Archive for January, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Jan 25th, 2009

Earlier today I went to see ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘ at the local Vue. Firstly meta-commentary: £6.20 for a student ticket! I’m sure the cinema never used to be quite that expensive. Secondly, I do wish people would avoid talking though the film. I’m charitably assuming that one of the women behind me must have been blind, because her friend seemed to narrate was was on the screen every couple of minutes. Then again, the “Oh, this must be where he meets the lassie,” comment, among others, suggests I may being too generous. (Especially as by that stage we had already seen the ‘lassie’ in question several times!)

I first heard about ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘ a couple of months ago, certainly before the nationwide US release, and probably around the time it had first been seen in one of the film festivals. I thought it sounded interesting, but then only end up getting round to see it after its critical plaudits, and success at the box office. Sigh.

However, although I enjoyed the film, I felt it fell short of what it could have been. Even allowing for the requirement for flashbacks, the film often felt slightly disjointed. At times I found myself left in confusion as to how Jamal knew something (and I don’t mean the answers to the questions), and although it was possible to deduce the reasons from later in the scene, it often meant the beginning of the scene was slightly confusing. (Although possibly thats just me being slow)

Similarly, I felt there was a lack of narrative cohesion between most of the questions, and the associated flashback. While there is no particular reason why the answer to the question needs to tie in with the story more intimately, I feel it may have been more satisfactory that the use the ideas which in some places felt slightly shoe-horned in. Ironically, had the story been more contrived in places, it would have felt less so.

Oh dear, I make it sound like the film was terrible, when it was anything but. (Not to mention I must sound hypocritical when I say it felt disjointed in places.) I enjoyed the film overall, and felt it was a pretty good example of the way in which the British film industry operates best. The film certainly wouldn’t have come out of Hollywood, and I seriously doubt it could even come out of the American independent films scene. I’m not familiar enough with the Indian film industry to know wether a similar film could have been developed there. Obviously the author of Q&A was Indian, and the film made use of a number of Indian actors (as well as British, Asian actors), however my knowedge of Indian film extends as far as Bollywood, and I don’t what the rest of their film industry is like.

Edit: Whoops, almost forgot my plan to rip-off Rock, Paper, Shotgun and link to a piece of music at the end of my weekly blog posts.

Lifetime achievement

Jan 17th, 2009

Anyone who has played a game on the Xbox 360, or has looked at a growing number of PC Games, will be familiar with the concept of achievements. Achievements are a way of meta-gaming, giving the player a reward outside of the game, for completing various in game tasks. These tasks can vary from simply completing the tutorial, through killing a certain number of enemies, to something as bizarre as carrying a garden gnome through the whole game so as it may be launched into orbit at the end.
Life doesn’t have achievements; there are no amusingly named awards which pop up at the lower edge of your vision whenever you complete a particularly important life event. Unless you were a member of the Scouts or similar, you won’t have a little collection of icons representing the various things you have accomplished. This, I think, is one of the reasons why computer games will eventually win out over life, and we will all sit in large virtual reality booths getting achievements to our hearts content. Or something.
But before this great revolution can occur, I present the proposed list of achievements which will be available in Life 2.0. Note that it will be impossible to get all achievements in one lifetime; this is to encourage replay ability, something currently unavailable outside certain religious groups.

Achievements

Achieved _

Natal AttractionNatal Attraction

Have at least three people attend your birth.

one-small-stepOne Small Step

Take your first steps unaided.

vocal-minorityVocal Minor-ity

Gain a vocabulary of at least 50 words.

just-another-brickJust Another Brick

Spend at least 6000 hours at school.

What Did I Come In Here For Again?What Did I Come In Here For Again?

Walk into a room, forget what you went in there for and leave again.

facial-ingognitionFacial Incognition

Have a five minute conversation with someone without them realising that you don’t recognise them.

Jack BauerJack Bauer

Remain awake for 24 consecutive hours

Sisyphean CrockerySisyphean Crockery

Maintain a pile of dirty crockery for three weeks, despite regularly washing up.

Unattained _

we-dont-need-no-educationWe Don’t Need No Education

Leave the schooling system before obtaining any major qualifications.

Self Replicating SystemSelf Replicating System

Carry a pregnancy to term.

Mother HubbardMother Hubbard

Give birth to a new religion.

Will Of The PeopleWill Of The People

Be elected to rule a country with a minimum population of 10,000 people.

The Great DictatorThe Great Dictator

Seize control of a country without winning a democratic election.

Tie The KnotTie The Knot

Get married or enter into a civil partnership.

SlipknotSlipknot

End a marriage or civil partnership.

GlobetrotterGlobetrotter

Circumnavigate the word.

