Kurosawa’s “Hidden Fortress”

The Hidden Fortress is a light-hearted adventure comedy about two losers trying to take the money and run, more or less. Add to it a warrior and a princess, some exciting chase scenes and a couple of fights — under the direction Akira Kurosawa, just about every frame of it is a work of art.

From Berardinelli’s linked review: “Unlike many of the more artistically obscure products of Japanese cinema… Kurosawa’s oeuvre is entirely accessible to a Western audience… [H]is primary inspiration was American films, especially the work of John Ford. Kurosawa and the Western make a beautiful pairing. The director’s movies were influenced by early entries in the genre, then, in turn, became a blue-print for ’60s and ’70s editions. Without Kurosawa, there would have been no A Fistful of Dollars or The Magnificent Seven.”

Time-lapse Sunflowers

Here’s a time-lapse video of a lilac tree and some sunflowers growing in a corner of my backyard from May 3 to October 16 of this year. I took one photo just about every day. The video is 30 seconds long, but only about 10 seconds are time-lapsed. In that portion of the video, one month goes by in about 2 seconds. The time-lapse effect is more impressive, I suppose, if you focus on a specific flower or a tree beside the fence — but something specific. I stopped taking the photos on October 16, 2009, when a storm destroyed all the sunflowers.


Searching For Similar Images

TinEye is a remarkable search engine that finds images based on an image you provide:

TinEye is a reverse image search engine. You can submit an image to TinEye to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions.

I was at a company’s website and thought the images there were too professional looking, depicting people too clean-cut for the company.

I wondered if the photo really represented the people in their company or was it a stock photo; that is, was it used on other websites?

It was.

tineye image result

It’s not perfect though:

Still, interesting engine. Useful for website owners to determine if their images have been stolen.

The Fall – a visual feast of a movie

The Fall is a movie with a simple story and stunning imagery. Roger Ebert describes The Fall as:

…a mad folly, an extravagant visual orgy, a free-fall from reality into uncharted realms. Surely it is one of the wildest indulgences a director has ever granted himself….
It tells a simple story with vast romantic images so stunning I had to check twice, three times, to be sure the film actually claims to have absolutely no computer-generated imagery.

It’s about a young man and little girl who are recovering in a hospital. The man tells the girl a story, which comes to life in the film from the young girl’s perspective. The telling of the story turns out to be therapeutic for both of them in ways they and the audience wouldn’t predict.

I wish I saw this in the theater. This type of film makes me consider getting one of those thin 40″ televisions everyone is spending too much money on.

The movie is engaging for its story, too, not just its visuals. The acting is superb, especially the little girl. I noticed there were long, unedited scenes with her that makes me appreciate her (or her direction) more.

It’s directed by Tarsem Singh (who just goes by his first name, like Sting, but it’s not made up), who’s known for directing commercial and musical videos, although I never heard of him (no surprise there). He also directed another visual feast: The Cell, which I saw many years ago but isn’t as good as this movie.

Dogs For Lazy Owners

lazy dogsConsumer Reports has posted an article about the best dogs for retirees (not that retirees are lazy):

All dogs that require little exercise, although all dogs should be walked daily.

We’re considering getting a Greyhound (yes, another dog) when our ancient cat dies: they’re supposed to be nice, lazy dogs, despite their reputation for being athletic pets. Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada is an excellent resource for those looking to adopt a Greyhound; we’ll be getting ours from there.