Monthly Archives: February 2009

Dollhouse: S1, E2


by Irma Arkus

Tomorrow is time for another installment of Dollhouse. If you haven’t caught the premier of the show, then here is the summary: Whedon produces new show, and it starts with Eliza Dushku performing as a serious kidnapping negotiator.

Alright, so I am simplifying the plot line. In reality, the show is a bit sexier, and quite a bit more complex. Dushku is Echo. And Echo is a sexbot, an empty-headed human body that can be implanted with foreign memories, but was not always void of personality and history. That is where the plot gets a little complicated.

Echo used to be a person, prior to sexbot employ. A person who, similarly to Dushku’s more famous slayer character, Faith, is in some kind of fierce trouble. Trouble so big, that she signs away all her rights, and her memories, allowing herself to be used for um, sexbot activities.

While the first episode was a bit of a drag, the storyline manages to quickly pick-up during the second episode.

Echo is on a “date” with a psychopath, who turns from an adventuresome climber and a passionate lover, into a merciless hunter of human prey.

While struggling to survive, Echo is drugged by her maniacal date. But the drug’s side effects are more interesting, as Echo’s mind grasps for memories that she did not know she had.

This goes hand in hand with the dramatic opening of the show, where one of the “tabula rasas” goes berserk, slaughtering everyone in the high tech compound. Everyone but Echo, that is.

This, apparently, is how Dr. Claire Saunders (Amy Acker) received her facial injuries consisting of numerous long, narrow cuts across her pretty face. Two things spring immediately to mind: why is it that the Doctor has not immediately proceeded with plastic surgery treatments for her face, considering the lavish and secretive outfit of her employers; and why the secrecy surrounding berserked subject’s survival?

For one, the attack reveals that the berserker in question is very much alive, and obsessed with Echo, practicing his homicidal techniques in order to draw more attention to Echo.

The second, and more intriguing conclusion, is that Whedon yet again exceedes expectations.

You see, Dr. Claire Saunders is not necessarily a medical examiner. She could be just someone implanted with the memories of a medical examiner, another borrowed body. And the same applies to all the other participants in the Dollhouse.

The question really is who is at the top. Who owns the program and why? Because if you think about it, it allows for a perfect crime, a perfect cover, and it successfully places suspicion on everyone being not what they are, or appear to be. Whedon’s second episode plants a seed of doubt in one’s mind, as he turns the familiar into a world of games and shadows, for in the world of Dollhouse, everyone is a potential doll, a sexbot, a killer.

I must admit, the first episode left me cold. But my veneration of Whedon’s work will always keep me glued to my seat. And this time, Whedon indulges us with a complex, layered, oniony world, in which nothing, not even oneself is sacred or unique.

Marvel Studios Are “Financially Cautious” or Just Cheapskates?


by Irma Arkus

Hulk was good. Check!
Iron Man was great. Check!
But what about this $250,000 offer to Rourke???

According to NYMag, while Mickey Rourke is celebrated for his career ‘resurrection,’ his new offers are actually not that great. Or maybe it is just Marvel.

Apparently, Marvel Studios are “cautious,” although noone is sure why such cautiousness produces low offers to actors, and lack of contract renewal: Terrence Howard presumably wasn’t appearing in Iron Man 2 not because he didn’t want to, but because he was deemed too expensive.
Don Cheadle gladly took his place though. And Samuel Jackson initially refused to appear as Nick Fury, because the money was simply too low.

Now however, Mickey Rourke was invited to join the Iron Man 2 as a villain, but offered a meager $250,000, which doesn’t sound exactly like one of those paycheques that “real celebrities” are known for (Rourke would be Ivan or Whiplash.)

So, maybe it’s Rourke, and maybe, just maybe, it’s Marvel Studios. [NYMag]

The Universe Is Apparently A Crowded Place


by Irma Arkus

Or so Alan P. Boss says. The theoretical astrophysicist of Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, says that his latest research indicates a “crowded” universe, teeming with life.

Comparing the idea to Rodenberry’s concept of manifold of species, civilisations, Boss contends that his calculations indicate that “there may be 100 billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way.”

Discussing abundance of water, recently confirmed on Mars, would imply that quite possibly, the universe as we know it is full of complex and wonderful life.

Recent research supports it too. At University of Edinburgh, recent computer models, calculated new estimates showing Milky Way to contain over 360 civilisations.

The question that many pose is why we haven’t detected life, or more importantly, intelligent life. The better question would be, however, why we haven’t looked further for one. According to Boss, the universe is so crowded that we’re bound to do so, one way or another, and his new book The Crowded Universe, explores the importance of the search and the find.

Boss is also working on Kepler: the first NASA’s mission to locate Earth-like planets. Launching on March 5th, the Kepler is to identify those planets that are close enough to sun to keep water in a liquid state, a pre-condition for development of life.
[
Huliq
]

Medical Records Going p-2-p In USA

by Irma Arkus

Scientific American warns against medical offices using p-2-p software, due to the fact that sometimes, sharing files also means a certain percent of medical records ending up online.

