Rome

16 Jul

Rome was an HBO series that aired from 2005 to 2007, and was a co-production of HBO and BBC. The series is set in the first century AD as Rome transforms from a Republic to an Empire.

There is a great deal to like about this mini-series.  The look of the series is lush even when viewed on standard DVD discs.  The production is superb, with an obvious effort to shoot as much as possible in Italy.  And although the events portrayed in Rome have varying degrees of authenticity in terms of participants and timing, the show is basically accurate in its portrayal of Roman politic lifestyle, and brutality.

Rome chronicles the adventures of Titas Pullo and Lucius Vorunus, two Roman soldiers that often are at the right place at the right time.   Their good luck are eventually noticed by Caesar, and they progress upwards through Roman ranks to witness in key historical events including the Roman conquest of Gaul, Caesars civil war, the assassination of Caesar, the introduction and rise of Octavian to become Augustus, and Augustus’ battle with Marc Antony.

As in many HBO series, the acting in Rome is phenomenal.  Ray Stevenson and Kevin McKidd do a fantastic job portraying Pullo and Vorunus, and Ciarán Hinds (pictured) is completely believable as Caesar, a politician that excercised his desire for pleasing the people as well as himself.   James Purefoy is a delight to watch as Marc Antony, and Tobias Menzies excels as Brutus.  The rest of the support cast do an amazing job in bringing the desires and motivations or key historical figures to life.

The series was not renewed at the end of the second season due to the prohibitive cost of producing it (aka Deadwood).  Although a film was promised and looked like it was going forward in early 2010, there has been little word on when or if it will be completed.  I hope so, I’d like to see more.

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Dropbox

15 Jul

Dropbox is an ingenious application.  So much so that I laugh when I think about how files were synchronized between multiple locations just a few years ago.

DropboxThe premise is simple.  Create an account with Dropbox and receive a centralized data store that can easily be accessed by Windows, Linux, Mac, and mobile apps.  The beauty of this is that the app works really well, appearing as a separate drive on Windows systems.  Files can now be edited in multiple locations without having to worry about version issues, and files such as music can be deposited in one spot for access in all locations running the Dropbox client.

The pricing model is simple based on size of data store, 2gb for free, 50gb for $10/month, and 100gb for $20/month.

Sid and Nancy

14 Jul

Sid and Nancy (1986) is mostly successful at communicating the chaos associated with the Sex Pistols, the English punk movement, and Sid Vicious.

I say mostly because the film runs out of steam in the last half of the movie.  The film slows down unnecessarily when the Sex Pistols break up and drags on until close to the end.  Instead of properly presenting Sid’s progression from quasi-success to ultimate desperation and murder, the troublesome pacing resulted in me mentally hoping and urging Sid to stop meandering and get on with the business of knife play.

Even with the poor pacing, this film is a thing of beauty in terms of acting.  Gary Oldman does what I imagine every actor aims for when performing a role: he truly seems to become the character.  I wasn’t watching Oldman play Sid, I was watching Sid destroy himself.  Although Chloe Webb was more annoying than interesting and the rest of the cast didn’t match Oldman in terms of sheer acting brilliance, they did their job by not distracting from Oldman’s effort.  This movie is classic Oldman, and I wish that recent efforts (i.e. Batman series) showcased his skills properly.

Be patient while watching this movie, especially towards the end.  Your efforts will be rewarded.

Franz Ferdinand – No You Girls (Track)

13 Jul

This 2009 track, off Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Tonight: Franz Ferdinand’ album, has a lot of things going for it.  While the first few seconds seem meek, the band then launches into it’s signature sound with fantastic harmonization, a tight bass line, and great guitar and rhythm support.  Very catchy toon with many repeats 🙂

Youtube:  Franz Ferdinand – No More Girls

Weber Smokey Mountain, 22.5″

12 Jul

The Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5 inch smoker is a beautiful unit built to Weber’s usual standards.  The large grates are easily capable of holding 3 racks of baby-back ribs, and two sets of meat can be grilled simultaneously.  It is fairly easy to use as well, I was able to produce some great tasting BBQ on the first try.  I am very much looking forward to putting this cooker through it’s paces this summer and for some time to come.