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More 3D!
Hey, linked to an article on Slate which takes issue with the analyses on 3D I linked to yesterday on Ebert's blog.
The article on Slate is confused and sets up multiple straw men that are so silly that they are laughable.

I pretty much stopped trying to make sense of the author's arguments when I came across this gem:
"If all those distinctly unnatural aspects of standard, two-dimensional cinema seem unobtrusive, it's only because we've had 125 years to get used to them."

I don't know about you lot but I am almost 41 years old, so arguing that I've had 125 years to get used to regular cinema is just plain silly. There are only a handful of people in the world that are 125 years old and my guess is that they don't go bonkers over Avatar 3D: The ultimate extra-special director's cut™. I may be wrong of course.

There is another important thing to remember here: we may not have evolved to see movies in 24 frames per second (or 25 for PAL or 29.97 for NTSC) but the framerates acceptable for human vision were very carefully worked out over a long period of time. There was a lot of experimenting in the early days of films and over time we settled on some standards (PAL, IMAX, Dolby etc) that don't stand too much in the way of storytelling. With 3D we've seen "revolution" after "revolution" over the past 50 years and every time it turned out to be plain old hype and marketing, instead of real and lasting innovations that enhanced storytelling.

The linked problems of convergence and focus that Walter Murch used in his letter to Ebert are by no means trivial. In fact they are central to the whole normal 3D vision thing we have going about. We move our head and eyes constantly to focus for milliseconds on our surroundings and here is where 3D movies break the illusion on a truly massive scale.
When we stand in a forest we look around and our eyes focus (unconsciously) on different trees, birds, moving branches, mushrooms etc etc. All this so we can build a picture of the world that approaches reality.
In a 3D movie we are constantly trying to focus on items that are out of focus and that will never get into focus, no matter how much we try. In the real world this wouldn't happen, so our brains are left with only one conclusion: we're being tricked and scammed! Our internal model of reality is too often aware that we're in a cinema, because we're seeing things suddenly disappear from the screen instead of seeing things disappear in the corners of our peripheral vision. If you don't suffer from this then congratulations, you're a rare person.

The author on Slate says that with practice he's become used to this weird state and that the tech is far from perfect but one day it just might be in which case it will be nice to watch. This may be the case, but that doesn't mean we as a society should embrace crap technology simply because at some point we'll get something better. This is like saying Windows 98 was a brilliant OS because Apple came up with OSX and iPhones and whatnot years later, making us forget the transgressions to good taste perpetrated by Microsoft.

I'll just wait for those improvement and let the whole 3D blockbuster thing pass me by.

Yes, true 3D movies may become common or even the norm, but it probably won't be with the tech that's now in use. And that is what Ebert and Murch were saying.
And which vision (heh) I wholeheartedly embrace.

On 3D movies
Ebert posts a letter from Walter Murch of Apocalypse Now fame about why 3D films are so bad and why they will always be bad. I have nothing to disagree with so I give it the thumbs up.

Fear and Loathing in Kitteh County
Kitten says: We can't stop here, this is bat country

Rare Exports, part 2
4 years ago I linked to Rare Exports Inc. A movie about wild father christmasses.

Today I found part 2 online.

Rejoice! 'tis the season to be jolly.

The previously promised movie news is here!
Rejoice, oh readers! I promised you an update on new movies and here it is.

First of all I got the DVD of Cloverfield and I must say it's a very nice movie, and it almost lives up to the hype. It's not a great movie, but it is extremely watchable and good entertainment. I was a bit annoyed that it only lasted about 80 minutes because I could have easily watched another hour. Yes, the protagonists do really stupid stuff like running towards a towering monster; a real person would have been changing his underwear constantly but thems the benefits of living in movieland.

Second: I got myself the DVD of Acción Mutante, the classic Álex de Iglesia title in which a band of mutants kidnaps a princess and takes her on a spaceship. Things go downhill from there, with half of a siamese twin dying and other problems besieging the odd bunch of anti-heroes. Remind me to write a full review of this and his other classics, such as El Día de la Bestia in which a hardrocker feeds LSD to his grandfather as it keeps him nice and mellow.

Third: after a rather disappointing Butthole Surfers concert last tuesday (srsly, who thought that touring with the school of rock was a good idea?) I came home to see the CD/DVD of Sieben's High Broad Field in the mailbox. Awesomeness! (Go to and select High Broad Field from the menu.)

