Andor: Disney’s best show in years (no spoilers)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I have recently begun to think that Disney’s shows are now exclusively for my kids’ generation and beyond. I’ve grown tired of the Marvel recipe and even though I’ll still watch the Star Wars movies it’s mostly because it’s a fun family thing.

But I have to say that Andor – the season finale was released this week – is outstanding. Of course, it’s still Fantasyland stuff that perpetuates America’s fascination with fantasy. But it’s a show with an extraordinarily strong storyline with superb character development. All set in the familiar Star Wars worlds. The kids aren’t even watching it, but I enjoyed every episode.

The casting in Andor is excellent with some great actors including Diego Luna, who plays the titular role, Stellan Skarsgard, Andy Serkis, and Forrest Whitaker playing their trade, but all the lesser-known other actors are also brilliant. I bet a few actors will go on to bigger things after this.

The whole season is chock full of story and action, but the season finale is as climactic as you can get.

I give it 4½ out of 5 – highly recommend!

Coalinga: A Place for Paedophiles

On Saturday I watched Louis Theroux’s Coalinga: A Place for Paedophiles, a documentary about the Coalinga State Hospital. This hospital houses 850 sex offenders who are thought to be too dangerous to release into general society. I am a big fan of Louis even though I know many people can’t stand him. This episode though really got under my skin.

The whole idea of Coalinga to me seems unethical. Despite the real crimes of the inmates I don’t think the proponents of this system are honouring the constitutional rights of the prisoners (called “individuals” by the staff), especially considering that they are being held after serving their full prison sentences. Trust me, I have two daughters myself, so I take this seriously. But to legally lock a guy up for the rest of his life because of what he may do seems unjust.

Also the ridiculous tests that the “clinicians” give to establish if a prisoner still has sexual tendencies seem like something out of the dark ages. Seriously. For  instance, one of the tests goes as follows. A prisoner has a measuring device installed on his penis and then shown sexually charged (but not nude) images of various people including children. If the guy gets an erection he fails the test. With this test I have major issues. I wonder how many “normal” people wouldn’t also fail these tests. I don’t think it is fair. Essentially many many (if not most people) on earth have impure thoughts about anything imaginable. But there is a massive fundamental difference between thinking something and doing it. I can’t even think how many times have I wanted to bliksem someone without doing it. By all means increase the prison sentences of the offenders for what they have done, but this is wrong.

The hospital gets granted $200,000 per year for every prisoner. Makes a nice turnover of almost $200m!

Die Antwoord

Die Antwoord
Die Antwoord is bad (meaning good).

Like so many people (including American rock god Fred Durst, top-of-the-pops icon Katie Perry and Riviersonderend) I have been blown away by South-Africa’s new runaway band Die Antwoord. Everybody who is anybody is talking about this band – and most of the buzz isn’t even in South Africa! Some of their songs have had more than a million hits on Youtube. Their early success is phenomenal. Like many South Africans I can’t totally place them. It is obvious they are taking the piss about the Zef culture in South Africa, but how much of it is real? Their songs/videos are very funny and much of it is staged, but I’m certain there is a lot of reality as well. Who cares? I don’t.

Many South-Africans, especially the more conservatives ones, won’t be impressed by this music. To me many of their songs are too vulgar and over the top, but Enter the Ninja is utterly brilliant and seriously gives me goosebumps when I listen to it. It definitely has strong elements of Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) and, like some of his music, resonates with the dispossessed. And right now in South-Africa and the world there are many of those. The lyrics are serious (not like the other songs) and describe the fight for survival in SA.

Technically the rapping by MaxNormal aka The Ninja is astonishing. I had no clue we had such great artists in this media in SA. Although subsequently I have now heard Jack Parow as well and he is also damn good. The video, set design, website and all the other production elements are comparable with the best in the music business. Again it doesn’t even look South-African it is so good. The people that created this are serious pros.

Going forward will be tricky: they obviously want to nurse the global audience they now have, but they need to stay Zef and South African. If I were them I’d be careful of being too vulgar (for example “Jou ma se P##s” in ‘n Fishpaste Jar). I don’t think they need the vulgarity, because their music is brilliant enough. Enter the Ninja has lots of swearing, but it is justified, but “Jou ma se P##s” in ‘n Fishpaste Jar” is too much.

Nothing would please me more if Die Antwoord continued with this massive surge; I wish them all the best. Yo Ninja. GO!

Review: Deep Water

"Deep Water" - moving
"Deep Water" - moving

Deep Water is a film currently showing on DSTV. This documentary covers the true story of how Don Crowhurst, Bernard Moitessier and others attempt to sail around the world on their own.

The first words of the film are “We are all human beings and we all have dreams.” Very apt. This deeply moving film examines Man’s (sometimes tragic) quest for adventure and glory. But it is far more than that; it is about friendship, failure, family, priorities, greed and solitude. I would say it is essentially about men. Real Men; with their strengths AND weaknesses. But it also explores these men’s relationships to their families and how unwittingly destructive these men can be.

I like to think I have exploration in my blood. I think most men, especially Afrikaners, feel the same. I know my father has it in his blood; he has travelled into remote Africa on his own for months on end. This need to explore – in solitude sometimes – is something that fascinates me tremendously.

This film hit my right in the chest; Twice! I give it 8.5/10 – a must see!

