Friday Links: 31st March 2017

Books

Just finished reading Elon Musk (a good read, and one which made me feel like my life and ideas are tiny and I have no balls. Which is always a blast)

Bought: for the first time in forever, Amazon’s cheap ebook recommendations were personally relevant. Bear in mind the books should be full price by the time you read this. So I bought:

All that for £4.56? Boom

Online

Friday Links: March 17th 2017

Books

Reading:

Also finished When Breath Becomes Air (which I’ll probably mini-post about soon).

Online:

  1. New Yorker profile of Mr Money Mustache (as a Brit, that spelling of ‘moustache’ still gets up my nose (boom boom)
  2. NBA player Joel Embiid’s movement patterns mean he’s a physical disaster waiting to happen
  3. (More NBA) Out of desperation, how the ’96 Dallas Mavericks predicted modern NBA strategy
  4. Jocko Willink profile (and his subsequent corrections)
  5. Video – the economics of airline travel

Friday Links: 10th March 2017

Video: Tim Ferriss on how to be (more) productive 

Book: reading When Breath Becomes Air

Online: been reading a lot via Pocket (great app), and loving me some Farnam Street:

Film Thoughts: Moana

moana-fallback_fde4d101

1.
When I watch a (good) animated film, I forget the famous faces behind the cast. During viewing, those actors don’t exist. Their voice becomes that of the character.

The Rock, oddly, is an exception. For some reason, while watching Moana, I wasn’t watching Maui, I was watching The Rock, animated. Something in my brain was going, ‘Okay, The Rock is lifting that boat…The Rocks is turning into an eagle’. Why that happened with him but no one else in my history of watching animation, I’ve no idea. Also odd was that it didn’t negatively affect my experience

2.
Moana is a very good film. Solid from the very beginning, with near-perfect execution towards the end. My sole criticism is that there’s some slightly muddled storytelling around Maui’s reasons for taking the heartstone. I like that the film included these ideas — myth isn’t fact, people can ascribe reasons for actions that may not be true. But, particularly in a kid’s film, a clearer, more graceful exploration of the topic may have helped. You might say kids don’t care about such things. But I think they can subconsciously pick up on them, and lose interest in a story without fully understanding why

3.
I’m far from an expert on music or the work of David Bowie. But during the crab Tamatoa’s musical number, I noticed it sounded Bowie-esque. Was it a tribute to him? Bowie died in January 2016. Moana was released that November. Yet, given the film’s long production cycle, I doubt Bowie died before the song was conceived. Perhaps just a happy coincidence.

4.
One picky thing — at least here in the UK, the main Moana poster depicts her, Maui, and Pua the pig on the boat together. If memory serves, that configuration never happened. Heihei was the only animal with those two. A classic case of Roosterphobia. I blame Trump
5.
Alan Tudyk, of Firefly and Dodgeball fame and actual, proper actor, was the voice of the rooster. Would that clucking have been so different if not voiced by a trained thespian?

6.
Nicole Scherzinger voiced Moana’s mum. Mum? I’m writing this days after seeing the film. I remember Moana’s dad and her crazy grandma, but not her mum. In fact, I think at some point I actually wondered where her mum was, and concocted a theory about how she was dead

7.
The Power of Frozen. At one point Maui rapidly shape-shifts between a number of animals and fish. Each is only on screen for around half a second. He briefly changes into a reindeer. Three different kids shouted “Sven!” (the reindeer from Frozen). That damn film is never far from kid’s minds, even three years after its release

8.
The pirate attack was so well done. Great shots and editing, a full-fledged Hollywood-quality action scene

9.
Maui was on some Han Solo arrive-at-the-last minute steez during the lava monster battle. Somehow, characters get more audience appreciation for selfishly leaving, then coming back at the last possible moment, than they do for just staying there and fighting the good fight throughout. People have no appreciation for the real heroes

Sighborg: On Terminator Genisys

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(Spoilers)

After watching Terminator Genisys, I wondered: why did I just do that to myself? The reviews were stinking (38% on Metacritic); two people whose film opinions I generally respect had slated it. I don’t usually hate-watch things. Call me a madman, but I prefer to watch films I expect to be good. Yet, here I was, choosing Genisys over, say, Bridge of Spies.

Why?

I told myself I wanted to see just how bad a job they’d done. But maybe I was being open-minded and hoped it could be good. Then I thought back to a passage I’d written a few years ago about the Aliens game Colonial Marines:

Maybe I wanted to love Colonial Marines so I could be contrary, so I could say “This game is terrible. Except it isn’t”, and people would totally reply “Wow, this guy’s a renegade maverick genius

Was I doing this with Genisys? Did I want to like something most don’t, just so I could have an interesting opinion? Am I really that sad?

Continue reading “Sighborg: On Terminator Genisys”

Friday Links: 03/03/17

Self-spam

For the first time in forever, I wrote something outside of this blog:

How to Save the NBA All-Star Game

Books

Almost finished Chaos Monkeys (a good read but I doubt I’d read it again). Next up, When Breath Becomes Air.

Online:

Realised how daft it was to try to clear my Pocket queue. I’ve now embraced its unfinishedness. Since my last post, I’ve read:

Random Film Thoughts

A few unrelated thoughts on film and film-making

1.
The last few years have served as proof that Hollywood can no longer keep pace with popular culture. The World of Warcraft film arrived long after many had forgotten Warcraft existed. The Angry Birds Movie won the Oscar for Film No One Wants Anymore. Eye in the Sky commented on the military use of drones, a conversation everyone else had years ago.

Culture is accelerating. Something becomes part of the zeitgeist and is then forgotten at an ever-quickening pace. But the Hollywood movie-making machine still moves at a similar pace. Which leaves mainstream cinema with three options:

a) Continue to make films about modern culture that become increasingly out-of-date
b) Find a way to streamline and quicken the transition from script to screen
c) Simply give up trying to ride cultural waves

Continue reading “Random Film Thoughts”