movies

What's Good on TCM This Week?

I like old movies. In the old days, we had TV stations known as "UHF channels" that showed lots of old movies all night long. But UHF channels are gone, and today all we have is the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel and website.

I like film noir, sci-fi, horror, and westerns. TCM has a lot of these movies, but it also shows a lot of stuff I'm not interested in. I don't like browsing the upcoming schedule via the TCM website or via my cable provider's interface, so I wanted a way to generate a schedule just for me so that I can record good stuff on my DVR, or watch available movies on Watch TCM or my cable provider's on-demand service.

It turns out that TCM offers a web services APIs that allow one to retrieve schedule information. So I've whipped up a script that that grabs the schedule for the next week and identifies the movies that match my preferences.

The result is a web page: What's Good on TCM?.

The page displays the movies coming up during the next week that might "good" according to my taste. You can click the name of a movie or name of a director, actor, or screenwriter to search the TCM database for more information.

Your preferences may not match mine. That's OK; if you are a computer person, you might be able to customize my script to find your musicals or romances or screwball comedies or whatever it is you want. It's available on GitHub: https://github.com/kristopherjohnson/kjtcmws.

Why I Loved The Social Network

I'm writing this the night before the Oscars, but that is not why I'm writing. I only saw three of the films nominated for Best Picture: The King's Speech, True Grit, and The Social Network. While I enjoyed The King's Speech and True Grit,, I haven't thought about them since I saw them. In contrast, I still think about The Social Network every day.

For some, The Social Network is just a story about how an arrogant jerk became a billionaire by screwing over his friends and business associates. I didn't see it that way. To me, it is a story about the nature of creativity and invention.

Objectified: Great Documentary

I just finished watching Objectified, and can wholeheartedly recommend it to audiences of all ages.

Objectified is about industrial designers. Those are the people who design all the stuff we buy. Look around you: that desk you're sitting at was designed by somebody. The mouse and keyboard were designed by somebody. That lamp was designed by somebody. The chair you're sitting in was designed by somebody.

We often think that consumerism and mass production takes the human element out of life, but Objectified will make you look at all those little works of art that surround us. Sure, there may be ten million copies of each thing, made by people in sweatshops, but somewhere there was a person who thought about it and made a lot of decisions. What shape should it be? What color should it be? What texture should it have? Should the edges be sharp or rounded? What should it be made of? How will it be manufactured? How much will people pay for it? What should the packaging look like? How can it be disposed of?

Objectified presents interviews with the people who do that. It may be a little geeky (how many people really care?), but it will give you a new appreciation for all that stuff you buy.

I rented it from iTunes. Next I'm going to watch Helvetica, which was directed by the same guy.

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