Resensie: The Killing Fields

Gisteraand op TCM het hulle die uitmuntende The Killing Fields gewys. Die fliek is gebaseer op die ware verhaal van Dith Pran, ‘n Kambodjaanse joernalis, wat na Amerika se ontrekking uit Kambodja gevangene geneem word deur die wreedlustige Khmer Rouge. Al het die fliek ‘n “gelukkige” einde is dit ‘n verskriklike hartseer fliek. Dit wys net weereens hoe Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely.

Hierdie is een van die beter flieks van die laaste 30 jaar. Ek gee hom 4.5 / 5. Niemand kan ooit die musiek van Mike Oldfield (hieronder) hoor en nie aan die merkwaardige storie dink nie.

Resensie: Quantum of Solace & Port Alfred Flieks

Quantum of Solace
Quantum of Solace

‘n Goeie vriend van my (lees sy Polities Korrekte blog) het vir ons kaartjies gekry vir die nuwe James Bond fliek. Wat dit nog meer spesiaal gemaak het is dat dit ons 1ste fliek by die nuwe Rosehill Mall flieks in Port Alfred was.

Eerstens die nuwe flieks: Die fliek het net 60 sitplekke. Dis klein, maar glad nie ‘n probleem nie – inteendeel dis nogal cosy. Die skerm is nie baie groot nie, naar dis ook heel oukei. Die klank is nie so watwonders nie. Ek gee die flieks 6/10. Nie vreeslik goed nie, maar hey dis 25 minute weg. Bargain!

Olga Kurylenko
Olga Kurylenko. Deksels!

Nou die fliek self: Ek moet sê ek is nie ‘n Daniel Craig aanhanger nie. Hy kom vir my te veel soos ‘n gorilla voor. There is no subtlety about the guy. En sy bolip is net eenvoudig onatuurlik lank. Maar ten spyte daarvan, was Quantum of Solace vir my heel goed. Daar is beslis ‘n neiging om meer “realisme” in te bring sedert Casino Royale en dit werk nogal. Byvoorbeeld daar is nie ‘n stirred-not-shaken Martini in hierdie fliek nie. Ander goed ook, maar ek wil nie te veel weggee nie.

Hulle het goddank darem nie weggedoen met die gorgeous girls nie. In die fliek is dit die Ukreiener Olga Kurylenko en die Brit Gemma Arterton. Die motor voertuie is ook uit die boonste rakke. Veral die Ford Edge waarmee 007 aan die einde gery het het aandag vereis. Ek sou die fliek 6/10 gee, maar met Olga en Gemma skuif dit op na ‘n respektabele 7/10.

Review: Syriana

I saw Syriana for the first time last night. An outstanding if disturbing movie. I thought the story was superb, although I think there is more truth than fiction in the movie. I don’t want to give away anything so all I will say is that I unreservedly recommend this movie. 4½ stars.

Review: Soul Eater

I loved the first 2 books (Wolf Brother & Spirit Walker) in The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series so I was looking forward to the 3rd one – called Soul Eater. Unfortunately it didn’t really rise to my expectations. I can’t really put my finger on it, but the story felt a little thin. Also I loved the forest stuff in the first books – the author described everything so well you could feel it, but Soul Eater is set more in the icy world of the North. And I didn’t get the same atmosphere.

Having said all that, I will certainly read the next one!

Awesome Freebie: I don’t know how they managed to swing this, but they got Sir Ian McKellen to read Wolf Brother, the first book, and best of all you can listen to it for FREE! Just go to The Gaurdian’s Wolf Brother site and download. Good job Gaurdian!

Nikon Capture NX vs Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

I’ve used Adobe Photoshop Elements until now, but Elements don’t work as well with RAW so I need to upgrade. The 2 obvious choices (I use Nikon) are Nikon Capture NX and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. They both allow you to non-destructively improve your photos. This is what I’ve found:

In my opinion Lightroom’s organisation and workflow capabilities are fantastic. They have used and improved on much of their already good product, Photoshop Elements. Lightroom also is very good when it comes to improving RAW photos. The vibrancy and saturation sliders are very quick to use.

Nikon Capture’s organisation and workflow capabilities are quite limited. But Nikon Capture is astounding when it comes to improving RAW (.NEF files) images. And it is so quick to do. Half-a-minute with Nikon Capture is enough time to optimise white-balance and improve your tones.

Both these products can improve your photos so much that it positively makes YOU feel great. The improvements really are astonishing. If I could afford both products I would have them both, but I can only afford one so a winner must be named! I choose Adobe Lightroom. Nikon Capture’s RAW conversion is just slightly better, but Lightroom’s workflow and other goodies are much better than Nikon Capture.

Update: As I’ve already mentioned, Lightroom is a great product, but the one gripe I have is its speed. On my Dell with 1GB of RAM Lightroom is sluggish. Crawling the web suggests this is an issue. If I look at how crisp Photoshop Elements is I am disappointed that Lightroom is so slow.

Another update: Lightroom addressed this issue in subsequent releases. The sluggishness is gone gone gone.

Another update: It is now 1 year later (April 2008) and now I am a die-hard Lightroom fan. The product has now matured nicely to version 1.4.1 with Beta 2.0 already released. This product is unbeatable despite its hefty price tag (especially for South-Africans).

I host my photos at Attie Heunis Photography.

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