December 23rd, 2012

Howard Street

The Hobbit - review

The Hobbit in 3D, 24 fps because they only offered 48 fps in IMAX and I get acrophobic in IMAX theaters. And I have this to say to those who are blaming 48 fps on making them nauseous. It is not the frame rate - you see HD TV at 60 fps, and that doesn't make you sick, probably because very few of you not in the HD video field even know HD has a souped up frame rate.

I got dizzy in the first minute or two as the camera panned OUT OF FOCUS (WTF Peter Jackson?) too fast, too close up, at a steep angle. Most of the rest of the film was in focus, but there were several more scenes shot to make you dizzy.

I found the cinematography the 2nd worst aspect of the movie. Worst was incredibly poor audio mixing, which was exacerbated by AMC theater turning up the volume too high, starting with the pre-movie trailers. Even if the theater volume had been normal, the audio on the too-many battle scenes was Rock Concert level. And that brings me to the score. There wasn't much of a score, there was mostly shouting and metal clanging. I suppose there was something resembling music underneath, but find a tune, win a prize.

Makeup. Except for Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, and the elves, the hair and beards are insane. Oh yeah, the goblins and orcs have no hair, and their makeup was pretty good, except for the goblin king's double chin, which was the size of Bolivia.

There was some acting. Martin Freeman (not to be confused with Morgan of the same surname) had his moments, but for the most part he limited himself to one expression: bemused. Ian McKellen was not at his best - I suspect his character was seriously throttled back by the writers. Richard Armitage as Thorin displayed two emotions: stoic and angry. However, he is very pretty in a king-to-be kind of way. For the several nanoseconds of screen time they were given, Dean O'Gorman and Aidan Turner as Fili and Kili were charming during the quiet scenes and did angry, scared, defeated and victorious at all the right times. Andy Serkis' voice-over for Gollum was suberb, a shame that scene lasted the better part of an hour. Sylvester McCoy (aka the 7th Doctor) was unrecognizable as Radagast The Brown, a wizard who went off the deep end so long ago that they made him a lifeguard. Excellent acting, but one can argue that his scenes were also too long.

There is much CG, some of it quite clever but most of it overwhelming.

After 3 hours, the plot has barely moved forward. I checked my watch a few times, and even ducked out for a restroom break, something I haven't done in years. I didn't need the facilities as much as I needed a break.

If I see the next one, I may brave the IMAX just to see the 48 fps, but my 25+ years in the video industry tells me that it's a wash - the bigger screen needs higher resolution, and the double frame rate may just make it look as good as the normal rate on a normal screen.

Worth Senior discount price, just so I can say I saw it.
Howard Street

Not much else

I was up and ready to go at 9:30, hoping to catch a 10:30 matinee, but the web said the first show was 12:15, so I watched some Raiders football, or whatever they call what those guys stumble through, played with Kaan, was ignored by Domino.

It was raining when I went to the movies, about as hard as standard Seattle weather. After the movie I parked at Starbucks, which was almost empty, and watched the rain go from Seattle Normal to Oregon Coast Winter complete with 40 mph gusts. The palm trees looked so out of place in that.

There were some very tight jeans and stretch pants to admire, but due to the rain there was not much clientèle and for some reason most of them were"to go" customers. I was happy to sit in the corner plugged into their AC and wi-fi.

I have been looking all week both online and in stores for reasonably priced ground or powdered cardamom, and finally found it at the San Francisco Herb Company. About $20 for a pound, compared to supermarket spice jars at $13 for 1.75 ounces (that would be $118/lb). While I was there I also got a pound of ground nutmeg, thyme and some vanilla extract. I should have added dill weed, except I'm stocked up on that, less than $3/lb compared to about $9 for 3 oz in the stores.

After the rain died down a bit, I went home, TJ's fondue for dinner, watched a couple of episodes on Tivo of a program where they put hidden cameras in restaurants to show the owners how effed up their staff (and sometimes the management) is, while Tivo was slurping up the 49ers-Seahawks game. The idea is to skip the horrible holiday commercials. Give me a break, who buys a car for Christmas? Or a mattress? Or anything that isn't jewelry or a toy?

After dinner I watched the game, FF-ing through the commercials, but ran out of recording right before the 4th quarter. I stopped watching with about 6 minutes to go, will watch the end later when I can FF again, because the last 6 game minutes = 45 real minutes and 76 commercials.

I am a Seahawks fan mostly because they are usually the underdog, and they have the most beautiful logo in the league. Until they decided cobalt blue and neon green was not ugly enough for them, they also had the hottest home team uniforms. The 49ers have become my transplanted home team, but I'm not a fan of the team as much as a fan of individual players. I like Kaepernick, and the Smith brothers, and Manningham (who was a real coup to take away from Manning). And Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. San Francisco has clinched the division, Seattle needed the win to clinch a wild card place, so I was more rooting for Seattle this time. But I wanted it to be a high scoring QB duel like last week's SF-NE game. Instead, the Seahawks beat the crap out of the 9ers. I don't need to see the last 3 minutes to know who will win, just to see if either team scores again.

Plans for tomorrow:
Maybe do the slides
Mostly stay home with the cats