Tag Archives: movies

A drafty winter’s night

I haven’t written anything in ages, mostly because whatever I want to share, I just post it on Twitter. But I felt a dire need to express myself and write about… well, various things – and I need more than 140 characters for that. So yeah, here’s what’s up (and some of what I thought was hip in 2013.).

The seemingly spontaneous first paragraph

I’m writing this with help of the fantastic WordPress Front-End Editor plugin (which is going end up in WP Core, eventually – looking forward to it). It’s much easier to concentrate on writing when all you have in front of your eyes is the final version of the “product”, visually speaking. I’ve never gotten used to the full-screen variant of the WP editor, but this works just great for me.
When the plugin is completed, it’s going to be almost as gorgeous as Medium’s content editor.

“Somethingness Two”

I’ve modified my WordPress theme a bit, and I’m currently really satisfied with the look and feel of the website (which I haven’t been in a long time).

I’ve had a really hard time finding the right font, because most of them look like sh*t when font smoothing/clear type is off. I’m shortsighted, I wear eyeglasses, and I have astigmatism – reading with font smoothing turned on is a pain for me. So, after going through all (and I mean all of them) Google and TypeKit serif fonts, I’ve narrowed it down to three that looked pleasant to my eyes: Vollkorn, Volkhov and PT Serif. Initially, I went with Vollkorn: although it’s a lovely font, it doesn’t look that great in bold. Volkhov was my second choice, but after numerous comparisons I decided that I like PT Serif just a smidge better. For headings, I chose Lato; I think it complements PT Serif quite nicely.

Reads and Readability

And this font talk has now reminded me: I’ve asked the folks at Readability if they could offer some standard font in their options, for people like me. I hope they will, because in this age of information overload, I couldn’t live without a tool like Readability. I’m especially fond of its “Export to EPUB” feature, which makes it possible for me to easily transfer to and read all those saved for later articles on my Nook. Here’s a list of some of my favorite articles from the past few months.

On to reads…

I’ve finally read “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes. It’s a book written in form of a report diary of a man called Charlie Gordon. His reports start a few weeks before he is scheduled to undergo an experimental surgery which should  increase his (very low) IQ. I really can’t tell you much more about the plot without spoiling it, but trust me: this book is one remarkable journey. Once I started, I couldn’t stop reading it and I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone.

“The making of Karateka” is another great book I’ve read this year. It’s also written  in form of a diary, but this one is not fictional: it’s a collection of Jordan Mechner‘s diary entries from 1982-1984, while he was working on his game “Karateka”. The game received rave reviews and sold over 500 000 copies world-wide. While you may have never heard of “Karateka”, I’m sure you’ve heard of the game he made next, “Prince of Persia”.

If you’re fond of the Alien universe and don’t mind reading movie scripts, you won’t be disappointed by a fan-written script by Anil Jacob Kunnel, titled “Alien Planet“. I’ll steal the logline from the forum I found the download link on: “Following the events of Alien: Resurrection, Ellen Ripley is aboard an exploration vessel heading toward the Xenomorph homeworld, where she and the rest of the crew must struggle to survive.” It’s an exciting read, very well written and I wouldn’t mind a bit if it had been made into a movie. AvPGalaxy has a review of the script.

To conclude the reading list: I’m currently reading “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau. I find it a bit difficult to follow at times because of the 1800’s language and some very long sentences, but it’s also way more interesting than I thought it would be.

Obsessed with moving pictures

To keep things short(er), I’ll just link you up with a list of movies I’ve found most enjoyable in 2013 (!important: some of them were released in 2012!)

On the series front, there were a few new shows I stuck to, some of them excellent (The Wrong Mans, The Fall, Broadchurch, Orphan Black), some surprisingly good (The Blacklist, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Sleepy Hollow) and some that are better than average and might improve in time (Almost Human). In semi-particular order, yesteryear’s favorites remain: Person of Interest, Castle, Psych, Awkward, Arrow, Big Bang Theory, The Neighbors, Supernatural, Grimm, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Continuum, and a guilty pleasure above all guilty pleasures: Revolution. I recently started watching Parks and Recreation and it has quickly become one of my all-time favorites.

Fringe and Breaking Bad both ended in 2013., unfortunately. Both Walters will be missed. I just hope there’s more good stuff where they came from.

I don’t feel like writing about music (at this moment)…

…but, please, do take a listen to these two beautiful, haunting soundtracks: The Grey (Marc Streitenfeld) and Monsters (Jon Hopkins). They are not that recent, but they are my favorites and I listen to them often.

That’s it for this blog post. Need fulfilled, I guess. I think I’ll write more soon; about music and audio libraries for composers, maybe about web stuff, or about awesomeness of WDTV Live assisted by Plex.

Happy New Year ;)

Aliens vs Predator – Refund

Yes, I’ve been warned, I’ve read the reviews, I’ve skimmed the comments—but how was I supposed to resist? It’s an “Alien” movie, I couldn’t just sit and wait for a DVD release, right?

In short—It’s the worst movie I’ve watched in a cinema, ever. And one of the worst altogether.

It lacks everything that makes a good movie—good.

