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The Towering Inferno (1974)

The Towering Inferno (1974)

This might've been the movie that inspired Skyscraper! It feels like one of those movies treading new ground entirely, and yet it did it all surprisingly well. The fire, the way it spreads, the way it affects the people... it might not be the most realistic at all times, and especially during the early stage of the film when it's just burning away a storage room without spreading, but when it does get started they really portray it the best possible way! Fierce and unconditional. A true force of nature.

The smoke and flame rise high, the shots of enclosed smoke-filled corridors and outside-view of the tower of fire flicker past, as helicopters crash and people climb through the wreckage, all the while people on the top floor are doing their best not to panic and jump through the windows, or plunge into the fires that rage around them to escape their cage. It feels old, slow sometimes, overly-dramatic and cheesy sometimes, but convincing too.

It's still a proof of concept for the movies of today, and with a more emboldened message regarding these death traps in the sky. Don't build them, or if you do: do it the right way. It's an old movie but it holds well. Good watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Friday (1995)

Friday (1995)

Chris Tucker's got some of that Fifth Element style in this one! Both movies are from the same year, but what a contrast between them otherwise. One's a blockbuster, and one's low-budget. One's big and spacey, and one's very ordinary and day-by-day. I wonder which act inspired which...

Overall though this is really a hood movie if there ever was one, detailing one particularly eventful (or not, considering they're mostly at home, chilling) day in the life of best buddies Craig Jones (Ice Cube) and Smokey (you know who). And their families. And their neighbors. And everyone else.

Their day and dues revolve around the basic aspects of life. About getting a girl. About getting a job. About getting the two hundred dollars Smokey needs to get Big Worm lest they both get killed, and there is actually one particularly fiery scene in the movie. The slice-of-life-like flow that leads up to it doesn't let you expect it, and though it was entertaining to just listen to these two dudes and the various personalities who surround them talk and watch people do stuff and spend their day smoking a blunt (Ice Cube not so willingly) this particular Friday afternoon, it does all come off awfully laid-back apart from that one final scene.

Still people seem to rate it highly. Still I seem to like it. Is their chemistry really that good? Is the script that good? Is the message really that good? None of it really is, and it's both low-budget and basic, but still, there's just something about it. It's just another day in the life but... what a day.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Taxi 5 (2018)

Taxi 5 (2018)

Daniel is gone. Apparently he quit his job as a cop/former taxi driver and now lives the good life in Miami, so they found a French Vin Diesel look-alike instead (Franck Gastambide) - a cop from the big city with an affinity for driving, and due to certain circumstances they take him to Marseilles... where that very personality-rich police force of old is waiting, with a few new additions, and a couple vicious crooks to catch.

It's fun, it's fast, and the hiphop music's blasting, but it's also a bit over the top. And a bit old with the mold. The vomit scene in particular seemed to wash away the class of the old ones, and even though all other elements breath relatability and entertainment it's just not like the old ones anymore. Even if it seems to play by the same formula entirely.

It's not the new guy's fault. It's the story. It's the superficial tone of it all, and the lack of notable drive. It just all seems to follow a road of old, without really contributing anything new to the franchise except for a few faces.

They even steal a Fast & Furious ending for the final scene, and do some clone work on the Bad Boys character chemistry. But it's not enough. Too much cops, too many stupid moments, too little story, too little progress. It's the same old place too. The same old pace. There's really nothing new. Bear with the repetition here because it's a lot like the movie.

If you haven't been previously introduced to this franchise though maybe you won't be as disappointed. It'd stand its own ground well as an above-average cops and robbers comedy with a fair share of driving... it just doesn't match or move past the prequels at all.

 rated 3/5: not bad

First Man On Mars (2016)

First Man On Mars (2016)

Here's a redneck version of The Martian. Sort of. Alien? Nah. It feels familiar though...

It's not a blockbuster movie by any measure, and the maybe only redeeming character in it is Porscha, played by Kelly Murtagh. But she's not one of the main characters. The main characters... well they're like redneck versions of regular redneck main characters.

