Another ghost in the shell

Ghost in the shell 2017 screenshot

I loved ghost in the shell, its one of those films I just loved when I was young. Even watching it 20+ years later and seeing the little adjustments like ghost in the shell 2.0; I was still a massive fan. So when the film was announced, I was kinda of excited.

However I just got back from the Odeon IMAX in Manchester after watching it at 1min past midnight with about 20 other people. Obviously people were less keen to be first to watch it as someone like me (I just love watching films late at night to be fair)

I gave it 6/10 because it is a good movie but the legacy of ghost in the shell just drags on it, and I can’t help but look at certain scenes and just shake head slightly. For example the famous scene with the garbage collectors is shorten down to something different and it doesn’t have the uniqueness of the original. I also felt although longer, it brushed through key scenes which I assume wouldn’t have worked in hollywood.

I don’t feel like they did a bad job but I was surprised how different it was from the original.

Generally if you haven’t seen Ghost in the Shell, and an action/sci-fi fan you will like it. It won’t score highly but its robust enough. If you seen the original, you will feel slightly cheated and if you seen the whole lot including stand alone complex and innocence, you may be more upset.

It looks stunning and they did a good job to show a future Tokyo with crazy structures and advertising, but its not quite enough. All the actors are good in the film but the plot feels too simple and lacks the detail and significaions of the original.

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I watched it in the IMAX although it’s not made for IMAX. If I was to watch it again, a regular large screen would be fine and watch it without 3D because it’s ignoying after a while. Once again good movie by its self but compared to the originals its poor.

I wonder whats install for the matrix series and I don’t think anyone would be daring enough to redo Akira, would they?

See Ghost in the shell at midnight?

I have to say I’m pretty excited to see the Ghost in the Shell live action remake, that I bought a ticket for the 1 minute past midnight (0001) release on Thursday morning in the Odeon IMAX.

When I bought my ticket, the cinema seemed super quiet with only 12 people, which is suprising. So you have plenty of time to get you’re ticket and join me.

Maybe you don’t like the idea of going to the cinema late at night but I kind of love it. To be fair I watched Interstellar at 5am, Dark Knight rises at 8am, etc and I quite like it. Of course I would only do this for films which I felt was worth it, and I think Ghost in the Shell is certainly one of those.

I mean just look at the first 4:44mins

The arrival, arrived and must be seen

Arrival

It was actually Si who recommended to me Arrival. It’s very unlike him to recommend films as he’s not really into non-interactive media, so I went and watched the film and was pretty much blown away.

I promise not to spoil the film but the film reminds me of 3 other great films, and I mean great! Interstellar, which was influenced by Contact and finally Donnie Darko.

Well worth watching before they do a weird donnie darko directors cut on it.

Its a 8/10 or even 9/10, and so many other people agree.

It’s dangerous to say an alien movie achieves any level of realism. That is, we won’t know which ones are realistic until the aliens show up in real life and confirm it. With that caveat, Arrival feels like an uncommonly realistic alien invasion movie, if only because it understands a simple fact of life often misunderstood by Hollywood: few of life’s biggest mysteries can be understood through conventional thinking. Too many alien movies assume that our interplanetary visitors will look, sound, and communicate like some gnarled version of ourselves. Arrival rewrites the rule book. Instead of filtering the aliens’ intentions through our understanding of human behavior, it asks us to put our thinking caps on and luxuriate in the unknown.

Absolutely!

I also found the gender dynamics really interesting too… Amy Adams is incredible, strong and very thoughtful when most of the men around her are reaching for their guns or jumping to action. Shes confident of her own abilities and knows what needs to be done. Funny enough, another film by the same director is Sicario, with Emily Blunt who also command total respect by everyone around her.

Amy Adams is magnificent as the linguist at the centre of a world-changing event; Jeremy Renner turns in a quiet, introspective supporting performance as a mathematician brought in to help solve the visitors’ mysteries. The interplay between the two, as they seek to understand an unfathomably complex alien language, feels effortlessly natural; as well as a sci-fi movie, Arrival functions as an astutely observed relationship drama.

Go watch this film!

