Sunday, December 27, 2015

And Then There Were None (2015)

 

Just finished watching BBC’s 2015 interpretation of the Agatha Christie classic : And Then There Were None. And I think this is by far the best adaptation of the famed novel. Everything from the screenplay, casting to location of the show was spot on, if this the way they produce such dramas then we are eagerly waiting for more. But I particularly  enjoyed was that they wrapped up the story in three smartly written episodes, a more profit drive producer/director would have stretched the story unnecessarily to at least 10 episodes and destroyed its fabric.

tmp6A6A_thumb[1]

Jolly spot on:

1: The original ending. The novel has been adapted numerous times to stage , films and TV, but most of them have changed the ending so that not all of the visitors to the island die. In order to give the viewer a happy ending many of them changed the story so that Vera and Phillip end up together. But BBC chose the original ending, though they slightly modified some of the methods.

2: Cast.  The cast of this show was spectacular. They got strong , capable actors for every role, even to the flamboyant Tony Marston. Sam Neill of Jurassic Park fame as the colonel and Gorman from Forever as the detective were winners.  But I guesss everyone loved Aidan's Phillip Lombard and Maeve's Vera.

3: Screenplay. The screenplay used flashbacks often , to show the backstories of all the visitors. It was fun going back and forth their stories. I expected multiple flashbacks during the climax, to show the viewers how each victim was targeted. But there were none. Instead, the Judge just talks to Vera and fills in the gaps for us.

4: The set. The island, the house, the setting inside, the cars, train, right down to the clothes and food, it was perfect to tell the story. The actors spoke with different accents, perfectly for their statuses.

tmpBF3E_thumb[2]

tmpF08C_thumb[10][4]

tmp3200_thumb[3]

tmpE690_thumb[1]

tmp6CDF_thumb[1]

tmp71E0_thumb[1]

I started reading Agatha Christie I think in 1993 (boy, its really been than long ?), when our school got  a new batch of freshly printed paperbacks. Of course, they were all abridged versions, so much of the blood and gore had been tuned down, and the talk of infidelity and affairs were only alluded to. It would be another few years before I chanced upon some original unabridged versions, and really saw the author's craft.  And Then There Were None is my favourite of Christie's work, and I have  watched many adaptations of it. The story is of ten strangers stuck on a deserted island and murdered in a closed room mystery with no explanation. There is even a Hindi language Indian/Bollywood adaptation, but it was peppered with songs and dances, and it was only six people murdered on the island. The 9th was the hero, he lives, and saves the girlfriend (10th), and even the butler and his sister escapes. Truly a lazy adaptation. The 2004 movie Mindhunters was a un-credited , telling of the same story in modern times, very nice watch.

So here's to the next generation of Agatha Chritie fans, and to more adaptations of her work.

tmp6593_thumb[2]

Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 in movies: fantastic year for sequels ; and to 90s movies

 

I don't watch movies very often, but confession: I watched more movies this year than ever before ! This year moviegoers got to watch the sequels to the movies of the 90s, a new generation of movie makers taking over the mantle.  From Mad Max to Star Wars, and Ethan Hunt to James Bond, it was a whole truckload of movies across genres and timelines.

The first such sequel which attempts to restart a 90s era franchise was Mad Max: Fury Road. Yes, I still can't believe this movie came out this year, it seems such a long time ago.

tmp6160

 

The next feast to the eyes was the (probably) most awaited movie of the year,  Jurassic World.

tmpB210

The third biggest sequel this year was of course Star Wars: Force Awakens. I know the original did not come out in the 90s, but this is one of the earliest trilogies which came out, and millenium falcon was not scene for decades.

tmp41F3

Many other franchises also released sequels this year.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation came out half-way through the year.

tmp5015

The 24th James Bond movie came out this year, named Spectre.

tmp8901

But the sequels, well they just kept on coming.

