Monday, January 26, 2015

Mind Sieve 1/26/15

Morning!




Fan Fun





The Gunman Official Trailer - looks like some good action will be had!






Official Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Havok Trailer - Randall Higgins: KillCameraman.  This is totally amusing! Especially since this blurs the lines between reality and virtual reality. Kinda like my violent cousin from my Virtual Tourist blog posts. Lol. 




Social Media/Author Platform

How to Build a Winning Twitter Ad Campaign from the Social Media Examiner - article by Liz Azyan

Social Media is a Waste of Time for Writers - Hmmm, Think Again by Kristen Lamb. Good stuff!





Have a great week!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Virtual Tourist - Sherlock Holmes C & P 1/25/15

Morning!
Figured I would share some more Sherlock pics this morning.

Sherlock Holmes Crimes and Punishment
Kew Gardens Mystery
Divine Syndicate Compound


This is inside the main building/temple. Isn't it cool?


Love that tree. The lanterns and other decorations looked so nice.


There he is - the Divine Syndicate's Tree God. 


Aren't the sliding doors just too awesome?


Laboratory behind a locked door.


Wooden sliding cabinets. Pretty!


Look at that lattice work over and under the glass for their small indoor greenhouse. Nice!


View from inside to the outside. 


This one includes the awesome doors. So pretty!!!

221B Baker Street. 


Sherlock's lab table - I thought it adorable the decor had touches from the novelized cases.

Kew Gardens


The lab/workspace at Kew Gardens and the elusive Miss White.

May you be fully reenergized today for the new work week ahead! :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Movie Review - Mortdecai

Mortdecai



Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jonny Pasvolsky, Michael Culkin, Ulrich Thomsen, Alec Utgoff, Rob de Groot, Guy Burnet, Jeff Goldblum, and more.

Directed by: David Koepp Screenplay by: Eric Aronson Based on the Novel by: Kyril Bonfiglioli Cinematography by: Florian Hoffmeister Music by: Mark Ronson and Geoff Zanelli

Premise: Charlie Mortdecai is an art aficionado, a semi-rogue, and owes eight million pounds in back taxes. Desperately trying to find a way to pay, he decides to help an old rival when he's asked for his assistance after the murder of an art restorer in Oxford. But his marriage becomes strained when his wife finds out he's grown a mustache. A situation that leaves his old rival, an MI-5 agent, thinking he might finally get his chance to steal away the woman he's been in love with since college. (Rated R)

Review:

1)  Acting - Total Thumbs Up: The story is told from Mortdecai's perspective, which gave Johnny Depp even more room to play than normal. And play he does...to good effect. Gwyneth Paltrow was a lot of fun as Mortdecai's mustache disapproving wife. Paul Bettany almost steals the show with his portrayal of Jock, Mortdecai's suffering but stalwart manservant. Ewan McGregor was definitely adorable as Mortdecai's rival and MI-5 operative.

2)  Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of nice little special effect touches are woven throughout the film. The most noticeable ones are the giant block letters merged with the spanning views of the cities the action takes place in. They even find ways to have a little fun with it as things move along.

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The film is based on a book called "Don't Point That Thing at Me". I've not read it, so can't say if it is also a tongue-in-cheek story, but from the title, it might very well be. (Also found out Jock's full name is Jock Strapp. So, I'm thinking definitely yes.)

Much like the film "Austin Powers", there are a lot of jokes which British audiences will appreciate more than American audiences. (This excludes Americans in the US who love British TV, however!) There is definitely humor and fun poked at both the British aristocracy and the concept of the perfect manservant. It even brings up modern day British nobility problems of debt and the need to find new means of income to maintain their households, despite their noble lineages.

One unexpected story thread is that of "a man and his mustache." The odd thread gets play throughout the film. The bit with the elevator at the American hotel was priceless. Amusingly, the mustache itself was lovely, but the expressions created by Johnny and the attention it drew to his bad teeth, totally ruined how it looked on his face. Gwyneth Paltrow's reaction to the thing were definitely entertaining. The odd dynamics of their marriage were rather amusing as well.

Lots of innuendos, some vulgarity, and definitely some slapstick. The plot is also reminiscent of Peter Sellers' Pink Panther films, full of misunderstandings, backstabbings, bumbling, and bandying about. Add in the rumors of a lost painting not seen since WWII and the possibility it could lead to a lost Nazi fortune, and hijinks ensue.

