iPad for study and play

 

Behold the iPad in All Its Glory

Image via Wikipedia

 

Not sure if I mentioned, my lovely boyfriend bought me a 64GB iPad for my birthday. I was in shock, as I’m not really an expensive gift person, in buying or receiving. But I was delighted, once I got over my sense of disbelief. I had been wanting one for ages but just couldn’t justify blowing my whole month’s pay on one…Until I went back for my final year at Goldsmiths, and realised that actually it would benefit my study so much, not just leisure/play.

– It’s so fast to type on using the on-screen keyboard, the layout is simple, and in just seconds I can email my lecture notes to the main Mac in my room, so the people moaning about lack of USB or disk drive should just do that (or use the Pendrive free app, or Dropbox, etc)

– The book store is excellent, in terms of variety. And the reader functions perfectly, where you can actually turn the pages.

– I use the Sketchbook Pro app for my Motion Graphics module, which is great for drawing with regardless of what stylus you use.

– Granimator allows you to create your own wallpapers and backgrounds (as seen above)

– VNC Mocha – this remote desktop viewer is awesome, it costs on the iPad, but is free on the iPhone, and somehow I tricked my iPad into transferring it free as it confused the versions. Free iPad VNC viewer is never a bad thing. I can control my main Mac from anywhere in the house, essentially turning the iPad into a mini version of my main base.

There are so many benefits I could talk about, but for me the main functions are: writing, reading, drawing, playing, storing, organising (e.g sync calendars with iPhone and Mac), and experiencing the web, videos and books in a whole new way. The iPad is not for everybody, but for someone like me who really makes use of every function, it’s worth having.

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I killed your partner, so The Tournament begins

After watching The Tournament(2009) I am left mostly unaffected. But the film wasn’t trying to be emotionally powerful, so I suppose this near impartiality is acceptable.

It’s what you expect an average gun-slinging assassin movie to be; without any of the awesomeness the Kill Bill movies had, but with a prompt pacing, vendettas, and a slight twist. Despite being predictable, and not exceeding any expectations, it was nicely cast, acceptably made, and there were no drastic errors.

DON’T watch if you’re looking for something stylistically new, emotionally/intellectually engaging, or rivetting enough to hold you on the edge of your seat.

DO watch if you appreciate guns, lots of them, and explosions. Also if you’re familiar with The Vampire Diaries, you would be pleased to know that Ian Somerhalder plays an assassin called Miles Slade. I do genuinely think he’s a really good actor, and of course Kelly Hu and Robert Carlyle are great.

Erm dude, where’s your skin? Cabin Fever 2 and American Movie

American Movie

Image via Wikipedia

Cabin Fever 2 was just what I expected; boring, amateur, and dragged on too long. That having been said, the animation/cartoon snippets in the title sequence and at the end were very good. I also liked the gore, and enjoy seeing bratty High School teens die (who doesn’t?).

The best part by far was Mark Borchardt as Herman the cab driver. At first I thought I was going mad imagining that it was him, but no it’s definitely Borchardt from American Movie (you have to see it if you haven’t already, truly one of the most hilarious films).

In Cabin Fever 2 he just basically plays himself, he is such a character in reality. “Dude” being the most heavily used word in his vocabulary. He belongs in way more movies, don’t you think?

You think Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is just hype?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Image via Wikipedia

I deliberately resisted reading the whole book before watching; I read enough chapters to love the book, but avoid clouding my judgement of the film. I was hoping for another Swedish gem, something I could enjoy as much as I loved Let The Right One In (not the remake).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (“Män som hatar kvinnor“), was directed by Niels Arden Oplev and based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I loved the story telling within the film, the tale itself is irresistible, as is the heroine Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace). But again that is mainly credit to the book, not necessarily the filmmakers.

I admit the film was atmospheric, held my attention, and the story seduced me. But some chunks of the tale felt like they were included only to appease the book’s fans. For example, we probably didn’t need such routine intervals of Lisbeth’s past. Her past is vital of course, it grants context, but so much of it added nothing to the plot, and felt like it was there just to break the pacing between sub-plot and main-plot.

We could have instead been teased with briefer hints and flashes to her past. But I suppose they wanted to find a balance between her tortured past and tortured present. It felt too prescribed, too calculative, trying too hard to force us to see everything of what she is, rather than letting us interpret. I suppose I found it mildly patronising.

I was not offended by the more graphic scenes, which I won’t reveal as I don’t like spoilers. I actually liked the fact that she was portrayed as a strong, independent female. Her dynamic with the journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played by Michael Nyqvist) was effective, and there wasn’t anything startling wrong with the film. It just wasn’t everything I had hoped for.

I should refer back to the film I mentioned before. Hoyte Van Hoytema was responsible for the cinematography in Let the Right One In, his style is subtle but irresistible. Whereas The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, despite not being poorly filmed, certainly had no distinctive style or anything visually new to offer.

