Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children film review

misperegrinsLoads of spoilers below.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is pretty standard stuff. All competently done if familiar to films that have gone before. The most interesting aspect was how existing in the 1 day time loops where the children live for protection means that they never get to grow up and experience life. I’d wonder if it was worth it. Samual L. Jackson does a lot of monologuing and I couldn’t help thinking about Frozone talking about that topic in The Incredibles. There is also a nice Jason and The Argonauts fighting skeleton section done with modern techniques. I rated it 6/10.

It’s worth getting an AppleTV just to run Magic Fireplace

Magic Fireplace icon

You can’t beat a good fire as the nights draw in. Unfortunately I don’t have a good fire. I do however have an AppleTV, an HD television, and a good sound system. So I can have a digital fire. Using the fabulous Magic Fireplace App from Jetson Creative. It displays one of 20 different HD videos of fireplaces. With a pleasing wood burning sounds. Perfect for dark evenings on the sofa with a book and a big mug of tea. Video below.

Testing Ulysses posting to WordPress

ulysses-macUlysses is a nice macOS and iOS application for writers. I prefer Scrivener myself for writing articles and fiction. But Ulysses can also post to WordPress Blogs. I’ve recently been having a few niggles with Blogo my WordPress posting app of choice. Weird text editing glitches and stuff. So I’m thinking of starting to use something else. So this post is a test to see what posts with images and links look like when composed and posted from Ulysses.

The Girl With All The Gifts film review

The Girl with All The Gifts film poster

Spoilers aplenty below.

I never jumped on the zombie apocalypse train when it left the station a few years ago. It was fully laden though as plenty of others did jump on. Witness the popularity of TV shows like The Walking Dead, and films like 28 Days Later and World War Z. I did jump on the zombie comedy film train though, with the films Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland.

It won’t come as a surprise, after that preamble, that The Girl with All The Gifts is a film in the zombie genre. Although the zombies are called hungries in the film, and the book. The book is how I came to the film. I read it last year after it was highly recommended on several Sci-Fi blogs. I liked it a lot. Both the book and the film script were written in tandem by M.R. Carey. They tell the story of Melanie (played by Sennia Nanua in the film), who is one of a group of children being held in a military base and research centre in England. Here they are taught, while strapped into wheelchairs that are pushed into the classroom, by a sympathetic teacher called Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton). They are also used in medical research by a team led by Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close) who are trying to find a cure or vaccine for the fungal infection that turns people into hungries. Turns out the children are from mothers who were infected before the children were born, and have a less damaging version of the fungal infection. A sort of symbiotic relationship with it. So they are neither human or hungries. But something different, and new. Melanie is very smart and quickly learns and remembers things she is told or sees.

The military base they are in gets overrun by hungries and Melanie, Miss Justineau, and Caldwell escape in an armoured truck with two soldiers, Sargent Parks (Paddy Considine) and Private Gallagher (Fisayo Akinade). They plan to drive towards another military base but the truck is damaged and they have to continue on foot through the hungries’ infested suburbs of London. Melanie starts to play an important role in helping the group navigate the dangerous streets. The hungries don’t attack anyone already infected with the fungus, so Melanie is able to move amongst them safely. The film is actually a coming of age story as Melanie comes to realise that she, and other feral children who are like her, are the future of humanity as they can coexist with the fungal infection. She takes actions to ensure that she and the other children survive.

I liked the film a lot. The book has more detail and exposition, as you would expect. But the film is good in its own right. The performance by Sennia Nanua as Melanie is fantastic. And she is ably supported by the four other principle cast members. The depiction of post-apocalyptic London is very well done. As are the hungries. The music is very suspenseful. In lots of scenes it is just shifting harmonic tones, but it’s very effective. I loved the ending to the book, and it’s there unchanged in the film. You should definitely go see this, then read the book if your haven’t already. I rated it 8/10.

Anthropoid film review

Spoilers below.

Anthropoid is a slightly harrowing account of the Czech resistance attempt to assassinate the Nazi commander Reinhard Heydrich in occupied Prague in 1942.

It tells the story of a pair of Czech resistance fighters, trained by the British in UK, who parachute back into Czechoslovakia with the orders to link up with the resistance in Prague and carry out their mission. There are other pairs who parachute in from the same plane. These other missions are not covered in the film but several of the parachutists are in the last third of the film when they are all reunited in Prague after their missions are over. The film has the drama, peril, and violence you would expect from one that depicts an authoritarian occupying force, without many scruples, who are looking within the general populace for resistance fighters. During some of the tense scenes my heart was racing. The first film since Room that has evoked such a response. In other scenes showing torture by the SS I was very uncomfortable about what I was seeing on screen. Harrowing.

Technically the film is excellent. A great depiction of 1940’s occupied Europe. The cinematography is great. The special effects and makeup are very good too. I don’t recall the music. The film isn’t a bundle of laughs, but as a resistance and Nazi occupation war film it is very good. Recommended. Rated it 8/10.

Outlook cloudy

I used to be an IT infrastructure person. I selected and installed the first Microsoft Exchange mail system in the large company I was working in during the mid 1990’s. I championed and introduced VMware as the virtualisation platform of choice in a different job in the mid 2000’s, before moving on to a technology innovation role to identify and champion new technologies.

