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Stuff - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

Stuff [Dec. 12th, 2006|05:21 am]
Arvind Narayanan
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Work's been moving slowly after the Netflix blitzkrieg. I can't believe it's summer internship application time again. I hate writing my resume.

As usual, winter in Austin is a joke. Which is why I'm looking forward to spending Christmas week in Boston.

I have a new hairstyle. It involves a bandana.

Some movies I've watched this semester --

THE NEW

Departed. Very good. Jack Nicholson and Leo DiCaprio both put up outstanding performances. I'm sure there was much Boston in-humor that I missed. But it was still good. I'm not sure it deserves the 8.4 rating it has on IMDb though.

Borat (mild spoilers). Hard to tell. The over-the-top humor took me by surprise, and while every minute was hilarious, I'm very uncomfortable about the decidedly unethical filming practices (not giving participants time to read the contracts they were signing, disrupting a live newscast.) Mind you, I have no sympathy for the morons who said stupid things with a camera pointed at their faces -- contract or no contract -- but only the people who got in trouble for no fault of their own, like the woman at the TV station who got fired.

Casino Royale. Better than I expected. Didn't take too long to get used to Daniel Craig as the new Bond. I like the liberty the filmmakers took in breaking the conventions of the genre. Two complaints: too damn long, and I wish they hadn't cut out the gadgets.

THE NOT SO NEW

Inside man. Blah. Jodie Foster was good, but that's about it. There's was nothing deep about the plot and the ending was a major letdown. I have a suspicion there's an emperor's-new-clothes type phenomenon going on here, with everyone thinking it must be deep and that they must be missing something because everyone else said so. It's somewhat amusing to see comments on IMDb speculating wildly about what the title means, each one coming up with an explanation more chimerical than the previous.

Syriana. Excellent. George Clooney was extraordinary. I hope this will mean there will be fewer bad movies made about this Iraq war.

[Edit]: Oops, I meant "Three Kings" there, not Syriana. They both have George Clooney and are set in the Middle East and I watched them both recently. Syriana was good, but not nearly as good as Three Kings.

March of the Penguins. I was fucking blown away by the cuteness. (thanks iliada :-). I had no idea I could react this way! Not much else to say.

V for Vendetta. Brilliant. Good acting, great script. I clapped at the climax. How could I not? I am at heart an anarchist.

Thank you for Smoking. Very nice! I love the way the movie manages ever so smoothly to revolve around a monster as a protagonist, never taking either side, always subordinating the moral element to the humorous. The kid's acting is good, although I feel his character is sometimes too mature for his age. And I don't like William H. Macy.

THE ANCIENT

Sleepers. Good plot, some good performances. Nothing earth shattering.

Lantana. Aaaargh. Person who suggested it didn't tell me it was a chick flick. I want my two hours back.

A few Good Men. Another Jack Nicholson riot! But Tom Cruise was equally good, which is the real surprise. The plot is a quite ordinary courtroom drama, but that's ok.

Natural Born Killers. I had no idea I would like this film so much. Superb treatment of violence and its media portrayal. Awesome use of subliminal imagery. A true classic. I don't know why I put off watching it for so long. Well actually I do -- usually I find very violent movies just boring. Not this one, it makes a very powerful statement.

U-Turn. Mediocre. Too contrived. The acting wasn't great either: Sean Penn was ok, but Jennifer Lopez was too cute as usual. It's like the opposite of NBK, although it's by the same director. All the subliminal imagery that works beautifully in NBK, because the movie makes a statement, comes off in U Turn as taking itself too seriously. Thankfully the DVD gave up on us halfway through, sparing us the agony.

That gives me a chance to move smoothly on to the other thing I wanted to say, which is that I hate DVDs (and all optical media). Like, viscerally loathe them. DVDs are a data storage disaster forced on us precisely because they're so slow and flaky and moody. Which is why I'm super-excited about getting one of these. The thing is a DVD-player chipset but sitting on a USB hard drive enclosure. Buy a separate hard drive (dirt cheap on ebay) and you have a media player for your TV with space for a hundred movies and all the music in the world, for about a couple hundred bucks.

One reviewer commented "I don't know why these aren't on the shelves in every Best Buy across the country." Because to the movie industry all customers are potential criminals, that's why.

Now slap a wireless router on to this gadget and you have magic happening faster than you can say "convergence". This already exists. But to be really useful you need content integration -- bundle with the box an interface to the iTunes video store, or youtube, or something like the TimeWarner-BitTorrent hookup. From the technology side, this is all you need for TV-over-IP to take over right now -- but of course it will upset existing revenue structures, and so any change can only happen slowly and with much kicking and screaming. Sad.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: reubgr
2006-12-13 04:26 am (UTC)
Hey dude -- are you interested in interning in CT, near NY?

A bunch of my CS friends here at UT applied for internships at Bridgewater, a hedgefund in CT (one has already accepted the position). It's the total opposite of what you would expect from a financial institution in that it's an amazing place to work for technology people.

Let me know if you're interested and I'll tell you more about it.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-12-13 07:26 pm (UTC)
hey, I emailed you.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: reubgr
2006-12-14 01:53 am (UTC)
Haven't gotten it yet. Email to reuben dot grinberg at aya dot yale dot edu
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2006-12-13 05:44 am (UTC)
good taste. Did you miss Prestige? Thats another good one this year.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-12-13 07:20 pm (UTC)
It's got supernatural stuff, so I'm waiting for the DVD.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2006-12-14 08:47 am (UTC)
Nice blog I should say, came across it through orkut. Keep up the good work.

Vipul Goyal
(Reply) (Thread)