Archive for July, 2006

US Box Office

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

The 80-ties throwback Miami Vice seems to be still popular, now with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as Crockett & Tubbs, ending up the Pirates’ winning spree. With $25.2 million it’s on par with expectations, but it’s got a lot more work to do if it wants to earn back the $125 million budget.
Pirates of the Cariebean: Dead Man’s Chest drops one spot, with $20.5 million it was a too tough competition for the other new releases. Teen girl revenge flick John Tucker Must Die opens at 3 with $14 million, while Monster House drops 2 spots with $11.5 million. Rounding out the top 5 is The Ant Bully with an all-star voice cast, but if fails to impress the family, or even just the kids, with a mere $8.1 million.

How Messy is it at my Work Today ?

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Rate 1 (sucks) to 5 (cool). Only rate the latest pictures, otherwise I can’t keep track of the average.

Total: 800 out of 246 votes > Average is: 3.252

With so few updates in this section, you might start to think I’m actually not working. How far from the truth can you get ?

work pic
Apparently, Smart“ bought himself a logo with a scarcely clothed lady silhouette (dare I even imagine it being an SM tool she’s holding in her hand ?).

Review: The Lake House

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

12 years after their first collaboration (basically making them both shoot to stardom), Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves give it another go, albeit at quite a slower speed. This is clearly softy romantic drama, butchered with a contrived outline. This makes for dialogue crammed around 3 bended corners to fit the synopsis, but somehow, manages to keep a silky softness to it. If you take the one fantasy element for granted (like so many movies before in these recent years), and ignore the narrative anomalies (some might say innovation, I definitely disagree), it’s not that bad at all.7-.

One-sentence review

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

Dave Chappelle’s Block Party: Mix of docu-comedy and music that surprisingly digests quite well, despite long jam sessions with too many rap artists.7.
Sarah Silverman’s Jesus is Magic: Funny-woman with her own style of comedy, in a weirdly mixed stand-up/sketch show.7+.
The Benchwarmers: The usual Happy Madison Productions (Adam Sandler) shockinly keeping it very middle-of-the-road.6-.

US Box Office

Monday, July 24th, 2006

A feat not often happening anymore, Pirates hangs on the top spot for its third week, with a more than healthy $35 million (cume at $321.7). It also managed to beat SW:III, reaching the $300 million mark in 16 days, down from Revenge of the Sith’s 17 days.
At the runner-up spot is Monster House, the second movie to use performance capturing (after The Polar Express), with $23 million.
Third spot is for M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water. With $18.2 million, it’s a new low since his break-out hit The Sixth Sense, with industry watch dogs even considering it a flop.
You, Me and Dupree drops to number 4 with $12.8 million. Rounding out the top 5 is Little Man, proving to have shorter legs than Dupree’s, with $11 million. Little Man opened slightly better last week, but cume is now lower (resp. $40.6 million vs. $45.3 million).

Summer TV Schedule

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

With the last review of the normal TV season out of the way, it’s time to bring on the summer schedule. Mostly cable shows now, quality-wise, it’s pretty much up there.
So here it is:

The 4400 (Season 3, USA Network)
Monk (Season 5, USA Network)

Pretty good:
The Dead Zone (Season 5, USA Network)
Weeds (Season 2, Showtime (they must be high on something, starting late August!))

Late Night:
The Colbert Report

The Closer (Season 2, TNT)

Psych (Season 1, USA Network)
Blade: The Series (Season 1, Spike TV)

Update: still more series are starting this summer, so here are a few more shows:

Pretty good:
Last Comic Standing (Season 4, NBC)

The Contender (Season 2, ESPN)

Brotherhood (Season 1, Showtime)
Eureka (Season 1, Sci-fi chan)
Knights of Prosperity (Season 1, ABC)
Who Wants to be a Superhero (Season 1, Sci-fi chan)
Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (Season 1, TNT)

Review: Windows Vista Beta 2

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

While this review is a month short of being fresh or new, the Beta program has been closed, so at least I have _some_ bragging rights. I couldn’t resist of course, in June, being an ultra-geek passing on a public Beta release. During XP, it wasn’t available yet, let alone the bandwidth that is required to pull a whole DVD off the Microsoft servers. So after a month of testing, what’s the verdict ?

