Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Patton Oswalt's 'Star Wars' Pitch From 'Park & Rec' Is Genius
King of the nerds Patton Oswalt has an upcoming guest spot on an episode of "Parks and Recreation" where he plays a Pawnee citizen who filibusters a city council meeting in order to hold up a piece of legislation.
The producers give Oswalt the freedom to talk about whatever he wanted during the extended speech, so he went with his heart and made a 9-minute pitch for J.J. Abrams' "Star Wars: Episode VII."
But it's not that simple. As a hardcore sci-fi geek, Oswalt seized upon the opportunity to bring in characters from another recent Disney acquisition, the Marvel universe. How will Tony Stark and Thanos play into the continuation of the "Star Wars" saga? You'll have to click past the jump to find out.
While Oswalt's obviously not being serious about his pitch for "Star Wars: Episode VII," you have to admire the angle from which he approached it. As one of Hollywood's most in-demand script doctors, Oswalt knows a thing or two about film structure, and you can see that here, even if that involves a fake-out involving the X-Men, the Quinjet, and Dr. Reed Richards.
All jokes aside, there are some really good ideas here before it all spins out of control with time ribbons. We're definitely in favor of Boba Fett climbing out of the sarlacc pit within the first 15 minutes, and Luke using Darth Vader's lightsaber as a reminder of his father's sins is inspired writing.
The full episode of "Parks and Recreation" airs tonight on NBC, and you should watch it anyway because it's the best sitcom on TV.
The popularity of two-factor authentication is too much for Microsoft, as they will buckle under the pressure and offer two-factor authentication for all 700 million Microsoft accounts. The company announced today that they will be rolling out the new feature over the next few days, giving Microsoft users a little more piece of mind.
Oblivion is a movie that sits somewhere in the middle. It’s neither simply good nor bad, and contains moments of unbridled spectacle that audiences come to see in huge sci-fi epics but also contains some bafflingly convoluted choices that undermine the film’s complete potential.
It’s the story of Jack Harper (Tom Cruise, in a role that plays out like an older version of his Maverick character from Top Gun), a drone mechanic on a post-apocalyptic Earth who is one of the last humans stationed on the ruined planet following a failed alien invasion 60 years earlier. In a last ditch effort the invaders wiped out parts of the Moon causing crippling earthquakes and floods, leaving the planet uninhabitable. Harper and his communications officer Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are nearing the end of their mission to fend off alien insurgents as well as extract the planet’s remaining resources so they can meet up with the remnants of Earth on Saturn’s moon Titan. When a mysterious capsule crash lands on the planet containing a woman (Olga Kurylenko) Jack’s been dreaming about in flashbacks from before the war, it starts Jack down a mysterious path that has consequences for the entire human race.
The problem with Oblivion is that it sounds original – it was first developed as a pet project by director Joseph Kosinski as a graphic novel – but once you sit down to experience the film it plays out as a clever patchwork of classic sci-fi influences. Signifiers abound with everything from Star Wars, 2001, Alien, The Matrix Trilogy, Planet of the Apes, Moon, The Twilight Zone, and even Pixar’s Wall-E being obvious reference points.
There’s a TS Eliot quote that says “Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal, bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better.” If you do a little substitution of “filmmakers” for “poets,” you can get to the idea of what I’m talking about here. It’s obvious that Kosinski was inspired by these films because the allusions themselves are veiled within the layers of the overall story, and as I said before it isn’t plainly bad so it doesn’t deface anything and it isn’t outright good so it doesn’t make it into something better. What we’re left with then is maturity vs. immaturity.
Kosinski is still a new filmmaker, with Oblivion being his second film after the much-debated Tron: Legacy as his feature debut. He’s the type of guy who has many interesting and brainy ideas to bring these complex sci-fi worlds to the screen – the shear design work of the expansive neon grid in Tron: Legacy and the ominously sterile “Apple Store” tech in Oblivion are examples that can attest to that – but it feels like in his first two films he’s given too much to carry at one time without a proper filter to whittle those ideas down to the iconic status his stories are working towards. He’s therefore not a mature filmmaker who blatantly steals, but rather an immature filmmaker who imitates.
The imitation here is inventive and certainly plays true to the story in an entertaining way, but the convoluted plot points that hinge on certain spoilers that can’t be named here makes the film crumble under the weight of those mysteries. The film is genuinely thrilling at times as it keeps you guessing, and it looks absolutely gorgeous, but the minor payoffs on the way to the grand finale slows the momentum that kept you on your seat for the first two acts.
There are moments of greatness but there are moments of nonsense, and yet Jospeh Kosinski remains a filmmaker to watch because the talent to make a true sci-fi classic is definitely there. He’s a filmmaker who isn’t intimidated by studios who give him big budgets or movie stars who have big egos, and he definitely knows how to entertain. In order to make that truly lasting film, he needs to somehow balance his influences out and provide just a little more substance than style.
We’ve talked about the HAPIfork project during CES 2013, and it seems like it is ready for the next step since its team has started seeking funding through Kickstarter after a rather successful awareness campaign. Hapilabs, the company behind this concept is seeing $100,000 from the public, which represents about 1000 prospect customers for this smart fork. Given that contributions range from $89 (the minimum to receive the product) to $1500, this looks very doable, but this will be the ultimate test which shows if the initial impression can now be converted to real user intent.
