KickAss

March 26, 2010

I had been meaning to read the KickAss comic for quite some time and with the release of the movie I took the jump and bought the graphic novel.

Kickass, for those who don’t know is a comic about a kid who decides to don a lycra suit and mask to fight crime. Gets the crap beaten out of him, and then the story goes on. The comic has been so popular that it has already been made in to a movie that has just been released here in the UK.

In the beginning I found it to be really engaging, the characters were my type of people, geeky, inquisitive and witty.  I, and loads of others I assume, could relate to the comic geekery, the hoarding of comics and wonder at how no one could have tried to be a super hero (which still does beg the question, how has no one done this yet?).

The story progresses quite happily for quite some time and it’s predictable but interesting and new, then, out of nowhere it falls like shit from a plane. ¬†Although I didn’t anticipate the twist I can see it being quite easy to predict and by the end I was pretty annoyed at how it had all gone.

I’m happy to say that the setup for the sequel made me want to vomit and cry with disapointment. I want to start reading it monthly but I don’t to start paying for it, I just hope that Nemesis is a little better.


From Hell

February 12, 2010

My wonderful girlfriend (I have to say that because she is and because she’s sat next to me) bought me From Hell for Christmas. It’s been something that I’ve been meaning to read for a while after borrowing it from a friend and failing to read it.

After failing to read it the first time I went into my local Comic shop, Gosh Comics (they’re awesome) and had a conversation with someone there about Alan Moore and his inability to write anything bad. It was at this point that I admitted to not finishing From Hell and was chastised for it. It was actually a little more complex than this and I came away feeling a little stupid.

Anyway, cutting to the chase, I have to say that I think From Hell is probably the best Graphic Novel I’ve read. I didn’t think I would like the artist style at first, a sort of haphazard mess of etchy lines. It really pulls you in though, from the quieter moments to the grusome hacky slashy ripper moments, it all comes together really nicely. Eddie Campbell is an exceptional artist and I have to say I’m looking forward to reading Alec a lot.

The rest is also really great, it drags you in and I think it helps that I’ve grown up and live in London. Being able to recognise parts of London in Campbell’s art and relate to all the places the murders took place. Learning about Hawksmoor’s churches and wondering how much of the whole thing is fact and how much is thought up from Alan Moore’s magnificent mind.

I’m really looking forward to reading the appendix and doing a bit of research into Hawksmoor, the murders and the masonic cut on the whole thing.


The Southland Tales and The Brown Bunny

April 14, 2009

I’m watching this (The Southland Tales) movie whilst packing to move flat and let me tell you, watching this movie whilst doing something else really isn’t how it should be watched. Even now that I’m watching it with my full attention it’s still very disjointed and hard to follow.

The Southland Tales is by the director of one of the worst movies that has become cult ever, in my opinion of course. That movie is Donnie Darko and the director Richard Kelly and gets to be called terrible because of it’s, in my opinion, lack of originality. It seemingly attained cult status because it was quirky in comparison to most popular movies but retained enough ‘sanity’ to entice your average Tom, Dick and Harry.

Either way, I did not realise that Kelly was the director when I started watching, however, after becoming suitably confused I became suitably interested and really wanted to enjoy The Southland Tales. It has a brilliant cast mixed amongst a terrible cast which confused me as brilliantly funny comic actors go toe to toe with babysitting wrestlers and half beat singers.

The film got an amusing reception at the Cannes Film Festival and got given one of the most amusing reviews I think ever by Jason Solomon in The Observer saying.

“Southland Tales was so bad it made me wonder if [Kelly] had ever met a human being”

and

“sprawling, plot-less, post-apocalyptic farrago”

which gave him the

“sinking feeling that this may be one of the worst films ever presented in [Cannes] competition.”

Reading the wiki article and you see the following quote:

“The most disastrous since, yes, The Brown Bunny.”

from Roger Ebert about it’s performance at the Film Festival. This got me on to The Brown Bunny (imdb) wikipedia page which brings such amusement it’s unbelievable, to think that everyone is a critic, and that they are all right about such an atrocious movie, I really do have to watch this movie sometime soon. When Ebert commented on the worst movie in Cannes history he was called a fat pig, which can’t be seen as being the best retort (a short note, if your skill is attacked it’s best to either defend your skill or attack the other persons skill. Attacking their weight or look amounts to saying “I’ll get my dad on you”, or just plain defeat). As a parry to this scathing insult to Ebert’s physique he came out with my favourite paraphrasing of Winston Churchill to date.

