Archive for January, 2008

Review: Stranger than Fiction

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Muse and I watched the Will Ferrell movie Stranger than Fiction last night. Considering it didn’t do very well in theaters even though it had a great cast, I thought I’d put my two cents in for the DVD rental crowd. To sum it up quickly, if you’re looking for an original movie with a wonderful cast and some witty humor as well as some serious thought then you should run out and rent this movie.

For those of you who don’t like the grotesque quantity of Will Ferrell movies dealing with goofy parodies of sports or make-believe psuedo celebrities, this is the movie for you. Ferrell truly acts in this movie and though his quirky nature comes through from time to time, he’s playing a real person in this movie and he’s actually quite good at it. Truthfully, if he would make more movies like this instead of the make-a-quick-buck movies that are basically SNL skits gone wrong, I would have a hell of a lot more respect for him as an actor instead of just a fairly funny guy who does dumb movies.

The odd thing is how poorly this showed in theaters. The critics gave quite favorable reviews. Ferrell plays alongside Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Queen Latifah and Emma Thompson to great effect. And yet it made only a fraction of the box-office dollars that his other bizarre movies made. Don’t take me the wrong way, I enjoyed Talledega Nights and Anchorman but they pale incomparison to Stranger than Fiction now that I’ve seen Will Ferrell in a role that shows that he really can act and not just be loud and stupid.

Like I said, this is a truly original movie, so don’t expect anything typical. And pay attention. It’s not the most complicated plot, but there’s lots of little things you might miss if you don’t sit down and enjoy the movie. I highly recommend it and I hope some of you out there take a chance on it.

CJ7 and Stephen Chow

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

*Note: I broke this out from the end of yesterday’s post as it was fairly irrelevant to what I was talking about.  Plus I want more people to watch the trailer.  It’s funny.

CJ7 comes out here in Hong Kong on the 31st and I really would like to see that one in the theater. If you aren’t in Hong Kong you probably aren’t familiar with this new movie from Stephen Chow (of Kung Fu Hustle & Shaolin Soccer fame). I can’t understand the trailers at all but it’s partially animated and it looks funny. I checked the theater today and made sure that it will be shown with English subtitles which is good. Here’s a link to the main site so you can see the trailer with subtitles.

Monsters & movies

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I’ve been wanting to see Cloverfield but I’m a little hesitant because of the “shaky handycam” style of shooting that the film uses. Comparing the movie to the Blair Witch Project certainly doesn’t help my enthusiasm either since that was one of the worst movies ever made. I’m fairly certain that Plan 9 had better writing and acting that the idiotic Witch movie. But I digress….

I’ve also been hearing that the monster(s) are completely off camera through most of the movie (if not all, I can’t tell from the reviews) and that also disappointed me. At least at first. When I saw the previews, I was thinking Cloverfield was something along the lines of a Godzilla movie which will always appeal to me. Then I realized that this is supposed to be a scary movie and scary movies don’t necessarily show the monsters very much. Some do with varying degrees of success but most good horror movies keep you guessing about the creatures and it’s limits. Maybe then Cloverfield uses the monster minimalism to its advantage. I need to see it to know for sure.

I read this article regarding the success of movies that kept the monsters hidden and was surprised in the choices they made in some cases. Sure Alien and the original The Thing make sense but I would never have thought of Jaws or Rosemary’s Baby as monster movies along those same lines. The theory holds true, I just never thought of movies like that in the same way as something like Alien. Some other classic monster movies that worked well because of keeping the enemy hidden would be the original Amityville Horror (that pig demon outside the window scared the shit out of me when I was little) and the first Nightmare on Elm Street (if you think about it Freddy really wasn’t shown all that much as a whole till fairly late in the movie). If I remember correctly, the monster/spirit in The Entity was never shown at all throughout the whole movie even though Barbara Hershey takes a hell of a beating throughout.

But then I started thinking about Aliens and how great it was in spite of the fact that the Alien creatures were shown practically non-stop. And then I realized that as much of a thriller/horror movie was, the sequel of Aliens was pure balls-to-the-wall action movie. Aliens didn’t try and be scary so it didn’t need to hide the monsters. You need a good cross-over movie like Pitch Black to show the differences as well as how hidden monsters can still be fairly scary even in a action movie if it’s done right. The scene where the guy lights up the dark with the alcohol flame from his mouth like a circus performer captures the mood perfectly in my opinion.

Bottom line is that I want to see Cloverfield because of the potential and I’m hesitant to see it because of the potential. I’ll probably end up waiting for the rental.

Busy day

Friday, January 25th, 2008

SO this is all you get: A free monitor cleaner.

Safe for work.

*EDIT* Updated with new link.  The last one stopped working.

Cisco ASA series

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I’m looking at possibly getting a Cisco ASA 5510 device for firewall, intrusion detection and small-scale VPN access to a small office.  Does anyone have any advice, warnings or suggestions regarding the ASA series of devices?  I’m not all that savvy on network hardware anymore so I’m feeling a bit out of my league on this one.

Just leave a comment if you have any information at all.