Sunspring: A movie written by algorithms

I don’t actually believe Adrian was the first to tell me about Sunspring, but I spent some time watching this morning.

Its certainly not the first time someone has spoke about algorithms and machine learning to create media. But its the first time I’ve actually seen something… well…ummm interesting of sorts?

I wouldn’t say it was hilarious, more weirdly uncomplete. The training material can be eviladanced in what you see but as it jumps around a lot. Its worth watching and I’d be interested in what happens when you got something more clearer and unique? However what I was really wondering is…

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Were the camera angles, shots, special effects, music, mood and colour grading also written by the algorithms? Heck was the title? It doesn’t seem like it but who knows. I guess the bigger question is does it even matter? So much of our media is middle of the road and made for the biggest audience, in my own opionion of course. Would it make much difference?

Of course the most interesting ideas are using a combination of machine learning with human direction. But thats for another post…

The press feedback is varied…  best to go check it out for yourself

Describe that movie?

I saw this retweet from Adrian and had to give it a try.

A website developed by a Finnish technology team claims to be the world’s “first ever descriptive movie search engine”, and promises to solve that problem we all face when we can’t remember the name of a film.

To be fair so far its not been great with the searches I have done. Yes its early days and yes they have a mechanism to improve it.

But for example looking for Kil Bill – Lots of blood shed involving swords

Inception works with Dream within a dream and dreams collapase but if you type dream you get inception. Addiction works actually gets Requiem for a Dream but film about addiction in all its forms fails to list it at all. Looking for Citizen four with Edward Snowdon with the search Edward Snowdon, fails to include Citizen four. Dark City search with dark film starts with scene in the bath tub doesn’t include dark city at all. Last search I did was for The Beach, with sandy beach.

Nice idea, I’ll check it out again once things get better.

My 2015 media consumption in review

My most watched fim of 2015

During my new year resolutions 2015 review, I pointed out that I couldn’t access my year in media without some serious development of Trakt’s API. Well 15 days too late for the review unfortunately.  I saw this on twitter…

Sure enough you can now see my 2015 review in media on the web.

Lots of quantified data for my media consumption…

For 2015…

  • 686 media items played
  • 669 hours of played media

Thats a lot of media use, even I have to admit, especially since, this is does not include documentaries, youtube, vimeo, ted, chromecast use, etc…

My TV genres for the year,
my tv genres of 2015

TV wise… My most watched show is Last week tonight with Jon Oliver with 37 plays or 18 hours, 30 minutes. Generally. I clocked up…

What Cinema can learn from Broadcasting?

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Its weirdly ironic that I wrote a blog post about what cinema can learn from TV, 3 years while ago almost to the day of the this way up conference in December I’m about to talk at.

The this way up conference is a film exhibition innovation conference which launched last year. It returns with a jam-packed two-day event that promises to inspire and enlighten, provoke and challenge, connect and share.

I’ll be doing two things on behalf of BBC R&D

The first one is on Wednesday and is a lunch time workshop around a unreleased Perceptive Media project, I have been working on for most of the year.

Lunchtime Lab: BBC Perceptive Media Want to contribute to the evolution of storytelling? BBC Research and Development’s North Lab, based at MediaCityUK in Salford, showcase their latest experiment in a top secret, closed door workshop. A select group of THIS WAY UP attendees will try out a new smartphone app before being a shown a premiere of a short film that looks to change the way we engage. Further details are strictly under wraps, but the BBC are looking for volunteers to take part in this limited study and to share and discuss their experiences with other participants. Workshop led by Ian Forrester, BBC R&D North lab. Results from the workshop will be revealed at Thursday’s The Film is Not Enough session.

Its really research in the wild and we have no idea how the audience will react to this. The results will be intriguing to say the least.

On the Thursday I’ll be on a panel talking about the changes which need to happen to regain the cinema audience.

The Film is not Enough – With the rise of event cinema, alternative content, enhanced screenings, sing-a-longs and tweet-a-longs, is there a danger that the original purpose of cinemas is being lost as audiences demand novelty and gimmickry? This panel will hear from those folk changing audience perceptions and expectations of what ‘coming to the cinema’ means. Panel includes: Tony Jones (Cambridge Film Festival), Jo Wingate (Sensoria), Rhidian Davis (BFI), Gaby Jenks (Abandon Normal Devices – chair), Lisa Brook (Live Cinema), and Ian Forrester (BBC Research & Development).

