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Total Recall Remade

Posted in Art, Entertainment, Movies and Theatre, Science, Technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2012 by urbannight

I saw this movie the Saturday after opening night. And yes, it took me this long to get around to reviewing it.  It was early in the morning to catch the cheapest showing.  I wasn’t going to pay full price for it.

I do have a few good things to say about the movie.  It looks very good.  It has a feature that I think is quintessential to cyberpunk in my mind.  It is the strange blend of poverty and high-tech.  A blue color worker living in a loft or larger studio apartment, they look like they are not all that well off but the refrigerator is very high-tech.

Of course, I didn’t think the original story was supposed to be cyberpunk.  On the other hand, it is argued that Dick’s writing anticipated a great many of the concepts that became central to the cyberpunk genre and people argue both sides of the argument as to whether he should be counted as a cyberpunk author or not.

To use and argument from one of my history professors, when I tried to argue that England possessed most of the forms of feudalism prior to William the Bastard seizing control of England by conquest.  They were not completely developed, but England was perhaps a few decades away from outright feudalism already.  So is it really fair to say that William brought Feudalism with him?  Her argument is that nascent forms of feudalism didn’t count.  That until all the elements existed, fully developed, then feudalism didn’t exist.  It could be said that Dick’s laid the groundwork that other authors completed and turned into Cyberpunk.

So maybe making this like far more cyberpunkish than the original is a viable vision for the story.  I just don’t remember the original having that feel to it.

I also loved the mag-rail roads to improve traffic capacity by layering upwards and the ability to travel on the topside and bottom sides of roads.  Much better than the flying cars of Fifth Element.

I was surprised by how well Jessica Biel was in this film.  I was a bit leery about the casting, but they all pulled it off and did a good job.

I also like the fact that the fake wife assigned to keep an eye on him had a greater roll in this film.  In the first film, there were two characters chasing after Quaid in most of the film.  They were combined into the one roll and I think it worked really well.

One you get past that, you start into the area of problems…….

The show takes place on Earth after some major event makes most of the planet uninhabitable.  But don’t blink, if you do, you will miss it.  Only one or two sentences on the screen and it is very poorly explained.

The blue-collar workers and lower socio-economic strata of society lives on what is left of Australia, now called The Colony.  Normally, if a disaster occurs, and few people survive, only in two parts of the world, those populations should resemble the population at the time of the disaster.  Yet Australia has become a very Asian society, with junks navigation former streets in some area.  It looks a bit like the heavy Asian influence that tends to dominate cyberpunk.

White Collar workers, the wealthy, and politicians live in Great Britain.  Some key factories are in Great Britain.  Like the factory making the automated police force.  But they are running out of space to put people.

The workers for the above mentioned factory travel via a high-speed elevator that travels THROUGH the earth and reached Great Britain in 15 minutes.  If it was really going that fast, they would have more than just the change in up/down orientation half way through.  They would have to be experiencing some g forces that was not depicted in the film.

Not to mention the fact that, while the film indicates they are not going through the center of the Earth, they would have been going through magma.  I didn’t see any indication that they had come up with materials to make a permanent shaft for the elevator in those conditions.

Several attempts to pay homage to the original were included, such as a woman going through the checkpoint that looked remarkably like the ‘woman’ from the first film.  That was kinda cute.  Because hush of anticipation came over the theater and the expected outcome did not happen.

The other item was the three breasted hooker.  That one was awkward and didn’t make sense.  Part of her function in the first movie is an example of the genetic mutations caused by lax radiation shielding in the poor zones.  This was not a feature written into the remake.  So there really wasn’t purpose or relevance to it and the result was that it felt out-of-place.

There were several other minor things wrong with it and I can’t talk about some of the items near the end of the film without giving spoilers.

Leave it to say, a lot of the character development was terribly weak because they decided to give the time over to action scenes instead.  I love a good action film and can enjoy one with a weak story.  (Battleship ship for example) But I know this story can be much stronger so it was a bit of a let down.  A visually appealing but weak remake is really not much of a movie.

The original is a story of power and control.  He who controls the air control the planet.  This is not the plot of the remake and the plot, which I can’t explain without spoilers, comes across as pathetic in comparison.

On the whole, watching it for a giggle to compare to the original is fun.  But don’t pay full price.