I think The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is living proof that the books are always better than the film. But I am glad they made it into a film, because it means more people are encouraged to read the books, which I have found to be excellent. I would recommend watching this film, but don’t do so if you’re expecting something groundbreaking or revolutionary.

Eat shit? The Human Centipede

Promotional poster for The Human Centipede (Fi...

Image via Wikipedia

One of my best friends, Marie, stayed over this week and watched The Human Centipede (directed by
Tom Six) with me.

The worst (best) part was Dr Heiter, played by Dieter Laser. He was truly creepy looking, and his acting made you feel like perhaps he was this scary in reality too. The film was about his being a surgeon; he used to separate conjoined twins, but then becomes fixated with joining living things.

Naturally, this leads to his ideal of a human centipede, connected by sewing their mouths to each others butts, so that they share one digestive track. Implausible in the long-term, and hilarious, so I was glad when one of the three victims died from infection. That was the most medically accurate part.

The film was not scary, but hilarious. I just couldn’t stop laughing at what idiots the characters are. One of the two female leads had the chance to escape, but hides instead of smashing the window to escape straight away. And the Japanese guy, played by Akihiro Kitamura, who is also a captive, actually stabs Dr Heiter with a scalpel, but only in the foot and leg. He goes crazy and bites him, but instead of using his chance to kill the crazy Doctor, or knock him unconscious at least, he chooses to just attempt to run away (difficult with two girls surgically attached).

I had no real sympathy for the characters because their survival instincts were poor, I like it when characters truly try their best and are beaten down, but these three were mainly moronic and therefore deserved it. The very few chances they had to escape they wasted completely.

As ridiculous as this film was, it’s worth watching because it’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time, and wasn’t too badly shot.

The Collector, watching alone in the dark :(

About to watch it, then will fill in a review here.

Dear John, sob stories don’t ensure a great movie

Cover of "Dear John (Limited Edition Blu-...

Cover via Amazon

Despite my reluctance, I just watched Dear John (2010), directed by Lasse Hallström. This is because my friend Katie insisted.

It’s not entirely fair for me to slate the filmmakers just because I did not enjoy it at all. My lack of enjoyment came mainly from the fact that I’m not a stereotypical girl who falls for the lead male every time, or dreams of that kind of thing. I have everything I need in that department. I do like films about love, but they must have something more to offer.

So, aside from getting people to relate to the smushy love scenes, what else does this film have to offer?

Well, my favourite aspect was John’s father, played by Richard Jenkins. He has always had an affinity to play loner roles, and fatherly ones. Six Feet Under, the Television series which ran from 2001-2005, is a good example, with his role as Nathaniel Fisher.

I loved his fragility, it evoked more feeling from me than Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried‘s love scenes ever did. His coin collection made a great metaphor throughout the film, and was like another character.

Sympathy tactics are not enough to make a great movie for me though, it did not change the fact that the film was predictable, relatively shallow, and did not fully convince me. Despite all-round acceptable performances, Richard Jenkins was the only fully convincing part.

The Wolfman, Ruthbug’s Review

The Wolfman (2010 film)

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve decided to at last review The Wolfman, directed by Joe Johnston.

It lacked the charm of older supernatural movies, but offered a modern take, and the atmosphere was mildly reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow.

Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro made great performances, and had obvious chemistry. Needless to say Anthony Hopkins was on usual top form.

Best Parts: 1) In the forest when Del Toro (in wolf form) catches up with the gentleman stuck in a bog, the man tries to shoot himself in the head before Del Toro kills him painfully, but there are no bullets left, so he has his head savagely sliced off by the wolfman.

2) I loved the trippy montage within the asylum.

Visually impressive, well cast and atmospheric, but it didn’t grip my attention the whole time, and I am still trying to work out exactly why. It felt like there was an ingredient missing, or perhaps it was just too long, like not enough butter stretched over too much bread. The plot twists did not feel very surprising, and I do not think the film offered anything new to me. Still, I don’t have any serious complaints, and think it’s worth watching.

Rate my review on IMDB: Click here

Cannibals and Snowboarders

Today I watched Scarce (2008), directed by Jesse T. Cook and John Geddes, a film about a group of snowboarders on vacation. During a snow storm they are forced to seek refuge, but little did they know they are safer out in the storm. The people who grant them refuge are cannibals, surviving on what they ‘hunt’ throughout the winter.

Overall a pointless film with a very slow start, but the effects were cool, especially because it was on a low budget. I mean, of course I only watched it for the blood; I wouldn’t sit down and watch a film with that premise if I were looking for an intellectually challenging experience.

Rate my review on IMDB: Click here

The Bothersome Man

"Den brysomme mannen" DVD cover.

