Archive for July, 2009

T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Unbox

Today I received the brand-spankin’ new T-Mobile MyTouch 3G with Google by HTC, powered by Android (heck of a name), and I quickly opened it.  I took some photos and decided to put them up for everyone to enjoy.  My usual digital camera has run out of battery juice, so I had to use the next best camera I had on hand: my Nintendo DSi.  So, in advance, I apologize for the quality of the photos (but I don’t think they’re that bad).

July 30, 2009 at 6:45 pm 1 comment

Zhang Yimou Remaking The Coens’ First Film

Interesting. You know how there are all those pretentious ass-holes that shit on the idea of Hollywood remaking a foreign film? I wonder what they think about a foreign filmmaker remaking an American film?
clipped from www.comingsoon.net

Sony Pictures Classics has announced its production partnership and the acquisition of rights in North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand to Zhang Yimou’s currently untitled film, a remake of the Coen Brothers’ 1984 debut feature, Blood Simple. The film will be produced by Bill Kong.

Zhang Yimou stated, “I am very happy working with Sony Pictures Classics again, they have always done a great job and I am looking forward to be with them again.”
Zhang’s film will be a thriller-comedy remake of Joel & Ethan Coen’s Blood Simple, set in a Chinese noodle shop in a sand dune-specked desert, rather than a bar in an unnamed Texas town. The owner of the noodle shop’s seemingly simple plan to murder his adulterous wife and her lover quickly spins out of control after the introduction of a gun into the lives of characters more accustomed to knives and swords.
blog it

July 29, 2009 at 8:25 am Leave a comment

Teaser Posters for ‘Prince of Persia’ Movie

Um… I’m not entirely sure these are legit. Mike Newell is directing the film, and his name isn’t listed anywhere on the posters, someone else’s name is. Also, Jake Gyllenhaal is in the title role, his name is also missing.
clipped from www.joystiq.com

Posted after the jump are two completely surprising pieces of advertising imagery — movie posters for the Bruckheimer/Gyllenhaal joint, Prince of Persia. Why “surprising?” Because they look completely and utterly fantastic. Yeah, we know. We were just as surprised as you.

Don’t get it twisted — the movie won’t be good. It can’t be good. However, its advertising looks very professional, its font choice is delightfully non-cheesy, and its Prince looks very Princely. That’s an achievement in and of itself. Check out both posters after the jump.
blog it

July 21, 2009 at 12:29 am Leave a comment

The (Good?) Old Days of the Cartridge

This article from Bitmob got me thinking about the old days (ie 1990’s) of gaming.  Remember cartridges?  Those clunky, boxy devices that used to hold entire games?  I do.  Unfortunately, the cartridge format has gotten a bad rep for being small in storage space, expensive to manufacture, and too cumbersome to carry around.  All are valid strikes against it.

But, it has a few pluses over the disc format.

I honestly never had a problem with them.  Meaning, they stood up to some crazy abuse.  Here’s an excerpt from a forum post I left at Bitmob:

Sometime in elementary school (maybe it was 5th grade, too), a friend found a Mortal Kombat SNES cart sitting in his desk. It was probably left there by some kid from a previous class session. Instead of keeping it himself, he decided we should try and mess it up by scratching up the connector piece that protrudes from the space at the bottom. We took pens, pencils, scissors, anything and just ran it along the inside of the cart. A few days later, he grew tired to this and just gave it to me. I took it home, popped it in, and surprisingly it still worked.

Some years later, I did the same thing to a copy of Super Mario Kart 64 another friend had found in his backyard. After attempting to destroy it, I put it in my N64 and that, too, still worked.

In comparison, I recently discovered my copy of Mass Effect was rendered almost unreadable because I left it sitting on my desk, cover-side up, with nothing to protect the disc’s surface from my (supposedly) clean desk surface. It’s a reminder of how fragile the disc medium is.

Yet another friend of mine told me of a time his younger brother attempted to flush a bunch of NES carts down a toilet from some reason.  From what I understand, those games still work.

Discs require special treatment.  I can’t just toss a disc in my bag and take it with me someplace, I need to have a special case to carry it in, lest the readable side gets all scratched up.  Sure, most adult gamers remember blowing into the bottom of cartridges to get them to work sometimes, but from my own experience, that’s all it took.  These days, I’ve had to do the toothpaste method of cleaning scratched discs that got that way by accidentally being slid a few inches across my desk.

