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Venice Film Review: ‘The Memory of Water’

Toward the end of Matias Bize1 s The Memory of Water2, an attractive couple unable to cope with the death of their child take to the woods to talk things over. Next to the sylvan chaos of Antichrist, these two telenovela-pretty parents have it easy: There are no smashed genitals or talking foxes here to get in the way of a reconciliation, just the enormous guilt of what both parties could have done to prevent the drowning of their 4-year-old son. Bize has a gift for making audiences identify with such emotionally trying situations, though his oh-so-polite fifth feature errs on the side of good taste, and it s a bit of a yawn by comparison not only to holy terror Lars von Trier, but to Bize s previous work as well.

Two years ago, Venice Days attendees voted Bize s 2011 relationship drama The Life of Fish their favorite film of the decade, and though that movie won a Goya and was selected by Chile to compete in the Academy Awards, it has never been released in the United States. Like Life, Memory also premiered in Venice Days, and though Bize s characters would be the first to admit that life s not fair, it s a shame American audiences have never been in the position to sample this talented director s work which is characterized by subtlety and care, rather than brazen tearjerker tactics, even though all of his films are about crying (the title of his third feature) in one way or another. In The Memory of Water, a beautiful woman s eyes well with tears as she fusses with the pool cover behind the house where she, a Spanish translator named Amanda (Elena Anaya, the plastic-surgery patient in Pedro Almodovar s The Skin I Live In ), and her architect husband, Javier (Chilean TV star Benjamin Vicuna), were happiest. Now she can hardly stand to look at Javier, whose features remind her of their dead son, Pedro. It s not immediately stated, but one can infer that the swimming pool played some role in their current predicament if not from the opening scene, then from the look architect Javier gives a bit later while helping a pair of family friends plan their dream home (when the couple mentions a pool, he tenses up). Where does love go? Bize wants to know, continuing his career-long exploration of that unanswerable question via a project that boasts a more ambitious scope and better production values than his previous pics (it s the first to span weeks, rather than unfolding in real time), but also a more contrived underlying concept. After Pedro s death, Amanda insists upon a separation, reconnecting with an old flame (Nestor Cantillana), rather than trying to work things out with her husband. While Bize clearly feels for Amanda s character, his focus is disproportionately weighted toward Javier s pain, devoting long wordless scenes to his wordless suffering. Even the film s color scheme has been engineered to underscore Javier s dolorous condition: blue sheets, blue clothes, blue bicycle, blue mood.

Like the couple s affectionate sheepdog, whose fate becomes another lynchpin in Amanda and Javier s emotional evolution, young Pedro is little more than a device in this case, one invented to pry apart a previously happy couple. Although Bize strives to find the most elegant way to communicate their loss (the title card appears at the end of a slow-moving pan up a bedroom wall, where the parents have indicated Pedro s growth in crayon, the height marks ending at age 4), it all feels a little too calculated, bordering on glib at times. To show the tragedy outright might have amounted to exploitation, and yet such tasteful indirectness undermines the helmer s trademark sense of naturalism. Despite the everyday settings and just-unstable-enough handheld lensing, we can sense the acting in Anaya and Vicuna s performances, and as a result, the cathartic scenes ring false even despite the crutch of Diego Fontecilla s feel-something score, which supplies the sort of ribcage-vibrating instrumentation that normally makes people go misty. In the past, Bize and co-writer Julio Rojas managed to convey their characters most important sentiments via subtext, relying on glances rather than monologues. Here, we can t necessarily intuit what Amanda and Javier are thinking, but it s almost worse when they open their mouths, over-explaining what ought to have been left unsaid (e.g. No one is innocent, except Pedro ). Still, while so many of his contemporaries cloak themselves in cynicism and irony, Bize admirably proceeds in that most vulnerable of modes with unabashed sincerity daring to let his ensemble show frailty, the macho Chilean ideal be damned. While it lacks the spontaneity of a Rainer Werner Fassbinder or John Cassavetes movie (indirect influences on the director, whose style is essentially Chile s answer to mumblecore), The Memory of Water candidly explores how a couple works around whatever scar tissue might be numbing the feelings they once had.

Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Sept. 1, 2015. Running time: 88 MIN. (Original title: La memoria del agua )

Production

(Chile-Spain-Argentina-Germany) A Ceneca Prods. production, in coproduction with Potenza Prods., Sudestada Cine, NiKo Film, with the participation of TVE, Arte, with the support of CAIA, INCAA, ICAA, Ibermedia. (International sales: Global Screen, Munich.) Produced by Adrian Solar. Executive producer3, Diego Valenzuela. Co-producers, Carlo D’Ursi, Ignacio Rey Nicole Gerhards.

Crew

Directed by Matias Bize. Screenplay, Julio Rojas, Bize. Camera4 (color, widescreen), Arnaldo Rodriguez; editor5, Valeria Hernandez; music, Diego Fontecilla; production designer, Sebastian Olivari; costume designer, Pamela Chamorro; sound, Federico Billordo; sound designer, Martin Grignaschi; visual effects supervisor, Mauro Contreras.

With

Elena Anaya, Benjamin Vicuna, Nestor Cantillana, Sergio Hernandez, Silvia Marty, Antonia Zegers, Pablo Cerda. (Spanish dialogue)

References

  1. ^ Matias Bize (variety.com)
  2. ^ The Memory of Water (variety.com)
  3. ^ producer (variety411.com)
  4. ^ Camera (variety411.com)
  5. ^ editor (variety411.com)

DxO One review – The Verge

Now, my usual photo workflow includes a little bit of everything. I ll shoot with my phone when it s convenient but my favorite way to take, edit, and post pictures is to use a camera with Wi-Fi or an EyeFi card, sending photos over to my phone for editing and sharing. But this process is often slow and unruly, and I ve been looking for something better. If I can scratch together ?599, I think I ve found it.

This is DxO’s first hardware, and it’s great

DxO, a company best known for developing a rating system for image sensors1, made a camera to solve just this problem. It s called the DxO One, and it plugs right into any Apple device with a Lightning port. It s the company s first attempt at hardware, and I hope it s not the last, because it s rather exceptional. The One is a rounded-off rectangle that measures about 1 inch wide by just under 3 inches tall, and it weighs less than an average smartphone. There s a tiny OLED touchscreen on the back (for switching between shooting photos and videos), along with a trap door for charging and the microSD card. On the front there s a sliding lens cover that, when pulled down, turns the camera on. On top of the camera is the two-stage shutter button. It s springy, but it gets the job done. And on the left side of the DxO One is a swiveling Lightning connector that flips out when you pull the lens cover down all the way to the bottom of the camera.

DxO One Review - The Verge

DxO One Review - The Verge

DxO One Review - The Verge

DxO One Review - The Verge

It’s a photographic powerhouse at this size

Using the Lightning port is a big part of the DxO One s appeal because it saves you all the steps of transferring images from your camera to your device. To start, the DxO One app will automatically open as soon as you plug in the camera. (You do have to be on the home screen, though.) As you re shooting, the camera gives you a live, high-definition feed of what it s seeing, and will serve up the pictures you take in real time, just like any other digital camera. The ability to work through the Lightning port makes the One a very convenient camera to use, but the physical connection feels a little loose. It s fine when you have both hands on, say, your phone and the camera, but shooting with the One by just gripping the camera is a dangerous act. On my first day with the camera I was being a little too confident with it, and when I turned my phone the camera slipped right out and rattled around on the floor. (The good news is the DxO One can, apparently, withstand at least one drop of about 5 feet.)

The DxO One is a photographic powerhouse, considering its size. Inside the housing is an f1.8 lens that is sharp and great for low light photography, and it has a minimum focusing distance of just 20 centimeters. It has a battery that will last you more than 200 shots, or a few hours of heavy use. But what really makes the DxO One unique is it uses a 1-inch sensor. The camera is hardly bigger than a GoPro, and yet it has the same size sensor as what s found in the Sony RX100, or in Nikon s J1 and V1 cameras, or about two and a half times the size of the sensor in an iPhone 6. The DxO One is capable of shooting 20.2 megapixel DNG raw and JPEG images, as well as 1080p video. (It can even shoot slow motion at 120 frames per second, although it s limited to 720p.) Since Apple devices can t display DNG or RAW format images, the camera will flash a JPEG preview on your device so that you can review what you shot. These can take a second or two to render, however, which slows down the whole experience and could cause you to miss moments especially if you re trying to capture something that s moving fast. (DxO says a burst mode of about 8 frames per second is coming in a software update.) And whichever format you shoot in, the camera defaults to saving a JPEG on your phone every time you take a picture, but you can and probably should change this.

