Yeah, you know what it means. I just have reached the point where I feel I need to actually make some comments on the asininity that occurs around the world. It's just an opinion so don't get worked up about it.

Peter Jackson, WTF?!?!

March 22, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Peter, really, what the fuck? I have just sat through most of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" with my daughter, who is all of eight years old, and she asked me if I had missed large tracts of the book when reading it to her. Was there something wrong with the book, dad? Were there pages missing? I'm confused.

You can't take one of the most widely read books in the world, with a dedicated following that has memorized many parts of it, and butcher it in this way. No, really, you can't. The SDGNZ should take your membership away. As should the NZWG. In fact I think you'll just have to turn in your pen and your viewfinder.

How did you take what is fundamentally a children's story and turn it into a bad rendition of a video game trailer? And ten hours? A nice adaptation, close to the original, would have given you a nice single movie (perhaps on the long side, but acceptable). Stretching it out to three long ones, of course, you had to a) drag in material from LOTR; and b) make stuff up. But the result is just not good. Nay, it's downright horrible.

The original book sold over one hundred million copies and was translated in forty languages. This isn't some obscure tome that only the writer's mother read. This is an icon of twentieth century literature. World literature. You just can't destroy it like this.

And while we're discussing this, what was the direction given to Ian McKellan? Look, Gandalf is not an in your face character but does come across as pretty sure of himself in the original story. In your version he's, shall we say, a bit wimpy. He loses his temper with the dwarves at the adventure's inaugural dinner and occasionally shows flashes of a backbone, but otherwise he seems really unsure. I understand Magneto is too far the other way but a little balance would not have gone amiss.

This is not a review. I can't properly review a movie that I am not going to finish watching. This is just a middle of the night rant about the destruction of one of my favourite books. 

Yes, I'm sitting here crying.

Peter, I'll await your apology in the mail.

Microsoft, grow up!

November 18, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

 Microsoft, really, grow up!

I am really enjoying the new Music application in Windows 8. Being based in Canada I don't have legitimate access (yes, I do have a VPN service) to services like Rhapsody and Spotify so I have been listening to a varied set of music through the Xbox Music app.

I have been listening to all sorts of interesting music using the Smart DJ capability of the app. This works by allowing you to build a stream of related artists based on an initial search. It really is like a custom radio station based on something you like.

Because I happened to have been talking about Chick Corea earlier in the day, I thought I would listen to a Smart DJ stream based on the great jazz pianist. As the music meandered through related or similar artists I heard the distinctive tones of Herbie Hancock waft through my speakers. Wanting to know which album this music was coming from, I switched to the Xbox Music app and saw the cover art for Herbie's Maiden Voyage album. Cool, I thought. And then, as I stared at the screen a while longer I was horrified. While the name shows in full on the album art, all the text that accompanies the music, such the biography, has Herbie's name written as: Herbie Hanc***! WTF?!? Sure enough, doing a search on Herbie Hancock brings up all references as Herbie Hanc***. Just to confirm my suspicions, and being Canadian, I did a search on Bruce Cockburn. Yup, all his material is tagged as Bruce C***burn. In fact all references to anything with "cock" in the name are marked up as "c***".

This is absolutely infantile censorship. Neither Apple with the iTunes Store nor Google with the Play Music Store have gone down this path and they are probably Microsoft's closest competition in this space besides Rhapsody and Spotify.

Microsoft, you are really making me question my ongoing use of this service now. I guess I'll fire up my VPN and connect to Spotify now! Or spend the $10 per month and go with Rdio. Very disappointing.

How could Skyfall get so many good reviews?

November 17, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

How could Skyfall get so many good reviews? Good question. And I don't have an answer. What I do know is that it did not meet expectations. That is, my expectations. My wife liked it. A lot. And she was quite upset that I didn't walk out of the cinema with the same enthusiasm for the film as her.

In order for the following diatribe to make any sense you need to have seen the movie. Without that experience this is not going to be very interesting.

I find it is always easier to be negative so I will start with the positives. What I liked. Javier Bardem was outstanding in his interpretation of the psychopathic villain Raoul Silva. Or is it Tiago Rodriguez? I'm confused. Was he Tiago all along or Raoul? See! He's so good even now I don't know who was the real antagonist. But I very much enjoyed the characters. I also enjoyed Daniel Craig as James Bond and would place him in the list of the top two actors that have strapped a Walther PPK under their Saville Row dinner jackets and been called by the 007 moniker. And as many of the reviews have stated the photography was very good indeed but I don't think it was Roger Deakins' most outstanding work. Kundun and much of the work Deakins has done with the Cohen Brothers are superior in my opinion. Judi Dench is always a fascinating presence on the screen but I don't think that in this case she was given the appropriate direction my Sam Mendes who tried to keep her on a razor thin balancing edge between absolute coldness and caring mother. I don't think I cared at all if she fell down one side or the other but I think I would have preferred the to see her impersonate an Arctic blast.

Wow! I guess my positivity ran out earlier than I expected.

So, what didn't I like? A lot. While Bond movies have been product placement magnets for quite a few iterations (Nokia, BMW, Omega and so on), the never ending Sony commercial stream this time around really bothered me. Even if most people wouldn't even recognize that the Sony Experia T was being "blipverted" into their consciousness, the never-ending parade of sinuous Sony Vaio logos was really distracting. While I don't mind subtle product placement this was over the top.

The "before the titles" sequence that takes place in Istanbul and unfurls before the nostalgic trip through fifty years of Bond movies that are the title credits, with definitely a memorable performance by Adele, just doesn't compare with the sequence from The Bourne Ultimatum. Paul Greengrass has masterful control of that and is able to make it realistic. The Skyfall sequence is marred by the distinct visibility of stuntmen and poorly executed use of blue screen when showing Daniel Craig riding a motorcycle over the rooftops of the Grand Bazaar. Really, some of the worst executed blue screen compositing in recent memory.

Bérénice Marlohe is pushed to overacting with a snarl that wouldn't be out of place on a rabid bulldog and plays such a minor, insipid role compared to some of the great women that have frolicked with Bond in the past (just to name a few: Honor Blackman, Carole Bouquet, Maude Adams and Barbara Bach). In this outing Bond only reacts with a silly, throw away line at the death of the "Bond Girl". Not that every Bond film must have the emotional connection of a George Lazenby and Diana Rigg as in Her Majesty's Secret Service, but come on, he normally has a little bit of emotion to show at this juncture in the Bond plots.

Although glad to see less outrageous use of Q supplied gadgets, I was disappointed by seeing such over the top and unrealistic use of information technology. As much of the world becomes more and more sophisticated in its understanding of this technology it becomes more distracting and detracts from the movie when people are shown some kid breaking into every computer in existence in just a few seconds. Most people can barely get a cell signal standing at the corner nevermind tracking people in the depth of the London Underground. Come one, let's spend a couple of bucks and come up with a consultant that can deliver something more plausible.

So now you know why I felt that it did not meet my expectations. But for the life of me I can't answer the question of why Skyfall received such glowing reviews around the world.

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