Image via Wikipedia

I watched ‘The Bothersome Man’ (‘Den brysomme mannen’), directed by Jens Lien, quite a while ago, but it stuck with me. These are just my thoughts on it, not a conventional review. (Contains spoilers)

I was impressed by the way the film’s surrealism juxtaposed the very deliberately superficial depiction of reality. The satirical element of the film appears almost to exaggerate the day-to-day monotony of both professional and domestic routine, transforming emotional coldness into emotionlessness, the characters’ wants into complete materialism, and rendering human functions such as eating, drinking and fornication into meaninglessness tasks without pleasure, but with an acknowledgement of the idea of what ‘pleasure’ may be. This would seem to counteract the ideals of hedonism, but actually it appears to depict that the character’s are in fact extremely hedonistic; seeking beauty and luxuries, but that they have merely lost the ideas of what values lie beneath things…the characters seem so preoccupied with the idea of pleasure that they have forgotten what it is to feel it.

This reflects a lot of my own thoughts about reality; that everything is just an idea, and we apply our own meanings, which exist in a rather arbitrary function.
The main character, upon arriving in the city by bus with no memory of how he got there, has his new life laid out before him. Initially the perspectives and reactions of those around him have an impact on him; their normalising of the situation in which he finds himself. He is befuddled into compliance. They introduce him to his new job, apartment, and whole life, plaguing him with inquiries as to his level of comfort, offering him further materialistic elements to assist in his settling in; coffee, more breaks at work, a better desk chair perhaps?
Every piece of dialogue from the characters representing the majority consists of small-talk; what sofa would look nice in our living room? Isn’t that nice? The main character mentions a dream he had to his newfound wife, his attempts at emotional connection obvious, and she silences him as if offended. He realises that he is very different from those around him, all but the man he heard early on talking about how everything tasted of nothing when it once had, and so he seeks this man, finally understanding the implications of his words.
The main character even deliberately instigates an affair, cheating on his wife with a colleague as much in desperate want of emotional connection and passion as to induce negative variants of such in his wife. He realises that both the subject of his affair and his spouse have no real emotion whatsoever, merely complacency and ambivalence.
The parts I found most comical included the lack of sufficient emotional response from his wife; for example, when he informs her he is leaving her and she replies with ‘But we have a dinner party on Saturday, are you leaving before then?’ and when he tells her he is in love with somebody else she merely says ‘Why?’ her face blank as she sips tasteless wine. But the most hilarious of all was after he attempted suicide on the train tracks, but impossibly fails, and is driven home by the mysterious caretakers of the city. He enters, one eye completely crushed, his entire flesh coated with blood and injury, and she gazes at him as if blind to it all and inquires whether he would like to go Go-Carting on Saturday, ‘That would be wonderful’ he breathes helplessly.
I think the reason he was able to find pleasure by the end of the film, which was depicted by him stealing a slice of real cake with real taste from beyond the city, is because he retained a memory of what pleasure really was, the meaning behind it and the feeling, as oppose to merely the idea of it. His escape from the ‘reality’ of the city was through a lot of hardship, for which he required stamina, something the male who spoke of tastelessness in the beginning did not have. One of the ‘morals’ of the tale was that having everything you ‘need’ materially, is not the same as having emotional experiences and ideals, and that real happiness cannot come merely from owning an expensive apartment with attractive interior design, and being able to afford luxuries. So in essence, the film informs the viewer that the hardships and struggles in life are necessary to obtain happiness, rather than clinging to false ideas of perfection.

At one part of the film a man is shown impaled on an iron fence, having committed suicide by jumping from a window. The main character stares with fascination as pedestrians walk by unaffected, and the caretakers of the city approach to remove the body. As they remove him from the fence his intestines slide from his body onto the path, this added gore is not for the sake of ‘horror’, but instead truth, and the obliviousness of the pedestrians is almost deliberate, as if they see only what they want to see, which in many ways reflect the world you and I live in. If there is a suicide on a tube the announcement heard is never ‘We are sorry, there is a delay because sometimes decided they want out of this shit hole so they threw their body in front of the train, allowing it to be crushed to death’, instead it’s usually ‘We are sorry, there is a delay due to a fatality at Holborn’ and then the staff scrub up the blood and carry away the body parts, so as not to offend all of our innocent eyes. This is not a perfect world and it never will be…perfection can never exist because it exists in so many forms in so many minds, and there is no way to please everybody. Perfection is just an idea.

