Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category

Fire, brimstone and a hint of roses.

Twitter tulee – ota koppi.

April 30th, 2009 by Jarmo Puskala

(This post is in Finnish. Mostly because there is no shortage of Twitter articles in english.)

Baby Bird

Baby bird by Allie’s.Dad on Flickr. (CC by-nc-nd)

Twitter palveluna on ollut melkoisen hypen kohteena viime kuukausina. Nyt myöskin Suomessa ollaan heräämässä ja Helsingin Sanomat julkaisi juuri artikkelin Twitterin käytöstä markkinoinnissa. Asiasta tullaan varmasti lähitulevaisuudessa esittämään huomattavan paljon asiantuntijamielipiteitä ja kaksi vuotta Twitteriä käyttäneneä haluaisin kertoa teille muutaman asian mitä me täällä @energiassa olemme oppineet:

  1. Seuraajien määrä ei ole menestyksen mitta.
  2. Twitter ei ole televisio, radio, lehti, puhelin tai MySpace.
  3. Sen sijaan Twitter on tori.
  4. Siksi ota oppia torimyyjistä – mutta unohda huutaminen.
  5. Ei ole kaavaa, ohjelmaa tai asiantuntijaa jonka voisit ostaa, unohtaa ja silti hyötyä Twitteristä.

Ihmiskunnan historiassa Twitterissä ei ole mitään uutta. Se on vain yksi uusi väline keskustella, jatkaen samaa linjaa savumerkkien, puhelimen ja IRC:n kanssa. Myöskään Twitterin markkinointikäytössä ei ole uutta – se jatkaa samaa asiakkaiden kanssa keskustelua mitä kyläkauppiaat ja torimyyjät ovat harrastaneet läpi historian.

Se, mikä markkinoijia ja yrityksiä järkyttää on se, että Twitter tuo keskustelun 2000-luvulle jossa mainonta ja myynti on keskittynyt massamedioihin. Televisiomainoksen katsojan kommentteihin ei tarvitse vastata, eikä Helsingin Sanomat saa kirjeitä joissa kysytään kuinka uuden Mazda 6:n ajovalon polttimo vaihdetaan.

Haluaisinkin siis toivottaa myös Suomen yritykset tervetulleiksi takaisin henkilökohtaisen palvelun pariin. Vastahan siitä päästiin eroon supermarkettien ja mainostelevision myötä.

p.s. Meitä voi tulla morjestamaan myös irkkiin, tuohon palveluun joka voidaan nähdä Twitterin vanhempana ja viisaampana esi-isänä. Meidät löytää IRCnet -verkosta kanavalta #starwreck.

Re-inventing IRC – come and join us on Twitter.

April 6th, 2009 by Jarmo Puskala

Baby Bird

Baby bird by Allie’s.Dad on Flickr. (CC by-nc-nd)

Back in 2007 Twitter seemed like it was the next big thing, so naturally we joined as well. What’s suprising is that now it’s been two years and if it seemed like a big thing then now it’s becoming mainstream. Since Timo got his own profile it’s been mostly me blabbering on the @energia profile with the occasional wisdoms from Antti.

What’s changed in the two years is that what first seemed kind of like a blog lite for little stupid things and links is turning into a chatroom. Since @sumppi recommended Twitterfon for the iPhone I’ve taken upon myself the quest of being more active at the Twitterverse – after all there are some awesomely awesome movie people there to follow like Stephen Fry, Wil Wheaton and Duncan Jones.

What keeps bugging me is that the more I use Twitter the more it feels like re-inventing IRC. Everyone is going gaga how celebs are using the service like “normal peopl”, meaning that for the first time in the mainstream media they are actually there talking with people themselves – instead of having some PR drone occasionally posting adverts to buy stuff. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a Good Thing – however it hardly seems like a big deal from the Finnish perspective. We’re used to finding every new reality tv celeb on IRC-Galleria and back in the day before geek was cool many superstars of the tech world were on the actual IRC chatting like “normal people”.

Now this is going to sound like the cat lifting it’s own tail – and honestly speaking it is. Our lovely little IRC channel (#starwreck on IRCnet) has been active for almost a decade. Sure nobody knew who were when the channel started but that’s kind of the point. It never was a marketing tool, it was a place where we talked about making the film and where people who were interested in the project could come and follow the progress, ask questions and make suggestions. To simplify the function even more the channel was a place for people with similar interests to talk to eachother.

