Please. Just stop.

This post discusses the upcoming (putative) Terminator 5 film project, and how making it R-rated may result in a better box office performance than was experienced by the PG-13 Terminator Salvation (Christian Bale, I admire you greatly as an actor.  But seriously, what were you thinking?).  This lackluster performance could have had nothing to do, of course, with the poor plot line and the fact that this story and its characters have been flogged to death. Even more ominous is the fact that the probable filmmaker is responsible for the Fast and Furious franchise, which should never gone beyond the first film, whose only saving grace was Vin Diesel.

While there have been a few successful film franchises, such as the Thin Man series, or Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes films, they worked normally because, while they had some commonalities – usually the central characters – each film had a distinct, and normally strong storyline.  The more recent franchises, however, have been nothing more than money grabs, to be honest.  Terminators 1 and 2 worked very well because they had such strong characters and compelling, if not always plausible, stories.  By T3, however, it’s just a rehash of the same premise.  I feel this particularly strongly with the Aliens franchise.  Alien and Aliens are both superb; in fact, Aliens is one of my top 5 films.  They work well on so many levels; again, there were common elements between them, but also significant differences.  Aliens added new pieces to the puzzle, so to speak:  By Aliens 3, there were no new pieces, but a mere re-configuration of what had been seen in 1 and 2.    As for Aliens 4, the less said the better.

While formulaic film making is nothing new, the more recent versions of this phenomenon don’t seem to even try to introduce anything novel. A parallel development is the increasingly egregious TV-series creep: Why come up with anything new when you can simply adapt a television series into a film?  This formula has not worked very often mostly, I think, because the film makers tried to recreate the feel and ambiance of the original television shows, which is almost impossible, since too many of the variables are different, e.g., the actors, the chemistry between and among the actors, and so forth.  I’m not opposed per se (well, perhaps a little) to adapting television shows, but why not make them true adaptations, rather than imitations?  I live in dread of the conversion of reality television series into films.

Businesses need to adapt to the cloud

Businesses need to adapt to the cloud | The Chronicle Herald.

An interesting post from the local newspaper about the growing importance of cloud computing to manage business records.  The post confirms one of the findings in Gartner’s predictions for the 2012 IT landscape:

“Emergence of the nexus of four forces: The convergence of cloud, social, mobile and information into a unified set of forces shaping almost every IT-related decision. See “Predicts 2012: Cloud Services Brokerage Will Bring New Benefits and Planning Challenges,” “Predicts 2012: Cloud Computing Is Becoming a Reality,” “Predicts 2012: New Considerations Influencing IT Procurement and Asset Management,” “Predicts 2012: Information Infrastructure and Big Data,” “Predicts 2012: The Rising Force of Social Networking and Collaboration Services” and “Predicts 2012: Plan for Cloud, Mobility and ‘Big Content’ in Your ECM Strategy.” All this research and more recount the emergence of this nexus and the forces that form it. Additional complexity comes from the need to support users and employees from any screen, as noted in “Predicts 2012: The Success of Consumer Devices Will Rest on Delivering the Ultimate Experience.” As IT organizations and business users evolve their strategies, they need to ask themselves how they will handle the nexus — whether in individual pieces, or as a unified phenomenon all of itself.”

Having been involved in institutional discussions about the  move to cloud computing and collaborative work spaces, I am struck by the increasing need for records and information management professionals to be at the table.

Turning your phones into cataloguing clients

This post discusses how smartphones could be used to create catalogue records via OCR (Optical Character Recognition).  If I understand the premise correctly, you could take a digital photograph of a book’s title page, for example, then use OCR technology to convert the text (e.g., title, SOR) into a MARC record.  Any thoughts?  I do wonder about the quality of the resultant records since, in essence, you are relying on software to select and input data correctly.  This presumes, also, that the software could distinguish between, say, a title statement and an SOR.  Without further details, it’s hard to assess how this woudl work, but it’s an intriguing concept.

Stars of the 30s and 40s who are still with us

IMDb: Stars of the 30s and 40s who are still with us – a list by crisso.

I very much enjoyed reading the post above that lists actors from my two favourite film periods who are still alive .  I have spent so much of my life watching these actors on television; by the age of 10, I was completely immersed in the films of the 1930s and 1940s.  I’m not sure when my love affair for older films started, but at a tender age, I already knew more about these films than my grandparents who had lived through these times.

