I are'nt ded

While this thing still works, it seems that I have not much clue about how to operate it anymore. LJ seem to have been determinedly moving ahead with New Stuff, while I quite liked the old things, thanks, and that was a few years ago. Or "forever", in computing terms. Oh well.
opus not that good


Luc Besson! Scarlett Johansson! Morgan Freeman! Kick-butt! What's not to like?

Well, the godawful dialogue, for a start. The plot and direction aren't up to much, either.

The short version of the plot: Johansson gets forced into service as a drug mule, unintentionally gets ingests ridiculously large quantities of it, and turns into a god. Meanwhile, Morgan Freeman lectures drivel about using more cerebral capacity, and how that'll unlock magic powers. Uh, why? Johansson decides she needs more of the drug, and to see Freeman. I've no idea why. Korean gangsters want their drug back, but come a cropper when facing Neo Carrie Johansson.

(I mean, for crying out loud: if you're becoming all-powerful and gaining understanding of advanced mathematics and quantum mechanics and so on, can't you pick up just a little bit of art and lit along the way, and come out with some less-cliched dialogue? Flowers for Algernon this is not.)

The whole thing is just meh. Desperately disappointing, since Besson's been responsible for some fantastic actioners of late. I was hoping this would give us a sort-of Black Widow under the radar, while Marvel's being too mysogynistic to make one.

No. Really not.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This was a lot better than I expected.

I found the first Cap film to be....okay. Heartfelt, but a little sentimental, and Hydra/Red Skull seemed silly. This film still has the silliness of Hydra infiltrating SHIELD (not a spoiler - its pretty much out there early on in the film), but has a much firmer basis for its position: the war on terror. As with the Civil War comic book, this film takes the approach that the cost of "winning" that war is too high, in terms of civil liberties, and that SHIELD is as much a problem as Hydra. Bravo.

Evans does a fantastic job, evoking Christopher Reeve in his wholesome, earnest, but not cheesy idealist. Johansson gets a much bigger role here than she does in any previous Marvel film, and that's good to see. She does deadpan well, but there's too much where Cap gets to be the rescuer, compared to the Avengers Assemble, where each shone equally.

Jackson also gets plenty to do as Fury, and newcomer Mackie does well as Falcon, a character entirely new to me.

I just rented this, but I liked it enough that I'll probably fork out for a copy.

The Raid 2

The Raid was a surprise smash-hit, helped considerably by the simplicity of its plot: A police captain leads a squad of rookies in a raid on a tower block in a Jakartan ghetto, to capture the gangster that rules the whole block. It goes wrong, and the rookies have to fight their way up, to win. A low-budget concept that could continually re-use sets, it won through on the inventive and visceral fight sequences.

Its sequel takes the Die Hard With a Vengence approach, getting way too much budget and freedom, and produces a poorer film as a result. Picking up almost immediately afterwards, it contrives a scenario where protagonist Rama goes undercover in one gang, who are in an uneasy truce with a second, while a third gang plots to undermine both. There are varied locations, tense moments, double-crosses and shifting loyalties and - god forbid - a car chase. There are some ace fight sequences, and Rama continues to be a force to reckon with, but this film is spread too wide and too thin.

There were some weird things that suggested script re-writes: Yayan Ruhian's character appears in both films, but I thought the character died in the first, and his involvement in the second doesn't go anywhere. Similarly, Rama makes a mistake in his fieldcraft which suggests his cover will be blown, but nothing comes of it.

Overall, a disappointment.
Rickman cancel christmas

Olympus Has Fallen

I watched this on the flight out to Vegas. It had been lurking on the iPad after being downloaded for a previous trip.

The plot: Gerard Butler is a secret service agent on the President's detail who gets into the doghouse by doing his job properly, with unfortunate consequences. Some time later, Koreans storm the Whitehouse in a cunning plan, and Butler - now exiled to the Treasury Dept across the street - is the only one who is in a position to fight back.

Oh, basically it's Die Hard in the Whitehouse.

I have no idea whether it's any good, since I only made out a handful of lines of dialogue, despite the iPad being on full volume, and Apple's dreadful movie app didn't appear to have subtitles for this film. So mainly I was working out the plot based on the facial features.

So, meh.

iOS Twitter clients

I have a wifi-only iPad. I often use it to read Stuff when I'm out of wifi spots - travelling to/from work, say. I download a bunch off new stuff while I'm in range, for various apps: mail, webpages, twitter.

The default twitter app sucks, for this purpose.

First: I want to fetch all the new tweets. All of them. Not just a few, and I certainly don't want to have to scroll through looking for the gap bars so that I can get more. Give me every single tweet since the last time I downloaded.

(It can't be just me that reads tweets in chronological order, I.e. bottom to top. So why does the app always show the most recent of the downloaded chunk, making it even harder to find where to start reading? Or, more likely, to download the next chunk.)

Also: I want to say "refresh now" without having to scroll to the top.

Next: I really don't want the app to spontaneously decide that, perhaps, I didn't want to go to all that effort, and to discard all but the most recent.

Finally: I frequently want to follow a link, but since I'm off the net, I can't. Nor do I want to lose the tweet. At the moment, I mail the tweet to myself, which takes a ridiculous amount of finger actions. Why isn't there a "save for later" option?

Suggestions for a not-so-broken client?
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The Amazing Spider-Man

Well, it's just asking for it, with a title like that, isn't it?

I was underwhelmed, to be honest. Full disclosure: I didn't really go into this with open arms. Metaphorically speaking, I was leaning back, arms folded, feet up, glaring at the screen and daring it to be any good, so perhaps it's not too surprising that it fell short of the hype, if not my expectations.

I dunno. I just wasn't grabbed by Garfield as Peter Parker, nor Stone as Gwen Stacey, and there seemed to be way too much going on in the school that would give the game away.

Martin Sheen was awesome as Uncle Ben, but then, c'mon, Martin Sheen. Obviously, he'll be amazing. But Spider-Man wasn't. It was just...meh. It was either by the numbers, or trying to hit the origin story beats while dodging around the earlier trilogy's dialogue, or diverting somewhat (which may be entirely canonical; I'm unfamiliar with the Ultimate reboots, and just about everything imaginable is canonical somewhere in the DC/Marvel multiverses).

How to tell your movie is in trouble: the best bit, the most imaginative bit of writing, is the Stan Lee cameo.

Tobey and Raimi still reign, in this particular franchise.

Latin translation needed

Hello, Lazyweb.

A friend of mine is looking for a latin translation of "Helsinki Liechtenauer Academy". (Liechtenauer was a Medaeval German fencing master who wrote one of the earliest known treatises.) My friend writes:

I'm kind of hoping to get some form of a fencing group going at some point, so I was wondering how something like "Helsinki Liechtenauer Academy" would translate to Latin. Apparently Academy translates as Academia, or Academiae - I'm not sure which one would be correct, but I'm also equally unsure of whether or not the words Helsinki and Liechtenauer should be "latinised" some how. If you can find someone with an answer this that, it would super.

Any suggestions?