Tag Archives: Tim Burton

Renaissance of cinema

When did you have that feeling, if you ever had it at all? I think it is part of the ageing process, you have to be over 50 to get it. You see, we see Netflix and we often see Bluray’s (or DVD’s) of the old master, but in both cases, at present I still cannot get the real masters. Claude Lelouch’s ‘Les uns et let autres’, the bluray of Sleepy Hollow (Tim Burton), or even ‘My little Buddha’ with Keanu Reeves. They are all masters, all in their own right they brought an amazing story to the screen. I was there at the premiere in the Hague when Les uns et les autres made everyone jump to their feet at the end giving a wide applause, it as the first time I saw that happen, it was the first time I experienced it. Not merely the music by Francis Lai and Michel Legrand. The cast which included James Caan, Geraldine Chaplin, Robert Hossein, Jean-Claud Brialy and so many others, a story for the ages. Tim Burton gave new live and a much stronger life to Sleepy Hollow, yes Johny Depp played the big role, but he was surrounded by others and when you see Christopher Lee play the small part of the judge, a small role by a giant, you should figure out that you are hading to something amazing. I have more reasons for this, apart from seeing it 3-4 times on the big screen when it came. It also introduced me to the teaser trailer to the first Harry Potter film, a name I had not heard before that day, but the crowd went insane that night. Sleepy Hollow, with amazing music brought to life Washington Irving and his Legend of Sleepy Hollow. These to giants are not alone. In all the need to reinvent the wheel the streamers are all forgetting the originals, or perhaps the originals as I remember them, Keanu Reeves as Siddhartha, a story of Buddhism, a religion I knew then, and optionally still now know very little about. Yet the movie showed more, it opened a door (for me) and that part is important, to all. When a movie, or a story makes for an open door in your mind, you get to peak at what is out there. Me? I am a pranking person. So I would like to go into the office of Jean-François Mirigay of Monaco and introduce myself as police commissioner Ludovic Cruchot of the St. Tropez police department to inspect the troops no less (fake papers required, and fluent French knowledge too). Why? Because Louis de Funes was that funny, we forgot about him did we not? The old masters are almost forgotten, but I will not let that happen whilst I still live. It is also the need to see Belmondo in Flic ou voyou (or Le guignolo) again. Yet there are no discs, there is no Netflix version. One would hope it will be remastered, perhaps a new version of those movies, but these movies are about the not so PC 70’s, 60’s and in some cases 80’s. 30 years of cinema almost forgotten, mainly because Hollywood does not care about what passed, it cares about the next quarter. Yes, it does and in the Covid age, I get that, I do not oppose it, but is that enough of a reason to forget the greats? When we see ‘French’ and movies, some will revert to Emmanuelle and Silvia Kristel, but French movies had so much more. There was Catherine Deneuve with Indochine (1993) about the age before Vietnam became a reality. Cinema has so much to offer, but I fear that too many have forgotten how we got there and that is such a shame, because I have not even scratched the surface of what was. Even in my native Netherlands, I was (until I moved to Australia) unaware of Rutger Hauer’s Bride Flight. That made sense as it is a 2008 movie, but the movie told me a lot that was not taught in the schools. I knew about the 1953 London to Christchurch air race, all Dutch kids hear the story of the race, but the race was merely the beginning and we get to see more, also how the Dutch moved and took their values with them, some never embracing the local values and cultures. And I am not asking you or telling you to embrace it all, I merely offer the idea that you consider the old master, old masters of cinema. A group of people that are too soon to be forgotten as we see another batch of Netflix and Disney plus releases. So when we see names like Timothy Spall, we tend to grasp straight to the Harry Potter series, yet we forget that he stood out in Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise (aptly renamed by me as death of a vacuum cleaner salesman), it is actually there that I saw in him an optional Lucius Malfoy (I had just read the third book), a stage that is not set against Jason Isaacs (who did a brilliant job), it is merely the thoughts that we entertain when reading a book is much wider than the cinema offers, the cinema offers the view of the director (optionally filtered by the producers), the book let the mind work it all out and the filtered views of the past still matters, especially when experts in their own field like Louis de Funes, Derek Jacobi or Jean Paul Belmondo give their view for us to see. I feel that players like Netflix and Disney are forgetting that, when we merely focus on the spreadsheet and what needs to be achieved, the past is lost and that is never a good thing. The funny part is that this impacts games and movies to a similar degree, which is an odd revelation, but there you have it. So whilst we are all debating how precise Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven really was, we forget that, or perhaps never knew that Balian of Ibelin (c. 1143 – 1193), also known as Barisan the Younger was a real person who surrendered Jerusalem to Saladin on October 2, 1187. Until the movie was made, I wonder how many knew what the setting of Jerusalem in those days were. Books are not merely the foundation of movies, movies are a source to investigate what was and in this Les uns et les autres stands out, it is pure fiction, but the story touches on real musical icons. People like Édith Piaf, Josephine Baker, Herbert von Karajan, Glenn Miller, Rudolf Nureyev and a few more are given life in this story in the most eloquent way, the old masters have so much to teach us, lets make sure that we do not lose these lessons before it is too late, a spoonful of Alain Delon anyone?

