May 19, 2005
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Went to the midnight opening last night with a group of 10 or so friends.
Well, this didn't measure up to the reviews I had been reading beforehand. The last 10 minutes or so are absolutely excellent, basically perfect, but the rest of the movie didn't do much for me. I think the primary reason is that Hayden Christiansen seems to be a just plain bad actor, delivering all of his lines in a very wooden fashion. True, the dialogue is pretty lame to start with but he brings no energy or passion to it at all; compare him to the excellent job done by Ewan McGregor with similar material. On the effects side, some things were very nice but others were overdone and there were so many effects shots that it was hard for any to stand out. The visual of the volcanic planet at the end also looked just plain fake to me, not believable at all. The political references to Bush and Nazi Germany also seemed way too heavyhanded and forced. **1/2
May 17, 2005
The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino
I got from Netflix last night this recent film adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, which features an astoundingly amazing performance by Al Pacino as Shylock, who I found myself deeply caring about and rooting for in a a play steeped in anti-semitism, and this despite his wish for the death of a basically good (but anti-semitic as are all the Christians in the play) man. Pacino's amazing performance almost makes the rest of the play seem drab and trite in comparison, as we so know (even if not knowing the play in advance) the obvious result of the Portia-Bassanio love story. Jeremy Irons as Antonio and Lynn Collins as Portia playing Balthazar are also quite good. Pacino's ***** performance raises my overall rating to ****.
Rober Ebert's review is also excellent and well worth reading. Seeing this reviewed on Ebert & Roeper is what made me sure to add it to my Netflix queue, and almost to go earlier to see it in the theatre.
It is as always so interesting to see a play with different casts. I remember seeing an excellent production of this play many years ago off-off-Broadway in a performance starring Sigourney Weaver as Portia where she, with her powerful presence, absolutely stole the show. In this film performance, no other character can compare to Pacino's incandescence.
May 12, 2005
20 Questions AI (online or purchasable as a toy)
From Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools blog is a post about this incredible new toy for playing 20 Questions which is amazingly accurate even for abstract concepts and incredible with objects. It is available for purchase as a toy or to play free at 20q.net.
May 05, 2005
Remember only one password and yet have every site's password be unique
May 04, 2005
Interesting dialog on the use of the term "midgets"
Film critic Roger Ebert has posted an interesting email dialog he had with actor Daniel Woodburn. Quite an interesting read, including the Essay Ebert references and includes. Link via Rebecca's Pocket?.
May 03, 2005
Movies: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Went to this with a bunch of friends last night and I really enjoyed it. They kept almost all the best lines and cool visuals I had hoped for and most importantly the characters were well done and the movie held to the spirit of the books. The major changes were Zaphod's two heads being done differently (and not as cool but certainly vastly easier to do effects-wise), the new Malkovich character, the major expansion of the Arthur/Trillian relationship, and the much greater Vogon involvement. None of these were great but its true that not really that much happens in the book so the padding was probably necessary. Some of the visual stuff was really beautiful including parts of the dolphins opening, the Earth MkII construction and the Magrathean 'factory floor' and displays.
Only lines I really expected and the movie didn't have were the description of humans and earth as "so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea" and "mostly harmless". I highly recommend this, even if you haven't read the books, as long as you like Adams' style of humor. ****