Tag Archives: review

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

According to Rotten Tomatoes:

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it.

A quick reading of reviews by critics and certain reactions to the movie’s Oscar nomination for Best Picture tells the same story: September 11 is too sacred for a superbly crafted aftermath story to be much more than gratuitous Oscar fodder.

That’s if the critics are to be believed, anyway. I think they need to get over themselves and stop worshipping September 11 as if it can only feature in movies that meet their arbitrary standards, but maybe that’s just me.

The story of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is beautiful, original and as you’d expect, heartbreaking, but not because September 11 features so prominently. At its core, it’s a story about the unusually strong bond between a father and son, the reconstruction of a family when that bond is broken, and the redemption of an estranged grandfather. Superb acting by the young lead (Thomas Horn) and supporting cast (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow) make this a confronting, powerful and ultimately triumphant movie that didn’t once allow my mind to wander.

Production quality is very high. A number of head-spinning sequences that let us inside the fears, anxieties, hopes and frustrations that drive Oskar’s intense persona are particularly impressive, from photography to editing to soundtrack.

You should expect to feel emotionally drained after watching Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (hardly surprising with such a title), but I still highly recommend it as an inspiring fusion of fact, fiction, storytelling and art. I didn’t find it gratuitous or contrived at all. Purposefully awkward, if anything.

The critics were wrong about this one.

Marco Arment on the Leica M9

Marco Arment on the Leica M9

It’s funny reading a legit tech guru like Marco on one of my areas of expertise. Not that he pretends to be something he’s not; he just doesn’t “get” why a serious professional photographer [with serious money] would invest in a Leica system, and it’s amusing to see him try.

It’s the glass, silly. (Not just the 35mm f/2, either. And it’s certainly not about landscape performance.) Oh.. and the full-frame sensor in that tiny body. But mostly, it’s the glass.

He does get one thing semi-right: the M9 sensor is “disappointing” at high ISO’s. Then again, “disappointing” is subjective; I reckon I’d settle for Leica high-ISO grain if I could find the money for a full Leica system.

I can’t say I’m unhappy with my “rangefinder”-EVF-hybrid Fujifilm X system, though. Its high-ISO performance is breathtaking, and its price point is as diminutive as its size.

You should rent an X-Pro1 next, Marco.

The Bourne Legacy

A Bourne movie without Matt Damon? It sounds like sacrilege, and it is, but at least they didn’t drop in a replacement for his character. Jason Bourne is still at large, and this latest instalment adds a whole new arc to the Treadstone story.

There are just enough original cast members to legitimise Legacy, production/acting quality is as high as ever, and there are several thrilling low-tech high-brains combat scenes, but the plot is weak and directionless relative to the originals, so the whole thing reeks of profit at the expense of awesome.

I’ll remain faithful to the original trilogy as 3 of the best movies of all time, and will try to forget this aberration.

Pass the amnesia, please.

The Dip

I’ve followed Seth Godin’s blog for a while now, and have even bought a couple of his books. Ironically, The Dip was the first I got around to reading.

It’s ironic because Seth is all about being productive / successful / decisive / courageous / creative / useful, and it’s taken me this long just to read one of his books from beginning to end.

It’s like never getting around to reading Getting Things Done (not that this was necessarily my experience, of course). One needs the cure before one can take the medicine!

Anyway, I just read The Dip (it helped that it was really short), and I found its message rather timely. It’s about quitting well (when stuck in a dead end or heading towards a precipice) and enduring strategically (but only when you know it’s worth it).

Given I’d just started trying to enumerate the components of my over-committed life – with a view to eliminating some and managing the rest better – I appreciated the reminder that to quit when necessary is not failure at all.

There was plenty of other good stuff, too. From one non-quitter to another (yes, I’m talking to you): it’s definitely worth quitting something to make room in your week for this little book.

Why Canon’s EOS M sucks

A couple of days ago, Canon announced their first contribution to the mirrorless camera market.

They’re calling it the EOS M. As far as I can tell, the only good thing about it is the sensor size (APS-C, or 1.6 crop – in the same ballpark as Fujifilm’s X100 and X-Pro1, and significantly larger than micro-4/3’s). The new 22mm f/2 lens looks alright too.

Some photographers will love the compatibility with Canon’s EF and EF-S lenses (via a $200 adapter, mind you). Then again, all of those lenses dwarf the camera, and most of us expect mirrorless systems to be diminutive. Right?

The touch screen might eventually be a game changer for Canon (assuming it’s well-implemented), but on this camera, it comes at the expense of finger-friendly control dials and configurable buttons. I guess you don’t need those when there’s NO VIEWFINDER. (Oh sorry … were you hoping to use this camera outdoors? You’re going to need one of these. What touch screen?)

For $800-odd, you’d expect something smarter than this from Canon, especially given the maturity of mirrorless cameras by Fujifilm, Sony, Olympus and Panasonic.

(Not that Nikon have done any better so far.)