Movies watched in July 2023

The Tall Man

In this 2012 thriller, a small town suffers from recurring missing child cases. Folks say they are taken by the “tall man.” One day the lead character’s son disappears! Oh no! But, like the film Gone Baby Gone, everything is not as it seems, and “twists” reveal a deeper truth. Unfortunately, I did not find the “twists” or truthful revelations all that interesting, so the movie overall was a bland and boring one for me. Gone Baby Gone was much more interesting.

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms

A 2018 anime film about a woman named Maquia who is from a race of elf-like beings who never age, or at least age very slowly. After her homeland is invaded, she escapes and adopts an orphaned child who ages normally. Hilarity ensues. Actually, not much of anything ensues. The child has very little personality, so the film plods along without much of interest happening. The film did have a nice musical score, however.

Kiki’s Delivery Service

A popular 1989 anime film from Studio Ghibli, one of their few films I hadn’t yet seen. This was another I wanted to see before the Joe Hisaishi concert I attended last month, which was fantastic! As for this film, I also really enjoyed it. It’s episodic and feels a bit slice-of-life at times, so it could easily put you to sleep if you’re tired, but if you’re alert and focused, it’s definitely one of their better films, especially near the end when Kiki fears losing her powers. I think anyone who’s struggled with creativity or learning a new skill (e.g. the dreaded “plateau”) can relate to that sort of pit of self-doubt. And of course Hisaishi’s score is instantly memorable.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

2017 comedy revisiting Jumanji. Been meaning to watch this for a while as I have it on Blu-ray 3D. (Got the sequel too, need to watch that at some point.) I thought this would be a complete reboot, but it’s more of a reboot-sequel as it doesn’t overwrite the previous film with Robin Williams; the Jumanji board game just magically turns itself into a video game to lure a new generation. When powered on, it sucks in its unfortunate victims into its jungle world and makes them play a real-life adventure there. So I guess it’s a bit of an isekai sort of thing. Anyway, fun movie overall, Jack Black is especially hilarious as a teen girl trapped in a Jack Black body. The plot itself doesn’t really offer anything new for seasoned viewers, though.

Sound of Freedom

2023 true story action drama of a government agent who leaves the force in an effort to rescue child victims of human trafficking. Overall, the film does a great job given the sad and disturbing subject. Perhaps it’s a little too Hollywood-ish at moments, though, especially in the final act. Such Hollywood flourishes do make the film more engaging, but at the cost of it feeling less a “true story”. Granted, it’s a film, not a documentary, and interested viewers can always look up the facts vs fiction accounts afterward. Press surrounding the film also became oddly political, at least on Twitter, but there’s really nothing political in the film itself. Overall, great film, and good that it can draw some attention to such a sad, disturbing topic.

Insidious: The Red Door

2023 horror film, sequel to the first two Insidious films. The kid from those films is now in college and, through his artwork, is starting to remember disturbing things from the previous films that he and his father had tried to forget through hypnosis. Ultimately he and his father must once again face the demons that tormented them before. Like the previous Insidious films, this is a cheesy ridiculous story that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Having enjoyed the previous films, I enjoyed this one as well. They could definitely keep the series going if they wanted to.


2020 thriller about a woman who, after her father’s death, discovers that her father has been keeping Simon Pegg chained up in a secret underground bunker. As the woman tries to unravel why her father did this and tries to decide whether or not to let the old man go, the audience tries to keep watching because it’s really stupid and boring.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

2023 fantasy adventure based on the popular RPG. A thief escapes from prison and sets out on some other heist job, hoping to reclaim his daughter from an old partner who betrayed him (Hugh Grant). Fun movie overall. The humor was kind of hit or miss for me; some was great, some was groan. I know nothing about the source material, but that didn’t seem a requirement.

One critique might be that, if this world is full of so much magic, why isn’t there even more constant chaos? Or why isn’t everyone a lot more cautious of magic’s potential for harm and trickery? Or, if the magic the main characters use throughout is supposed to be rare in this world, isn’t it just super-convenient that they have access to it? Perhaps that’s overthinking it, but it does feel unbalanced one way or another.

Still, I enjoyed it.


A 1990 live-action Disney pirate film about a boy who ventures out on a ship to earn some money, which is overtaken by pirates. A bit similar to Treasure Island, but with a somewhat less adventurous plot. Might’ve enjoyed this if I were younger, but as a very serious and mature adult, this was a bit too cheesy for me.


2022 film from director Jordan Peele, somewhere between horror and thriller, but not really either. It’s about some siblings that are trying to keep their family business going when a UFO begins appearing over their horse ranch. And then the entire movie is about them… wanting to get a picture of it so they can sell it for money. Such a silly goal hardly makes for an engaging film, even when the siblings find themselves having to battle against the UFO for their lives. Boring, didn’t work for me.


