I hope everyone got to take a little time off from work during the last few days. I did, and I managed to watch a few movies…
Watched on May 25…
Last Night is a low-key (and low budget) movie about the end of the world. It’s like Armageddon without the bad Aerosmith song and… okay, it’s nothing like Armageddon. It’s actually very good. And the brilliant director David Cronenberg is featured in an acting role.
Watched on May 27…
Jurassic Park is better than I remember. Or maybe it’s just better than most of the flicks I’ve seen recently. The movie is beautifully shot, with a look that leans toward the naturalistic (as opposed to the blatantly color-corrected look so prevalent these days). That naturalistic cinematography, along with a brilliant mix of practical and computer-generated effects, grounds the movie in a way that really engages the viewer.
Producers of the Christopher Reeve Superman movie promised, “You’ll believe a man can fly.” The Jurassic Park creators might have countered that with, “You’ll believe a T-Rex can chase a jeep through a theme park gone amok.” (The movie’s actual tagline was “An Adventure 65 Million Years in the Making”–that’s pretty cool, too.)
Watched on May 28…
I don’t think Four Lions quite measures up to the hype–for a “difficult” (comedy about jihadist terrorists) indie, this flick got a lot of press coverage. But Four Lions delivers a pretty amazing ending, so you kind of forget any problems you might have had with previous parts of the movie.
Watched on May 30…
Tangled is a respectable addition to Disney’s “musical princess” canon. I especially appreciated sidekick Pascal the chameleon and the voice work of Ron Perlman.
This is awesome: J.G. Thirwell conducts a live orchestra rocking some Venture Bros. music.
Interplanetary will be screening on June 5 at 10:30 a.m. as part of the Saturday Nightmares Horror and Sci-Fi Expo in New Jersey.
Watched on May 24…
Kristen Wiig has been getting accolades for her comedic acting abilities since she started showing up on Saturday Night Live a few years ago. Judging from Bridesmaids, she’s a pretty awesome screenwriter, too (she co-wrote the Bridesmaids script with Annie Mumolo).
Wiig also acts in Bridesmaids, and she leads a fearless cast through a variety of comedic set pieces– some are weird, some are sweet, some are downright disgusting, but all are genuinely funny, and the comedy never gets in the way of the characters.
The title is a bit misleading–there’s less wedding party stuff than you would expect from a movie called Bridesmaids. And the running time is on the long side (two hours and change). But I’m not going to complain about too much of a good thing. At this point, Bridesmaids looks like the comedy to beat for 2011.
Lots of people can offer up good screenwriting advice. Like this, for instance. But how many of those people can actually write a really good screenplay? (That question is rhetorical. I think.)
The iPad Touch Arcade is real. And I still want one.
If I ever get an iPhone 4, I want one of these awesome cases, too.
Here’s a grassroots movement I can get behind: Spinal Tap fans campaign to make November 11 (11/11/11) “Nigel Tufnel Day.”
Shocking news: AT&T might be charging people for data they didn’t ask for.
Some former Apple employees have created a Flash-like tool to create HTML5 animations.
That “iPad killer” everybody’s been waiting for? It’s called the “Touchpad,” and it’s coming soon from HP. I know it’s gonna be the best tablet ever, because that’s what an HP exec said.
And here’s a picture I took of a sailboat with my iPhone 3GS.
(I assume the photo would have come out better if I’d taken it with some sort of HP gadget.)
Roger Ebert posted a couple of clips from an unaired Orson Welles TV pilot.
The skinny on ten internet streaming video services.
Somebody assembled 30,000 Lego pieces to recreate a scene from Return of the Jedi.
Hypocrisy alert: Cable companies want citizens of North Carolina to have more options when it comes to broadband service providers.
…I’m getting too old for outdoor music fests. They’re generally too hot and too crowded. And it’s so hard to find a comfortable place to sit down.
Watched on May 17…
It’s a road movie. It’s an action movie. It’s anti-authority and nihilistic. It’s Vanishing Point, a movie that makes me wish I were a more eloquent writer.