If I was working in a company now in an infrastructure role I would have as much as possible of the server infrastructure off premise in the public cloud. I’d only have servers on premise, or in private cloud or a 3rd party data centre, if the data was too sensitive for a public cloud service. And in that scenario I’d adopt a hybrid cloud model with all the data I could have out on public cloud servers, with just the sensitive data on the in house part of the hybrid cloud. The public cloud services I’d use would be Office 365, Microsoft Azure, maybe Igloo for Intranet services, Slack for messaging, and Airwatch for endpoint device management. If any email accounts were mission critical I’d put them on the lowest spec Exchange Server possible in house as part of a hybrid deployment of Office 365.

The IT budget I controlled would be spent on having good redundant Internet connections and giving the users the choice of device they want to use. Be it Mac, Windows PC, iOS or Android tablet, iPhone, or Android phone.

Hell or High Water review

Spoilers below.

Hell or High Water is a modern western film. With all the things you would expect in a western, but with current setting. Events play out in rural Texas. Chris Pine plays Toby who is divorced from his wife and estranged from his two sons. His recently deceased mother has left him a ranch on which oil has been discovered. Problem is that his mother was in debt to the local Texas Midland Bank and they are going to foreclose on the loans if they are not paid back very soon. So money is needed quickly or the oil rich land will be lost.

Toby, and his career criminal brother Tanner (Ben Foster), embark on a series of early morning bank robberies of Texas Midland Bank branches in order to get the money to pay back the bank. Nice twist. Banks bleeding the people dry is an overarching theme of the film. All the robberies are small so don’t interest the FBI. They do interest the soon to retire Texas Ranger Marcus (Jeff Bridges) though, and he and his partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham) go on the trail of the robbers. Jeff Bridges plays his role in a nice gnarly way. And has a good rapport and banter with Gil Birmingham’s character.

The film has everything you would want from a western. Even a modern one. Dusty sunlit Texan vistas, bank robberies, a posse like band of locals going after the robbers, a shoot out, a good sibling story with a sacrifice, nostalgia for a time that has passed, and a moral message about generational poverty and the role of banks. I liked it. Rated 7/10.

Café Society film review

Spoilers below.

Café Society is a very Woody Allen film. Even by Woody Allen film standards. If you like them you’ll probably like this. But I doubt you’ll class it as a great Woody Allen film. It’s not as good as last years Irrational Man for example.

The plot is a bit thin. It tells the story of New Yorker Bobby (played by Jesse Eisenberg) who goes to Los Angeles in the 1930’s to live and work the Hollywood scene. His uncle Phil (Steve Carell) is a successful talent agent to several film stars. Bobby falls for Phil’s assistant Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) but she is in a relationship. Later that breaks up and she and Bobby become an item. But there is a twist, that I won’t detail as it would be a major spoiler, and it doesn’t work out. Bobby returns to New York to run a night club that his gangster brother has taken ownership of by nefarious means. Bobby meets Veronica (Blake Lively) in the club one night and they marry.

The story unfolds as the lives of the main characters intertwine over the years. And with the FBI investigating Bobby’s brother. To an electrifying end! There isn’t a big climax. The characters lives have ups and downs and go on after the end of the film. Well, for most of them anyway.

From a technical point of view the film is good. The script is typical Woody Allen fare. The delivery in the first half is a bit fast and staccato maybe. There is a narration at points through the film (done by Allen) that I found a bit jarring. Breaks the 4th wall and violates the show don’t tell maxim. The cinematography is sublime. As are the sets and costumes. The 1930’s Art Deco leaps from the screen. I rated it 7/10 on IMDB. For comparison I rated Irrational Man 9/10 last year.

Time for a stupidly big iPhone

Apple hold their annual iPhone event this week. I get a free upgrade on my mobile account on 26th September. I was at the opticians last week. Turns out these three things are actually related.

My optician recommended that I get new varifocal glasses that have a +1 decrease in the prescription strength for viewing things close up. Like an iPhone. I was going to do this. At the very high cost of £595 for the pair of lenses. Advice on Twitter was that varifocals are a pain so I started to have doubts.

iOS on iPhone has a zoomed mode that basically makes everything on the screen bigger. For use in situations exactly like the one I was having to get varifocals for. I have an iPhone 6s now. Apple will release iPhone 7 Plus and probably ship it on 23rd September. I can upgrade just after that. I’m thinking of getting the bigger model and using it in Zoomed mode. It’ll basically show the same amount of stuff on screen as my iPhone 6s in standard mode. But everything will be bigger. And won’t have to hold it at arms length to focus on it!

iPhone 6S in Zoomed mode

iPhone 6S in Zoomed mode

I’m running my current iPhone in Zoomed mode for the next few weeks as a test. If the rumours about the iPhone 7 Plus are true it’ll also be a bit of a speed demon with a great camera.

My Twitter Account has been deleted – Resolved

Update: seems I wasn’t the only one to have this happen. Account reappeared after about 6 hours. Seems okay now.

Someone deleted my Twitter account about 18:00 UK time today. It wasn’t me. I’ve contacted support. Hopefully they can get it back. If not I’ll start a new one. I have a backup of all the Tweets up until a few months ago.

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