Apocalypto and Shooter

Posted by Thomas Mon, 27 Aug 2007 17:18:21 +0000

I managed to watched both Apocalypto and Shooter this weekend. It’s seemed like forever since I’ve watched a movie at home or in the theater. They were both good; I’d say Shooter better than Apocalypto, since there was a lot of hype/buzz around Apocalypto, which set my expectations higher than for the relatively unknown Shooter (well unknown to me at least).

I thought that Apocalypto had a whole lot of potential that it didn’t meet up to. The story was timeless and well constructed; at its base a story about a man and his family and the things he had to do to survive and the things he had to do to bring his family back together again. The sort of story that very much transcends the time, cultural, and language differences. The acting was spectacular. I don’t know how much acting experience the majority of the cast had, but I would imagine it was little to none, yet the acting was so believable. I think my major concerns were primarily in how several of the action scenes were shot and in some of how the stunts looked. There were times when both just seemed exceedingly amateurish, even to the point that I felt visually jarred the several times it happened. I could understand how the quality of the stunts could be compromised due to the fact that I think that most of the stunts were done by the principles, but my gripe was that there were only a handful of these stunts that were executed poorly or shot poorly. The vast majority were great, but there were these few that should have been better for a film of this size and scope. The second thing was that I felt that the music could played a much more significant role. There were several times when I expected the score to really build up the suspense or the action, or more strongly emphasize or underline what was going on. The movie, which not quite what I would have considered an epic like Braveheart of Gladiator, the story was fundamentally strong, the dialogue was colloquial and smart for the time in which it was set, and perhaps you couldn’t accompany a not-quite-epic movie with an epic score, but there were times when I really felt like the score let me down. And after I had watched it, I was of course glad to see that there was a director’s commentary, but I couldn’t even make it through all of it, in which Mel Gibson commented as the director, along with co-writer/co-producer Farhad Safinia. In what I was able to get through, Mel didn’t talk about at all (or very little) about his crew or his DP, the set design or production design, costuming or makeup, where the actors came from and their background, where things were shot, what language was being spoken; I could go on. Honestly to me, I really love a director who is grateful to everyone involved in the production all the way at the top from the studio and the producers down to the lowliest of production assistants who make the enormous undertaking it is to shoot a film these days an actually doable project. There are so many things that have to be coordinated and perfectly timed and setup that it takes a village to make a movie on this scale. In the small portion of the film that I watched with the commentary, he just really came off arrogant to me that he wouldn’t mention the army that helped him realize his vision.

Shooter on the other hand I have very little to talk about. I thought that it was a very well done film. It was very real and more or less factual, with a good plot and arch and character development. The cinematography was great as was the production design. And, in the commentary, the director gave me exactly what I like in a commentary, adding depth to the story, explaining those subtleties and nuanced things I missed the first time around, and generally adding depth to the character development while adding technical details, talking about shooting, the actors and the locations. An all around great movie with a feel that definitely hearkens back to a style of film making and story telling that we don’t see very often nowadays.

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Assorted Goods

Posted by Thomas Sat, 25 Aug 2007 22:23:00 +0000

I managed to go biking this late afternoon/early evening. I think I got started a little after 7 and rode for the usual 30 minutes. Since I’ve been back, I only recall going riding once, which was the Monday or Tuesday that I returned. I managed a little longer trip that time, but then on Saturday I had the staples pulled out, so I figured it best not to aggravate it with the help. Which means that it’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve ridden, which isn’t the best of things.

I will be heading back to Mountain View for two weeks starting Monday. I picked up a bike shipping box for my bike, so I have the possibility of taking it with me, which could be interesting. I’d love to bike around campus on my own bike or even ride it the couple of miles to work.

I won’t say that I’m second guessing the glasses, but half wondering why I picked form over function. I’m slowly getting used to having the frame within my eyesight, having to refocus outside of the lens if I want to watch my food go all the way from the plate into my mouth, and having the frame smack dab in the middle of the keyboard. It’s very odd, too, that I now have two pairs of perfectly good glasses. I don’t think this has ever happened before, as new glasses were always the result of a significant degradation in vision or due to breakage. Now I have a choice of glasses. I probably should put the old ones away and lock away the key so I’m not tempted to wear them.

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Browned Meat

Posted by Thomas Thu, 23 Aug 2007 23:47:46 +0000

For [what seems like] the first time since I moved in to my apartment in Atlanta, I browned some ground hamburger a couple of days ago. Normally I don’t cook because I think food is dumb and not worth fussing over nor cleaning up after. But I was pretty hungry when I was picking up some Zest, so things sort of got out of hand. Anyway, about halfway through the browning I realized that I didn’t have a colander to drain the meat. I could have sworn that I owned one at some time in the past. Maybe it was too far gone, or maybe I left it to Chris. Who knows these things? I got it drained ok, only to realize that I also needed a pan lid for my iron skillet to finish cooking my Hamburger HelperTM Beef Stroganoff. I managed to slip by using a plate as a cover, but you can imagine how hot the plate got. Speaking of hot, I think my leftovers burned my tongue more in the 3 days I had them than in the past 2 years (or maybe it just feels like it…). I also think I would have preferred to use a wooden spoon to stir, but the turner did the job, albeit a little too bachelor-y for my tastes.

