Review: ‘War Horse’ hammers home the emotions

Just in time for family-friendly holiday feel-goodery is Steven Spielberg‘s sweeping, historical epic “War Horse.”

It’s a story that began life as a children’s book by Michael Morpurgo, then made its way to the London and New York stages to great acclaim featuring inventive puppetry, and now arrives in theaters with all the grandeur a master filmmaker can conjure. “War Horse” features a strong cast and the sort of impeccable production values you would expect from Spielberg — that trademark, mystical lighting, the product of his longtime collaboration with Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski.

And yet it’s overlong, painfully earnest and sometimes even hokey. Clearly, Spielberg intended “War Horse” as a throwback, an homage to good, old-fashioned, heartrending storytelling, full of recognizable types and uplifting themes. The skies are so impossibly colorful in such a retro way, they look like hand-painted backdrops on a soundstage. And the dialogue is so frequently on-the-nose and repetitive, it might just make you cringe.

Yes, the horse is remarkable — of course he is — that’s why they made a movie about him. That should have been obvious to us through the action alone, yet the script (from Lee Hall and Richard Curtis) feels the need to tell us again and again that he is a “remarkable” horse.

The majestic Joey comes into the lives of a struggling British farming family just before World War I. The alcoholic father (Peter Mullan) buys him at auction, even though he knows he can’t afford him; the long-suffering mother (Emily Watson) insists he return him and get the family’s money back. But plucky teenager Albert (good-looking newcomer Jeremy Irvine) begs to keep him and promises to train him. Cue the montage.

Although Joey is clearly a spectacular creature, the father ends up selling him to the British cavalry because the family needs the money. Albert is devastated and swears they’ll meet again; the conscientious captain (Tom Hiddleston), who immediately recognizes Joey’s greatness and chooses him as his own mount, promises to take good care of him until then.

Joey, meanwhile, thrives once more in this new setting on the front lines. And these moments are some of the film’s best — the ones where the Spielberg of “Saving Private Ryan” comes shining through. An overhead shot of row after row of soldiers saddling up as one while hidden in a wheat field is especially stirring, as is their subsequent ambush on a German encampment. The battle scenes are reliably visceral and well-staged, albeit in a sanitized way. Even a race between Joey and the impressive horse belonging to the cocky major (Benedict Cumberbatch) provides a quick, thunderous thrill.

There’s a reason so many movies get made about horses: They’re beautiful, powerful creatures, and the pounding of hooves gets your heart pounding, as well.

But speaking of Joey and his new rival, their relationship represents one of the more cloying aspects of “War Horse”: the incessant anthropomorphism of these animals. Would they really achieve a hard-won respect for each other and end up protecting one another in the thick of battle? Maybe. Maybe not. But the human assumption that they would just for the sake of furthering the narrative is sort of obnoxious.

Eventually, Joey changes hands again and ends up living on a farm with an adorable but sickly French girl (Cecile Buckens) and her doting grandfather (Niels Arestrup). But then he’s captured once more — this time by the Germans — and forced to fight again. This sets up the film’s best scene by far, in which a British soldier and a German soldier find Joey entangled in some barbed wire in no-man’s land and work together to free him.

It’s a tense, quiet exchange that ultimately reveals some much-needed humanity, and it could have ended on just the right note — but then “War Horse” goes and ruins it by adding one line too many, just to remind us of how “remarkable” Joey is.

“War Horse,” a Walt Disney Pictures release, is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence. Running time: 146 minutes. Two stars out of four.

___

Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:

G — General audiences. All ages admitted.

PG — Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

PG-13 — Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.

R — Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

NC-17 — No one under 17 admitted.

Nokia and Microsoft fingered over comments on adverse Lumia review

A Nokia employee and, apparently, another from Microsoft have been caught posting anonymous comments boosting their product on a review of the new Nokia Lumia 800 phone using Microsoft’s new Windows Phone software.

The review, posted on the Moneylife.in site in India, was not based on a hands-on review of the product but only its technical specifications, in which it was compared principally to Samsung’s Galaxy S Plus handset.

