American Made - believable only because its real

This is one of those stories that pass the reasonability test only because they are real. Tom Cruise's "American Made" is the unbelievable but true story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who becomes  embroiled in all sorts of international crime and espionage. This is such a great crime-caper, the kinds we so rarely get these days. It is just so much fun to just sit back and watch as layers and layers of insanity get piled on top of each other and you must suspend your disbelief because you know this (or something really close to this) actually happened. Reminded me to Charlie Wilson's War - another Great American intelligence film where the consequences of seemingly simple actions are so profound. 

The haunting drama of Wind River

Maybe its something about the brutality of snow in the paradoxical claustrophobia of wide wilderness of snow-capped mountains that makes something about winter so haunting and self-reflecting. "Wind River" was easily one of the best films I saw this year. It is a haunting story of a brutal death/murder in the strange, melancholic back country of Wyoming. 

The film is sad and beautiful. Jeremy Renner has grown so much as an actor. Elizabeth Olsen is easily the top Olsen sister. 

 

iPhone X - first impressions

I’ve had the iPhone X for about 4 days now. Here are some early initial observations. Overall more positive than I was fearing but I am afraid unlike the rest of the internet, I don't really see "the future" staring at me in this phone yet. I would say it largely feels the same as previous phones - which though is a massive credit to Apple because this phone is, in its own small ways, is the most different from previous iPhones.

The portrait mode on the iPhone X offers some passable bokeh options

The portrait mode on the iPhone X offers some passable bokeh options

Handling

  • The phone feels huge and heavy in the hand - much much bigger than the 7 even though it is only marginally bigger
  • Handling is awkward - my hand barely reaches anything at - the bottom or the top making one-handed use quite difficult. It is decidedly an odd-shaped thing.
  • The notch is stupid but you don’t seem to notice it as much as I thought I would

Screen

  • It looks good and probably a bit better than the 7 but my tired old eyes really don’t notice much improvement. 

Face ID

  • Happy to report that it has worked as expected so far. I don’t really miss the Touch ID
  • It feels just slightly slower inside apps but feels just the same and even better when used to unlock the phone

Battery Life

  • So far so good - too early to tell - all new phones perform well. The real test is after 6-8 months of heavy usage
  • Wireless charging is useful though quite slow to be the only way to charge so not getting rid of the umpteen lightening charging cables I have

Camera

  • The 56mm lens (‘portrait’) is useful and the software blurring is a good option and works quite well even though it is nowhere near as natural as a regular lens. 
  • Some of the studio lighting options (Stage light for example) are downright dirty, rushed hacks that should never be used. 

Worth $1,400?

  • With taxes and AppleCare you end up paying about $1,400 for this phone - which is about $2 a day. While $1,400 sounds a lot - the phone is  definitely worth 2 dollars a day.