Monday, April 17, 2017

Ghost in the Shell (2017) and Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Ghost in the Shell asks the perennial question every human being asks and yet unable to answer--Who am I?  Those who think they have the answer are usually mistaken.

Major who is given a body, not just any body but a Scarlett Johansson body, finds her law enforcement gig less fulfilling without a memory of her past even when reassured by her creator, Dr. Phil, played by the lovely Juliette Binoche, that life is defined by what one does rather than one's memories or past.  And of course, like Major, nobody is free from his past and everybody is burdened by history.

The movie doesn't come with any surprise everything happens just as expected or even like a déjà vu.  Every futuristic cityscape scene is derivative of Blade Runner except it is a knockoff and ten times cheesier.  The Hong Kong streetscape can be interesting only if the post production doesn't feel obliged to add more and more and yet more video gimmickries to the mix.  The few architectural shots are almost facsimile copies of Peter Stewart's pictures of the same.  The 1.85:1 aspect ratio is supposed to give audience an immersive experience but sometimes I can't help but feel like watching 4:3 standard definition TV, also the PG-13 rating doesn't help either.

Nothing good can come out of any existential crisis not even good cinema in this case.  Scarlett Johansson does have very good skin which manages to salvage the movie from downright unwatchable to somewhat entertaining and somewhat watchable.  Between Kong: Skull Island and Ghost in the Shell, the choice is obvious.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Picture

It retails for $99.  Wow, just wow.  Again the plug-in to LR CC could be a bit robust.  LR CC just couldn't find it automatically or it didn't install into the correct current directory.  I have to manually add it to LR CC.  I don't know whose fault it is.  I think the software hasn't been updated for CC and the plug-in just went somewhere else.  I didn't pay retail so I guess I don't feel too bad.  I guess if you are not a paid professional yet, this is your passport to being one.

Nikon ViewNX-i

Nikon probably has the most confusing bundle of software when it comes to imaging.  It offers a bunch of software that are confusing.  But over the years I have learned to put up with them as they are free until this last version ViewNX-i that pushed me over the edge.

The software should first and foremost does no harm to my pictures.  Once it crossed that line, it's done.  I emailed Nikon support of course they won't say nothing one way or another back in December 2016.

Anyway this pushed me to consider Lightroom CC which is kind of the industry standard I suppose.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kill Bill and Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell has this which reminds me of Kill Bill Volume I.  The KB sequence is really bad ass.  Judging the Ghost teaser, I don't think it measures up in terms of badassness.  But we will see.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Schott Leather Jacket

Over the years I have acquired a few leather jackets.

My first one was from Diesel when I didn't know about Diesel.  I bought it from a shop in downtown Manhattan.  I wasn't afraid to ask for a discount.  It was a bundled deal.  I got a tweed sack jacket from Joshua Blacker used for $10 and I think I paid the jacket for about maybe $300 all in all.  Back then it was actually made in Italy.  It was a biker's jacket all right.  The leather was good and so was the styling.  But it wasn't functionally very sound.  The sleeves don't have zipper to narrow and cut the wind out.  The sleeves aren't designed long enough so it won't ride up to your elbow when you are riding a bike, not that I would ever find out by experience.  Or when you hold on a subway strap hanger. (The purchase took place circa 1989 in downtown.  Back then I had no Internet, so it was just by looking others' and then I saw the jacket the simple line, it was love at first sight.  I got lots of compliments.  Then like most other relationships I found out its shortcomings over the years ... but that's another story.)

Then I think I progressed.  I bought a car coat from Schott.  It has quilt diamond shaped lining.  It was warm.  It has hidden breast pocket inside and two hand pockets with flaps on the front.  The thing is I do put my ungloved hands inside the front pockets when I walk around in the cold.  Before long the pocket flaps got kinked and blended out of shape.  The coat doesn't come with any centre or side vents.  So I don't know why it's a car coat.  Maybe it's not called a car coat.  When you sit down in a car the coat would got bunched up if you don't unbutton as there are no vents to allow the coat to re-shape when you are sitting down driving a car.  (The purchase probably done in Canal Jeans in downtown Manhattan.  I loved Canal Jeans.  It was probably in the early 1990s.  1994 maybe?)