Fans of Fast & Furious got the 7th instalment of the franchise, Furious 7. The re-used plot lines to this genre was mocked in a parody film: Superfast.

tmp2791

The Marvel universe had multiple offerings this year, the biggest impact was via Avengers: Age of Ultron. They also had Ant-Man. But then they released the horrible horrible Fantastic 4 reboot, which was the biggest dud, and which some critics called a spectacular failure on so many different levels.

tmp9ED4

 

And hopefully the last of the Hungergames movies too came out this year.

tmpA4E8

 

And space junkies were gifted with another space movie, this time set on Mars.

tmpE4F4

 

I love animation movies, and this year turned out to be a feast for the child in me. (and you.) It is just me, or has it become easier to make animation movies now ? Multiple studios released long awaited movies using everything from stop motion animation to cutting edge computer animation.

Everyone's favourite animation studio, Pixar had a double offering this year. Two so very different movies set in two vastly different settings. First was Inside Out, set in the mind of a teenage girl.

tmp2479

But then, they released the Good Dinosaur for thanksgiving (thanks , Pixar !), where the story is set in an alternate history where dinosaurs are not extinct.

tmp4459

But this did not stop other studios from testing the waters either. The first animation movie to come out this year was stop motion from Aardman, Shaun the Sheep.

tmp4D8D

The Minions movie came out half way in July, telling the prequel to the Despicable Me movies.

tmp69F4

Then there was the Peanuts movie.

tmp416F

And then…the monster movie Hotel Transylvania 2. Phew !!

tmp3AFA

 

 

 

 

But then , the year had duds too , proving that even time tested stories sometimes will fail if not properly done.The biggest dud of the year was the 100th (something like that) Steve Jobs movie. The clue here was it was loved by the critics :-)

tmp8A82

And the spectacular failures of Fantastic Four reboot, and the Gem movie.

tmp4FE3tmpB18

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas !!

 

image

 

A Merry Christmas to everyone !

 

 

 

If you Google “Merry Christmas” right now, you will get a google customized page.

image

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Star Wars - The Force Awakens


I watched the Star Wars –The Force Awakens. I liked the movie, but it is basically a huge marketting gimic at work. The story is 90% same to the story of Episode 4. New actors portraying younger version –2s of those iconic charachters from the original trilogy, complete with a new droid. I am surprised the movie is not receiving flak for reusing ealier storylines. Guess people just wanna be transported to that galaxy far far away.
Honestly, I have never been a fan of the Star Wars movies. I was born the year the last movie of the original trilogy came out. And by the time I grew up, those movies were only on casette. Then I had to wait till the new millienium for the god-awful prequel trilogies. The only thing I remember from those movies is the beautiful Natalie Porter. I could never understand why anyone would want to bring swords to gun fights, and how every planet in the movie had the same gravity and breathable air. And then there were the coincidences. All the charachters in the movies meet up in coincidence, when the actual chances of them meeting was one in millions. Leia sends C3PO and R2D2 on a mission, they have to escape with the plans and they just run into Luke ? Of the thousands of planets there, how come they meet on the same planet in the same area ? And the brith of Anakin cannot be explained?
Well, the same thoughts came to me when I watched Force Awakens. The BB8 droid just runs into Rey ? And then they run into Han ? And then she finds Luke’s light saber ? Of all the planets there, how come the light saber was right where it was supposed to be ? How come Poe Dameron escapes and comes back ? And how can Rey use the force better than Ren ?
But then, these movies were never for the thinkers. They are for kids. And they are best enjoyed as such. The graphics has definitely improved, and the sound and music are top notch. The light saber duels are fiercer. The acting and writing is a joke, but the story flows steadily. We get to see new planets, younger versions of all those charachters. We meet the new Luke, new Solo, new Kenobi, new R2D3, new Darth Vader and the new Palpatine and see the new Death Star. If you have not watched the original movies, you might enjoy this one the best. I surely did.
Watch the Force Awakens. Witness the marketting machinery at work.