Though the story is set in modern times, there's a very James Bond 60's feel to the film, the music even conforms to this and support the illusion.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: The stunt department deserves some well earns kudos on this one. There are several fights, with guns and without, an unusual sword fight, and one of the most bizarre car fights with musical chairs ever.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The story bounces around to several countries and cities, sometimes in quick succession. Some lovely and inventive camera work is used as the audience travels from place to place. This served to break up all the travel nicely, so it wasn't the same old thing every time. The two groups were freshly inventive on these sequences. They looked great!

6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: Great work with the costuming and makeup. They somehow managed to make Mortdecai look respectable and worthy of his title one moment, and not so desirable or good the next. Some of the color schemes definitely looked to have come from the Austin Power's collection, which worked very well. Though of course these came with matching ascots and a lovely cane - Mortdecai is of the nobility after all.

Some truly nice makeup work on the ever suffering Jock. The scar over his eye and the twisted eye ball looked great. Made some of Jock's expressions even more poignant.

7) Music - Total Thumbs Up: The soundtrack by Mark Ronson and Geoff Zanelli does a lot to set the international intrigue vibe to the film. Has a very 60's spy/James Bond feel to it. Great for setting the mood.

Conclusion: Mortdecai's humor will not be to everyone's tastes. Some knowledge of England is needed to get some of the subtle pokes at British nobility and the serving class. Very tongue-in-cheek.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Picture Kaleidoscope 1/21/15

Wrangling to get back on an even schedule.
Let's see how that works out. Heh heh


Zebra Reflections by Hendri Venter at Earthshots.org - Perfect subject for a black and white photo!


He's got all sorts of amazing shots on wildlife and more. All taken of wild creatures in their natural elements. Nice! 


Grand Canyon Sunset by Anirban Chakraborty at Earthshots.org. If this is any indication, he's got an eye for his passion. Sweet!


The Chapel of Light by Andrew Waddington at Earthshots.org - awesome idea for a shot!


Andrew has a big variety of lovely pictures at his site! Isla de Pascua. So many talented people out there! That rainbow makes the scene look like a kind portent of some sort, no?


Have a fabulous Wednesday!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mind Sieve 1/19/15

Morning everyone!

Let's see how far I get this week. Heh heh.




Fan Fun


SPY Official Trailer 1 - OK, this actually looks funny! lol. 






The Messengers - coming to the CW 2015. This looks cool!




iZombie - coming to the CW - from the people who did Veronica Mars. This looks awesome!




Social Media/Author Platform

How To Use Visuals To Engage Your Audience by Anna Guerrero at the Social Media Examiner.

8 Ways To Make People On Twitter Want To Stab Us IN THE FACE by Kristen Lamb. (Ack, the nightmares, the nightmares!) :P



Writing Advice

Reminder: In Publishing, There Is No Debate by Chuck (NSFW) Wendig. Tell it Brother Beard!


Oh! Ooooooh! This actually looks like a real post! It's been so long....! Booyah!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Virtual Tourist - Sherlock Holmes Crimes and Punishment 1/18/15

Morning!


Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishment
Kew Gardens
Offices Section


Look at that cobbled walk! The lovely building!


The botanists working here record experiments and other things on this. 


Cozy office no?


Finally got into the seed room and nursery areas. :)


Occasionally we play someone else. In this case - Toby the best nose in London! 


Following a scent trail in Kew Gardens. Go, Toby, Go!



Because he's with us, he shows up in the coach as we go through the travel (screenloading) sequence. So cute!

Divine Syndicate


Visiting the Divine Syndicate - a group of people who worship a tree god and plants. Zone is a mixture of Japanese and Chinese architecture.


A lovely little bridge and water lilies. So pretty!


The main club building.


Way to the medication/Taichi garden.


Head of the group.


Notice his awesome tattoo on the neck! 


A lovely temple bell.


Closeup of the main building. Lovely!


Closeup of the bell


Front side of the bell. The circle would be where it would be hit to make it ring. :)

Have a great day!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Movie Review - Blackhat

Blackhat



Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Leehom Wang, Wei Tang, Viola Davis, Andy On, Christian Borle, Danny Burstein, Jason Butler Harner, Tyson Chak, Brandon Molale, and more.

