So I got my bicycle back from the shop on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I crashed on the way home from a morning ride. Slipped on something, didn’t see what, coming up to the roundabout that marks the last turn before home. But the bike went sideways and flattened under me (buckling the rear wheel slightly; I can feel it drag when I wheel it) and I fell hard chest-first on the end of my handlebars. Yes, it left a mark. No, you don’t want to see it. At least it hit my sternum and not my ribs. I don’t think anything’s broken, though it hurt like a mofo and I was winded for a few minutes after. Oh yeah, and I scraped up my left knee pretty bad; it’s bruised black and there’s numbness above my kneecap. But I can walk if I keep my leg straight, though stairs are a bit tricky.
Slow moving, they said it was. And they were right about that. Indeed, it’s a good half hour too long; so many extraneous establishing scenes meant to make us care more about the main characters, but it’s just banter. They also said it was properly old-school scary, but it’s nothing of the sort. Poltergeist? Rosemary’s Baby? The Shining? Now those are haunting movies. The Innkeepers is so tame by comparison, it’s almost a category error to call it a horror.
This John Le Carré adaptation courtesy of noted photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn (Control) gets off on the wrong foot, with the frame lingering in fixed position on waves lapping lazily against a dock wall at first light. It’s a strong, stark, photographic image reflecting, perhaps, the maker’s bias for aesthetics over substance? Or maybe it’s the photographer exorcising that side of himself before driving into new territory, for the film thereafter is indeed a film, not an art installation.
Not that it doesn’t have a look; Corbijn (and cinematographer Benoît Delhomme) capture a cold, hardened Hamburg filtered through hues of blue and tints of grey. That reflects the steely natures of its characters, not least the gruff-but-good super-spy played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final lead performance (and what a performance!).
As an espionage thriller, this is indeed a work of character and plot, of shady deals, troubled alliances and double crossings, haunting and moving without submitting to the image of it all. Could it have made better use of actors like Daniel Brühl who are relegated here to bit parts? Probably; there’s no real need for Rachel McAdams or Willem Dafoe other than market appeal. But it still works exceedingly well, and it’s a more than fitting tribute to Hoffman, the actor’s actor.
First Read / Second Read
“I suppose the real point is: designing for depth is not about neglecting the surface.” In other words, remember to make things inviting for newbies, not just for the geeks who get what’s going on inside. Tom uses the example of game design because that’s his milieu but it’s equally applicable to software or website UX design, and probably lots of other things that escape me right now. #·
Is This Thing On?: Why Audio Never Goes Viral
The web is a visual medium first and foremost. Audio on its own is great for long form — podcasts and the like — but when we listen we always listen with intent. It’s not like glancing and smiling at a cat macro. #·