2022 horror film about an AI robot prototype for kids who becomes deadly after becoming over-protective. Although such a premise is cliche, they could’ve done so much more with it than they actually did. They spent way too long setting up the story, and not nearly enough time having the rogue robot terrorizing foolish victims. Ultimately it’s a big letdown.

The Unforgivable

2021 drama about a woman trying to reconnect with her daughter after being let out of prison for murder. It was too slow and brooding for me, and the “twist” revelation at the end was both completely predictable and uninteresting.

There’s Something Wrong with the Children

A 2023 horror film about a couple looking after their neice and nephew (or was it just friends’ kids? I don’t remember). But the children are replaced by imposters after being lured by demons or something to jump to their deaths in a giant hole in the ground. The imposter children then act creepy because it’s a horror movie, and things do downhill from their as the imposters want to make everyone into imposters as well. Needed more humor and for the adult characters to act a lot less dumb and argumentative all the time.

Detroit Rock City

1999 comedy about a group of teenagers who want to see the band KISS in concert, and spend the entire film attempting to get tickets one crazy way or another. Kind of like the hit Christmas classic, Jingle All the Way! Some of it was funny, but some of its humor was too gross or raunchy for me.

Becoming Astrid

2018 biopic about the early life of famous Swedish children’s author Astrid Lindgren. While it was interesting to learn about her early life (which the film presented rather matter-of-factly, as her actions were rarely very prudent), it did not really make for a very engaging film.

Movies watched in June 2023

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts. (Actually, I guess it’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything.) Here are the movies I watched last month.

Glass Onion

Daniel Craig is back as the southern-accented detective in this 2022 Knives Out sequel. While the mystery and its solution were again a bit convoluted (and I think the massive flashback was a bit of a cheat, storytelling-wise), it was overall an enjoyable watch, even better than Knives Out, perhaps because they were all stuck on an island, so it had that sort of classic cozy mystery feel. I think a third film is already in the works. It was also funny to see cameos from Stephen Sondheim (referencing Sweeney Todd) and Angela Lansbury (referencing Murder, She Wrote). (RIP to both.)

Shattered Glass

A 2003 film telling the true story of Stephen Glass, a journalist who was caught making up a bunch of sensationalist stories in the late 90s, when I suppose journalistic integrity was something publishers still actually cared about to some degree. I had never heard of the true story, so this was quite an engaging film. The film reveals the truth from the perspectives of those he’s manipulating, so your aggravation for his behavior builds as his lies are uncovered. Hayden Christensen does a great job portraying someone who just can’t stop lying, and lying more to cover previous lies, and then continuously weeps for mercy and sympathy when people catch on, a real agonizing personality disorder.

Princess Mononoke

Going to see Studio Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi in concert next week, so wanted to rewatch this 1997 animated film mostly for its beautiful musical score. Storywise, not Ghibli’s best, in my opinion. The first half is great, but the second act just tries to do too much, there are just too many battling factions and conflicts going on. Anyway, Joe Hisaishi’s music is some of the finest film music out there.


The new Transformers movie, Rise of the Beasts, was one of the few films coming out in 3D this summer,1 so I wanted to check out the 2018 Bumblebee first, which is about the yellow alien robot hiding out on earth when other evil alien robots attack his homeworld. And these alien robots can transform into cars for some reason. Not being a Transformers fan, or really understanding the appeal of the franchise at all (because the toys are cool I guess), this film did not really work for me. It does hit all the right story beats for a “lost alien” sort of movie (think E.T. or The Iron Giant), but if you don’t really care about the characters, it all still feels rather flat. I could understand younger audiences enjoying it though.

Dog Gone

This 2023 film is based on the true story of a teenager whose dog ran away in the mountains and he sets out to find him. An innocent family film for people who like dogs, but way too cheesy for me. The father-son relationship conflict also felt really forced.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

And here’s that Transformers movie I mentioned. I was just curious to see it in 3D. I already forgot what it was about. There’s some kind of alien device macguffin in a museum that the alien robots fight over because it’s really powerful somehow, but it’s all a prequel for the Transformers getting stuck on earth, so nothing is really accomplished. It was pretty dull for a non-Transformers fan. But it was in 3D!

Vampire’s Kiss

From 1988, one of Nicolas Cage’s first films in which he plays an over-the-top wacko who thinks he was bitten by a vampire and whose life then spirals out of control. I really just wanted to watch it because it is the source of many Nicolas Cage crazy face memes. I unfortunately didn’t find it particularly funny or interesting.


A 1995 thriller about good vigilante hackers battling against an evil businessman hacker. The depiction of hacking and teen computer-savviness is so completely over-the-top ridiculous, it’s agonizing. I prefer WarGames.

