RaaD Movies, News and Technology

Dany's RaaD Roundup

Temple Grandin Movie Review

I rarely review movies that aren’t currently in theaters, but after I heard about the HBO film Temple Grandin from my psychiatry professor and watched the film, I had to change that. For anyone who wants to understand what autism means to someone who actually found her way through the disorder and with a lot of work made a big difference in the fields of science, animal husbandry and general medical understanding. Autism used to be considered a disorder that was the fault of the mother, this stigma easily could have ruined a family, but this movie tells the story of one person, with her struggles and her ability to persevere. This is an excellent film. Buy a copy, rent it, just watch it. Claire Danes gives a stellar performance, easily the best movie I have ever seen her in (even though I loved Stardust) with this true story, Julia Ormond gives a heart wrenching performance, David Strathairn and Catherine O’Hara wonderfully support this world of discovery.

The movie is based on the book written by Dr. Grandin: My Life in Pictures. Thanks to Vulture NYmag for the above image.

Enjoy

Dany

November 23, 2010 11:43 pm Posted by | books, brain, dvd, health, medicine, movie reviews, movies, nature, science, tv | Leave a comment

Photo Contests, The US Census and The Daily Show Roundup for the Week of April 2nd, 2010

This week I found a bit more than just some Daily Show highlights. First, I want to present some of my favorite Worth1000 photo retouching contest submissions. The above image is the winning entry from a contest of If Vampires Ruled. So, if you enjoy retouching photos or even creating your own images from scratch, you should be aware of Worth1000, where you can win money from all sorts of contests. Also, The Fire Wire has put together a nice bunch of images of artist renditions of how cartoon characters would look in the real world, very similar, but even more extensive than when I last reported on the topic. Here is my favorite from the page of everybody’s favorite sailor man, Popeye:

Here is an interesting take on the reporting around the violence since the passage of the US health care bill (here is the entire bill and here are the final changes to that bill)
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On a lighter, but maybe scarier note, Don “Moose” Lewis wants to popularize an all white male pro basketball league, although he does admit the reason for this is that white men are not as good at basketball than top black athletes, so is this racism a push?
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Politics always seems to be a hypocritical game, both parties are to blame, but for right now, the latest scandal hits the GOP‘s Chairman Michael Steele and how some of the donated funds to the Republican party may have gone to paying for expensive outings at a bondage themed strip club. I wonder how happy conservative Republican donors are going to be to see this:
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Senator John McCain looks to have a rocky Republican primary contest as he is being challenged by J.D. Hayworth, someone running as a more conservative voice to represent Arizona in the Senate, so McCain has started to elicit the campaign help of his former VP candidate Sarah Palin, the problem is similar to Nixon‘s problem against JFK in the first televised presidential debate, Palin just outshines him and he doesn’t end up looking good during this interview.
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Robin Williams gets interviewed by Jon Stewart to promote his new Weapons of Self Destruction (buy it here), but at the same time has some comments of his own regarding recent political scandals
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I love a good political protest by any group, but do we really need scary cops? Maybe we do if protesters are throwing eggs… not exactly peaceful protesting
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It is interesting that now that a health care bill has been signed into law, President Obama has been an extremely busy bee with everything from Russian nuclear diplomacy to NCAA March Madness tournament picks
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Roxana Saberi, is interviewed while promoting her book, Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran (buy it here), where she was arrested and charged as a spy
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Why is CNN hiring an incendiary right wing blogger as part of their on-air group of political blogger analysts? Also, are they vetting his most incendiary comments live, on-air, just to avoid a scandal of those old posts leaking later or are they unsure of their decision to even hire Erick Erickson.
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Here is an interesting story regarding the US Census of the population. Some are opposed to the questions being asked on current census forms, there are some good and some bad arguments for this, but most interesting of the whole story is comparing what questions were asked on the original US Census compared to the questions being asked today. After this final video, I will post the original 1790 Census compared to the current 2010 version.
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The original 1790 census collected 6 questions sorted by every county/city in the US asking for 1. the Name of the Head of the Family, the number of 2. Free White males of 16 years and upward, 3. Free White males under 16 years, 4. Free White females, 5. All other free persons and 6. Slaves. Thanks to Ancestry.com for the scanned census:

The 2010 census by comparison asks 10 questions on 6 pages. 1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010? 2. Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1? 3. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home: owned with mortgage, owned without mortgage, rented, occupied without rent? 4. What is your telephone number? 5. Please provide information for each person living here. Start with a person here who owns or rents this house, apartment, or mobile home. If the owner or renter lives somewhere else, start with any adult living here. This will be Person 1. What is Person 1’s name? 6. What is Person 1’s sex? 7. What is Person 1’s age and Date of Birth? 8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin? 9. What is Person 1’s race? 10. Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else? Here is a copy of the 2010 form (pdf version).

