Akira

   28 May 2014, early morning

I watched Akira again over the last few days. It was released on Blu-Ray for its 25th anniversary, which I promptly purchased. I’ve come a long way from my friends VHS copy. I’d tell you what it’s about, but who really knows? There are motorbike gangs, activists, secret agents, corrupt government officials, and children with the ultimate psionic power all futzing around in post-apocalyptic Tokyo. None of that matters. In my mind it is the pinnacle of Japanese animation. The whole film is a visual wonder. It had an Inception soundtrack 20 years before Inception. Akira is majestic brilliant beautiful obtuse incredible. It is one of my favourite films.

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Throwback Film

   23 May 2014, terribly early in the morning

I’ve had some film sitting in my fridge for 4 years now. Some of the film might be closer to 5 years old, I suspect. I used to be reasonably good about processing my black & white film as I shot it, but once you slip it’s easy to end up with an insurmountable backlog. Thankfully I found someone in Toronto who will process the stuff for me. It’s getting quite tricky to find places that process film, let alone black & white film. So, now I have film I need to scan. That part of the process might be worse than the developing.

This photo is probably from the summer of 2010, based on the other photos I found on the roll. Shima is probably pregnant with Mythilli. You’d never know. I like the composition. In particular that both are hands are in the shot, and that her arm seems to belong to someone else. It looks like it is photobombing this photo.

Shooting film has several pluses completely unrelated to the quality (or lack thereof) of the images you get back. Film can be like a time capsule. Who knows how I would have felt about this photo 4-5 years ago. Today it is interesting simply because of the amount of time that’s passed since I shot it.

Originally posted to my 4ormat blog.

Comment [1]  

Rob Ford Imploding—Again

    1 May 2014, early morning

I feel like I can’t last night pass without saying a few words about Rob Ford. A link to the Globe and Mail’s big story about him being caught on video smoking crack again just won’t cut it. Or a link to the Sun’s big story about him getting loaded and saying all sorts of offensive things again just won’t cut it. Or a link to the Star’s big story about him getting belligerent at a club with Justin Bieber just won’t cut it. And this all happened last night! In the middle of the greatest Raptors game ever!

Lots of people are speculating that he’s stepping down so he can come back in 30 days a clean and redeemed man. That’s the game you play the first time you get caught smoking crack. At this point it’s clearly his only move, but I don’t think that narrative is going to earn him any new votes. There are people that will vote for him no mater what: stupid people, homophobes, criminals, etc. They thankfully aren’t a sizeable part of Toronto.

Rob Ford is a drug addict. He acts like a drug addict. Trying to parse his actions as rational is a fools game. He makes poor choices because he’s a crack-head. The situation is just weird because he’s also rich and the mayor of the biggest city in Canada. He’s had a million chances because he is a rich white man and has squandered them all.

To quote Kristyn Wong-Tam:

Ford might rehabilitate his health but 30 days isn’t going to cure his racism, misogyny, homophobia & chronic tendencies to break the law.

Fuck that guy. And his brother.

Comment [2] |  

You are alone, child. There is only darkness for you, and only death for your people. These ancients are just the beginning. I will command a great and terrible army, and we will sail to a billion worlds. We will sail until every light has been extinguished. You are strong, child, but I am beyond strength. I am the end, and I have come for you, Finn.
— The Lich, Adventure Time.

GitHub's Long National Nightmare is Over

   22 April 2014, early morning

Github concluded its investigation into their recent sexual harassment scandal, posting a terse message on their blog about the matter:

The investigation found no evidence to support the claims against Tom and his wife of sexual or gender-based harassment or retaliation, or of a sexist or hostile work environment. However, while there may have been no legal wrongdoing, the investigator did find evidence of mistakes and errors of judgment. In light of these findings, Tom has submitted his resignation, which the company has accepted.

The whole blog post sounds like it was written by a lawyer. Maybe it was. Do I feel retroactively like a chump for watching presentations on How GitHub Works? Maybe a little bit. I should be telling people about where I work—it’s actually amazing.

Tom Preston-Werner wrote about his plans for the future, beginning by touching on this story:

I want to be very clear about one thing: neither my wife, Theresa, nor I have ever engaged in gender-based harassment or discrimination. The results of GitHub’s independent investigation unequivocally confirm this and we are prepared to fight any further false claims on this matter to the full extent of the law.

