rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

25-6-2004 (archived)

This week's film review is “Mean Girls”, a take on Heathers for the Clueless.

Rising star and SNL-Harry-Potter star Lindsay Lohan carries this film as the home-schooled girl joining high school at 17 who finds herself accepted both by the odd, likeable kids and the Heathers-like Plastics. Many shenanigans ensue.

This is an extremely enjoyable and entertaining film, with some fantastic lines and decent enough performances. Lohan looks and plays several years older than she actually is; I finally figured out whom she reminded me of so strongly, a friend in her early 20s. This actually makes her fit in better with the general run of actors-playing-kids than a seventeen-year-old normally would. And she's ridiculously attractive, which certainly didn't hurt the film as far as I'm concerned.

This looks, on paper, like the sort of thing I'd normally see only as a movie of last resort, and were it not for the good reviews and the presence of Lohan I might have missed it. That would be bad. It's funny, true, darker than most, and just the right length. It's not Heathers, but it is probably the best high school movie I've seen since.

28-6-2004 (archived)

This week's first film review is “The Ladykillers”, a remake of a British Ealing classic which (true to form) I can't remember if I've seen.

The trailer's hook was Tom Hanks's performance, which (as advertised) is a Depp-like attempt at scene-by-scene domination, though enormously less funny and charismatic than a genuine Depp. Still, it's a watchable and occasionally very funny movie, enjoyable other than the (extraordinarily cheesy) last five minutes or so, and enlivened by some good supporting performances. Good fun, but not really up to Coen brothers standards.

30-6-2004 (archived)

It seems every reviewer except me hated “Jersey Girl”, a Kevin Smith single-father chick-flick. It's not his best work, but “worse than Gigli” is ridiculous, a comparison that would not be made were Affleck and Lopez not both in the cast here.

Fortunately, Smith gets a better performance out of Affleck than I've seen before, and Lopez isn't around long enough to blight the movie. George Carlin is entertaining as usual, but there are a couple of really surprising performances; child actress Raquel Castro is wonderful in the most important role in the film, and Liv Tyler finally proves that she can act as well as look beautiful. She has the best part and most of the best lines, and they're not wasted.

Just as its critics have claimed, this is unoriginal and sentimental; even the dialogue doesn't hit Smith's usual gold standard, and the emotional load is not what it should be - this isn't going to rip out your heart and feed it to you the way Chasing Amy did (as expressed brilliantly by glenn mcdonald). It's still a solid enough, uplifting and competent weepie, if not quite as good as View Askew fans have come to expect.

2-7-2004 (archived)

It's been a long time since the last geek entry, but I've had a geeky week. I bought a wireless optical desktop pro pack from Microsoft, which is basically a snazzed-up Natural Keyboard and wheelmouse with no cables. It's gorgeous to look upon, like something you might see in the background of an Aliens movie, and it worked perfectly with my linux install. The mousewheel clicks left and right as well as down and scroll, which I'm sure I can find many uses for as soon as I get around to coding it, and my windows software will probably support by the next time I boot it. The wireless works great, from a good ten feet away (more than the six stated as a maximum), and will let me run my recording software from behind the drum kit. I moved to a Natural keyboard a few years ago and it cured all my very considerable wrist problems almost overnight; I will never again work on non-ergonomic keyboards for extended periods. Sixty quid feels like a lot in some ways, but I paid fifty for my first natural keyboard and thirty-five for my first wheelmouse. MS are not my favourite software company, but their hardware is consistently fantastic, and this in particular is shiny, exciting, effective, and sexy. Brilliant.

I've been playing with chat technology, too. While IRC is still the killer for me, many of my friends cannot be persuaded to venture beyond MSN messenger. So, I signed up for a passport (another not-entirely-sucky MS thing) and grabbed AMSN, a trivial install for Linux. It mostly seems to work very well, though it seems to hang consistently when talking to people who are trying to use encrypted connections. (I would try GAIM, but I suspect it wouldn't play nicely with debian/stable.) So now I can waste even more time with even more people.

