August 8th, 2010



Went to the 9 pm showing thinking it might be less crowded but it was packed. Strange but true, the feature started on time (usually this theater runs 20 minutes of crap after the published showtime).

Very brief review, because it doesn't deserve much more. Good points: very expensive CG and special effects budget, maybe 10% of it intelligently spent. Some effects were stolen wholesale from The Matrix, one of the effects was stolen from an old Fred Astaire movie. Another was straight out of an Escher drawing. So many things exploded I had to double-check imdb to see that Quentin Tarantino wasn't involved in the production.

At 2 hours and 28 minutes long, I was checking my watch after an hour.

A short break for the good stuff: the obligatory Sweet Young Thing genius is a clone of Summer Glau, except without the martial arts/stunts ability. There were moments of reality-bending which were very effective. Ken Watanabe's final scene, if that was indeed Ken Watanabe (I have my doubts - the face looked too Caucasian) showed some acting chops. It's science fiction - I would not be surprised if the idea came from Ursula Le Guin's Lathe of Heaven. At its core it is based on the same "what if?".

Casting was absurd. None of the actors were believable in their roles, except Ken Watanabe and that's because he was a total racist stereotype. And THE SOUNDTRACK. Oppressive, uninspired, way too loud throughout. Most of the film, and all the thousands of action sequences were made to look like they were shot with hand-held cameras. The motion mostly seemed artificial to me, as if they CG'ed the effect. Or had the videographer shake the tripod. It made me dizzy, and the sequences were all way too long to make their points. I spent a goodly amount of time listening to gunshots, machine gun fire and explosions with my eyes closed. For a movie about dreams, it was far too violent.

The ending is telegraphed early and often, the final 10 seconds gives us the confirmation but most of us saw it coming hours before.

Finally, I liked the idea of the freight train, but it would have worked better with a sharper image. I watch HDTV for a living - I'm spoiled.
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Up Too Late Again

Semi-weird dream snippet. I dreamed that someone was trying to phone me, but I'd left the phone in another room. Woke up, there was voicemail from my aunt - I had left the phone on the charger in the computer room and hadn't heard it go off.

Changed the litterboxes, did my usual morning stuff. Headed for PA thinking I was running late, but the photo store I thought opened at 10 opens at 11 so I was right on time to pick up the latest set of 8mm film to DV tape transfers. Dropped a CD in the mail on the way there, containing PDFs of the newsletter I published when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. Maybe I'll post them here. Nah, nobody here could relate. Maybe Facebook, where some of my RPCV friends hang out. Anyway, the CD is going to the head of Friends of Thailand, who was in the Peace Corps group a few years before me.

Home, dropped off the tapes (didn't want them sitting in the car in the summer heat) and then drove up to Los Altos for an appointment with Ric the real estate guy. He had printed up info on several condos which met my brief description, and did a detailed synopsis of what the buyer costs would be at three price points. From his numbers there is no way I could justify buying a condo right now. Interest rates may be low, but prices are still astronomical. While there are many bank-owned properties, they are priced to get all the bank's money back, and then some. AT the lowest price point the bottom line is $200/month more than rent would be for an apartment which has the amenities of the highest price point.

And the amount of cash I would have to tie up could buy me an around-the-world tour.

I'll make a courtesy call Monday to the financier he works with,  but unless the guy knows some major tricks, it is not looking real good.

Stopped off for lunch at the Krung Thai restaurant in San Antonio Square for lunch. Their satay sauce was bland and the cucumbers and onions were floating in water, not vinegar. defeats the whole purpose.Or not, since the purpose is to cut the spicy taste of the peanut sauce.  Also had the pot see hiew beef,which was okay, but short on the soy sauce. See Hiew is Thai for soy sauce. The Thai iced tea was okay. Funniest is I was sitting right near the hostess stand, and even after I'd spoken to them in Thai, the staff continued to gossip in Thai. Well, not really gossip, the oldest waitress was complaining that the new seating plan was not as good as the old one. Something I'd never seen before in a Thai place, a couple (mom had an infant strapped to her chest) sent back a huge plate of food after tasting it. The husband apologized, apparently he had ordered something he was allergic to. As his waiter was carrying it back to the kitchen, another waiter ran after him asking in Thai why it had been sent back. Second waiter then went to the man who had sent it back and asked (in English) if he wanted it to go. Sheesh.

Back home, caught up on email, FB and LJ, then imported the three tapes. One of them had severe ghosting about 10 minutes in - as if the same film had been shot twice. I don't think my Dad would have done that, and if he did, he wouldn't have spliced the section into the reel, he'd have tossed it. It's possible that all those years in the can could have superimposed some images from adjacent clips, but this wasn't random enough for that. I think the transfer machine burped, but need to view the film myself first. The projector I have has a broken drive belt and I can't find a replacement or a place to repair it, so I bought a viewer/editing station on eBay for $25, the same kind Dad had. When it gets here I'll double check, and take it from there.

Thought about going to see Inception, but when it was time to leave for the 7:20 showing I was too sleepy, so I took a nap on the couch. Pumpkin parked himself on my lap - it took him a while to find a place where he wasn't going to roll off. Went to the 9 o'clock show instead.

Plans for tomorrow:
Minor shopping including laundry stuff
Do the laundry
Study Babes music
Enjoy the sunny summer Sunday
Think about my next trip to SE Asia. I'd like to do Angkor Wat again in the sunshine.