It was the Blurst of Times

A programmer in the US is using Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing system in order to prove the infinite monkey theorem. If you’re like me (and I sincerely hope you’re not), you’ve heard of this not because you have a deep love for and understanding of probability theory but because of references from The Simpsons. I may have heard it in school, but I think even the teacher was referring to the same epsidoe, “Last Exit to Springfield” – arguably the greatest episode – in which Burns has a thousand Monkey’s working on a thousand typewriters. Jesse Anderson, the US programmer, is using a computer model to mimic the experiment – one can imagine the cost and perhaps outrage of animal rights groups if this test were actually conducted – and with some constraints will actually be able to finish the entire works of Shakespeare. A random sequence of nine characters is created and checked against all the texts to see if there is a match, otherwise it is discarded. Each match is saved until all of the works have been recreated. Without this restraint, if each work had to be created in it’s entirety, it would take, well, a long time. There are 5.5 trillion different combinations of any nine characters from the English alphabet. Burn’s monkey came up with the line “It was the best of time, it was the blurst of times”, a reference to A Tale of Two Cities (not Shakespeare). A zoo in the UK put a keyboard in the cage with six crested macaques who produced five pages of the letter “S” and broke the keyboard – still better than the writing in seasons 4, 5 and 6 of Lost. Enjoy the Simpsons clip.

The Three Musketeers: Made in Germany

The Three Musketeers Movie PosterBernd would have been proud. The premier of the latest adaptation of The Three Musketeers is a milestone in the development of the film market in Germany. While the country has been the backdrop for numerous Hollywood-productions of late, such as: Valkyrie, The Reader, and Inglourious Basterds, the new 100 million dollar production price tag marks Germany’s most expensive film – shot and developed entirely at home, it is intended for worldwide consumption. Bernd Eichinger, who died suddenly in January last year, was a major driving force behind this film, navigating the difficult waters of German bureaucracy to make Bavarian castles and old city centers available for filming. Though it must be said that the film industry is actively supported by the government, with a 60 million euro fund set-up to help finance productions. While bigger budgets are more common in the U.S. they have no troubles drawing international stars to Berlin and Babelsberg. For this rendition of the Musketeers we’ve got Logan Lerman of Percy Jackson fame(?), Orlando Bloom, Christopher Waltz, Milla Jovovich and a wealth of good supporting actors like Luke Evans, Matthew Macfayden and Ray Stevenson. One can question the wisdom of doing this film for the umpteenth time, especially since the last one in 2001 was a kung-foo, Matrix-inspired, whimsical, modern take called The Musketeer, and it bombed. But one thing is for sure, with the beautiful scenerey and production value it will make it clear to all in the movie business that Germany has arrived. This is not to be confused with the upcoming 3 Musketeers – a so-called mockbuster leeching off publicity surrounding the other film. It does have a wicked tagline though: “All for one… and guns for all.” Nice.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011 Trailer

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are scoring the remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The last time these two collaborated with director David Fincher they won an Oscar for The Social Network. The film also stars Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard. A long story short, it’s shaping up to be a slick film. Nevertheless, if you look on the filmoblogosphere you see everyone asking the same question, why is this film being remade – the Swedish version was released in 2009 and is of the highest quality. I can understand English-speaking audiences aren’t used to dubbed films, but regardless, it seems like a waste for all these actors to redo this film. I still can’t believe it’s being done in Sweden! I was expecting the story to be transposed on the backdrop of Los Angeles, or New York. Nevertheless, with smart casting and scoring decisions they seem to be making the attempt to improve upon perfection. Rooney Mara, the actress chosen to play the title role, will have her work cut out for her. Noomi Rapace has gained a following for her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander – she has however moved on to bigger things, and plays a role in the new Sherlock Holmes film. Here is the trailer for the new film, it’s terrible – it’s like a strobelight, but if you can finish watching it without convulsing and can remember and rearrange the scenes in your mind you get the impression that film might be good, you might also be able to guess at the plot, if you’re not familiar with the books yet.

