Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

HTPC

January 24, 2007

 

One of the projects I’d really like to undertake if and when we move into the new house is to set up a network-based home theater system. All my media — photos, music, and video — goes on the server and is then served up to the (hopefully) HDTV set in the TV room. Sounds simple in the abstract, but it’s the details that take some sweating.

I’d like to use some sort of Mac-based or at least Mac-supported solution, since that’s what I’m most used to. The storage angle for all the files I already have figured out; thanks Greg. I think I even have the TV picked out. The hard part is to figure out how I’m going to get the media from the server onto the TV. Kevin has a knoppmyth setup that is very, very slick. And free. I have an unused PC that’s sitting in Kevin’s basement waiting to do something, but I’d need a TV tuner card for it. And a front end to get the media from the server to the TV. Seeing a pattern?

There’s a lot of information out there on using a Mac Mini as a home theater PC. This seems like the way to go. Throw in one of these, and we’d be able to record off the cable, too. We’ll see how it goes. There’s more research to do. And some time in which to do it.

01/17 afternoon addendum:

So I’ve been doing a little research and thought I’d add some links and some numbers to all this. New TV is probably going to run about $800. Mac Mini about the same, although I plan on waiting for the Core 2 Duo running Leopard. I’ll need a couple cables, but they’ll be cheap: One Toslink to mini plug cable for the digital audio out from the Mini, and one DVI cable to connect the Mini to the TV. It would be cool to be able to play all the video we have of Ava on our TV more easily than burning it to disc first. Maybe down the road a bit I can add the Elgato EyeTV unit.

01/19 afternoon addendum:

Looks like it’s going to have to be this TV, not the 37″ model. The 37″ is just too darn big, but this one fits about perfectly where we have our set now. Specs are still comparable, so no worries there.

01/24 afternoon addendum:

I’ve learned a couple things over the last few days that warrant an update to my HTPC plans. First off, I have a package from my cable provider that passes along “Clear QAM” unencrypted HD channels. Cool. Not a lot, just a couple of the biggies. We wouldn’t need much more than NBC anyway.

Secondly, the TV I have my eye on does, in fact, have a QAM tuner in it. That’s good news. But I want to run my cable through my Mini so I can take advantage of its optical audio out, which the TV does not have. I was stumped on this for a while, because there are products out there that will let me get HD cable channels to my box, but they don’t have an analog tuner. That would require, I guess, splitting my cable and sending one side directly to the TV for analog (SD) programming (with only composite audio out) and one side to to the Mini for HD video and digital audio, with a DVI-HDMI cable providing video to the TV. Not ideal, for sure.

Enter the Miglia TVmini HD+, which boasts an HD (Clear QAM) tuner and an analog tuner. It’s just what I need. It’s not shipping yet, but I have time. So, as of today, it looks like the three pieces of the HTPC will be the 32″ Olevia, the TVmini, and the Mac Mini. If I knew that the current high-end Mini wouldn’t have any trouble working with HD files, I could probably get all this set up as soon as the TVmini starts shipping.

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I figured out Kevin Smith

October 2, 2006

I watched “Clerks” and was totally and completely underwhelmed.  I understand that Kevin Smith has a fairly rabid following (as rabid as his followers can be).  I do understand.

But I’ve never figured out just what it is about the guy.  Until tonight.

My brother is 18 months younger than I am.  As far as friends go, this was an interesting time span.  He got the advantage of hanging out with the “cool kids” in the older grade, and I got the advantage of dominating the kids in his class.  It was win/win.

And there’s always a younger kid seeking entree into the upper classes.  Enter Robbie.  Or “Rogo.”  When my brother had a birthday, Rogo was the kid who would pick up a whole banana, unpeeled, and smash it against his forehead.  It was a damn riot.  Because it was just stupid, and spontaneous.  But that was pretty much all Rogo had to offer.  After he wiped the banana off his head, he was the same old dumbshit he’d always been.

I picture Kevin Smith this way.  He’s blunt and mildly creative and willing to say things that Hollywood execs just aren’t used to hearing.  But he’s a birthday gag.  He tells a good story, but really, we’ve all known good story tellers.  Hell, Rogo was a better story teller than Kevin Smith will ever be.

Pry apart buttocks; remove head

March 2, 2006

Mother swells with pride for Oscar-nominated child

Heather Spanks the Maid, pt. 4 of 6

January 24, 2006

All right, this is just hilarious.

W.  T.  F.?

Magnum P.I.

January 24, 2006

OK, this is great news.

