clauditorium: (wah!)
Livejournal seems to be dying a slow death, so I moved my journal over to:

http://clauditorium.wordpress.com/

To make it easier to follow, you can subscribe to it (just click on the button labelled "Sign me up!").

It looks pretty basic for now but I'm planning to make major customizations. Go check out my new post about "the nine biggest reality douches"!

G20

Jun. 27th, 2010 12:28 pm
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In situations like this, it's so easy to demonize the police. They're wearing scary uniforms, but it's law-breakers they're trying to scare.

I was watching a news report yesterday that mentioned protesters angrily asking the cops questions about Afghanistan and women's rights. That's pretty stupid; what is it supposed to accomplish, exactly?

There's a video on Youtube showing the cops advancing on protesters. When I first watched it I found it a bit scary, but that's a knee-jerk reaction. If you look closer, you'll notice that the cops never actually come in contact with any protesters. What they're doing here is a scare tactic to dislodge illegal protesters* blocking a busy street: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Heb9BXjYcII

The poster actually cut her video short (full version here: http://www.vimeo.com/12903946), and the reason is that to show the whole thing would be anticlimactic and undercut the point she's trying to make. Because nothing happens after that thirty seconds.

*They're singing "O Canada" to make the cops look bad, but if you're doing something illegal, it doesn't matter what song you're singing.

sign I saw

Jun. 24th, 2010 09:55 pm
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"The whole family is so much happier ever since dad got the vasectomy!"

sign I saw

Jun. 14th, 2010 10:01 pm
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Um, based on that picture, shouldn't that read "not just a scary face"?
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Oh dear, can't you see? It's them it's not me
We're not enemies; we just disagree
...
We all disagree
I think we should disagree
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Les enfants du paradis (1945)




The tale of a woman and the four men (a mime, an actor, a criminal, and an aristocrat) who fall for her, each in his own way. Set in the 19th century Paris theatre scene, this richly entertaining, elaborately mounted, funny, and heartbreaking emotional epic of tangled relationships seems to bear the influence of William Shakespeare (a performance of Othello within the movie could be seen as a tribute). When it's not dealing with painful emotions, the film has an oddly pleasing sweet-natured tone. Well-shot and well-acted, with great dialogue and colourful characters who interact fascinatingly.


p.s. Marko, vois ce film immédiatement!

iMovieARRGH

Jun. 3rd, 2010 01:27 am
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iMovie can be a good tool for putting together videos, but when it comes to correct aspect ratios, it often seems downright dense.

Why is it that the only way I can get an excerpt from this 596x248 video file in the correct aspect ratio is to ask for it in 640x480 (at which point it has to add ginormous letterbox black bars)? Infuriating!!

original


result


What's that you say? What if I ask to have it in its original dimensions? See for yourself:


If anyone out there knows something I don't, please illuminate me before I pull the last of my hair out!

W

Jun. 2nd, 2010 11:33 am
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I just edited a Wikipedia page for the first time. It's so weird that anyone is allowed to do this.

sign I saw

May. 27th, 2010 07:30 pm
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Notice how they brag about their pizza being hot and fresh, but it says nothing on there about taste? There's a reason for that.

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Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm.
Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm.
Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm.
Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm.
Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm.
Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm.
Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm.
Something in my veins, bloodier than blood.
Something in my veins, bloodier than blood.
Something in my veins, bloodier than blood.
Something in my veins, bloodier than blood.
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The sixth and final season of the tv show Lost ended last night. Genre-wise, the show could best be described as "mystery". And that sense of mystery, along with suspense and great cinematography, is what hooked me in the pilot.

The problem if your show is a mystery is that you can't win. Human nature dictates that we want the mystery to be solved. But at the same time, solving the mystery would rob the show of... its alluring sense of mystery.

Many mysteries were presented to the audience over the course of Lost's six seasons, and I think the creators (Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, collectively referred to as "Darlton" by fans) made the best decision possible - they would solve some mysteries, and leave others open. That frustrated a certain group of viewers, who wanted every single question answered. My response: that would've been the equivalent of someone explaining a joke, and it would've killed the show. How boring it would've been if the last season consisted of the show going down a checklist of answers. I'm reminded of the misguided final episode of The X-Files, wherein Mulder connected the dots of all the show's strange ideas. It felt like math class. In fact, a few of the times when Darlton made an effort to directly resolve a mystery, it felt inorganic.

Another worthless complaint was that Darlton were making it up as they went along. Those viewers don't seem to realize what the alternative would imply: they would've had to map out over 80 hours of a television show (that's without commercials) with something like 20 main characters and dozens of complex intertwined storylines, all without even knowing if their show was going to be renewed for a second season, never mind a sixth. Something else these people overlook is that the fact that Darlton did make up most of the show as they went along (while still knowing the basics of where it was headed) kept it fresh and unpredictable, and allowed for much-needed course-corrections along the way.

At the same time as I believe it's wrong to dismiss the show, I also believe it's wrong to attribute it with any kind of "best show ever" label. As I alluded to above, this type of show is, by nature, uneven. That means some disappointments to go with the thrills. So sure, I have some complaints. There were plot holes and corny moments, and some of the answers (including the explanation for this season's "flash-sideways") were duds.

But anyone attempting something this ambitious is bound to fall on their face once in a while. The important thing is that the ups greatly outweighed the downs. I don't regret a single moment I invested in this show, and I look forward to watching it again from beginning to end.
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I wrote countless essays as an English major. I love movies, and went to film school for four years. One would think I'd be good at writing movie reviews. But I'm not.*

In the nineties I used to purchase Leonard Maltin's annual movie guide, a thick book listing seemingly every movie ever made. He rated them from BOMB to four stars. Eventually I realized I didn't care much for his approach to film. I think it was his opinion of Dances With Wolves that drove this point home for me. He gave it four stars, but the source of his praise seemed to be all about the sets and costumes. The film does excel in those departments, but Maltin overlooks the fact that it also happens to be a tedious, shallow piece of work. Also, he seemed to see it as a flaw if a film was upsetting. Still, I found a use for his book. I went through it page by page and wrote down the title of every movie I had seen. I've been keeping that list up to date ever since (I've seen about 1700 movies).

In February 1990, the first issue of Entertainment Weekly was published. I was introduced to letter grades, which I've used ever since. Actually, I boil it down further, by rating films out of 100**. For every movie I'd seen, I created a note card with information, comments, and my grade.

In 2000, I finally got my first computer, and it wasn't long before I discovered The Internet Movie Database***, a far more comprehensive catalogue of films (and television programs) than Maltin's book ever was. Of course, I also found a much more pleasing way to format my list of films. Over the last couple of months, I've been getting rid of all info and thoughts I had written on paper, transferring them to a couple of Word documents - one being a factual table listing year, director, actors, genre, and grade; the other for my reviews.

While I enjoy the neatening process, there has been one downside. As I transcribe these notes that I took a decade or more ago, I find myself cringing quite often. I may not be much of a movie critic now, but man, did I ever suck back then. And no, I am not transcribing any of that tripe into this post. I'll just say that if I see the word "witty" or "compelling" again, I may puke.

I'm not sure why I never became a good movie critic. Even when I wrote essays for English class, I always had trouble meeting the minimum length requirements. There was something basic about essay-writing that I didn't understand. I think I just find it difficult to turn my thoughts and feelings into words.


*see for yourself
**I know there's something objectionable about assigning a grade to a work of art, but said grade exists mostly for my personal satisfaction. It helps me maintain the illusion that there's some sort of order to the world.
***As useful as that website is, it also serves as home to the most dim-witted comment board posters on the internet.
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throbbing slab of hog gristle

sign I saw

May. 16th, 2010 03:19 pm
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Porkchop and I are the reason this message was added on my building's elevator tvs.
: )

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Sleepaway Camp (1983)




A five-year-old watches her father and brother get killed in a boating accident (or does she?). Eight years later she is sent away to a summer camp with a suddenly high fatality rate.

The plot borrows elements of Friday the 13th, but this slasher pic is superior in every way. There isn't really any suspense, but the story is fun and compelling, the visuals have a sense of style, the killings are creative, and the movie ends with a properly shocking image.

Karen Fields and Desiree Gould go over the top in their roles as, respectively, a slut and a nutty aunt, but aside from them, the acting isn't bad at all.

The high camp factor is icing on the cake.

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Solaris (1972)




Some odd reports have been coming from astronauts stationed on the planet Solaris, so someone is sent to check things out.

A philosophical treatise in science fiction clothing, this movie is drained of emotion, and it moves at a snail's pace. Still, it remains compelling, even though it sometimes stops dead in its tracks so its characters can discuss the meaning of life.

Its mystifying philosophical dialogue calls to mind Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot, and elements of style and atmosphere recall Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Its setting recalls both.

There was so much to take in that I may need to see it again to do it justice.


I like doggies.
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American Movie (1999)



Scenes like this brought back memories of film school.


This documentary follows amateur filmmaker Mark Borchardt as he works on a short horror film titled Coven.

When this movie came out, some critics accused the director of holding Borchardt up for ridicule, but I completely disagree. He's the kind of guy some would dismiss as a "loser", but the film never judges him. He was obviously chosen because he's an interesting yet relatable character. The excerpts from his work show he has some talent. I cheered his minor victories, and cringed at the lack of faith displayed by his family.

sign I saw

May. 8th, 2010 08:35 pm
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It's nice to know Keifer Sutherland is no longer struggling with debt.
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Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)




A man's mistress suggests that he murder his wife so they can run away together. Unpredictable story is like a romantic comedy bookended by a film noir (long before the names for these genres were coined). Somehow, the different tones work together to create a moving portrait. Janet Gaynor's beautifully expressive face deserves much of the credit.
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