Even with those limitations in mind, shooting with the DxO One was some of the most fun I ve had taking pictures in recent memory. A lot of that comes from being able to just throw the camera in my pocket any pocket, really. (This thing even fits comfortably in a shirt pocket.) Not only was it always on me, I didn t hesitate to bring it with me on a long bike ride, when I normally would have thought twice about slinging a camera around my neck. The fun also comes from the ways you can shoot. Much like cameras with tilting LCD touchscreens, you don t have to exclusively use the One at eye level. Because the lightning connector can pivot about 60 degrees in either direction, you can hold your device and the DxO One as low as your belt or as high as your arms will reach and still be able to line up a shot.

DxO One sample photos2

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This made it particularly great for street photography. My favorite thing to do with the DxO One was to carry it at the hip and shoot as I walked through the streets of New York City. You can even use the camera when it s not plugged into a device, if you want to be really inconspicuous with your shooting. The camera s 32mm equivalent focal length is wide enough that it s hard to miss your target, even if you re shooting blind, but isn t so wide that it s hard to make out what you were targeting. Each day I was able to take (great) photos walking to, from, and even on the subway that I never would have bothered to attempt with most other cameras. Where the DxO really shines is when you re shooting a subject close up, particularly in low light. The f1.8 lens does such a good job separating subjects from the background that photos at this aperture really pop. But if there s one issue I have with the image quality it s that the camera s software removes too much noise during the conversion to JPEG. I m fine with this in extreme low light situations a handful of shots I took at a bar at ISO 10,000 were far better than anything I could have gotten on my phone but when it happens at lower ISO speeds, the effect is unpleasant and makes otherwise sharp images look a little bit muddy. (The camera also offers a mode called “SuperRAW,” which is a proprietary format that uses four separate raw images to reduce noise in low light.)

On the left, a raw DNG file shot at ISO 10,000. On the right, the compressed JPEG that the DxO One processed and sent to my phone.

While the hardware is great, the DxO One would be pretty useless without decent software. But the app that DxO has made is excellent, and would be one of the best-designed photo apps on iOS even without the camera accompanying it. Settings such as ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and exposure bias are all quickly accessible on the left side of the screen, while small bubbles on the right give you access to the different PSAM modes and things like flash control. It’s fast and simple, and there’s more on the way here as well DxO says features like manual focus will be added down the road. From the app, to the image quality, to the ease of use, I was really floored by how much fun I had with the DxO One. But in the end, it s probably not going to disrupt how I take most of my photos, and it s hard to see how it could disrupt anyone else s. It s a device that s really made for photo enthusiasts like myself, but at ?599, even most enthusiasts will have to think twice about making a purchase.

In fact, that amount of money would get me a long way toward upgrading my X100S to something with faster, built-in Wi-Fi, a bigger sensor than the DxO One, and maybe even some lenses to play with. If you ve been trying to find the right balance between extreme portability and great image quality, this might be the perfect camera for you. But mirrorless cameras keep getting smaller, and it won t be long before phone cameras catch up. Hopefully by then, we ll have an even better, cheaper DxO Two.

References

  1. ^ rating system for image sensors (www.theverge.com)
  2. ^ DxO One sample photos (www.theverge.com)
  3. ^ Previous (www.theverge.com)
  4. ^ Next (www.theverge.com)

Roku Streaming Stick 2016 review:

If I could only recommend one device for streaming video today, it would be the new Roku Streaming Stick. At £50 it’s one of the least expensive home video devices you can buy. It’s also one of the best. Roku is the king of streaming, with more worthwhile apps than anybody else. Its search runs circles around the competition, hitting most major services and presenting the results by price. And I like its interface better too, with its full customization giving the power to arrange the apps you want, where you want them. The old Roku Stick1 was my favorite device of its kind, mainly because it offered the cheapest way to get Roku’s service. I also loved the tiny design, allowing it to be tucked up behind a TV, out of sight, or even slipped into a pocket for easy portability. But I always found it too slow to respond, especially with complex apps.

