The Dork Report for July 31, 2006

Miami Vice (2006)

Miami Vice movie poster

 

Miami Vice is decidedly slight on character and depth, which is not surprising considering the source material. It is quite so, however, considering writer/director Michael Mann‘s track record once leaving the iconic 80s tv show behind.

The deep characterization in all his crime dramas ranging from Thief through Collateral elevate them above the ultrastylized and hyperviolent genre films they would have been otherwise. Even the most minor characters in Heat have backstories and substance. Thief and Heat each revolves around a long coffeehouse conversation; how many genre films slow down long enough for the characters to talk to each other? And it also has to be said of Collateral that Mann somehow drew out of the increasingly looney Tom Cruise an actual performance, probably one of his last before he heads further down Michael Jackson lane to crazy town.

But Miami Vice is disappointingly empty, with an engagingly twisty-turny plot and typically brilliant editing and cinematography. But when there is no investment in the characters, who cares when they start shooting each other in the face?

The Dork Report for July 30, 2006

  • Breck Eisner’s 1994 student film "Recon," starring a cyberpunk Peter Gabriel. I’ve always wanted to see this… never occurred to me to check out YouTube.
  • Just to further illustrate that YouTube has everything, here’s video of “Rachel Blake’s” impassioned Hanso Foundation protest at the Comic-Con Lost panel.
  • Catching up on my Neil Gaiman:
    • A sample of the newly remastered Absolute Sandman, Volume One of which incidentally now has a cover and release date (November 1).
    • Fragile Things, a new book and cd of short stories, coming on September 26.
    • The cover and some art from his new comics series, Eternals (and more here). For dorks in the know, there’s a stunning bit of news at the bottom of the page… Marvel has agreed to (re?)publish Miracleman when the rights clear?! (of course, Gaiman’s been in court over that matter for at least a decade, so I’m not holding my breath)
  • With AOL.com (now free to the public, with tons of video), AIM Fight, the new AIM Pages, AOL is trying really hard to look cool in the face of massive impending layoffs.
  • Top 50 Movie Endings of All Time. The usual suspects are present and accounted for (Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Brazil, etc.) but kudos for including less obvious choices (and Dork Report favorites) like Before Sunset, Brazil, Rushmore, and Big Night. (spotted on Kottke.org)

The Dork Report for July 26, 2006

  • Wow. Renaissance looks amazing. I have a friend who will lose his mind when we sees this.
  • Metallica (one of the last holdouts, following Madonna) finally puts itself up on iTunes (iTunes link).
  • Thousand-year-old medieval book of psalms discovered in an Irish bog, with this eerie twist:

    "The book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which God hears complaints of other nations’ attempts to wipe out the name of Israel."

  • The sky is falling in the movie biz: Disney lays off 600 and Warner Bros. 400.
  • A panel of "experts" pick the 50 Films to See Before You Die for Film4, coincidentally what Film4 has been able to license for broadcast. (guest submission from Andrea)
  • What are those crazy IconFactory kids up to? Day 1: read the riot act by the WC3. Day 2: installing a port-a-potty. Day 3: waving goodbye to archaic HTML and, um, something to do with Optimus Prime? I smell a redesign, at least…
  • After albums ranging from the critically acclaimed to the insanely popular, Moby’s latest, Hotel, was dull, dull, dull. But turns out the Little Idiot still has some fire in him yet, judging by his blog (the poor boy should take his iBook to the Soho Apple Store to get his SHIFT key fixed):

    "one of the big differences between liberal disdain for conservatives and conservative disdain for liberals is that liberal disdain for conservatives tends to be issue oriented and conservative disdain for liberals tends to be jingoistic.
    when liberals complain about conservatives it’s usually focussed on things that conservatives have done while in power.
    when conservatives complain about liberals it’s usually(based on listening to rush limbaugh and bill o’reilly, etc)focussed on jingoistic slogans(‘they hate life’, ‘they love saddam hussein’, etc)that have nothing to do with any of the serious issues with which we’re confronted."

  • Wonderfully cheesy Snakes on a Plane Flash banners.

The Dork Report for July 25, 2006

The Dork Report for July 23, 2006

  • It’s the 20th Anniversary of Real World Records:
    • Big Blue Ball, a near-mythical Peter Gabriel album in the works since 1992, is finally nearing completion.
    • Attention DJs (or at least folks who like to play with GarageBand): remix “Shock the Monkey” and win a… um, some electronic thingie.
    • Peter writes about the label and the studio in The Independent:

      “The first release on Real World was Passion – the soundtrack for the film The Last Temptation of Christ. It was also the first time I had recorded with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and perhaps the most extraordinary sessions to this day were when we were in the attic studio, which had a raised balcony at the back. The Indian violinist L Shankar stood up on the balcony and Nusrat was standing just behind the desk on the main floor. I think everyone had hairs standing on the backs of their necks as the music started. Both of them took the melody and made it their own. It was like tennis when you think the rally can’t get any better but each player raises their game and it just goes up and up. Amazingly emotional: it was India and Pakistan working together for a film about Christ”

