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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Spent the last several days trying to get a perfectly simple simulation going at work, only to have it fail time and again (after a couple of hours), thanks to memory management problems, the very worst kind of problems to have because they are so incredibly fiddly to deal with. Think I have it licked now.

The plan was to see Serenity last Friday with Paul and his sister Val and a few others, but got to the Paramount too late to get tickets. Saw A History of Violence instead, which was well worth seeing. First rate performances by all, and William hurt was brilliant in his single (critical) scene. Music by Howard Shore, and it indeed verged on LotR in places.

Managed to see Serenity Tuesday, with Paul, Val, and Peter. Thumbs way up Josh. I'm not as big a Firefly fan as friends of mine, I think the series had good potential, but about half the episodes were on the clunky side (even if you watch them in the correct order, which the stupid network didn't show them in, which really weakened the initial flow of the story). But the movie just rocked. Great effects, great dialogue, good wrap-up of a lot (not all) of the dangling plot points, and I got to see enough of the characters I really liked to satisfy me (Inara and Book were more or less cameos, but I could live with that).

The night before what turned out to be seeing A History of Violence I, Paul, and my brother caught Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance at the Royal, the first of Chan-Wook Park's Vengeance trilogy. Completely blew me away. Grim and graphically violent (but like HoV not in a gratuitous way) the film plays hell with your emotions. Ryu, our main character, is a deaf-mute who gets royally screwed when he tries to get his sister a kidney transplant, but when he and his girlfriend plan a "good" kidnapping to raise the money he needs, everything slowly going to total crap for a lot of people. What's amazing about the film is how our sympathy floats from character to character as essentially decent people find themselves acting in ever more brutal ways, sometimes because they feel that "have" to.

Of this trilogy, I saw the second film Oldboy first, and the final one Sympathy for Lady Vengeance in the film festival about a month back. Of them, Mr. has the most layered plot and complex emotions, Oldboy was a total mindfuck, and Lady is less complex than Mr., and screws with you less then Oldboy, but is a visually astonishing film in the use of color and composition throughout. And unlike the other two, ends on a note of hope (despite the fact that very bad things do happen during it). See them all, but not if you're depressed.

Oh, and there were some free Japanese films shown at the Bloor last Sunday, courtesy of the Japanese Consulate. Saw Dora-Heita with Janet, about an eccentric samurai sent to clean up a town, a notorious lair of scum and villainy. Fun but not deep.

And no, I haven't been sitting on my butt watching movies all the last several days. I took my bike out to the end of the Beaches boardwalk, upon which I found that I had forgotten to bring the keys for my lock, so I couldn't actually go anywhere but back home. Still, it was a great workout.