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The Changelog – February 2024

Or, how I wathched more movies than ever in the shortest month of the year.

A screenshot from the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray watching a clock.

February, once again. The shortest month. The one property that always thwarts my plans, in particular with these monthly posts. In fact, you should know that I have a scheduled task to start writing on the 27th of every month. Unfortunately, in February, the month ends the day after, which means I have to write like a madman. This year, luckily, I have an extra day, so it is better to make it count.

Housekeeping

More CSS Play

If you are reading this post on my blog, you will notice that the heading of the Reading section is no longer an image. One of the most boring parts of writing this letter was assembling the book covers into a playful image. I had to use Pixelmator, a bunch of layers and effects, position the images, adjust the sizes, and so on. It never took me more than 20 minutes, but it was a tedious task.

A couple of days ago, dreading the experience, I told myself that I could have done the same in CSS. The result is that I spent far too much time on it, but now I will never think about it again.

The code is still rough, but I am pretty pleased with the result. So pleased that I made a Hugo shortcode for my blog to automate it, and an Obsidian plugin to show the same image in my vault. It is still not public (I literally completed everything on February 29th), but it will be soon.

From Netlify back to my Hosting server

Due to some concerning events, this month I moved the website back from Netlify to my old server. If I did it correctly, you should not notice anything.

By reactivating the server, I also recovered my old Italian blog Slashcode, and I decided to archive it with Archivebox. More on this in a later post. :)

Reading

I surprisingly read three books in February 2024. I say “surprisingly” because, as we will see, part of my reading time has been invaded by movies. But let’s not go ahead of ourselves.

  • Kill it with Fire by Marianne Bellotti – I don’t know how I stumbled upon a book on the modernization of legacy software applications, but here we are.
  • How Hitchens Can Save the Left by Matt Johnson – Hitchens is one of the people who inspired and continues to inspire my thoughts, even when I don’t agree with him. This is a detailed biography of his political thoughts and why it would have been fun to have him around in these troubled times. I agree. It would have been fun.
  • Stolen Focus by Johann Hari – Why, in modern days, do we find it so hard to focus on anything serious? This is one of the many books that try to answer this question. It is probably the most complete and in-depth one. However, it is virtually divided into two parts: a first part that reads like a novel, which is very interesting and inspiring, and a second part in which the author tries too hard to read into things. The good thing is that he acknowledges it.

Watchlist

This month, I watched 13 movies. They are more movies than what I watched in 2023, 2022, and 2021 combined. It is not a lot for many people, but it is for me. Many of them are due to my “challenge” (I hate this word) to watch the most popular movies I never watched from all the years ending in 4. Then, after I removed YouTube rabbit holes from my evenings, I discovered I liked it, so I watched other things.

The result is a list of movies that is too long for my usual “let’s review with two paragraphs each one of them” approach. So, here’s what we’re going to do: I will go into more detail for the best 3, and then I’ll list the rest with a one-line review. If you want more, my Letterbox profile is just around the corner.

It Happened One Night (1934)

A screenshot from It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert during the hitchhike scene.

What an adorable movie! I enjoyed every bit of it. It is fascinating to see a movie ninety years later and still find so many relatable bits in the skirmish between two people falling in love. It is considered the first rom-com movie and, if so, it will still outrank a big chunk of its successors.

This is, for sure, the movie I enjoyed the most this month.

And I found it funny to read that, during the shooting, nobody believed in the movie. Frank Capra was really pessimistic about it. Claudette and Clark were dubious about the reception of the movie. And yet, here it is, a century later, with people still loving it.

Gaslight (1944)

Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman in a scene of the Gaslight movie.

What a movie! It’s almost two hours long, but it passes without any hiccups. I think the greatness lies in the characters. They are all perfect and sharp, as if each one of them were a bright color. Ingrid Bergman deservedly won an Academy Award for her performance in this film. Charles Boyer nails his character: you want to punch him in the face from the second frame. Joseph Cotten looks like he was born to play a detective. Angela Lansbury, at the age of 18 or 19 at the time, is awesome as the slightly rude servant (it’s amazing how she transmits such a modern “teenager energy”). And how can we not talk about “Bloodthirsty Bessie”?

And to think that I only knew it as the movie that popularized the term “gaslighting.”

The Batman (2022)

Batman and Catwoman in a scene of the movie The Batman (2022). On the background, Gotham City at sunset.

I am a sucker for Batman’s movies. There are numerous reasons why I enjoy Batman stories (movies, games, comics, etc.), but my favorite is that Batman’s characters are archetypes. As archetypes, they are primary colors used by authors to paint their works in any way they desire.

