Jul 312012

Not from Moneyball this time, but from a random australian post, where the role of a “bogan” is left ambiguous.

The description is pretty clear:

The term bogan is Australian and New Zealand slang, usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for an individual who is recognised to be from an unsophisticated background or someone whose limited education, speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour exemplifies a lack of manners and education.

No Marvel superhero answering to the name seems to exist.

Jul 302012

Ice Station cover
Back in 1998 (or thereabouts, the past is hazy) I picked up a random book from Akateeminen.

Matt Reilly‘s Ice Station was such a roller-coaster of a techno-thriller that I kept n pushing it to anybody even remotely interested in the genre. And like mine, their reception was enthusiastic, this was definitely a book head and shoulders above the common fare.

Ice Station has had three sequels. The newest one (Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves) was just published in paperback, and I decided to re-read the series before plunging into the latest installment.

The pacing is relentless, peril a constant companion, bad guys killed by a dozen, good guys not arbitrarily spared either, and massively overpowered cliffhangers encountered pretty much every eighty pages or so. The setting, an eponymous research station in Antarctica is well-realized (and the maps at the beginning of the book do come in useful).

The characters are slightly more than cardboard cutouts, and a lot of the story is just a vehicle to showcase futuristic military hardware.

But even worse is the author’s voice: the text is peppered by italicized sound effects, the dialogue distilled from a couple of decades wort of action movies.

So this is clearly not for everybody.

But those able to deal with the avalanche-style ride of the Ice Stations are rewarded with +d6 points in Special Forces-lore.

Jul 302012

HodejegerneJo Nesbø is a multi-talented man. In addition to his acclaimed Harry Hole series, he’s penned childrens’ books, recorded music and done some non-Harry thrillers.

Hidejegerne (headhunters) is one such book, and this film is a good version thereof.

The film concerns a top-level head-hunter who pads his income with meticulously planned art thefts. As expected, he’s soon embroiled in a complex case way over his head.

Aksel Hennie is very good as the napoleon complex-plagued protagonist, an eager beaver that ambles from one difficulty to another, before finally figuring out what is going on. He is overshadowed by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, whose villain is creepily efficient (and, as a bonus, he manages to avoid the mannerisms of his most famous role, that of Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones).

The plot is quite far from the realistic world of Harry Hole. This story is a futuristic techno thriller, with occasional allowances for death-defying stunts and toilet humour.

Headhunters is an impressive movie. It is on the short side, very well edited and altogether a pleasant film. As expected, a Hollywood remake is on its way.

Jul 302012

Moneyball is a treasure trove for new expressions. Today’s addition to my vocabulary is catbird seat, as defined by wikipedia as follows:

“The catbird seat” is an idiomatic phrase used to describe an enviable position, often in terms of having the upper hand or greater advantage in all types of dealings among parties. According to the Oxford English Dictionary,[1] the first recorded usage occurred in a 1942 humorous short story by James Thurber titled “The Catbird Seat,”[2] which features a character, Mrs. Barrows, who likes to use the phrase. Another character, Joey Hart, explains that Mrs. Barrows must have picked up the expression from Red Barber, a baseball broadcaster, and that to Barber “sitting in the catbird seat” meant “‘sitting pretty,’ like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him.”

And yeah, there IS such an animal as a catbird (naukumatkija in finnish).

Jul 252012

Loma posterStrangely enough, the concept of a holiday movie doesn’t really bring out a plethora of leisure-time related movies.

A holiday movie for me is pretty much synonymous with a summer movie (i.e. a blockbuster).
Dazed & Confused (as used for many of the challenges already) certainly qualifies as a holiday movie, since it covers the last schoolday of ’76.
And a couple of blasts from the seventies Mr. Hulot’s Holiday in Riviera and Risto Jarva’s Loma would obviously work as well.

But hey, I am now on holiday, and cannot really be bothered to think up a proper selection.

Movie Monday #54: Holiday!

Jul 242012

A List Apart’s summer reading issue provides plenty of interesting articles. Some of them more than a decade old, others containing ideas that are still very much top-shelf quality.

It would have been even more interesting to have a commentary track for the individual articles, pointing out details that have been taken care of by standardization or browser evolution, of newer documentation supplementing the original and so on. But even as it is, the collection is a treasure trove.

Jul 242012

Lola Rennt posterTom Tykwer’s Lola Rennt (Run, Lola, Run in english) is a gimmicky thriller.

The gimmick becomes apparent pretty quickly – the film is not a direct line from A to B, but covers multiple rounds through the same plot. Rounds with subtle differences in them. But unlike, say, Groundhog Day, where the protagonist learns to optimize his way through the day, Lola appears to have no clue what has gone on before. Lola runs into plenty of people in her twenty minutes, and the encounters fruits are shown in quick flash-forwards embedded in the film.

Franka Potente plays Lola with gusto. As it is a very physical role, there isn’t much to convey about who Lola is and what she is all about. In this film the protagonist runs and has encounters, that’s pretty much it.

For a debut movie, Lola Rennt gets a huge thumbs-up. The pace is relentless, the editing spot-on, and altogether the film has been distilled to its essence.

Berlin, the city the film happens in, is now in somewhat different shape than back in 1998. But it strays away from the biggest tourist attractions and changed areas, and thus provides a pretty good view into what the city is like just a corner or four away from Unter den Linden.

It’s not for everybody, but recommended for all. After all, it’s a short one and has two pretty natural spots where to abandon ship if the action gets incomprehensible.

Jul 242012

Stumbled upon “shaggy dog story” while reading Michael Lewis’ Moneyball.

And as expected, wikipedia delivers the goods on the subject:

In its original sense, a shaggy dog story is an extremely long-winded tale featuring extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents, usually resulting in a pointless or absurd punchline. These stories are a special case of yarns, coming from the long tradition of campfire yarns. Shaggy dog stories play upon the audience’s preconceptions of the art of joke telling. The audience listens to the story with certain expectations, which are either simply not met or met in some entirely unexpected manner

Jul 212012

These days, this blog is the movie diary – the watched ones (increasingly fewer, lately) end up here, reviewed and rated.

But a holistic list that would list a majority of the movies I’ve seen doesn’t exist.

IMDB’s watchlist would be one way to do this, but thus far their approach hasn’t been anywhere near user-friendly. But it’s hard to argue with the size of their database.

Movie Monday #53: The List.

Jul 172012

Seems that several photography memes have bitten the dust lately.

Both Macroday and Shutterday join the lengthy ranks of scuttled weekly contests.

And while the Photofriday’s access problems seem to be of accidental nature, Who Do You Love has been silent for a good while lately.