Back in IRC-land, I thought I'd have a go with Chatzilla. While I'm yet to completely abandon BitchX, it seems to have a lot of potential, and the scripting is potentially enormously powerful - but there's almost no documentation as yet. After a painful day of reading source and fucking about trying to figure out how to hook on PRIVMSG and NOTICE events, I finally swallowed my pride and went to ask Silver, who set me straight in about 45 seconds. I'll ask for directions readily enough when I'm lost driving, but on a computer I'm as stubborn as the next idiot. Anyway, for anyone else who wants Chatzilla to respond to NickServ registration challenges automagically, this is doubtless ugly and morally wrong code, but it works. I would expand it to cope with multiple networks, but I only use one with a nickserv, so I haven't bothered. The bits you'll likely want to change are pretty obvious, and italicised, and no that's not really my password.

   function rfb_nickServHandler( e ) {
     if ( e.user.name == "NickServ" &&
          e.user.host == "services.filknet.org" &&
          /^If this is your nickname/.test(e.params[2])
       e.user.say("identify YourPasswordHere") ;
   client.eventPump.addHook([{set:"user", type:"notice"}], 
                            "rfb_nickservHook") ;

Paste it into a .js file and tell Chatzilla to autoload it in the preferences menu. Enjoy.

5-7-2004 (archived)

This week's first film review is “Shrek 2”, a sequel to a mildly successful animated comedy. There are no real surprises here, though the sheer brilliance of the production is almost distracting; if anything the best bits are better and the weakest worse than the first film, and overall this is a solid, worthy second. Myers is flawless and restrained in the lead, as I at least wish he would be in his own projects; Diaz and Murphy play their roles perfectly, and Banderas and a team of genius animators steal the film completely with Puss. There are flaws; its many fairytale and Disney references are almost too much, and there is at least oneserious continuity lapse in the plot, so you'll need to disengage your brain a little more than I'd like. But if you liked the first one, you'll like this just as much. Great fun.

7-7-2004 (archived)

I've just been rereading the Sherlock Holmes canon, which opens with “A Study in Scarlet”. Once more I am struck by how compelling these stories are, despite their many deficiencies; there is something there that has made them, and Holmes and Watson, live in a way that few stories and characters of much greater apparent merit do. I was led back to them by finding, also online and freely readable, Neil Gaiman's wonderful Holmes-Cthulu novella A Study in Emerald, in which the greatest mystery may be identifying who is who. I recommend them both, and in that order.

9-7-2004 (archived)

This week's film review is “The Notebook”, an unashamed tear-jerker that somehow avoids feeling exploitative. Part of the credit must go to an interesting device: James Garner reads a story from his notebook to an equally old lady whose memory has been lost to dementia. Are they the young lovers of the story?

There are absolutely no surprises in the plot, though there are quite a few elsewhere: the sheer gorgeousness of the cinematography, the seeming lightness of touch of this sledgehammer-heavy emotional wringer, the quality of the not-previously-noteworthy Rachel McAdams, and the absolutely flawless, un-showy brilliance of Ryan Gosling in the lead. This could and should be a career-making film for him.

If you're not the kind of person who feels comfortable crying in cinemas, or you can't suspend cynicism for the duration of a classic love story, then you probably won't like this beautifully executed, extremely likeable film; we sobbed quietly pretty much throughout. If, however, you like cleansing, moving, unaffected love stories, this is as good an example as I have ever seen. Unashamedly, unreservedly recommended.

13-7-2004 (archived)

This week's film review is “Godsend”, a by-the-numbers horror flick with some peculiarities. The acting is mixed at best; De Niro and Kinnear are going through the motions, Romijn-Stamos is reasonable (and of course decorative), and child actor Cameron Bright is better than we have any right to expect. The supporting roles are uniformly badly played, the cinematography is merely OK, and the director seems to be seeing how many other recent movies he can rip off.

So, it was dreadful. Except that, for me at least, despite everything that was wrong with it, I ended up genuinely unsettled by it - and perhaps the biggest criticism of all is that the tension is left completely unresolved. Even with the best, tensest, horror movies, even with the ones with the end left hanging, there needs to be some point where you can convulsively relax, breathe out, and let it out. Here there isn't; I left the cinema feeling tense, frustrated, and uncomfortable. This sort of film is supposed to be cathartic, masturbation for the psyche, and here the money shot is missing. Even at that, I liked it better than Liz, who'd figured out the ending ten minutes in and spent the rest of the movie bored and laughing at me getting increasingly spooked. Decidedly not recommended.

14-7-2004 (archived)

So, when I don't sleep, I'm pretty tired. I won't say it's fair enough, because I don't think it is fair, but at least it makes sense. So why, when I do sleep, am I suddenly even more tired? I can't even watch TV; my aerial's blown down and I don't have a big enough ladder to get to it.

Books are good.

17-7-2004 (archived)

Flash games day today. Chasm is a fun, cutely animated pointy-clicky adventure. Bubble Bees is a little simpler, though getting the sort of numbers you'll see on the high scores is way beyond me.

Books are still good.