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Cinema Frivolities

Books

Writing movies for fun and profit
Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant, 2012. An interesting insight of Hollywood.

Some uncanny movies

  • 12 Angry Men (1957)
  • 3 Idiots (2009)
  • 50/50 (2011)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • A History of Violence (2005)
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
  • Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes) (1997)
  • American Beauty (1999)
  • Amour (2012)
  • Analyze This (1999)
  • Atonement (2007)
  • Before Midnight (2013)
  • Before Sunrise (1995)
  • Before Sunset (2004)
  • Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
  • Boyhood (2014)
  • Bronson (2008)
  • Buried (2010)
  • Captain Fantastic (2016)
  • Carnage (2011)
  • Casablanca (1942)
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002)
  • Children of Men (2006)
  • Chinjeolhan geumjassi (Lady Vengeance) (2005)
  • Chugyeogja (The Chaser) (2008)
  • Clerks (1994)
  • Clerks II (2006)
  • Cloud Atlas (2012)
  • Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)
  • Das Experiment (The Experiment) (2001)
  • Dev D (2009)
  • District 9 (2009)
  • Don Jon (2013)
  • Donnie Darko (2001)
  • Eastern Promises (2007)
  • Ed Wood (1994)
  • El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) (2006)
  • Election (1999)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  • Everything Is Illuminated (2005)
  • Eyes wide shut (1999)
  • Falling Down (1993)
  • Filth (2013)
  • Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)
  • Goksung (The Wailing) (2016)
  • Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA (J.S.A.: Joint Security Area) (2000)
  • Groundhog Day (1993)
  • Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann (The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared) (2013)
  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
  • Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) (1966)
  • In Bruges (2008)
  • Incendies (2010)
  • Jisatsu sâkuru (Suicide Club) and one interesting decryption (2002)
  • Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom (The Good, the Bad, and the Weird) (2008)
  • L.A. Confidential (1997)
  • La victoire en chantant (Black and White in Color) (1976)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
  • Lord of War (2005)
  • Madeo (Mother) (2009)
  • Magnolia (1999)
  • Midnight in Paris (2011)
  • Minority Report (2002)
  • Mr. Nobody (2009)
  • Mullholland Dr. (2001)
  • My Cousin Vinny (1992)
  • Nightcrawler (2014)
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
  • Oldeuboi (2003)
  • Only God Forgives (2013)
  • Paris, je t’aime (2006)
  • Perfetti sconosciuti (Perfect Strangers) (2016)
  • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
  • Revolutionary Road (2008)
  • Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
  • Shallow Grave (1995)
  • Smokin’ Aces (2007)
  • Spirited Away (2001)
  • Stoker (2013)
  • Thank You for Smoking (2005)
  • The Act of Killing (2012)
  • The Ambassador (2011)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985)
  • The Fall (2006)
  • The Fountain (2006)
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
  • The Killer Inside Me (2010)
  • The Man from Earth (2007)
  • The Rabbi’s Cat (2011)
  • Three Kings (1999)
  • True Romance (1993)
  • Twelve Monkeys (1995)
  • Up in the Air (2009)
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
  • Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) (2000)
  • World’s Greatest Dad (2009)
  • Youth (2015)

French age certifications

The French movie distribution benefits from a strong anti-censorship lobby which considers age restrictions as censorship and as such as detrimental to art.

As a result, some movies get sometimes surprising age certifications (U = no restriction):

  • 127 Hours: U
  • 300: 12
  • A History of Violence: 12
  • Chugyeogja (The Chaser): 12 (with warning)
  • Drive: 12
  • Eastern Promises: 12
  • El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth): 12
  • Eyes Wide Shut: U
  • Kick-Ass: U
  • Killer Joe: 12
  • Waltz with Bashir: U
  • Watchmen: 12

Computers in movies

Jurassic Park

When Lex tries to take control of one of the computers in the command centre, we get to contemplate how she skillfully navigates the system using a (laggy) 3D file browser. Surprisingly, this is not just an eccentricity of some movie writer, the program, called fsn, actually existed by the time the movie was written. See Wikipedia/Fsn.

An open source and “modern” clone called fsv has been developed, if you’d feel like playing Lex with your computer.

“It’s a UNIX system! I know this!” – Lex Murphy

The Social Network

There is a famous urban legend around M. Zuckerberg who purportedly “hacked” the campus network while being intoxicated. The myth of the genius struck us one more time. While some dark arcane of hackerism spread through the collective mind, the movie shows a much more realistic version of the petty offense:

  • His computer runs KDE3, a Unix desktop environment popular around the events depicted in the movie.
  • He uses some “wget magic”. wget is a popular command-line network downloader. It is ideal to write scripts for batch downloads.
  • He subsequently writes some scripts to automate the queries (e.g. when limited to 20 pictures per page).
  • He fires up Emacs, and modifies some Perl script.

Despite the lack of details, all the steps happen to be mundane tasks related to automated network queries.

Tron: Legacy

The movie shows a (surprisingly) witty use of computers.

Around the beginning of the movie, during the meeting with all the executives, we get a short glimpse at one terminal running an Eshell session, the Elisp shell of Emacs. Most certainly the top of the world in Geekland…

One subliminal frame in the same scene shows a session of Tetris run from Emacs, while the command hanoi-unix was just entered…

When the main character first discovers the secret room with the terminal, his first reflex is to type the following meaningful commands:

$ whoami
flynn

If you’d be given a computer that has kept running for years, you’d like to know who was using it last. This is what he is checking.

$ uname -a
SolarOS 4.0.1 Generic_50203-02 sun4m i386
Unknown.Unknown

uname is a universal command for showing the type of system the machine is running. It appropriately shows the OS name (a cross-over between SunOS and Solaris?), the version, the kernel (Generic…), the machine hardware name (i386, a popular architecture by Intel), and possibly the “Unknown” hostname, which unveils the latent mystery around the machine!

$ login -n root
Login incorrect
login: backdoor
No home directory specified in password file!
Logging in with home=/

Now this gets a little more creative: login with the backdoor name is a very naive method to hack your way toward full-privileged access to a computer!

# bin/history
...

history is usually a command embedded in the shell, but never mind… It would have been much more sensible to run the history command when logged as flynn, and not as backdoor.

It shows the list of the last commands that were typed. Again, it totally makes sense to do so if you want to investigate how a computer was used the last time.

Among the various history entries, we can recognize the compilation of some program, the editing of the last will, some system status checks and finally the execution of the Grid simulator (last command), which projects our hero to a virtual world.

Nmap vs. Hollywood

See the official website for an impressive list of movies in which Nmap gets to be a rock star!

Silicon Valley

In S03E06, Bachmanity Insanity, we get of the GitHub account of Winnie. The creators of the show did create an account on the real website: https://github.com/stitchpunk.

Mr. Robot

The TV show is mostly accurate when it comes to cybersecurity. There are some goofs however.

  • I don’t think any serious hacker would consider a CD as a reliable, long-lasting backup medium. Burned CDs typically don’t last much longer than a decade before wearing off.
  • In season 1 (which episode again?) we get a glimpse at a security report: an “hexadecimal” checksum displays random characters out of the entire latin alphabet (off the top of my head, there was an “s” at least). Hexadecimal, as the name implies, in made of 16 characters which are “0123456789abcdef”.
  • It’s not clear why Elliot wipes out chipsets in the microwave. Unless he does not use real-life hardware, those components don’t contain data and thus there should be no need to wipe them.

I’ve spotted a few more missteps while watching the first season a while back but that’s all I can remember now off the top of my head.

Trivia

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Date: 2014-11-24 (Last update: 2018-08-16)

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