rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

1-8-2003 (archived)

This week's second film review is “The Hulk”, yet another comic book adaptation. This one, more than any of the others, seems to have divided the audiences; some have loved it, many have hated it. I understand both reactions.

Certainly it's a flawed film: it's long (2:18), and some have found it slow. It relies heavily on CGI. The climactic combat scene is both confused and confusing.

There are lots of things to set against those problems; it doesn't feel long, and I would describe the pace more as “measured”. Hulk is a pretty good piece of CGI, surprisingly solid except when bounding huge distances across deserts and such (which works, for me, as magical realism). The strength of the original concept, Hulk as a metaphor for the pubescent boy, disturbed by the changes in his body and chemically imbalanced alterations in mood that make being teenaged so very interesting, survives.

Best of all, Ang Lee has made a film which captures the look and feel of a good comic better than anything I've seen; the split-screen sequences are a gimmick that never feels gimmicky, and the lighting and editing are simply right. The performances are uniformly strong and appropriate, restrained and overblown in the right places. I suspect that, flaws and all, we will look back and see this as an aesthetic triumph, lingering and rich, deep and calm. I can only hope it will also be influential.

4-8-2003 (archived)

<rick> thus far, we are in considerable disagreement, basically coz I do not fancy Liu at all, but definitely approve of both the others.
<rick> whereas Liz likes Lucy, but feels that Diaz's mouth is worryingly wide and Barrymore's face is “on sideways”
<rick> we are, however, agreed that (based on vibe and attitude) both Diaz and Barrymore would certainly be absolutely fantastic in bed.
<rick> (I actually mean “either Diaz or Barrymore”; both is obviously a bonus)

Is it still blatant sexism when girls join in? Probably. Hey, they were asking for it.

This week's first film review is “Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle”, yet another sequel. Now, normally I'd be a little hesitant about reviewing a sequel if I haven't seen the first film, but with this (as with Final Destination 2) I felt I could be fairly sure I wasn't missing much in the way of character arc and backstory.

The thing you have to realise is that this is not a film. The director, “McG”, has a music video background (Korn, anyone?), and this is a movie for the MTV generation. There are several things to like about it, notably the soundtrack, sheer unashamed physics-disregarding lunacy of all the action scenes (which is pretty much all the scenes), proudly stupid dialogue and (abusing terminology here) plot, and lots of pretty girls in their pants. There are also several things to dislike, primarily the utterly wasted supporting cast; with the exception of Demi Moore, the others range from ineffectual (LeBlanc) to horribly uncomfortable (John Cleese, who surely can't need the money that badly).

Instead of any kind of coherent plot, we have a string of ludicrous action sequences, Matrix-like in their unreality without the excuse of being unreal, other scenes which exist solely as stretched references to other famous films (the Flashdance trip is particularly enjoyable), rapid jumpcuts from one highly mobile setpiece to the next, unrelenting high-speed nonsense, and an infectious sense of fun. It might give you brain cancer, but if you let it it'll make you happy for an hour or two on the way.

5-8-2003 (archived)

It's on the warm side right now, and I'm sort of stressed to the tits anyway, so I'm not sleeping right, and by the time I get myself together in the morning (or, indeed, afternoon) it's too damned hot to think. It's now 8pm, and not getting any cooler. (And yeah, Ade, it's summer, it's not surprising, and since this is a medium I guess I'm part of the problem. I don't have a garden, though.) So I'm sitting here trying to write a paper, and browsing the web while my brains melt and drip from my ears; fine, since brainless is the way to be while reading the web anyway. This also results in linkage:

As a lifelong Episcopalian, albeit a Jewish one, I would be proud to have a gay man feed me the body of Christ on a daily basis. Also, I enjoy touching men from time to time and believe heavily in Internet pornography, particularly as it concerns the centuries-old Episcopal practice of teabagging.

The inimitable Neal Pollock on gay bishops. Not literally “on”, you understand.

Here's an icky piece of trivia I heard: apparently, after the suspension act was finished (the one where the guy hung by meat-hooks in his back) his assistants spent a while squeezing his wounds, to get all the air out from under the skin. Because apparently if you don't do that, the air bubbles will settle in your neck and give you a nasty headache for several days. So keep that in mind the next time someone hangs you from a hook.

From JWZ's ever-entertaining backstage log at his club, the DNA Lounge. There's a lot of worthwhile and entertaining stuff in the archives, especially if you're a musician or (deity help you) club owner. Jamie's disgust with the average punter is good for my soul.

7-8-2003 (archived)

I'm experimenting with trying to work in one of our student-accessible public computer clusters, which are pretty much deserted at this time of year. On the downside, they're windows machines, but at least they run Exceed so I can log into my real computer. Of course, the key mappings don't send alt to the server, so my Emacs finger macros all break. But on the upside, it's air conditioned, and so I have a chance of actually getting something done.

The coronal ridge of the penis, found where the glans, or head, meets the shaft, could scoop out more than 90% of the cornstarch mixture with just one thrust.

Are we really the shape we are in order to clear out other men's semen? Who knows. As Warren pointed out, we should just be grateful that we don't make a living by thrusting dildos into containers of cornstarch.