Really great stuff here, the naked lady I posted about previously is back, there's also some kind of knight wandering around, the song texts are great, including monologues from a CAT and GOD ("as a woman"). As well as a host of other characters (see Matt's site for a lot more info.)
As I had a day off on wednesday I put on the DVD with headphones and blissed out.
All in all not a bad week for movies.

Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the boring skull
Crap, we just went to see the new Indiana Jones movie but I guess we saw the wrong version. Which explains why we didn't like it much.

Holy shit, a nuclear bomb! I’ll hide in this lead-lined fridge to protect myself from the radiation that will permeate the area shortly after the ten-million degree heat generated by the blast is done obliterating every single object in a 5 mile radius!
Somehow, this WORKS. HARRISON FORD emerges from the fridge with his face covered in black soot, holding a sign that reads “ouch.”

Alright, the walkthrough for the movie says that our next clue is in a spooky graveyard. We should probably save our game here.
Pick up MAP. Use MAP on HARRISON FORD. Walk To TOMB.

Read the rest.

Via Kottke, who has some other stuff about Indiana Jones which I'm too bored to mention tight now as it's late. We'll be watching the first 3 episodes tomorrow so hopefully we'll have a more entertaining evening then.

Painful watching
I watched Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan yesterday and it has taken me a while to digest this cinematic experience and put into words exactly what it so bad about this movie.

While almost all the reviews are lauding the way in which Sacha Baron Cohen exposes the bigoted way people think there's something not quite right with that in my opinion. Most of the time while I was watching this movie I was struck at how contrived, unfunny and even painful it was. Borat sets people up so they appear ignorant, he goes beyond satire to prove that people are less tolerant than they think. He actually goes out of the way to humiliate people.

In one scene he has dinner in the American midwest with some cultured people to ostensibly learn about manners and American dining culture. He starts off innocently enough with a supposed misunderstanding about a guests' mental capacity (retarded versus retired) and goes on to appearing at the dining table with a plastic bag containing his stool because he apparently doesn't know how toilets work. Tiresome enough, but he finishes off by having a prostitute appear mid-dinner as his guest, leaving the assembled guests scrambling to excuse themselves and leave, because "oh look at the time".
This has to be one of the most painful things I have ever seen in a movie. It's immeasurably worse than watching Jörg Buttgereits' Schramm in which the main character nails his penis to a table with a 12 inch nail. That merely made me turn away from the screen, this actually made me hit the skip button to go to the next chapter.

This then is the problem for me, Cohen doesn't respect the people he portrays, he doesn't even give them a chance, he goes in with his own prejudices and slaughters them. No reason given other than that it's comedy. I'm sorry but this isn't good enough for me. I liked his trips to the USA as Ali G. in which he interviews people and over the course of a longer interview the people appear to be bigoted, racists or just plain crazy. Here he doesn't expose this, he just takes advantage of them.
And that makes for some uncomfortable watching.

I was tempted to write a review saying this is just a cultural gap I cannot cross, saying I must be too old for this kind of stuff but I think that that would be untrue. I like my piss and shit jokes as much as the rest of you. One of my favorite comedy series is Bottom, where Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmundson can't seem to go for 5 minutes without beating each other to a pulp with refrigerators, fire extinguishers and vomiting all over each other, all the while making fun of the other's lack of sexual prowess.

Borat isn't very funny in this movie, there are no double-entendres here. There is no refinement. He slaughters people by careful setup and similar editing. There is no context, no reason for me to dislike the people he publicly humiliates. Everyone knows drunk fratboys are dumb, do we need to see this exposed? Everyone can guess that the majority of people at a rodeo are rednecks. Do we need to laugh at them when he sings his made-up national anthem of Kazakhstan to the tune of the star spangled banner? I think not.

3 out of 10, mostly because of Borat's obsession with Baywatch's Pamela Anderson which saves this from the 2 it otherwise would have gotten.

Random thoughts about King Kong (Jackson)
I finally bought Peter Jackson's version of King Kong today.
I've been a fan of Jackson's work ever since i saw Bad Taste for the first time and I own all his movies. It was with some trepidation that I bought this movie because how can one improve on the original, a movie that has been in the collective human conscience since 1933.

What follows are my impressions while watching the film (and yes, I am sad enough to fire up the laptop to write this while actually watching the film, mostly because I know I won't want to write a full review later). If things don't really make sense to you just read a synopsis on the web somewhere. This is mostly observations from a biological perspective, if you want to get a feel for the acting or plotline in this movie read a real review.

