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

Posted by aarondf at 11:16 AM | Movies | Comments (1)

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.

Posted by aarondf at 10:58 AM | Movies | Comments (0)

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

Posted by aarondf at 03:31 PM | Links | Comments (0)

May 05, 2005

Remember only one password and yet have every site's password be unique

This is really a brilliant idea. I am not sure I am up for it, particularly all the switching of existing ones but great idea. The concept is you remember only one truly secure password and then for each site just choose a really obvious string (like the url or whatever). By plugging both of these things into this Javascript app (running locally on your machine) you create a password which you then actually use on the site. This way, each site has a unique password but you only need to remember one password and the math is such there is no way to go back from the site password to the 'real' password.

It obviously does add a bit of hassle as you have to run the Javascript app every time you need to figure out a site's password but since in many cases the browser remembers the password for sites, this hopefully isn't such a big deal. And the obvious huge upside is that you neither have to remember a ton of passwords or use a single password which if someone finds out gives them access to your account on a ton of sites.

Posted by aarondf at 04:55 PM | Links | Comments (0)

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?.

Posted by aarondf at 02:05 PM | Links | Comments (0)

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. ****

Posted by aarondf at 11:05 AM | Movies | Comments (0)