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Jonathan Ayling
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Everyone has that one friend from school who actually learned something useful from the class you shared, AND managed to apply it to a successful career in an exciting area.  Well, mine is Alex Cowan​, and he has an incredibly important Kickstarter project that would benefit from your attention and support!

You know Climate Change is real, because you're not a fucking idiot..  but there are lots of people in this world who still think it's a myth, and that trickle-down economics is a viable way to run a country... and what's worse, most of those people have to live in America too, where all the power to do something about it is!  Awful, isn't it?  But fear not, because there are scientific projects going on regardless, which are vital to our understanding of the changes that are coming, and dare I say, to the very survival of our species in the near future.  This is one of those projects, and the data it will provide is invaluable, not to mention cleverly assisted by harnessing the already established trade of polar tourism!  All it requires to be successful, is some money towards the equipment, and you've helped stick up a middle-finger to climate-change deniers everywhere - and that's priceless!

Or if you've already given up on the humans, and believe they deserve to die, then why not support this project instead to save the Polar Bears!  Man's only true and natural predator!  Your money will ensure Polar Bears continue to hunt and kill those pesky humans you hate so much for many years to come!  It's a genuine win-win situation.

So go on, donate what you can and help these two excellent individuals continue to make outstandingly positive contributions to the planet :)

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59 Photos - View album

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The ghosts of Venice. St Mark's Basilica in photo sphere.

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As far as paradies go, this is pretty perfect.

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Interstellar 4/5

Dear Mr Nolan,

Please watch your film's final cut before you release them. If you insist people go see your movie on IMAX there are a few rules you must follow.

1. Make sure things are in focus. Seriously, this is not amateur hour. You can shoot multiple takes until you get it right, and being able to focus on someone's facial features is really fundamental.

2. Don't use hand held cameras.

3. Do not. Use. Handheld. Cameras!

4. Ensure your audio mix can actually be heard. You have clearly not learned any lessons from the inaudible "bane" fiasco, and cranking up the volume in musical score and dialogue to 11 does not allow one to be heard over the other, but rather breaks speakers and causes tinnitus. Less is more. Learn the art of subtlety and nuance.

Don't get me wrong, there's a good film here, but you're forcing people to watch it through the lens of extreme technical incompetence and that's a real shame.

On the positive side, this film is grand in scope, and covers some themes extremely well - most notably the notion of time and relativity.

This film will get you to think about time in a whole new way, and illustrates just how much we take it for granted.  It serves as the catalyst for some of the most heavy-hitting emotional points in the movie, and there's a LOT of emotional sucker-punches throughout.  In fact, the entire thing is pretty bleak and desperate, and it works well.  It's almost a Soderbergh movie.

You get a real sense of what it's like dealing with the highest possible stakes, and some interesting food for thought on some hot-button issues, like GM Crops and mono-cropping (which is not explored as fully as I'd have liked, but is a real threat in today's world) - and humanity's preference for focusing on saving themselves now (jobs and economics) at the expense of long-term survival (through renewable energy and sustainable organic agriculture).  These themes are hinted at, but instead play out through metaphor in the repeated choices of the characters, as they battle between saving the people alive now, or ensuring the survival of the species long-term.

The film takes a lot of large leaps, but there's one in particular that was too far for me.  There's a really awful M Knight Shyamalan style plot arc/twist that is set up early on, and serves only as a way to "cop out" of a proper ending in the final act.  It's a shame that this is also used as the catalyst for the protagonist and NASA team, because there was absolutely no need for it.  You could easily remove the entire arc from the story, just have Cooper recruited by NASA through sensible channels, and it wouldn't affect the film in the least.  In fact, it would make it better, because it would end on a poignant note about sacrifice and long-term survival (which is after all the overriding theme here), instead of the shoe-horned "happy ending".  It also doesn't help that its inclusion means the entire plot balances on a rather obvious paradox.  I could've done without it.  Kubrik's ending to AI was similar, but fit much better with the overall tone of the movie, in that it was bitter-sweet and heartbreaking.  Interstellar ending feels like a focus group somewhere needed closure.

I appreciated the use of practical effects over CGI, but it did mean that combined with the use of close tight shots and no 3D, there's absolutely no benefit to watching this movie on IMAX.  Save yourself the uplift and see it on a normal screen.  You don't miss anything from the experience, and if you're lucky, the audio-mix might actually be better.

The robots bothered me also.  I couldn't decide if they looked ridiculous (like a bloke wearing a cardboard box) or if they were genius.  They walked a fine line visually.  There's no doubting that character-wise, they were the best part of the movie, but I found them more human than the humans, and that was a bit awkward.  In fact, their speech was so human that it felt disembodied.  I didn't feel like I was watching a robot talk, but rather that I was watching a cardboard box while an actor stood off camera reading out lines.  I can't fathom why anyone would make a robot SOUND so human, but make no effort to make it LOOK human.  If relatable is what you're going for, you go that direction in every design choice, surely?  This design was instead a total contradiction, and it broke my immersion whenever they spoke.  They were still kind of cool though.

Overall a powerful movie with some powerful themes - an emotional rollercoaster (if rollercoasters only went down and not up) but not one I feel I need to experience more than once.

See this if you also enjoyed:

2001:  A Space Odyssey
Children of Men

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Shake It Off - Walk off the Earth:
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