It's an entertaining movie, with solid props (props on those, really!), and a style that seems to both mimic and pay homage to cheesy horror movies of old, but overall... it's bad. It's just bad. In such a good way. Old age of grindhouse back up in here YEAH!

I did have fun with this one, but sloppy acting, scripting and some scenes considered... I just can't rate it higher than

 rated 2/5: decent

But those props really were impressive.

World Record Egg

World Record Egg

What is wrong with the world these days?!

Whiling In Tallinn/Nokia 3.1 (2018)

I didn't get that cold! And so we went to Tallinn, toured the old city for two days, tried some cool experimental vegan foods at Vegan Inspiratsioon, a delicious but excruciatingly expensive dinner at the somewhat renowned Cru, a quick spa session and two trips to the gym as well as a massive breakfast buffet at the Metropolitan Spa Hotel (great place but not the pillows) where we spent our one night, had some local Glögg in the town square (it tasted pretty much like our own local Glögg), and had our first and last stops at the modern Mall of Tallinn in search for cheap tea (found it), among other things, also in a couple other shopping districts, finally consuming a steamy seafood wok at the airport before a late plane home.

Not bad for a two day trip... and then I spent the weekend catching up: doing this, designing a logo, checking hotels and communicating and damn time just flies by too fast these days... I'm really not slacking. I think.

I took the trip as an opportunity to try out my new phone too, a Nokia 3.1 (last years model now) that I bought specifically for these upcoming trips. My old one's not too feisty these days. It doesn't do GPS too well, can't run the newest apps, takes time to load, and surf with, and is just no longer a reliable method of communication or other mobile necessities... which seem all the more important when you're traversing distant lands in search of places you've never been before.

Tallinn was pretty easy to get around though. At least after the first, somewhat disorienting night. It's surrounded by water, has a few pretty tall buildings and churches you can use to navigate, and some high ground you can go to for a better vantage point. Hard to get lost.

It was also a really nice place, way more modern than both Riga and Vilnius, yet with some older areas in stark contrast to the glossy skyscrapers and shiny metal facades of new.

Prices, however, weren't much lower than they are at home, but they do have cheap tea, and honey, and probably quite a few other things when you know what to look for.

Living costs are cheaper too, unless you happen to check in to a pretty expensive four star hotel with a luxury spa that's pretty much entirely empty because it's totally out of season with four saunas and an indoor pool. That was pretty cool. Not to mention their post-sauna cold shower.

Regarding my new phone, which I must mention is a huge upgrade over my last one... here's a quick review. First the differences, from old to new:

Samsung GT-S7560 (2013)

  • Android 4.0 (4.0.4 final)
  • 2G/3G (21 Mbit/s at most)
  • 0,3/5 MP cameras
  • 4 GB memory (16 external)
  • 768 MB RAM
  • 1 GHz single core
  • 1,500 mAh battery
Nokia 3.1 (2018)

  • Android 8.0 (8.1 now)
  • 2G/3G/4G (42 Mbit/s at most)
  • 8/13 MP cameras
  • 16 GB emory (32 external)
  • 2,048 MB RAM
  • 1,5 GHz octa core
  • 2,990 mAh battery

Add to that a screen upgrade from TN to IPS, 233 PPI to 310 PPI resolution density, a 4 to 5,2 inch screen (I prefer the first size, but it's hard to find a new that's similar... unless it's an iPhone), 118 to 138g (feel the weight of progress), Micro to Nano SIM (and dual SIM support!), plus a bunch of new protocols and nifty little features that came along for the ride.

The new one's also using the stock version of Android, which means less bloat, and more potential for continual upgrades. So far: I like it.

