QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded
Tag search results for 2015 Page 1 of 3

Man on Wire and The Walk

I rewatched Man on Wire (currently streaming on Netflix) and then went out to see The Walk in "Imax 3D".

Man on Wire (2008) at IMDB

This is a charming and engaging documentary about the tightrope (er, wire) walker Philippe Petit. A Frenchman with a passion for heights, he pulls some stunts putting up wires in public places, eg, Notre Dame and Sydney Harbor Bridge, then walking on them for a while before getting arrested. But then he learns that the towers of the World Trade Center have been finished, and what purpose could those have been built for but to let Philippe run his cable and walk on top of the world....

There is much about the planning of this undertaking (you need a lot of heavy wire for the "rope", and how do get it across that chasm?) with modern interviews with participants and recreated scenes. The end is probbably not a surprize to anyone, so I'll let slip that the title comes from the desciption of the crime in the police report.

Petit's worst luck was the date, which had more newsworthy events.

The Walk (2015) at IMDB

Both concern Philippe Petit's ambitious goal to high-wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Center, a plan that starts to form in his mind before construction begins. Man on Wire is a documentary that ends with the event. The Walk is a recreation that puts a lot less emphasis on the preparation and a lot more on the actualization. Instead of seeing how many times Philippe flies across the world, to practice on the Sydney Harbor Bridge, or to study things at the site in Manhattan and then practice in a carefully measured out space in a field in France, that is largely compressed. Instead we watch them sneaking the supplies into the building, hiding from the guards, attaching the cables (main and stabilizers), and the Walk.

The camera follows Philippe out over the Void, looking down that vast distance, too far to even register in the 3D projection, and follows him as he walks back and forth, teasingly avoids the cops at either end, and puts his show 1300' in the air.

I've read that some people have felt vertigo and nausea watching this, but I did not feel anything approaching that. The projection was pretty sharp for 3D, in close-ups of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's face, I could see that he was wearing contacts, but the most I was jolted was an early scene where a young Philippe has a rope snap on him. That incident prompts him to seek lessons from a professional, Papa Rudy, who is not in the documentary.

Apparently Philippe taught Gordon-Levitt to tight-rope walk for the film. In the time he spends walking for the camera, Gordon-Levitt looks a total natural. Clearly it was a casting / teaching job well done.

Husain Haddawy's 1001 Arabian Nights

I recently saw a list of English literature for programmers, which prompted me to think of this.

I read the Husain Haddawy version of 1001 Arabian Nights not too long ago. I selected it because it's a well regarded translation and closely follows one of the oldest known editions (ca 15th century). It's not originally English, so it doesn't really belong on the list I had seen, but the story construction seems relevant to "Should appeal to the lisp programmer in everyone". There are frame stories within frame stories, with "daily" interruptions and with them reminders of how deep we are: "Oh king, I heard that barber then told the Chinese king that: {continue the "Hunchback" stories}."

Stack is problably never more than five stories deep, shallow for a programmer, deep for literature.

Star Wars: Fall of the Jedi (Neon Noir Fan Edit)

Watch it on youtube

Star Wars: Fall of the Jedi (Neon Noir Fan Edit)

This is a fan edit of the prequel trilogy into one feature length film. It has a new score, story, and tone that is hopefully akin to the films of Michael Mann and Nicholas Winding Refn. It is an experiment in editing and audio to try and find a new take on the fall of Anakin Skywalker.

Includes music by: The Chromatics, The Chemical Brothers, Cliff Martinez, Kavinsky, John Carpenter, Brian Eno, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, NIN, Tangerine Dream, Proud, College, Daft Punk, and Clint Mansell.

It's a much different take on the series. Since all they do is reedit the existing films and put a new soundtrack on it, there are some things that can't be fixed (that fight floating on lava near the end, for example), but overall it's a much better version of the story. Run time is 100 minutes, shorter (by more than twenty minutes) than any single film in the entire real Star Wars canon.

Nearly all of the dialog is gone, stripped down to the bare essential lines. I think you could watch this and still understand the whole six plus hour story Lucas wrote, though. But gone are all the hooks for product tie-ins. No pod racing, no Jar-jar, General Greivous is on screen for perhaps seconds, etc. Darth Vader's mask, carefully and slowly filmed with a strong visual style that suits this edit gets more screen time General Greivous who isn't really advancing the plot.

Overall, I'd say 2 to 4 out of five depending on how much you like the new sound track. My wife hated the sound track.

Kung Fury

Kung Fury (2015) watch it on youtube (31 minutes).

This is a kickstarter financed short from Sweden that mocks / pays hommage to a vast amount of 1980s pop culture. It's over the top in that it is paced more like a modern film than an 80s movie or TV show -- it's not clear which this was trying to be. It's also suffering from a CGI crew with a bad case of horror vacui.

There's an arcade game that transforms into a robot, Hitler, time travel, dinosaurs, vikings, a cobra "spirit animal" in GI Joe cartoon form, and a Hasselhoff cameo. Based on that you probably know if you want to watch it or not.

Thirty shots without reloading from a handgun that holds maybe ten bullets.

It also features "epic pecs". So there's that.