Archive for August 10th, 2006

10
Aug
06

Review: Melinda and Melinda

b000arinu201lzzzzzzz.jpgWoody Allen’s films are pretty polarizing — you are either from that side of the world that loves them or you don’t care for his brand of humor. If I had to choose, I’d probably put myself in the latter camp, although I’d probably defer my decision until I had an opportunity to see more of his films. I’ve been told that most of the greats I haven’t seen. Anyhow, something drew me to Melinda and Melinda. The fact that Will Ferrell was in the movie and he wasn’t playing one of those over the top goofball characters pushed me over the edge. I’m glad I took a chance on this one.

Melinda and Melinda is a film about two writers who are discussing their philosophical approaches to film while out eating dinner with friends. One feels that comedy is the more genuine human emotion (Wallace Shawn) while the other (Larry Pine) feels that tragedy is more stirring. In what plays out as somewhat of an experiment, working from the same plot, both writers proceed to build the story out — with one the story a comedic slant and the other giving it much more tragic feel. The results are pretty funny and actually pretty engaging — especially compared to Allen’s other films, which always struck me as being heavy on humor and witty (and wordy) dialogue, but not much in the way of character development. This is not a stark change from other films, but during this film, I was very curious to find out how each story was resolved. One interesting note: different casts are used to carry out each story with the exception of the title role which is played in both stories by Radha Mitchell.

Initially I was a bit let down by Will Ferrell’s role. You could almost see Woody’s reflection on the mirrors of some shots as Ferrell’s character seems to be doing his best Woody Allen imitation through most of the film. However, as the story moves forward, Ferrell has funniest lines and reactions in the movie. I still want to see him in a serious role (a la Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine) but, as I found myself laughing out loud watching the DVD, I’m glad he didn’t choose this film to do it.

As with any Woody Allen film, the cast is a solid crew of faces you’ll have seen before. Steve Carell even makes a small appearance. The dialogue is a bit heavy on the ‘posh-new-yorker-talkin-about-my-entertainment-industry-job’ side, but the overall story is easy to follow and rewards the viewer who pays close attention to subtle differences in how each writer plays out his story.

I was pleasantly surprised by this film and after seeing it, I immediately put Match Point in the queue. (I might become a fan of Woody Allen’s films yet.) This film is smart, funny and intriguing. If the idea of watching a tragedy and a comedy alternate turns and play out on the same screen entices you in any way, check this one out.

10
Aug
06

Mini-Review: Hard Candy (Spoiler Free)

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This will probably be one of the shortest reviews that I’ll write — and this is mainly because divulging any unnecessary details about the film would rob the viewer of one of the best psychological thrillers in awhile. I first caught a glimpse of the trailer about four or five months ago and I was instantly drawn to the setting. In an effort to give only the most vague details, the movie begins when an older man and a young girl who have been chatting on an instant messaging application decide to meet. That’s all you really need. As a matter of fact, the trailer reveals a few details that I would probably have been better off not knowing. A high-definition version of the trailer is available at QuickTime.com, but my advice is to just watch the feature.
Please bear in mind — this film is not for the sensitive viewer. This movie deals with some “interesting situations.” If you’re the least bit drawn to a movie that is challenging and atypical, this is the movie for you. Ultimately I was left slightly disappointed, but I can honestly say that movie was entertaining and certainly worth my time.

The original film had a very limited release schedule — even here in New York City. The DVD doesn’t release until September 19. This will definitely be one of those films that finds an audience on DVD. I’m certain that college kids will be watching this one in halls around the country this fall.

Put this one in the Netflix queue now. Solid acting. Well shot. Let’s just say that Hitchcock would be proud of this one. Check it out. If you’ve seen it, drop me a line. (If you comment, please don’t reveal any spoilers.)

10
Aug
06

Ubuntu Creator Featured in News Video


Gee, I dunno….. the Ubuntu operating system is becoming more and more intriguing every time I hear about it. In the above video, Ubuntu creator Mark Shuttleworth talks about why he’s dedicating time and energy to the Ubuntu operating system. Watching this video, I learned a lot more about the project. Didn’t know that Mark himself was South African. (Not that it makes a difference, but it explains where the name came from.) Also didn’t know that there’s some support for it within Google. (Not sure what percentage of workstations within Google are actually running it.) The reporting style is somewhat typical, as the journalists are focusing on the fact that Windows and OS X are competing products. Personally I feel like focusing on the competitive landscape cheapens this effort. I may not decide to use the OS, but I admire the effort.

Stepping away from the video a bit, after I watched it, I sat and thought a bit about why I still don’t consider Ubuntu an option for myself. Why is there a big part of me that feels as if this would never be my primary platform for computing? Aside from the obvious problems of compatibility issues, lack of hardware drivers and simply not being able to run software for the more popular Windows platform, why am I less acceptable to this OS than even OS X? A couple of things came to mind. Continue reading ‘Ubuntu Creator Featured in News Video’