Jackie O Goes Goth

Posted in Art, Entertainment, Life, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2012 by urbannight

I wish I had some photos or any drawing ability.  They you could have some visuals.

Several years ago, Sears or Yonkers (I think) had done a line of clothes that seemed to point back to Jackie O’s style when she was First Lady.  But they were in pink, black, and grey.  They were cute.

But I couldn’t really get them out of my mind.  Ever since then, I keep thinking that a line of cute Goth clothes based on former First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s style would be fund to have. 

So I think I’ll browse pattern books and try to find some old patterns or some retro patterns that suit the look and maybe I’ll break down and try to make a few things. 

We will see if I can actually find patterns first.  If I can, I may have yet another big project to document for public viewing.

My Experimental Kitchen. Cooking as Art.

Posted in Art, Books, Entertainment, Food, Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2011 by urbannight

I love to cook. I love cookbooks. I love the glossy coffee table cookbooks where every dish has a picture. Cooking is part science and part art. Art for your tummy. It can be visual art. But it is more important that it is art for you taste buds.

I have to share the most WONDERFUL pasta dish I made tonight.

Chicken and Garlic Tortellini in a Tomato Pesto

Since I’m serving myself from the pot and dishing the leftovers into freezer bags for work you don’t get to see any pictures. Between cleaning, packing, and trying to move, I didn’t want to dirty an extra dish to take a picture.

(Sorry, I don’t use many measurements)

In a food processor add two tablespoons of basil, pine nuts (I used almonds today), some cheese (any hard white Italian type), red pepper flakes (you can skip this), onion, garlic, and olive oil, a bit of hot water (not much) will help it mix. You are balancing the rest of the stuff to the amount of basil you used. Run until mixed very well. Add one of the small cans of tomato sauce (5 oz). Blend well. Set aside.

Put one package of cheese and garlic tortellini in a pot to cook. Dice up two chicken breasts. Fry in a tablespoon of olive oil (use a large pot). Season with a bit of pepper, salt if you use it, and when half done add the some of the pine nuts (almonds) and finish cooking until chicken is done.

Add the tomato pesto sauce to the chicken to heat while the tortellini finishes. Once done, drain and add to the chicken and sauce. Toss well.

Makes 5 servings. I sprinkled a bit of cheese on top (not much, just to look pretty). I used a soft cheese for the topping. Another white Italian cheese.

I’m deliberately leaving out the exact type of cheese used because you should use your favorites rather than mine, or what is available, or what you have in your fridge. That’s what makes experimental cooking so fun.

31 Days of Halloween – Movie Orgy

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Food, Holiday, Life, Movies and Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2010 by urbannight

Friday night involved running some errands and watching Red.  There was a lot of action.  But it was paced and still left you feeling that it was rather relaxing.  The movie was very funny but we all expected that.  I didn’t expect it to be as cute as it was.  It was a funny, cute, action movie.

Saturday was the all girl, Halloween slumber party and movie fest.  The menu was spanikopita, bead with an artichoke spread and a pumpkin butter spread, thin specialty ham, shrimp with cocktail sauce, fruit and melon, and truffles. The bon bon type, not the cooking type.

We started out with St. Trinian’s.  This was a delightful British film with a superb cast.  An all girl boarding school with an unusual outlook has to make enough money to keep the bank from foreclosing on them with also trying to keep the minister of education from taking over the school to set an example of them as a ‘bad’ school.  I must own this movie.

The second movie was Paranormal Activity.  We had high hopes for it.  So many people said it was so very scary.

Is this scary?  When is it going to get scary?  It’s so not scary yet.

That was pretty much our train of thought the whole way through.  Maybe Asian horror movies have ruined us for things like Paranormal Activity.  The only ‘scary’ bit was right at the end.  And by then it was pretty darn predictable.  I do NOT recommend Paranormal Activity to people who are already fans of horror movies.    People who prefer good ‘ghost story’ horror movies and spooky movies over slasher horror will not find this scary at all.

We went retro and watched Highway to Hell next.  This was a fun little 1992 movie that was a take on the Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice.  Not brilliant movie making but a good romp.

Sunday.