    • At the time of Live 8, Peter Gabriel righly pointed out no one had asked hardly any non-western musicians to participate. Live 8 at Eden: Africa Calling, a new live album culled from the Live 8 event put together by Gabriel and Youssou N’Dour.
  • Hopefully the The Dork Report isn’t in danger of becoming The Hoff Report, but… The Hoff on Broadway! (guest submission from The Halk)

The Dork Report for July 22, 2006

  • More wild Apple speculation: eBooks alongside a full-screen iPod and movie downloads? (spotted on MacRumors)
  • More details on K-9 and Sarah Jane Smith‘s return to TV, with pictures! (spotted on Outpost Gallifrey)
  • Kottke highlights an Independent cover graphic that briliantly illustrates international reaction to the war.
  • Nutjob UN Ambassador John Bolton performs some pretty brutal calculus on the relative worth of Lebanese vs. Israeli citizens’ lives. What a bastard.
  • Everything about Rhino Records’ new Digital Store seems great: out-of-print albums that would otherwise be unavailable, a huge catalog of music videos, and hand-picked discounted mini-compilations. But they commit some of the biggest music sins of digital music sales (some of which are admittedly just the pet peeves of a music snob):
    • alphabetizing solo artists by their first names, and any band whose name begins with "The" under "T"
    • supports only the extremely unpopular Windows Media DRM, excluding Linux, Macs, iPods, etc.
    • no reviews, credits, liner notes, or even original release dates
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides new FAQs (Frequently Awkward Questions) for the entertainment industry. (spotted on BigO)
  • The IconFactory posted a cryptic message on their homepage Friday… what could they be up to?

The Dork Report for July 21, 2006

  • An astonishing case of a feral child recovered in the Ukraine is the ultimate test of the nature vs. nurture issue: (spotted on Boing Boing)

    "Experts agree that unless a child learns to speak by the age of five, the brain misses its window of opportunity to acquire language, a defining characteristic of being human."

  • The most craptacular lyrics of all time, with a strong showing by 70s prog groups on page 2. Nice! (guest submission from Andrea. A-N-D-R-E-A! Ding ding dang ding ding ding don ding don dang!)
  • Wikipedia is far broader than I had imagined… and I had imagined it pretty broad. There are whole entries for bad prog rock albums (hi, Tales From Topographic Oceans!) and even particular songs, including Genesis’ "Supper’s Ready."
  • New Line Cinema partners with Zenescope Entertainment to create comic books based on Final Destination and Se7en. Watch the Se7en comic book trailer (Windows Media link), with motion graphics type set in… dear god… Arial. (spotted on Comic Book Resources)
  • McFarlane reveals the Lost action figures. The Shannon figure is surprising and yet, not surprising at all.
  • J.J. Abrams, creator of my crack, cashes in.
  • This will not be interesting to anybody who’s never heard of Grant Morrison, but whoa, this is a crazy weird pairing if I ever heard of one.

The Dork Report for July 20, 2006

Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. (1966)

Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 AD movie poster

 

Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., the second Dr. Who feature film, follows Dr. Who & The Daleks by one short year, and clearly betrays where the public’s interest lay at the time by ditching any mention to Dr. Who in the title. The first film largely disregarded the TV show’s premise and continuity, and the sequel similarly plays fast and loose with its own predecessor. Dr. Who has yet another young female relative, a niece named Louise? Why does she call her uncle “Doctor”? Did Barbara elope with that twit Ian? At least Louise is much better looking, so one mustn’t complain. Otherwise, the screenplay is loosely based on the original 1964 TV serial “The Dalek Invasion of Earth,” starring William Hartnell. It follows the original farily closely, especially in the early seqences showing a war-ravaged London and the iconic image (well, to Brits, anyway) of a Dalek rising out of the Thames (actually better realized in the original – here they cut away from a Dalek head poking out of the water and back to it fully emerged).

It’s just barely slightly better in terms of action and spectacle (the Dalek flying saucer ain’t half-bad, considering), but nevertheless just as mind-numbingly stupid. Let’s start with the title. Why is it set in the future? Everyone’s dressed in 1960s clothing, with contemporary rifles and cars. If there’s nothing gained, it might as well be set in present day. Plus it would be that much more of an exciting thought for kids to to imagine an invasion might happen today rather than next century.

Look out, Robo-men! Why did the Robo-men take off their helmets and suddenly become human again when the Doctor simply orders them to attack the Daleks? And why do they scream like girls? Why do the Daleks have fire hydrant guns? Why do the Daleks only take male prisoners? What do they do with the women?

Of course, there’s also the music. After another set of pointless psychedlic opening titles, a sequence depicting a bank robbery is set to… Beethoven? WTF? After that we get a generic lighthearted score, determinedly whimsical even when Dr. Who discovers a corpse. Incidentally, this Doctor is badass. Crossing the countryside on foot, a Robo-Man orders him to halt. The Doctor shoots him and turns right back to map. “As I was saying…”

And finally, why did the Daleks invade England? The “magnetic influence of the North and South Poles” is located under Watford, of course!