Christmas movie list of 08

Last year I made a very short post of three upcoming Christmas movie. The three movies were expected to be ok however Fred Claus was a complete mess. I thought it was one of Vince Vaughan’s worst movies.

I Am Legend was different, it was a 1/2 and 1/2 in my eyes. It wasn’t fantastic but it wasn’t bad either. I never reviewed Cloverfield in the end as I simply didn’t know what to say, it was all a bit strange.

Christmas 2008 is going to have some great movies. I’ll be reviewing as many as I can as I’ve started booking tickets now.

Four Christmases

Four Christmases is another movie with Vince Vaughan in it, god help us all! There is a possibly chance this might be a bit better than the Fred Claus movie or at least I’d like to think so.

Vince Vaughan and Reese Witherspoon are an unmarried couple who like nothing better than getting away at Christmas. This Christmas they find themselves shacked up with all of their divorced parents.

The Day The Earth Stood Still

A remake of the 1951 classic film stars Keanu Reeves as an alien who comes to warn humankind of its imminent destruction. The trailers for this have me intrigued as I’ve never see the original or know what it’s really about. The effect in the movie look terrific. Definitely one to look out for. It’s apparently out in the UK on the 12th December.

Australia

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in wartime Australia. I saw the trailer the first time and thought it was a load of rubbish. I’ve seen 2 further trailers and my mind is changed, I can’t wait for boxing day to see how this one turns out. It does seem a bit Pearl Harbourish, hopefully it’ll get past that and be an awesome Christmas movie.

Seven Pounds

Will Smith and the rest of the Pursuit of Happyness team get back together to make another movie. This time around Will Smith is an IRS agent with a fateful secret who embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers. Will Smiths last movie “Hancock” was a bit of a let down, but if this follows the same quality of Pursuit of Happyness I’ll be over the moon!

Looking Forward

So there we have it, in comparison to last Christmas it is a big change. We’re going to have some much better quality movies to look forward to. Look out for January though as we’re going to be in for some way better movies then. Two that I am definitely looking forward to next year are Valkyrie and Angels and Demons.

Body of Lies Review

THE ALL SEEING EYE

It’s become aware that with everything that is going on in the world today that new technologies are being used more and more. The CIA takes a prominent position in the Body of Lies, with Russel Crowe and Leonardo di Caprio playing the leading parts. Crowe plays Ed Hoffman, a CIA veteran who has a permanent secure line plugged into his ear. Di Caprio plays Roger Ferris, the best CIA operative on the ground. He’s the best guy to get information from the places where it’s usually impossible.

Body of Lies review

After a bomb in England and warnings of others across Europe, Hoffman is on the trail of the fanatic who has started it all. Needing Di Caprio’s help, they both set off in search…

THE HUNT

Di Caprio turns from hunted to hunter, knowing full well that to find the man causing all of the mayhem he will have to go headlong into the world of fanatical militants. Ferris makes a connection with the Jordanian Secret Service to enable him to get to the group he’s looking for. Hoffman puts Ferris in more uncomfortable positions than he’d want in a lifetime and on multiple occasions go’s against the Jordanian Secret Services wishes and it doesn’t end well.

BODY OF LIES REVIEW

They could have cut approximately 30-40 minutes from the movie and made it so much better. It’s not Black Hawk Down or Blood Diamond, it’s somewhere in between and although very similar to The Kingdom, The Kingdom movie beats it hands down.. Russel Crowe didn’t shine and seemed to be there only to beef up the Actors list. Di Caprio played a similar role, and acted similarly to the Blood Diamond role he played.

So much more could have been done with the movie in a shorter time. It looked great from the trailers but just didn’t cut it in the end. Such a disappointment.

COD5: The Disappointment

COD5 WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT

This blog post doesn’t start well. From the outset Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare went down a different road and became one of the greatest games of all time, more so because of the Multi-player side of the action. I played COD4 on the PC in the days before I had an Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. I only played COD4 MP for a short while before deciding it wasn’t for me. I had been playing Battlefield 2 for so long that it actually meant something when playing a map, there was an actual purpose. COD has always been an arcade style shoot-em up. You run, you shoot, you die. The maps were always pretty small in comparison to Battlefield.

