Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Get Out (2017)

Get Out has a charismatic lead, a terrific soundtrack, and damn good cinematography. While it’s described as horror/comedy, it’s more disturbing/cringe-y than scary, and I mean that in a good way. This is an entertaining movie that’s also pretty effective as social commentary.

The film stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris, a photographer who’s about to spend the weekend at his girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parent’s house. Naturally, it’s in a secluded spot in the woods. When they get there, the awkwardness that might be expected from a first-time meeting gives way to a series of bizarre behaviors and interactions. While Chris initially takes it all in stride, it eventually becomes clear that there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes.

The acting and dialogue are highlights of the film, as is the camera work. In particular, Kaluuya’s eyebrows and head tilts are so expressive that the audience knows what’s going on in his head even as he politely brushes off eccentricities. Also, Chris and Rose’s everyday banter contrasts sharply with the speech patterns of all the other black people that Chris meets at the house. Then there’s the barely concealed hostility of Rose’s brother, that guy who played Banshee in X-Men: First Class, couched in terms of martial arts schools. Their interaction is just one of the many, many instances of subtext that steadily ratchets up the tension throughout the movie. As for the camera work, it’s so good that in one scene I physically leaned back in my chair to get away from the screen. Aaaahhhh!!!

The ending was perfect. It followed all the right beats of a horror film, with a couple of twists thrown in that had the audience nodding in approval.

This is a short review because you see, I spoiled the film for myself and deeply, deeply regret it. So I shall say no more except to encourage you, duckling, to check it out.

TL;DR: Get Out is excellent both on a technical level and as a “social horror” project. Recommended!


This post brought to you by spring!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

I Won a Fitbit Flex 2!

Another day, another raffle prize! This time it's a Fitbit Flex 2.

Two raffle prizes in one week! What!

What's in the box?

The packaging is fairly minimal. I got Apple vibes, mostly because of the little setup folder, which reminded me of the baby instruction manual that comes with an iPhone or MacBook.

Actual contents include the tracker, nestled in its charging dock, and two wrist bands: a Small and a Large. How thoughtful!

Tracker and charger, wristbands, manual

The manual contains a tiny card that instructs you to go to the Fitbit website, which in turn tells you to download the app. The app then asks you to register -- you confirm your email separately -- and asks your height, sex, weight, and birthday. Then it runs you through how to charge the tracker, how to attach it to the band, etc.

How Long Between Opening the Box and Using It?

Initial charging takes about two hours. Afterwards, I slapped it on immediately and synced it to my phone. All set and ready to go!

So How Is It?

Battery-wise, the Fitbit is great. I've been wearing it now for two days, and it's about halfway through its charge.

As for counting steps and showing you various information about your day and night, it's also terrific. You can choose which data you want displayed on the dashboard, e.g. if I only care about my sleep and my weight, I remove the calorie counter, the water intake counter, and everything else.

Here's a screenshot of yesterday's info:


In case you're wondering, I am totally bragging about how many steps I took. Ignore the weight, I was bloated and will return to my svelte 110 shortly.

The only drawback so far is that the sleep tracker isn't completely accurate. Last night, I couldn't sleep so I read for about 30 minutes, but the Fitbit thought I was already sleeping because I was so still. Oh well.

Apart from the Dashboard, the Fitbit has the following other tabs:
  • Challenges: Fitness goals (some free, some paid) with exciting names like "Weekend Warrior"
  • Guidance: Workout videos via Fitstar, which is another app you need to download
  • Friends: Create a social network centered on your fierce walking!
  • Account: Device setup, advanced settings, etc.

In summary, there's a lot more going on here than just counting steps, but overall the Fitbit is effective at encouraging you to move more.

Why Are You Pouting?

Well, I was originally told that I won the Fitbit Alta, which also tells time.

Oh My God.

I know, I know! I'm grateful for my incredible good luck. #blessed

TL;DR: I won a Fitbit Flex2 and it's great!


This post brought to you by icy sidewalks from the snowstorm!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

An International Women's Day Miracle!

Truly, International Women's Day is a special day. No, not because multitudes are out there rallying for our rights and giving voice to the powerless. It is because I won a gift card from a company raffle!


Let me explain why this counts as a minor miracle. You see, I never win anything. I answer every damned survey sent my way, participate in all the raffles, buy lottery tickets -- to no avail. This particular raffle occurred monthly, and I had been faithfully entering my name every month for two years, with no results. Finally, last month, I declared: "No more!" and unsubscribed from the mailing list -- but not before entering one final time, because why not.


There's also some déjà vu at play here. You see, four years ago, I won a gift card from a company raffle. The one fracking time I won anything! I was elated! Shortly thereafter, also on International Women's Day, I was laid off from my job.

Sooooo...since the day's almost over, I guess I'm not getting laid off today? We'll see!

TL;DR: I won a gift card!!! Woohoo!


This post brought to you by Captain America: Civil War, now streaming on Netflix!

Movie Review: Hereditary (2018)