While I was in Canyon, I managed to hit up several doctors including a dermatologist, a barber, and an optometrist. Ok, a barber’s not really a doctor, but I had to duck out of my dentist appointment to see the dermatologist. I’ve been needing a new pair of glasses for longer than I’d like to admit, as they had become pretty scratched up and the coating had become worn a bunch. And so I was going to the optometrist without expecting my eyes to have changed, nor to actually buy any new glasses. Honestly I wondered more than once why I had gotten my Mother to make the appointment at all. But, after the runaround the several eye care centers had given her while trying to make my appointment, I figured the least I could do would be to show up. So, I had my eye exam at like noon (which was like after “the doctor’s last appointment of the day” — seriously how much more could he have been slacking?). So I guess I effectively made him push back his lunch, and if I messed up his lunch plans for that day, he definitely didn’t mention it and was in fact exceedingly nice. The result of the exam was that my eyesight actually got better, not worse, if you can imagine that. I gained some astigmatism, though. So, he advised that since I did sit in front of a computer all day that it would behoove me to keep my spectacles up to date.

My old pair of glasses has to be, I’d say 4–5 years old. I got them in College Station when an old pair broke one day. My current/old pair had a pretty good run, and I was just waiting for them to get sat on or break in two or some other random happenstance which would force my hand. So it was nice that I now have a really decent backup pair that fits me well and is a very close prescription. So, he said I should get some new ones, which obviously had been on my mind, but that day I wasn’t too terribly in the mood to shop for new glasses. Plus I didn’t have a vision insurance card thingy, so I wasn’t quite sure how much it would cost me out of pocket. Which wound up being moot as I made a phone call and got the info and it saved me a bunch of money and hassle. So, I’m looking at frames, thinking about all of the times that Max counseled me to get contacts or new glasses. I sort of gravitate toward the smaller frames and start trying on frames. I do this for a little while before one of the frame-fitter-ladies comes around to help me, so by this time I have a couple already picked out and in mind of what I would prefer. She starts to help me pick something out and I try on those that she thinks might look good. I shoot down the really trendy/throwback ones. I’m trying my best to cling to a not completely tiny frame. Like I said, I wasn’t particularly in a shopping mood, so I somehow manage to whittle it down to two pairs. The one that I like best, which are definitely smaller than my old pair and have some round at the corners. And the other pair that I think my mother and the young lady helping us prefer better, which are even smaller being more square in the corners. I honestly couldn’t tell you the frame colors of either. I think neither was black. They had this nifty little camera booth thing where you could take pictures of yourself so you could directly compare. I was pretty firm that I personally like my choice better, but wasn’t sure which one I should go with. The girl working with us mentioned that she could probably get one of the other young ladies working to get a second opinion. So, just then there happened to be a gaggle of the female techs walking by. So, she asked them for their opinion, starting with the pair I liked best, then to the other pair. The response was immediate and unanimous. Immediately when I put on the second pair, they all in chorus said “yes, definitely that one”. I was definitely taken aback by their response, being so quick and definitive. I figured that all these women knew better than I how best I looked, so I caved. I’m sure the fact that the young lady tech who did the first part of my eye exam was rather cute and happened to be in this group made no difference whatsoever. :)

Since it was through my insurance, it’s taken a couple of weeks for the insurance provider to make them, ship them to Amarillo, get them inspected, then finally shipped out to me, which I got today when I got home. I think the frames will take more getting used to than the actual prescription (which I can hardly tell a difference). [Warning run on sentence ahead!] But the frames are small enough that without moving my head too much, the frame is just where my hands are on the keyboard when I need to readjust or double check hand position, so that will definitely take some getting used to to have to move my head down a little further when I want to look in that particular direction or just get used to the line and blurriness. Only time will tell whether I like them or not. And somehow I doubt that they will somehow magically conjure up a wife for me. :(

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Short little vacation

Posted by Thomas Tue, 14 Aug 2007 23:29:18 +0000

Blogging about talking about blogging about fulfilling Josh’s prophesy of blogging about talking about blogging Josh’s prophesy. :)

All of the trips/visits/weddings/receptions all went off pretty much without a hitch. I realized after the fact that I didn’t actually get a chance to congratulate Ben and LouLou personally and properly at their reception…

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Minor Vacation

Posted by Thomas Sat, 04 Aug 2007 01:46:54 +0000

FYI, I’ll be in Canyon starting tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon and in College Station starting Wednesday morning.

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