Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: Inglourious Basterds and Gamer

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:31 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw a couple movies this weekend, and to ease your pain, I’m going to write one post that reviews them both.

I saw Tarantino’s latest, Inglourious Basterds, twice this weekend. First on Friday, and then again on Sunday morning. First of all, if you haven’t seen it yet, let me warn you to hit the bathroom first, because this is a long movie. Not only is it long, it’s fabulously detailed and filled with scenes and moments that you will absolutely not want to miss, so, trust me when I tell you, get to the theater with enough time to drain that bladder buddy!
Seriously, I’m actually not a huge Quentin Tarantino fan, but, no matter what else I may or may not like about his work, his cinematography is gorgeous. His grasp of visual, photographic art is simply astounding. And, this movie is no exception. There are scenes so well framed that I almost forgot to pay attention to the dialog. Seriously! And, that’s even allowing for the fact that Tarantino purposely made this film in the style of a spaghetti western, or a so-called macaroni combat movie of the same era. As soon as the titles started to roll up, I was put in mind of a B-grade copy of an old Lee Marvin WWII movie. Of course, it’s not exactly a secret that Tarantino loves movies from that time and, in fact, Inglourious Basterds might well contain everything that he loves about those movies and movies in general. That was one of the reasons I was so willing to see it twice, besides the company, just to try and catch all the dense iconography and try to figure out a few more of the allusions he makes to previous films and various cinematographic tropes.

The story is very loosely based on World War Two, in the sense that it’s the backdrop of the movie, but the events are entirely fictional. And, by fictional I mean so fantastical that they’re pretty much alternate history. There are two plot lines, that end up focused on the same event, the attempted assassination of the entire Nazi high command, including Hitler. The main group of potential assassins are, of course, the Bastards, a group of Jewish American soldiers sent into occupied France by the OSS to kill as many Nazis as they can, sowing fear, chaos and destruction as they go. The other potential assassin is a young Jewish woman who escapes a purge conducted by a Nazi nick-named the Jew Hunter. She ends up in Paris, the proprietor of a cinema who gets pestered by a smitten Nazi “war hero”.

As you might imagine of a Tarantino film, it’s incredibly bloody and violent. It’s also funny in parts, quite intentionally, too. And, in spite of it’s length, there’s not a dull moment. Every second, it seems, is filled with something either beautiful to see or some plot point to absorb. It really is a masterful demonstration of movie-making. Again, I’m not a huge fan of Tarantino’s work, but this really is something to see, no matter how you feel about him.
Notice, I haven’t gone into much detail on the plot, because, well, it’s pretty complicated for such a simple premise, but also, because you should see this movie. Really. It’s truly amazing, and I think you should definitely see it on the big screen. Do NOT wait for this to hit Netflix. See this one in the theater!

Now, as for Gamer
Well, I saw this at a $4 matinee, so I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t think I would have been as sanguine if I’d paid full price. This was, as you might have guessed from the previews and ads, an action film. The premise is simple; nano-devices that rewrite human brain cells allowing for a “user” to take control of another person and use them like a puppet. There are two environments where users, or gamers, can use their puppets; the Society and Slayers. The Society is like an updated, 3d version of Second Life, but, oddly cruder, too. Several years after the Bill Gates-like Ken Castle brings out Society, he ramps up the super popular Slayers. Slayers is a war game. A war game played with people. In this case, convicts who will be released if they survive thirty “events”, or combats. The story follows Kable, a puppet in Slayers, or an “i-con, as they call them. He’s been wrongly convicted of a crime, separated from his wife and child. They’re the reason he fights and survives.
What he doesn’t know, however, is that his wife has lost their child to a corrupt version of Child Protective Services and has been forced to take work as an “actress”, or puppet, in Society, where she’s subjected to all kinds of degradation to earn money.