First of all, you’ll notice your PC formerly running XP, seems a bit sluggish when running Vista. To check if it’s just my imagination or not, I fired up Half-life 2: Episode One, and behold, a freakin’ stuttering Alyx. On a full XP drive (non-defragmented), it’s far less noticable. One point in the minus.

NTFS has changed slightly. It’s enough to throw a few things off balance. For instance, using Partition Magic will leave you with a non-booting Vista. But at least a full backup can be made and restored using a TrueImage CD boot. Two points in the negative.

A nice feature (possibly a Symantec Ghost killer) is CompletePC backup. But while you can make a backup (not compressed, no incremental option), you can’t restore it just yet, as the boot DVD didn’t have the restore option built-in yet. No points there.

Any PC with XP probably has its network up and running in no time. So will it with Vista. Except, early on, I already noticed network was very slow, and didn’t come close to even reaching 10mbit. After manually setting it to full duplex 100mbit, it obliged with a high throughput file copy over the network. Ouch, another point in the minus.

Search: Normal file search in 2000/XP was slow as it is, but this current inception makes you jump up and down like a madman, while you’re yelling “ARE YOU F_#)*(%# BLIND ?” to the computer screen. Granted, it adds meta data search, but when doing a file search, I can tell you, you don’t want it. Add to the fact that you can’t find a single mp3 on my server (while there is a few Gigabytes of it in plain sight), doing the search will throw Explorer in an Indexing frenzy, making your PC sluggish for hours to come. Trust me when I say, it’s back to dir *.* /s for the coming years. A FEW points in the minus.

User Access Control is supposed to be helpful (for instance, prevents catastrophic results after an accidental click on a virus while being logged in as admin) by adding extra questionaire pop-up windows, but I can assure you about 99.9999% of the Beta users will have turned it of within an hour of use. It’s bothersome and repetitive. No points here.

Aero Glass, yay. Nice (transparent) eye candy, but a bit non-functional. Again, no points. (Where’s the promised 3D GUI ? And why bring a fully capable game PC which can ran all games in high quality in 1024*768 in XP to a crawl ?)

Remote Desktop protocol upped again by 0.1 point. Protocol only adds Network Level Authentication, nothing spectacular like tunneling or encryption. Half a point there.

Some other diagnostic tools are included (like a memory tester), but it’s unclear if Windows Defender (for spy-/ad-/malware detection) will stay free or not. Another half a point there.

And finally, only one point awarded, is to the advanced reporting tool (spiced up status windows from XP’s Task Manager), with CPU threads, memory and network usage clearly stating who uses what where and how.

All in all, nothing shocking for XP users. Maybe it’s something for big companies who might be able to get a tighter control over their workstations. But who will spend extra money on a new operating system and then spend triple that amount to upgrade the PC’s to a level at which any casual gamer will broadly smile at.

US Box Office

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

Pirates stay on top of the box office this week, taking in another $62.1 million, with a total heading for $300+ million mark next week or so (currently at $258 million). Competition is not a laughing matter, though, with Little Man taking in $21.7 million, and You, Me and Dupree taking in a slightly lower $21.3 million.
At 4, Supez is taking another dive, taking $11.6 million, and a total of $163.6 million. Kryptonite will probably make it a tough race for the $200 million mark.
And rounding out the top 5 is The Devil Wears Prada, with $10.5 million and a cume of $83.6 million. While that is half of Supez total, The Devil can be considered a huge succes as it is only 1/8 of Supez budget.

How Messy is Smart“’s my Desk Today ?

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

Rate 1 (FR#^&% MESS !) to 5 (how very tidy !). Only rate the latest picture, otherwise I can’t keep track of the average.

Just in case you did not read the title, this IS NOT MY DESK, this is from native Amsterdammer Smart“ (illegally inhabiting a municipality designated location for commercial activity).

