Earlier this week I found out that the French director Eric Rohmer (Wikipedia) died at the age of 89. Ebert has an elegant in memoriam: additional commentary at Metafilter.
My first introduction to Rohmer’s movies was (I think)‘Conte d’été’ (1996): The other movies in the Tales of the Season series followed soon after. What makes Rohmer’s movies likable are the long dialogues and the surprising twists his characters have and take: for example, in ‘Conte d’été’, the main character evolves from a shy guy into a full-blown womanizer. Rohmer’s take on relationships in all his movies is quite on the mark: that is, in real life, falling in love and dealing with mixed emotions about loved ones is a lot more complex than what Hollywood movies portray to us. Simplicity sells a lot, obviously, and that was not the business Rohmer was in.
With the death of Rohmer, humans have indeed lost one of the greater humanists in the movie industry.
I saw ‘Religulous’ (imdb) the other day, which I thought was entertaining but awkward. I like Maher’s ‘Real Time’ show and I think his work is generally funny, but he’s definitely no Michael Moore. If you plan to watch it, you can apparently now also find the movie online.
If you want to get rid of hardware, make sure that you physically destroy the hard-drive or just use the right tools to do this (earlier on xsamplex), by using DBAN for example. Since data can stay so persistent on harddrives, maybe harddrives makers should consider adding a ‘kill switch’ which will destroy a harddrive in an instant.
Back in December 08, IpodNN featured an iPod Touch clone, which was apparently on sale in Canada. I’m all for competition, but looking at the picture/screenshot, I wonder why the device’s internal camera is called the ‘PC Camera’? I find that an unfortunate name.
And oh, yeah: the price of gas just went up and now might be a good time to send a team of explorers to Saturn’s moon Titan. Maybe one of the US carmakers should start investing in space technology. I see a bright future for Ford Warp-Drives that come in one colour. Black.
Earlier, we were out in Saint John to check out a couple things for things that needed to be done for things in the house-thing. You know, things. So while we were trotting through town, we were surprised how thick the fog-thing was in Saint John. We ended up at Montana’s were I (duly) noted that they had crayons on their tables, so that customers can doodle things on their things while they wait for their food to be served up. How novel. Why not add paint, easel and brushes, so that you can finish up your Van Gogh while your waitress brings you the next coffee fill-up?
So, everybody and their cousins have reviewed Chrome (Google’s entry in the browser market) and you were eager to hear my opinion? I don’t have one: not today. However, while I read that Google used Webkit/KHTML as their renderer, I thought it more or less looked like Gecko. Windows-only. The pity (but then, I’m using both Firefox and Konqueror right now, so what’s the point anyway?)
From all the movies I saw this week, I thought the worst one was ‘The Happening’: currently it’s at a 5.4 rating at IMDB and this is deservedly so. This was Shyamalan’s ninth movie and I wonder if there’s some kind of correlation between the quality and quantity of his movies. I figured it out using simple math:
y = log0.5x
However, the bright side of the movie was Betty Buckley, who blew some ‘fresh air’ (irony strikes here) in the robotic acting of her fellow actors. She’s an award-winning Jazz singer, I hear.
There’s more good news here: I watched a couple of Hal Hartley movies and was surprised how much I liked ‘The Unbelievable Truth’. I’ve seen the movie before but the sharp (and absurd) dialogues keep making me laugh. Excellent use of repetition too.
What is more exciting than a rant about rising gas prices and peak oil? Why, a photo of an oil tanker in the Bay, of course!
This week’s attention grabber was Weezer’s video for their new song, ‘Beans and Pork’, which apparently stars prominent YouTube ‘dignitaries’ (MetaFilter). Maybe I’m not really following YouTube, but I only recognized a couple of them. I’m also not really a fan of Weezer’s music. I read that The Barenaked Ladies were the first ones to have used Internet memes in their video production.
The new Indiana Jones (“Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”) came out this week: muchly anticipated with good reviews (7.4 on Rotten Tomatoes). This week, the movie made over 120,000 dollars at the box-office. Earlier, the game “Grand Theft Auto 4″ brought in over 500,000 USD in only one week.
So, today, the Phoenix Mars Lander is landing on Mars (ha-ha) and you can (could) follow this at NASA’s Phoenix website (blog). Looking at the mission’s logo, I can’t help thinking that it was inspired by the FireFox logo.
Yesterday, while watching Dream Warriors’ “My Definition of a boombastic jazz style” video-clip, I was amazed about the visuals used in that video. The clip prominently features (besides a lot of colours and pantomime) the (artistic) use of a focal depth of field. I didn’t have to look too long to find the director’s name: Tarsem Singh. Apparently, he also directed R.E.M.’s “Losing my religion”, which features similar used techniques as the one made for the Dream Warriors. Like it or not, both video clips are amazing and compelling works.
