Peter's Blog

Just commenting on things that interest me

Month: January 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Idris Elba

I mentioned the SAG awards in my last post. I notice that Idris Elba got two awards:

  • One for “Beasts of No Nation” for “Best Supporting Actor”
  • One for “Luther” for “Outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or miniseries”

I haven’t seen the former, but I have been intending to mention how good the latter is for some time.

I watched Luther on Netflix on a friend’s recommendation and I was not disappointed. It is very well made, and very gritty (the found some really dreadful filming locations around London!). And some of the evil he confronts in very evil indeed.

The thing that really made the show come alive for me was the relationship between Luther and Alice Morgan, played by Ruth Wilson. Her character is completely intriguing and I hope we see more of her.

I say “see more” because there is a fourth season which is not yet available on Netflix. And there was talk of a possible movie and of a spin-off show focusing on Morgan. So we’ll have to wait and see.

And there are some Irish connections in the show: Dermot Crowley was born in Cork, and Michael Smiley in Belfast.

The photo above is a show of Luther and Morgan

Room, by Lenny Abrahamson and Emma Donoghue

I went to see Room last night. I had some reservations when my wife suggested it but:

  1. It has an Irish director, writer, and is partially backed by the Irish Film Board
  2. My wife had been told by friends that it was “uplifting”.

Let me start by saying that it is not uplifting. It is what I was expecting – hard to watch.

It is very well made. Lenny and Emma did a great job, and Brie Larson (who won the SAG award last night, beating the lovely Saoirse Ronan) and Jacob Tremblay are excellent.

But even though I can see how well executed the movie was, I could not really recommend it as a good night out.

Anyone who knows the story, knows why “Room” is a good title for the movie (and the book). But it’s not really a good title for the Internet if you want people to be able to find information about the book/movie!

The photo above shows a happy Brie and Jacob together.

Another Possible Trevanian Movie

In a recent post, I listed a few upcoming movies which I am tracking/looking forward to.

One of these is the movie version of the novel Satori, which was written by Don Winslow, based on the novel Shibumi by Trevanian.

I just spotted in the Trevanian Facebook page, that there was an announcement on 3rd June 2013 that:

incident at 20-mile movie deal signed. Small independent. We shall see what we shall see.

So there is another possible movie to add to the watch list.

BTW: I notice that Alexandra Whitaker’s website is not available at the moment. I hope that will be rectified soon.

Donnie Yen in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

I have spoken about Donnie Yen and Star Wars in recent posts.

And I mentioned how surprised I was to see martial artists Iko Uwais  and Yayan Ruhian in “The Force Awakens”.

Well I am delighted to see that Donnie Yen will play a Jedi in the upcoming “Rogue One” movie.

Good for you Donnie!

This article refers to him as a “Chinese Jedi” in the movie. But I’m not sure that he would necessarily be considered Chinese in “a galaxy far, far away!”

Shown above is a promotional photo for the movie (with Donnie seated on the right).

Ip Man 3

In a recent blog post, I mentioned three movies to which I have been looking forward.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I discovered that Ip Man 3 was in cinemas – and I had heard nothing about it!

I went to see it with my brother. In common with other third installments in a movie series, it was available in 3D so we went to see that version.

The movie is once again a collaboration between (the great) Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip. This time the action director is (the great) Yuen Woo-Ping, taking over from Sammo Hung.

It was showing in the Cineworld in Dublin so:

  • I think that was my first time in that cinema since (the great) Ong Bak
  • We decided to get some food in Capel Street and ended up in the Hilan Chinese and Korean restaurant.  The vast majority of the customers in the restaurant were Asian, which we always take as a good sign. The food was very good; there was lots of it; and it was very inexpensive. I had a dish with the word “chili” in the name and it was (unsurprisingly) very hot.

Interestingly, there were little handouts for the movie beside the checkout (see below).

The movie itself is very good. Because it focuses a lot more on the relationship between Ip Man and his wife, quite a lot of it is quite slow-moving. And this is a strange plot about Mike Tyson trying to close a school and Ip Man spending lots of time guarding the school.

But there are lots of great fight sequences. There is the (inevitable) showdown between our hero and Tyson. But the good news is that is just one of the warm-up fights, rather than the climax of the movie.

There is (for example) a good fight between Ip Man and a Thai fighter, which starts in a lift (elevator).

