Weeknotes 2022-08-14

Not a lot today. It's been kind of a boring week.

The World

Visit the Links page for more links of interest.

Also, some amusing/interesting stuff recently from Twitter:

My Week

  • This past week was my birthday week. On the day of, I decided to go and attend daily mass in-person to mark the occasion, something I haven't done since before the pandemic.
  • As a bit of celebration, I decided to slack off for the week and be unproductive and just watch a lot of movies. I didn't want to have an overly long media diet section in this weeknotes, so I did a couple of review posts instead: Predator, etc, Alien, etc.
  • Still playing regularly: the CCGs (Eternal Card Game and Magic Arena). Single-player RPGs Shin Megami Tensei V and Witcher 2. Sometimes Street Fighter V.
  • I mentioned last week I was thinking of starting a new game. This week I finally decided to activate PC game pass. It was launched in the PH this year, and a few months ago I availed of a Grab promo where I could get 3 months of PC game pass for like P10. I didn't use the code until this week. I've been thinking about PC game pass for a while because it has a bunch of smaller games I'd always wanted to get into but couldn't justify buying (mostly narrative-focused ones). I activated it and tried to download a bunch of games and boy, are there problems! Downloading errors, games failing to launch, cloud sync not working, etc. I even had to do arcane workarounds like running Powershell scripts, reinstalling services, a lot of PC reboots etc etc just to get some things to download. The first game I wanted to try was Tunic and I still haven't gotten that to work. Other games seem able to launch though. This does not feel like a mature gaming platform! Much room for improvement. I haven't gotten back to it yet beyond the one afternoon I spent trying stuff out, we'll see if I can actually start one of these games this week.
  • Apparently if DigitalOcean has new pricing for their droplets that conveniently has more disk space than your current plan at the same price point, they don't give you any kind of heads up or automatic upgrade, you need to notice it yourself and trigger the upgrade yourself!

This coming week:

  • Eternal: New mini-set drops this week!
  • Magic: Preview season for the upcoming Dominaria United set starts this week!
  • TV: She-Hulk series starts on Disney+ this week!

I think there's maybe one or more other things I was looking forward to this week that I can't recall as of this writing. I really should take better notes.

/ #weeknotes #philippines #covid


Movies: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Constantine, Alien, Days of Future Past Rogue Cut, Iron Man 2

Here's the second set of reviews for movies I watched this week. Previously.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Watched this one because the r/movies Nice Guys thread mentioned it as one of Shane Black's earlier films that was closest to Nice Guys. That's kind of true because half of the movie is also a black comedy about two guys trying to solve a murder. The two guys: a young pre-Iron Man RDJ playing a petty thief mistakenly thrust into the Los Angeles showbiz scene and Val Kilmer playing a gay PI who isn't shy about talking about his sexuality all the time and talking shit about RDJ's character. The other half of the movie is a bit of a romcom involving RDJ's character and his boyhood crush, now an unsuccessful LA actress played by Michelle Monaghan. The two halves of the movie come together reasonably well, although the cases they're checking out end up with a predictable mastermind. Downey and Kilmer have some great chemistry here, perhaps even more than Downey and Monaghan. The comedy is okay, a bit slapstick, but I didn't find it as good as Nice Guys.

Constantine (2005)

Been meaning to watch this one for a while. Not too impressed. Keanu's acting isn't great at the best of times, and this doesn't feel like his best. The plot is a bit hard to follow though Constantine tries his best to explain everything to us. The plot is highly dependent on a lot of Catholic lore (spear of destiny, angels and demons, etc) which I don't have a problem with as a Catholic, but I do find questionable how it would work with people of other faiths. Are they screwed because they don't have crosses or other Catholic iconography to protect them? Why don't demons try to cross over using Jews or Muslims or even heathens who wouldn't think about an exorcism? I've never read Hellblazer so IDK how faithful the film is to the source material, but later portrayals of Constantine that I've seen (such as in Legends of Tomorrow) focus more on his handling of occult and demonology and less on the outright religious references. THe rest of the film is fine. Surprised to see Shia LeBouf, Tilda Swinton and Djimon Hounsou here. Apparently Michelle Monaghan also had a short cameo that I hadn't noticed.

Alien (1979)

It felt logical to watch this one after watching Predator. They're kind of in the same vein of sci-fi crossed with horror, though this one leans harder on the horror aspects while Predator leaned harder on the action scenes. Aside from Sigourney Weaver, the only other actor I recognize here is John Hurt. I like the sets especially all the detail on the ships, it feels a lot more authentic than other contemporary space-faring sci-fi (see: Star Wars). At first I was a bit annoyed that they seemed to make a lot of unnecessary / stupid mistakes in their handling of the situation, but a later reveal made those problems understandable. My complaint is that a lot of the alien scenes are so dark or shot from weird angles, making the action hard to follow but that might have been a conscious decision to make the alien more scary / menacing without exposing the limitations of practical effects at the time. I think I liked Predator better, because I prefer action to horror probably.

