Underrated movies

Take 1 part Blade Runner, 2 parts Logan’s run, a pinch of Coma, a dash of the Matrix, throw in a page from the short story “The Lottery”, fool all of the critics, have 3 climaxes and what have you got? “The Island” in HD on Roger’s pay-per-view. Its apparently based on a movie called “Clonus”, but is much more. You have been satirized…

Another is “Transporter 2” a Superman flick, confined to the same pit as “Last Action Hero”, for the same reasons.

Can you tell I like movies with chase sequences? Well whatever, criticize me if you like.

Don’t forget to get “Time Tunnel” (1966) on DVD, released last week. Seems a bit cliched after all these years, but its a gorgeous pressing (don’t ask — Japanese term).

Asian Cinema

Recently, a lot of Asian DVD’s have become easier to obtain. There is a small selection at a store in Markville, and, I discovered a rather well selected collection at Starstruck in Square One in Mississauga. One of the movies I bought called “cafe LUMIERE” was a nominee — Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. I agreed with the French documentary filmed in Taiwan about this Japanese-language film with English sub-titles when they mentioned that no American movie about Asia ever “get’s it right” about Asia. Further the documentary described “cafe LUMIERE”, of course, and I did actually “get” the movie.

Whoa. It set a new record for me, I fell asleep 4 times and a 5th during the documentary over the course of 4 nights trying to watch it. The concept is that it is like a silent movie, but not total silence, just reduced dialog. Budding film-makers might want to watch it. I have personally made home-video, which except for not being shot from a tripod mount, is exactly like this movie.

Its more powerful than a narcotic at knocking you out. I had to watch the first 25 minutes 3 times.

Basically its about modern life in Japan for this one young woman. It struck me as a simple life. Anyway 9/10 as a cure for jet-leg, 8/10 for artistic merit, and er, 4/10 for gripping dialog. Try “The Negotiator” for an interesting modern movie about Japan with transportation as a theme 6/10 for slickness, 10/10 for subway-excitement and 8/10 for showing how a 3rd world country’s subway like Toronto’s compares to people who know how to do it right.

Amazon to sell movie downloads

This AppleInsider article
talks about Amazon selling movies and allowing users to download them.
But on further reading, it sounds more like users will be able to buy the DVD and get free streamed copies.


I wish someone would sell me high-quality, downloadable movies and TV shows.
iTunes shows are 320×240, which while passable I don’t consider worth the $2 they charge per show.
A DVD-quality episode right now costs around $4 (the 13-spisode first season of Battlestar Galactica is around $50).
I would expect a downloaded, compressed 640×480 show (i.e. what I can get with BitTorrent) to be around $2.
For something as poor in quality as iTunes, it should be more like $1.

Of course, with downloads, there is the opportunity to make HD versions available.
But that would take a serious amount of either time or bandwidth.
Now, broadband is due for a 10x upgrade over the next few years (by e.g. moving to recent
DOCSIS standards)
so perhaps downloadable HD isn’t all that far out of reach.

Pixar takes over Disney

A Steve Jobs company and another, bigger company in the same business have swapped stock and are becoming one company.
Team members of Jobs’ company are taking leadership positions in the bigger company.

Does this sound familiar?
It should.
It’s what happened with NeXT and Apple, and now is happening again with Pixar and Disney.

My prediction?
Steve Jobs becomes CEO of Disney within 2 years.

There is something strange about how one guy can be in control of two big companies like this.
And make no mistake, being the biggest sharehold of Disney means Steve will exert control right away, even if he isn’t CEO yet.
As a test, let’s see how long it takes for Disney to move over to using WebObjects instead of go.com, who they’re using now.

Now, how does Steve get Disney and Apple working together?
Although he may have control of both companies, they have different shareholders.
Does he have enough “political will” as it were to push through his ideas?
I like to think so.
The video media market needs a shakedown, like what happened with the iTunes Music Store.
It will probably be the same iTunes Music Store.
Maybe they should rename it the iTunes Media Store.
In which case it should be iMedia, not iTunes.

Having all of ABC’s and Disney’s stuff available online (heopfully in full HD resolution) would put a cork in the BitTorrent bottle.
Right now people download “HR” high-res shows from BitTorrent that are about 9 times higher resolution than current 320×240 iTunes offerings.
Even these 950-wide DiVX files are not full HD though.
If they could offer full 1080 files, they would be all set to rake in the dough.

Telescope in Toronto

What with global warming and all, last night was a nice warm clear night in January here in Toronto. Saturn is still visible and looks pretty good. Mars was out too. My elder daughter had some friends over, and one of the girls, about 10, who seemed to have been slightly traumatized by the movie “War of the Worlds”, ran screaming when the telescope started to make noise while slewing from Saturn to Mars. I had the tripod it was on up pretty high and the telescope is an SCT so I guess it could look a bit like a war-of-the-worlds tripod. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned “Mars”? Later they scurried back into the house saying, “Wasn’t that cool?”. I’m still not sure if they meant that they had seen Mars, or that a neighbour has a working war-of-the-worlds tripod.

Well whatever, get out and have a look at the Pleiades, Mars, Saturn, Andromeda. They should all be easy to see at a decent hour of the evening with a small scope.

MacBook Pro vs my PowerBook and my G5

has released numbers comparing the new MacBook Pro with both the 1.67 GHz PowerBook (the one I got) and a dual-CPU 2GHz PowerMac G5 (my G5).
Well, their only test was using iTunes (which is an Intel and PowerPC native “Universal” app) to convert a 160 kbps AAC audio file to a 128 kbps AAC.

Machine Speed Factor PBook ratio
PowerBook 15x 1.0
MacBook Pro 20x 1.33
G5 25x 1.66

HardMac concludes:

“In all test, the Yonah is not as performant as the PMG5 Dual CPU, and even in some cases it is only 20% faster than a Mac mini 1.25GHz.
In some test, Altivec is really making the difference, and the Yonah has hard time to compete.”

So does this mean the MacBook will perform better with more SSE3 code?
I would be very surprised if iTunes didn’t have SSE2/3 code in there to speed things up already.