The cart itself is your memory card.  You don’t have to worry about running out of memory space to save a game; the cart automatically comes with enough to save your progress.  Yes, I know, there’s a downside to this: you lose the game, you lose your save.  The N64 had a somewhat cumbersome workaround for this which required a secondary memory card in addition to the save capabilities of the game cart itself.  But, for the most part, it worked.

Another thing: when the PlayStation came out, it had slots for memory cards, which were required to do any game saving.  The problem, and I know this is a minor issue, was that if the card was corrupted, chances are all the files will be affected.  I remember playing the original Driver for the PS1 and getting pretty far into it, only to have the save file corrupted somehow.  A day or so later, none of my saves from any of my games on that particular card would load.  Needless to say, I never finished Driver.

Anyone that owned an original PSP, or even the newer models, will attest to some long load times.  Kinda defeats the purpose of a portable gaming system if you have to spend half your commute waiting for the damn thing to load.  Nintendo’s venerable DS/DSi handheld, while technologically inferior to the PSP, has a major advantage in significantly reduced or completely eliminated load times.  I wouldn’t even think of bringing my PSP with me for the 30 minute commute to school (the PSP is actually collecting dust in a drawer somewhere in the house).

Now, I’m not poo pooing all over the disc format (that is an argument reserved for an internet forum back in 1997).  I understand the pros and cons and why the industry has moved toward this medium.  I also don’t think the industry should go back to it (with the exception of handhelds; if portable gaming needs a physical medium before completely jumping to digital distribution, let it be the cartridge).  I just think us gamers should have at least a modicum of respect for the format that brought us some of the greatest gaming experiences ever.

On a side note: I remember overhearing a younger gamer talking about ‘old school gaming’ as being the PS1 era.

*Sigh*

Young people . . .

(images from The Old School Game Vault, Amazon.com, eHow.com)

July 19, 2009 at 7:59 pm Leave a comment

‘World War Z’ Finds Screenwriter

Can’t wait for this movie. Marc Forster did a pretty decent job with Quantum of Solace, so I’m looking forward to this adaptation.
clipped from www.comingsoon.net

Matthew Michael Carnahan Penning World War Z

Source: ShockTillYouDrop.com

Acccording to author Max Brooks, Paramount Pictures has brought on Matthew Michael Carnahan to adapt Brooks’ World War Z, about a worldwide infestation of flesh-eating zombies.

Originally, J. Michael Straczynski penned a draft. Of Carnahan’s involvement, Brooks tells Fangoria, “He’s one of Hollywood’s hot A-list writers, so if they went after him and paid him a mountain of gold, it definitely shows their confidence in this project.”
Carnahan–brother of Joe Carnahan–also penned The Kingdom, Lions for Lambs and State of Play. Marc Forster is attached to direct World War Z.
blog it

July 19, 2009 at 11:51 am Leave a comment

Review: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

Please note that this isn’t a comparison of the movie to the book (I’m sure there are plenty of HP fanboys/girls that would be glad to provide that kind of critique).  As with any piece of ‘art’, a movie, regardless of its source material, should be evaluated on its own, so my opinions of The Half-Blood Prince are strictly about the movie.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince picks up several weeks after the events of the previous movie, Order of the Phoenix, and continues the story arc begun in movie 4, Goblet of Fire.  16-year-old Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is awaiting the start of a new school year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, all the while dark forces gather around him.  His nemesis, Lord Voldemort, has made his presence known to the general wizarding public, and has begun to gather his allies to him.  Standing in Voldemort’s way are Harry’s closest friends and allies, among them wise Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), headmaster of Hogwart’s, and Harry’s best friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint).  Dumbledore, too, is recruiting allies such as old friend Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), in an effort to deny any advantage to Voldemort.

However, one advantage is clearly in The Dark Lord’s court: immortality.  By reviewing memories (by way of the magical pensieve) left behind by a young Voldemort, a.k.a. Tom Riddle, Dumbledore realizes their foe has split his soul into seven pieces, hidden in seven obscure items, thus making him unkillable.  The solution: destroy these items, known individually as a horcrux, so Voldemort can become mortal, then hopefully draw him out into battle and defeat him once and for all.  Voldemort was smart, unfortunately, and left behind a series of traps to protect the horcruxes.  Thus sets up the beginning of the end for the Harry Potter story, one that will be wrapped up in the two-part Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows beginning next year.

