Category Archives: Film

Skipping Trailers and Warnings on Blu-ray Discs

There has been an increase in crimes against consumers. They are being held hostage. By what? Warnings and trailers on Blu-ray discs! I don’t steal movies off the internet, I rent them via Netflix, and rental discs1 are the biggest culprit.

Yes, you can fast forward, but on my PC’s BD player2 only goes so fast, so I’m still stuck for several minutes. Worse, I often need to stop the disc and get back to work, which means closing the player since it disables the Windows Aero interface and color scheme. When I start the player again, I’m back at square one! I’ve been looking for a player that allows me to skip anything, much like VLC Media Player and Media Player Classic (the open source version) allow me to do for DVDs. Unfortunately, I’ve seen no open source BD players and the commercial ones won’t dare allow you to perform a “user prohibited action” as defined by the disc makers. How they have the balls to charge $100 for that crap I’ll never know.

But we have a savior! It’s called AnyDVD HD. It sits between your BD ROM drive and your software player software and presents the disc as decrypted. It will also disable all your warnings and trailers.3. I just installed it and put in a disc and it immediately went to the main menu. It’s exactly what I was looking for and it’s currently going for about $75, with a 3 week trial so you can check it out first. Yes, a little pricey, but still cheaper than the other software players and I’ll make up for it in time saved. The bummer is that it only works on Windows, so when I have a home theater set up with my PS3, I’ll be back to slogging through trailers, or schlepping my laptop over to the coffee table.

  1. Denoted by plain grey discs featuring only the movie title. []
  2. HP MediaSmart DVD, which is just rebranded Cyberlink. []
  3. Of course, you can get to the trailers through the disc menu if you like. []

James Cameron, TV Guardian of the Universe

I procrastinated writing an article on using a cool little device called the  TV Guardian  which allows you to watch TV and DVD with the foul language muted.  You can read more about it here but in short:  it scans the Close-Caption (CC) signal and everytime it detects a “bad word” it mutes the sound and presents a “cleaned-up” version of the dialogue in the close captions area (eg: Let’s have sex !!  became Let’s have hugs.1)

Unfortunately, my delay has cost me dearly.  In the years since I tried out this fantastic new technology, most studios have disabled the Close-Captioning signal opting instead for built-in subtitles.  So TV Guardian has in effect stopped working for 50% of the movies on DVD and all movies on Blu-Ray, which does not carry the CC signal.

Enter James Cameron, my hero.

He is releasing a 3-disc collector’s edition of Avatar,  featuring a family-friendly language track.  In this New York Times article,  he mentions that he was motivated to do this by watching his kids picking up foul language from watching the original movie soundtrack.  He reasons that the clean language track will be made available for airline and network showing, so why not include it now in the Collector’s Edition release.

Continue reading James Cameron, TV Guardian of the Universe

  1. Exclamation points deleted, because nobody gets excited about a hug []

The Best Celebrity Slave Leias

I’ve noted a wonderful new trend these past few years: hot celebrity babes dressing up as Princess Leia in her metal bikini slave costume. Not a ton, and maybe I’m being liberal with the word “celebrity”1, but enough to get my attention. Here are my favorites. And by favorites, I mean all I could find. If you know of more, let me know and I’ll add them.

Continue reading The Best Celebrity Slave Leias

  1. Not unlike every reality/competition show out there. []

Java 4-ever

If you are a Java or .NET developer, or just lived through the Sun-Microsoft war, you should find this very amusing. Lots of little touches. There are a few seconds that will not be work appropriate, but overall it’s safe. It’s also in HD, although the embedded player may not show that.

Update: As pointed out in the comments, the original video went private, so here is another in HD. However, the few naughty seconds (no nudity) require you to sign in.

Why Ebert Hates 3D

Roger Ebert has a piece in Newsweek on why he hates 3D. I must agree. To be clear, there are good uses of it, but there are also a lot of crappy, after the fact, lipstick on a pig 3D conversions. This is just like the IMAX “conversions” where they use their patented process to change a regular movie into the exact same fucking movie, except it costs more. I’ve been boycotting the fake IMAX films (by boycott I mean I just see the normal version) and I’ll be doing the same with the fake 3D films. You may be surprised to find out that both Clash of the Titans and Alice In Wonderland are fake 3D. I just read they’re slapping it on Michel Gondry’s Green Hornet, too. Let’s all follow Ebert’s lead and save some money.

I do have one prediction: 3D in the home won’t take off until, like VHS and the Internet, it’s embraced by the pornographers.