*** Spoilers ahead, if you care ***

First of all, let me just go back a bit to AvP1 and tell you that, at the time, I thought the Alien/Predator franchise couldn’t sink any lower. It was a cheap thrill with lots of inconsistencies and mediocre acting, but it was fun to a certain degree. The only major problem with it was the ending, and I’m talking about the very last scene of the movie—how could the Predators not notice a Predalien growing in their dead mate’s chest? It’s just impossible. Full stop. End of discussion.

And so, the only major problem with AvP1 is just the first in line with AvP2. It continues right where we were left off, with a problematic premise.

2. Who the fuck are “The Strause Brothers”?! Who gave these people the right to direct this movie? Where did the come from? Why why whyyyyy? The Strause Brothers are not The Wachowski Brothers. And Uwe Boll is a God, compared to the Strauses.

3. Predator vision. The way it’s made in AvP2 prevents you from recognizing anything the Predator is looking at. It’s pointless and useless. The effect was just fine in Predator and Predator 2, even in AvP1, and I simply don’t know how these two special effects supervisors turned directors managed to mess it up this bad.

4. What’s up with killing the kid at the beginning of the movie and all the pregnant women? Was that an attempt at making a movie scary? It was just disgusting and some…other words…too. I honestly don’t know why Shane Salerno is still in the writing business, and why his work is still being accepted by the studios. I would like to see him explain the so-called “mouth-rape impregnation” performed by the Predalien. Jeez…

5. Flat characters and awful, emotionless acting are nothing unusual in action-focused movies like this one. But AvP2 definitely redefines “flat” and “emotionless”. No emotions, no facial expressions, no screaming, no yelling, it’s all just flat. Let me describe you just one scene: The Sheriff walks into the bar. He sits next to this guy he knows, one of our lead “actors”, a “bad boy just got out of jail”, and tells him how they’ve found one of his (Sheriff’s) men skinned and hanged to a tree in the woods. Like it’s an ordinary, everyday thing. There’s no concern in his voice, there’s no body language, nothing. His empty shell simply says the words. And the guy next to him just accepts it, nodding his head. Huh?

6. Action scenes. It’s been in many reviews by now, and I’ll mention it too. They’re zoomed in half the time, it’s difficult to recognize who is fighting who, and they’re boring and unimaginative. No thrill, no horror, no scare.

7. Copycat work or homage work? The movie is full of clich├ęs, and it’s expectable, but at times, I couldn’t decide for myself if the Strauses were doing a homage to the rest of the franchise, or just plain stealing. Here, I’m referring to one scene in particular, when the marines are being butchered by the Aliens, and “our main characters” are listening to the carnage over a radio—the scene is almost straight from “Aliens”.

8. Bits and pieces of nonsense. So we have this Predator walking around, cleaning up the mess after the Aliens using a bluish liquid that magically melts everything, turns it into a pudding. And then, when a Sheriff’s deputy accidentally sees him liquefying some bodies and runs away without even reaching for his gun, he gets killed and skinned by the same Predator. As far as I know, Predators only skin those who they’ve found an immediate threat, a worthy opponent. Not just anyone, right? Also: Aliens reach their full size in matter of seconds, of course, why not?

9. They made the Predator look like a wuss. Hmm, let’s see, Predator’s shoulder cannons malfunction, so he just takes them both off and uses one as a handgun. Or handcannon. Or whatever. And it looks unbelievably stupid. The way the Predator walks also looks stupid. I think someone on the IMDB commented that the Predator walks like an WWE wrestler. It’s true, he definitely does. He doesn’t even notice an Alien clinging, walking beneath him, on the opposite side of a construction bridge. It’s see-through, come on!

10. There’s a thousand more mistakes and annoyances in AvP2, but I’m going to stop here, I think it’s pretty clear that I despise this movie. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed so many people leaving the cinema in my life. The audience cheered when “the supposedly hot blonde high school teenager played by a 20-something woman” got killed because her character was so-fucking-annoying.

20th Century Fox has made a big mistake with this movie, and probably put the franchise to sleep for the next 10 years. I expected a bad movie, but this was just an awful experience

And I was definitely looking at the clock.

The pledge, the turn, and “The Prestige”

'The Prestige' poster I watched “The Prestige” last night and, believe me — it’s one helluva movie. I can’t remember the last time I was so, what’s the word… Moved and inspired? Yeah, that’s it — moved and inspired by a movie. Maybe after I watched “Donnie Darko” or “Se7en“. “Inside man” with Denzel Washington and Clive Owen was awesome too, but nothing like this. I remember saying something in lines of (add 80’s space echo) “I feel like this movie has changed my life forever” to my girlfriend when we walked out of the theater.

In short, it’s a movie about two rivaling magicians (illusionists, people who do magic tricks — not magicians as in wizards, sorcerers and warlocks, as I thought at first, eh) and the ultimate magic trick, with the plot set at the very end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century in London and Colorado.

Both Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are excellent as main characters, Michael Caine is as splendid as ever, and mr. David Bowie as Nikola Tesla… Oh my, I don’t think anyone else would fill those shoes as properly as he did. Marvelous. Also, Christopher Nolan (of “Memento” and “Batman begins” fame) is a great director, but that almost goes without saying. He and his brother Jonathan wrote the screenplay based on the book by Christopher Priest (here’s an interesting ‘Prestige’-related Q&A on his own website).

If you haven’t already, please go watch this masterpiece.