The reviewer, Yogesh Sapkale, concluded – perhaps brutally, since he hadn’t laid a finger on the phone – that ” Although Nokia sees its Lumia 800 to be a competitor to Apple iPhone [sic], it is nowhere near the niche product. In fact compared with iPhone, the Lumia 800 can be termed as ‘noPhone’.”

A number of commenters on the article were unimpressed – including one who called himself Harish. “What an crap review!! it’s one of the best phone available, iphone is so dumb compared to this…. Guess some one is paying you lumpsum, congrats..”, he wrote.

He posted his comment from the iP address of 192.100.117.41 – which belongs to Nokia.

Another commenter calling himself Aditya Agrawal wrote: “dude, gone are the times when actual consumers just use to care about the technical specificiations of mobiles. today, people want devices which are beauitful, fast and easy-to-use. for most of the consumers, it does not matter if the phone has 512mb or 1gb ram. if the 512mb performs better in real-life, that’t the one customers are gonna prefer. just a small advice [sic], go to a store and use windows phone 7.5 for 10 mins, the last thing you will care is whether the phone has a single or a dual core.”

Agrawal posted from the IP address of 207.46.55.31 – which apparently belongs to Microsoft. (That IP address seems to have been used to make a number of unwelcome edits to Wikipedia; many have been reverted.)

A number of other commenters were – to say the least – nonplussed at Sapkale’s decision to “review” the phone based only on its specifications (although it’s worth noting that some western gadget sites aren’t above writing “first look” and “review” pieces which do exactly the same, but without the disclaimer).

Sapkale, who revealed the data about the users’ IP addresses in a followup post, justified his unusual approach to reviewing it on the basis that he was doing a feature comparison for price-sensitive consumers. “India is a very price sensitive market when it comes to spending hard earned money,” he wrote. “This is the mistake many manufacturers, especially from the western countries, has made in India. Obviously they are still paying the price for this overlook. Most Indians prefer to save money and then spend it rather than taking credit for a smartphone that may cost them a month’s salary. It is the same reason why iPhone 4S, which is available at Rs42,000″ – equivalent to £534, only slightly more than the UK price – “is still unable to see better sales in India.”

Nobody has come out of the episode looking good. Sapkale was accused of breaking his own site’s privacy policy by posting the IP and email addresses of the commenters, while the commenting duo’s failure to declare any interest looked, at best, like astroturfing.

Microsoft, Nokia linked to comments on negative Lumia review

Microsoft and Nokia have been linked to the posting of astroturfing comments on a negative Nokia Lumia review.

The review of the Nokia Lumia 800, posted on the Indian Web site Moneylife.in, was based on the technical specifications rather than hands-on experience with the Windows Phone device. The review concluded that “Although Nokia sees its Lumia 800 to be a competitor to Apple
iPhone [sic], it is nowhere near the niche product. In fact compared with iPhone, the Lumia 800 can be termed as ‘noPhone’.”

Many commenters were unhappy with the review. However, the tenor of the comments attracted the attention of Yogesh Sapkale, the review’s author, who described what he saw as “orchestrated pile of comments.”

The first comment came from someone named “Harish”:

“What an crap review!! it’s one of the best phone available, iphone is so dumb compared to this…. Guess some one is paying you lumpsum, congrats..”

Sapkale said the IP address associated with the comment was 192.100.117.41, which is assigned to Nokia.

Another comment, from someone named Aditya Agrawa, addresses a question of RAM:

“dude, gone are the times when actual consumers just use to care about the technical specificiations of mobiles. today, people want devices which are beauitful, fast and easy-to-use. for most of the consumers, it does not matter if the phone has 512mb or 1gb ram. if the 512mb performs better in real-life, that’t the one customers are gonna prefer. just a small advice , go to a store and use
windows phone 7.5 for 10 mins, the last thing you will care is whether the phone has a single or a dual core.”

Sapkale said Agrawa’s comment originated from 207.46.55.31, an IP address assigned to Microsoft.

Nokia and Microsoft representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Taken altogether, the whole episode is a disaster. Two companies are accused–by the author of a product review who never touched the device–of efforts to boost the profile of their product without acknowledging their association to it.

But more troubling is the fact that the author of the review thought so little of his readers’ privacy that he looked up and published their e-mail and IP addresses to satisfy his own curiosity and need for vindication.