Total: 9 out of 2 votes > Average is: 4.500

desk pic

Review: Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

Another long title for another long movie, but is it worth breaking the box office record for ? Comparing it to the first part, I’d say nay. The first being new and fresh, you really have to come up with something groundbreaking to make it stand out. This sequel clearly doesn’t. Moving away from character exploration, instead of elevating it to character development, it drops the stone so far it’s non-character specific story telling. The story itself is simple, though they try to make it appear more complicated than it is.
This all means the movie has to have it from the action and the jokes, and there are quite a few of those (including a few innovative action sequences). And all that makes it worthy of an average grade.7.

Review: Hard Candy

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

By far the best psychological thriller this year. Not only is the story surprisingly good and subtle, it’s also able to grip you from the very start till the very end. Basically a masterful duel of words, Patrick Wilson had already proven himself years ago with the Angels in America miniseries (while still keeping a low profile ever since), it’s Ellen Page who will take most of the credits with her breakthrough performance (even though her resume is longer than Wilson’s, plus she’s in a Hollywood blockbuster, X-Men The Last Stand).
Direction seems to lean a bit too much towards close-ups, but later on you’ll feel the effect of it. With other simple but effective tricks to segue from scene to scene, former music video director David Slade proves to be insightful for a beginner.
If you ever wonder if only two people at one location can keep your full attention for over a hundred minutes, this movie is definitely what you should try.7½.

Review: Blade – The Series 101 – 102

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

Spike TV is diverting a bit of its (usually male oriented reality shows) budget to original series, and this is the first of the batch. Trying it safely, it’s a continuing of a Marvel Movie franchise, with Avi Arad still attached as producer.
Of course, the basics are the same, but they’re trying new things as not to rehash the old stories. Also apparent are a set of arch-enemies recurring throughout the series (even featuring as the A-story for now). Looks promising ? Well, one series who followed the same formula was Highlander. And if you’ve paid attention, the quality wasn’t really that good (though it lasted 6 seasons on syndication). This is about the same, budget doesn’t seem to be high, but they try to make the most of it (unflattering sfx and choreography). Hiring cheap actors is another budget saving measure.
All in all, for now it’s filling the low season TV schedule, but come overlap time (when the summer series are finishing up in Sept/Oct, and the networks are already starting their new TV season), Blade will be the first to be cut off.

US Box Office

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

The box office is under attack by pirates this week. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, despite mixed reviews, not only break a first day release record ($55.5 million, beating SWIII’s $50 millon), it also breaks the 3-day opening record ($132 million, beating Spidey’s $115 million).
One victim of this, is Superman Returns, appearing to lose his powers of flight, dropping hard (56%) with just $21.9 million. Rounding out the top 5 are last week’s left-overs, all dropping one spot, resp. The Devil Wears Prada with $15.6 million, Click with $12 million and Cars with $10.3.

Why don’t you stab a knife through my heart, pleez ?

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

Oh wait, someone beat ya to it. Figuratively speaking of course.
Parking my car in an underground parking garage to have a chill day in Amsterdam, and what do I find after just 5 hours ? SCRATCH ! (height and direction of the damage suggest some other car’s door rammed it into mine)
Therefore, my conclusion is a clear one. Amsterdammers are rude, inconsiderate and guile. No exceptions.
car scratch
(Picture is somewhat unfocused, due to the high-reflection (previously undamaged) metallic paint job)

Review: Over the Hedge

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

Simple outline, simple script, but executed with a reasonable amount of fun and solid pace. While the mission is basically the same throughout the movie, and the action takes place in a limited environment, the script is written with such a variety you won’t notice it all. Characters are distinctively designed, and dialogue clicks well. This is all glued together by an experienced team, and hence delivers high quality cinematography (rendering with nice focus/zoom/fade effects). While there have been more and more slip-ups when it comes to 3D animation (not just Dreamworks, but also Pixar/Disney, Fox, and the others), this one is definitely not one of those.7½.