“one day I will be thin, but Vincent Gallo will always be the director of The Brown Bunny.”

I leave you with this, watch the movie, enjoy it, if you can, and then watch The Brown Bunny, but afterwards, watch something a little more lighthearted that you can laugh at for being funny, like, The Benchwarmers. You could always watch something seriously good like The Man From Earth.


Watchmen

March 17, 2009

I’ve been waiting for Watchmen to be released for quite some time. For those who don’t know, as most of you probably don’t, Watchmen is an adaptation of the brilliant (an understatement) graphic novel by Alan Moore. As with most adaptations, it’s not completely true to the original text. In fact, there are quite a lot of changes, but having said that, and having thought about it long and hard, I have to admit that the movie is very close to the original text. Far closer than most movies ever get and the movie is a good two and three quarter hours long.

For the movie to be completely true it would probably have to be released as a series of movies, maybe 6 or so, each being about 2 hours at least. This is because there are so many side plots, time jumps and things that are explained so well through the medium of comic but which are nigh on impossible to translate on to the big screen without creating a mammoth. An example of this is the psychologist who, in the movie, appears very briefly but in the comic the psychologist passes Rorschach daily. His plotline interacts with many of the other complex plotlines which eventually all come together at the end.

The psychologist goes through trials and tribulations in his marriage because of his apparent kindness and need to help other people.The movie introduces this character very briefly as a means to show you things about Rorschach, but then he’s gone. It’s almost as if he’s only there so as to make the movie feel more complete to fans of the comic book, which is something that annoyed me. There’s no real way of putting all of this into the movie without giving the psychologist character his own movie, or a large chunk of a movie and if you think that there are at least five of these characters you get to a story of about six hours or more. I don’t want this to become a rant on why I disliked the movie.

It’s obvious I’m a seething fanboy who wanted the completeness and quirkiness of the comic to come across in explicit detail and it’s just not something that’s ever going to happen. Either way, finally, I can say I’m pleased with the result, with things to be desired of course. However, something that was brought up with me was what your regular John Smith would think of it. They’re probably not going to get any of the references to the psychologist, or the journalists. They won’t see Rorschach pottering about because they just don’t know that they’re meant to be looking for a creepy fellow with a sign. It also, unfortunately, seems that they don’t get very much of anything else from the movie, or the people I have heard about don’t.

I’d love to hear what other people thought of it who had not read the comic book as, at a guess, I think everyone who has reviewed it would probably have done a bit of research on it and read the comic book.


WIRED – Wall Street Netbooks and the Music Industry

March 15, 2009

I bought a copy of Wired, the American issue a few days ago and I must say I’m really rather impressed by it. I bought it because of an article it has called The Secret Formula that destroyed Wall Street. It’s all about a formula called the Gaussian copula formula which was, as far as I can make out, used to calculate risk on different kinds of loans from the high end loans only banks deal with to, and more importantly, your regular mortgage. However, I’m really loving my latest purchase of this magazine, it’s got quite a few really interesting articles in it, including one on Watchmen that I have yet to read.

Included in the articles are an article on music games like Rock Band and how the music industry in all its wisdom is pulling support from these games because they don’t give enough in the form of licensing fees and returns. What they’re doing I see as essentially opening up the market for independent music distribution and licensing, giving more variety and freedom to those who want to get their music out there. Think about creating a tune for a game like Rock Band specifically as a band and getting it known through the console, then, when popularity has increased, or even before, sell it over iTunes or some other internet distributer.

Recently I bought a netbook, a Samsung NC10 to be precise, it’s an absolutely fabulous piece of hardware, it runs everything I could really want on the move and I can even code some Assembly on it. I write most of my blog entries on it on my way too and from work and I feel quite proud of it when I pull it out on the tube on the way too or from work. However, there is a point to this, the WIRED issue has an article on Netbooks that really makes you think about the direction the hardware industry for computers is really going. Here, is a netbook, a low cost, low powered, device that can really do anything you want to do on it. If you have an internet connection you don’t even need to worry about installing a word processor on it. There really is no real need for most people to have high performance computers when you can just sit down snug on a char in Starbucks with a netbook and get on with whatever facebooking-myspacing-shenanigans you want. For ages coders have been taking advantage of high powered pcs by coding bloatware, sloware, bulkware, etc and now you have these low powered netbooks that are what we had maybe four years ago in high end laptops and if software developers really want to stay atop of the market they’re going to have to start shaping up and coding better. That’s just my personal opinion on how bad a lot of programs are coded these days though.