First of all the start is sloooooow. It takes about 1 hour and 5 minutes before anything really interesting to happen. This is when the ship finally arrives at Skull Island, is stranded and the crew encounters some natives.

We're seeing some really grotesque distorted facial features that reminds me of some earlier Jackson films. Kudos to whoever did the makeup of the natives. Powerful stuff.

Now we're getting silly, one of the natives pole vaults to the ship which the crew is trying to get afloat again. He abducts our heroin so she can be offered as a sacrifice (presumably) to Kong. The chants and ethnic drums sound ok and make this semi-believable.

Ok, this is just sad. We're seeing a group of herbivorous dinosaurs (Diplodocus-like animals) frightened by some carnivorous raptor-like pack. Herd-like they flee.
Real herbivores don't jostle and trash each other this much. It's been a while since I studied biology but I'm pretty sure that when a herd of herbivores flees from a pack of carnivores they are pretty well ordered, they don't bump into each other. They don't crash into the scenery, they don't trample smaller animals. Watch Animal Planet, no way will a herd of wildebeest trample their young, step on a fallen comrade or whatever. Herd Instinct is not blind, mindless panic. Young go in the middle, fullgrown at the edges. There's order here.

Oh, and what's up with the raptors. Why do they keep pursuing the herd or (a bit later) the humans when there are already plenty of victims (trampled, smashed between bulky leafeaters and rockfaces, around. A group of 4 to 6 (my estimate) of medium sized raptors (about twice the size of a man) could live quite comfortably for a week off a kill of one of the diplodocus animals. Why pursue more prey when you already have more than you can eat? This makes no sense whatsoever.

Kong then. Finally we get to see him in all his full glory as he toys with the heroine. This is kind of weird as I know that the actor that did the motion capture stuff for Kong spent a lot of time studying Gorillas in zoos and in the wild in Rwanda. The behaviour I've seen so far off Kong is distinctly like a child having a tantrum, not like that of a full-grown male Silverback. Gorillas are herbivores, calm, gentle creatures. Yes even a normal Gorilla can crush you like a you were made of tinfoil but in reality they don't do this. Just like I wouldn't randomly slap a child about in a supermarket, so they wouldn't slap a human around unless they felt threatened. But then, why would a 30 foot Gorilla even care about a 6 foot human female, I'll reserve my judgement on this for a moment as I'm not yet halfway through the film but this Kong doesn't feel more right than the original despite all the hype of this one being more like a real gorilla.

Aaah, great. A T-Rex like animal pursuing the heroine. Why it would want to do this is unclear as it already has an animal in its mouth that is roughly twice the size (and about 4 times the bodyweight) of the actress. Even if the T-Rex is warm blooded (nowadays the experts are kind of thinking a lot of dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded) this feast would last him for a few days. We'll bypass the fact that a T-Rex was probably not a real active hunter but more a scavenger. Still, a T-Rex! They're cool! And this one is nicely animated, the movement is very, very nicely done. Excellent work here.

Ok, this is just too silly to describe. Kong is fighting 3 T-rexes at the same time. I simply cannot describe what happens here, it's just too silly for words. Let's just say that Kong knows some basic boxing and wrestling moves and that the T-Rexes don't have any sense of self preservation whatsoever. No wonder they died out and mammals became the dominant species. Geek note: Mammals (Mammalia) are a class, while dinosuars (Dinosauria) are a superorder, see Wikipedia entry on scientific classification. I was going to make a point of this but i forgot why. Live with it.

Oooh, the rescue party is attacked by giant cockroaches and whip scorpions or another species that resembles a cross between spiders and scorpions. Luckily you don't seem to have to be able to aim straight to shoot them off a wildly trashing human body.

Ok, in a matter of minutes the beast has been subdued by liberal use of chloroform and we're back in New York. I think it's safe to say that most of the biological stuff is now out of the way so I'll wrap this up for now. Kong is romping around in NY, the military is shooting stuff at him and I guess we'll be climbing a big tower in the next few minutes.

If you're wondering: the movie isn't as bad as it may seem to be. There's just a whole lot of things I find inaccurate about it. But that's ok, the movie is entertaining and it's not like Hollywood has a good record of dealing with science in a way that reflects the actual world.