HairGenesis® Blows Whistle On Fake Hair Loss Product Review

Scottsdale, AZ (PRWEB) December 21, 2011

In a move designed to shine a spotlight on the dishonesty presently circulating across the internet, the parent company of HairGenesis®, Advanced Restoration Technologies Inc. (ART) today announced its intention to devote a substantial share of its effort to shutting down fake hair loss product comparison websites. Because pattern hair loss can trigger highly emotional near-panic, the hair loss product consumer is often vulnerable and not always well-informed. Preying on such persons, a number of hair product marketers have published fake hair loss product comparison websites. Unfortunately, the industry dishonesty has proven remarkably successful.

According to Hair Genesis

“Here’s how the ploy works. A hair loss treatment product manufacturer enlists a third party to set up a website with a url that gives the impression that it is an objective third party consumer review entity. The website is populated with text and images that purport to compare a number of hair loss treatment brands, including the product brand secretly sponsoring the website. Fake data is published which supposedly shows that the sponsoring brand outperformed other brands in a series of analyses.”

Links are embedded in the website which lead to various product brands. Sometimes the links leading to the competing brands are deliberately rendered inactive. Invariably, the links leading to the sponsor brand go through just fine. By this method, consumers are tricked into making a purchase for a product that they mistakenly believe to have demonstrated objective evidence of clinical utility. There are variations on this ploy, but the endpoint of the scam is always the same, i.e. to cause consumers to place unfounded trust in a product that generates sales through the art of deception. These websites are almost always dead-end entities — i.e. with no way to easily verify who is the actual publisher of the site. However, it is not hard to figure out that the company that wins the comparison is almost certainly the same company behind the so-called ‘consumer review’ website.

By way of contrast, HairGenesis® is supported with actual peer-reviewed, published scientific research (e.g. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/985345/). Chief Scientific Officer for the company, Geno Marcovici, Ph.D. says that “unfortunately, from the consumer’s vantage point, objective proof such as that supporting the HairGenesis® line is a rarity in the category”. In instituting a policy designed to go after the fake hair loss comparison websites, HairGenesis® seeks to create a better protected and more well-informed buying public.

In furtherance of this goal, HairGenesis® will work to establish sensible truth-in-advertising guidelines, create positive working conduits with the FTC and FDA, and also make available genuine hair loss information, hair loss research links, as well as other proactive steps. Cumulatively, the intention of this process will be to reward those hair treatment product manufacturers who ‘play fair’ and penalize those who do not.

Hair Genesis® is noteworthy as the first, and so far only, naturally derived hair loss treatment supported by published 3rd Party clinical research. Hair Genesis™ is sold primarily through internet based distribution via http://www.hairgenesis.com. Distributors of Hair Genesis® include http://www.omegatechlabs.com, http://www.hairlosswatch.com, hairgenesisasia.com.

Forget The Mobile Reference Designs, Intel, And Ship A Product

Intel has been showing off reference designs—which are essentially prototypes the company builds for potential partners like those McMansion model homes—related to mobile devices since the middle of the last decade, yet no one has shipped a mobile device in any kind of real volume bearing one of Intel’s mobile processors. In advance of CES, where Intel CEO Paul Otellini is scheduled to deliver a keynote address, the company once again showed off prototypes for a smartphone and tablet running Android to Technology Review and promised to have real phones out sometime next year.

SEE ALSO: Intel Dangles $100 Million To Create Intel-Friendly Mobile Startups

There’s nothing wrong with the designs themselves except for the fact that they’ll never become actual products. They are marketing tools designed to persuade the industry that Intel understands how to meet the needs of the modern mobile market.

Yet Intel’s mobile problems have nothing to do with design or vision: a decade ago the company was regularly predicting the types of mobile computers we now take for granted. They have everything to do with software and execution.

There’s a fundamental problem for Intel in mobile. Virtually all software created for modern mobile devices has been designed to run on chips that use the ARM instruction set, making them incompatible with the x86 instruction set that Intel uses in its PC processors and mobile designs. An Android app written for a phone like the Galaxy Nexus won’t necessarily run with acceptable performance on an Android phone with Intel’s chips. Even Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) bowed to this inevitability last year, announcing plans to release a version of Windows 8 that runs on ARM processors.