I also found out that Tarsem Singh is the man behind the movie “The Fall” (2006), a movie which video trailer was just recently released and (I believe) the movie will probably be showing in a theatre near you really soon now. As expected, “The Fall” has all those features that made the previously mentioned videoclips stand out. Reviews are mixed: from good to bad.
The CBC has an excellent slideshow (with audio) about the movie industry’s obsession with evil machines. The slideshow uses the new movie ‘Untraceable’ (starring Diane Lane) as a reference and the columnist narrates us through other examples of evil machine movies. Excellent stuff this (Earlier: Onstad’s slideshow on 2007 movies).
There were a couple of things I forgot to mention in an earlier entry: The first thing of note is that IE8 story. I think it started with this (A list apart) article: “Beyond DOCTYPE”. Basically, for IE8 to render webpages correctly, web developers are asked to add an extra meta declaration to their webpages. Hundreds of comments later, the majority of WaSP members (the so-called Web Standards Project) decided to support the not-so-standard move. Who cares about standards, right? Haakon Lie (CTO Opera software) gave his perspective on the latest IE8 development and the most remarkable part of his article is the following jab:
A third scenario could be to hard-code the Web address of Acid2 into IE 8. This way, the page is given special treatment to make it look like the browser is passing the test.
Maybe now it’s a good time to throw out compatibility for the sake of following standards.
The second thing you may have heard about, is that a group of anonymous people who appropriately call themselves ‘Anonymous’ have openly declared war on the Church of Scientology (Google News link). The group has produced several videos (which currently are hosted on YouTube, so you obviously need Flash). The videos feature an anonymous person speaking in a digitized voice: or rather, it sounds like they’ve used Windows Narrator to bring across their message. (See also: XenuTV comments on Anonymous [also YouTube])
Various news organizations report that the British Queen has launched a YouTube channel (@ YouTube). The Palace promises clips from garden parties, footage from overseas travels, prime ministers and even a day in the life of the Prince of Wales.
Completely related: The BBC has a set of pictures of Russia’s bombers. As you probably recall, a while ago, Putin ordered the return of long range patrols, an event that reminded of those precious Eighties days. Flipping through the pictures, I was slightly amused by the following quote, which reveals the state of these older ‘Bear’ bombers:
There were no toilets or other comforts – and controls were so heavy only a very fit person could operate them.
For some kind of reason, I keep thinking of the 1984 Olympic Games1.
There is a chance that an asteroid is going to strike Mars in January 2008. The asteroid (2007 WD5) was discovered early November (this year) and according to statisticians at the JPL, the odds that it’s going to hit Mars are 1 to 75.
Say what you want about public broadcasters: The CBC does some excellent stuff on the Internet. For example, Katrina Onstad’s top picks of 2007 movies is well-presented and generally, well-done.
When astronauts (or cosmonauts for that matter) from a different country get into a fight, which country’s law does apply? (via Slashdot) According to a 1967 treaty (Outer Space Treaty), states have legal jurisdiction within spacecraft registered (‘owned’) by them, which more or less compares with current maritime treaties. Imagine keelhauling with the CanadArm! Pirates of The Void. Yeeargh.
Earlier this week, researchers discovered a fifth planet around star 55 Cancri. The star itself is 41 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Cancer. This brought me to a couple of sites that track down ‘extra solar planets’. The first one is the Extrasolar Planet Encyclopedia, which truly reads like a 1995 website (Good memories). The second one is JPL’s ‘PlanetQuest’, which sounds like the title of a typical 80s adventure movie. That aside, both websites have excellent explanations how astronomers can detect planets around stars (PDF file!).
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but there’s going to be a remake of the 50s classic ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’, which will star Keanu (“Klaatu”) Reeves and Jennifer Connelly (@wikipedia). The last time I saw this movie was when I was way smaller and when everybody still had black and white TVs in their livingrooms.
Last week, Dutch author Jan Wolkers died (Wikipedia on Wolkers, warning: possibly NSFW because of a picture of author posing with a bare-naked lady). He was buried today (warning: Dutch language alert) in what newspapers call a well-attended funeral.
I mention Wolkers here because he was mandatory reading material in Dutch literature classes: His most famous work, of course being, ‘Turks Fruit’ (‘Turkish Delight’) eventually made it to the big screen in 1973, directed by Paul Verhoeven. The book (written in 1969) crosses plenty of boundaries, from morals, sexual topics to cancer (a topic that was literally a taboo to discuss in the Sixties). It’s an excellent book, though: I always thought ‘Turkish Delight’ to be the classic example of a book that just didn’t need to be filmed. After all, the lively acting of the two leading actors (Hauers, Van Der Ven) in the movie quite distract… Oh wait: CUTE KITTIES!
