Archive for December, 2013

The problem with meme sites

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 23/12/2013 by sangomasmith

First up: I have absolutely no problems with Jennifer Lawrence. I think its wonderful and awesome how she comes off in interviews as this quirky, quotable, genuine person. Neither do I have problem with kittens doing random things. Or stories about rescue dogs. Or even stories about your dog.

I don’t have a problem with memes either. Over-exposed though they are, I am perfectly content to browse through pages of advice ducks, doge images, fail gifs and the like.

 

What I absolutely do have a problem with is the realisation that these things are the good stuff, the gems buried beneath mounds and mounds of aweful racist, sexist, nationalist, dumb tripe. The realisation that the (presumably literate and computer-literate) folks who post on these public bulletin boards genuinely believe that, for example, afirmative action is some sort of reverse racial aggression comparable to segregation and apartheid. Or that when a man does something stupid it’s because he’s stupid. When a woman does it, it’s because she’s a woman. Or that men somehow need championing and protecting from the dangerous feminists ruling society.

Seriously, I’d post examples but there’s no point. Just go to 9gag, scroll down the front page a bit and an there it is.

 

I really don’t need to know this about my fellow man. And I really, really don’t need to see this stuff sandwiched between the cute and harmless stuff that I came there for in the first place.

 

This has been your pointless and whiny rant for the day. You may now carry on with your life.

 

The new Hobbit movie

Posted in Uncategorized on 19/12/2013 by sangomasmith

So, back into posting. And first up, something which has absolutely no relevance to the usual subjects for this blog.

I actually don’t have too much to add to the existing debate here, except that I am a big fan of the book and loved the LoTR movies (and a giant pedant). ‘An unexpected journey’ was, for me at least, a perfectly serviceable film. But ‘the desolation of Smaug’ seemed, well, shoddy.

 

The reasons, it seems to me, have to do mainly with pacing and production. The pacing, I think, got ruined by the switch to a three-movie format for the release. Which would have been fine, if that is what had been planned all along. As it is, my ‘ideal’ approach would have been to split the movie along the same lines as the book (which had a noticeable shift in tone): the more light-hearted, travel adventure-oriented stuff going in part one and the desolation of Smaug/battle of five armies in part two.  Once you throw that away, the best compromise is to make the films about the journey, the dragon and the battle respectively.

 

The first film ended exactly right for that sequence, but the second seems to have missed the logical progression by shoving in an imagined climax (the fights in Erebor and Lake Town) at the expense of the book climax (the death of Smaug). I honestly can’t see why they had to do it this way, unless the third film was going to end up short. Even then, you’d start the last film with a climax (big no-no) and move into a boring second act before having a completely separate one at the end. It just seems like a mess all around.

 

The second problem is production. The switch to digital effects over the more prop-oriented stuff used in LoTR seems to have resulted in strange, unfocused visuals. This is very obvious in the extensive use of digital actors for action sequences, where the eye has time to pick out the unnatural way that even the best-animated figures move (as an aside, it says something that the first comment by both my wife and I upon exiting the film was about how terribly that damn horse moved).

 

Another problem is that the practical props and makeup seemed to have lost quality somewhat. Perhaps it is the way it was filmed – 48fps, with its higher clarity, is supposedly very good at making traditional movie props and effects look shoddy – but a lot of stuff just looked off. The biggest offenders (for me, at least): Dwalin’s bald-head wig and the prop weapons from Lake Town. The latter, especially, just looked terrible and prop-like compared to the amazing work used in LoTR.

A lot of this, of course, is just pointless nit-picking. It just seems indicative, to me at least, of rushed production when compared to the minute, obsessive detail lavished on the previous movies. This, and it’s stand-out nature compared to the phenomenal values seen in the rest of the production, ties in with the first problem by implying that the end product we saw just wasn’t what had been intended from the start. The long hand of executive meddling, seen in the decision to split the movie into three, had far-reaching consequences for the films.

 

Do go and see it though: the sequence with Smaug alone is worth the price of admission.

 

P.S. – my last post (bemoaning my complete uselessness in regards to actually posting stuff) was my hundredth. Go figure.

The longest Hiatus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 19/12/2013 by sangomasmith

Oy vey.

First up, an explanation: I just reached the point with work and my personal life where posting had to stop. Even my limited posts were taking up time that was needed with other things. And once you stop, the temptation is to forget about things in the expectation that they’ll fade away. The internet, however, sees all and stores all. So here this blog lay, for nigh on three years, abandoned and forgotten. Until now (?)

I can’t promise that I’ll post frequently, I’m sad to say. From here on out this blog will be strictly a hobby, with posts when and if I feel like writing about something. So now, having reached this point, I will gently pick up the reigns and try again…