Finally, we have the article on the Gaussian Copula Function which I’ll probably write an article on as well as Watchmen. At the moment I’m so impressed with WIRED US that I want to subscribe but I’m going to be waiting to see if the next issue is any good.


Singled Out

March 14, 2009

Singled Out – Bella DePaulo

This book so far has been nothing but a spewing-forth of unreliable evidence, over-exaggerated to the extent of not just inducing boredom but annoyance. Generally it’s clear that single people seem to have less rights than married people, no tax breaks, etc, but to fill a whole chapter with the ripping apart of a book in a careless and neither witty nor constructive way isn’t good reading.

I can see this book being for bitter, cynical singles who want to affirm their hatred of couples without actually delving in and looking at life and how they want to live theirs. The author comes across as bitter and angry, not ‘elegant’ or ‘witty’ as E. Kay Trimberger of The New Single Woman claims. In fact, I think it says a lot that the back cover has a snippet from The New Single Woman and not something more prestigious. Why not even have a quote from something a little less sexist like Single People (if such a thing even exists?). The book does have a quote from The Christian Science Magazine which makes one wonder how stretched they were to find quotes.

The book claims to debunk all the myths about marriage and being single and yet I haven’t seen one myth about single or married people be debunked. I’ve seen them be refuted, argued against, bitterly slammed, but certainly no kind of constructive debunking has occured. The first chapter is given to a detailed analysis of a study done called “The case of marriage: why married people are happier, healthier and better of financially” by Waite and Gallagher. They claim that married people live longer, are happier and, obviously, are better off financially than single people. The author’s opinion of the report can be summed up in one sentence: “The report was done using bad analysis and didn’t take into account the fact that Widowers and divorcees were also married at one point”. This for the most part is true. The report is based on bad statistics which completely ignore the fact that widowers and divercees were once married. Yet a whole chapter is taken up with what appears to be a vile vengeance against anything that might support people who are married. The very next chapter, after slating the report because it used bad statistics, comes up with some equally vague and mind-blowingly bad statistics on single people, percentages thereof being happy, sad, etc. All the while completely missing the point that the greater percentage is married/coupled and that there will be a percentage of singles who want to be married because they do feel alone.

The book should be given the catch-line “You’re single, you’re going to be miserable, these are the reasons why, deal with it.” And as you can probably see, it makes me quite angry reading it.


The Bridge – Movie

February 16, 2009

I’ve been wanting to see this documentary called The Bridge for a while, and my lovely lovely girlfriend bought it for me for Valentine’s day. Not really the type of thing you’d buy someone for valentine’s day, but for me, it was wonderful. It has always really intrigued me that people commit suicide as I love life so much (if not outwardly then inwardly) and feel it’s a deep shame when people give up their life for whatever reason.

The documentary could easily have gone wrong, and it’s not the type of thing you’d pick up, read the back of and say ‘oh, that’s interesting and sounds tactful’. I’d actually wager that you’d probably go the different route and comment ‘that’s tactless and a bit vulgar, why would these people film people committing suicide and not help them’. It is however very tactful, interesting and even quite eye opening, for me at least.

The Golden Gate Bridge is apparently considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world and it’s not wonder why, from the way this documentary shows it it’s a beautiful sight and in the mist is incredible. Although I prefer the suspension bridge in Clifton, Bristol the Golden Gate Bridge is a lot larger and considered the number one place in the world to commit suicide. The Bridge says that in 2004 24 people committed suicide off the bridge, though the number is more likely to be larger due to people jumping during fog or at night time. Though currently the bridge is shut to pedestrians at night time.

The movie follows one suicide primarily building a character around the person and revealing the most dramatic footage of this one jumper. It’s not surprising that the majority have great depression but what’s interesting is that a few people being saved are caught on camera. One mad, a photographer, takes photos of a woman climbing over the edge, and only as she’s about to jump does he realise what he’s doing, grabbing her by her collar and pulling her to safety. One of his comments being that afterwards when she was being taken away by police, she looked back at him and he thought she was angry for him having saved her (how do you deal with that, you feel like you’ve done a good thing and yet you’re hated by the person you think you’ve ‘saved’).

It’s a documentary that is interesting to watch and I’d recommend to anyone with an interest in psychology or depression.