The most famous attempt to assassinate Hitler (July 20 Plot) goes to the silver screen and the actor who’s going to play Claus von Stauffenberg is… Tom Cruise.
This doesn’t go over well in Europe, and particularly Germany, of course: First of all, German authorities have something against Scientology. Secondly, Von Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt was one of the most significant events in a Nazi-Germany and showed that not everybody in the army was happy with the direction the nation was heading for.
But with all respect to the ones involved in that (heroic) assassination attempt, when I heard that Cruise was going to play the main conspirator I was thinking of the following (fitting) Tom Cruise-like endings that might slightly adjust our historical view:
1. Tom Cruise dies: that is after he kisses a female, of course.
2. Tom Cruise doesn’t die, but manages to escape. Instead a doppelganger dies!
3. The Aliens die at the end, after they managed to kill Hitler who is then resurrected by the Evil Doer. To be continued.
4. The film closes with a scene of Tom Cruise juggling with a bunch of bottles and a line ‘based on true events’.
5. The conspirators sing ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ acapella and then the credits appear.
While working on billing software, I was planning to write something on visual inheritance in Visual Studio Express (C#): this feature is ‘amiss’ in the lower end versions of that programming environment. I decided not to because the concept is simple (and natural for all object-orientated languages). I like the way how it is implemented in Delphi, naturally, where all forms that work as your base class are stored in a central repository so that they can be reused for other applications as well.
Earlier we saw ‘Babel’ (2006), which I can only describe as ‘a complex story with a happy end’. I thought the end part was surprising, were the viewer finds out that that single phone actually happens in the past. The movie is rated R (nudity, violence and some drug use) by the MPAA.
I read that the bald eagle is soaring in the US. I’m not sure if I mentioned it here before, but there’s a pair of bald eagles living around Middle Stewiacke. I thought this was ironic (More on bald eagles in Nova Scotia).
And last but not least, I ran into one of those ‘ErrorSafe’ popups (it wasn’t stopped by FireFox). If you run across it, the (general) advice is to pull the plug of your ethernet before it starts downloading. In my case it didn’t make the download but if it did, Symantec has a page describing how to remove the program manually. (ErrorSafe was sighted around about.com). I used fandro to verify recently changed or created files.
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching all the ‘Matrix’ movies back to back and I discovered that the sentence ‘That’s impossible’ (or ‘It’s impossible’) is mentioned way too many times.
Yesterday, Islanders went to the polls and voted the Liberals in government. But then if you read the other political news items about the muck in the Legislative Branch and the (nationwide) attention for the upcoming Schwarzenegger visit, maybe that PEI thing is good news.
Say, I read about this show in The Netherlands, about a terminally ill woman and the reality show about who gets her organs. ‘The Kidney competition’ as some mention it. The best comment in BBC’s forums:
I thought organ recipients were chosen on who is the closest match, not who the donor likes the most
Me too. Me too. Me too.
Microsoft has released a FaceBook Developer Kit, which you can download from and around here. I was looking into this earlier this week. Now that Microsoft officially has thrown in support for the FaceBook API, how long will it take before FaceBook will be in the hands of that company?
I read that it’s exactly 30 years ago that Star Wars was released in theatres in the US. Links that might help you through the weekend: Wired has plenty of stuff. Metafilter discussion and (of course) Slashdot. I was too young to watch Star Wars in the theatres: I remember the buzz, the huge following and if I’m correct, it even (although slightly) touched some members of our families. Star Wars was probably one of the first movies we ever rented for our first VHS player. I can’t remember the brand. It was a top-notch one with both ‘Hi-Fi stereo’ and Dolby N. Or S.
Via Slashdot, also the 25th anniversary of the movie TRON. I haven’t seen TRON recently, but (always) thought it had impressive effects for that time and age.
Will this ever become profitable? Eurotunnel has (once again) been bailed out.
I hear that Facebook is the rage. I assumed that Facebook was meant for students and others related to the educational industry, but apparently, it isn’t. What is Facebook? From what I can tell, it’s sort of a LiveJournal, but instead of open to the outside world, users write (blog?) safely behind the gates of the site. Only members can browse around in Facebook. Earlier this week, the company behind Facebook announced that it opened its API: and for a change, the API actually looks interesting (Facebook API). The documentation is far from complete, but if you’re into Facebook and you’re familiar with both XML and REST, it’s probably worth to take a look into this stuff.
I watched TV a couple of times this week and discovered the ‘reality show’ “On The Lot”. 36 or some aspiring directors vying for a $1 million price and an office at Dreamworks studios. For a change, the show is interesting (and predictable) and it has Carrie Fisher as one of the judges. How appropriate.