They don’t make many movies like Vanishing Point anymore. On the surface, it’s an exploitation movie with a hip (well, hip for 1971) soundtrack, a cool and fast car (a white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T), some terrific auto chases, and a random naked girl.
However, long stretches of Vanishing Point are quiet and contemplative. And several elements of the movie, including the protagonist’s back story and motivations, are left open for interpretation by the viewer. When’s the last time somebody made a movie where every detail wasn’t explained and then re-explained? Actually, The American is pretty ambiguous in many respects, and I was reminded of that movie while watching Point.
I haven’t even talked about the flick’s cast and cinematography, both of which are excellent. I know it’s 40 years old at this point, but Vanishing Point is the best movie I’ve seen in 2011.
My pal Hugo turned me on to these amazing Depression-era color photos. Here’s an example…
These photos led me to this Wikipedia article about the history of color photography.
I’m a little obsessed with this Bohannons song: “Are You on Drugs?”
More info about Mirasol’s phone/tablet screen technology, which might be available in the real world sometime later this year.
Here’s a nice piece of satire about our litigation culture.
I think I read this when I was a kid: Superman: Miracle Monday.
Inspiration Studios’ amusing pitch for Sony’s F3 video camera.
The strangest episode of NPR’s Fresh Air I’ve heard in some time: “Area 51 ‘Uncensored’: Was It UFOs Or The USSR?”
Since, as I posted recently, it now supports 25 frames-per-second recording, I decided to order a GoPro HD for use as a “crash” cam. Upon opening the package, I was surprised at the camera’s simplicity (two buttons, one LED light, no knobs or dials, no on-board monitor) and size (it’s very small, even with the waterproof housing).
I shot a little test footage with the camera. It records to some sort of MP4 format which Compressor easily converted to an Apple ProRes 422 file. Then I used Cinema Tools to conform that 25 fps ProRes file to 23.976 fps (“24p”). So I’ve already worked out a worst-case workflow.
As soon as I shoot some halfway interesting test footage, I’ll post it.
A battery-powered hard disk that streams media files to any computer or iPhone/iPad? Yeah, I want one.
I hope Birmingham’s first Secret Stages music festival turned a profit for the promoters, because I’d like it to return next year. I didn’t see/hear much Friday night, but I did have a great time drumming for Delicate Cutters. The Cutters played at the Wine Loft, which made for a better rock and roll venue than I would have expected.
I checked out some old favorites (like the Green Seed and Crooked Fingers) on Saturday, but I was most excited to hear the Bohannons for the first time. Janet told me that I would like them, and she was right. I heard an unusual mix of cool influences in the Bohannons’ sound (the Pixies, Black Sabbath, and Lynyrd Skynyrd to name a few), and the guys are not afraid to play hard, fast, and loud.
You should probably just go ahead and buy their debut EP. And check them out the next time they’re playing a live set in your neighborhood.
Here’s a photo of the late-afternoon Saturday crowd at the outdoor stage for the Gum Creek Killers‘ set…
Watched on May 15…
The Marvel movie guys are pretty smart. They’re creating a shared universe for several movie characters, and next summer all of those characters are going to appear together in The Avengers. So if you’re excited about Avengers (as I am), you’re going to feel compelled to see all of those other movies.
I saw Thor yesterday, and… well, Thor will be an Avenger. And I’m a big fan of Agent Coulson, the S.H.I.E.L.D. field agent who shows up in all of these Marvel movies. And there’s a little post-credits scene that is fun in that post-credits Marvel movie kind of way. And the theater showed the trailer for Captain America, the Marvel movie that I’m really looking forward to this summer.
Maximum Horror’s thorough (and positive!) Interplanetary review.
More rumblings about Amazon maybe working on something to compete with the iPad.
Here’s a demo video of Qualcomm’s Mirasol display technology. Mirasol uses ambient light, like e-ink, but it’s capable of displaying color video content, too (current e-ink displays tend to be black and white).