A number of these actors have made a lasting impression on me.  The exquisite and elegant Olivia de Havilland, the star of my favourite film (The adventures of Robin Hood) and her many pairings with the dashing Errol Flynn. Sister Joan Fontaine did not make the same impression on me, although her work in films such as Rebecca and  Suspicion was excellent.

Who can forget the lovely Maureen O’Hara in the Charles Laughton Hunchback of Notre Dame?  My maternal grandfather, bless him, used to say that I reminded him of Maureen (yes, he was my favourite grandparent), no doubt because of the hair.

Lizabeth Scott and her endearing lisp, and very much of the Veronica Lake lookalike school of actresses.

Rhonda Fleming, with the flaming red hair, was always such a strong presence on screen and my father’s Hollywood crush. I’ve seen a recent interview with her and she is still incredibly stunning and beautiful.

The classy Celeste Holm, who still looks amazing.  Celeste always seemed so patrician on the screen, but without being stuffy.

And, of course, the incomparable Kirk Douglas.  Douglas was a mannered actor in many ways but, as they say, what a manner.  You simply couldn’t take your eyes off the man when he was on screen; his voice alone was so distinctive that you could identify him instantly. Of Douglas’ films, Ace in the Hole and Paths of Glory are my favourites.

I know it sounds like a cliche, but they really don’t make film stars like this anymore. In a CSI episode, someone refers to an actor in a series of action films as a movie star.  Gil Grissom (aka William Petesen) retorted:  “X is an actor; Clark Gable was a movie star.”  Amen.

Hobbits in 3D

Peter Jackson’s ‘Hobbit’ Won’t Save 3D Movies and That’s a Good Thing – Forbes.

This article discusses how, in spite of its best efforts, Peter Jackon’s new film won’t do much to enhance the fate of 3D films.  I, for one, would be happy to see them disappear immediately.  I dislike 3D films for a number of reasons:

(a) They hurt my eyes.  It’s bad enough having to deal with the sights and sounds of your fellow moviegoers eating pizza, popcorn, natchos, and so forth, without being bombarded with flying objects and kaleidoscopes of colour on the screen;

(b) Too often, the purpose of 3D films is to overpower you with their amazing effects and computer-generated technologies.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a technophile bordering on geek status, but when effects and technology usurp good writing, well-developed characters, a plot, and good acting, I’d rather take a pass;

(c) They are an assault to the senses; too many things are moving, too much noise,  the music is usually horrifically loud, and so forth; and

(d) 3D glasses are a travesty and render one hideous.

40 Years of Masterpiece on PBS: A Look Back & Ahead – 40 Years of Masterpiece on PBS: A Look Back & Ahead.

I could not resist including this post, since I’m an avid fan of Masterpiece Classic and, more so, Masterpiece Mystery.  I’ve been a financial supporter of PBS for many years, even though I’m Canadian.  When I lived in Toronto, I always found it amusing that the Buffalo PBS station had more Canadian supporters than Americans.  The Masterpiece series have been my television comfort food for so many years in the increasing mediocrity that is television programming (mercifully, I have heard that reality shows are starting to decline; their death knell cannot come quickly enough).  I’ve jumped wholeheartedly on the Downton Abbey bandwagon and worship at the shrine of the new Sherlock.  I’ve seen just about every film and television version of Sherlock Holmes, and the current PBS/BBC offering ranks as the highest or, at least, on par with the Jeremy Brett versions.

I’ve been reorganizing my DVD collection – again – and have been struck by the number of DVDs that were produced when the A&E channel was actually called the Arts and Entertainment channel for a reason.  It’s hard to believe that the present horror that is A&E produced shows such as Horatio Hornblower, Pride & Prejudice, Ivanhoe, and so forth.

I’m eagerly awaiting the launch of Downtown Abbey Series 2 this Sunday, as well as the upcoming Series 2 of Sherlock

Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions Of 2011

Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions Of 2011 | Glassdoor Blog.

This post made me smile and even laugh out loud at times.  Compared to these 25 questions, those at a standard academic interview are positively mundane and boring. I think my favourite of the 25 is “How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator?”  Many of these questions are designed, I’m assuming, to test people’s creativity and lateral-thinking skills.  I think some of these questions could be good ice breakers for the first class of a course as a means of encouraging students to engage in a discussion where they are not afraid of getting the wrong answer because, really, is there only one correct way to get an elephant into a refrigerator?