I’ll talk about details of the project experienced on Wednesday and explain why this is a good and scalable way to regaining the TV and maybe the cinema audience. The panel should be good with a number of really viewpoints and Gaby Jenks from Abandon Normal Devices chairing the debate.

What cinema can learn from broadcast will be driven home by the keynote from Nick North, the director of Audiences at the BBC.

Look out for more details soon… but theres already plenty of interest….

Dope: Its hard out here being a geek

Dope

I watched Dope on Sunday afternoon only a few hours before I gave a talk about the lack of black people in the technology sector at Afrofutures.

Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself.

There is much I can say I loved about the film which currently has a rating of 7.5 on IMDB (stick that in your IMDB party game)

Warning mild spoilers ahead

Malcolm and his friends are teenagers growing up in LA, they are geeks, play in a rock band, get picked on at school, etc. You would be forgiven for thinking – “this is the start of a typical hollywood coming of age film..
The big difference is they are black americans and living in a culture which doesn’t encourage geekness.

The film starts with the excellent point of, looking at the definition of Dope.

  • Slang for an illegal drug (you got any dope?)
  • A stupid person (you are such a dope!)
  • Affirmation of something’s greatness (that is so dope!)

These themes run through the whole film and connect everything. Malcolm attempts to try and avoid being pulled into the society which surrounds him. There is no doubt this is a coming of age film but the class discrimination and racism really lifts it way above the rest. Even when Malcolm is forced into the world of drug dealing, he uses his brain to get out ahead of the crooked society.

I won’t lie, dope reminds me of some of the dilemmas I faced while growing up (of course to a far lesser degree). I use to think everybody faces these things but it seems not.  The conflict of being geeky and not wanting to make the mistakes others fall into featured in my mind a lot. I came out on top but like Malcolm, there are things which I won’t forget and certainly shaped my personality.

The presentation I did for Afrofutures is here., the link with Dope comes in about slide 18. I certainly feel its not good enough to blame the tech sector alone. No, we got to look at the the way things shake out in the culture too. Yes there is a big lack of black people in tech, especially in higher positions but also the culture doesn’t exactly encourage people to embrace our geeky side. Its almost discouraged I feel.

This has lines or connections I believe with the fact their are amazingly senior black people in many other professions including law,  financial services, pharmaceuticals, etc. But very few in the tech sector, especially at CEO level.

I know this is all a massive generalisation but from what I have seen growing up, it was a fight to be openly curious, interested and switched on or as I prefer, geeky. I imagine lots of black people bury it and ignore it. Or it gets beaten out of you at some point verbally or even physically. You literally have to fight. Some give up fighting and forever regret doing so for the rest of their lives…

When looking at the diversity figures, in every case I found. White people were followed by Asians people.  You only have to look at the CEO of Microsoft and Google to see this in full effect. From a outsider view, their culture encourages geeky people. However in black popular culture (generalising again) I am almost embarrassed by the negativity to being geeky and different.

Its was depressing to research but it was worth it because its out there now and its a start of a important conversation for me.

I can only hope the next generation will see right through all this all and make positive strides ending up with a diverse workforce. Originally I was going to submit this to Singleblackmale but I didn’t feel it was the right place to host this at this stage. Maybe I’ll do a more critical blog for them in the near future.

As the tagline to Dope says: Its hard out here being a geek…

Limitless as a TV show

Limitless TV series

Remember Limitless… It always made sense as a TV show right? I mean NZT-48 just like Lucy’s CB40, as a plot point was/is literally endless (pun in-deeded).

This idea of unleashing the brain’s potential, of course, is a popular notion in science fiction, from “Limitless” to the Scarlett Johansson vehicle “Lucy” all the way back to “Forbidden Planet.” Mostly, though, the mysterious drug, NZT, is just another way to create a super-soldier, one who in this case is drafted by the authorities to assist in thwarting crimes, with his FBI agent contact

Be interesting to see how it turns out…

Inception as a TV series?

inception the cobol job

Myself and Chris were talking about a number of things at breakfast in Vivid Lounge as we do. We got talking about the Marvel and DC universe and the state of cinema and TV media.