The world just agrees to a set of codes used for communication, a set of rules used for social acceptability and ideals that can be commonly shared…anyone deviating from these will be punished, ridiculed or declared insane (or at least ‘weird’).
If only we could all just be aware of how truly absurd everything is, we could all live much more harmoniously with one another. I am aware completely of the pointlessness of life, yet I still do things knowing that, because no matter what I do or do not do it will not change the facts. Everyone works to live and lives to work, we surrender to human bodily function every time we eat, drink or go to the toilet. Cleaning the dishes means they will be dirtied again and washed again in a cycle that can only be broken if you either do not use dishes or you employ a cleaner to do it for you. Everything is a cycle; not just the cycles of the moon or women’s menstruation, but life itself: Be born, live, reproduce, die. We are no different to those dirty dishes really. I am grateful to all those who choose not to reproduce, or who break the cycle or at least to become aware that it is a cycle. That is not to say that everyone who does otherwise is not aware, maybe they are.
The body sleeps so as to absorb the hours that came before, to process them in the mind so that one may accept and deal with them accordingly, waking more readily to a new day than they would have if they never slept at all. Sleep is like blackmail, we can choose to be insomniacs, but the brain will shut itself down in whatever ways it automatically needs to in order to function. Why do you think genuine insomniacs have so much trouble? Or why do you think troubled people sometimes can’t sleep? Dolphins on the other hand are technically schizophrenic to some extent, being that they never sleep because the left side of the brain sleeps whilst the right is active, and vice versa. It could be argued that they have a better way of functioning.
We are practically staying awake so we can sleep, and sleeping so we can wake. We are born so we can live, and we live so we can die. I say ‘so’ we can, not to insinuate that there is a purpose to each, but that there is a function, we are built to function and that is all. Becoming catatonic wont help, you will still be functioning. In a coma or on life support you are still functional, and there is really nothing at all you can do about it except to eradicate your own existence…but is that not just as pointless as existing? That is, of course, assuming you believe there is nothing beyond life. I do not think there is anything beyond it, and I hope not.
One could touch upon a great deal of philosophical or ideological arguments here; bring in religion, as so many tend to do, perhaps. But my writing this is based on the supposition that there is no God, and no magic or wizardry, no life beyond this, and no past lives either.

My toaster scares me more than this film

Reading some of the positive reviews that Dark House has received makes me wonder if there is something wrong with me, but then I remember: no, there is something wrong with this film.

I have always been a horror buff, so I forgive the inevitable cliché moments that are trademark to the genre. But I just found this film to be absolutely hollow. I was hoping for a fun spooky journey, but instead was served: shockingly bad acting (on some of their parts, not all), and a completely predictable, bland storyline. It felt like the equivalent of the not-funny uncle at a family reunion trying desperately to make everyone laugh; only in this case the aim was to scare.

By nature I am quite jumpy, even the sound of the toast popping out of the toaster can make me jump out of my skin. But I can honestly say I did not even flinch, and was bored to the point of comatose. I like it when horror movies look mildly makeshift or amateur, or have a grungy misguided feel, as it can make them more genuine and edgy; but this just looked like something pieced together by a bunch of pretentious film students assigned a last-minute project. Without adding any spoilers, all I can say is that the transitions, layering of footage, and the embarrassing fonts flashing up for the hologram error were like something a first-time filmmaker would put together in paint shop or movie-maker.

It’s just a shame that with the advancements that have been made in the film industry, the visuals or atmosphere could not even compensate for the lack of storyline. I’ve seen films on much lower budgets, and made back in the day where there were no technical advantages, irrefutably better than this waste of time. I couldn’t even laugh at it.

Unlike Darin Scott, film makers such as Ji-woon Kim could have taken this tale and made it terrifying.

Avoid at all costs: Burning Bright

I feel embarassed on behalf of the makers, and feel sorry for the director Carlos Brooks or at least whomever approved this hilarious creation, and it really doesn’t warrant a full length review from myself personally, because it speaks for itself.

That having been said, at least it was everything I expected it to be; read the premise and you know you’re in for a hilariously bland plot, typical horror movie format, farfetched scenarios and ridiculously cliche close-calls. What horror movie would be equipped without them? The only difference is that decent movies have something more to offer; a twist, thrill or some underlying message, or just basic semblance of intelligence/style.

Only watch this if you’re stoned, so bored that you cannot physically be rendered any more bored, or ill in bed taking the day off work.

Sometimes ridiculous or rubbish premises actually make brilliant or entertaining movies. But this definitely was not one of them.

Sushi places

http://www.ozulondon.com/

Above: Ozu

With views of Parliament, and Izakaya style dining, Ozu is definitely a place to check out. It’s more reasonably priced than some London Japanese restaurants, and a lovely place to dine in.

Below: Wasabi Sushi & Bento

http://www.wasabi.uk.com/

Quite recently, Wasabi Sushi & Bento opened at London Liverpool Street station. It’s about £3.75 for single portion, but the portions are MASSIVE. You get literally an entire bucket of noodles, so make sure you know what you’re ordering…or that you have someone to share with.

You can actually order online from their website!