Don’t worry about Tom: he’ll be fine. Mr. Netscape himself Marc Andreessen high-fived him on his way out the door. This is usually how it goes in tech. Tom gets to play the startup game again. Some people think he’s a jerk, some people don’t. None of that has any substantial effect on his livelihood. For a certain class of people your actions are more or less consequence free.

Today GitHub denies any wrongdoing and the co-founder makes explicit legal threats against anyone speaking up about what he did. – @shanley

Shanley’s tweet sums up the situation for other women in similar situations to Julie Ann Horvath. What’s the point of coming forward? People call you a bitch (or worst) and you are the person looking for new work. Ellen Chisa articulates all of this wonderfully. (If you read one thing about this whole story, her blog post would be it.)

This is a complicated story, with all sorts of nuance that’s missing when its distilled via ambiguous blog posts and messages on twitter. These scandals end up being Rorshach tests for how people see sexism and this industry. I am left feeling cynical about the whole scene.

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The Raid 2: Berandal

   21 April 2014, early evening

I had the most unrealistic expectations going into The Raid 2: Berandal, the Sequel to The Raid: Redemption. The film met those expectations ten fold. Hollywood just isn’t able to make films like The Raid and its sequel. The Raid 2 is violent in a way few films today can manage. It felt like something out of the 80s. Mixed in with this ultra violence is unsurpassed action, superbly shot and edited. I’m still not sure any one scene in The Raid 2 matches the “axe” scene in the first film, but there is no shortage of absolutely breath taking cinema in the sequel. The camera follows the action: no matter how fast and furious things are on the screen you never feel lost. This film has a much more involved plot. Rama goes deep cover trying to bust some crime lords. Of course, the movie could have been a bunch of punching and I’d have been happy. The movie is long, at 2.5 hours, but doesn’t feel it. It uses each of those minutes effectively. There are no wasted shots. The quiet is quiet and the loud is very loud. I love this film.

The trailer for The Raid 2: Berandal is god damn amazing.

Comment [8]  

I look at all your hate mail as fan mail.
Writing shit down well knowing that you wouldn’t say it.
Why you buy a chopper if you wouldn’t spray it?
Little niggas breaking arms trying to play Rambo.
Die Rich by Joey Fatts (Feat Vince Stapples) produced by Cardo

The Grand Budapest Hotel

   31 March 2014, early morning

I watched The Grand Budapest Hotel Friday night with some friends and Shima. It’s so rare we do anything together after having Mythilli, so there was a lot of pressure on this film to be good. The movie stars Ralph Fiennes as the eccentric—of course—head of the Grand Budapest. Tony Revolori plays the new lobby boy, and his protege. This is Wes Anderson’s take on the heist film. There is thievery, murder, daring escapes mixed together with the charm of your typical Anderson movie. There are a million cameos throughout. Something interesting I noticed about how the film was shot: the movie is basically one long flashback, and this section of the film is is shot in what looked to be an almost square aspect ratio. This seems unusual for Anderson, though the film still caries his distinct style. I liked the movie a lot. It’s well executed, written, and acted. You should watch it while you can in the cinema.

The official The Grand Budapest Hotel website

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Inside Llewyn Davis

   11 January 2014, evening time

I watched Inside Llewyn Davis at the Lightbox. The film is the latest movie from the Coen Brothers. It stars Oscar Isaac as a starving artist folk singer who is both down on his luck and a man who makes terrible choices. He may be down on his luck because of his poor choices. He is moving in a circle going nowhere. This film is depressing and beautiful. I loved the cinematography. Everything is lit and shot perfectly. I’m not a big folk music fan, but the music in this film is excellent. The acting is superb. This movie was featured in a lot of best films of 2013 lists, a well deserved accolade. You should watch this movie.

Update: I’ve been thinking about this movie for days now. It’s probably one of my favourite films by the Coen brothers, which says a lot: they’ve done a lot of really great films.

The official Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack.