For example, SciAm quotes researchers finding some “20,000 hospital patients from the computer of a collection agency working for the hospital. Another search turned up a 1,718-page report with nearly 9,000 patient names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, insurers, group numbers and identification numbers.” The astounding amount of personal documents and patient information that seems to be shared with the world, is thought to be a growing problem, one that may increase as Obama administration prepares to upgrade the administrative systems and have the patient information exchanged online.

This however, is a problem that will not disapppear. For one, cutting down on administrative costs by the health care industry in US is a priority, as the US-based health care industry is not only the most expensive in the world, but the most inefficient as well.

The fear of placing the documentation online, really pales in comparison to concern of further disrepair to an “industry” that currently not only tends to lose patient information, but endangers people’s health. [Scientific American]

Samuel Jackson aka Nick Fury Will Be Everywhere


by Irma Arkus

Samuel Jackson has reportedly signed a contract for nine films. NINE. That’s a lot of Jackson, and the reason behind his multiple appearances is Nick Fury.

Marvel is currently developing a slew of films. The sequel to Iron Man, the now-in-production Thor, Captain America, and long awaited The Avengers, as well as their sequels, are all reported to have a little Nick Fury Magic.

Strangely, the Marvel corps were accused in press of being cheap with some of their contracts, as Terrence Howard suddenly did not get the expected contract for Iron Man sequel, and even Samuel Jackson expressed disdain over the thrift payment for his brief appearance at the end of Iron Man.

One thing is undoubted though: Marvel is making a lot of money by turning their comic book assets into cinematic blockbusters, and vice versa. We are going to see many of them, and they will be large. Moreover, they will be Jackson-ed.

The New Sherlock Holmes


by Irma Arkus

Sherlock Holmes, the newest incarnation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective combined with that of Lionel Wigram’s masterful comic book, finally has a release date: December 5, 2009.

Even though that may seem like a long time to wait for a film, the cinematic promise of this particular one, is grand.

With Guy Richie in the directors seat, Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes, Jude Law as Dr. Watson and Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, the film is meant to provide a bonafide blockbuster. And not just any kind of blockbuster, but the one accompanied with excellent acting, a decent script, and enough money for lighting and editing…all those important “details” that a good movie makes.

The first glimpses of Sherlock Holmes have been shown during the Oscars. The first photos revealed a fragile, tanned Dr. Watson (Jude Law), who has just returned from Afghanistan. Sherlock is, of course, played by unmatched Robert Downey Jr., who can actually pull of the eccentricities that make Holmes, Holmes.

While at first I suspected that the film would be better in hands of Christopher Nolan, mostly because of an excellent experience that was The Prestige, Guy Richie has proven himself an excellent director. While his first successes, made up of choppy action crime dramas, such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, were met with great fan following, his next productions were less celebrated.

The “choppinness” of Revolver for example, made the film too neurotic, too incognruous for the audience unable to suspend their belief. However, the recent RocknRolla, Ritchie took the time to pace himself, reveal the plot, and still stick with his stylistic tried and true formula.

While the schtick may be unsuitable for Sherlock Holmes, it does imply that even Ritchie, with the right editing team and camera work, can produce a decent linear plot, great timing included.

So, now, we just have to wait and then watch. Meanwhile, there are a few floating photos, revealed by Warner Brothers to awaken our curiousity. And with that a few interesting rumours.

The last bit to come into the media, is that Sherlock Holmes, in this film version, is gay. While I would rather believe that if Holmes really existed, he would actually be bi-sexual, I am perfectly delighted at the prospect of a gay Holmes. Why? Because it would potentially rub the North American audiences the wrong way. And I love a good rub.

Marvel Zombies Short


by Irma Arkus

Haven’t had enough of Marvel zombie madness? Apparently, neither did Scott Fields and James Ojala, who lovingly made a short film dedicated to their fave dead-but-alive superheroes. Check out the 2:09 short here.

Stewie Griffin’s 10 Most Diabolical Moments


by Irma Arkus

AdultSwim posted the 10 most Diabolical moments of Stewie Griffin, the uber-evil-wunderkind. Totally worth watching.

David Brin: Shoresteading

by Irma Arkus

David Brin, master of all scifi, has a new novella “Shoresteading.” The novella is available online, as Baens Universe decided to publish it for free (accepting donations of course,) split into a few precious pieces.

Most consider Brin to be an author leading the scifi pack these days. One of my professors had a saying – BearBrin – and it provides for a decent summary of what most fans consider the best of contemporary science fiction.

So, read on!

CRTC Calling Canadians: Net Neutrality

by Irma Arkus

Today is the day when you, yes you, can respond to CRTC’s request for public responses.

The request for comments is here:
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2008/pt2008-19.htm

To respond, go here:
http://support.crtc.gc.ca/rapidscin/default.aspx?lang=en
go to the bottom of the pages and click on the button labelled
pt2008-19-2