Archive for the 'Films' Category

You are totally surrounded! (finally)

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

After many years of struggling with trying to get my AppleTV (mk1) to a state where the surround sound actually works, I finally have it solved.
The answer was, buy a new surround decoder box.
So now I have a nice, shiny Yahama A/V amp that decodes AC3 and DTS from the optical output of the ATV. Yet not just this wonderful feature is what makes this new amp great. What it has also done is about halve the amount of cabling in my bedroom A/V setup. Whereas previously where was a separate hifi amp, surround decoder and speaker set, A/V switchbox, 2 optical/co-ax transceivers + power supplies – now there is the one gox to rule them all as it were. So now I have (almost) all the previous kit plugged into the same device and can switch between it, with the bonus of 7.1(!) surround capabilities.
So I can switch between the ATV, Wii, Galaxy Tab multimedia dock, Sega Saturn, Humax PVR & Toshiba DVD player from one place, each with their own appropriate speaker settings auto-selected.
The only thing it doesn’t do is transcode between HDMI/Component/Composite video (each source-type only talks to its corresponding output), so I’ll still have to select differing inputs on the projector, although the HDMi out from the amp will go through a HDFury box to convert it to component as that’s what my projector supports… Which means I still need the vga sswitchbox that currenty links the sources to the projector, but that’s not too much of a bind really.
So now all the 720p movies that previously played without sound (like the Star Trek movie collection and also the as yet unwatched-in-one-sitting Bourne trilogy) all play in HD (thanks to XBMC now having GPU accelleration on the ATV) and with full surround sound.
SO thank you Yamaha for enabling a geek to lie in bed and be appropriately surrounded by really-big-screen entertainment!
Just another reason for not having to leave the house! 😉

Legacy in 3D @ the Imax (via postie)

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

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I’d read a couple of reviews of the film, notably from Wired and Total Film, who saw this long-awaited sequel for the sequel to the original ground-breaking film as what it was – more and better, orat least as as good from what I remember having my father take me to see the original as a small boy of 10… I’ve read that some reviews criticised the acting or choice of actors, yet that I would answer “you’re missing the point” and “maybe the film isn’t for middle-aged types without imagination” (especially the guy from the London Evening Standard!).

For me, this was a film about possibilities and forgiveness. The possibilities about digital life from digital DNA becoming self-aware and how we can assume the worst about someone when we don’t have all the information about their situation, then come to understand why they did what they did when we do. The digital recreation of the younger Jeff Bridges is really impressive, looking and moving as an almost perfect simulacra, which obviously is, but certainly could be extended to reproduce famous actgors of bygone eras…

The graphics, from the Disney towers of light in the opening titles to the light-fighters (not just cycles or cars!) had me, at times, almost in tears of wonderment, although some of that was down to the 3D (amazing for the cityscapes) and some due to the space-sized (it’s big. Really, really big) screen of the Imax. We (father, g/f & I) were in row G, so that meant our entire field-of-view was the screen…

I should really have booked the tickets as soon as I got the email of when they were to be on sale, as the announcement of this film was indeed why I ‘just had to’ sign myself up for BFI membership to be able to get members advance tickets. So I would have preferred to have been a little further back, yet being where we were meant it was a ‘complete’ visual experience. What it does mean though, is that from noticing all the little details in the corners of the screen or backgrounds I will need to see it again, in at least full HD. Part of me was expecting all of the graphics to be full-depth 3D, given the generated environment, so there was a small disappointment there, but only a small one. I’ve decided I want one of the costumes, or at least a replica, so I’ll be saving the pennies for if Propworks get their act together for that!Oh, and probably also making sure I can be in shape for it! 😉

As for the story and the acting, for me it was certainly a father/son story about understanding responsibilities, although the g/f suggested religious overtones – the god-like powers of discovering/creating/overseeing what is essentially a new universe – which is certainly an equally valid viewpoint. For the acting, Jeff Bridges was great, as the Zen-hippy beardy father. To be honest, although I wouldn’t personally say there was any bad acting, as part of the point is that most of the film takes place in a ‘simulated world’! If you accept that, then you will more easily understand the film for what it is meant to be. geek bits: Inevitably the sequel is compared to the original an I would say it is not just a worthy successor, but expands and goes beyond the ground-breaking-ness of the original.

The subtle geek-details that not everyone will get (like having Sam type actual unix commands when logging into his fathers dusty terminal) made me smile with knowing that there were details for people like me. I know there are more, but that’s why I know I need to see the film again – the Imax can be a little overwhelming that way. Overall, it’s escapism that reminds me of being smaller/younger – the wonder of seeing the original on the equally massive screen of the original Leicester Square odeon (thanks Dad! x ).

If you don’t expect too much from the film, it will certainly deliver. If you have no expectations, then prepare to be blown away and left as speechless as I was (although some of that was indeed down to the Imax/3D combination). Awesome. +10.

Burn After Reading (via postie)

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

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I’d forgotten that this was actually a Coen brothers film, until about 10 minutes in when it became obvious that it was. A tale of confusion, adultery and the dream of a better body. John Malkovich has turned into a Great English Actor, who happens to have the misfortune of actually being American. George Clooney plays a paranoid, womanising agent, with eyeliner. Brad Pitt plays a rather funny stoner-type who’s just a little bit vacant. Tilda Swinton plays the very very English wife with an extra-crisp accent and Frances McDormand seems like she could have just stepped out of Fargo.

Darkly funny, with just a touch of “WTF is going on” (in the story that is). Must see!

Curse of the Yellow Flower

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Well I was expecting another Crouching Tiger, however what turned up was more a continuation from the House of Flying Daggers. Meaning that it was indeed visually stunning, yet the story was a bit thin for this western mind. Less than a handful of the action scenes we have come to know, lova and almost expect and more of the lingering shots meant to convey supressed emotions from the aincent culture this represents.
The tale of an Emperor, his consort and three princes, what’s been happenning in the preceeding three years and a myterious dark secret kept hidden to preserve the image of the royal family. All leading up to the ceremony of the Yellow crysanthemum…
If you’re looking for intrigue, skullduggery and smouldering looks, they’re here aplenty. If you’re looking for dramatic large-scale action sequences, keep your finger over the fast-forward button.
Visually stunning but a bit lacking in substance.