And there is the final fight between Donnie and Zhang Jin (Max Zhang). There are echoes of the outstanding fight between Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang in Crouching Tiger here, although (on first viewing) I don’t think the fight is nearly as good.

And, of course, there is the appearance of the Bruce Lee character in the movie. I can’t help wondering if Bruce ever rubbed his nose as much as that in real life!

The 3D is also quite good by the way.

Donnie Yen says that this may be his last Ip Man movie and his last martial arts movie. I hope not!

I am looking forward to seeing it again.

ipman3

If I were…

I had a discussion with the family the other day about the relative merits of the phrases “if I were…” and “if I was…”.

The former has perhaps more famous examples:

  • “If I were a rich man” – Fiddler On The Roof
  • “If I were a boy” – Beyoncé

The conversation arose because I wrote something like this in a document during the week: “If the system were to be unavailable for any reason then …”

Some web research quickly followed.

This construct is also used when giving advice: “If I were you…”

Technically the “if I were” form is known as the subjunctive.  The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines this as follows:

“of, relating to, or constituting a verb form or set of verb forms that represents a denoted act or state not as fact but as contingent or possible or viewed emotionally (as with doubt or desire)”

A good example of the desire usage (again from the Mirriam-Webster website is “I wish it were Friday”. However this is an example where the “I wish it was Friday” would be much more common, certainly here in Ireland.

Some sites claim that there is very little difference between the two forms. Other claim that the subjunctive form should be be used where dealing with something which is hypothetical, or which is known to be untrue.

So since I was dealing with a hypothetical in my document, I guess my use of “were” was the right call.

 

Worst Analogy Ever

I’m not a huge fan of analogies.

Sometimes they can be used to help to explain something, and sometimes they can work very well in this context.

Sometimes, however, they are used to back up an argument and this is very dodgy ground. All analogies have limits, and they more they are used, the more these limitations will be exposed. So I am always very dubious about an argument which claims that because such-and-such a thing will happen in the analogous situation, it will therefore happen in the real situation under discussion. I have been at many meetings over the years where analogies were used as weapons to back up a position. Here be dragons, in my opinion.

But they can help in explanations. And they can help in presentations.

I gave a presentation years ago where I tried to explain why you might use one technology to tackle one requirement while also using a different technology to tackle a different requirement. I used the analogy of having different gold clubs in your bag and there being situations where you need a 4-iron and other situations where you need a pitching wedge. I think that analogy worked quite well (although the danger with all analogies is that they may come across of patronising).

I was reminded of all of this yesterday when I was reading an article on the web which included one of the worse analogies I have ever seen (paired, by coincidence, with a golfing analogy).

Here is the piece in question:

Yes, these CRM systems are terrible.  As terrible as an automatic rifle given to a child or a nine-iron handed to a monkey.  But placed in the right hands, like a soldier or a professional golfer, a CRM system (like the popular ones listed above) can be a powerful tool for growing a company’s profits and increasing its value.  So is your CRM system terrible?  Or is it you?

The article was written by Gene Marks and appeared on the Forbes website. You can read it here.

Now I don’t have the slightest issue with the idea that a 9-iron in the hands of a great golfer can do marvelous things while the same implement in the hands of a monkey can have very different results.

But I do have an issue with the idea that an “automatic rifle” in the hands of a “soldier” could ever be compared with a system which might be “a powerful tool for growing a company’s profits and increasing its value”.

The best  you could ever claim for an automatic rifle, in my opinion, is that it might be considered to be a necessary evil in some circumstances.

Having said all of that, I guess it is possible (although this seems like a stretch) that the author was referring (perhaps even unconsciously) to how often soldiers have been sent off in pursuit of objectives which had as much or more to do with profits and growth than with any higher objectives. Anyone who is familiar with Michael Moore’s documentary film “Fahrenheit 9/11” will be very familiar with this idea.

 

More about Star Wars

Before I leave the topic of the new Start Wars movie,a few additional thoughts.

Firstly, I want to pick up the issue of the lack of originality which I mentioned in my recent post.

J.J. Abrams has addressed this issue in an interview. I, for one, cannot accept his explanation. I still think it’s just something akin to laziness. In a similar vein, for years we have been hearing this stuff about how the first movie in a series cannot be great because it needs to deal with the set-up and exposition. It is important to bear in mind that (a) episode 4 was brilliant even though it really was the first and (b) this is episode 7 not episode 1!