It's Alfred Nobel, HonestNobel Pursuits

Win a Nobel prize.

Novel IdeasNovel Ideas

Have a piece of fiction published.

ProcrastcreateProcrastcreate

Have a child conceived when you should be working to meet an urgent deadline.

Class ClownClass Clown

Prompt more than 20 people to laugh concurrently.

fashionDedicated Follower Of Fashion

Have a wardrobe worth more than 30% the combined annual salary of your household.

Phone HomePhone Home

Communicate with a person on Earth while on the surface of another moon or planet.

Race RelationsRace Relations

Live at least once under four different racial classifications.

Midlife RerollMidlife Re-Roll

Undergo gender re-assignment.

Lifetime AchievementLifetime Achievement Award

Live a complete life from start to finish.

Smash LandingSmash Landing

Land a commercial airliner, with no casualties, after total engine failure.

Phew, that took far longer than it should have done and I don’t even get an achievement.

One of the flaws…

Jan 11th, 2009

One of the flaws of deciding to blog every week without fail is that you end up having to write something when you have nothing to say. Its first week back at work, so nothing exciting has happened, as I’ve mainly been getting everything up and running again. I’ve avoided the flu so far, but I can’t very well compose a blog post consisting entirely of things that haven’t happened.
Although perhaps in future I should revert to a bit of creative writing when things are dull, and I don’t fancy commenting on the news. While the rest of blogosphere is abuzz with discussion about Windows 7, or Gaza, I haven’t tried the former, and my thought on the latter would be embarrassing in their naivety. (As would probably be my views on the former)
The silly thing is, I’m sure midweek I had an idea, something which I could write about. But sadly it is gone, and is probably no longer relevant anyway.
Perhaps once I’ve had a bit more time with some of the Games I got over Christmas I’ll be able to give my thoughts on them, or similarly comment on the book I’m reading at the moment. (Which is either a slow burner, or a damp squib, althogh frankly the latter is now looking more likely.)

Watching the surfers

Jan 4th, 2009

Right, its Sunday so here I am living up to my new year promise. Probably a bit sketchy today, as I’m more focused on my train journey back to Edinburgh tomorrow. Last time I checked they were still clearing debris from the West Coast Mainline, with delays of up to an hour. According to the info on Nationalrail.co.uk this should be sorted by Monday. But we shall see.

However, rather than complaining about the rail service (which would be rather unfair given the circumstances in this particular incident) I’m instead directing my eye at the governments proposed crime fighting Internet and phone database.

For those of you not in the know this will stop short of archiving the content of messages (Thank Cod!) “but would have details of sites visited, along with senders, times and recipients of e-mails and calls.” Which frankly, in many cases is enough. While the government clearly hopes to catch communications with osamabinladen@hotmail.com (yes, I realize that it will be somewhat more complex than that) they’ll also be building a database that will reveal a huge ammount of information about ordinary citizens.

But perhaps more worrying is that the government is even outsourcing this work. So not only will the govenment have access to this information, but also the random company to which they outsource it. And while the government promises harsh fines if the data is misused, that wont exactly help those who have had their data leaked. And all this before we even consider someone leaving a laptop in Starbucks.

I realise that the most of these records exist already, kept by ISPs and telecoms services. I realise that the police can already gain access to many of these records. But it strikes me that a central database only makes breaches of security more valuable to those who obtain the data, more wide reaching, and very possibly more likely.

Resolutions

Jan 1st, 2009

“Your site’s a bit sporadic,” said Tim, presumably referring to the, slightly inaccurate, last updated 5th August 2006 message on the front page.
“Yeah,” I admitted, “but most my updates are in my blog.”
“Occasionally, but not often,” was his response.

And he was right, I’m a crap blogger, and even worse at keeping the main site up to date. I mean, it doesn’t help that I’ve not been all that productive recently. The few things I have made have usually found their homes elsewhere, be it on flickr, or Fallout3nexus. But still, that doesn’t excuse the fact that this place sucks.

Fortunately I now have the ideal excuse to post, taking part in a meme which extends far beyond the blogosphere, that of making new years resolutions. In the past I have failed to stop biting my nails on several occasions, so now a chance to fail at something new. I shall keep this blog updated.

Come the new year I shall strive to write something here at least once a week, updating on Sundays if I failed to say something previously. This will still be the usual boring rubbish that is no interest to anyone, so this resolution can pretty much translate to ‘I shall massage my ego once a week,’ but at least my low readership figures shall keep me fully grounded.

Meanwhile good riddence to 2008. Who knows, if things go exceptionally well this year, the 2009-2010 resolution may be signed Dr. James.