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Bridesmaids

    9 January 2014, early evening

Bridesmaids was on Netflix. It’s always strange seeing a movie that seems too new or popular showing up on that site. The film is excellent. As the title suggests, the film is about bridesmaids. Kristen Wiig plays a women having a rough go at life. Her friend, played by Maya Rudolf, gets engaged and requests Wiig be her matron of honour. Hilarity and hijinks ensue, as she competes with another bridesmaid for Rudolf’s character’s affection, and tries to move forward with her life. It’s a very funny movie. The supporting cast is all hilarious. It’s directed by Paul Feig of Freaks and Geeks fame, and was produced by Judd Apatow. Wiig wrote the script along with Annie Mumolo. They had an A-Team working on this film, and it shows. Maybe i’m the last person on Earth to have seen this, but if you haven’t you should go watch it already.

Read (better) reviews of Bridesmaids on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Moon

   17 December 2013, mid-morning

Moon stars Sam Rockwell as an astronaut working in a power plant on the moon. He’s been living there for almost 3 years, alone except for a robot assistant (voiced by Kevin Spacey). This sort of isolation has made him a little bit crazy. As he prepares to return to Earth things start to get a little weird. Moon was an enjoyable movie. Sam Rockwell is great. I don’t want to discuss his performance too much, as it will give away part of the story, but suffice it to say it is varied and interesting. This is some proper science fiction with a small tight focus: it’s a film about loneliness and what it means be human. (Like so many movies, I suppose.) Rockwell is the only actor we see for much of the film. I loved how it ends.

Comment [1]  

Backyard Portraits

   29 November 2013, terribly early in the morning

I finished up a roll of film in my backyard taking a shot of everyone sitting on our deck.

Shawn

Shima

Jana

Matt

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Fallen Angels

   24 November 2013, late afternoon

I watched Fallen Angels again today. The film is the unofficial sequel to Chungking Express. They share similar themes, are shot in a very similar style, and even share the actor Takeshi Kaneshiro. There are lots of nods to Chungking Express in Fallen Angels: slightly remixed dialogue and scenes play out in Fallen Angels as an alternate-Earth version of events that transpire in Chungking Express.

Like Chungking Express there are a few stories of love and loss. In Fallen Angels the stories play out in parallel, rather than back to back. Takeshi Kaneshiro plays a mute that breaks into shops at night to run them as his own business. Leon Lai plays a hit man who takes his orders from (smoking hot) Michelle Reis: she’s also in love with him. Karen Mok plays a girl who has dyed her hair bright blonde so as not to be forgotten. Charlie Yeung plays a girl Kaneshiro’s character is infatuated with, who spends her nights trying to hunt down her ex-boyfriends current girlfriend.

Fallen Angels is very surreal. The film takes place entirely at night. Most of the film has this weird dream like feel to it. Everything seems amped up and unreal. Michelle Reis’ character seems to be operating in a constant daze, like she’s sleep walking. Most of the characters don’t seem to act or react like normal people to anything happening in their lives. I have mixed feeling about all of that. I find it harder to relate to characters in films that are too surreal. I think Fallen Angels doesn’t have the same emotional weight it would or could if it was played a bit more straight. It’d be a very different movie, though. This is a Wong Kar Wai film, so there is a lot of emotional weight. There is unrequited love. People being forgotten be their former friends and lovers. Loneliness—there is lots of that.

Like most of Wong Kar Wai’s films, Fallen Angels is at times quite visually stunning. Like Chungking Express there are lots of interesting ‘trick’ shots employed to good effect. A lot of the film is shot with super wide angle lenses. Most of the time the camera must be inches from the actor’s faces. (This distorts their faces, again making the film feel quite surreal.) This style of shooiting also lets Wong Kar Wai showcase what’s happening in the backgrounds of scenes as well, as most everything ends up being enough in focus. The last scene in the film is one of my favourites, and uses this effect quite well.

Fallen Angels is a weird film, but quite enjoyable. I think it’s a weaker movie that Chungking Express, but most films probably are. Hah.

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Aningaaq

   21 November 2013, early morning

Aningaaq is a short film by Jonas Cuaron, son of the most amazing director Alfonso Cuaron. This short film is a companion piece to the film Gravity. It’s the other side of a conversation that takes place in that film. If you haven’t seen Gravity you should probably watch that first, but this film really stands on its own and is quite beautiful. I really loved Gravity. This film makes me love it more.