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A,B,C,…..D?

We all have ways to promote the thinking pattern within ourselves, we all have our way to get about it, I am no exception. Yet, today is a weird day, I am overwhelmed with a thought and a sensation from the 60s. I was a wee young lad (a little piss ant is more like it), I was never a saint, especially when I was young. And in all this we all had our own ways to deal with ourselves, again, I am not exception. 

The sensation that bugs me today is something that has been in the back of my mind for a while. It is like a nuisance that keeps on bugging me and I do not exactly know why. It is a drink, in the Netherlands it was for a small time (in the 60s) decently wanted. The bottle was long and slim, with a light blue lid, it contained some form of a tangerine drink. That drink has been on my mind for a while now, and I miss it, but until recently it’s been nagging me and I do not know why. I looked up a few things and I noticed that there is no decent tangerine liquor. The drink I used to have was a lemonade, basically tangerine juice, settled with a third ingredient like water, still water. So why was it on my mind so strongly?

I had been considering a lot more from that era, mostly TV series, it was all before the house of Pong set up its shrine (a manhunter New York joke). And then it hit me, it was 1968, the Dutch TV series ‘De Fabeltjeskrant’ created by Leen Valkenier started, the UK got it later titled ‘The Daily Fable’, the setting had connections to the fables of Jean de La Fontaine, Aesop, and others. No matter how simple it was then, it was close to unequalled until it ended in 1989 after well over 1600 episodes, a gem too many had forgotten about, The adventures narrated by Mr Owl, with Miss Stork, 

Mr. Cunningham the Fox, Mr. Crow, Boris the Wolf, Bert and Fred Beaver, Zippy the Hare,Shelly the Tortoise, Miss Ant, Gerald the Pigeon, Milord the Horse, Harold the, George the Guinea Pig in the British version, Mumbles the Mole, Myra the Hamster, Greta the Cow, and Zaza the Zebra. There were more characters, but I stopped watching when I grew a little older, yet consider the simple fact that this series ran for over 1600 episodes and consider all the old tales as well as the tales of Grimm and others, what a treasure trove it could be, even today, we are all looking at the hi-tech series, but there is a reason that Tim Burton struck gold with the Nightmare before Christmas, stop motion animation is still an art that can move all the senses we have and we forgot about that tiny detail. We seemingly forgot about the situation where what was is still good, but how to embrace it? The fair part is that children do not mind, they embrace the story, the interactions, the inclusion, it is the inclusion that tends to take the cake, but it is merely one of a few factors and to be around for 22 years, that matters, that shows that you have a winner. So can it be relaunched? That is the question we need to face. E can remaster it, it can be remade, but in the same way? It is like the original Mass Effect, these gems are close to timeless, in 15 years when we have the Playstation 6 and the Zbox (or XboxX), a game like Mass Effect will still have a value that equals its weight in gold, so TV series too will have their moment and the IP and its owner sees a new life where none was expected. It is the showing of a real visionary, a game like Mass Effect (the original trilogy) is truly one of those. 

