The Null Device

2003/9/2

This evening, I went to see Cypher, the recent film from Canadian director Vincenzo Natali (who also did Cube). The story was standard noir spy-thriller fare, with deceptions, double-crosses and deeper games, only set in the world of high-tech corporate espionage. The sets and visuals were starkly spectacular; while it was set across a much wider world than Cube, it had a similar feel. There were lots of greys, washed-out colours, and backlit sets, and a good number of sci-fi props for good measure. (Though some parts of it -- the helicopter, for one -- look a bit too obviously computer generated.) Parts of it (the conference sequence in particular, with its juxtaposition of the workaday and fantastic) recalled the work of another edgy Canadian director, David Cronenberg.

With the title and high-tech setting, there will be inevitable comparisons to the Matrix films. The key difference (other than the budget) is that Cypher is a more psychological film; whereas the Matrix' characters move like characters in a Greek drama, motivated to illustrate philosophical points and give the audience a high-tech thrill ride, the protagonist of Cypher seems to be more of a complete human being, though one apparently out of his depth in a claustrophobic nightmare world, which makes it more compelling.

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2003/9/1

WIRED tracks down the guy behind all those spams asking to buy time machine parts to travel back in time and fix his broken life (and didn't we all wish we could do that at some stage?) It appears that he's a commercial spammer/conman who was driven to insanity by the relentless hounding of the anti-spam gestapo. Either that or it's some sort of scam. (via Techdirt)

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This is not the Onion: As the WTO prepare to meet in Mexico, local security forces have drawn up a list of anti-globalisation activists. The list has been met with anger by other activists, protesting their absence from the list.

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Sydney's public radio landscape is looking like a bit less of a wasteland, now that FBi Radio, a new community FM station along the lines of PBS/RRR, has opened. The initial programming looks quite promising; Peter Hollo has a programme on Sunday nights, playing glitchy laptop electronica and such, and Leigh of Traffic Sounds has an indie programme on Monday nights. There's also something called The Discordian Hour, but it appears to be a drugmusic mix of some sort, and not an Hour of Slack-style bulldada programme.

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FBI arrests Windows virus author. 18-year-old high school student Jeffrey Lee "teekid" Parson, accused of authoring/modifying the Blaster virus/worm, has been described as popular and likeable a loner with few friends.

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New studies from the U.S. show that suburbia makes you fat. The studies show that the residents of sprawling counties in the U.S. tend to weigh six pounds more than their counterparts in more compact areas, which is caused by the lack of safe pedestrian areas which encourages a sedentary lifestyle. Of course, this wouldn't wash with Libertarians, who would argue that obesity is strictly a personal failing on behalf of the deficient individuals who lacked the willpower to drive to the gym, hand over their credit card and work off the pounds piled on through the Miracle of Progress (i.e., the lack of archaic facilities such as footpaths in their neighbourhoods).

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