COD5

I liked playing the single player COD4, it was new after all. It was the Modern Warfare that COD players had wanted for so long and it actually played really well. From start to end it seemed like it was longer than the previous games, in a way it seemed more hardcore. You felt like you were in the fight.

IT JUST DIDN’T CUT IT

Call of Duty 5 just didn’t cut it. Going back to the world wars after the modern warfare we’d had previously I thought would entice a new kind of Call of Duty to come out. A Call of Duty where I actually couldn’t put it down, a Single Player with so much shock and awe that I’d be talking about it forever and a Multi-player to lose sleep and cut 2 stones of weight over. Did we get it? Hell no, we’ve gone back in time to the run shoot, die process of the earlier Call of Duty’s.

Granted the scenes between missions are pretty sweet and for anyone who doesn’t have any history knowledge can learn a lot, but that’s as far as you can go. There isn’t any real difference from the others… I mean come on, I can’t be the only one getting bored of technically playing the same game over and over again.

After buying Far Cry 2 one week which was the biggest pile of rubbish I’d picked up in a while (my own fault for not checking reviews), I’d have liked Call of Duty to ‘be an all you can be’ title. The Single Player missions were incredibly short, I finished the total game in what seemed like record timing.

WHAT DOES IT HAVE?

COD 5 has two things which I thought were cool and they have nothing to do with the game-play.

  1. When an enemy has a grenade thrown towards them (I noticed this fighting the Japanese) if they can’t throw it away quickly enough they will actually jump on the grenade.
  2. Cut-scenes, they’re actually pretty decent and a couple of times I sat there impressed.

After playing the game through in full I’m not about to get all giggly school girl excited over the Co-op mode because quite frankly, who gives a bollock. Would I want friends to go through the same boring torture as I did? Am I going to play MP, am I hell. Once finished the game when swiftly back in it’s box and will be passed on to another unsuspecting soul before Christmas time.

I’m going back to playing Battlefield: Bad Company, it’s an awesome game and has a lot more going for it than COD5.

In all fairness this sounds somewhat like a Bad Company fanboy rant against Call of Duty, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I’ll stand by my decision. Call of Duty 5 is a disappointment.

Designers should stand firm

THE TITLE: STAND FIRM

I wasn’t exactly sure on how to title this blog post. ‘Standing firm’ seemed quite apt to suit the point I’m going to try and put across.

Over the last 4 years I’ve worked on a range exciting projects for all kinds of different clients, some of which have been fantastic! I think every designer in the land has come across issues with client contact and clients not understanding the way we choose to represent their business or their ideas.

You quickly find yourself receiving sketches in the post, ideas of “websites” via email or even mocked up designs fresh out of MS Word. One of my all time greats was a client who though it would be fantastic to write some copy in MS Word, put it into a small typeface, cut it out and place it over one of his business cards and secure in place with pritt-stick to make sure I knew how he’d want the card design. I’ve seen it all, some you can laugh at, some you can cry at and usually the favorite is to simply starting pulling hair or banging your head on the nearest wall. When you can’t bang your head and have to reply in a meeting. Some have pained me just replying to emails.

THE DREADED WORKING PARTNERSHIP

Going through the worst of client confrontations means that you can learn a lot from the whole process. I recently went through a scenario of thinking a client I knew of was compeltely crackers/barmy/mad. They put over the impression they were causing someone some serious issues, so much so you could see the stress in the face of the worknig person. My understanding is that clients are not mad, they’re not stupid or barmy. They, on occasion are simply misunderstood and it’s the simple fact that we move so fast through our own understanding of our industry that we fail to realise they are not as quick. Clients need objectives explaining and interpreting into their own way of thinking. Explain to them why things won’t work or will work and in what context.

LETS GET IT TOGETHER

Paul Boag recently talked about ‘Educating clients to say yes’ in depth at Future of Web Design, NYC, Paul has been in the Industry enough to know how to work with clients rather than manage.

