Thursday, August 22, 2013

Now Playing: Elysium

Jodie Foster kind of announced her retirement from acting this year – making Elysium her last role.  (Don’t worry, she recanted)  I’ve always like Ms. Foster and her reunion with the awesome William Fichtner had me very excited.  Didn’t hurt that Matt Damon and Sharlto Copley were also in there, both of whom I enjoyed in their previous South African cinematic excursions.

Turns out that Elysium was much more of an action movie than I had thought previously.  I sort of remember it being billed as a thinly veiled morality play about illegal aliens, inherent human rights, and the oppression of so many by so few.
("There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.")

It did that quite well, especially in the second half.

What it suffered from, though, was too many things blowing up.  It gets a little tedious watching things go kablooey for like 14 minutes.  Unless the editing is really really tight, it can get, well, boring.  I kept thinking “enough already, get back to the plot!”

When it did get back to the plot, it was very interesting.  Despite having the technology and the ability, some people choose to hoard their quality of life.  The scene where Max is fried by radiation in a sweatshop is keenly reminiscent of the Bangladeshi factory disaster – that hit home.  As does the medical tech that lives in the bedrooms of the ultra-rich while entire hospitals go without elsewhere.  So, too, the use of mercenaries to keep law and order in places where one doesn’t have any authority.  The analogy was a bit heavy-handed at times, but it is an original screenplay action movie, so I was willing to forgive the sometime-unsubtle approach.

The tech and effects were outright spectacular.  Very well-done, seamlessly presented and easily believed.  Everything, from the exoskeleton to the magnetic data relays, from the med units to the cylon-esque robots… all good.  The effects are what make this movie watchable and fascinating.

It was good movie, overall. The actors were quite capable and the directing was pretty sharp.  Editing is where the movie lost a lot of momentum.  Oh, and I could have done without the fake (British?) accent …what was that about?  I get they were going for an international Esperanto feel, but really…

3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

On Stage: Stratford, 2013

This year at Stratford was our most ambitious yet - eight plays in five days!  Instead of reviewing all of them for you, I decided to write my thoughts in Haiku.  Here they are, ranked in chronological viewing order.

Rock!  Who! Lights! Action!
Wanted this to be much more.
Geriatric glow?

Fiddler on the Roof
So many songs I knew!
The cast was infectious good!
Singing in my sleep.

Romeo and Juliet
Not a favourite play.
Hype so low, shouldn’t disappoint.
Verily, it did.

Merchant of Venice
Mediocre set.
Portia stole the show; Shylock?
Creative treatment.

You know the story:
Jealous Moor, vile Iago.
Fab stage; coughing bitch.

Waiting for Godot
I don’t get modern.
It’s true.  Needed more tramps, wit.
Charmed by the actors.

Three Muskeeters

Swashbuckling good times!
Source text? Pulpy fiction goodness.
Very good looking gents.

Mary Stuart
Daydreaming hist’ry:
Fantastical clash of Queens.
Yes, she is my King!

I thought the theme of prejudice made for some interesting inter-play - especially when Tevye and Shylock are played by the same actor.  You can't help but feel like there's a conversation happening there.  And how Desdemona must sneer at Portia and her mean-spirited attitude. 

Next year, there's talk of madness.  I can' wait.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

hot in cleveland

This weekend, I'm spending four days in Cleveland at Digipalooza 2013.  It's basically a corporate-sponsored event by our eBook provider.   Honestly, an eBook Support conference.  So far?  Awesome.  A painless drive by our lead-foot chauffeur had us cruising in almost ninety minutes early.

A leisurely check-in followed by the discovery of the following things:
1) my room is apparently huge - king-size bed, conference desk, cutest little club chair and ottoman; the bathroom has enough room for all my nonsense to spread out.
2) there's free wi-fi, but only in my room, so yay!
3) I only need four minutes to completely unpack, including getting the soap out of its packaging.

We wandered about downtown Cleveland for a bit, getting our orientation down.  (Their great lake is north of the city).  Had a well-earned lunch at Zocalo, complete with a frozen guava margarita.  Took a two-hour break before registration.  (I wanted to nap, but worked on my Staff Conference session instead).

Tonight, there was a mixer.  I'm not too good at big crowds of strangers.  Thankfully Cooper and TheFields were there to be excellent company.  We found a table strategically placed near the (open) bar and snack table; this worked, because we attracted two fellow white-belts (first-time attendees) and descended quickly into geekery galore.  A fun evening full of fantastic confabulation:
1) The Three Stages of King: "Which Stephen King book is the best?" ... "Real question: is he even worth reading?"
2) Even amazing books are sometimes flawed: "Harry Potter plotholes. They exist."
3) At the movies: "It has Robots.  And monsters. What is there to NOT like?"
4) Mixology: "Gin tastes like pine cones.  No, Christmas trees!"
5) In TV Land: "Is J.J. Abrams done already?  Was he done halfway through Season One of Lost?"

An early evening back in the room.  (American TV has a LOT of randomosity.)