So whilst my mind focussed on a tangerine smell and a faint taste of what was, the reason was lingering in the back of my mind and the Daily Fable is not the only thing from those days. Netflix is investing a little over $17 billion in this year alone, but on how much actual IP? What if a fraction could get them several series that could give them a much larger offering of series? As the workflow comes back (after another lockdown), we see that there is a need for materials that will be there for the younger and the not so young viewers. 

It is about series, games, streaming and non streaming. It is all directed via IP, but it is not the only option, there is a whole league of games that lost their IP protection years ago, the same for TV series and the clever mind is one that looks in the past and find the troves most forgot about.  A setting we need to take another look at. So consider on what Netflix is spending and then add the billions that DisneyPlus is spending and see what some can get at a mere farthing per pound, a setting too enticing to ignore, but the will be the name of the game soon enough. 

It links to an old joke, what is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant? A zookeeper has a $10 note and hands you 10 $1 coins, an accountant squeezes the $10 note until it gives up 11 $1 coins. We can laugh at the or realise that the Netflix has an optional $1,700,000,000 around, all because not the right accountant took a look at the $10 notes. We can laugh at the joke, or we can consider that there are parts none of them looked at, why is that? Or better stated, where are the gemstones? You already saw one, let me give you one more, it was a Swedish series called ‘Den vita stenen’, a series based on a 1965 award winning book. In a collection of nations, a mere 2 options and that is before you realise that France, Germany, Norway, Estonia, Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. They all have the gemstones no-one noticed or they forgot the impact they had focussing on a local market tends to have that impact and the time goes short, soon more than one will catch on and when they get it done it will be too late for them.

Such is life, as such, did you get to point D? If so, is it a square, a rectangle, a trapezium or a parallelogram? All options and none are the same.

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Glowing in the Dark

OK, for now enough of economies who are on their last legs. It is time to take a look at something completely different. Whenever I see any news on nuclear reactors, my first thought is on an old sketch by Benny Hill. “Would you like to see your children to glow in the dark? Feed them Windscale porridge!” I thought it was hilarious. Of course, as I was still growing up in the Netherlands, I did understand the nuclear reactor part, but what I did not know was that the joke was linked to the “Windscale accident, accident in 1957 at the Windscale nuclear reactor facility and plutonium-production plant in the county of Cumberland (now part of Cumbria), in north-western England, that was the United Kingdom’s most serious nuclear power accident.” (Source: Britannica).

But issues at present are not that funny. Less than 24 hours ago another leak was spotted at TEPCO’s famous new place called Fukushima. (At http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/03/japan-fukushima-water-idUSL4N0HT0BW20131003) Quoting Reuters, we get the following facts: “Leak probably flowed into Pacific after worker misjudged tank capacity” and “Tepco’s efforts to improve water handling not sufficient, govt says“. Really? The word ‘Misjudge‘ is used?

In addition there are these two quotes. “Tepco has been relying on hastily built tanks to hold excess cooling water flushed over damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi site” and “Tepco said the water that leaked contained 200,000 becquerels per litre of beta-emitting radioactive isotopes, including strontium 90. The legal limit for strontium 90 is 30 becquerels per litre.

Fortunately, I am a technologist and not an economist. Yet, when we judge the news article Reuters comes with, which was DEVOID of the name of whoever wrote it, then I have two issues.

1. Was TEPCO actually this stupid? (Until later in the article I was not completely convinced that this was the case).

2. The Reuters article contains ‘misjudge’, ‘hastily build tanks’ and ‘strontium-90’, I want to see a clear identity on the source. The partially implied information that the ocean is receiving 6666 times the acceptable dose of radiation is leaving me with too many questions. The article ‘implies’ I said, because the wording leaves in the middle what the exact radiation source is. In addition, the fact that they are relying on hastily build tanks 2.5 years after the event is not just unacceptable, in my eyes the non-acting by the Japanese government needs to be questioned on EVERY news station on this planet. Just in case Tim Burton was right, we need to transmit that newscast to Mars too! (Before it attacks)

I know it is ‘only’ a day old and covering bickering US politicians seems a lot more sexy then radiation leaks, the fact that both ‘event‘ and ‘news covering‘ is a little out of whack, the leak should get the spotlight it deserves.