Then I got another Schott, a 141 café racer jacket.  The 1 series is made of naked cow hide while the 641 is made of steer hide.  I am not expert of hide but from what I read the steer cow hide is stiffer and treated so it's more water resistant.  I own two 141 of different sizes.  When you don't know what fits until you own both for a period of time, ha-ha.  They both come with removable faux fir liners.  They add some warmth but since they are fluffy liners it doesn't give you that smooth putting on and taking off experience.  I prefer satin lining so it's smooth to put on and take off.  The jacket has two waist pockets and one chest pockets.  They come with zippers.  The sleeves also come with cuff zippers to block wind out or make your arms look slimmer.  I like the zippered pockets so nothing will fall out.  It's quite important especially you feel insecure.  The liner has an inside leather patched pocket, no zipper though.  It features side buckles to adjust the waist to block off wind.  But I find the leather strap could be an inch longer; over time as the strap rubs against my bag, the strap just come undone from the buckle, an inch longer strap could probably prevent this from happening.  (The first 141 I bought probably form David Z in downtown around 2005 or so, I remember wearing my chunky black cotton mock neck , so I  sized it up to 44.  Later after a few years I bought another one online, this time a size 42)

My latest is a Schott 125.  It's a happy eBay find.  The seller for some reason doesn't list it as a Schott (even all the metal snaps have the name Schott over it), instead the seller mistakenly called it Leathercraft based on the cleaning label.  So the price is not eBay market price for a Schott jacket.  I haven't looked up its vintage based on the tiny label inside the little coin or watch pocket yet.  The jacket is very clean inside and out. The pocket lining is almost pristine.  So that's a good thing.  The jacket misses the detachable liner.  Oh well.  May as well as this old 125 model, the Schott label is actually on the liner.  Compared to my 141, the leather is a touch thinner, that's relatively speaking.  Now I know my 141 is really beefy almost like weight training myself simply by putting it on.  The 125 doesn't come with a half belt so nothing to flap around.  It does come with two belt loops in the front and one in the back.  The jacket does come with side laced gussets and cuff zippers.  Cuff zippers are nice except on two scenarios.  When you want to leave the jacket on to work on your notebook, the zippers would scratch the surface of your very expensive notebook, even though I don't really care that much but it bothers me the zippers are hitting on the aluminum surface.  Maybe that's why some other brands have the cuff zipper on the top?  Another scenario is when your jacket doesn't really fit you that well and the sleeves become extra long.  A biker jacket should have longer sleeves and that's a given.  But extra long?  When you zip the cuffs up, the sleeves would balloon up and look weird ....  After asking on some forum from Schott NYC, their very knowledgable staff member Gail reckons that the jacket was made circa 1985.  Wow, that was some 32 years ago.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Random Thoughts

When I shoot my DSLR, I expect I can shoot more than 1000 frames in one outing.  I was shooting my kid's HS FON performance.  I shot more than 1400 frames between 7 to 10 I think.  And I still have power left.  I don't know how others shoot with camera that can only last a few hundred shots.

Shopping on eBay can be therapeutic.  It distracts.

Does it even make sense to fix my Nikon F5?  The main command dial has been erratic.  I would like to restore to spec but the price may be too high for my liking.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Oscars 2017

Finally Oscars was fun to watch, not because Jimmy Kimmel was particularly funny or I am a big fan of those movies.  It's because the production or Price Water House, a professional firm screwed up.  It was unintentionally funny.  The presenters, namely almost octogenarians Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway seemingly got the Best Actress envelope for the Best Picture.  Warren Beatty later on stage divulged that the envelope says Emma Stone La La Land.  So he was noticeably perplexed but not his co presenter, the always cheerful Fay Dunaway.  Perhaps Beatty thinks OK, let her be the fall gal.  Dunaway was only too happy to announce La La Land like without a doubt.

Within minutes, all hell broke loose.  It was pandemonium on stage.

Beatty was trying to explain himself and Kimmel was quick to chastise him like "Warren, what did you do?" and concurring that "Well, you weren't funny."  When Beatty tried to correct himself inching toward the microphone with the correct envelope, the visibly upset and somewhat livid La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz who just gave his Best Picture acceptance speech thanking his wife and everybody was quick to snap the card out of Beatty's hand without so much as acknowledging the man, like he was  some old fart or some nobody.  Poor Beatty.  And Dunaway was no where to be found ...
Even it was Faye who made the actual announcement (though Beatty was kind of let her have it), everybody was ready to just throw Beatty under the bus.
PricewaterhouseCoopers was quick to issue a statement basically admitting that they screwed up.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2

Could that be his slick unkempt hair, his beard, his immaculate bespoke suits or his mildly bowed gait?  Keanu Reeves' John Wick proves once again irresistible to an audience who craves gun porn and on-screen violence with an R rating.  Enough water downed PG-13 violent content already.  I don't recall any recent action movie that is as satisfying as it is unrelenting and unapologetic.  It harks back to an era when John Woo ruled the on screen gun play in the eighties, except of course, JWC2 is light years ahead in production value in addition to being more realistic, relatively speaking.  JWC2's mute henchman or henchwoman character even reminds me that one character in A Better Tomorrow II who doesn't utter a single word only to kill and be killed.  And then of course JWC2's violence is literally ball busting and eviscerating, a nod to Bruce Lee's kind of street style no holds barred fights.  The final big fight is a homage to the 1973 Enter The Dragon:  A room of mirrors is the choice of hideout for the villain in JWC2 as well.

If you hate on screen violence and on screen gun violence in particular, do not go see it, it will give you nightmare.