Enjoy

Dany

April 5, 2010 4:52 pm Posted by | art, books, clips, crazy celebs, DC, dvd, health, Law, medicine, photography, politics, Washington, Washington DC | Leave a comment

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

It might seem like a late review, but since I am currently in Grenada, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is still in theaters here and I just got back from watching it tonight. It’s OK though, I was a very late comer to the series in general, I only started the audio books this summer. This is the 6th movie in a franchise of Harry Potter films since 2001 and the first thing that is easy to notice is the amount of maturity it the visual effects over time. This is most advanced looking Harry Potter film. It helps that most of the film is cloaked in shadows and darkness, but the digital water and fire effects, things that used to be hallmarks in difficult to recreate visual effects were spectacular.

The 6th Harry Potter book along with the final book were my top two favorites from the series. I though they were the most mature and compelling of the bunch. I have not liked the films as much as the audiobooks, but a movie not living up to the original source book isn’t grounds for a bad movie. The movie itself has to be good or bad on its own (not considering the book) or better/worse than the previous movies, in my mind.

Let me just say, if you have not seen any of the preceding Harry Potter movies or books, just skip this film, as a stand alone film, my guess is that it would be extremely confusing since it does not do a great job of introducing a lot of the tertiary characters. Now, for most people, this is not a problem, because they wouldn’t go out to see the 6th film in a series without seeing any of the previous films. In relation to the other films though, I do think that this is the best of the 6 movies. There may still be a plot problem or two, like why does Dumbledore HAVE to drink that liquid, why not just dump it out?… it’s tough though since this was a problem with the source book, but there were certainly enough changes in the story from the book that solving this problem could have been done as well. The film does set up the final two films very well though.

I liked the way this film handled evolving relationship between Ron and Hermione and also that of Harry and Ginny. Oddly enough though, my favorite character throughout the films is Snape, Alan Rickman is great, even if he isn’t nearly as slimy or short tempered as his character from the books. I didn’t like his shushing Harry scene below the tower towards the end of the film (it didn’t feel like it worked) though.

Previous Harry Potter Movie quick reference dvd reviews:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – 2/5 stars
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – 2/5 stars
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 4/5 stars
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – 4/5 stars
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – 2/5 stars

Thanks to Boopis on Garena for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

September 9, 2009 12:07 am Posted by | audiobooks, books, dvd, Grenada, movie reviews, movies | Leave a comment

My Experience with Netflix in Grenada… FAIL

This summer I was able to go back home to NYC and I decided to restart my Netflix subscription. I was LOVING both the dvd selection and especially the online streaming service I was getting, but once I got down to Grenada to go back to medical school, I realized that both because of digital publishing rights I probably would not be able to enjoy any of the streaming movies and television shows that Netflix has been offering. Sure enough, I was right and their streaming service didn’t work once I got into Grenada.

It is really too bad, now it is going to be much harder to watch movies now while I am here. I wonder if there are any legal ways I would be able to get similar access to such a broad array of movies online now for the time that I’m down here on the Spice Island. All I want to do is give my money to a service like Netflix, which then filters its way back to the movie industry, but for whatever reason, the movie studios don’t want to take my money just because I am out of the country for the next few months.

It’s a real shame when a company just refuses when I’m offering them up my money, especially when there are so many not so legal ways that I COULD be watching movies while I am down here, but wanted to avoid. Hmm, I wonder if Blockbuster‘s online library would work down here… I doubt it, but I need to look into that.