Pros:

  • It's fast!
  • Everything works!
  • I'm playing GTA VC on the highest settings no problem. Edit: Apparently I had to switch down the settings a bit after a while, and I have run into some strange save issues too, but that's probably/hope­fully more related to the game than the phone itself.
Cons:

  • The camera wasn't as good as I hoped, even if the resolution is. The color tone is cold, and images often turn out fuzzy if you don't give it time to focus, or take pictures in less than ideal lighting conditions (Samsung was better on all points but resolution).
  • Nokia apparently has a start-up sound you can't toggle in the settings, and it's loud! I've reached out to support about it (other people are pretty annoyed with it too).
  • GTA 3, for some reason, does not run well with this one. Incompatible GPU...?
  • More hardware eats more battery, so even with twice the mAh it doesn't last very long.
  • Some might say the lack of fingerprint scanner is an issue, but I've never had a phone with one so I'm not missing this bit... yet.

The memory also runs out quicker than I'd like it to, now that I'm installing somewhat heavier apps than I did on my last one. And games.

There is a way to use the SD card as internal storage, but I tried that first and it totally messed up the size quota, so I did a clean install and I'm keeping the SD card separate this time, hoping it'll still be possible to move over some apps or files there (it seems possible, but may require some third-party apps...).

On Android 4 this was easy. On the new one certain settings seem to have been slimmed away. I'm missing a few other useful detail-specific settings too, though there are a lot of new ones that'll definitely make life easier too. Screencaps, for one, is going to be incredibly handy. I've been living behind the times without that.

Regarding the OS: Android 4 felt like a much more streamlined and polished product overall, but it's possible Samsung added in some of their own bits and pieces to the version I used to make it better. There were generally a lot more options available, and interesting developer settings I can't find on the new one. I also miss the dark theme, which didn't just look cooler but also had the added benefit of: less battery use.

That'd definitely be useful now.

Other things I liked better with Android 4? The clean page transitions, the no-nonsense top menu (no need to double drag to open it fully), the voice recorder (was that a Samsung thing though?), the camera effects (ditto?), the color scheme on the calendar and notes (a more yellow/orange hue), the color tone on the calculator (more orange), the number pad being shown in full for the phone app - without extra clicks required, the more hard-drive-like way of browsing files, the built-in gallery, music and movie players even if I later replaced those with better alternatives anyway (maybe this was Samsung too?), custom email and Internet browsers and the order of the settings menu.

But most of all the style. The color scheme. I preferred it greatly over the new one, which seems more like an extension of Google itself than a mobile device optimized for such capacity.

Maybe this is the whole idea though. Standardization between services. Not only via their web-based apps but across devices, too.

It's a bit crazy how much Google there is these days... they do everything. From the hardware itself, to the software it runs, to all the services they rely on. Our search. Our browsing behavior. Our lives.

Though these deviations from my preferred design aesthetics, lack of (at least not easily accessible - if they exist) settings, and apps that might've been custom-tailored for my old phone are all small details. Fortunately I like Google (hesitantly; in fear of nefarious global domination schemes). I'm happy with the new, and in particular appreciate the additions they've made to the OS as well these last... five or so years, but if I get a chance (read: prices drop sufficiently), I'll probably get back to Samsung next time around. It'll still be Android, and though it might not be updated as long as I like it'll probably have all the features I'm missing right now, and most importantly a better camera.

For now I'm giving Nokia a chance, having some good times reminiscing with GTA VC on a smaller screen than I'm used to, and hoping they'll fix the start-up sound thing or I'll seriously... not be very happy with them.

It is a budget phone though, and the specs are amazing considering the price. The overall build quality is good, and as far as plain mobile-related tasks go it's more than satisfactory. I bought it on the end-of-the-year sales too, at a heavy discount.

I bought a new camera too, but haven't had much time to test that one yet. Alas, I thought I'd save some packing space by using my new phone as camera on this one trip, but next time I'ma bring my camera. Maybe some phones have, but this one certainly hasn't replaced it yet.

And that concludes my not-very-short-after-all new phone review.

It's been a good week; especially weekend! I didn't get to posting any new reviews, or recording the verse I wrote last weekend but didn't get time to record then either, but I have watched a few more movies, and written a couple more songs, and today we officially cheered out Christmas... and that's about it!

Time to rush off to bed, and onto the next one, and see you next time.

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