And that’s what Twitter is becoming. @wilw talks about playing D&D at a roleplaying convention. @warrenellis is being strange and @stephenfry is being a real sport and tweeting about his travels and talking to people. What’s different to what we’ve been doing is the scale. These people can have hundreds of thousands of followers with maybe thousands or tens of thousands actually actively online at any given time. That’s one huge-ass IRC channel. Especially when it’s all mostly centered around the profile of one person. People are using #hashtags as kind of channels, but currently this approach is very unflexible. With a client that works better than the actual Twitter website and a “#channel” that’s not too popular it kind of works. I had fun talking about the oscars on #aa09 – the alternative channel since #oscars was completely unfollowable.

So that’s awesome. We’ve been doing it for a decade and while our channel’s 100 or so users pale in comparison to the number of the Twitter followers of your average “social media guru” it’s been up for 10 years and the people there are just awesome. Many have become real friends of ours and we the people have helped eachother out on many occasions. In my opinion seeing such longevity translate into a social media site would be phenomenal. However there is a snake in the garden. What has in part protected IRC is that’s it’s not quite mainstream – while it might have been used to report on the first Gulf War on CNN Britney Spears has never had a precense there.

So – and I know I’ve made this point before – Twitter is very much re-inventing IRC on the web. And that’s great – because it’s one more tool for people to talk to each other. It’s also easy enough that it has attracted people who usually don’t bother with these kind of things. But it’s still very much a flawed system. The popularity of the superstars is so overwhelming that they can not keep up using it as they do for long.

Our Twitter is still nice and quiet with the occasional interesting discussion and I recommend you follow @energia and @LeonBlank if you’ve got an account. I also think it’ll stay nice and managable for a long time still. But since so much of the activity is centered around the superstars can Twitter survive becoming any more popular? Will it become impossible to be a famous person and actually talk to people? And will that lead to the downfall of the whole service?

p.s. Also to take a page of the Warren Ellis book of public relations I just have to mention I finally got called “penis freak” by some random person on the internets.

Watchmen (second opinion)

March 8th, 2009 by Jarmo Puskala

Just got back from the theater and I don’t think there’s really a need for another review – this is one of those movies you should go and see.

Instead some observations (with very little spoilers, so no need to worry unless you’re allergic):

The Big Blue Penis, yes it was there. And it’s rather suprising seeing a anatomically correct cgi creation. I can only imagine what the days must have been like at the sfx company. What’s even better is just adding a little bit of virtual flesh you, um, inspire people to write things like this this ½ star review of the film from Flixter:

I was so very disapointed because after all I am an huge Marvel/DC fan! There was so much nudity and the violence itself was one of the grosses violence to have been seen in a movie. The fighting scenes were excellent and I love the story-line! I just don’t need to see all the blood, arms falling off, seeing a full-body nudity and of course the Lord-s name in vain.

And that brings us to bit of good old ulta-violence. There really was quite a bit of it and it was pretty brutal. It’s not something I really care about in a film, I’m not a gorehound and it doesn’t really bother me either. However used right it is one more tool for the filmmaker to use and Pan’s Labyrinth is one film where the violence was both disgusting (even for me) and added something to the film. On the other end of the spectrum is Hostel II with violence that’s “innocent” in the same twisted way as sex in porn movies is innocent. It’s there just for kicks, it’s not something that’s happening to real people with real emotions.

However the violence in Watchmen kind of missed the point – pretty much like a buckshot from 5 meters away misses the bullseye. I can’t really tell if I was supposed to feel bad for the people getting hurt or if I should have been cheering the effects team. But it was more or less effective making the stakes seem higher and the world feeling more real – but it was kind of misplaced, with mostly bystanders and random baddies getting ripped to pieces while the main characters are thrown trough walls in the best comic book fashion.

And then there was one more thing. And I know noticing this makes me a complete geek, but I think it was rather cool twist on product placement. On one occasion you can see the 1984 advertisement for Apple Macintosh playing on a tv screen, but it’s just a bit so you won’t know what ad it is unless you already know the ad. If you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s this one:

The Nazi Boom

March 6th, 2009 by Timo Vuorensola

The Nazi film is a genre that has been around ever since the end of 30′s, even before the Second World War, and is re-emerging every ten years in it’s full glory. During the last 12 months we’ve been treated with a heavy load of Nazi films coming from Europe and US, but the trend seems to be dying again, just as suddenly as it was started. This weekend, Zombie Room is focusing on Nazi flicks as a genre. First, we take a brief look at some of the 2008 and 2009 films with the Nazi topic.

VALKYRIE

Let’s start out with a spoiler: Stauffenberg doesn’t kill Hitler.

In Valkyrie, we have the funny little chap Tom Cruise as a Nazi, bouncing around like a pirate with his eyepatch and one arm, portraying Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, the ”Good Nazi” who tried (and failed) to assassinate Hitler. Valkyrie is a very serious, big-budget, star-ridden, English-language Hollywood Nazi war film that paints the picture of von Stauffenberg as a real American hero who’s willing to sacrifice everything for the good sake. Which is, to kill Hitler and end the war before the Allies would. The story has been filmed at least four times before Valkyrie, and this one completely fails to bring anything new to the table, other than the biggest budget of von Stauffenberg-films so far.