Secondly we are seeing a lot about how the movie is breaking box office records. It’s interesting to see that it has a long way to go to catch Episode 4 when you adjust for inflation. And a long way to go to catch Avator when you consider global box office rather than just US box office.

Finally, I am wondering why Supreme Leader Snoke was created using CGI when Abrams talks so much about getting away from green screen etc. Why not just have an actor in make-up?

Brooklyn

Speaking of Domhnall Gleeson (as I was in my last post), I went to see the movie Brooklyn the other day.

It’s light fare but very good and Domhnall (whom I like a lot) is very good in it, as he always is.

But the star of the show by far is Saoirse Ronan. She is just excellent. She has been nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe and has already won a slew of awards including:

  • Boston Online Film Critics Association
  • British Independent Film Awards
  • Detroit Film Critic Society
  • Florida Film Critics Circle Awards
  • New York Film Critics Circle Awards
  • San Francisco Film Critics Circle
  • Santa Barbara International Film Festival
  • Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards

Fingers crossed for her in the Oscars.

There are also very nice appearances in the movie from Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters.

While the story is fairly light as I mentioned it is scoring 7.8 on IMDB at present which is very respectable. It is quite moving – my wife can certainly attest to its ability to provoke tears!

BTW: I saw Domhnall outside the Browne Thomas store before Christmas and I managed to resist the urge to go up to him to say how much I admire his work!

Here is a video of Kate Winslet talking to Saoirse about the movie:

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As I have mentioned Harrison Ford in my last two posts, I though I would tackle the subject of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in this one.

As the release date for the sequel grew closer, I couldn’t help getting a little excited. We booked tickets to go and see it during the opening weekend in the same cinema where I saw the original way back in 1977 (the Savoy cinema in Dublin).

Two things made me want to keep a lid on my growing excitement:

  1. The disappointment of episode 6 and then episodes 1-3
  2. The fact that I have never really enjoyed anything by J.J. Abrams (his two “Star Trek” movies were no more than OK).

I’ll start with the good news:

  • I enjoyed the movie while I was watching it. It is very well executed
  • I liked the characters Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac)
  • I liked the way they introduced the characters from the old movies (starting with the Millennium Falcon)
  • I liked BB-8 (very cleverly done)

The most disappointing thing about the movie BY FAR was that there was no new story! Just a reworking of old stories!

I seem to remember George Lucas lamenting the fact that he had used up his blowing-up-the-death-star idea in the first movie and then he had no new idea so he blew it up again in the third one.

So here we are over 30 years later and Abrams and his team could not come up with a new idea! They just had a much bigger Death Star (and a graphic to show us just how much bigger it was). Pathetic!

And is spite of everything which the rebels achieved in the first 3 movies, there is once again something like an empire, something like an emperor, stormtroopers, and a resistance. How did that happen!

And then they had to rework all that father-son stuff once again. Pathetic!

I guess in hindsight I should have expected some of this: look what Abrams has done with Star Trek after all! But I could not have expected such a lack of fresh thinking.

Some members of the old guard have also been critical:

  • Lucas criticised the movie for a failure to innovate. He gave examples of “planets” and “Spaceships” specifically (rather than the failure to have a new story!)
  • Samuel L Jackson had some faint praise for the movie during an interview and said “I think the kids need to go to lightsaber fight school” (the fighting was definitely not as good as in episodes 1-3).

Other things I did not like about the movie included:

  • Domhnall Gleeson (whom I love as an actor) was wasted as General Hux
  • Similarly wasted are Max von Sydow and Gwendoline Christie (so good in Game of Thrones)
  • There were far too many unanswered questions (I read – whether it’s true or not – that Abrams has not answered some of these questions himself – leaving them for the makers of the future movies).

The biggest surprise for me in the movie (and it was a very pleasant one) was recognising Yayan Ruhian and subsequently seeking that Iko Uwais was in the movie too (I did not spot him at the time).

I may be in a minority however in being disappointed by the movie. I have seen some fans raving about the movie. And it has a respectable rating of 8.5 on IMDB (episodes 4 and 5 are only slightly higher at 8.7 and 8.8 respectively while the abysmal episode 6 is only slightly lower at 8.4).

Still it could have been worse – at least there are no kids, no Ewoks, and no Jar Jar Binks!

Here is s shot of Rey from the movie:

Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens

 

 

 

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