Doctor Sleep

Not the Stephen King story, but a film from 2002, also called Close Your Eyes, about a hypnotist who uses his hypnotic skills to solve some silly mystery. It’s really bland and boring, with ridiculously cheap made-for-TV CGI. Terrible.

Murder Mystery 2

A 2023 sequel to Murder Mystery, a Netflix film starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Like its predecessor, this offers more of a silly light-hearted comedy than a very thoughtful or engaging mystery, but if you go in knowing that, it’s entertaining. Nothing amazing, but some good laughs.


A 2023 Disney film about a group of kids who live on the moon. After they learn one of them is leaving forever, they steal a moon rover for one last adventure. It was a little cheesy for me, but was a decent family film, and was even free of any of Disney’s modern propaganda crap. Unfortunately Disney yanked it from their streaming platform not long after I watched it, I guess for some Hollywood accounting tax write-off scheme, so who knows if anyone will ever be able to see it ever again. But, hey, that’s what you get with the streaming business model!


A 2020 Korean film, a standalone sequel to the Korean zombie film Train to Busan. This one’s about a group of people who sneak into zombie-infested territory in search of some bags of cash that were left behind. Unfortunately they are captured by non-zombie humans who have been trapped there, and must fight both to escape. Not as good as Train to Busan, but still a fun zombie flick.

Tin and Tina

A 2023 Spanish horror film about an idiot couple who decide to adopt the creepiest kids they can find, because what could possibly go wrong? The kids are portrayed as being “overly-Catholic”, obsessed with religion, but their understanding of Christianity is just stupid, so when it leads them to do horrible things, it’s not really all that compelling storywise, because they’re just so stupid. Really stupid movie. It did have a decent long take near the end though.


A 2021 Korean thriller about a deaf woman who witnesses a crime and is chased by the criminal for the remainder of the film. It has some decent moments of suspense, but also features some agonizing cliches, such as turning your back on the bad guy after he passes out. Overall I thought it was an enjoyable thriller, though nothing overly special.

TuneSage progress update 9

Getting closer to launching an initial version of TuneSage. I obviously bit off more than I could chew in creating the front-end. It still lacks a ton of features I’d like, but it’s just taking too long to program. I should’ve started with something much simpler. Oh well, too late now, I’m almost done. Here’s what I have left to do:


  • Delete track button
  • Copy / cut / paste sections
  • Melody / phrase options
  • Edit key signature
  • Ctrl+z undo
  • Export MIDI file
  • Finalize soundfont
  • Finalize icons


  • Use melody / phrase options sent from front-end
  • More training / styles

Overall site:

  • Create user / login
  • Boilerplate terms of service
  • Integrate user subscriptions (decide on a payment collector)
  • Create a landing page
  • Actually incorporate

I might just skip the front-end Ctrl+z stuff for now, because I’m not quite sure how to implement it efficiently and I’m afraid it might be too time consuming. Otherwise, I think I can finish the front-end stuff by the end of next week.

I’m not sure how long the back-end training will take, because it takes of a lot of tedious data formatting and trial and error.

And the final overall site stuff shouldn’t take long. I’ve never integrated a subscription service before, but I’m guessing most payment services make that pretty easy these days.

I’d love to launch before the end of the month. We’ll see how it goes!

1 Second Everyday : January 2023

Hey! Long time, no blog!

I tried doing “1 Second Everyday” back in 2020, but was only able to keep it up for four months. Let’s see how long I’ll be able to keep it going this year.

January was mostly boring and uneventful. Highlights perhaps include finishing reading the Russian classic The Karamazov Brothers (a more appropriate translation of the title than the usual reverse), which I thought was great and hope to post some thoughts on it at some point.

Definitely lots I hope to do this year, but a big problem I’ve been having lately is my bad posture while sitting at the computer. I can barely sit for an hour before I get a terrible sharp pain in the back of my neck. I guess I am hunching over too much. I need to somehow get my monitor higher or something.

1 – a new year begins
2 – gym because I ate too many Christmas cookies
3 – dinner for the cats
4 – some hot chocolate at Starbucks
5 – studying some probability
6 – awesome find at Goodwill
7 – cats eating again
8 – watching Krull (it’s boring)
9 – crab is climbing the glass?!
10 – plink plonk!
11 – getting toasty on the vent
12 – watching a scary movie, aahh!
13 – more cats eating
14 – love this music video for Twilight Force’s Sunlight Knight
15 – reading some Karl Popper
16 – ball track + tissue paper = fun!
17 – reading a classic novel
18 – Xandria music video
19 – found at Goodwill
20 – cats in a cabinet
21 – GPT-3 on 1SE
22 – playing with Midjourney
23 – found at Goodwill
24 – new Twilight Force album!
25 – finished reading this!
26 – watching some Vue talks
27 – started reading this
28 – long Kurosawa documentary
29 – new Xandria album!
30 – cat sitting on the bannister
31 – turtle just chillin’