The Thing 2011 Preview

Often the most frustrating things about previews is the fact that often, the releases being promoted aren’t exactly around the corner. Take the Dark Knight Rises teaser trailer, from the last post – that movie isn’t coming out for another year, assuming everything goes to plan. In December of last year, after watching a documentary about Antartica by Werner Herzog, I mentioned that there was a prequel to 1982′s The Thing by John Carpenter coming out, eventually. There was no teaser, but now there’s a trailer, and the opening date is within a reasonable distance – October 14, 2011. Only three months away! Or thereabouts. In any case, it’s not a remake, but a prequel tied tightly to the events of the initial film. Some people group prequels, remakes, reboots, spin-offs and the like into the same category – and this is the year of the sequel – but in this case it makes sense. From the looks of it the storyline is similar, the crew gets attacked and goes through the discovery, mutual distrust and hunting phases, but at the same time, which means the audience unfamiliar with the 1982 film will get the same wintry desolate goodness and the existing fans get the gory details as to what happened to the first crew. Check out the trailer.

Dark Knight Rises Teaser Trailer Leak

Hardly a day after showcasing the upcoming box office battle, the caped crusader takes a swing. In a sly move the teaser trailer for the upcoming Batman film The Dark Knight Rises was screened in the previews for the new Harry Potter film. In the aforementioned article I said that Harry Potter has a more devoted following, and a broader age range, but I forgot how the films have gotten progressively darker over the years, so this makes sense for the Batman series and perhaps there is a chance that the new film will break records at the box office. When a bootlegged version did make it online most people held off, as to not ruin the experience and excitement, but the trailor itself isn’t all that spectactular, visually at least. It contains scenes from previous films and quotes from previous films in the series, with new content being mostly quick flashes and Comissioner Gordon lying in a bed, not looking like he’s in the best of health. Best you take a look yourself.

Watch the trailer here or on Facebook in HD.

On the Nolan fan site they do a great job of keeping up on production and casting decisions. But beware, due to the fact that they follow the production team some story elements are revealed, so if you like going into films with an open mind best to stay away – if you can resist. You can read about the Dark Knight casting decisions here as well.

Harry Potter vs. Batman: Blockbuster Battle

The origin of the word “blockbuster” – or etymology if you want to be all fancy – is uncertain, it could originate from bombs dropped during the Second World War that could destroy entire city blocks or it could refer to how a show in a particular theatre was so successful it would cause all other theatres on the block to go out of business, or bust. This weekend it refers to the cloaked and wanded masses lining up day and night to see the third installment of the Harry Potter series this past weekend. The $168,6 million the show pulled in on its opening weekend beat the previous record holder The Dark Knight ($158 million). The 3D  surcharge will have helped a bit, but the caped crusader could get the last laugh, as the third and final installment is yet to be released.  Harry might have the upper hand, however – demographics are on his side: Potter plays to all audiences, young and old. Christopher Nolan’s darker Batman series might give the kiddies too many nightmares. Additionally, the popular book series seems to inspire a broader, more devout following. Then again, Batman is simply bad-ass.

The Dark Side of Popular Advertising

Darth Vader Volkswagen

Support CO2 emissions cuts, you must. The automaker Volkswagen had a successful advertising spot turn on them. Most people are familiar with the spot that ran during the superbowl, with a mini Darth Vader running around his house, trying to use the force. Now, Greenpeace has used it against them, in what is a very creative campaign to stop Volkswagen from lobbying the government for softer CO2 regulations and for having environement-unfriendly automobiles roll off the assembly line. Eco-Friendly shouldn’t be a luxury but standard. Apparently other automakers (such as BMW and Toyota) are doing a better job of reducing the amount of carbon their vehicles emit. The interesting bit is how professional their spot and website looks. It was a premeditated and tactical move, with an international roll-out and a strong online and social media presence. All in an attempt to bring VW back into the fold, away from the dark side. Watch the spot, and decide whether you will use the force for good and join the rebellion. They already have some strong support, namely the amount of people working probably pro bono who helped create this spot.