If you are not familiar with HAPIfork, it is a fork equipped with a capacitive sensor. It can tell how fast you’re eating since each bite would trigger a contact between your lip skin and the sensor.
Additionally, the final fork design should also be equipped with a motion sensor to augment the bite count accuracy, as the capacitive sensor can be accidentally triggered by a metallic knife for example. By double-checking the fork’s motion and the contact data, Hapilabs should be able to precisely count the number of bites. Once the data is gathered, you can connect the fork to a computer and to Hapilab’s cloud service to check your progress and other statistics about your eating pace.
Tom Cruise stopped by The Daily Show With in NYC yesterday while promoting his latest film, Oblivion. Jon, who is the same age as Tom, marveled at how the actor is still able to do so many physically demanding stunts, and Tom even admitted that he doesn't know where his energy comes from. Tom also chatted about working with new director Joseph Kosinski, and revealed that he doesn't pull A-list rank when on set. Tom said, "It takes a village to make a movie. It's not about me, it's about the story. You bring a team of people together and you want them to bring their best [to the film]." His costars have a similar sense of support for the actor. Tom's Oblivion costar Olga Kurylenko told us earlier this week that she "looked up to Tom" whenever she needed help or guidance, and said that she always felt that she was in "good hands" with him.
The iPhone 6 release date is reportedly delayed until 2014.
On the heels of a trip to Asia, Jeffries analyst Peter Misek claims the iPhone 6, which he previously claimed will feature a 4.8-inch display, will not launch in 2013.
The iPhone 5S, which many expect to arrive in 2013 is also reportedly delayed as Misek claims issues are pushing production back at least a month. This matches up with claims from Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities who recently estimated a later iPhone 5S release date timed up with the iPad mini 2.
StreetInsider quotes Peter Misek as saying,
After our Asia trip we now think the low-cost iPhone launch could be pushed to CQ4 and have increased confidence that the iPhone 6 will not launch until CY14.
According to Misek’s notes, an iPhone 6 release is much more likely for June 2014. This matches an estimate he provided in February of this year, which calls into question when Jeffries believed Apple was planning an iPhone 6 for 2013.
iPhone 6 Release Date Rumors
That’s not to say we did not hear rumors of an iPhone 6 release in 2013. In February we reported on rumors out of China which claimed Apple was working on an iPhone 5S and an iPhone 6 with a larger screen for a 2013 release. While this rumor didn’t carry much weight, it is not alone.
In early January, Brian White, an analyst with Topeka Capital Markets claimed Apple was planning an iPhone 6 release date for summer 2013 with multiple sizes and even color options. White revised his prediction in early April, claiming we may see a larger screen iPhone 5S in multiple sizes during 2013.
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Aside from these rumors, the general iPhone 6 release timing is expected in 2014, based on talk of an iPhone 5S release this summer or fall. A former Apple advisor calls for Apple to skip the iPhone 5S name and release the iPhone 6 this year, but even if Apple takes this advice it would not likely be the larger screen iPhone 6 analysts are discussing for 2014.
iPhone 6 Rumors
The iPhone 6 is reportedly an iPhone with a new design and a larger display. As early as December 2012 we heard of an iPhone 6 with a larger display and a faster processor. The most interesting iPhone 6 prototype also comes from Misek, who claimed that there are several iPhone 6 prototypes in the works.
The iPhone 6 prototype that is spawning countless iPhone 6 concepts and is rumored to deliver an iPhone with a screen sized to compete with the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, allegedly features;
- 4.8-inch Display
- IGZO display technology
- Retina+ Display resolution
- Quad-core Apple A7 processor
- New design
- No Home button
Apple and Sharp are reportedly partnering on IGZO display technology for future iPhones and iPads. An IGZO display delivers better precision touch and longer battery life. An iPhone 6 with a larger display would not need a higher resolution to offer a Retina Display, though it is possible Apple will deliver a higher resolution Retina Display to better compete with the 1080P displays on flagship Android smartphones.
Supply chain rumors point to Apple switching from Samsung to partner with a new supplier for the Apple A7 chip, with an estimated availability in 2014.
The iPhone 6 prototype allegedly does away with the home button, which would allow Apple to offer a larger display in a smaller size. The video above from rishiinamdar shows what an iPhone 6 with a larger display and no home button could like next to an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 4.
A total of 12 writers on the E! reality series Fashion Police had filed complaints with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement earlier this month seeking payment for unpaid regular and overtime hours totaling $1.5 million. Now the WGA has sent out a letter to members saying the staff is officially on strike against the network and the show’s producer, Joan Rivers’Rugby Productions, which jointly employ the writers. The aim is to make Fashion Police a guild show. “This is very simple,” Fashion Police writer Ned Rice said in a statement announcing the action. “We have earned the right to be a Guild show, we deserve to be a Guild show, and we want to be a Guild show. The ball is clearly in E! and Rugby’s court right now and we’re ready to go back to work on Fashion Police just as soon as they sign a WGA contract.” The WGA West and WGA East are saying members of both guilds are “prohibited from writing for the show under Working Rule 8, which prohibits members from working for non-signatory companies. The guilds also urged non-members not to take jobs on the show while the work stoppage is underway.” Here’s the guilds’ letter: