From February 2004

Wow!

Last night it started snowing and by the looks of it kept going most of the night as the morning brought with it about 8 inches of snow! I got up nice an early (about 6am) to go snapping pics before everyone else woke up and started spoiling it all. For cars it was pretty chaotic – the Baily was impassable as a lorry got stuck going up the hill and I just looked out my window to see someone trying to drive down the hill, lose control and smash into a parked car, not at high speed luckily. The driver is looking fairly annoyed at the moment to put it mildly!

Snow

No time like the present…

Sorry about the lack of updates over the past few days but yet again their just aren’t enough hours in the day! I’ve just spent the last couple of hours coding a php install script for our SEG (Software Engineering Group) project. I’m pretty pleased with it so far although its needs a bit of tweaking.

If you like cool anime then take a look here. Looks excellent, but not as excellent as this!

More soon…

The Eye

Some people have questioned why all my film reviews are so positive. To put it bluntly I only review films that I have liked. I rarely bother about the not-so-good ones (e.g. the apathetic Elephant and the mediocre Equilibrium). Perhaps I should but to be honest I don’t really have the time!

Having just said this I saw an excellent Cantonese film yesterday called ‘The Eye‘. At the age of two, Wong Kar Mun went blind. Eighteen years later a new and risky corneal transplant operation restores her vision, but a series of inexplicable events leads her to believe there is much more than meets the eye to her newfound gift of sight. I’ll say no more but sufficed to say as psychological thrillers go its pretty scary!

The Eye

Newcastle

Having lived up North now for quite a while I though it was about time I had a proper explore of Newcastle which is only 10 mins by train away. Although the weather was fairly overcast and pretty cold I still managed to get some pretty good photos. One of the main things I wanted to see was the Millennium Bridge which is a very impressive structure – I never realized that the whole thing was designed to tilt on its axis to allow tall ships under – its ingenious!

Bridge

Just over the bridge is the newish Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art which I took a look in but unfortunately the main exhibition was devoted to a pair of early 20th century feminists, not exactly my cup of tea! After this I wondered back into the main shopping district and took a look in some of the weird and wonderful shops in Chinatown which seems strangely out of place in Newcastle!

One thing which struck me was that there appears to be a lot of regenerative development going on in Newcastle right now so obviously its getting a lot of cash from somewhere.

Ring Cycle

Before the Americans remade it as ‘The Ring’ last year was ‘Ringu’ (being the Japanese of the former). The premise of the story is based around an urban legend being that after you watch a certain spooky video tape one week later you’ll die. Taken at face value it sounds rather week but believe me the film keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way though and is well deserving of its global success.

Ringu

The film is darkly shot and maintains a tense, eerie atmosphere throughout, its high point and infamous final scene being the crowning glory that will haunt many for a long time after its over. Little more can be said about the film without giving too much away but sufficed to say that if the mother is a little on the psychopathic side just imagine what her daughter will be like!

Ringu

There are another three films in the ‘Ring Cycle’ series which I’ll be reviewing if I can get hold of the subtitles for them!

When Pigs Fly

Many have questioned the validity of whether or not pigs can fly. This was put to the test yesterday at a top jet propulsion laboratory in Durham when a fearless test subject (pictured below) volunteered to jump from a staggering height in order to save its bacon (pun not intended!).

Flying Pig

Unfortunately we now know that pigs can’t actually fly but that bacon tastes really nice when fried! Animal rights activists, outraged by this, pelted scientists with brussel-sprouts on their way home. None were injured.

Dark Water

If you scare easily or are in the least claustrophobic there is one film that you should defiantly not watch, that is Dark Water. If you’re not any of the the former then you soon will be!

Dark Water

Dark Water (also known as Honogurai mizu no soko kara) is best described as a supernatural thriller. The film follows a single mother Yoshimi who moves into what she thinks is the perfect apartment with her daughter Ikuko. No sooner have they unpacked than strange things begin to disturb their new life. A water leak from the supposedly abandoned apartment above gets bigger and bigger, a child’s satchel reappears even though Yoshimi throws it away several times, and she is haunted by the image of a child wearing a yellow mackintosh who bears a striking resemblance to a young girl who disappeared several years before.

Dark Water

From here on things get pretty freaky. Nakata’s film works so cleverly with the idea of no safety in the safest places and objects that everything seems dangerous. In combination with the terrible emotional story at the heart of the film, the feelings of dread, despair and sadness reach almost intolerable depths at times.

Dark Water

I would highly recommend watching this one late at night with the lights off – should you happen to start hearing sounds in adjacent rooms I wouldn’t worry to much, its probably nothing! Its also worth noting that the yanks are remaking the film so you’d better watch it before its spoiled forever.

Mess, mess, mess

Luckily most of this weeks horrible stuff is out the way now, all thats left is to finish of and submit the SEG Design document tomorrow. To put it bluntly the functional programming (Haskell) project was horrific. What should have taken little more than two hours (according to the lecturer) took me around twelve hours. I don’t want to think about pattern matching or recursive functions for a very long time!

My parents often accuse me of hoarding to much stuff but I thought I’d post a link to show them how good I actually am and how mush worse it could be! Take a look here (if you dare). I can only imagine that the person who the house belongs must have some sort of medical disorder, its pretty frightening to imagine how they manage to live in amongst all the mess.

The GIMP

So begins the long week of work – First off we start with a small dose of Databases followed up by a shot of Function Programming then finishing off with a SEG Design deadline. Fun huh?! I doubt I’ll be having much time this week to review any more wacky films although I have a few queued up for download later in the week.

Had a play with quite a useful program this week, namely GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) which is basically the Linux answer to Adobe Photoshop. If you’ve ever used Photoshop then you should be able to pick up the GIMP fairly quickly and for a free open-source effort it’s excellent. It has many of the features Photoshop users have become accustomed to: the ability to create layers, add filters, feather, add text, and animate so is defiantly a viable alternative.

Na-qoy-qatsi: (nah koy’ kahtsee)

Continuing with my season of unusual films I thought I might reflect on a trilogy of films which date back to before I was even born but which has only just concluded. The “Qatsi” trilogy began in 1975 and was the brain child of Godfrey Reggio, for a good potted history see here. First came “Koyaanisqatsi” (Life Out of Balance), then came “Powaqqatsi” (Life in Transition), and most recently “Naqoyqatsi” (Life as War – 2003) which I saw a couple of days ago.

nakoy

By now you may be wondering what on earth I’m on about, but I’ll leave it up to the description off the site to explain:

“A motion picture experience beyond words, NAQOYQATSI merges the power of image and music to plunge into the heart of the hyperaccelerated, globally wired 21st century. Mesmerizing images plucked from everyday reality, then visually altered with state-of-the-art digital techniques, stream across the screen in synch with a hypnotic score by Philip Glass, featuring the passionate cello work of Yo-Yo Ma. Despite the film’s nonverbal nature, the ultimate effect of its starkly futuristic, computer-enhanced visual fabric is to get people talking about how technology is altering everything: media, art, entertainment, sports, politics, medicine, warfare, ethics, nature, culture and the very face of the human future.”

nakoy

The films can only really be described as work’s of art. Their mesmerizing visuals are almost hypnotic and combined with a stunning soundtrack its a pretty incredible experience. The philosophy and ethic’s contained withing the pieces are so understated yet striking as a whole – this film really makes you think about society with all its flaws. A must watch film for anyone with an inquiring mind.