I woke up before everyone else.  7:30.  I had 2.5 hours of sleep.  I couldn’t get back to sleep so I put in The Woods.  Another all-girls school, this one was more spooky that Paranormal Activity.  And it was a nice way to work Bruce Campbell into the movie weekend.  This story of witches, children, strange skills, and legends has strong acting skills,  better writing than a lot of horror films that make more money, and a nice creepy tension factor.  I like it.  It was my second time watching it and I still like it.

Everyone else was still asleep so I put in Dorian Grey.  The movie was very good but somewhat hard to put into words without giving it all away.  A young man who has a kind heart and good spirit return home after his grandfather’s death.  A man who hated him and blamed him for his mother’s death.  A friend of the family takes him under his wing and completely corrupts this youth until nothing is left of that young many.  Another friend painted his picture right after he came to town.  The most perfect picture the painter ever painted.  The movie doesn’t really go into any detail on how the picture becomes the vehicle to absorb all the evil that Dorian does in his life.  But when Dorian kills the painter after he shows him what is happening, Dorian leaves England and doesn’t return for about twenty years.  Prior to his departure, people had noticed that nothing of his dissipated lifestyle showed in his face.  That type of dissipation often ages a person.  But it isn’t until his return and he still looks like he only a little over twenty years old that people wonder about him.  He actually falls in live and wants to make up for his life and seems to finally be feeling guilt for his actions while still fearing he might kill the woman he loves.  The final outcome became increasingly obvious as to how it would occur the closer and closer it got to the end.  You are left with a sense of overwhelming sadness.  You also don’t really think that man who shaped Dorian into the monster he became really understood and accepted responsibility for what he had done to the young man.

That concludes the third weekend of the 31 days of Halloween.

All You Zombies…..

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Holiday with tags , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by urbannight

It is that time of year again.  The Zombie Walk is comming up in another week.  I’ve got to get some more supplies.  It will be fun.  I need to dragoon someone to come take photographs since I will be a zombie and a camera looks a bit out of place.

It is also time to remind people of a wonderful little short story by Robert Heinlein.  It’s called… wait for it… All You Zombies.  This is one of my all time favorite stories.  A man has managed to become his own mother and father.  It’s a mind bender for sure.

It is also time to pull out my Mick Farren books.  Starting with book one, The Time of Feasting.  In an era of watered down, pathetic vampires, Farren gives us Vampires that are still fampires.  Evil and ruthless and not humanized.  It’s a great time to get back to the basics with Vampires and Zombies.

Go read a book and get your zombie on.

When I started with Jason and the Argonauts I did not plan to end up at Wizard of Oz.

Posted in Art, Entertainment, Movies and Theatre with tags , , , , , on September 10, 2010 by urbannight

Jason and The Argonauts is a great film.  To today’s movie viewers the special effects seem a bit on the corny side.  But for the time period, they were cutting edge. In fact, they had to invent a new method in order to film the skeleton fight scene.   My understanding of movie making is limited and basic.  But anyone with the smallest amount of understanding for the process should be able to watch this movie and realize that it is a great movie and not corny at all. 

 It is also not a children’s movie.  In fact, there is a very provocative dance in the film.  Perhaps not as provocative as in some of today’s movies, but still not something for you average 8 year old.  At the library back home, a very good inter-county library system, I was forever moving it from the children’s section of the library and returning it to the general section.  The cover looked somewhat cartoonish.  I don’t know if it was one of the other librarians who was constantly moving it because she had not seen it or if it was patron’s who saw the cartoonish art on the box cover and thought they were helping by moving it to the children’s bin.  Either way, I didn’t feel it belonged there.

 Our children’s section was pretty much geared for 11 year olds and below with a little bit bridging over into the pre-teens.  For the most part, the pre-teens were already shifting to teen/young adult materials.  Now I know I would have enjoyed the movie while still under 11 years of age.  But I was a pretty advanced child and my advanced reading level had introduced me to more adult themes. 

 Kids who still have trouble with the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz would probably have trouble with the skeletons in Jason and The Argonauts as well as other adult themes.  The Wizard of Oz is a kid’s movie when compared with the content of Jason and The Argonauts.  I’m not sure it was marketed as such when it was released. 

 Both are great classic movies.  Both are worth watching.  Just make sure that you understand where your child’s development is at if you are planning to introduce young children to either one.