Jackson should go back to his roots and do something weird, stop-motiony and original. And I don't mean he should do a remake of Meet the Feebles. (Brilliant movie, go see it now!) Zombies, gore, horror, alienation, grotesqueness. This is what he's best at.

Wow, just wow
There's a whole forum dedicated to woman eating in films. And they linked to my Creeping Terror review so you just know it's all in good taste.

Check it out:

40 things that only happen in movies
40 Things That Only Happen In Movies.

I like rules 17 and 25 alot:
17. If you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts, your opponents will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around you in a threatening manner until you have defeated their predecessor.
25. You will survive any battle in any war UNLESS you show someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.

Rare Exports Inc.
Brilliant movie by some crazy finns.

Rare Exports Inc. (35 Mb)

I recommend you download it and view the movie at twice normal size in the standalone QuickTime Player instead of viewing it in your browser.

There's also a part two but I haven't been able to find the movie online yet.

A Worlde Gonne Madde
I'm rereading Pratchett's excellent Moving Pictures in which the Discworld discovers movies. Sly entrepreneurs and alchemists flock to Holy Wood in order to make moving pictures and a bit of cash. One of these is our dear old friend C.M.O.T. Dibbler, who quickly takes over and makes movies "against the backdrop of a Worlde Gonne Madde".

As anyone who has read Pratchett knows his subject material isn't that far removed from the real world. Case in point: the new Star Wars. We saw it this weekend and the only thing I can say about it is that I disagree with just about all the reviews I've read so far. It's a highly disappointing story with just about the worst acting I've ever seen. The actors look like they're just reading their lines off the auto-queue because they couldn't be bothered to learn them. In consequence the acting is so devoid of passion it was impossible for us to get in to the storyline.

Sure, the special effects are terrific as always, but the overall experience left me with a bitter taste. Watch this one on TV, is my advice. (Although anyone who grew up with Star Wars will go anyway. Just don't blame me if you don't like it.)

Via a very convoluted way I came across the following stamp-sized Java-movie of an old british children's television show: Rainbow.

The double entendres are simply awesome!

Filthy, Rich and Catflap
I have no idea why this isn't Big Important International News™ (actually I do) but one my favourite shows has finally been released on DVD. That's right, Filthy, Rich and Catflap is out.

The DVD seems to be missing a couple of songs due to contractual difficulties but no matter, if you loved this when it was first broadcasted (and it has never been repeated, at all) you'll need to get this.
Widely regarded as the lesser of the adventures of Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmundson, after the phenomenal success of The Young Ones and before the fart jokes of Bottom came Filthy, Rich and Catflap. A show about a failed actor (Mayall), his minder (Ade) and his sleazy impresario (Nigel Planer).

The show poked fun at pretty much everyone in the British TV industry and is supposed to have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. This may be one reason for it's quiet demise, but the main reason for it's lack of success (or even recognition) may be entirely due to the filthy, sometimes downright cheap, jokes.

Still, it made a big impression on me in my youth and I still have an extremely crappy videotape of the original broadcasts on Dutch television and this gets watched every other year or so.
If you like British comedy and don't mind cheap jokes, actors talking to the camera and wanton destruction then this one is for you. If you like The Young Ones and Bottom you'll like this too, if only for the historical perspective of what Ade and Mayall did in between, and to see Nigel Planer look as much unlike Neil as is humanly possible.
If all you like is polished American comedy like Ally McBeal or Friends sit this one out. You won't get it and you probably never will.

The Creeping Terror
I have written a review of one of the best B-movies ever made: The Creeping Terror. This movie is a must see for every 60's sci-fi freak.

The review is littered with screenshots for those unfamiliar with the movie so check it out and then rush off to your local moviestore to grab a copy.

Visualizing chaos
A week or two ago Dave of experimental sound/noise collective Dendriet posted a link to a review -in Dutch- of one of their live concerts in mp3 called Zuidwal set 3. I know Dendriet because Ernst, one of the members, is the official producer of Central Grinder -see elsewhere on this site-, which might be his first producer job ever. He'll probably be immortalised for that.

The review was spontaneous and very funny. For those who can't read Dutch here it is a nutshell: "It starts like Ennio Morricone... It quickly decays into noise... Only 20 minutes to go... My cats have left the room... My girlfriend has ordered me to wear headphones... Only 15 minutes to go... It sounds like rockets taking off... Only 5 minutes to go... It calms down... I've made it..." (actually it's a lot funnier).