And Intel’s execution problems have not given anyone—handset makers, software developers or design houses—a reason to overcome “platform fatigue” and develop phones and applications for yet another platform. Intel has had an extremely difficult time getting its chips to consume power at the same small levels that ARM chips can hit, which means phone makers would have had to ship bulkier devices with poorer battery life than designs like the iPhone. Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) decided to design and build its own mobile chips rather than work with Intel, which supplies it with chips for the Mac.

The company says that chips based on the current design, code-named Medfield, have finally met that threshold based on its decision to combine the duties of formerly separate chips into a single chip. But as Technology Review points out, Intel still lags companies like Qualcomm (NSDQ: QCOM) when it comes to further integration, which is favored by handset makers because such chips consume less power and are easier to include in tight spaces.

Intel has been “fighting back” and “getting ready to challenge” the threat posed by ARM chips since 2007 with absolutely nothing to show for that talk, which is probably why there has been a revolving door on the office of its mobile leaders.

Until Intel convinces a major smartphone or tablet maker to place a big bet on its Medfield chips with something that can truly compete against top-tier Android phones and the iPhone, it’s safe to ignore “reference designs” and concentrate on the 450 million devices that will have been sold this year without Intel inside. We’ll see what promises Otellini will make this year about mobile in January.

Research and Markets: Taxoplasmosis Encephalitis – Pipeline Review

Global Markets Direct’s, ‘Taxoplasmosis
Encephalitis – Pipeline Review, H2 2011‘, provides an overview of
the Taxoplasmosis Encephalitis therapeutic pipeline. This report
provides information on the therapeutic development for Taxoplasmosis
Encephalitis, complete with latest updates, and special features on
late-stage and discontinued projects. It also reviews key players
involved in the therapeutic development for Taxoplasmosis Encephalitis. ‘Taxoplasmosis
Encephalitis – Pipeline Review, H2 2011‘ is built using data and
information sourced from Global Markets Direct’s proprietary databases,
Company/University websites, SEC filings, investor presentations and
featured press releases from company/university sites and
industry-specific third party sources

Scope

  • A snapshot of the global therapeutic scenario for Taxoplasmosis
    Encephalitis.
  • A review of the Taxoplasmosis Encephalitis products under development
    by companies and universities/research institutes based on information
    derived from company and industry-specific sources.
  • Coverage of products based on various stages of development ranging
    from discovery till registration stages.
  • A feature on pipeline projects on the basis of monotherapy and
    combined therapeutics.
  • Coverage of the Taxoplasmosis Encephalitis pipeline on the basis of
    route of administration and molecule type.
  • Profiles of late-stage pipeline products featuring sections on product
    description, mechanism of action and research development progress.
  • Key discontinued pipeline projects.
  • Latest news and deals relating to the products.

Reasons to buy

  • Identify and understand important and diverse types of therapeutics
    under development for Taxoplasmosis Encephalitis.
  • Identify emerging players with potentially strong product portfolio
    and design effective counter-strategies to gain competitive advantage.
  • Plan mergers and acquisitions effectively by identifying players with
    the most promising pipeline.
  • Devise corrective measures for pipeline projects by understanding
    Taxoplasmosis Encephalitis pipeline depth and focus of Taxoplasmosis
    Encephalitis therapeutics.
  • Develop and design in-licensing and out-licensing strategies by
    identifying prospective partners with the most attractive projects to
    enhance and expand business potential and scope.
  • Modify the therapeutic portfolio by identifying discontinued projects
    and understanding the factors that drove them from pipeline.