Dilwale is not for the Dimaagwala

 

I just watched this movie. It is an insult to the intelligent movie watcher. The only way to watch this movie is to leave your brain at home.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Its Live !! Open Live Writer now works with Blogger !

 

The OpenLiveWriter project has just released a new version, it now works with blogger !  I am using it to write this post as well. Download the new version from the site and run the installer. During the installation, choose Google Blogger as your account type if you want to use it with Blogger.

Taleo 2015-12-18 10 48 20

Taleo 2015-12-18 10 48 24

 

The installer will prompt you to sign in, and will open up the authentication page on your browser.

Taleo 2015-12-18 10 48 28

 

Taleo 2015-12-18 10 48 33

Once you grant access in the browser, return to the installer to finish.

Taleo 2015-12-18 10 48 44

Awesome ! It works, and the interface is pretty much the same as Live Writer (though I found the tags option missing).

Thanks ! to the good folk at the OpenLiveWriter project !!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Climate change is Real

 

Chennai is recovering now. For two weeks, the city had been hit by the heaviest rainfall it had seen in a hundred years. And this was enough to bring it down. Not only was the city flooded, but it was also totally cut off from the rest of the nation. And while the state government itself failed miserably to handle the crisis, it was the common people, the citizens, who handled the crisis and saw the city through. The deluge was proof enough that climate is changing.

tmp73F4

India is witnessing multiple migrations that are unprecedented in its history. Millions are moving into literacy, similarly staggering numbers are migrating out of poverty and malnourishment, thousands are migrating to the IT world, and several millions are moving to urban centres.Blaming excessive rain or unauthorised construction for the latest misery is a very lazy analysis, ignoring the significant contribution of government institutions and political masters to the mismanagement of Chennai, and other cities. The adverse role played by them in creating havoc has grave security implications for the country at various levels.

Further North, another city, the capital New Delhi is putting together a plan to control its own ridiculous pollution levels.  From 2016, Delhi  will  implement a new rule to make sure private cars with odd and even number registration numbers get to drive in the city on alternate days. On one hand this decision is now being ridiculed on social media , logic dictates that right now any plan is a good plan. The time to think up and come up with a grand plan is long gone, and even the courts are getting in line to support the government move, dismissing PILs against the new law.

I chanced upon this website which tracks air pollution levels in cities around the world: plumelabs. They measure air pollution from agencies of countries and collate them all.

Check out Chennai's pollution levels in real time.

tmp9965

Delhi:

  tmp21B8tmpD61A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And my own city of Bangalore is far better than Delhi.

 

tmp9583     tmp4726

 

 

But what surprised me was that most cities in developed countries were much better off than us. Check out New York.

 tmpF562tmp834D

Friday, December 11, 2015

Microsoft Open Sources and Forks Windows Live Writer into Open Live


Yeaah !!! This is probably the best news I have head from Microsoft this year.Microsoft Open Sources and Forks Windows Live Writer into Open Live Writer.  The latest binary installable can be downloaded now and the project is now on GitHub.

But unfortunately, Google too this update news to turn off legacy support of its authentication  APIs. So now, the new as well as older versions of Live Writer, cannot connect to Blogger. :-(


The product that became Live Writer was originally created by a small, super-talented team of engineers including JJ Allaire, Joe Cheng, Charles Teague, and Spike Washburn. The team was acquired by Microsoft in 2006 and organized with the Spaces team. Becky Pezely joined the team and over time, the team grew and shipped many popular releases of Windows Live Writer.
As Microsoft was planning for the version of Windows Live that would coincide with Windows 8 operating system release, the teams that built the Windows Live client apps for Windows were encouraged to focus on building a smaller set of Windows 8 apps designed to work well with both traditional PC input mechanisms and touch. With the rise of micro-blogging platforms and other forms of sharing, eventually this team decided to conclude their work on Windows Live Writer with Windows Live Writer 2012.
Even though there was no active development, Windows Live Writer continued to be a favorite tool of a passionate community of Windows PC users for authoring, editing, and publishing blog posts. Data from WordPress.com at the time suggested that Open Live Writer (even two years after active development ended) was the #1 app for authoring a blog post to WordPress.com from a Windows PC.