My view is ‘managing clients’ sounds more like they’re a problem rather than a part of the job you’re working on. We designers have to realise that they infact know more about their business than we do, we certainly do not know their target audience until we ask, we do not know how much of what product they sell the most of at any one time.

HOW DO WE TURN MANAGING A CLIENT INTO WORKING WITH A CLIENT?

It’s not that difficult. We need to realise, as I said above that clients are not crazier than a dog chasing its tail. The fact is they do not understand a bloogy thing we’re going on about that they react differently than if we approached them saying why their idea may be a problem. This is only a lesson I have learned over the past 3 or so weeks, and oddly Paul Boag talked about it at FOWD, NYC a few days after it happened to me.

Clients love direct contact yet they need to understand that contact with you can have different outcomes. If you’re busy working on their project and are interrupted you can lose focus completely. Every client I have worked with has two numbers for me, my land line work phone and my mobile. The clients I’ve given my mobile to know not to use it at randomly however if/when I work from home they know how to contact me and I am more than happy to answer their calls.

The management of a phonecall can pay dividends. A lot of clients will think that a simple phone call will not disrupt your focus. How wrong they are. Explain to them about urgency, the scales of urgency. Explain the ensuing result of a random phonecall with little point can achieve little else than failure because of the way they’ve approached you.

One thing which works well is a spare office desk with Internet connection that is the client desk. This is a place where they can come in and work around you. It builds relationships, it helps them realise just what happens within our workplaces and how we work best. Meetings can be called on a moments notice and results can be achieved with great accuracy and focus.

STANDING FIRM

I believe we should stand firm, I believe that clients should listen to us and take what we’re saying on board. Don’t be obnoxious about it, help them, guide them. Designers and clients can work together to bring tremendous results as long as we give them a chance to do so.

I like small teams

WORKING TOGETHER

I’ve always liked small teams, being apart of them and managing them. Small teams make sense, they connect quicker and work better. In a fast flowing business, no matter what it is, communication is key. A breakdown in communication between the end user to any numbers of departments can be the bane of any one’s life. A breakdown in a working team can cause a whole lot more pain. I am not saying you need to get on with everyone in your team but you should respect and listen to their views before automatically trying to shut them down, work with them and not against them.

I recently ordered Getting Real by 37 Signals. The book was unpacked as soon as it hit my hands, sat down and read the opening pages of which they talk about ‘The Three Musketeers’ and using a small team to start a web app. They say that if you can’t start a web app with three people you’ve got the wrong three people and should start looking around for a new team.

This view to me is very good, I have a theory on an elastic team which is quite similar, a team which can be brought together at any time to produce something spectacular but you have to have the right team. This elastic team would be held together through good communication, something which small teams are usually fantastic with.

GOOD WORK FLOW

To like each other and respect each other is one thing. Work flow is another.

Double handling any part of a job is a personal pain and annoys the hell out of me. I find if work flow isn’t worked out prior to setting off on a project, the amount of double handling can get astronomical. If you can sort your work flow out prior to starting a project you’ll notice a significant improvement in the speed of the work you’re producing as a team, as well as feeling proud that you’re handing something over which is all ready to rock on the other side.

MANAGEMENT OR SUPERVISION?

When starting a project there should always be a point of contact in charge, or at least someone who can be at the front line of question and answer sessions. Working in a small team can change a manager into a supervisor as usually the smaller the team the more people are hands on. This eliminates the typical manager type figure that looks over your shoulder to make sure you’re working hard enough. A supervisor (in my mind) would be there to help and assist rather than man manage, members of a small team should already know their capabilities and what they have to do.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE WITH SMALL TEAMS

We have a small team and so do a lot of people, Carsonified’s Carsonites, Woothemes bunch and the Reading Room to name but a few. The three examples are rather diverse. Carsonified work on web apps and conferences, Adii at Woothemes claims success from the realisation of working together with Magnus Jepson and Mark Forrester as a tight-nit team and although Adii is bringing in other professionals to work on themes I would not expect the core team to change anytime soon (Adii – you can correct me if I’m wrong). The Reading Room, recently featured in the .net magazine (issue 182) have small teams throughout the company acting like their own companies working on certain projects which they’re best at and they have just been given the Digital Marketing Agency of the Year award.