Watch Aningaaq online.

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Funkaoshi: Year 10

   20 November 2013, evening time

Ten years is a long time on the Internet. It’s a long time in real life, I suppose. This site turns 10 today.

The glory days of this site were in its early years, 2004-2007. That’s really when I was posting the most, when the site might have had some amount of cachet. Back then the site was linked to from Kottke.org and had a PageRank of 6! I wrote about my life: going to concerts, watching movies, checking out bars, and all the boring stuff in between. It was an impersonal personal site. I linked to stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Those years were busy for the site.

The early audience for the site was probably other Textpattern users and my friends. I used to write lots of plugins for the Textpattern and was very active on its forum. It kept me busy after I had finished school, but before I had started working. That summer of 2004 was fantastic.

YearBlog
Posts
LinksMovies
Reviewed
200384 1 7
2004360549 80
2005287183997
2006252309647
2007233302037
2008157202150
2009141170433
201092 971 20
201131 635 4
201242 579 15
201332 496 15

There is more to this blog than posting frequency, though. 10 years is a long time. This blog has been around the entire time I’ve known my wife. We celebrated our 10 year anniversary earlier this year. I posted here the day before our wedding. In the time I’ve run this blog Shima was pregnant and had a baby, who then turned 1 and then 2. I was hit by a mother fucking car! and spent 6 weeks in a cast I’ve watched the city change, and then change some more. I also bought a wireless router, something apparently noteworthy in 2004.

There are lots of posts I like on this site, but the one I think I enjoy the most is about going to an M.I.A. concert back in 2005. (A discussion on Tamil people a few months later makes a nice epilogue.)

10 years! They’ve been great.

Comment [5]  

Minnian-Wong: Do you still have a zero tolerance for drugs, guns and gangs?
Ford: Yes
Minnian-Wong: Have you purchased drugs in the last year?
Ford: Yes.
— Today’s city council meeting has been entertaining. Nothing beats a rich entitled white dude.

Two Spaces

   11 November 2013, early evening

The Elements of Typographic Style advises a single word space two separate two sentences. Most books on typography and layout do. Like most people my age, I had been taught to type using two spaces after a sentence, a hard habit to break. Or so I thought. Apparently sometime between junior high and right now I stopped typing two spaces after a period, but never noticed.

Two spaces? One space? It’s actually a complicated story.

Comment [2]  

Oh, oh, BMO, how’d you get so pregnant?
Who’s the mother?
Oh, who’s the father?
Shh, I’ll tell you if you keep it a secret.
We will, we will, we will!
All right, last night, an electric presence came into my room and said,
BMO, I need your perfect body to host the human incarnation of a baby!”
BMO’s Pregnant Song

Concentration, Discrimination, Organization, Innovation, Communication

   21 October 2013, early afternoon

ed. I attended a conference on small business today for work. Most of the speakers were amazing. One was not. My notes from their talk.

This last talk is pure nonsense. Mostly new-age this and that. I wonder if he will be able to talk like this for a whole 45 minutes without actually saying anything. I regret not leaving before he started. It seems rude to leave now.

People are slowly trickling out of the talk. He sometimes mocks them as they leave.

He has all the ticks of a great speaker: he’s funny and engaging; his tone is conversational; he repeats his points; he speaks with a smooth cadence; his voice rises and falls at just the right moments. He’s just not saying anything. It feels like he’s strung together a series of platitudes into a whole talk.

He’s talking about about how these sorts of talks are mostly bullshit, by delivering a talk that’s mostly bullshit. It’s all very meta.

Something something continuous improvement something something. That sounds like it might be worth listening to. He doesn’t say anything useful, though.

“A true entrepreneur sets out to discover the truth.” Seriously. Like Magellan, apparently. Magellan was hacked to death by Filipino villagers.

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Gravity

   17 October 2013, early morning

Date night last night (with Mezan). We had dinner at Momofuku Noodlebar, and then watched Gravity. The film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in will they won’t they romantic comedy romp in space. Nah, just kidding. The movie opens with a space walk gone wrong. Space debris destroys the shuttle and the structures the group were working on, and risks killing them all. Sandra Bullock is sent hurtling into space. And the movie moves on from there. Gravity was incredible—if you are willing to let the occasional cheesy Hollywood dialog slide. You should. I don’t think i’ve seen another film quite like it. I’m curious to see how it was shot. I watched it in IMAX 3D, and it was such an immersive experience. It feels like you are in space with Bullock. The film is full of tension. It’s so intense. You should watch this while it’s still in the cinema. It’s well worth watching on the big screen.

