Amy is a revealing documentary about Amy Winehouse, the talented jazz singer who died of alcohol abuse in 2011 at the unripened young age of 27. For this era of ubiquitous media, director Asif Kapadia dispenses with the customary talking-head interviews. Instead, he constructs his entire film using home movies, amateur video, news footage, paparazzi photos, and snapshots. He overlays these ready-made cinéma vérité clips with audio-only interviews of Amy's family, friends, colleagues, and a bodyguard. The result is an uncommonly intimate retrospective of Amy's journey from childhood to stardom to flame-out. Although she released only two albums during her brief career, this film confirms her talent and leaves us mourning the unrealized potential of her artistry and her life.
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Jurassic World meets expectations. Faint praise, perhaps, but sequels to sequels to sequels can be dreadful. This fourth installment since Jurassic Park (1993) sticks to the successful formula: genetic engineers breed extinct dinosaurs for a theme park; the creatures escape their enclosures and eat people; some intrepid youngsters are repeatedly endangered; and the creatures eventually lose but leave an opening for another sequel. Also, as usual, the people frequently seem dumber than the Jurassic wildlife, calling into question 65 million years of evolution. Luckily, the main characters compensate for their stupidity with amazing talents, such as outrunning a T-rex in high-heeled dress shoes and squeezing rapid semiautomatic fire from a lever-action rifle. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Love & Mercy is an outstanding biopic of Brian Wilson, the troubled musical genius who wrote most of the Beach Boys' songs. Paul Dano expertly portrays the young Brian in the 1960s who crafts intricate pop hits while struggling against inner and outer demons. John Cusack doesn't look as much like Brian but plays him with grace in middle agea barely functional man who is overmedicated and dominated by a quack doctor. The highlights of this film are the studio recording scenes, which show the measure of Brian's talent in arranging music that sounds light and breezy but is heavily layered and lovingly wrought. Paul Giamatti has a good turn as the overbearing shrink, and Elizabeth Banks convincingly plays the Cadillac salesperson who becomes a guardian angel. No Beach Boys fan should miss this.
San Andreas is an exciting summer blockbuster about earthquakes wrecking California, but don't take it too seriously. Not content to destroy just one city, the filmmakers invent a network of hidden faults that wreaks destruction on Hoover Dam, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and just about everything in between. Meanwhile, our hero is an L.A. helicopter-rescue pilot (Dwayne Johnson, aka "The Rock") who shirks his job responsibilities when he's most needed. Ignoring the beleaguered citizens of his own crumbling city, he first saves his estranged wife, then steals a car, an airplane, and a boat to search for his daughter hundreds of miles away. We're not supposed to notice his reckless behavior or other anomalies, such as the speedboat's ability to zoom through debris-strewn waters without fouling the propellers. Never mind ... it's all in fun.
>> See more mini-reviews, including Tomorrowland ... Ex Machina ... Danny Collins ... Cinderella ... Chappie ... Jupiter Ascending ... Selma ... American Sniper ... A Most Violent Year ... Wild ... The Imitation Game ... Big Eyes ... Nightcrawler ... The Theory of Everything ... Interstellar ... Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) ... Before I Go to Sleep ... Fury ... Kill the Messenger ... The Giver ... and many more!
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Here is an index to more than 180 of Tom's computer articles from BYTE Magazine published from 1992 to 1998. (BYTE ceased publication in June 1998.) Most articles are still available online and include the original photographs, figures, and screen shots.
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- Fujifilm X20 Camera Review. An illustrated field test of a high-quality compact camera, the Fujifilm X20.
- Tom's Oscar Contest. An annual tradition for 25 years, Tom's Oscar Contest is both entertaining and challenging. Hundreds of people have tried to guess who will win an Oscar in each Academy Award category. Competing against them is the computer brain of Tom's famed OscarCalc program, which sometimes wins the contest and always places near the top.
- The Death of BYTE Magazine. In 1998, after 23 years of operation, BYTE Magazine was shut down by its new owner, CMP Media. A year later, CMP launched BYTE.com as a very different web-only publication. To learn the inside story about what happened to the world's second personal computer magazine, see Tom's Unofficial BYTE FAQ: The Death of BYTE Magazine.
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