I wonder who they’ll get to play Higgins.  Christ, don’t let it be Bernie Mac or some other totally unlikely asshole!

Maybe the Holocaust *IS* a myth….

December 14, 2005

Anyone remember the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind?  Well, at the end of that flick, this big spaceship comes down to Earth and all these missing people walk out of it.  There are lost pilots from WWII and missing children and all sorts of other people.  I didn’t see any Jews or gypsies, I don’t think, but it certainly seems possible that the millions of people we thought were killed in the Holocause were really abducted by aliens and are living up in space somewhere.  Right?  I mean, there HAS to be an explanation for their disappearance.  All these survivor accounts and photographic evidence showing mass graves full of emaciated corpses could very easily be faked.  The U.S. faked the moon landing, after all!  Mass murder would be a piece of cake compared to that!

M. Night Shyamalamadingdong

October 31, 2005

From this story:

“Speaking from his Philadelphia-area office shortly before leaving for Orlando, the director said: “I’m going to stop making movies if they end the cinema experience. If there’s a last film that’s released only theatrically, it’ll have my name on it. This is life or death to me.

“If you tell audiences there’s no difference between a theatrical experience and a DVD, then that’s it, game’s over, and that whole art form is going to go away slowly,” Shyamalan added.”

I’m tremendously excited at the prospect of Mr. Shyamalan not making movies anymore. Yeah, “The Sixth Sense” was OK (Bruce Willis is dead — HA HA HA), but please, M. Night is no M. Scorcese.

The point that Shyamalan seems to be missing, amazingly, is that people like me are very well aware of the differences between a theatrical release of a film and a DVD. For $15 I can go sit with a bunch of people I wouldn’t otherwise voluntarily share a subway seat with and be exposed to their bad behavior for two hours. Or, I could spend $15 and have Amazon deliver the movie to my house, where I can sit in my skivvies and let the sweet, sweet caress of my Paradigm 5.1 surround sound system wash over me while I soil my fingers with handfuls of Cheetos.

I’m not sure I get why M. Night is so worried. Is it that he won’t have the money to make films any longer if movies go straight to DVD? Is he really that concerned that we’re losing the group theatrical experience?

I’ll tell you something. I can remember one time that watching a movie in the theater was better than watching it in the privacy of my home (and at the time, I didn’t have the option of watching it in my home). It was Clash of the Titans. There’s a scene in which Harry Hamlin (as Perseus) kills Medusa. After doing her in, there’s a prominent shot of his sword, which displays nary a trace of blood. From somewhere near the back row, a single voice rang out: “No blood?! What a myron!”

A History of Violence

October 24, 2005

I hate backseat drivers. And part of that hatred derives from a certain amount of self-loathing at the recognition that I am a backseat driver too.

Which is why I often hesitate to get too riled up when I see a bad movie. Sure, the wasted ticket price would be reason enough to be pissed off, but I try my best to put myself in the director/producer/actor’s shoes before really letting loose on a movie that didn’t live up to expectations.

So I’m not really that upset about seeing A History of Violence this past Saturday evening. I hadn’t really followed any reviews, though I did have a general impression that the movie had collected fairly positive notices. IMDB has it at a 7.6/10, and Rotten Tomatoes has a freshness rating of 86%. These results seem almost as implausible as the film’s storyline.

Knowing what I know about David Cronenberg, I shouldn’t have been too surprised at how AHOV turned out. What surprises me is to find Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, and William Hurt (not so much Maria Bello) languishing in this rather run-of-the-mill vehicle. I loved Harris in The Abyss and The Right Stuff, and I’ve really liked Hurt in most everything I’ve ever seen him in, but they seem wasted here. Viggo’s still riding the LOTR wave, and this film suggests maybe he’s not as versatile an actor as some may have anticipated. I’d hate to see him typecast as that righteous man with the iron fist. I wonder, without their participation, would Viggo have been able to sustain this film on his own? Harris and Hurt have pretty pithy scenes, but neither of them are onscreen for the whole flick. They were almost more of a distraction than anything else.

Finally, the story was a bit lame. From here in the back seat, I would’ve much rather seen a movie where it’s known from the start that Stall is a reformed Philly hit man. The story would center on Stall’s relationship with his gay son and his efforts to lead his progeny away from the destructive path he’s following at school, where the slightly psychotic jock and his pals relentlessy pester and assault young Stall, pushing him ever closer to the breaking point. It would be more Karate Kid and a lot less Natural Born Killers, and your audience would change as a result, but it’d be a hell of a lot more interesting than the present effort.