We Have Started Living Together

Of course my dog Milo is not really thrilled with the two cats Shelly has brought with her and he got lit up by the mean one when he tried to make it stay off of his spot on the floor. She had me reading nutro cat food reviews this morning and asking me what I thought about them. I just looked at Milo and asked him what he was thinking just then. At any rate we found a really cheap place, a house out in the country which is more or less well located for both of us. She is teaching in a school that is about five minutes away. Where I live is a lot less of an issue, since all I really need is the internet and my home office. I go into the city once or twice in a week and some of the time not at all. More often I get in the car and go to visit one of the clients so that I can get a good grasp on what they need from us. Either way it does not really matter that I am not so close to the office. Continue reading “We Have Started Living Together”

How We Used an Beat We Purchased Online for a Promo Video

We needed a heavy rapid beat for a promo video we were doing for our store. It costs a fortune to hire musicians to create something, so we looked online for trap beats for sale. The trap beat is very fast. Imagine a drum beat that is like automatic rifle fire. Then throw in a few RPGs for the base thump. We needed something like that to catch the attention of the viewers. It would run for a few seconds at a higher volume then go to the background while the announcer speaks. At the end, the volume picks back up again.

It is nice to be able to find hundreds of trap beats for sale online to choose from. We listened to dozens of them before narrowing down our choices to a select few. Then we picked one to go with for our promo video musical score. Continue reading “How We Used an Beat We Purchased Online for a Promo Video”

I Spent the Day Babysitting

I spent the day babysitting some kids for this person who is a friend of my old boss. In fact they are dating and the two of them apparently took a day trip to Bali. He lives at this new place called parc life. The place has these executive condos and they are really nice. It is obviously off of Yishun Avenue and really close to the Yishun Park and the reservoir, along with a bunch of other parks. That is where me and the two children spent nearly all of the day. They are both girls, one of them seven and the other one is five. They had a football and it was pretty quickly that they organized a little match with a half dozen or so other girls. There was an odd number of them, so they put me in one of the goals. Continue reading “I Spent the Day Babysitting”

Now I Love to Play Online Poker

When my friend first told me about Poker Uang Asli for Android, I really was not sure that I was going to try it out for myself. It’s not because that is not my cup of tea, because it actually is. I am just the type to go and play in person. Admittedly, it has been harder and harder to find not only the time but the people to play poker with now that we are all starting to work opposite shifts and some even moving away for better jobs. I just was not sure about taking my hobby to an online venue.

I don’t have a lot of experience with the online world. Continue reading “Now I Love to Play Online Poker”

New Oil Exploration Technology Lets Newcomers into the Game

We were getting into the energy industry late in the game, but we were relying on new oil exploration technology to find areas where drilling was going to produce more with less land. The oil boom has companies with staked claims pretty much all over the Marcellus Shale region of North America. However, there are still some areas open for exploration for drilling for oil. Our financial backers were interested because of our plans to use cutting edge technology in finding the profitable oil and gas deposits.

The new oil exploration technology even uses satellite imaging to find areas that should be drilled. There is so much sensitivity involved in today’s methods of using high tech to find oil that the tiniest details can be analyzed even from pictures taken from space. Continue reading “New Oil Exploration Technology Lets Newcomers into the Game”

Looking Forward to Moving in at the Principal Garden Location in Singapore

Our goal was to move to a nice high rise structure with a sky pool and fun amenities. We found a place with a water jet platform and a sky pool on level 24. We were offered an option on a lease for a three-bedroom condo that has a private elevator at the Principal Garden location. The project is still in the construction phase. However, you need to get your application in early for a place like this as the units will go incredibly fast. We wanted a place that would be brand new without anyone ever living in it before. We planned on keeping our condo for a very long time.

Properties in Singapore get filled fast. There is always a construction project going on, but you need to apply in a hurry once you find the place you really wan to live. I have a friend who was not moving until he could get a condo at the water’s edge. My wife and I wanted something a little more inland. The Principal Garden location is perfect for us. Continue reading “Looking Forward to Moving in at the Principal Garden Location in Singapore”

Getting the Best in Service

When people learn more about the different options they have for energy companies, they become amazed that they’ve been using the same company for as long as they have. Most people don’t realize that they may have options in their area, and because of this, they stay with companies usually until they’re no longer on this world. I was in the same boat with my old energy company. I didn’t think other companies could provide energy options, so I just accepted the status quo and paid my monthly bills, which often had rates and fees that I didn’t agree with at all.

Once I discovered a particular website where I could find other energy companies, I looked at what kinds of rates were available and couldn’t believe it. The money I wasted on my energy company and the times that I worried about not being able to pay my bill could have been avoided by going with a lower priced option, had I known that it existed. Continue reading “Getting the Best in Service”