Now, there are a lot of interesting themes in this movie, but, sadly, few of them get explored in any real depth. What’s worse is that instead of spending time developing the potentially rich background for commentary on invasive media, the morality of controlling another human being, the morality of using convicts for purposes that may be harmful to them as human beings, and so on, the moviemakers when for the cheap shot. I imagine they were going after an R rating, for sales purposes, but the frankly unimaginative “fantasy” sex and gross-out behavior in the game world, is just boring and wasted time. I’m no wild-man, but, honestly, even I can be more imaginative than they were in the “virtually anything goes” sex environment meant to shock and titillate. And, I’d imagine from what I’ve read about Second Life, those folks who participate in that “hobby” are more imaginative than most of what we saw in Gamer, too.

All that said, though, the action sequences were great and Gerard Butler did everything he could with the limited role he had. Certainly, not the best of his career so far.
So, unless you’re a huge sci-fi fan, I can’t recommend seeing this one at anything more expensive than a matinee. In fact, you’d be better off waiting to see it on DVD, if at all.

So, to sum up, as Buckaroo Banzai put it, “…yes on one and no on two. ” Enjoy your movies!


Time Travel Cheat Sheet

Filed under: Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Planning a little trip back through time?

Well, you can’t take over the past without having the right information. That’s where the Time Travel Cheat Sheet comes in. On one page, these folks have collected most of the really cool and useful inventions of our modern age. Making this stuff at the right time in the past would make you almost God-like. Though, I didn’t see the formula for making gun powder on there…

Seriously, I think about stuff like this.  Maybe it’s one too many science-fiction movies, or my old “Be Prepared” attitude from Boy Scouts, but I try to be prepared for even the most unlikely of circumstances, even time travel.


WordPress on the iPhone

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Fun Work,Geek Work,GUI Center,Ooo, shiny...,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:56 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I bought an iPhone on Saturday.

Well, as I’m sure is no surprise to my regular readers, especially those who follow me on Twitter, I finally gave in Saturday and got myself an “upgrade” to the iPhone GS. My data plan won’t kick in until September 17th, when I’ll also have unlimited text messaging and slightly fewer actual voice minutes. The overall effect is to raise my monthly bill just $5, while ultimately giving me more services and, yes, more fun.

I actually debated for quite some time about getting the iPhone, a Blackberry or the new Palm Pre. I have to admit, I was really excited about the Pre, because I’ve been a Palm fan since way back. In fact, at one point I was such a fan of Palm, as a company and a platform, that I registered HavePalmWillTravel.com. Well, that and there was a little joke about an e-mail address and a technological “gun-for-hire”. In any case, I decided against the Pre for a number of reasons, not the least of which is they weren’t on AT&T, where virtually all my contacts are. Also, they’re still unproven in the current market and there still aren’t as many applications for the Pre as both of the other two smartphone choices.
One of the things I really needed my smartphone to be able to do is remotely manage my server or servers. Now, I know that there are remote communication and control apps for the Blackberry, but, frankly, the touchscreen Blackberry just isn’t all that great and the other Blackberry devices have rather, well, puny screens. If I’m going to manage a Windows server, I’m going to need a big screen to see everything and make it all work. So far, no Blackberry device has a screen that I think is big enough to make that happen. So, that left me with the iPhone.

So, within just a day or so of getting my new toy, I had found the free Mocha VNC Lite. Now, I suppose I should have taken a screen shot of that, but, frankly, I didn’t want the hassle of finding a clean, safe shot of my Windows server at the office, so I decided to go with a different shot. Again, since my data plan hasn’t kicked in yet, I haven’t tried the VNC client via the 3G network, but it works disturbingly well over my wifi network at home. When I do get that chance, though, I may do a full review of all the remote clients that I’m willing to actually load on my iPhone to try out.
But, there are other apps that I think I may just get addicted to and this shot shows one of them. Yes, that’s a WordPress client on the iPhone from the same people who bought you the WordPress software itself. If you look closely, you can see that I’ve already set it up for this blog and another one that’s in the works. So, yes, when the data plan is active, you can expect to see both posts and, possibly, even posts with pictures shot on the iPhone. Who knows, maybe even video!

So, as the marketing gurus say, watch this space for further developments!

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