Kick-Ass: Where Are The Superheroes? (spoiler-free)

I just saw Kick-Ass. It’s like if Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie had a baby, and that baby made a comic book-inspired vigilante movie. Fucking operatic. And it’s already cracked the IMDB Top 250. BTW, it’s rated R and absolutely not a kid’s movie. That’s all I’m going to say about the movie, but it (or the comic book it was based on) raises an interesting question: Why aren’t there more (or any) superheroes? I am enough of a geek to try and answer that question seriously.

The main issue is motive. You need a pretty powerful motive to get you to risk your health to fight crime directly. And I think motives are rare. Yes, there are homicides every day, but consider the details – the cops are always pointing out that most victims knew their killer. It’s personal. You will be filled with anguish and rage if your sister gets killed by her ex-boyfriend, and you might take a bat or shotgun to the bastard, but you almost certainly won’t don a costume and start targeting other ex-boyfriends out there. Odds are you’ll just call the cops.

The kind of act that would motivate you to go superhero is something like random gang violence. Street crime. That’s pretty rare, all told. 9/11 inspired thousands to take action, but you can’t fight terrorism in a costume. You do it in a uniform as a Marine, or in a suit as a CIA or FBI agent. But most crime just inspires people to be racists.

The other issue is ability. In Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson writes:

Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.

Even as an overweight computer geek with a poor history of coordination, I was no different. Now I’m well past 25 with lots of extra weight, a bum knee, a bum shoulder, a back that can go out while sneezing or toweling off, etc. If I ever fight crime, it won’t be up close and personal. It will probably involve a computer.

Criminals know this. They target women and guys who look older or weaker. They don’t mug guys who are anywhere in the running for world’s baddest motherfucker. This is why, when I’m in a sketchy area, I walk tall, chest out, arms uncrossed, hands out of pockets (or one hand in a gun-sized pocket), and put on my serious game face that says, “Please. Try and fuck with me. See how that goes.” This is because I am thinking, “Please. Dear Lord up in Heaven. Don’t let anyone fuck with me.” And also, “He just had to pick a restaurant in the hood. I’m going to kick his fucking ass.”

Character Actor Composite

Found an interesting page that’s simply a composite of character actor head shots and names, so when you’re trying to remember someone you can scan the photos and find out. There are some that are obvious to even part time film buffs, like Giovanni Ribisi, Charles Napier, and James Cromwell, but also a number I could only recognize by face. Sooner or later someone is going to turn this into a photo quiz.

Conservative Time-For-Tea

Time for a little break.  So much going on at work, you tend to stay away from TV, movies and popular culture.  But those who are blessed with a job1, however tenuously, should take a break and thank the Power-That-Be for the people responsible for these humorous asides:


Sarah Palin does a pretty credible job getting back at our old friend William Shatner.  If Bill’s reaction is genuine surprise at her sudden appearance, then I am even more impressed with Bill’s acting abilities !!  Someone really, really needs to get him in the Star Trek sequel quickly, before he joins Scotty and Bones in the big Starship in the Sky. 

Oh, and by the way.  Bill is a Canadian actor taking valuable Hollywood jobs away from US citizens.  Can someone get the immigration problem in this country corrected?  Too many Canadians are coming down to take our high-paying white-collar jobs in this country.   Forget the Mexican border; folks down there are coming to take the lesser-paying jobs and will not affect your six-figure, professional position.   It’s the Canadians that are the problem.  And they look just like you and me so that they are harder to find and deport.

However, good going Conan.   You are so good at this that I may start watching the Tonight Show again.  I stayed away for the last 15 or so years, but I think the Show is in good, capable hands again.   Can anyone tell me what happened to Triumph, the Insult Dog?2

Finally,  I just have to mention this item that I read in the news about poor Tiger Woods.  No more jokes, this is serious.   Here’s the excerpt in the news from one of his supporters:

“One thing people don’t understand is that we’re human,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said in Miami. “You’re not born with a menu on how not to do things wrong. You’re going to make mistakes like every human being.”

Actually Dwyane, there is a menu that you were given when you were small.   It’s called The Bible.   Sure it’s old and seemingly out-of-date or out-of-touch.  It’s as old as Humanity, and it does seem to be in touch with the foibles and peccadillos that affect all of us, all of the time, since the beginning of time.    I don’t think Mr. Woods is the first person that has ever cheated on his wife; plenty of those stories in the Bible.  You may want to crack it open one of these days.

  1. I’m not implying that most bloggers are out-of-work, left-of-center hipsters with too much time on their hands.  But it is an effective stereotype. []
  2. As I said earlier,  I’ve been away from TV for awhile. []