Category Archives: Technology

Yet Another Video Game I’ll Probably Never Play

I’m not a Gamer. I don’t own a PlayStation or an Xbox. But when I see something like this 8½-minute trailer for an upcoming game called Death Stranding, it makes me wonder what I’ve been missing.

No firm release date as yet, but it’s supposed to come out sometime this year.


Watching this reminded me that we’ve come a very long way from Pacman. And that reminded me of Marcus Brigstocke’s wonderful defense of video games against the charge that they’re a bad influence on children:

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Every Christopher Nolan Movie Ever

There are certain actors and directors who do something so original, so stunning that they and their collaborators earn one of my personal Get Out of Jail Free cards. Vince Gilligan, Bryan Cranston and everyone else associated with Breaking Bad have cards. So does everyone who worked on Buffy or Utopia or Let the Right One In. This year, I added The Good Place and Killing Eve to my list. The card indicates that I trust the creators to continue to amaze me, and if they make a slip or two, it’s no biggie.

Ever since I was awed by Memento in 2000, Christopher Nolan has been one of my favourite directors. That film was so mind-blowingly good that he gets a lifetime pass.

Back in March, I posted a Screen Junkies video of “Every Wes Anderson Movie”, which took a humourous look at the oeuvre of a director of whom I am not fond. To balance things, here’s their examination of the works an insanely talented director:


Here’s the trailer for Memento. Still gives me shivers.

Prague, Beautiful Prague

This is a live stream from Prague, provided by a company called CamStreamer. The Czech Republic is six hours ahead of US East Coast time, so the stream is best viewed between late night and early afternoon in the East. When it’s dark in Prague, the images are murky and uninteresting.


If I could live anywhere in the world, Prague would be near the top of the list. The great disqualifier, for me, would be my inability to learn the difficult Czech language this late in life. While English is the de facto common language in much of Europe, it’s far from universal.

For a certain kind of American, Prague in the 1990s was what Paris was in the 1920s, or what San Francisco was in the 1960s—the Red Hot Center, the Happening city, a culturally rich environment with a thriving creative class, free from the conformist restraints of buttoned-up America. It didn’t hurt that the cost of living was a fraction of what it was in the States.

In the video stream, the camera pans from the Charles Bridge over the Vltava river, past the Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral, to the Strahov monastery and back. Walking across the ethereal, haunting Charles Bridge in the evening is one of those things that everyone should do before they die. It’s magical.


The background music is “Vltava”, the tone poem that serves as the second movement of Bedřich Smetana’s Má vlast, which is best known in English as My Country. The Bedřich Smetana Museum is one of the endpoints of the video stream.

Since 1952, the Prague Spring International Music Festival has opened on 12 May, the anniversary of Smetana’s death. The opening concert has always been a performance of Má vlast.

Here’s the 2018 concert:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the One Night Only Screening

The National Theatre in London captures some of its finest offerings and makes them available for very limited runs—usually just one night, with possible encore performances months or years later—at selected theatres around the world. I’ve seen perhaps a dozen of the shows.

The one that impressed me most was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the National Theatre’s adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel of the same name. The play won seven Olivier and five Tony Awards, and even by the monumentally high standards of the Theatre, it was dazzling. I saw it when it was first screened, in 2014, and called it one of the high points of the year.

The play follows Christopher, a boy on the autism spectrum, as he tries to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbour’s dog. The staging at times puts us inside Christopher’s head, as he navigates a sometimes overwhelmingly perplexing reality.

And now it’s coming back: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is returning to selected international cinemas this month. But you have to act fast. Most of the shows are scheduled to run on Tuesday, 12 June 2018.

Sorry for the short notice.

To see if it’s playing near you, check the listing on the National Theatre’s website.

50 Years Later, There’s a New Print of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And It’s Drop-Dead Gorgeous.

This MUST be watched in full screen!