The Half-Blood Prince is at once darker in atmosphere and lighter in tone than the previous movies, and director David Yates does a decent job balancing the two.  Gone are the ‘gee-whiz-ooohs-and-aahhhs’ moments of the first three movies, and the coming-of-age ‘who-is-asking-who-to-the-Yule-Ball’ awkwardness of parts 4 and 5; this movie sets things up nicely with a Death Eater attack on Britain’s Millennium Bridge, resulting in Muggle (human) casualties and a bombing of a store in the magical Diagon Alley.  Offsetting this still some of that teenage hormonal angst that people love to laugh at, but still finds some way to provide some comic relief to an otherwise tense and dreary atmosphere.  Harry apparently is over his first crush, Cho Chang (Katie Leung), who had been forced to betray Harry and his friends in the previous movie.  He now seems to be interested in his best friend’s little sister, Ginny (Bonnie Wright).  Ron seems to be getting a bit of attention from classmate Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave), much to the disgust of Hermione, who is now coming to terms with her own feelings for Ron.

This presents a bit of a problem for the movie, as the focus for almost half of it seems to be these relationships don’t necessarily affect the main plot of the story.  We don’t really see how Voldemrt’s attacks have interrupted school life, aside from some security checks set up around the school grounds.  I would’ve liked to have seen or heard a few lines where the students are expressing their concern for what is going on in the outside world.  Maybe, the school’s Great Hall could’ve been a little emptier this year, as parents nervously refuse to allow their children to go back to school during these dark days.

You...shall not...PASS!  Wait, wrong movie...

"You...shall not...PASS! Wait, wrong movie..."

Also, the whole mystery of who this ‘half-blood prince’ is was merely glossed over during the movie and conveniently explained in a single line toward the end.  This also messes with the pacing of the story, as it seemed slow for the duration of it.  The only moments of excitement we get are the Quidditch scenes (making their return since The Prisoner of Azkaban), and near the end during Dumbledore and Harry’s hunt for one of the horcruxes.

Now, I know this might seem like breaking my own rule, as I hate to compare a movie to the book it’s based on, but I might have to in order to make a point.

In the novel, there’s a skirmish that occurs between Voldemort’s followers and members of Hogwart’s and the Order of the Phoenix, who are stationed at the school to protect it.  This happens at the very end and is completely missing from the movie.  I’m not one to cry foul just because it’s something that is in the book which happens to not be in the movie.  The only reason I feel it should’ve been included is because the movie seemed to move sooo sloowww for about 2 hours.  The Death Eaters infiltrate Hogwarts, do what they set out to do, and leave.  In the book, there’s quite a bit more going on and I think the movie needed it.  Maybe there was a practical reason for it being shelved (budget being my first thought), but all I needed was maybe a minute or two and I would’ve been satisfied.

Regardless of the movie’s pacing, all the actors seem to be doing very fine jobs at making the time go by.  All the usual suspects have settled comfortably in their roles, while still providing nice performances.  Broadbent is perfect casting in the role of Slughorn, a potions expert who enjoys networking with students that may be able to provide services to him in the future.  Michael Gambon seems to channel J.R.R. Tolkien’s Gandalf (the prototype for virtually any fantasy story’s wise old wizard) and everyone’s affectionate grandfather in his portrayal of Albus Dumbledore.  He’s an intelligent man, a beloved teacher, and respected wizard who can duel with the best of them.  Not given enough to do, however, is everyone’s favorite sourpuss Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and Remus Lupin (the underappreciated David Thewlis), their roles likely cut for time.  Ginny Weasley’s effort in an expanded part is admirable, but nothing spectacular.  Out of all the young actresses in the series, Emma Watson is still most likely to become a major star in the years to come.

And special mention should go to Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, actor Ralph Fiennes’ (who plays Voldemort) nephew who is downright creepy as 11-year-old Tom Riddle as well as Tom Felton for turning in a better-than-expected performance as the emotionally tortured Draco Malfoy.

