Monday, July 15, 2013


Hello!  How's everyone doing?

The weekend was pretty good. 
Thursday night I briefly attended an office happy hour at Donn's Depot.  I got there late because of Veteran's Court.
On Friday I saw Pacific Rim.  It was a pretty fun movie, and, I guess, just about what I thought it would be.  It was over the top and sort of silly at times, but Guillermo del Toro knows his audience.  The movie didn't take itself too seriously, but at it still managed too pull off its melodrama with a bit of emotional weight.  When you're making a movie about giant robots that fight giant dinosaurish monsters, it's probably a bit tricky to hit exactly the right tone.  You don't want the thing to get too serious (since the premise itself is- let's face it- pretty ridiculous), but you don't want it to be so goofy that the audience doesn't feel any sense of genuine tension or drama.
Pacific Rim was pretty good, but I thought they could have done a few things better.  I could have done with less of the wacky scientists and would have enjoyed more on the backstory of Raleigh Beckett's fellow jaeger pilots.
I guess that some of my issues with the movie are the same sorts of issues that I seem to have with a lot of movies these days- they seem to just have too much story crammed into a two hour window, so nothing ends up getting the attention that it deserves.
Also, I don't know why these CG action sequences always have to take place in the dark.  There were several times when I just couldn't tell what the heck was happening on the screen.
Overall, though, a fun movie.  I like the giant robots and the huge monsters.  I watched Pacific Rim and then I had to go home and watch the first half of Cloverfield.  Very different movies.  Even though the monsters (aka, kaiju) in Pacific Rim probably do more damage than the single monster in Cloverfield, somehow the monster in Cloverfield seemed a lot more scary.  Pacific Rim was more of an action/combat movie, and Cloverfield more of a horror type of movie.
Friday night Amy worked late.  I brought her some dinner so she wouldn't go hungry while she was busy with the law making.

Saturday we had breakfast, and I went for a bike ride.  Stopped in to see Jamie (Ryan was out of town in Canada for work).  I rode around South Austin.  I've been trying to find some new routes down there.  After, we went to Lowe's and bought a shelving system, and we went to the grocery store.
Saturday night we went to Stubb's to see Fitz and the Tantrums.  The band played really well.  Funky and soulful.  They have a lot of energy.  Stubb's, of course, is an outdoor venue, and it was pretty hot on Saturday night.  Even at 10 o'clock it was still about 95 degrees. 
(Amy loves a July dance jam)
Also, I've said this before in relation to other shows, but it bears repeating- the sound at Stubb's is extremely uneven depending on where you're standing in the venue.  We started out sort of standing in the center of the back of the crowd, and the sound was very heavy on bass and muddled, with the vocals and saxophone largely lost in the mix.  It sounded like the band was playing underwater.  We pushed our way closer to the soundboard, though, and the sound was much better. 
They really need to get some of those issues ironed out at Stubb's.  This isn't the first time that I've been there when the sound was all out of whack.  Maybe a second set of speakers closer to the back?  It's just not cool that different people at the same show may have utterly different experiences depending on where they end up standing on the hill.  Not everyone in the venue can squeeze in next to the soundboard.
Anyway, the band played well, and it was a good show.  They seemed to genuinely appreciate the enthusiasm of the audience.  And it was pretty impressive to see so many people out there bouncing around and really enjoying themselves on such a warm evening.  It brought back memories of some of the shows that I used to see in college in clubs that were little more than barely air conditioned warehouses.  Sort of a midsummer dance party sort of thing.  We had a good time!

On Sunday we got up and went to breakfast.  Kerbey Lane.  Pancakes and eggs.  Yum!  We ran into Andy and Rami and Baby Wilson.  It was cool to see them!

After breakfast we went to Barton Springs.  We floated in the water and cooled off and relaxed.  Surprisingly, a few clouds started to roll in.  Given the fact that it had been about 103 the day before, we were okay with a few clouds.  We still got some sun.
Sunday afternoon my dad came over and we put up a closet organizer system in Amy's closet.  Thanks to Dad for coming over and making sure I got the thing done right.  Amy seems pretty happy with the finished project.
Sunday evening we had Mono E practice over at Reed's house.  Jim couldn't make it, so I played bass.  It had been awhile.  We sounded pretty decent.
Amy made chicken tinga, so when I got home from band practice we had it for dinner.  It was very good.  One of my favorites!

And that was the weekend!  Very good, but over in a flash!

Hope everyone else had a good one. 
Today we have rain.  That's a sort of miracle during July in Austin, Texas.


Ryan Steans said...

with the intake of summer movies now topping off, I've been thinking a lot about the manner in which FX are deployed in movies. There's a general patina over action films with a big budget. In "Man of Steel" it was a lot of sepia, "Star Trek" had a sort of glossy steel-blue, in "World War Z" there seemed to be a soft-focus filter at all times, and in "Pacific Rim", it was nighttime and/ or raining. And I suspect it's all towards obfuscating what would be a more obvious separation between CGI and what's actually on film. It gets played off as "style", but in the end, you wind up uncertain that you ever see anything fully. If you asked me what Gipsy Danger actually looked like, I couldn't draw it on a cocktail napkin. I genuinely miss the FX model porn of Star Wars and other pre-CGI movies where they showed off the ships, the FX, etc... as practical, in-camera FX, and they didn't count on a constantly moving camera to both feed the ADD audience and to keep the audience from ever really seeing anything.

If a single shot in Pacific Rim was longer than 5 seconds, I'd be genuinely shocked. If any but a few weren't tracking shots, I'd be similarly surprised (and don't get me started on "Man of Steel"'s shaky-cam).

As unfulfilling as this summer's batch of blockbusters has been, and how much EVERYTHING felt like scenes were interchangeable from movie to movie, we're in a very strange age of film-making.

J.S. said...

Yeah, the action scenes were often dark, frenetic, and very hard to follow. I agree that the directors don't really seem all that proud of their CG effects and seem to feel the need to obscure them.
I also long for the old days of the models. I'm not anti the new technology, but it seems that the craftsmanship involved with the models was lending itself to a greater artistic vision and eye for detail. I'm not sure whether the current problems with the computer technology arise from the technology itself or some sort of failure on the part of the artists, but something feels like it's missing.
And yeah, the choppy editing is pretty awful.