Fury stars Brad Pitt as an American tank commander fighting in Germany in the waning days of World War II. The plot is classic war movie: hard-nosed sergeant (Pitt in top form) shapes up bright-eyed young replacement who gets his first baptism of fire. Unlike movies made by the actual WWII generation, however, this one strives for greater realism. That means more gore, of course, but it also tries to show the soul-hardening effects of mortal combat. These tank crewmen are beyond war weary; war is their normal life now. We won't be surprised by anything they do, which is portrayed most effectively by a nerve-racking scene in which they barge into the apartment of two young German women. Writer/director David Ayer artfully extends this scene much longer than you can hold your breath. But as the film rolls toward its climax, the old war-movie clichés emerge, and you'll almost wish these soldiers will die heroically in action so they won't have to face a bleak life of maladjustment back home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mini Movie Reviews
Tom's Guitar Cheat Sheet
BYTE Magazine Archive
Unofficial BYTE FAQ
( R.I.P. 1975-1998 )
(free Java applet)
(free Java applet)
Tom's Oscar Contest
Tom's Oscar Contest
Tom's Oscar Contest
Hall of Fame
Favorite Web Links
to build this site
About the Electric Brain
Who is Tom?
Kill the Messenger is based on the true story of a newspaper reporter who linked the Reagan administration's secret funding of the Contras guerrilla war in Nicaragua with drug dealers who exported tons of cocaine to the U.S. in the 1980s. His exposé of guns, money, and drugs initially won accolades but soon was attacked by the rival news outlets he had scooped. Jeremy Renner skillfully plays reporter Gary Webb as a crusading journalist with a flawed character who finds himself overwhelmed by the opposition he stirs up. Although the movie glosses over some inaccuracies in his reporting, it gets the basic facts right in an almost forgotten scandal.
The Giver is a mediocre science-fiction tale about a future society that has eliminated crime, war, civil strife, and poverty by also eliminating emotion, free enterprise, most personal freedom, and all memories of human history. It's a wrap-around society in which utopia meets dystopia. The sole exception is The Receiver, a special person chosen to receive all the memories and experiences of the past in order to offer occasional advice to the political leaders. Despite adequate performances by Meryl Streep (the Chief Elder), Jeff Bridges (the aging Receiver), and Brenton Thwaites (the next-generation Receiver), this movie goes downhill fast after the young man discovers his society's secrets. Huge plot holes start appearing, and the climax veers from science fiction into sheer fantasy. Similar films (The Village, 2004) have suffered similar fates; the classic in this genre is Logan's Run (1976).
Boyhood is a movie unlike any other. Writer/director Richard Linklater (Fast Food Nation, School of Rock, Dazed & Confused) spent 12 years filming the story of a boy growing up to adulthood. No makeup tricks needed here. In 166 minutes, we see the cast of children and adults genuinely grow older before our eyes. Although some documentaries have achieved similar feats, Boyhood is a feature film that required its actors to rendezvous every year to play a few scenes. And it's not just a gimmickthe screenwriting is exceptional, too. Ellar Coltrane stars as the young boy who begins the film at age 7. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are brilliant as his star-crossed parents. The supporting cast, including many child actors, is equal to the challenge. The 12-year story arc dramatizes the difficulties of growing up, of parenting, and of maintaining relationships. It mixes documentary realism with fictional storytelling so successfully that it's almost a new film genre.
>> See more mini-reviews, including Lucy ... Magic in the Moonlight ... Begin Again ... Godzilla ... Edge of Tomorrow ... Maleficent ... Finding Vivian Maier ... The Grand Budapest Hotel ... The Monuments Men ... 12 Years a Slave ... Her ... August: Osage County ... Lone Survivor ... The Wolf of Wall Street ... American Hustle ... Inside Llewyn Davis ... Nebraska ... The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ... All Is Lost ... Ender's Game ... and many more!
Tom's Inflation Calculator
Tom's Inflation Calculator includes the latest U.S. government inflation data plus alternative data sets. Both calculators are free and will automatically run in your web browser after clicking on the links above. By using historical data and forecasts, they can adjust U.S. dollar amounts for retail price inflation either forward or backward in time for any years between 1665 and 2100. (The alternative data sets have narrower ranges.)
Common Terms Defined
Are you baffled by a technical term or acronym you've never seen before? Or just curious about the latest techie slang? Tom's Computer Dictionary may have the answer. From "AAC" to "zoo virus," it defines more than 800 terms in plain language.
Fuji X20 Review
Read my in-depth review of the new Fujifilm X20 compact digital camera on the Maximum PC magazine website. Access is free!
Guitar Cheat Sheet
Do you want to learn the most common major and minor guitar chords? Instantly transpose songs from one major key to another? Find out which major and minor chords go together? Play scales in any major key? Learn the notes on the fretboard? It's easy! And it's free! Just download and print Tom's Guitar Cheat Sheet.
Index to Tom's Articles
Here's an index to more than 380 of Tom's articles in Microprocessor Report and Networking Report, the insider's guides to microprocessors and networking semiconductors. Learn about embedded processors, microcontrollers, digital-signal processors, and other chip-related topics. (Subscription required for most articles.)
Test Your Java Security
How safe is your system from hostile Java applets? Find out with JSecure, one of Tom's free applets. JSecure harmlessly tests the security manager of your Web browser or applet viewer by trying to access information from your computer's operating system and hard disk. Try it today!
Scramble Text With ROTator
ROTator is a Java applet that lets you encode and decode text in the popular Internet format known as "ROT 13." Lots of other programs do that, too, but Tom's ROTator applet goes further by allowing you to encode and decode text in any rotational letter-substitution format. With ROTator, you can shift the letters left or right, and you can shift them by any number of letters from ROT 1 to ROT 26.
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.
And more stuff...
- Tom's Mini Movie Reviews. Snappy reviews of recent movies, like those in the blue column on the left. Reviews that scroll off the column end up on the Mini Movie Reviews page.
- Shutterbug Articles. More than a dozen of Tom's photography articles from Shutterbug magazine are now online. Learn how to personalize your film speed, banish dust from your darkroom, make professional-looking postcards, find the best deals on used cameras, create special effects with open flash, and more.
- 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.
- Tom's Favorite Web Links. Find information about personal computers, microprocessors, Java, and other technologies. There are quite a few photography-related sites, plus some offbeat places you've never been. Lots of new links!
- Tools for Web Builders. The hardware, software, programming tools, and books used to build this web site might be useful to you, too. Most of these tools are linked to their vendors' web sites so you can find more information.
Visitors to this web site since August 29, 1966:
Last site update: October 31, 2014