The visuals seem to shine, even though there’s no real setpiece to show them off (unlike Goblet of Fire’s dragon match or Order of the Phoenix’s Dumbledore vs. Voldemort smackdown).  This may actually be a smart decision, as it treats the audience as a member of this world, and not a newcomer.  The score I was a little disappointed in.  I really enjoyed what Nicholas Hooper had done with Order of the Phoenix, but this score seemed bland, and he even re-uses some motifs from the previous movie.  The sound design, however, is good, but it’s relegated to serving the score and for background noise.  Just like with the visuals, there’s no real moment that will give the speakers a workout.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince leaves on a cliff-hanger, which should surprise no one (least of all the fans) as the final entry is already being lensed.  In spite of this story’s uneventful story structure and any lack of closure, it does set up what is sure to be a highly-anticipated finale.  Many claim this entry to be the best, but I’d have to disagree.  It could’ve been, since nearly all the elements are there: great cinematography, strong acting, relatable characters, and a continuing story arc that will leave fans clamoring for the next installment.  But this individual entry seems to be confused as to what it needed to be.  Was it a coming-of-age dramedy?  Or a detective story that could’ve been creative in its use of memories as evidence instead of objects?  Still, most fans will enjoy this, as there are plenty of ‘fan moments’ like favorite characters kissing other favorites characters, and the like.  In other words, this feels like a nice red carpet to the premiere of the real show-stopper.

8/10

July 16, 2009 at 11:29 pm Leave a comment

Review: “(500) Days of Summer”

Off-beat and quirky indie films seem to be a dime-a-dozen these days.  I remember a film professor from my undergraduate years telling me that after Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs was released in the early 90’s, every budding filmmaker, from the high school level to independent producers, wanted to make a movie similar to it.  More recently it has been films like Garden State, Juno, and Little Miss Sunshine that have renewed the interest in the independent film scene.  Ever student filmmaker nowadays wants to make a movie that appeals to the current generation’s sense of humor and style, but many times these indie films (many of the shorts scattered all over the Internet) end up falling flat and sounding pretentious.

So what makes director Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer so appealing?  It’s because it feels like it doesn’t take itself too seriously from the beginning.  The movie is typical romantic comedy fare: boy meets girl, the date, they fall in love, they break up, boy tries to get girl back.  How the movie tells the story is a little different; the script plays around with time, and instead of showing the rise and fall of the relationship, we get the best of both intermittently.  Webb shows us (through use of titles numbering the 500 days they were together) their first meeting, first date, first fight, but not necessarily in that order.  This helps keep things fresh so that we don’t really know what to expect.

The movie also moves like a music video, which is what Marc Webb’s background is.  It’s well-paved, never stays too long in one shot (but avoids the constant MTV-style cutting), and is also very inventive in transitions and even in animation.  Also, the color palette of the film, which leans toward blue, helps bring out Zooey Deschanel’s freakishly large blue eyes.  They’re beautiful, but if they were to stare right at me, they might make me cower in fear.

A movie like this wouldn’t work without a strong cast.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom, the average Joe who works at a greeting card company, and who eventually falls for the cute new assistant, Summer (Zooey Deschanel).  Summer is fun, independent, and most definitely not looking for love.  But what happens when the guy falls in love with the girl who doesn’t love him back?  That’s when the sparks really fly.  Gordon-Levitt proves, once again, he is a very capable actor.  From his head-turning performance in Rian Johnson’s high school film noir Brick, to more comedic roles like this one, he really allows himself to fall into a role.  He’s totally loveable as the poor schmuck who becomes attracted to the one girl that may be just out of his league, and we’re with him the entire time as he struggles to figure out why this relationship is falling apart.

Zooey Deschanel is fine in the title role of Summer.  While I think it wasn’t a role that could only be played by her, I get the impression she understands her character and her motivations (unlike the role in last summer’s The Happening).  Summer would appear to be a hard character to fully understand, at least from a guy’s perspective.  She’s fully independent, knows what she wants, and ready to enter or leave a relationship as it suites her.  The conflict comes from Tom, who is almost the exact opposite.  He knows what he likes and not really what he wants.

All of that is played out with humor, interspersed with great use of music (and the best use of Patrick Swayze’s “She’s Like the Wind”) from a variety of bands.  (500) Days of Summer is sure to please the indie crowd eager to step away from big budget studio blockbusters like this week’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  It’s fun, romantic, and even a little bittersweet.  In other words, this is what many student filmmakers may be copying in the years to come.

8.5/10

July 14, 2009 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


July 2009
S M T W T F S
« Jun   Aug »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Categories

RSS Twitter

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS My Xbox 360’s Personal Blog

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.