Dany

**Update 8-14-2009**  Nope, Blockbuster’s online catalog is US only as well.

August 14, 2009 5:58 pm Posted by | dvd, Grenada, Law, movies, New York, NYC | Leave a comment

CollegeHumor – The Matrix Runs on Windows

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I’m very partial to The Matrix. It was the first movie I’d ever seen on DVD. Well, the good people over at CollegeHumor (subscribe here) have created a funny video showing just how bad a place the matrix would be if it ran on Windows.

It’s geek hilarious, enjoy.

Dany

November 17, 2008 12:39 am Posted by | clips, comedians, dvd, movies, podcasts, software, technology, Windows | Leave a comment

Vicky Cristina Barcelona Review

I just got back from watching Woody Allen‘s new movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This film really has not gotten a lot of press coverage, I haven’t really seen any ads for it, but shows like Filmspotting (subscribe here), The Totally Rad Show (subscribe here), along with the always trusty Roger Ebert and James Berardinelli have also tried to bring this film into the light of day.

I try and make a point of seeing any new Woody Allen film I hear about and this is definitely one of those times where I feel completely rewarded for this policy. This movie is wonderfully wild, especially as the film progresses and yes Scarlett Johansson is insanely beautiful and sexy, but with this movie, I can see specifically what it is that Woody saw in her to have her star in 3 of his last 4 films, while I liked Match Point more than this movie, I thought she gave her best performance here as Cristina. Johansson has a restless, exuberant innocence that is wonderful.

I don’t always like the use of a narrator and I didn’t always like it in this movie either. It was useful for explaining which Spanish landmarks were being visited and which artists and sculptures were being admired throughout the film, but it got a bit annoying when, for example being told that the characters were tasting chocolates at a local chocolatier, while on screen, we can see Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem walking in and eating those chocolates.

It has been a long time since I saw a film with Penélope Cruz and her sensuous and wild performance reminded me of the first time I ever saw her, back in Abre los ojos (the role that also inspired Tom Cruise to remake that film into Vanilla Sky with her starring in it as well) and it shames me to think that I still have not gotten to see her in Volver up to this point! I NEED to put that film on my list of things to see on dvd now.

I think this is a wonderful movie and I just loved it, especially with all the photography featured in the film, I love photography and I wish I could get my shots to come out looking as good as some of those taken in this film. Thanks to VickyCristinaBarcelona.Wordpress.com for the above pic.

On a side note, throughout the film, I kept identifying with the Doug character (Chris Messina), no matter how much I wanted this to not be so, while at the same time, I wish I acted more like Juan Antonio in my dealings with women and relationships.

Enjoy

Dany

September 4, 2008 12:28 am Posted by | art, dvd, movie reviews, movies, photography | 2 Comments

Pineapple Express Review

I enjoyed Knocked Up and I have been anticipating seeing Pineapple Express ever since I saw Seth Rogen flying off  a ledge to jump on top of Lumbergh… er, Gary Cole, even though I wasn’t looking forward to seeing James Franco as the buddy stoner though since I hated him in all the Spider-Man movies.

As I was watching the film, I had a problem believing how well the main characters were handling the situation they were put in, one minute they were scared stiff (rightfully) and the next they were  doing things no regular person would be  able to do… but once I was able to let go of reality though, I thought this was just a whole lot of fun to watch.

It has been a long time since I saw Rosie Perez in a film and surprisingly, she may be the only woman that makes getting hit in the face hilarious. She did a great job throughout the film, with a role that may have fallen by the wayside with a less talented comedic actress. The best part of the movie in the end though was James Franco, he had me laughing through so many scenes, he was great and that really surprised me.

The other real disappointment was that the movie didn’t have any credit cookies, which I’ve almost come to expect from a comedy movie like this, but if that’s my problem with the movie, I know I had a good time and will probably get this on dvd. Rogen did a great job in writing this film.

Roger Ebert was right in his review that this movie “is the answer to the question, ‘What would happen if a movie like this was made by a great director?'”

Thanks to the Examiner for the above pic.

Dany

August 12, 2008 7:56 pm Posted by | dvd, movie reviews, movies | Leave a comment

The Dark Knight Review

The Dark Knight is probably the longest (over two and a half hours), most violent, shocking, enthralling, fun and disturbing superhero movie I have probably ever seen. I had a wonderful time, but I was let down when I couldn’t get in to see the IMAX screening of the film, but I couldn’t wait any longer to see this film. I will definitely be going back next week to try and see it in IMAX and then buy the dvd.

