By templedf on Aug 24, 2007
Continuing our movie-viewing momentum, my wife and I saw Ratatouille this weekend. Nice film. The animation was astounding as usual. They're really starting to get good at people. The big thing that I still see is a lack of strict correlation between movement and propulsion. People (and rats and bicycles) don't quite move at a rate that matches what their legs (wheels) are doing. Everything else was superbly rendered, though. The food looked good enough to eat.
Animation aside, Ratatouille was no Toy Story. While the characters were likable, the movie didn't make me fall in love with them. Also, the plot was a little weak, and the ending was only happy if you don't stop to think about it. Don't get me wrong, though. I enjoyed every minute of the film, and I laughed out loud at several of the scenes.
Ratatouille makes an excellent family film. It will be entertaining to movie-goers of all ages. Overall I give it an A.
... to those who wait. A classic proverb that is usually used to say, 'patience is a virtue.' Actually, it's most often used with children to mean, 'sit down and shut up and maybe I'll give you what you're asking for later.' I've always been a little suspicious of that bit of wisdom. Is it really a good lesson to teach, that just waiting around is the best way to get what you want? Is that really what it means? I doubt it. I suspect there is a missing subtext there, a subtext provided in the 1800's by Louis Pasteur: "fortune favors the prepared mind." Aha! Now we're saying that waiting around isn't good enough. You have to know what you want and what to do with it when you see it. Opportunity is useless unless you're prepared to seize it. It wasn't until Arnold Palmer came along that someone finally put all the pieces together. "It's a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get." Now that's a quote to live by.
In the last week, my wife and I have spent an unusual amount of time in the theater. It's not that the movie selection was so compelling, but more that this week it was the social activity du jour. Here are my reviews:
Shrek the Third: I can't deny, it was funny. It was laugh-out-loud funny, through the entire movie. Maybe it's just the stage of life I'm in, but I found the movie charming and hilarious. I did feel like the film was way shy on plot, though. It felt more like a stand-up routine than a fairy tale. Nonetheless, I found it thoroughly entertaining. While my wife also found it funny, she wasn't as taken with the movie as a whole, so maybe it's more of a guy thing. I give the film an A-.
Live Free Or Die Hard: as the fourth film in an already tired series, I had pretty low expectations. My wife is a huge Die Hard fan, though, so we had to go. Gotta say, it was good. It was extremely uncharacteristic for an action flick. There was plenty of gunfire and explosions, but there was also a very satisfying amount of character development. Even the tertiary character of the daughter was pretty well developed. The thing I love most about John McClane, Bruce Willis' character, is that he's as amazed that he pulls this stuff off as we are. It was a really fun movie; I give it an A.
Transformers: Any film that includes Hasbro in the title credits immediately takes itself out of the intellectual category. It was campy and had perhaps a little too much heart, but it was nonetheless enjoyable. Unfortunately, they skipped the character development of the transformers themselves; I guess they assumed everyone had read the backs of the toy boxes. On the other hand, the live character development was a little too after-to-school-special for my tastes. I'm going to have to give this film a split rating based on age category. 16 and under: A+. 17-30-ish: B+. Old: C-.
My wife and I went to see the third Pirates movie last night. After the second one, my expectations were set pretty low. As the second movie was just a multi-hour trailer for the third one, though, I felt obliged to go see the new one.
Now that I've seen the third movie, I think I understand what was wrong with the second movie. I get the impression that the writers bit off more than they could chew. They tried to tackle an 12-hour plot arch in under 6 hours, and it just didn't work out. They desperately tried to cram all the development into the second movie, without making it too boring, and they tried to cram the arch and the resolution into the third movie, which just left me continually scratching my head.
The third movie basically takes the Sinbad route. There were no stop-action sword-wielding skeletons, but they might have been an improvement. Given 6 hours to work with, I think this movie could have been fantastic. With the time they had, though, they tried to cram in too much. They spent a tremendous amount of time explaining why what just happened was plausible, instead of taking the time to develop the back story. On the other end, plot threads just dropped off into the abyss, never to resurface, most likely for lack of time to address them.