I was wondering about this review so I listened to the piece a couple of times and while the reviewer had loads of images in his head (like the torture of Iraqi prisoners, the growth of cannabis and Star Wars) I had no such images. In fact the only images that came to my mind that would fit this piece were experiments we at OOOk Default: did at one time using video feedback. I really tried to find meaningful images to this piece. In fact I spent an entire weekend putting together loops of movies composed of stills and abstract images in iMovie to fit this but in the end I admitted defeat.

Here's how video feedback works: point a video camera at the TV. Feed the videoinput to the TV. Record the image that's on the TV (using the camera) and slowly rotate the video camera. This will create a feedbackloop that's insanely cool.

Here's four samples of how it looks (compressed to 320*240 pixels, served from my machine at home, encoded in MPEG 4, you might need the latest QuickTime, I'm not entirely sure).

I'm sure you'll agree that this is some awesome visual chaos being unleashed there. Yet it still isn't perfect, certainly not for thirty minutes, it would get monotonous pretty soon.
Somehow visualising chaos is extremely hard and I'm not sure if a piece like Zuidwal set 3 can ever be visualized effectively, perhaps with loads of time and editing it can be done, but at what cost?

Your thoughts?

exciting stuff
Oooooh boy!

We went to the movies tonight and we saw The Day After Tomorrow, which is about Bad Stuff Happening To The Climate Because We're Silly Buggers™. Before going to the movies we visited the local DVD specialty/cult shop and I bought the entire Monty Python series.

Guess which I'm most excited about.

When we left the cinema we were wondering whether the Bad Astonomer would review this movie. I certainly hope he will, if only to refute this claim on his messageboard.

[Currently listening to Mad World by Gary Jules from the Donnie Darko soundtrack, see the movie to know why.]

Reign in Darkness
Goodness. Sometimes you watch a bad movie that's just so plain bad that the mind boggles and you have to share this with the world for fear that your brain will explode if all this stuff is kept in there and not spread around, as it were.

Today I watched Reign in Darkness, which purports to be based on the true story of the 1972 discovery of a virus called K-17. All knowledge of this virus is said to have been suppressed. This supposedly real virus is rumored to be responsible for vampirism. A quick search on the web turned up this:

OK, enough background, on with the movie itself.

Actually, I'm not sure what to say about this. The story is just so bad that's it's gone beyond B-Movie territory and has come out the other side becoming something... well, unique, would be one way of putting it I guess.
The acting is in a league of it's own as well. Seriously, I have seen porn movies with better acting. Words fail me to be honest, so...

... on with the verdict: The users of IMDB give this movie a 2.7, I'll give it a solid round 2. The last time I reviewed a bad movie on this site I asked everyone to raise the IMDB vote average. Sadly this failed miserably, leading to a loss of 0.1 points, I'm sure we can do the same this time.

Update: Oh, dear. it looks like the insane bastards are creating a sequel. I'm not sure I can stand it anymore.

Black Books

Series two of Black Books is available from Amazon UK.
If your DVD player is capable of playing region 2 discs you owe it to yourself to check this out:
Official Black Books site.

The official site is a regular gem too, here's a Flash review of Jeffrey Friedl's seminal masterpiece Mastering Regular Expressions.

Hangmen: the best movie I saw this week
I've got a confession to make: I can really enjoy B-movies.

There, I said it. Today I watched Hangmen. The movie was on sale and only cost a couple of euro's and the sleeve promised me not only Sandra Bullock but also a thrilling movie. Now I'm a big fan of Sandra's early work, anyone who can hack the net with ResEdit deserves respect.

Side note. Oooooh, look at the previous link.
Apple updates ResEdit frequently to assist develoopers [...].
Apple updates ResEdit frequently. Coool, does this mean that the version I have around here is hopelessly outdated and there are actually newer version than 2.1.3? (It was created on the 15th of July 1994.) Are there newer versions around for, say, OS X? Anyway, clearly Apple is committed to us develooper types. That's always a good thing to see in a computer company.

Anyway, this movie. Cool stuff. Bad acting all around, Sandra hasn't had anything done to her figure yet and boy is the storyline muddled. It's hard for me to state just how bad this movie is or summarise it's overall crappyness. It just rocks.

Get out and get it. I don't care how: rent it, steal it, buy it (just don't spend too much on it). I'm sure that if all readers do this and then vote on the IMDB we can raise that pathetic 3.1 out of 10 vote.

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