Why is this an issue? Well, in 1945 the Japanese population was set at 71,000,000. After the bombs there, Japan had massive issues, especially food shortages (not sure how much was due to radiation). Now consider that Japan consists of 121 million people. Even though Fukushima in one place, it dumped radiation into the ocean and it seems there is nowhere near the needed levels of control in play to prevent long term damage to fishing waters.

TEPCO does not seem to have its game face on and Reuters implies that it will not change for the better any day soon. As soon as the government walks in, the TEPCO execs will clamp up and the Japanese people will not receive the answers they are entitled to. The implication from Reuters that hastily build tanks were never improved upon within 3 years, so this implies that the problems the Japanese face are long term and might include long term health issues.

What is so upsetting?

In my mind I see a few. First the fact that places like TEPCO did not learn anything from Tsernobyl. Even though nature was the reason for what happened in Fukushima and the damage to any solution due to the tsunami is not their fault, but when I see that people ‘misjudge’, that hastily build tanks were not replaced within mere weeks by a less hastily solution gives me the shivers. If we look at TEPCO’s 1st Qtr. earnings for 2013 (at http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/corpinfo/ir/tool/presen/pdf/130731_1-e.pdf)

We see a consolidated ‘Net income’ of almost 4.5 billion dollar, so the ‘hastily build’ tanks are no way an acceptable excuse.

Now, we must realise that the Reuters source is not known and no way to check who wrote this, but either it was written by someone now in his/her last week of journalism EVER! Or, the TEPCO board of directors need to be openly arrested and get immediately placed in front of the honourable Hironobu Takesaki, Chief justice of the Supreme Court of Japan, with every Japanese TV news camera in that same court. I would like to see the faces as they answer in regards to those hastily build tanks, misjudgement and still report a 4.5 billion dollar net income.

I could accept issues when the net income was ‘ZERO’. I would understand that they are facing a disaster due to natural causes. I would understand that they got financial support from the government in such events. I do not understand the combination of 4.5 billion and utterly lacking acts!

Perhaps it is just me!

The engineer in me understands the nightmare that these engineers face today. The impossible conditions, the lacking resources and no clear solution. But these lack of results in 2+ years draw all kinds of questions, many of them not very positive.

This is not about Japanese worker ethics; this is not about the size of the challenge. It is that the combination and the time passed give nowhere near the lack of results. I do not envy them and no matter what will be done, it will be an expensive and time consuming endeavour. Whether they look at a Dutch water dike system to insulate the area, place 2-3 tankers next to these hastily build tanks to collect water, whether they freeze it all solid with liquid nitrogen. Something else needs to be done.

Last week Bloomberg had a much better article. (At http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-25/russia-offers-to-help-clean-up-fukushima-as-tepco-calls-for-help.html)

“‘It was clear for a long time that TEPCO was not adequately coping with the situation’, Asmolov said. ‘It looks like TEPCO management were the last to realize this,’ he said. ‘Japan has the technologies to do this, but they lacked a system to deal with this kind of situation’.

It seems that the implied blame towards TEPCO sounds more justified then I thought, and in this case Vladimir Asmolov is the man who runs the state owned Russian Nuclear Utility. So the man would know his non-glow in the dark solutions.

What the article shows is the one part that many might not know “Russia repeated an offer first made two years ago to help Japan clean up its accident-ravaged Fukushima nuclear station, welcoming Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s decision to seek outside help. ” So Russia was there to help, but (and I am assuming here), TEPCO had a pride issue for 2 years? I get that they will weigh it all for the first few days, even the first month, but the first 29 months? I reckon it is time to ask questions.

No matter how I feel, I do wonder how members of the board of TEPCO can get home safely every night from  Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan to wherever they live, having to get past 9 million Tokyo residents and many of them with likely not that great an appreciation of these board members as they have to live with the consequences of that glow in the dark mess.

Perhaps we will see a new Sketch in Japan soon:
あなたは暗闇の中で輝きたいのですか?福島フィッシュ
Do you want to glow in the dark? Fukushima Fish. (Via Google Translate)

 

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