So, every time the series reboots and new authors get their hands on Batman’s human archetype palette, I am eager to see what they will create with it.

Am I pleasantly surprised by this particular instantiation? Yes, indeed. The aspect I appreciated the most was Bruce Wayne. He is not portrayed as the handsome, charismatic, philanthropic billionaire. Instead, he is depicted as a depressed, isolated, disgusting, self-absorbed young man hidden away in his basement, squandering his wealth on gadgets, oblivious to the fact that the Wayne Foundation is being exploited by Gotham’s criminal underworld.

Usually, Batman is the dark, tormented alter ego of the brilliant, charismatic Bruce. However, here the roles are reversed: Bruce finds strength, freedom, and his true self only when hidden behind Batman’s mask. (This point is explicitly referenced in a dialogue between Batman and the imprisoned Riddler in the final act.)

I also liked The Riddler. He is not portrayed as a flamboyant, colorful character but rather as another secluded, very smart, incel-like, smart man who is convinced that his actions serve the greater good. It’s difficult not to notice that the movie aims to underscore the similarities between Bruce Wayne and The Riddler (and, in doing so, highlight the differences).

All the rest

  • Chinatown (1974): 👍🕵️‍♂️🔍🌆 - I watched it because I read The Big Sleep last month. Unexpected.(Spoilery Section 1)
  • True Lies (1994): 👍💥🚁 - A ridiculous, exaggerated, unbelievable, unrealistic, over-the-top, chaotic, goofy movie. I loved it.
  • Beverly Hills Cop (1984): 👍 - Very good movie. It represents the birth of an iconic character of the 80s.
  • Beverly Hills Cop II (1987): 🆗🏇 - Not at the level of the first, but still enjoyable.
  • Beverly Hills Cop III (1994): 👎🎢 - A potentially good idea butchered in the execution phase. It redefines the concept of plot armor into new epic levels.
  • My Fair Lady (1964): 👍🌹👒🎶 - “MOVE YOUR BLOOMING ARSE!.”
  • Dial M for Murder (1956): 👍🔪🎭💔 - One of the movie’s major flaws is that there is too little Grace Kelly. But, at least, we have Detective Hubbard.
  • Sabrina (1954): 🤔🎩👗✨ - It’s fine, a bit cringe for today’s standard, I’d say. But Audrey Hepburn is adorable as usual.
  • Sherlock, Jr. (1924): 👍 - You have to know that I adore Buster Keaton. I promise you, you watch this silent movie from 100 years ago, and you will exclaim “how the fu*k did they do that!” more times than with a modern Marvel movie.
  • Ready Player One (2018): 💩 - Everything that’s good in the book is not present in the movie. So it is a concentration of cringe gimmicky stuff.

Music

It is not your connection. The cover is a low-quality JPEG on purpose.
Figure 7. It is not your connection. The cover is a low-quality JPEG on purpose.

DJ Rozwell is the alias of James Sherrill, an electronic music producer and multimedia artist from West Virginia, USA. Pinpointing his music is challenging; it spans electronic genres, sometimes reminiscent of chiptune, other times delving into vaporwave, and overall blending elements of instrumental hip-hop. But, if you’ll allow me, I’d just say: he does weird stuff.

One of his most famous creations is NONE OF THIS IS REAL, an album defined as a roguelike album. How can this be? Because it is composed of 57 tracks that must be listened to in shuffle mode with a cross-fade of 5 seconds. This creates approximately 7 × 10^74 different listening experiences, each one with a potential differet interpretation.

Okay, most of the 7 × 10^74 stories would be very similar to each other. Nevertheless, I remain intrigued by the concept that every one of us who listens to this album hears a different version of it.

Anyhow, this is my usual February 2024 collage. I am in a Power Metal Renaissance.

The 25 albums of February 2024.

Gaming

I am still slowly progressing through Bloodborne. Slow and steady.

Other Interesting Things

  • 👾 DungeonCrawlers.org is a website archiving and discussing old-school dungeon crawler game, both new and old. It is a dangerous site if you need or want to do anything work-related. So be careful. 😄

Conclusions

After a year without a true winter, I realized that spring is upon us. I don’t know how to take this news, but I am looking forward to the sweet spring days (hoping we will not skip directly into Scorching Summer territory).

I also realized I do not have any plans for March other than work. Volleyball season is over, Easter is literally a month away, and I have no video games I am itching to play, nor any major deadlines in sight.

I guess it will be another month of movies.

See you next month.

Spoilery Section

  1. I think that a movie ending with a piece of shit damaging women and escaping the law is very fit for Polanski. I’d say prophetic.
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