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Four movies and other follow-ups Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday was the NakedJen Film Festival in Salt Lake City and Berkeley; it was also Christmas Day around the world. ;->

The festival is for movie lovers wanting to indulge in a massive amounts of movies on a day when many of the best movies of the year are released.

In Berkeley, we went to four movies: 1. Gran Torino, 2. Doubt, 3. Time Crimes and 4. Cadillac Records. By far, my favorite of the four was Doubt. Wonderful acting from Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Very subtle plot and fantastic writing.

I totally didn't care for the last two, almost no substance to the story of Cadillac Records, it felt to me a lot like W., very shallow, almost no character development, at times I had no idea what to think about the characters, and it's not as if they were all strangers to me, I was a blues fan growing up and saw Muddy Waters play a number of times, and Chuck Berry is a hero of mine. I don't know why people liked this movie, I was hoping for something of the caliber of Walk The Line, that did enough character development so I actually cared about the cast. I didn't like Dreamgirls or the Ray Charles biopic either, though they were well-reviewed.

A picture named manWithNoName.gifThe Clint Eastwood movie, Gran Tornino, was nice, had a few memorable moments and lines, and followed the general pattern of one of Eastwood's earlier movies. I called it The Man With No Name at the Retirement Village (even though he was living in an old Detroit neighborhood that was becoming an Asian ghetto). I wanted one more of the old style Eastwood movies, a Dirty Harry for the ages, a bloodbath of righteous vengeance. I really loved the old Eastwood, the new kind, compassionate and thoughtful, well, not so much.

All the movies we went to were highly reviewed, including Time Crimes, which has a fairly predictable science fiction time travel plot up to a point, and then it goes a bit further, and has a few small surprises, but nothing that makes up for the extreme low-budgetness of it, and amateurish acting, and the fact that it's in Spanish with sub-titles. I was bored from beginning to end. Our other choice for this time slot in the festivale, Synecdoche, New York, a Charlie Kaufman film, probably would have been more entertaining, even though Kaufman movies generally leave me unimpressed and weary of his self-obsession.

I should also mention that I saw and loved Slumdog Millionaire, outside the context of yesterday's festivities; even though it was sort of spoiled by a negative review on Fresh Air by New York film critic David Edelstein, who thought (ridiculously) that the movie was ruined by the Bollywood dance sequence under the titles at the end of the movie. I give Edelestein a lousy review as a reviewer. The movie was lovely and disturbing. What's wrong with that? And it was great entertainment.

I still have to see Benjamin Button, Marley & Me, Bolt, Despereaux, Rebecca's Wedding, Body of Lies, and what else? What a year for pictures!!

A picture named chuckBerry.jpgOne other bit of housekeeping -- a lot of people didn't understand my $249 pre-Christmas gadget quest piece, and thought I was asking instead for a condescending lecture on charitable giving. Actually I wanted to know your dreams for modestly priced electronic luxuries, not a big ticket purchase like a 60-inch flatscreen or a new MacBook, but perhaps something like a hard drive, iPod, but off the beaten path, something a guy like myself might not have. I consider the piece a roaring success. The most popular suggestion was to get a Flip camera, which I'm still considering, even though I really like my Canon camera and can't get too excited about another picture-taker.

One thing was striking about the list was that there was almost nothing on it from Apple. Such a bad omen. I must have bought 10 or 15 Apple products in 2007. I can't think of a single Apple purchase I made this year. These days I can walk by an Apple store without going in. What happened? Why have they stopped creating products that a guy like me lusts for? In the last twelve months they haven't created anything in the Must Have category or even Nice To Have. That honor goes to Asus, I've bought two netbooks, and find I'm open to buying almost anything they offer.

Anyway, I did find a gadget that I don't have that I wanted, that I'm looking forward to getting! More on it when it arrives.


Last update: Friday, December 26, 2008 at 7:29 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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