Friday, April 29, 2011

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)***
Entertaining, well-made re-telling of the Faust legend in 1840's New England. Walter Huston is exceptional. Very good black and white cinematography.

Monday, April 25, 2011

David Eagleman and Mysteries of the Brain : The New Yorker:
"Yet “brain time,” as Eagleman calls it, is intrinsically subjective. “Try this exercise,” he suggests in a recent essay. “Put this book down and go look in a mirror. Now move your eyes back and forth, so that you’re looking at your left eye, then at your right eye, then at your left eye again. When your eyes shift from one position to the other, they take time to move and land on the other location. But here’s the kicker: you never see your eyes move.” There’s no evidence of any gaps in your perception—no darkened stretches like bits of blank film—yet much of what you see has been edited out. Your brain has taken a complicated scene of eyes darting back and forth and recut it as a simple one: your eyes stare straight ahead. Where did the missing moments go?" - Man suspected of child porn simply didn't secure wireless router:
"A Buffalo, NY man had a rude awakening one morning when federal officers broke down the door to his house, threw him down the stairs and aimed assault weapons at him while yelling, “Pedophile!” After the investigation was completed, it turned out that it wasn’t this man but rather someone using his unsecured wireless router."

I'm glad we have our priorities in order. Porn and gambling call for aggressive action, but fraud and war crimes? Look forward!

Friday, April 22, 2011

iPhone and iPad security: iPhone, iPad can track a user's location history -
"Illustrating the data in dramatic, understandable form, security researchers Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan released a software program Wednesday that allows iPhone and iPad users to download and plot their location histories onto an interactive map, showing their trail over time.

The maps show clusters of colorful dots in hundreds or thousands of precise locations visited by the device's user.

"I have no idea what Apple thinks it's doing in collecting this," said Christopher Soghoian, a cybersecurity researcher at the University of Indiana and formerly a Federal Communications Commission employee. "You'd think they would've learned the lesson Google learned, which is: Don't surprise your users on privacy.""

I had assumed this capability was a requirement of The Patriot Act. (And it's not just iPhones, Androids also track user location and upload it for keeping.) Perhaps the beef is that the data is in an unencrypted, easily obtainable format, which probably points to lazy programming and not some nefarious plot. But when are people going to wake up? EVERYTHING you do is being recorded. This is the reality. Bush started it, Obama continued it and now it's institutionalized so it can never be undone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Public Enemy (1931)****
80 years after it was made, still a shocking, relevant and exciting film. Cagney is pure energy, the script is tight and believable, the direction is smart, energetic and innovative. Beryl Mercer plays Ma Powers a bit too broadly almost to distraction. But she can't stop this runaway train of a picture. Heavily influenced Scorsese, especially in Goodfellas.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)**
Let's face it: Hemingway is tough to do on film. A lot of the "action" takes place in someone's head, there's all that uber-macho mindset to deal with, all those location shots all over the world, etc. You try to Hollywood-ize the story and you are REALLY asking for trouble. We have all those things taking place in this picture. Gregory Peck does a pretty good job but the leading ladies are left to fend for themselves in difficult roles to pull off. What I DID enjoy about the film was the modern, almost Scorsese-like cuts during flashbacks with continuing voice-overs from the previous scene. I didn't expect that and it added a lot to the picture. Not enough though.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rio (2011)**
Undistinguished, mildly amusing animated trip to Rio de Janeiro.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

One U.S. Nuclear Reactor Uses as Much Water as All of D.C. - Technology - The Atlantic Wire:
"It takes the same amount of water required by a city of 5 million to fuel a typical U.S. nuclear power plant for one hour: 30 million gallons, Fast Company reports. Charles Fishman, author of the book The Big Thirst, notes that 'the U.S. has 104 nuclear power plants--more than any other country, a quarter of all plants worldwide.' As the world's largest energy consumer, '49% of the water used in the U.S. goes to generate electricity,' Fishman notes. That's 'the single largest use of water' in the country."

This cannot be correct, can it? After the water is used is it radioactive?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jane Eyre (TV 1970)***
Strong lead performances and nice production values make this a very good version of this oft told tale, such as it is.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)***
Damning with faint praise, yes, but this is certainly the best of the Star Trek films. It's a weak 3 stars because director Nicholas Meyer can't rein in the cheesy one-liners and the winking at the camera and the scenes that are obvious set ups for self-referential humor. But even with all that, this is an enjoyable and, finally, a worthy follow-up to the original television series.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jungle Book (1942)***
Rudyard Kipling's man versus nature fable imaginatively directed and featuring a charismatic Sabu as Mowgli.

Friday, April 08, 2011

In search of David Foster Wallace's Pale King | Books | The Guardian:
"These lines could support a contention that the novel's apparent incompleteness is in fact intentional. David ended his first novel in the middle of a line of dialogue and his second with large plot questions addressed only glancingly. One character in The Pale King describes a play he's written in which a man sits at a desk, working silently, until the audience leaves, at which point the play's action begins. But, he continues, 'I could never decide on the action, if there was any'."

That's a fascinating premise and might perhaps speak to Wallace's feeling that the "action" of reality takes place after life? Or the feeling of incompleteness in life, that there must be something more taking place off screen or off stage or after the novel has been read, something just beyond our grasp.

via Robot Wisdom

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Scarlet Street (1945)**
The story strains credulity a bit too much even for a noir, and the performances are not strong enough to make it all compelling. Still, watchable.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Household Income Short of $68K? Welcome To the New Poverty:
"So we are now officially living in a country where more than 60% of households are not making enough money for a basic household — the bottom three quintiles of American household income top out at $62,000."

And yet, we have plenty of dough for Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya...