Monday, March 30, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Yelp iPhone application (free) allows users to sync up with their Yelp web account. Though you can't actually review a site or interact with other users within the application, you can read other users' reviews, bookmark businesses, get directions, add photos, and do broad or location-based searches. Conveniently, it also remembers your 10 most recently accessed businesses for easy recall.
The application is fast and a breeze to use. It is very useful for quickly locating and evaluating local businesses. Hard core Yelp-ers may be disappointed in the lack of social features--you can't write reviews or respond to other's reviews via the iPhone. Me? I wouldn't want to write a full review of a business on the iPhone keyboard, and I would even venture to say that reviews written in that manner would probably lack the wit and
Next up: UrbanSpoon
How's that for fair and balanced? Yes, I cheated, as some posts count as both. Anyway, I would have guessed that I had more tech posts.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Natasha Richardson was also a great talent, and starred in films such as Nell, The Parent Trap, and Asylum (clip below)
I will miss seeing them both on the big screen.
BSG did it the right way. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, and just kept saying "wow wow wow wow" for two hours. Based on their progress, I strongly suspect that similar sci-fi long tail mystery shows like Lost (also from JJ Abrams, scheduled to end next year), Fringe (JJ Abrams), Dollhouse (Joss Whedon), and the like will do it much better, having learned from prior mistakes. As much as I will hate to see these shows go, I eagerly anticipate their finales.
Friday, March 20, 2009
First up: OpenTable - I originally learned of OpenTable via using its website. Though its site allows for user reviews and links to professional reviews, it is not a restaurant review site primarily. Instead, it is designed first and foremost for making reservations for restaurants that participate. That may sound very limiting, but many many restaurants participate and the list is growing, particularly in major metropolitan areas. OpenTable online saved me more than once, most recently when I needed to find a restaurant that had reservations available for New Years Eve when I got stuck at the last minute.
The OpenTable iPhone application follows nicely in the footsteps of the website. It links easily with your opentable.com account (and can save your login information), and enables you to get directions to a restaurant, email your reservation, or cancel an existing reservation. It is also location-aware, so it lets you easily locate restaurants nearby. It also saves recently accessed locations for search. All of these features cool to have, and the application is very easy to use and works flawlessly.
My only problem with the application is that it lacks one key feature of the website--the ability to add the newly created (or other existing) reservation to your calendar. As of now Apple restricts third party applications from creating calendar entries, so I can't fault OpenTable for that.
I would suggest to users that they create an account at OpenTable.com first before using the application. I didn't try creating an account through the application, but I imagine that it must be easier to do in a browser.
Next up: Yelp!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
"Filming a work doesn't make it filmable"--me
"...so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.."--Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Jurassic Park
War and Peace and Ulysses are groundbreaking fictional literary works, like Lawrence of Arabia and Citizen Kane are in film. These pieces of art dramatically changed the trajectories of their medium. After each of these works were released, the standards of their respective worlds were raised forever. There are few if any that would dispute that Watchmen falls into that category for the graphic novel. Watchmen redefined the superhero genre and made it for adults and legitimized comic books as art.
When the printed source material is so powerful as to change the nature of the medium like Watchmen and the other works I have mentioned, it poses a unique problem to a filmmaker who wishes to adapt that work. A director can simply try to capture every line, every detail (and in the case of a comic, every panel) on screen as a literal translation of the work. Then, the result is something that nobody whines about, but nobody raves about either. These works are inherently forgettable and inspire the old cliche, "the book was better." For an example of this phenomenon, see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Why is this true? Because each medium, be it comics, film, oil on canvas, television, radio, or the printed word is unique. One can't simply try to directly translate a visionary work--it would be like faxing the Mona Lisa and expecting the fax to carry the same power as the painting. On the opposite end, a filmmaker can use the original as an inspiration and remain faithful to it while still presenting a unique vision (i.e., Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy). These works occur rarely simply because vision is so hard to come by--it is like being struck twice by lightning. Groundbreaking works by definition are quite rare in any medium. Matching a groundbreaking literary work to a movie director who has a groundbreaking vision for that work is an understandable rarity. It is a wonder that that ever happens. I myself am hard pressed to think of any beyond LOTR.
It always seemed to me that with Watchmen, the nature of the narrative, the nature of the story, the nature of the visuals simply could not be translated to another medium. In fact, much of Hollywood agreed, and the Watchmen project languished in development limbo for many decades and was called 'unfilmable' by many. When it was announced that the director of 300, Zack Snyder would finally be the one to capture the story on film, I was hopeful. After all, arguably he did manage to create a visionary film out of a less prominent graphic novel (300). He was true to the source material and yet brought a powerful and unique vision to that film. Maybe he could do the same with Watchmen!
Was he successful? Well, Watchmen is a great piece of work. Snyder made a compelling film and he presents a strong vision on screen. It is densely packed with complex existential, psychological and sociological themes and is a feast for the eyes. Still, I was disappointed. I was hoping for a transcendent work like 300 the movie was to 300 the graphic novel. There was my fatal mistake--The problem was not that Watchmen did not always fire on all cylinders throughout (the music was terrible and there was one ridiculous love scene that seemed like it came right off of a made-for-Cinemax skin flick), it is that I believe that the Watchmen concept simply cannot transcend on screen the way that it transcends on the page. Snyder made a great film that I hope to see again in the theater and I will certainly buy on DVD (director's cut) and that I hope is very successful. However, it's not a groundbreaking film. Heck, it's not groundbreaking as a comic book film (i.e., Dark Knight). We can't fault Snyder for the power of his source material. He did as good a job on this unfilmable work as I think could possibly have been done, but ultimately the graphic novel far outshines the adaptation in 'relative visionariness'.
So by all means, go see it, but don't expect Citizen Kane in tights.
Like this topic? Here's another great article on film adaptations vis-a-vis Watchmen from Cinematical.
Friday, March 6, 2009
I have my ticket for Sunday. Can't wait.
Does Fox really think that leaving special features off of The Day the Earth Stood Still is going to get me to buy it? (Not that I was going to rent it)... I hope that this does not become a standard practice, but I won't lose sleep over it. I generally enjoy the special features secondarily. If I am a fan of a film enough to watch the special features, I am a fan enough to have bought the disc in the first place, most likely. I generally do not find myself watching special features on rentals. I wonder if I am in the minority and this is going to create an uproar?