My wife is a big action film fan. This film certainly had a lot of action, but some of it just droned on and on and on. My wife actually fell asleep during the 45-minute fight scene at the end, and I don't blame her. It almost did the same thing to me. It was just endless footage of fish people killing pirates and vice versa. They could have saved 20 minutes and millions in effects budget by reducing the scene to a reasonable length.
Overall, I give the film a B-. It was worlds better than the second movie, but nowhere near as entertaining as the first. The most disappointing thing about it for me is that they forgot their audience. No 12-year-old is going to sit still though 3 hours of inexplicable plot twists. The poor parents! The other thing that galled me is that they had the audacity to end the movie with a teaser for the next one! Does it ever end?
One of the most mortifying things about moving back to the US was the inability to buy Segafredo Classico ground espresso. As a substitute, I switched to Lavazza d'Oro, but it's just not quite as good. I was overjoyed when I finally found a Segafredo importer online who carried Segafredo Classico. So far, Espresso Machine Supplies is the only place I've found to buy Segafredo Classico. What's even better is that if you order in a decent quantity, it's less expensive than buying it in Europe! In the Bay Area, a 250g can of Lavazza d'Oro costs about $10. In Bavaria, a 250g can of Segafredo Classico costs about 6 EUR, or roughtly $7.50. I just sent in another order to EMS for a dozen 250g cans of Segafredo Classico for less than $5 each, including shipping!.
Aside form having what I want and having it at a great price, they're also quite friendly. The first time I placed an order, the order tracking system never updated properly. After a few days I contacted them, and they were very helpful. The order arrived on time and in good condition. If you're looking for a reliable and affordable online espresso retailer, definitely give EMS a try.
So, I was just watching the Hadji Girl video (again). At the end, he sings that "they should've know they were f\*ckin' with a marine," and the crowd goes wild. After watching that video, it dawned on me what's missing from Sun these days. We're missing what is best summed up by the "Ooh-rah!" of the US Marine Corps (who, by the way, are using JSP technology on their web site).
Don't get me wrong. Back in the days before the fall, Sun does seem to have gotten a bit too big for its britches. That, followed by a plunge into an era of mediocre products, left a lot of people with a bad impression of Sun. Now we're back, we've got a great line-up, we're the largest corporate open source contributor in the world, but I get the feeling that we're still not proud to be Sun.
When I talked to folks in the office eight years ago, there was a sense that we were fighting an important war, and there was no doubt that we were going to win. Java, Jini, Solaris, and UltraSPARC were the battle standards. Now, it feels more like the war's over, we survived, but we'd really rather not talk about it. Solaris is great, but everything else is great, too. Java is nice, but so are all the other languages and technologies. UltraSPARC is "competetive." Tell me again, what is Jini? I think that's wrong! Solaris kicks \*ss! Java kicks \*ss! UltraSPARC kicks \*SS! And Jini is now Apache River. (Jini is an awesome technology, but I've given up hope that it will ever get the mindshare it deserves. You can't win them all. Look at NeWS.)
What I want to see is every Sun employee being proud of working for Sun, not apologetic. We may still be struggling to turn in a profitable fiscal year, but dagnabit Sun is an awesome company. Why is Sun awesome? Because innovation is still the life's blood of Sun. So get out there, and spread the good word! Java, Java, jing, jing, jing!
While I'm in rant mode, what the frag is with Linus Torvalds posting about not believing in Sun's motives for our open source contributions??? Hello? First off, what the frag does he care what our motives are, as long as we're donating the code? Honestly. Second, I don't see any other company getting this kind of abuse. Does anyone here think that IBM is contributing code to open source out of sheer benevolence? Please. Lastly, the thing that really burns my butt is that Linus had the nerve to make the unfounded accusation that we're not going to contribute ZFS to the open source world, who obviously deserves to have it, and then in the same breath he says that we're trying to scam away the Linux device driver coders. Dear God! Open source is about sharing! It's not about everyone giving everything to Linus. The reason people participate in open source is to gain some benefit from it. Yes, we'd love to have all the Linux device driver coders also writing Solaris device drivers. What's wrong with that? After the amount of source code we've thrown over the fence, I am absolutely dumbfounded that these zealots are still trying to make us out to be the enemy. Wake up and smell the GPLed Java!