2011 Apr 30
I’ve had The World’s Fastest Indian in my Netflix queue for a while now and decided it was finally time to watch it. It’s based on the life of Burt Munro, a New Zealander who travels from Invercargill to Utah with his Indian motorcycle. Sir Anthony Hopkins stars in the leading role and he is absolutely perfect in it.. Well, almost perfect since he didn’t have a Kiwi accent. However, one of the greatest actors in the world in this small indie-style film is pretty cool! He’s so good, you just get into the character of Munro and forget about the actor. Munro is old, funny, good-hearted, and determined to live out his dream — to set a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. There are a few parts in the movie with a little bit of tension, like when he arrives in Hollywood and is taken advantage of, but it’s all pretty harmless. I’m usually fine with movies where there’s a lot of tension, but the Munro character is so likeable and innocent that I just didn’t want anything bad to happen to him. Thankfully, all of the problems that he encounters in his journey he is able to overcome and the ending of the film is satisfying. I also loved the style of the film, the characters were all interesting, and the recreation of the 1960’s was well done. Of course I love the motorcycling parts too! This film is on Netflix streaming, so go and watch it!
FYI, the trailer above is not a good representation of the mood of the movie. Whereas the trailer might make it seem like an action-packed, rebellious story, it’s really a quiet, introspective study of Burt Munro.
2011 Apr 25
Last night I was watching the movie Grown Ups with my wife and kids. It was rated PG-13 which is usually ok for the kids. Most of the adult humor was just silliness, however there was one part where I was regretting having the kids watch. It was when Salma Hayek’s character reveals that there is no Tooth Fairy. I’m not sure if the kids caught on because the dialog was a little vague, and they didn’t say anything to us about it. But that got me thinking about another incident in which we were watching Gremlins and Phoebe Cates’ character is telling a story and then says something like, “...and that was when I realized that there was no Santa Claus.” Again, the kids didn’t say anything. But dang, I wish there was some kind of notification for this. Probably there’s a website out there that lists movies with spoilers of this kind? Bay’s about the age where he’s going to stop believing in this sort of thing, so I guess it’s ok if he sees these but still, it’s kind of cute how he woke up extra-early this morning to see if the Easter Bunny left a basket. It’ll be a little sad when he grows out of this phase.
2011 Apr 20
One of the pocasts I listen to regularly is The Loh Life by Sandra Tsing Loh. She’s a writer and performance artist and her short 3-4 minute podcasts revolve around her life in Southern California. It’s fun to hear her talk about the various locations around town, and makes me miss living there sometimes. She’s hilarious too, and her podcast always brings a smile to my face. Enjoy!
Her official site
Her wikipedia entry
2011 Apr 19
The kids wanted to see a movie on Sunday so I took them to the local theater for the 10am showing of Rango. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there were several great reviews on Fandango so I was looking forward to it. The other movie choice was Hop, which didn’t look too promising. I think that’s a perfect candidate for Netflix streaming later on.
Rango was a strange movie. It’s hard to describe but I’ll start by saying that both kids and adults will enjoy it. There’s a lot of humor in it that will appeal to grown-ups, plus a fair share of physical comedy that children will enjoy. For animation fans, Rango combines state-of-the-art realistic CG graphics as well as stylized scenes. Some of the images of the desert were straight out of a dream. The action scenes (prarie dogs riding on bats!?) were exciting and the voice acting was superb.
I’ll finish this mini-review by saying that Rango is a definite candidate for Blu-ray ownership in the future!
2011 Apr 11
Tonight we went to see Oyama x Nitta Duo perform for a Japan relief fundraiser here in Austin, organized by JASGA. It was amazing! The award-winning duo play tsugaru-shamisen, which is a traditional instrument that I’m sure you’ve heard before. It was incredible to hear and see live. We sat only several feet away so you could really feel the power of that instrument. Later on we got to meet the duo and take some photos with them. It was a great concert for a worthy cause. 100% of the proceeds will go to a relief fund for the disaster-stricken areas of Japan.
2011 Apr 07
We recently added a PS3 to our household and the first game I got was Final Fantasy XIII. Since we’ve had a Nintendo Wii, I’ve been missing out on the big Final Fantasy titles so I was pretty excited to find FF XIII for the low price of $29. I guess it’s been out over a year so it’s considered a PS3 oldie or something. Anyways the game is amazing! Visually, the 1080p graphics are stunning. The artwork is so detailed and the opening cutscene is incredible. I really like the movie-like feeling of the game. I switches from cutscenes to playable portions seamlessly and the story flows quite well. Granted I’ve only completed about 5% of the game, but the momentum and pacing seem perfect.
Like in all FF games, there’s a lot of combat in it and this worried me a little. I didn’t want to get bogged down in really intricate battles, or be turned off by fights that were stop/start turn-based. FFXIII avoids those situations by using an active-battle system, and simple menus. Basically you have a timer bar which dictates how quickly you can perform your attacks, then you have a choice of attacks to use. It’s all just one or two buttons away. The battles keep moving even if you just stand there, so there isn’t much time to dawdle. There are also battle stances called “paradigms” that you can switch to during battles. This helps out a lot because you can go into defensive mode if you need healing, or full offense if you want to deal maximum damage. These paradigm shifts are also easy to execute so you don’t waste time fumbling with the controller.
There’s so much more to the game and it’s been reviewed extensively by all the major game sites, but I have to add that the storyline is really engaging. The characters and voice-acting are excellent and the backstory is interesting. There’s a journal that you can pull up at any time that has the story explained so you don’t miss out on anything.
Right now, this is one of my favorite games and I’m trying not to go through it too quickly. I’d like to enjoy it for as long as possible! On the horizon is FFXIII 2, so hopefully I can finish the first game before the second part comes out.
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