X-Men: Days of Future Past Rogue Cut (2014)

This is a rewatch, but also a bit new: I found out recently that this "Rogue cut" of the film exists, where they added a Rogue subplot to the future side of the film (Rogue does not appear in the theatrical cut). Didn't have any comments on it before, so adding a review here. The film held up surprisingly well, it's probably the best of the McAvoy-led set of X-Men films. I loved the battles with the Nimrods on the future side, with the creative uses of Blink's portals. The design of the 70's era sentinels was pretty good as well, mirroring the original Sentinels design from the comics, albeit with a slightly better color scheme. I still find the ending questionable - I imagine the public attack on the president would have galvanized anti-mutant sentiment worldwide, although it might end up taking a different form than sentinels.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

I rewatched this film and the sequel mostly because they're among my least rewatched MCU films; and also I wanted more RDJ and Shane Black (IM3 director) I guess. Adding a review here because I didn't have any notes on it before. This one held up as well, and my opinion of it improved a little even. I think I was a bit down on it before because honestly Whiplash seemed like such a lame villain at the time, he's one of the lesser-known Iron Man baddies. I can appreciate it now as the film giving Tony Stark two different villains for each of his aspects: Vanko/Whiplash was less about the whips and more about the tech genius side, while Justin Hammer was the businessman side. Having also been binging the older Iron Man comics from the 70s and 80s, Tony's destructive behavior in the first and second acts reminded me a lot of his alcoholic breakdown that led to Stane taking over Stark International in the comics. The film doesn't focus on the alcholism but instead palladium poisoning from the arc reactor causes his downward spiral. Stark "rediscovers" a new element to replace palladium, but that element is never named.

My opinion of IM2 has improved, but I find IM3 to be about the same as I remember it (though I had forgotten some of the details and was glad for the rewatch), so the previous review still applies.

Just realized I didn't take any screenshots for these reviews.

/ #movies


Movies: Predator (1987), Predator 2 (1990), Prey (2022)

This week I decided to be unproductive and just watch a bunch of movies. To avoid flooding the weeknotes, I'm writing the reviews as separate posts again!

Predator (1987)

I heard good buzz about the new Prey film, but I've never seen the original Predator films so I thought I'd watch the first two films first. This one is pretty good: the action, the setting, the setup, all great. It's one of those old-school action films where the plot isn't super important and the action is all-important. Everything is tense: The way the Predator stalks them continuously and takes them out one by one until Dutch is the only one left and he lucks onto the clue that lets him figure out how to beat the Predator and survive. Pleasantly surprised to see Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura here, and surprisingly future Iron Man 3 and Nice Guys director Shane Black in one of his rare acting appearances!

Predator 2 (1990)

Danny Glover is pretty good here, proving he can be an action hero without Mel Gibson backing him up, but I find the sequel not as good as the first film mostly because I think having the Predator hunt in the city is a lot less interesting than in an area like the jungle where there's not many people around. Still reasonably enjoyable, and we see a lot more of the Predator's arsenal this time.

Prey (2022)

This one was so good. Of course it owes a lot to the first film which set the tone and the standard for the genre, but I think this one is a vastly superior film. Amber Midthunder gives a fantastic performance, and Naru is a much more interesting protagonist because she's not an elite grizzled veteran like the commando Dutch or lieutenant Harrigan. She's young and nervous and not used to the hunt and she makes so many missteps along the way. She has a lot to prove, and she does that by being smart and figuring out how to turn the Predator's arsenal against him. And just the scenes of them doing regular hunting stuff vs the lion and the bear were pretty great. Naru's brother repeating Dutch's line from the original film felt a bit forced, but I liked it. The end credits contain some additional lore, if you want some idea of how that pistol got back to Harrigan in 1997.

Predators (2010)

While reading about the Predator series, I realized these weren't the first Predator films I've seen. I remembered I had seen the 2010 film Predators in the cinema (it's the one with Adrien Brody and Topher Grace and a bunch of other guys). I guess I didn't think a lot of it, because I have no online record of having watched it and barely remember it. I was able to trace that I watched it on July 10th 2010 with some friends though, so I can add a backdated review entry here and it should show up on the index at that date.

Anyway, now that I think about it, it feels like it would be really hard going through life where all you can see is the infrared spectrum. I suppose all their tech is centered around that limitation though.

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/ #movies



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