That is proof that small teams work and I for one swear by them. I work within a small team every day and love working. Not just because of the job, heck – I love my job but because of the team. We stand by each other when the going gets tough and enjoy ourselves every step of the way. The one thing I have noticed over time is the ability of someone within the team to lead is exceptional, they do it effectively and when they’re done it’s passed on to the next person. We’re all supervisors when we need to be.

If you think small teams are not going to cut it, sit back and think about it for a second. It will make sense in the end.

Quantum of Solace Review

QUANTUM OF SOLACE REVIEW

I saw Casino Royale at the movies, I thought it was complete rubbish so I thought it would be best to do a Quantum of Solace Review.

I had no inclination to sit down and watch it again on DVD. There was something about the entire movie that I just didn’t get, it was very dark and the very opposite of what I would call “a James Bond movie”. I was sitting one afternoon not long ago, on a typical Sunday when everything feels boring. Quantum of Solace was the only movie on the DVD shelf which I hadn’t watched recently and had to go for it since there was nothing else to do.

I got it, just. I certainly understood the story a little more and initial thoughts were that James Bond was gunna be pissed! at anyone and everything in the next movie.

3 SECONDS IN

3 seconds in and you hear the roar of the Aston Martin, bullets flying and cars crashing. YES! James Bond, the real James Bond is back and the only hope is that the movie continues with the same speed and tenacity as it opens with.

quantum of solace review

The sound which they’ve used throughout the film is astonishing, they’ve got it exactly right. Every crump of a bullet, every explosion or bang sounds so crisp you feel like you’re stuck smack bang in the middle of hell.

It doesn’t stop either, once you’re in, you’re in. From 3 seconds in until 10 minutes before the end you have to keep your eyes wide open.

I CAN’T TELL YOU

There is no way I can possibly go in to detail about what happens in the movie, it would stop all the fun. What I can say is a lot of the people who I’ve talked to since seeing Quantum of Solace say that they enjoyed Casino Royale more. I am not sure if this is just me thinking it was better than it was or the other people were just plain boring.

Why I’m overeasy

ITS BEEN A WHILE

It’s certainly been a while since I last wrote a post about anything on my blog. It hadn’t been updated since v2.2 and was held together by shoe strings and magic dust. I lost all feeling towards it, I lost the urge to review movies and books and rarely logged in to see if any comments had been left.

After logging in last week I noticed that users had been reading and making comments on the blog so enough was enough. I had to bring the blog back in to shape and quickly. I generally blog more over Christmas time with having more time off anyway so Friday 31st October I made a stand over my own defeatist attitude.

WHAT I HAVE TO SHOW

I’ve now got something to show, or at least I have the willingness to let every see what I do and what I have been doing over the past couple of months. I’ve got a couple of personal projects that I work on outside of the 9-5 work (or sometimes 7-6 depending on my diary) that I finally want to put my name to and would like to showcase some of my day work to the general public.

I’M ALL OVER THE OVEREASY THEME

WooThemes launched their new overeasy theme a few days ago, initial thoughts were that it was a pretty cool theme which a lot of people could get to grips with. I have a lot of time for Adii and the guys over at WooThemes and respect their work. The quality of their themes is second to none and they always go out to bring the best themes to their users. (hats off!)

WooThemes: Over Easy Theme
WooThemes: Over Easy Theme

I’ve been thinking for ages that I would simply redesign my blog, code it up and get it live but work isn’t allowing the time off to do it. With not being freelance I can afford to not sell myself through my blog, but provide content for people to read instead. Over Easy has given me the ability to show off the proejcts I am working on and finally sort out the organisation of my posts.

The colour schemes were great but I wanted to add my own personal touch. The blue and dark grey colour scheme came from a satchel bag I saw months ago, liked the way the colours worked together and grabbed a quick photo with my phone to make sure I remembered.

With the OverEasy theme I’ve achieved;

  • The organisation of the blog on a whole
  • The organisation of posts in to relevent categories
  • Make the blog stronger instead of the shoe string method
  • Show off my projects