A few employees at Microsoft took an interest in reviving Live Writer as an open source project in their spare time. By January 2015, a group of about a half-dozen engineers interested in spending some of their volunteer time to help release an updated version of Live Writer had found each other and began work on getting this open source fork of Live Writer formed and ready to ship. In December 2015 Microsoft donated the code to the .NET Foundation and this passionate group of volunteer engineers rapidly assembled the first open source version.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Scream Queens

 

On hindsight, the big reveal at the end of Scream Queens revealing Hester to be the brains of the operation, was a obvious. The identities of the killers in “Scream Queens” haven’t really mattered since about the third episode, when it became clear that the show was mostly interested in milking caricatures and seeing how many pop-culture references it could cram into every hour. Fans of the TV show have long had Hester as prime suspect, because that character was completely crazy. But now it should have been more obvious. Because of her casting. Lea Michaels was the star of Ryan Murphy's previous TV show Glee, so casting her in a less important role on Scream Queens was the biggest clue that her role was more than just a bystander.

tmp37C4

While the Bathtub Babies and Pete had a clear motive — destroying Kappa and Greek life because of what happened to their mother — the  crimes don't make any sense now. Why kill Shondell, the Pizza Guy, and Coney the new mascot? How does that exact revenge? Why kill the Kappa pledges? As outcasts, wouldn't they be the ones to make Kappa a better place? And why kill Chanel No. 2, but none of the other Chanels?

If vengeance were really the motive, why didn't they go after Dean Munsch? She was the one person still alive and on-campus the night their mother died in the bathtub. Why let her live? That doesn't make any sense either. How could they feel any real satisfaction when the one person literally responsible for the cover-up is still alive? Dean Munsch can still be a scourge to feminism everywhere, especially now that she still knows Hester is the killer. Also, wouldn't Hester be mad that Pete killed Boone? Wouldn't she have gone after him?

For me, the real surprise was that Pete was in on the killings. He seemed so honest and committed to finding the truth behind the devils. That was awesome writing.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Microsoft Open Sources and Forks Windows Live Writer into Open Live Writer

 

Yeaah !!! This is probably the best news I have head from Microsoft this year.Microsoft Open Sources and Forks Windows Live Writer into Open Live Writer.  The latest binary installable can be downloaded now and the project is now on GitHub.

tmpFE11_thumb1

The product that became Live Writer was originally created by a small, super-talented team of engineers including JJ Allaire, Joe Cheng, Charles Teague, and Spike Washburn. The team was acquired by Microsoft in 2006 and organized with the Spaces team. Becky Pezely joined the team and over time, the team grew and shipped many popular releases of Windows Live Writer.

As Microsoft was planning for the version of Windows Live that would coincide with Windows 8 operating system release, the teams that built the Windows Live client apps for Windows were encouraged to focus on building a smaller set of Windows 8 apps designed to work well with both traditional PC input mechanisms and touch. With the rise of micro-blogging platforms and other forms of sharing, eventually this team decided to conclude their work on Windows Live Writer with Windows Live Writer 2012.

Even though there was no active development, Windows Live Writer continued to be a favorite tool of a passionate community of Windows PC users for authoring, editing, and publishing blog posts. Data from WordPress.com at the time suggested that Open Live Writer (even two years after active development ended) was the #1 app for authoring a blog post to WordPress.com from a Windows PC.

A few employees at Microsoft took an interest in reviving Live Writer as an open source project in their spare time. By January 2015, a group of about a half-dozen engineers interested in spending some of their volunteer time to help release an updated version of Live Writer had found each other and began work on getting this open source fork of Live Writer formed and ready to ship. In December 2015 Microsoft donated the code to the .NET Foundation and this passionate group of volunteer engineers rapidly assembled the first open source version.