I mentioned, TV is the new cinema.

Forget what you’ve read about cinema’s dominance over the small screen. Television has plenty to teach the movies about characterisation, storytelling and breaking new talent.

And the differences and experience between Cloud Atlas and Sense 8 for the Wachowskis. TV allows for build up and character building cinema can only dream about. This is especially good when thinking about universes such as the Marvel one.

Chris said he would love to see inception as a TV series? I obviously am in total agreement.

This isn’t anything new but it certainly got me thinking about other films which could be better told in a TV series and heck a game/experience?

It strikes me that any film with plot device like eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, chronicle, etc… could work. Similar to person of interest, where small things happen every episode but theres a over arching plot leading to something much bigger.

An ex-assassin and a wealthy programmer save lives via a surveillance AI that sends them the identities of civilians involved in impending crimes. However, the details of the crimes–including the civilians’ roles–are left a mystery.

I mention person of interest because the director is Jonathan Nolan, who is Christopher ‘Inception’ Nolan’s younger brother.  Who knows maybe a Inception TV series isn’t as far fetched as first thought?

What is the imdb party game?

A Shot, Anyone?

I played this game yesterday night at a party and thought it was worth writing up because I couldn’t find it anywhere. I’ll have to credit either Mike, Karolina,  Steve or Sharon for the party game.

The game works like this…

  1. Everybody sits in a circle with their mobile phones. One player  (the loser from the last round) picks a film from imdb.com. announces the film title and year to the circle.
  2. Everybody else types the predicted imdb rating of the film announced into their calculator app or write it down on paper.
  3. Once everybody (except the player who announced the film) is done, rating predictions are revealed to everybody around the group
  4. Highest and lowest are noted and the player who announced the film reads out the actual imdb rating.
  5. The player with the furthest rating from the imdb rating loses and needs to drink a shot of vodka. The loosing player then goes on to pick the next film in the next round.

Other rules…

  • Cheating by looking up the imdb rating is punishable by a double shot of vodka.
  • Players can challenge the player who announced the film title if its too obscure. That player must read out a description and the top actors in the film. If nobody recognises the top actors, another film must be picked.
  • If there is a draw of any kind, the players in the draw have to guess the rating of a sequel or prequel. If there is no such thing, a related film must be found.

Variations…

  • While people choose their rating, the film picker can read out the first public review, a quote or piece of trivia. Film covers can be shown of theme music played.
  • Vodka can be substituted for any other spirit or any other forfeit

Feminism slowly breaking through?

Its great to see more positive female role models in the media, but I wonder if they go far enough?

Supergirl

Supergirl

You must have heard the pilot episode of Supergirl was leaked (I think put online, I mean the Gotham and Flash pilots and others were also leaked)

The first episode of CBS’s forthcoming Supergirl series has leaked online a full six months before it was scheduled to air. Two versions of the 46-minute episode (one in full HD and another in lower resolution) made their way onto torrenting sites late last week, with BitTorrent news site TorrentFreak describing the leak as a “complete surprise” to the pirating community.

I watched the pilot episode and it struck me as fun and very like the Flash (not really a surprise as its the same kind of team). I’m not the only one who says so either in this spoiler free view.

Agent Carter

Agent Carter

After Agents of SHEILDs got very samey, I pretty much ignored Agent Carter till I saw people talking about it.

To be fair I checked out a couple of episodes but it hasn’t grabbed me, so its just sitting there waiting for me to watch the rest sometime. However, I have to admit its got a good feeling throughout.

Agent Carter, is a sly analogy for the state of women today, especially women in geek culture. The show reflects pop media buzz topics, like Gamergate, Fake Geek Girl memes, and the sexual harassment of creators, through the lens of a time that seems archaic. However, the topics, the misogyny and inequality that Peggy deals with, is anything but archaic. These are things that modern women deal with on a daily basis: the street harassment, the catcalling, the sexualization, the dehumanizing, the diminishing, and the belittling.

