Beginning of the New Year

Just a quick update after one week of the New Year, and 1001 days. With 7 days down, I’ve managed to knock-off a couple of minor items from the 101, mostly just buying small stuff around the house. A quck trip to Ikea and the local big-box home stores yielded a $50 faux-persian rug for the living room (#81), as well as five plants for my room (#83). I also took the liberty of starting an herb garden, it’s not on the list, but I figured it was a good thing to knock out while messing with plants in general.

In terms of some of the longer term goals, I managed to knock off 7 movies from the 102 (let’s face it this one is going to be cake), and I’ve managed breakfast everyday (although one was a frozen dinner, which I’m not counting). I also managed to make dinner 4 times, and ate leftovers once, so 5 homecooked meals. (I should ammend #41 to, “4 home-cooked meals a week”, since I’m counting left-overs). My current weight is 245 lbs., down 5 from a couple of weeks ago, and about 20 lbs. lighter than my max in the fall of 2005.

I had tried to get the dentist thing out of the way, and went to an appointment with a nearby office. Let’s just say I’ve never felt like I was being railroaded so hard outside of a used car lot. Needless to say I’m not going back, and I’m still looking for a good dentist. Hopefully I can knock out that item in the next week or two.

So the current stats are:

99 items, 95 movies, 46 lbs. in the next 994 days.

Stay tuned, it’s going to get interesting soon… (I hope).

Quick Movie Reviews

Friday was the first light day I’ve had in a while, so I decided to binge on a couple of new movies. Here’s the quick cuts:

the Last Kiss
Really a good movie; funny and at turns poignant. Not a typical romantic comedy, with a couple of cringe worthy moments (and that’s a good thing).
the Black Dahlia
Ok, I enjoyed this movie – but then again I’d enjoy any hollywood period piece. Truthfully, in this type of film, the coherence of the story – and it wasn’t trying too hard on that count – takes a back seat to the sumptuousness spectacle.

Londres

I’ve been meaning to post for a while now, but I’ve been just busy enough to give me an excuse. A little nudging, and here I am again.

Which oddly enough isn’t in D.C. I’m in London, England for the Google Conference on Test Automation. My advisor is speaking here, and I tagged along for the ride (especially since I have never been to London before). I arrived at 6am yesterday, just a couple of hours before the conference began, and pretty much had a full-day till 7pm, then down the pub midnight. Back up at 4am to work on data for a paper deadline (Saturday 12pm), and back to the conference in a couple of hours.
If anyone has recommendations for places to visit, I’m here for the weekend and have some freetime to explore; the camera is in tow, so hopefully there’ll be new stuff over on the photoblog soon.

Otherwise life hasn’t had much to blog about in particular, hence the lack of posts. Labor Day was a haze of: lame party, board gaming, and all-night at the drive-in :-D!

Quick reviews of the movies from Bengies:

  1. Cars: Pixar, good.
  2. Wicker Man: remake, lame.
  3. My Super-Ex Girlfriend: better than I expected, still pretty forgettable.
  4. Da Vinci Code: better than I expected, mostly forgettable.
  5. the Decent: we left at the start, so I don’t have a comment.

Kingdom of Heaven: Director’s Cut

Normally, I’m a fan of director Ridley Scott, so I had eagerly anticipated the theatrical release of his latest film, Kingdom of Heaven. But the mixed feedback from early reviews and initial public reaction turned me off to the film. I waited to see it until the movie made a quick transition to DVD, and then I understood the cool reaction it had received in theaters; Kingdom of Heaven seemed to be an epic film with no heart and little point. I couldn’t bring myself to care for the characters or their predicament.

Now one year after the theatrical release we get the Kingdom of Heaven: Director’s Cut; with almost an extra hour of footage. This is almost a completely different movie; character arcs that weren’t even hinted at before are exposed and existing ones filled out. Now the characters’ motivations are evident, we know them and understand their decisions. Suddenly what had been an empty, swords and sandals pictures has turned into a sophisticated story on the relationship between people, their faith, and morality.

With the Director’s Cut, Kingdom of Heaven has evolved from a mediocre swords and sandals film into a don’t epic tale. Don’t pass over this revised version of the movie, regardless of what you thought of the initial release.

review: Sin City

I just got back from the 12:01AM showing of Sin City, and it was well worth the effort. In a sentence, this was the Pulp Fiction of comic book movies, and I imagine many knock-off films will follow this flick as well. Don’t be mistaken, if you’re not into gratuitous violence and scantily clad women, this movie is not for you.

First, the visual style of the film captures the much of the impact of Frank Miller’s original graphic novels, and the effect is lush and compelling. Viewers who are drawn in by the visuals will not be disappointed, as the effect plays well throughout the movies 100 minute runtime. Much like Pulp Fiction, Sin City is presented as a series of related story vignettes, oddly the resulting narrative seems to move somewhat more slowly than that 100 minutes would imply. Perhaps contributing to the leisurely pace is the voiceover narration presented by the main characters; the effect plays very much like the narrative side text of comic books, and keeps the viewer firmly sided with the “good guy”. (Note: the concept of a good guy in Sin City is a decidedly subjective judgement). Fans of the comic book will There’s a lot to like in Sin City, hard-bitten actors, lovely ladies, casual violence, but there’s more things keeping this movie from being a hit with mainstream moviegoers.

The first few minutes are peppered with needless topless shots of (admittedly beautiful) women, but this seems to be used to . And while the action eventually gets fast and furious, there’s a gradual build to a crescendo of guns and mayhem that may put off some viewers. When the violence does peak, it keeps itself firmly rooted in comic book stylized gore that is more humorous than appalling, which may appease some and frustrate others. If there’s one thing going for Sin City is Frank Miller’s plots twist and turn and keep the proceedings interesting as well as entertaining. Unfortunatly, the dialog is typical comic book fare, and suffers from hackneyed turns of phrase and over the top melodrama — resulting in the occasional unintended laugh from the spectators. Along with the clichéd dialog, we have the traditional two-dimensional comic book characterizations — with only a few notable exceptions. Clive Owen and Micky Roukre do more than one might imagine with their respective parts, and Bruce Willis soldiers bravely with his somewhat one-dimensional character. Of the bevy of beautiful actresses gracing this movie, stand-out performances are somewhat harder to come by with Rosario Dawson and Alexis Bledel both doing wonderful jobs.

To paraphrase my friend Kevin, who once commented about my movie going habits, “He is as likely to come home with teenage-romantic-comedy-nonsense as German Expessionism, and relish both (on the same night)!” Living up to my billing, I really enjoyed Sin City, flaws and all. Fans of the books will have no problems shelling out for the experience, but those with young children, an aversion to comic book conversions, or not interested in Tarantino-esqe — not only do his films influence Sin City, but he guest directs — movies are best advised to stir clear.