The Corpse Bride

September 29, 2009 at 8:47 pm (art, kids) (, , , , , , , )

For some reason, The Corpse Bride is one of those films that just managed to pass me by, until this weekend.  We picked it up on DVD and just watched it, and I have to say, what a weirdly, wonderful tale it is, and very expertly done.  Tim Burton‘s bizare tale apparently has its roots in folklore (according to wikipedia).  It’s certainly quite an odd story. I do like the gothic nature of the heroine, in contrast to the shy Victorian gentleman hero.

If you haven’t seen it before, its well worth watching. If you have, why not pull it out and again revel in the craftmanship of the animation and quirkiness of the story.  It is superb.


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Improv Everywhere

January 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm (art, interesting, odds) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I like to see interesting, arty, short films in the name of harmless entertainment. With this in mind, someone pointed me at Improv Everwhere recently. These guys go on ‘missions’ around the world, involving many people in a planned public stunt. The ones that really caught my eye are:

Human Mirror

In this one, they have lots of sets of identical twins on a tube train, one each side of the train. When one moves, the other mirrors the movement. An inspired stunt.

Food Court Musical

In this one, members of the public in a cafe (staff and customers) suddenly, spontaneously, burst into song and perform a musical number. Very well done considering the circumstances.

Frozen Grand Central

This is one of my favourites. At a pre-determined point, in Grand Central Station, around 200 people just ‘freeze’ for 5 minutes on the main concourse. Very good.

Look Up More

A group of them make their way to the lit windows of a multi-story department store. Then, following signals from the ground, they start dancing. Would have been something to see!


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The Voice of World Control

July 12, 2008 at 4:26 pm (books, computers, odds) (, , , , , )

I’ve just managed to get hold of a copy of “Colossus: The Forbin Project“, a film I’ve been wanting to watch again for some time. This is probably one of the earliest examples of a film on the theme of ‘supercomputer that takes over the world’, made in the 70s.

As a thriller this is an excellent film. As far as the computing goes, its all quite believable and plausible, albeit using 70s technology as the props, however like many films from the era, one thing no one seems to have predicated is the physical scale of things. This computer is sealed in a mountain, and the implication is that it actually takes up the space of a mountain. There is talk of a remake, so it will be interesting to see what a modern take on this would look like. Curiously, the original author of the Colossus Novel, wrote two other Colossus books too.

An interesting aside is that the first computer was also called Colossus – this is the classified one that was built at Bletchley Park during World War II to break the enemy codes.


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Contact – Carl Sagan and pi

November 12, 2007 at 10:04 pm (books, science, security) (, , , , , , , , , )

My previous musings about xkcd finally let me to read their whole archive … which means that I eventually found this one, which is possibly one of my favorites.

Got me thinking about Carl Sagan‘s novel, Contact.  Loved the book.  Film was ok, but I was really disappointed that the bit about pi never made it in.

Whilst browsing wikipedia about this subject, found a link to (currently unavailable though).  Struck me that this would be a good way to collect personal details about people (‘try it with your credit card number’ 🙂

Further browsing has turned up Pi-Search, which you can use to look for sequences in the first 200 million digits of pi.  Did you know that the sequence 12345678 occurs at position 186,557,266?  Well now you do.

The Feynman Point is also interesting.  Maybe one day, I’ll give both Richard Feynman and Pi an entry of their own.


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Tron – 1982 film

June 18, 2007 at 10:12 pm (computers, kids) (, , )

This was a surprise – picked this up this weekend for 50p on video.  Haven’t seen this film for 20 years!  This is a real blast from the past.  I remember seeing Tron fairly soon after it came out.  I was in mid teens and into computers and games (I still have my Spectrum 128 in the loft).  Never did really understand it much at the time, but thought it was a great film anyway.  The thing I remember most is playing the video games whilst on holiday – it wasn’t long before you have the music and similar graphics in the arcades and lets face it, the graphics in Tron are pretty unique.  Apparently this was the first real use of computer graphics in a film, but it wasn’t exclusively CG – most of it was still traditional animation and special effects.

Seeing it again now, it really feels like it was ahead of its time.  I remember wondering at the time if all computers were somehow connected in the ‘digital world’ but then that didn’t really make sense in a time of tape drives and standalone machines.  I ended up concluding that the world of Tron must have been inside a single computer, and there would be other worlds in other computers.  Of course, 25 years on, with every computer connected to every other one (well, nearly anyway), the concept behind Tron could be expanded so much, and potentially be much more sinister!

I read on wikipedia that Disney were thinking about a new Tron, based around the Internet, but the collective opinion seems like it won’t happen.  Actually, I don’t think they should anyway.  Tron is a child of its time and is all the better for it in my opinion.  I wonder what my kids will make of it.

Enjoyed watching this one again.


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