there was less to do (but more cut scenes!). Whereas the Dalek game took me a few hours, then under an hour on a replay, this was barely over an hour from the start.

The game consists of investigation then action, just like the last one. There is also another helping of sneaking around. This is padded out (time and game wise) by having you needing to navigate corridors (just like DW! Except we are sneaking, not running down them). However, since there is no clue where you are going, you just stumble around hoping to find the next plot point. (I'm sure there were a lot of collectable cards tucked away that I missed. On the other hand, I'm not that bothered by that.)

We get a new minigame, a sort of virus coder thingy that involves changing the colour of some balls that whizz around in a circle. Can't say that I really got to grips with it. Solved them more by luck that design!

We get to play more as Amy than last time, although in shorter takes. And there seemed to be less rendering issues, although I did have the problem of people being in the way when I was trying to get out and save everyone. But didn't die nearly as often as the first time I played COTD. (Hmm... COTD... BOTC... next game must be AOTB.)

And as for the Cybermen themselves... they looked to have a new design to them. I wonder if these were the revamps Moffat wanted to make but didn't have the time.

In the end, a fun game, if short and annoying in tunnels. And these are supposed to be in continuity? Where are the references to them in the main series then, eh? eh?


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Sunday, 4 July 2010

Already ordered the DVD...


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Saturday, 3 July 2010

Manos: The Movie of Fate

You've all heard about it. Whispered in dark corners where only true horrors are discussed. That dreadful tale that strikes fear into the most hardened of hearts...

That's right, I'm talking about Manos.

Now, most people have encountered the MST3K version, and that is indeed a lot safer. But... do you dare to see the original?

Even better, with in 10 minute clips on YouTube?

Well, you can. On NZ's Ziln TV. Just watch the whole movie here.

Even better, for those of us on TelstraClear, this doesn't count towards our bandwidth...

So it's the original. It doesn't cost me anything. And yet... I haven't yet dared to watch it...


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Friday, 2 July 2010

DW: The TARDIS Handbook

An odd cash in item. This is a book about the TARDIS, and covers all sorts of aspects of it, as well as Time Lords and the Doctor... and yet is clearly a tie in to the series. The Eleventh Doctor stories (up to Vampires in Venice) are summarised, and the 2010 TARDIS is very much the TARDIS referred to whenever nothing specific is mentioned.

Which isn't to say there isn't interesting stuff here. We get a history of what's happened to the TARDIS. We get a list of the TARDIS components (although I'm sure Jon Preddle might be able to identify errors). A look at the outer shells (this, and more, is from in-continuity and a production view). And a look at the new TARDIS console with various controls identified. There's a lot here that's useful.

There's also some weird aspects. Do we need to know which companions are stowaways? Or the first impressions of companions? Or the different regenerations of the Doctor?

But the tie-in aspect means it's going to get outdated fairly quickly. There's probably stuff in the latter episodes of series 5 that need to be added. Still, while it lasts, it's a useful reference guide.


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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Not Another Thing

Oh, Douglas Adams... how we miss you... and yes, we all loved the Hitchhiker's Guide. And one particular we are the publishers, who decided that we need another volume in the Guide series.

Hence: And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer. Unfortunately... ... it's hard to say bad things about this because it's written to honour DNA... and yet... I didn't like it. Fine, it's never going to be DNA writing it, but...

I think the worst thing is... it's not funny. Okay, I wasn't always splitting my sides reading the Guide, but hey, I did enjoy it. AAT is, well, a chore to read. Since I had invested so much in the Guide, I did want to read this, but...

One aspect of why this doesn't work is that it doesn't really add a new story so much as revel in the continuity (as much as the word could be used for H2G2) and bring back previous characters. Wowbagger, Thor, references to Magrathea, Hooloovoos... (yes, DNA did bring back Slarti, but at least he went on to tell a different tale using that character. Indeed, Slarti's history of being a Magrathean is completely incidental to LTUAE.) When the main characters aren't on the page, there's usually a reference to some item of previous books.

Which, I guess... makes this fan fiction. And not brilliant fan fiction. Maybe if I read the Artemis Fowl series? But I haven't so...

Let me know if you enjoyed it, 'cos it's not something I'm recommending...


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