Hangover Part II Review – Spoiler Alert

I have marked some spoilers in this article, but I wonder if the first film will carry the same alert for the sequel. Ha-bloody-ha. Yes it’s true, the films are very much alike, and The Hangover Part II has taken a lot of heat from critics for essentially being the same as the original, just set in a more exotic location. But since it’s money that talks, you can chalk it up to a success, the film has become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. There are some legendary laughs but the creators relied more heavily on shock and awe that clever, situational comedy. My cheeks were still hurting leaving the film, and the mark of any good comedy is that, years on, you can think about a funny part and still chuckle to yourself – I thought about the the Sloppy Joes bit in Billy Madison had a laugh attack during a math test one time – what to others probably looked more like temporary insanity than a magic movie moment being relived. For me, my favourite part is right at the start (spoiler alert!) when Chow gets them psyched and is about to tell them the craziest story they’ve ever heard, takes a hit and keels forward, smashing his face on the table unconscious (spoiler over). There are plenty of simply hilarious moments, but I don’t see why the makers of this film didn’t shake up the storyline a little bit, obviously it was going to be similar, but they could have shaken up a few plot elements to make it familliar but somewhat new experience. For instance (spoiler again) Allan is again the culprit, having drugged the hapless foursome. It’s kind of the premise and I’m sure they could have thought of a number of alternative ways for everyone to get so bamboozled that they blackout and don’t remember anything. In any case, it was still thoroughly enjoyable, and there is a story arch for Stu, that makes sense and plays well. So saddle up for some raunchiness and get your ass to the theatre.

NME’s Short Schrift for This Modern Glitch

Again I hate to deviate from the world of film, but I just couldn’t get over Barry Nicolson’s review of the new Wombat’s album. You don’t have to read it, it’s short schrift to what is, in my opinion, a great album. You can dislike an album, but don’t base your opinion on your own predisposition. If you boil down the the piece and take out all the insults, there’s really no content left. People read reviews, perhaps for entertainment, but mostly so they can find out whether or not to invest their time and money in something. Now, after spending a combined 14 hours on transatlantic flights and being forced to watch heavily-edited, family-friendly movies I can understand the desire to carpet bomb certain pieces of work. But let’s be honest, This Modern Glitch is not the musical equivalent of Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son. I can also understand prejudice, I think it’s unlikely that that Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer will ever produce anything worth watching, but then again we’re not talking about the musical stylings of David Hasselhoff, either. My point is, they deserve a decent review, not one that is simpls dismissive. But the language tops the tone, what with the combination of two ower-used clichés (“guilty pleasure du jour”) and an obscure analogy, “nightwatchmen at the indie landfill.” What the fuck does that mean? Do you mean they applied for a shitty position in an already crappy organization – I can’t imagine a dump with more garbage than NME, imagine working there.

In douchebaggy scene-talk one might write: Nicolson’s tour de force is a puke-inducing, mud-slinging crapfest which will certainly one day feature in his published magnum opus of assorted reviews and tweets, soon to be found in the discount bin at your local book store.

Obama Kills… at the Correspondents’ Dinner

A little over a week ago President Obama absolutely wiped the floor with the celebrities and media pesonalities gathered for the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, a story that got buried after Osama bin Laden got buried – well shot in the head and buried at sea. The day before, armed with media props and a cool demeanour the Decider in Chief bitch slapped Fox News, Donald Trump, Matt Damon, Paul Ryan, Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, just to name a few. He was also self-effacing, and managed to stay cool as Seth Meyers cracked jokes about Osama bin Laden and his whereabouts. All in all a strong performance, but before I ruin any of the jokes I’ll let the President himself deepen those laugh lines.

Fortunately the President’s speech had a lot of Hollywood tie-ins (King’s Speech, The Lion King, Matt Damon, etc.), otherwise this wouldn’t be the appropriate forum – well, I probably would have written about it anyways. But really, although we like to scoff at the vocal and politically engaged Hollywood elite, Matt Damon does, in my opinion, have a reason to be disappointed. If for no other reason than for his handling of Wall Street, namely reform without teeth or meaning, and continuing the the revolving door policy. For instance, despite being at the center of almost every major American economic meltdown, there’s no SEAL team descending on the headquarters of Goldman Sachs. Indeed CEO and chairman Lloyd Blankfein is doing God’s work. William D. Cohan, author of Money and Power, said it’s a wonder people didn’t rise up – Matt Damon did, and I respect that. My two cents on politics. King’s Speech was a good movie, by the way – this is a movie blog after all.