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.

Culture Consumed 17

I’ve stopped doing aggregate Culture Consumed posts and started doing individual posts. I’ve had this post sitting since the Culture Consumed 16 post. Posting this final one for completeness. Just to record what I read and watched.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley. Enjoyable Victorian steampunk, sci-fi story. I enjoyed it.

Zoolander 2 – A sequel to the excellent Zoolander. It was harmless and made me laugh a good few times. Rated it 7/10.

Brooklyn – Beautifully shot and poignant story about emigration from Ireland to Brooklyn in the 1950’s. Rated it 7/10.

The Revenant – I hadn’t planned to see this but ended up I had too after the awards it received. It has excellent cinematography. But its basically misery porn. Rated 7/10.

Down Station – Simon Morden. A portal to another world story that turns into a magic and fantasy story on the other world.

Hail, Caesar! An excellent tale of a 1950’s Hollywood cinema boss, Eddie Manix, trying to keep the studio churning, and the stars in and out of the gossip columns. It’s really good. Rated it 8/10.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant The third film on the Divergent series. I liked it a lot more than others it seems. Does what you’d expect. Post apocalyptic world, shinning futuristic cities, explanation on why Chicago is isolated. I bought it on iTunes. Rated it 7/10.

Spotlight Story about the Boston Globe journalists who uncovered the huge sexual abuse crimes of the Catholic Church in Boston. Good film. It won Oscar for best picture. I’d have given it to Room or The Big Short before this. I rated it 7/10.

Sing Street A fun romp about a teenage band in 1980’s Dublin. I Rated it 7/10.

How To Be Single – I laughed at this a lot in the cinema. Cheered me up no end. Must watch it again. Gave it 8/10.

iOS App equivalents for Mac Apps I use

I regularly use 70 different Apps on my Mac. With the advent of iPad Pro there has been a lot of talk about using one as a Mac replacement. It’s also possible that I may have to use a Windows PC in work at some point. Could an iPad Pro give me the apps I really like, if I can’t use the Mac versions in that scenario?

The table blow shows the 70 Apps I use and what iOS equivalents I have, to could get. Not to bad actually. Nearly a 1:1 ratio of Mac app to the same iOS App. I could survive on iOS if I had to. Luckily I don’t, and can choose OSX or iOS depending on circumstance.

Mac AppiOS AppNotes
1Password 61Password
Airmail 2Spark
Audio Hijack
Citrix ReceiverCitrix Receiver
Day One ClassicDay One
DVD PlayerVideos
Fantastical 2Fantastical
Google ChromeSafari
iA WriteriA Writer
iTunesApple Music
Logic Pro XGarageBand
MailStewardLiteCan archive mail on Mac periodically
Marked 2
Microsoft ExcelMicrosoft Excel
Microsoft OutlookMicrosoft Outlook
Microsoft PowerPointMicrosoft PowerPoint
Microsoft WordMicrosoft Word
OmniGraffleOmniGraffleDifferent. The Mac version is better
OmniPlanOmniPlanDifferent. The Mac version is better
OmniPresenceOmniSync Server
Papers 3.4.3Papers
Parallels DesktopRemote Desktop to VM could be used. Azure Maybe
PDF ExpertPDF Expert
PopClipBuilt into iOS
ScrivenerScrivener for iOS is in beta
Toolbox for KeynoteExists for iOS if I want it
TransmitExists for iOS if I want it
Xojo 2016

My Oscar picks

You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m not a member of the Academy, and therefore don’t have a vote in the Academy Awards. Or Oscars as they are also known. But if I did this is how I’d vote. Order as specified on the Oscars website.

Actor in a Leading Role – Leonardo DiCaprio
Actor in a Supporting Role – Christian Bale
Actress in a Leading Role – Brie Larson
Actress in a Supporting Role – Alicia Vikander
Animated Feature Film – Inside Out
Best Picture – Room
Cinematography – The Revenant
Costume Design – Mad Max: Fury Road
Directing – Lenny Abrahamson for Room
Film Editing – Stephen Mirrione for The Revenant
Foreign Language Film – No pick as I’ve not seen any of them
Makeup and Hairstyling – Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman, Robert Pandini for The Revenant
Production Design – Colin Gibson, Lisa Thompson for Mad Max: Fury Road
Sound Editing – Mark Mangini, David White for Mad Max: Fury Road
Sound Mixing – Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff, Ben Osmo for Mad Max: Fury Road
Visual Effects – Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardlington, Sara Bennett for Ex Machina
Music (Original Score) – John Williams for Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Writing (Original Screenplay) – Alax Garland for Ex Machina
Documentary (Short Feature) – No pick as I haven’t seen any of the nominees
Documentary (Feature) – No pick as I haven’t seen any of the nominees
Short Film (Animated) – No pick as I haven’t seen any of the nominees
Short Film (Live Action) – No pick as I haven’t seen any of the nominees
Music (Original Song) – No pick as I haven’t heard any of the songs
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – Emma Donoghue for Room

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