The new version — available for sale as of April 20 — is much faster, just as speedy in everyday use as the Roku 22 and Roku 33 boxes, and feels as responsive as any modern streaming device. It lacks the headphone4 jack and voice search found on the Roku 3’s remote, but you can use both of those features via Roku’s app on your phone, and they work great. Is there any reason not to buy the Roku Stick? Maybe if you’re perfectly happy with your current streamer. Or you don’t mind paying extra for that fancy Roku 3 remote, or you want the 4K streaming available on the Roku 45. If you have a bunch of stuff on iTunes6 or want to play phone or tablet7 games on the big screen, get an Apple TV8. If you really love using your phone instead of a dedicated remote, or want to put video from your computer on your TV, go with a Chromecast9. There are a few other good reasons to buy something other than a Roku10, but most are corner cases or involve streaming “files” on your home network. Streaming video is more popular than ever, and the new Roku Stick is simply the best device at the best price for pretty much all of your streaming needs.

Roku Streaming Stick 2016 Review:

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Small is beautiful (and fast)

If you think there must be some benefit to the larger size of a device like the Roku 2, let me disabuse you of that notion. The only advantage the £70 Roku 2 box has over the £50 Stick is a wired Ethernet connection. If you have wired Internet near your TV, and especially if your home Wi-Fi network isn’t great, then you might want to get a box instead. In my testing on a couple of Wi-Fi networks the Stick worked flawlessly. It connected to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks without any problem, and served up video with no delays. As expected video took a second or two to ramp up to full quality, but that’s normal for streamers, and the Stick performed just as well as any other in this area. I could quibble that it doesn’t support the fastest “ac” Wi-Fi standard, like the Roku 4 and Chromecast do, but it worked great nonetheless.

Roku Streaming Stick 2016 Review:

Roku Streaming Stick 2016 Review:

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The new Stick is fast. Roku says it’s eight times faster than the old (2014) Stick, thanks to a new quad-core processor. I performed a couple of speed tests between the Sticks (old and new), the Roku 2 and the Amazon Fire TV Stick11. The new Stick launched apps much faster than the old one and at basically the same speed as the Roku 2, and beat the Amazon stick handily. It moved smoothly through the menus — better than the other two sticks — and responded quickly to other remote commands.

The new Stick also boots faster, which is nice if you plan to connect it to the USB port on your TV for power. It took about 28 seconds to power up, besting the Chromecast (35 seconds) and both the old Roku stick and the Fire TV stick (which both took more than a minute). I still recommend pluggin the new Stick into AC power using the included adapter, to avoid any bootup time at all.

Roku Streaming Stick 2016 Review:

Roku Streaming Stick 2016 Review:

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The Stick will fit fine into the HDMI ports of most TVs, but not all. If the port you want to use is recessed, the length of the Stick, plus the power cable, plus the HDMI jack itself might be too much. You’ll need about 3.75 inches. If your TV’s connection is too tight you might have to use a “port saver,” which is basically a short female-to-male HDMI extension cable. Amazon includes one in the box with its streaming stick, but Roku does not. Meanwhile the new Chromecast’s clever design, with its built-in floppy cable, obviates the issue entirely.

Also notable is that the device even has a remote. To be clear, you can set it aside and use only the remote app on your iPhone or Android phone instead. But I mostly love the basic design of the simple clicker (identical to that of previous Roku models) for navigating the onscreen menu and basic transport controls. And, because it’s not an infrared remote, it doesn’t need to be pointed at anything — it works via a form of Wi-Fi as long as it’s in the same room.

References

  1. ^ old Roku Stick (www.cnet.com)
  2. ^ Roku 2 (www.cnet.com)
  3. ^ Roku 3 (www.cnet.com)
  4. ^ headphone (www.cnet.com)
  5. ^ Roku 4 (www.cnet.com)
  6. ^ iTunes (www.cnet.com)
  7. ^ tablet (www.cnet.com)
  8. ^ Apple TV (www.cnet.com)
  9. ^ Chromecast (www.cnet.com)
  10. ^ buy something other than a Roku (www.cnet.com)
  11. ^ Amazon Fire TV Stick (www.cnet.com)