A lot of people are talking about Heath Ledger‘s performance as The Joker and part of the reason that it has been so hard to get tickets for this film is because he died before the film was released, but I must say, he TAKES OVER in a way that only Jack Nicholson would be proud of.

I really can’t review this film, but it does show what a superhero movie could be and that our current efforts in CGI are so realistic that it is almost impossible to tell that we are being fooled by an effect. I am not going to give anything away, except to say that I don’t believe any young children should see this film, it is both too long and also the most violent and disturbing PG-13 ever, but even though I’m intimately familiar with the Batman comics, I believe in Harvey Dent and it was inspiring to see that Gotham did as well.

Thanks to The Telegram for the above pic.

Dany

*8-29-2008 Update* – I finally got in to see The Dark Knight in IMAX and it was totally worth the wait, but the only oddity I noticed this time around was that Gotham’s Mayor (Nestor Carbonell) wore eyeliner, I later found out through the great imdb, that this was to give the role a more Frank Miller comic feel.

July 23, 2008 11:45 pm Posted by | crazy celebs, dvd, movie reviews, movies, technology | 3 Comments

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog from Joss Whedon

Now, I don’t know how long this 3 part miniseries from Joss Whedon will remain online, but if you haven’t seen it, try and catch Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog here.

Dr. Horrible is a 3 part miniseries starring Neil Patrick Harris (yes, Doogie Howser), Felicia Day (from The Guild [subscribe here]) and Joss Whedon regular, Nathon Fillion.

I don’t usually like musicals, but a Joss Whedon musical is different, just watch the Buffy musical, Once More with Feeling, to see what I mean,

For now at least, this miniseries is free via Hulu.com, but you can keep it by buying it off of iTunes by purchasing each individual episode for $1.99 or get the season pass for $4.99 and it will eventually be released on DVD, which I will buy in a heartbeat.

Thanks to Stuff.co.nz for the above pic.

Hope you all get to enjoy it

Dany

*8/2/2008 Update* As of right now, the entire 3 acts of Dr. Horrible have been combined into one 42 minute movie and are available to watch via the Official site and Hulu.

*8/9/2008 Update* Or watch it here:

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*9/1/2008 Update* Thanks to Nathan Fillion for sharing Dr. Horrible’s iPhone remote van controls from Act I.

July 20, 2008 11:45 pm Posted by | clips, dvd, movies, music, music videos, podcasts, technology, vaporware | 1 Comment

WALL-E Review

Before Wall-E came out, I thought the robot was a ripoff of Johnny 5 for kids too young to remember Short Circuit and Short Circuit 2. After seeing the movie though, I can admit that I was wrong… the good thing is that I am not usually this glad to be wrong about something. There were also some great nods to classic science fiction and technology fans, with callbacks to 2001: A Space Oddyssey and the classic Mac startup chime, to just name a couple.

I consider myself a jaded New Yorker and that’s why I was so surprised to be emotionally knocked on my ass for many scenes in this film. I even teared up during some of the scenes between Wall·E and Eve (the slick white robot that resembles ASIMO), which was the most surprising thing for me. I was NOT expecting to be hit so hard by the love story and the ability of Pixar‘s animators to imbue that much emotion into robots that say less than 5 words to one another.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film though was the first 40 or so minutes of the film on Earth, first with WALL·E alone and then with Eve. This was some of the best pantomime since Charlie Chaplain and what really moved me was the interaction between WALL·E and Eve reminded me of Chaplain‘s City Lights. I liked the juxtaposition between Fred Willard‘s live action scenes from the past and the animated humans who are now blubberous blobs of laziness and a shell of their ancestors, played to a tee with voicework from Jeff Garlin John Ratzenberger and Kathy Najimy.

This movie is a definate must see, even the silent animated short with a hungry bunny and an obnoxious magician was entertaining to watch and I know I’m going to be looking for this movie when it is finally released on dvd. Thanks to MoviePatron for the above pic.

Dany

July 6, 2008 3:58 pm Posted by | apple, cartoons, dvd, movie reviews, movies, New York, NYC, robots, technology, toons | 4 Comments