The official Gravity website.

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Trip to the Park

   16 October 2013, lunch time

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I developed a big batch of film recently. It cost me a lot of money, and i’m not too happy with all the photos I got back. That’s not Downtown Camera’s fault, though. I need to take more photos again. And look at them. That’s how you get good at photography. (That’s a pro-tip for all of you just starting out taking photos.)

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Breaking Bad

   29 September 2013, evening time

I’ve seen a lot of really good television. Breaking Bad is probably the best television show ever made. And that’s that.

Comment [3]  

Yurusarezarumono (Unforgiven)

   14 September 2013, mid-morning

I watched a Japanese remake of Unforgiven tonight at TIFF. If you have seen the original, replace the cowboys with samurais. If you have not, stop reading this and go watch Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. That film is amazing. This remake stars Ken Watanabe (of course) in the lead role, playing a retired blood thirsty killer who has renounced his old ways. He joins his friend to kill two men who cut up a prostitutes face, as he is in need of money to feed his family. This film is amazing. Does the world need a samurai remake of Unforgiven? Hells fucking yes. Westerns are samurai films are westerns. It’s interesting to see just how neatly the story travels from the Wild West to North Japan. Ken Watanabe does a fine job, as one would expect from an actor of his calibre. The scenery of Hokkaido makes a great backdrop for the film. It’s a beautiful movie. I’m only watching two films at TIFF, I think, so I’m very glad this was my second and probably my last. I really can’t recommend it enough.

The TIFF writeup for Unforgiven.

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Blind Detective

   12 September 2013, evening time

Last night I watched Johnnie To’s latest film Blind Detective at TIFF. I was expecting something along the lines of Vengence, Full Time Killer, Election, The Mission, Expect the Unexpected, etc. Very quickly I realized this film was a full on romantic comedy buddy cop film. If I had know Sammi Cheng was Andy Lau’s co-star I might have guessed what was up. Still, it was an enjoyable movie. Andy Lau plays a blind detective helping super-rich cop Sammi Cheng track down her missing childhood friend, in between trying to solve other cold cases for their reward money. He has a knack for getting into the criminal’s head and figuring out what happened at the scene of a crime. The film features a lot of Sammi and Andy reenacting scenes from crimes, which jump between being grizzly and hilarious. It’s very strange. Some of the humour is very slapstick and kind of stupid, but a lot of it is quite funny. Andy Lau’s character is kind of a jerk, and he plays it to great effect. The movie reminded me very much of a 90s HK romantic comedy, the sort of thing I’d watch on CFMT. I’m guessing that’s probably not most people’s thing. The movie tries to be a thriller, buddy cop film, and a romance, which is pretty hard to pull off. I’m not sure he did here, but he gets an A for effort.

The TIFF write up for Blind Detective.

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Celeste & Jesse Forever

   13 August 2013, terribly early in the morning

Shima and I watched Celeste & Jesse Forever. It was my sort of romantic comedy: the whole film is tinged with sadness. The movie begins at the end of a love affair: the titular Jesse and Celeste are getting divorced. Things are ending so amicably it’s weirding their friends out. Of course, things don’t go as smoothly as they would like. I love Rashida Jones, who stars as Celeste. It’s possible my feelings about the film are coloured by that, but I don’t think so. The film focuses on Jones’ character and how she reacts to Jesse, played by Andy Samberg, moving on before her. I suppose the film also deals with the whole hot single women who shouldn’t be single but are thing. The film features some great acting and writing. The soundtrack is also killer. (You need to listen to the Biggest Crush Edit of Baby right now.) The film is at its best when it pulls away from its romantic comedy roots. The movie ends with things neatly tied up. It might have been a stronger movie had it ended a bit sooner, at the point Jones is delivering an amazing speech about love and marriage at her friends wedding. Though, it probably would have been a very different film. People complain I recommend all the movies I watch, but whatever, go watch this: I liked it.

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