Oldboy (2003)

IMDB plot:

After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days.

You know, I have a thing about Asian movies. To me, Asian thrillers are less brutal but a lot more scarier, racing chases seem to be more interesting and action movies seem to be more deep and more packed than the American counterparts.

And “Oldboy” is one of movies that fall in the last category. A drunk man is suddenly kidnapped and kept and a small room for 15 years. In all this time, the question in his head is always “Why?”. His only companion is a TV. And so, he tries to learn whatever he can and his desire for revenge grows. When he finally manages to “escape” (a full tunnel, but the people who kept him there decided to free him when the tunnel is done), he goes after the person who kept him there for all this long. In the way, he’s confronted by his desire of revenge and the question of the “Why?”.

It is a weird movie, although good. The “plot twist” you expect in the end actually happen in the middle of the movie, being quickly replaced by another plot twist soon and so on. And that mix of lots of plot twists make the movie interesting till the end. But that doesn’t mean that you end up with a bunch of unfinished sub-plots: Everything is tied in the end, no questions and everything wrapped nicely.

Honestly, it’s a good action movie, although a little bit tense sometimes.

Surf’s Up (2007)

IMDB plot:

A behind-the-scenes look at the annual Penguin World Surfing Championship, and its newest participant, up-and-comer Cody Maverick.

They have Penguins and surf! What could go wrong?

Yes, another “Hey kids! Follow your dreams, even when people say you don’t” movie. The interesting bit on this one, though, is the fact that it’s shown more as a documentary than a movie. Also, if penguins were a little bit more rubbery, they probably would do what they do in the movie (in other words, the movements of the penguins seems a lot real-like.) Another thing that impressed me was the water: It really looks good and I’m pretty sure it’s one of the hardest things to render (looking at the movie from the technical perspective.)

About the movie itself, as I said, the fact that it’s build as being a documentary and not a movie (although they jump between a “narrative” movie and a documentary all the time) makes it really interesting to watch. You are there, watching they do something and then, out of nowhere, a voice ask one of the characters something or some old movie is shown.

There was a joke running around about Shia LaBeouf being the “nononono” guy (you can see this video for more information) and, fun fact, he says the same thing two or three times in the movie. Old habits, right?

WALL-E (2008)

IMDB plot:

In the distant future, a small waste collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

Hey, a Pixar movie! Let’s watch it!

So, looks like WALL-E is the darkest Pixar movie so far. Why? ‘Cause it shows a completely barren, empty Earth where the only inhabitants are the cleaning robot of the title and a cockroach. Still is a kids movie ’cause the cockroach is cute and the robot have big eyes to make it look like a kid.

One of the things that impressed me was how much emotion Pixar manage to put in the robots, using just eyes. Later, when I saw the extras, the director mentioned that they were specifically playing with a binocular and that was used to build WALL-E. All magic broken ’cause you think “Hey, that’s one interesting thing they did by accident” and then they say it was on purpose. Oh well…

Also, this is probably one of the Pixar movies with less lines of all. Most of the action happens between WALL-E and EVE, and they basically don’t talk. They can say each other names, a few words and that’s it. Most beeps and computer generated sounds, some directly from the OS X voice-to-speech synthesizer. Well, since Steve Jobs owns most of Disney, Pixar and Apple, there are a lot of references to OS X/Mac products in the movie.

People mentioned that there is a strong political message in it. In a way, yes: The Earth is dead, the human population is now living in a spaceship with robots doing all the hard work so they don’t do any kind of exercise (not even walking) and so attached to communication devices they don’t see that the person they are talking is sitting just right next to them or look at the stars.

Such laziness is just broken when a small robot that doesn’t belong there start doing things they don’t expect. Then, suddenly, they realize their ways.

Although there is a message there, I think it fails to deliver it. Call the medium for it, but… it just don’t work. There is no transition state: They are lazy, then they are not. It’s weird, it lacks the “getting a conscience” part of the experience.

Kung Fu Panda (2008)

IMDB plot:

Po the Panda is the laziest of all the animals in the Valley of Peace, but unwittingly becomes the chosen one when enemies threaten their way of life.

Ok, now be aware that I may spoil things, as usual.

In an old China, a Panda, son of a noodle maker, dreams of becoming a grand master of Kung Fu. The village where he lives is also the place where The Furious Five, five masters of kung fu, live, fueling his dreams.

The part that I liked more is the very first scenes. Not because they have anything interesting, but because it looks like a cartoon, much like Samurai Jack, which was, in most of the episodes, more mature than anything going in the TV (ok, it also had some very childish episodes, but I think the mature outnumber the childish.) It made me believe it would be more mature than most “CG for kids” we see these days and, honestly, it was slightly above that. But just slightly.

One of the things that made me think “Why?” was the cast. I mean, wow, Angelina Joile, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan? Amazing. Except that they gave Angelina about 10 lines, Jackie got 2 and Lucy just one. Jack Black lines are mostly fun, yes, but after a while you start getting tired of his voice. It’s like the whole movie is just a “Here people: Come hear Jack Black for 2 hours!” And some of the things he says really don’t fit a kung fu movie, even if it is for kids.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. It’s another of those “believe in you” movies for kids. The CG is pretty good (well, most of the CG movies these days are good and Kung Fu Panda is no exception), the movements don’t look too weird, although some scenes go for the child-cartoon-appearance and look really silly, specially when compared with the rest of the movie, where movement and more fluid and real-like.

Overall, it’s a good movie and fun to watch.

The current state of Mitter

I just tweeted about this, but better put here so everybody knows:

Mitter trunk (from SVN) is broken. Broken, broken, broken.

Why? It all started when I realized that all interfaces where saving the last seen tweet and last seen reply. Also, to cut the seen replies and tweets, the interfaces were actually removing the seen ones from the result set. In other words, we were requesting the full page of tweets/replies and then ignoring the ones whose ID was below the last one the interface displayed. Twitter supports a since_id parameter, which was created exactly for that. Also, we were requesting just the first page, so if you didn’t open Mitter for a while, you’d not see some tweets.

Also, for a long time, there is a hack to make console interfaces work properly. Due the nature of the graphical interfaces, we need to create a thread (kinda like another process, if you don’t know what a thread is) so when requesting data the interface won’t freeze. That’s not an issue for console interfaces and, to make them work properly, I had to add a hack, which make the code even uglier. The removal the thread broke the GTK interface completely… for now; I have plans on how to fix the GTK interface and they will be added as soon as I fix the network bit.

During this time, there was another thing bothering me: The amount of hard-coded values. The GTK interface, for example, only keeps 60 tweets in the list. Problem is, if you want to keep a bigger list, you’d need to change the code directly. That’s not a good solution to me, so the idea was to move everything to the config file, which pointed to the second big design issue: The options were floating all around the code. Keeping option values coming from the command line and from the config file was a mess. For that, I decided to create my own OptionParser (the command line option parser) and ConfigParser (the config file parser) combinator. Yesterday I finally finished ConfigOpt and I intend to move all Mitter options to use it (which will make our code cleaner and hard-coded values free — or so I hope.)

And, since I’m working in all that, I decided to start paving the road to multiple network support. A tiny bit of it is already there, but there is also a long way to reach the final line.

There is still a long way to finally make Mitter stable again. But we’ll get there, I promise.