Directed by: Michael Mann Written by: Morgan Davis Foehl Cinematography by: Stuart Dryburgh Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams, Atticus Ross, and Leopold Ross

Premise: When someone causes a nuclear reactor in China to overheat, then causes havoc on the New York stock exchange, China and the U.S. join forces to find the cyber culprits and stop them. But Dawai, the head of the Chinese contingent, decides they need one other person on the team if the bad guys are to be caught before they cause more chaos, his friend from his MIT days, Nick Hathaway - who's currently serving out a thirteen year sentence in a U.S. prison. (Rated R)

Review:

1) Acting - Thumbs Up: Chris Hemsworth did well as the guarded but helpful jailbird Nick Hathaway.  Leehom Wang, though, stole a lot of the spotlight as the smooth Chinese investigator Chen Dawai. Viola Davis also gave a great performance as Carol Barrett, the FBI agent in the joint task force. Wei Tang did well as Dawai's sister and Nick's love interest, though her accent was so heavy, it wasn't always easy to understand her English, so some important comments and moments were lost here and there.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The beginning of the film was a lot of fun as the special effects department worked some great magic and lovely use of macro photography to draw the audience down into the inner workings of the computers and the electronics of the Chinese nuclear power plant. This fun bit totally set the expectation bar high. Sadly, the rest of the film didn't live up to the great work in the beginning, though not from the special effects angle.

The explosion at the plant was well done. The small truck at the parking lot and how it's used was fabulous. Definitely a different approach to breaking and entering.

There's lot of gun play in spots as well as the use of other more potent armaments. There were at least two spots were the amount of lead flying was close to jaw dropping.

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: Sadly, there were a lot of fallacies in the film. While it is possible to be in jail for eighteen months and still be on top of the 'game' with programming, fifteen years or so is a lot harder to swallow. Operating systems change in but a handful of years and using illegal cellphones in jail are not going to keep you in the latest programing language.

This movie is long for an action film, 133 minutes, but the time wasn't always used to good effect, which was a pity. While we get some info here and there about Nick, we pretty much get nothing on Lien aside from her being Dawai's sister and a network specialist. There's a quick hint that Nick and Dawai were super close, once upon a time, yet nothing is even hinted at for this seeming closeness or the fact they allowed each other to lose touch.

As a bad guy trying to pull of an amazing feat of money making, he really wasn't very smart. Of all the places to try to use your 'special' program, why would you ever pick on a nuclear plant? The guy basically lit up a giant sign saying 'look look look at me!' when stealth is what was called for. It was a stupid risk and in the end, because he did it that way, he is eventually stopped. (And the equipment he was testing wasn't even that uncommon!) If he'd skipped the nuclear plant altogether and gone for a test somewhere less volatile, no one would probably have ever known he'd ever pulled his ultimate stunt and he and his cohorts would have made billions!

We're not going to talk about the lame love setup on this film. Had to have been pure hormones. Lots of long glances with strung out time which led to a lot of nothing.

And, if you don't want the audience to realize you're about to blow up the car - don't wait so friggin' long to do it! (I freaked my husband out. I did an aside and said "the car's going to blow up". Two seconds later, blow up it did! They really waited way too long - like holding up a sign.)

4) Stunts - Thumbs Up: The film had a nice fight scene in a Korean restaurant, though it was totally spoiled by the dreaded "shaky cam". Nothing wastes orchestrated violence more than the audience not being able to see it because the screen is shaking. Ugh. It moved around so much you couldn't even tell two of the guys had knives. All that beautiful stunt work wasted. Sigh. (The last half of the film was chuck full of shaky cam moments too. Double Ugh)

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Aside from the beginning sequence, the locations and spanning cinematography shots at those spots were the most enjoyable parts of the film. Shot is Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and elsewhere, there was a lot of things to see. And they picked great times in the day and angles to do the spanning shots of these places as well - just at sunrise or almost past sunset - some truly amazing colored skies and clouds, as well as tons of lights shinning up from the darkness. Some truly gorgeous filming. Too bad it was wasted on such a slow, clunky plotted movie. The patchy editing didn't help much either...

Conclusion: Started out great, had some awesome cinematography shots, but the clunky, drawn out plot and lack of depth to the characters just bogged the whole thing down. A pity, really.

Rating: 2.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Catch it on Cable)