Aug 302010

Super Mario Murder

  • Books catalogued in LibraryThing: 362 (two weeks – no progress).
  • Stars discovered in Super Mario Galaxy: 28 / 120 (Gusty Garden Galaxy done).
  • Crew members recruited and made loyal in Mass Effect 2: 10 / 12, 4 / 12 (no change).
  • Pending movie review articles: 3 (did Heat).
  • Pending game of the week articles: 5 (Plants vs. Zombies).

The attached image, very appropriate to progress in Super Mario Galaxy depicts what could happen if goombas weren’t just bits.

Aug 292010

Manolo Blahnik coke-canA promotional coca cola light can, as reimagined by somewhat famous shoe designer Manolo Blahnik.

These cans were distributed rather liberally in Akateeminen Kirjakauppa during the recent night of the arts. Picked one up, just in case (and was anyway short of soda for Saturday morning).

Thus far I’ve had no need to own anything by him, and I’m unlikely to change my opinion based on this object.

Aug 292010

Heat posterOf Michael Mann’s considerably good output Heat remains the top entry.

The 1995 heist movie excels in showing off the cat and mouse game between the robber and the cop. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, here in their first scenes together, spark when they touch – and both characters brim with charisma and determination. The intense coffeehouse scene settles the fact that only one of these guys will be alive when the credits roll in, but that discussion is conducted inconspicuously and in an exquisitely civil manner.

We want to hurt no one. We’re here for the bank’s money, not your money. Your money is insured by the federal government, you’re not gonna lose a dime. Think of your families, don’t risk your life. Don’t try and be a hero.

Thus there’s no avoiding a collision. And that indeed happens with city-shattering force.

But the minutes ticking towards the conclusion are as necessary to the movie as the violence inherent in the last moments. The plans towards robberies are shown in great detail. And both the policemen and criminals are shown to be human beings. Most of whom are carrying a lot of baggage. These sidetracks occasionally threaten to muddle the plot. But life’s rarely free of complications, and hence the extra issues do not feel like they have been glued on.

In addition to the leading duo, the cast is packed with talent. The likes of Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore fall in perfectly into McCauley’s crowd of high-end criminals while Ashley Judd, William Fichtner and Natalie Portman round out the extra helping of complications.

As with Mann’s other films (and Miami Vice, too), the cityscapes have a role to play here. Apart from Blade Runner L.A. has rarely looked finer – with glorious nightscenes alternating giving way to beach houses, and finally to a bloodbath in the financial district.

Heat is a long film. It clocks in at close to three hours. But slicing off any would make it a lesser experience.

Aug 292010

The finnish television showed quite a decent batch of television shows in the first half. And following the loss of access to Canal+, I’m watching these over the free channels only.

Lost ended on a sour note. Like the reimagined Battlestar Galactica it turned to religion when the plotlines got too twisted. In the case of Lost, this was pretty much in the cards from the first couple of seasons alone. There’s plenty of speculation about the open issues, but I’m not holding my breath for answers from the creative team. That tactic never worked with Twin Peaks either.

Flash Forward, based on the Robert J. Sawyer novel began well and didn’t really falter during its first season. Nonetheless, the time-jumping story with a large cast ended up being cancelled by ABC for unspecified reasons. The first story arc was semi-resolved, but the resolution felt rushed and the last episode raised a lot more questions than it answered.

Burn Notice was a hit from the blue. A spy show that wasn’t all doom and gloom. More MacGyver than anything else in the 21st century (apart from the mullets), it was a delightful discovery, and I look forward to the future seasons. True, the plotlines and characters border on semi-plausible at best, but Burn Notice did feature full-time presence from Bruce Campbell. And even though everybody and their cousin now writes proper long arcs into the continuity, Burn Notice’s take was quite elegant.

House took on a new spin with the fourth season. The regular team having been disbanded in the last episodes of the previous, a lot of the new season was spent on figuring out the composition of the new team. The process gets tiresome after a while, but at least the selection did hit the interesting candidates of the crew. As in some of the previous seasons, the final episode is by far the best of the bunch, and its lingering effects probably do cast ripples well into the fifth.

Castle, like Burn Notice, was an unexpected hit. It also draws from the non-gloomy bin. The characters and plotlines are not exactly depressing. Quite the reverse, at times it feels a lot like an eighties up beat buddy-style cop show. And it has got Nathan Fillion in it. The first season was a half-timer, and whoever is responsible for the show scheduling on Nelonen ought to bump this closer to the top of the stack.

Recorded random CSI episodes from all three shows. And ended up watching only the New York-series. While the plotlines are either plainly obvious or stretch suspenders of disbelief close to the breaking point, it’s less ludicrous than the instances in Vegas or Miami. Maybe the city anchors the plots a little deeper. Or maybe the characters are just written a tiny bit less cardboard-y than their counterparts in the shows started earlier.

Haven’t seen any episodes of the fifth season of Doctor Who yet. The quartet of “specials” done with David Tennant was nowhere near the quality I expected from the finest british show in ages. Let’s see how the new doctor copes with the responsibilities.

Aug 282010

Diaspora logoDiaspora, the open source alternative to Facebook is three weeks away from release.

I’ll give it a shot.

Not that I’m violently opposed to Facebook or its disputed privacy/ownership policies.

Nope, I just want to try out an alternative implementation.

Then again, the blog entry only promises that the code will be available on September 15th, a full-fledged competitor to Facebook won’t be ready.