Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
V for “very good.”

V for “very good.”

SuperWife has earned her title this week by finding good things for us to eat that involve very little cooking, which is a boon considering temperatures outside have been hovering near the century mark for a couple days now, with humidity somewhere between “sauna” and “armpit.” Ugly, hazy air is supposed to continue until Friday’s cold front arrives. This will be of less import once I shell out somewhere around FIVE GRAND to replace our dying air conditioner.

So last night, we couch-potatoed with V for Vendetta, which was quite excellent. Although it doesn’t attempt to approach the thickness of the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, it does a smashing good job of echoing some of the high points. Natalie Portman is exceptional and shows that her riveting turn in Closer was just a prelude. The rest of the cast is also superb, although the editing sometimes gives them short shrift. First time director James McTeigue is a little heavy-handed in the chop shop, leaving some scenes with barely breathing room for the dialogue, much less any emotional beats. The more central set-pieces get all the running time, but I wonder how much stronger the film would have been if it were allowed 10 or 15 minutes longer screen time.

That the story succeeds is largely homage to Moore’s genius as a writer, so it’s a shame, if understandable, that by request his name appears nowhere in the credits. The filmmakers, however, especially the Wachowski Brothers, who wrote the script and hand-picked McTeigue to direct, have definitely imprinted the story with their own sensibilities. This includes both the good — a climactic final scene that’s completely original and provides the sense of Everyman that’s been otherwise sacrificed by making Evey a more proactive character than in the book — and the bad — an overwrought opening speech by “V,” straight out of the same playbook that brought us the equally ponderous closing of The Matrix Reloaded).

I was disappointed that the DVD has no commentaries by the director, actors, or the Wachowskis. But the movie looks and sounds stunning, except for the occasional odd shading effects, which you can chalk up to the unfortunate growing reliance on post-production color timing to protect viewing audiences from (heaven forfend!) the occasional deep shadow. I haven’t watched any of the extras yet, but I hope they go beyond the fluffy promo reel included on the first disc of the 2-DVD set we bought. I have to say that this film might even be more timely post-9/11 than when I first read the book in the late 80’s. In any case, highly recommended.

On the Fedora front, I’m back to working on whipping our build toolchain into shape. I’m testing a lot of it on the release-notes, but many of the changes are about ready to be ported back to our shared pool. Next up will be ripping out my crappy old packaging scripts and replacing them with something shinier.