Thanks to Christopher Nolan, there’s a new 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nolan saw the film as a child in London, and, like many people, never got over the experience. in a good way.

After the success of Dunkirk last year, he spent months overseeing the project to create the new print. He emphasizes that it’s not a restoration:

“For the first time since the original release, this 70mm print was struck from new printing elements made from the original camera negative. This is a true photochemical film recreation. There are no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits. This is the unrestored film – that recreates the cinematic event that audiences experienced fifty years ago.”

2001: A Space Odyssey opens on 18 May 2018, for limited runs in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, with more cities to follow. You can find ticket and engagement information at the 2001: A Space Odyssey website.

(Speaking of engagements, there’s no word yet on whether the 18 May release date will lead to a postponement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, which is scheduled for the next day in Windsor. What a dilemma for those poor guests!)

The recreated edition will be released on DVD and Blu-ray this fall, but you really want to see this on a big screen with big sound.


Here’s the original trailer for the 1968 release of 2001: A Space Odyssey:

“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

Brideshead Downton Abbey ReVisited

After years of relentlessly mocking the looniness of Downton Abbey while never missing an episode of the series, there was no way that I could pass up a chance to spend an afternoon at “Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” while I was in New York.

It was a treat.

Throughout the New York show, you’re greeted by some of the principal Downton actors, in costume and in character, via HD video. The exhibition covers three floors and contains hundreds—or, more likely, thousands—of props, costumes, and furnishings from the TV series. Snippets of dialog from the series play at related parts of the exhibition.  The use of technology to enrich the experience is flawless.


The first floor of the exhibition focuses on the servants and the “Downstairs” portion of the house, starting with the kitchen.

The informative signage that explained the roles and duties of the various members of the household was particularly good.

The servants’ dining table.

Mr. Carson and Mrs Hughes in Mr. Carson’s Office.

Mr. Carson’s Desk shows an attention to detail that’s typical of the exhibition.

If you looked closely at the pictures, you might have noticed something peculiar about the representation of the servants. I think that it must allude to a particularly dark episode in the Crowley family history. During the 1926 General Strike, Lady Violet was left in charge of the Abbey while the Crowley men went off to shoot some random strikers. As the hours wore on and her consumption of sherry grew apace, she became increasingly unhinged, until, fearing a violent revolution was about to bring down the Abbey and all it symbolized, she had the entire Downton underclass decapitated and stuffed.

The next morning, in the cold light of day—cold, because she’d offed the servant responsible for seeing that the rooms were warmed before the family awoke—she expressed extreme regret for her impetuous actions, once she realized there was no one left to prepare her morning tea.

Churchill helped the family cover up the incident, and the TV series tactfully ignored it.


Leaving behind the Morlocks who labour below the earth, we ascend to the golden, carefree world of the Eloi….

Oh, wait.  Wrong story,

The second floor is all about The Family and everything here—the clothes, the furniture, the people—is brighter, richer, and more colourful.

The Dining Room was a show-stopper.

Lady Violet has a little display area entirely to herself, where the audio features some of her better-known witticisms, including the one that has always seemed to me to be an excellent example of the series getting things hopelessly, unforgivably wrong.

Viewing a well-set dining table like the one in the picture above, she says, “Nothing succeeds like excess”, at which point I’ve been known to shout “No. No. No!” at the TV screen. A tacky sentiment like that would never come from Old Money. It’s something a Trump would say.


The third floor has a small display of miscellaneous costumes. After the richness of the rest of the show, it’s a bit anticlimactic.

Wedding Gowns.


So that was my afternoon at Downton. The show is beautifully put together, and I had a delightful time.

Cute Videos of the Day, 15 March 2018 — “The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway”

Queen Elsa to the rescue.

“Elsa” is a 37-year-old lawyer named Jason Triplett, who was dressed appropriately for Boston’s “Frozen” winter weather earlier this week.


“Cute Video of the Day” is an occasional feature on this blog. It includes an alarming number of videos that show children falling down.