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS
A story of a friendship of two kids, produced by Disney. Doesn’t sound too exciting? What if the other one is the son of a Nazi officer who moves to the countryside with his family, and the other one is a Jew living in the nearby concentration camp? Adds an intriguing angle to it, doesn’t it? When the son of the officer starts to wonder the strange smell and the black smoke coming from the chimneys of the camp, the darker tones of the film start to creep in, and the end is really harsh stuff. The director Mark Herman succeeds in leading the audience to one, much more Disney-like direction, but suddenly turns the knobs up to eleven, dropping some serious jaws.

THE READER
The Reader is not a Nazi film by it’s looks, flashing only few Swastikas and no Nazi leather boots at all, but the story discusses the topic very extensively and with a nice angle to it. A young boy falls in love with an older woman in the post-war Germany, and later finds out the woman, played by Kate Winslet, had been a female officer in a concentration camp. The Reader’s biggest achievement doesn’t come from the story – which is good but doesn’t deliver in the end, but from the actors who do an amazing job, obviously led by the Oscar-winning role by Winslet as a MILF-like hot Hanna Schmitz, who’s falling slowly apart and fucking a young boy, played by David Kross, both physically and mentally. This one wasn’t half bad, and even had some hot sex scenes, which is something that’s lacking from almost every other Nazi film from last year, except…

DøD SNø (DEAD SNOW)
…where we have a sex scene in an outhouse, with a guy taking a dump in -20 degrees with a hot chick on top. Win.

For those who’ve been following Zombie Room, it’s not a big surprise that both of us, Essi and me, are huge Død Snø fans. We were treated with a private screening of the film last year in Os, Norway, where the producer showed up with a projector and played the film to a small, selected audience. I think I’ve never had so much fun in a film theater – we were constantly standing up, applauding, laughing out loud like maniacs and generally having fun like we would’ve had downed a 12-pack of beer.

Død Snø is about a group of teenagers coming on a winter holiday to an isolated cabin in the Norwegian mountains, and being suddenly attacked by a platoon of Nazi zombies. And that’s exactly what you get: a lot of gore, vile-looking Nazis zombies, bad jokes, motorsleds and a lot of great homage moments to old zombie classics. I’ve written a more comprehensive review of the film here, but to sum it up: one of the best films of 2008.

LES FEMMES DE L’OMBRE (FEMALE AGENTS)
Charlie’s Angels vs. The Nazis without hot chicks or the attitude, that’s what Female Agents is all about. Five French women commandos are being sent on a mission to save a British geologist from the hands of a Nazi officer who believes he’s linked to the preparations of the D-Day. Female Agents is a really tame action drama that smells like ”big, multi-national European production” for miles away – and it’s quite as sexy as EU. It’s not really pushing any front, even the Nazis are quite nice and polite, and although the bodycount is big, the film itself fails to build any interest to the stereotype characters. Boring. Only remarkable achievement here is the language – Female Agents mixes bravely French, German and English – the characters speak the language they are supposed to speak, which is not the case in any other film listed here, except – again – Død Snø :)

DEFIANCE
Russian James Bond killing Nazis in the forest. That’s all you need to know about Defiance – if that sounds good, then it’s propably a film you ought to see, but if you are looking for something more, then maybe go see The Reader. Defiance introduces a small group of Jews hiding in the Belarussian woods from the Nazis, lead by James Bond, who organize themselves as a partisan group and begin attacking the Nazis from their hideout. The group splits into two, where the brother of James Bond joins a red army partisan group where no women, kids or old people are allowed, and James Bond keeps up with his whiny-ass motley crew of no-fighters just trying to survive. The clash is inevitable, and guess who wins? The red army or James Bond?

Defiance is not a very good film, but it’s fun to watch if you happen to like war flicks. There’s definitively nothing new there, but some old tricks repeated/ripped in quite a nice fashion.

There’s also heaps of other Nazi films I haven’t yet seen, like Max Manus (Which, I hear, is very darn good), Miracle of St. Anna (Directed by Spike Lee!), Flammen & Citronen (with Mads Mikkelsen), and Die Welle (a film about a teacher who wants to teach his class how oppression & facism works by turning his class into a fanatic nazis, but things get out of hands… from the director of NaPolA!), but let’s not go deeper into them.

In the next entry tomorrow, we’ll start exploring the anatomy of a Nazi film, so stay tuned.

(Via Zombie Room.)