Peggy Carter is the modern woman, capable and strong, but forced into a world that will not accept her for who she is and will not listen to her speaking out against the men who put her down

Some reviews are less sure about the feminist angle.

Mad max fury road

Mad max: Fury Road

When I first saw posters for the Madmax reboot, I pretty much dismissed it but then I started hearing how interesting it actually is and how it passed the Bechdel test

The Bechdel Test is a film litmus test. To pass, a movie must have two female characters, with names, who talk to each other, about something other than a man. It’s not perfect but it helps illustrate how utterly underrepresented women’s voices are in film. “Mad Max: Fury Road” passes on a level heretofore unheard of outside “chick flicks.” There is a moment late in the film when no less than twelve women — seven of them named — are talking together. On the one hand I am mortified this is cause for celebration. On the other hand, it’s a decisive victory worthy of a fist pump.

I’m not saying this is all something new, just interesting to see a few come out about the same kind of time. It would be nice if Hollywood would take more risks with the under represented.

Sure its a glitch in the matrix and we’ll be back to the 50 shades of greys again soon enough…

Although I’m going to say, it would be amazing to turn some parts of Girl with a one track mind into a film?

Its certainly could/would work better than as a TV series which diary of the call girl got turned into. Its worth reading both blogs as they so very different in many accounts! The feminist message of empowerment could really work well, wonder if Zoe ever considered it as a film, especially as she use to be in the film business herself…

The Business of Film with Mark Kermode

Mark Kermode and Ray Winstone

I have to give film critic Mark Kermode’s series about  the economic realities of the film industry, a thumbs up. Its in 3 parts and available forever as a podcast. Its well worth listening to if you are a film fan

Ep 1: Development Hell

Mark Kermode charts the cycle of ‘development hell’, where producers turn in scripts, listen to conflicting opinions and resubmit their work hoping for that magical green light.

I especially love the donnie darko reference and I do think Matthew Vaughn has a very good point.

Ep 2: Getting to the Screen

Mark Kermode examines how films get financed and distributed. The challenge, of course, is that nobody knows the ultimate appeal of the film.

I’m really feeling this as I try and put a project I’m working on forward (I’ll explain more in the future).

Ep 3: The Business of Showing

Mark Kermode considers the crucial moment in a film’s life – the opening weekend. Marketing may convince us of a film’s merit but a tweet can ruin even the most inventive campaign.

I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this type of thing many times over this blog but its fascinating to hear regardless.

50 shades of an opportunity wasted?

Saines lectures dans le métro aussi ;-) #qml #ligne6 #50shades #50s #50nuances

Girl with a one track mind, reviews the 50 shades of grey film, so we all don’t have to watch it…

It is not acceptable for a man to stalk a woman, harass her, and to drive a wedge between her and her friends and family. Showering a woman with expensive gifts does not make it okay that a man can break in, then hide in her home waiting for her. Emotionally manipulating, then harassing, a woman to agree to a man’s relationship terms (or have no relationship at all) is not, in any sense, alright. All good relationships are built on respect, trust and consent and this one contains none of that. Grey’s abusive behaviour is excused, because he is “a dominant”, as if enjoying a sexual kink removes the need for a man to be a decent person too.

As I imagined, its a male power film with elements of BDSM thrown in to convince/sidetrack people in to thinking its ok to be a total dick, because the female is calling the shots in his playroom.

No its not ok… Its creepy, manipulative, bullying and just not on, now or ever…

Like Zoe I was hoping for something a little different from this film. I haven’t read the books but heard so much that I feel like I know the text. Not necessarily because its a female writer and director but because it 2015 and I hoped friends would say how good and surprising it is. Heck a clever twist, on the story would have been great. But the opportunity was utterly wasted…!

…as I want to applaud a movie written and directed by women, I can’t condone one which idealises male power and emotional abuse as something seductive and sexy. They’re not. With the kinky-sex as a saucy distraction, the central message of this film – that it’s okay for men to control and manipulate women – remains unquestioned, and that’s not just bad, it’s dangerous.