<fod> EEK! Just had a sheep in the lounge. Mrs Fods vase of flowers was half-eaten and some pellets of poo left on the floor. No other collateral damage.
<fod> I thought mrs fod had scattered raisins on the floor!
<fod> turns out to be an errant lamb from the farm next door
<fod> hokay. Brace yourselves for some reso frippery!
<fod> [link to mp3]
<fod> strange to think that whilst I was recording this a sheep was taking a dump on my lounge carpet

I don't really have a comment on this one, except that the tune is exactly the sort of enjoyable, calm, atmospheric, floating piece rarely produced by a man who is aware that a sheep is currently shitting on his living-room floor. Ladies and gentlemen, Adrian Foden.

11-8-2003 (archived)

Random, and short, linkage today. First up, another article on the inner workings of the record industry. Still doesn't look like the best place to be, somehow.

In other news, Lisa Pea, of alt.religion.kibology. I don't know quite what to say about this, so I won't.

13-8-2003 (archived)

This week's first film review is “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”.

It's a perfectly adequate action film. Arnie's in good form as the on-the-side-of-good Terminator, and the new “T-X” Terminator is better than the model from T2: Judgement Day for two reasons: firstly, it can turn its arm into guns and flamethrowers, not just sharp implements. Secondly, Kristanna Loken is considerably nicer to look at, to my admittedly hormonally-skewed taste, than is Robert Patrick. Unfortunately, Loken can't summon the same air of machine-like menace that Schwarzenegger and Patrick managed in the previous installments, leaving the film a little flat.

The action scenes, especially the chase scenes, are very watchable, the CGI is excellent and unobtrusive, and the whole doesn't take itself too seriously. There are plenty of homages to the earlier films, and the directory has his tongue in his cheek almost all of the way through. This probably helps to make the serious moments a lot more effective than they would have been otherwise. Happily, there's no attempt to retrospectively modify the history laid out in the first two films, or at least none so blatant that I (seen both several times but not a frothing fanboy) noticed.

If you're a fan of the franchise, this falls within the range of what you would have expected this film to be, but definitely more towards the end labelled “good”; it's a watchable, enjoyable action product, with the emphasis on “product”. If you're not, you probably weren't going to see it anyway, and neither should you.

14-8-2003 (archived)



Zombie pirates!

Johnny Depp in eyeliner, braids and a silly hat!

I was really quite excited about seeing this; the trailers were appealing, Depp is always highly watchable, there are several other quality character actors about (Rush, Davenport), Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are always highly lookable at, and swashbuckling can be fun. It was better than I had dared hope: a pirate movie made by people who love pirate movies, entertaining, funny, witty, the shortest 143-minute film I've ever seen. The dialogue is wonderful; one suspects that many of the best bits were improvised by Depp, channeling Keith Richards as the woozy, camp, charming Captain Jack Sparrow, stealing every scene in an exhibition of off-the-scale charisma. The effects are brilliant, the music stirring, the fight scenes gripping, and there's even some restraint (the expression “skeleton crew” is never used). There's not a weak performance to be seen, and it has everything you could ask for - romance, wigs, cursed pirates, charming pirates, heroic leads, desert islands, monkeys...

I've seen it two nights in a row now. I'm going to be a pirate when I grow up. A pirate played by Depp, for preference. There is, apparently and wonderfully, a sequel in the works; Depp, Knightley and Bloom are all signed on already.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, a review. This week's second film review is “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”. Best. Movie. Ever.

15-8-2003 (archived)

Geek toy the first: Calculator in your google. It can calculate iconic equations. It knows iconic constants, too.

Geek toy the second: DHTML lemmings. Slow, but unbelievably cool. (Both via just about everyone...)

Pirates! Yes, still.

18-8-2003 (archived)

China Miéville is one of my favourite “new” authors, firstly because of the three superb books he's produced (The Scar, King Rat, and especially Perdido Street Station) and secondly because he inadvertently led me to the novels of Neil Gaiman. Back when the Hugos for 2002 were announced, I was completely enraged; how could anything have beaten the masterpiece that “Perdido Street Station” undoubtedly is? I bought the winner, “American Gods”, in order to denounce it and it's now one of my favourite novels, a worthy winner. Some years we get two masterpieces.

So, here are two interviews with Miéville, who amongst many other good qualities frequents Usenet (note: I suspect the first of the current search results is not, in fact, China...). Like many of my favourite authors, he rates Michael Moorcock and Philip Dick much, much more highly than I do; perhaps a reappraisal (by me, my ego's not that healthy) is in order.

19-8-2003 (archived)

One year ago today, I posted the first entry to this blog. Today is, coincidentally, the 200th. I wasn't sure, then, whether I'd keep doing this, but it's become very important to me; looking back, I think my writing's improved a lot, and I definitely get something from the writing I do here that I don't get from the tens of thousands of words I post to news, mail, and forums. Much to my surprise, I seem to have a readership, and not all of you are people I know. I even have an update notification feed for all those LiveJournal people, thanks to Penfold.

I don't know why I do this, but I do know I'm not about to stop. It's too much fun.

Man, that navel's interesting. Did you know if you push hard enough on your navel your ass falls off? I tried to check with Google, but didn't quite get what I was hoping for.