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Reviewed by Gokhra

Have you noticed that award winning movies aren't usually all that exciting to watch? The Aviator won a multitude of awards and the same question arises? Is it worth the anticipation?

Its based on the real life trials of Howard Hughesvisionary airplane tycoon, movie mogul, insatiable woman-chaser and mad recluse of Las Vegas.

The plot: The movie set around the 50's begins as a comedy. Howard Hughes (DiCaprio) is a good-looking young man who loves flying, movies and is obsessed with big bossoms. Also he has a lot more money than he knows what to do with. He starts off directing a World War I aviation adventure named "Hell's Angels," which was then the most expensive movie ever made. The industry laughed at him, but he finished the movie and it made money, and so did most of his other films. He also produced Hollywood shockers "Scarface" (too much violence) and "The Outlaw" (too much sex). The movie portrays his battles with censor Joe Breen over such movies. There's a row over one of Hughes actresses Jane Russell showing too much cleavage. Hughes brings his meteorology professor (Ian Holm) to the censorship hearing, introduces him as a systems analyst, and has him prove with calipers and mathematics that Russell displays no more cleavage than a control group of five other actresses.

Then there's the hard fought romance where he wins Holluywoods then leading lady the young, untamed Katherine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). She shrewdly sizes up Hughes and is quick to be concerned about his eccentricities. Women were his for the asking but he didn't go for the easy kill. Others included Jean Harlow and Ava Gardner. The latter blew him off when he offered gifts of jewelry with the words "I am not for sale!"

His attention moved from movies to the airplanes in his films and he began designing and building aircraft and eventually bought his own airline. Amazing what you can d when you don't have to bother with formal education lasting way too many years.

Then there's the part in his career with his round-the-world plane trip. These high-soaring scenes end with the film's searing first climax (and most extraordinary moment) that has his experimental plane crash in Beverly Hills ripping through houses. He steps out alive but this is where the movie turns dark.

By the end, darkness is gathering around Hughes. He gets stuck on words and keeps repeating them. He walks into a men's room and then is too phobic about germs to touch the doorknob in order to leave; with all his power and wealth, he has to lurk next to the door until someone else walks in, and he can sneak through without touching anything. Things keep getting worse and Hughes ends up being a lonely old man living out his last few days in a room.

Howard Hughes in his last two decades sealed himself away from the world. At first he haunted a penthouse in Las Vegas, and then he moved to a bungalow behind the Beverly Hills Hotel. He was the world's richest man, and with his billions bought himself a room he never left.

Verdict: It's a movie about a massively wealthy and powerful man who seemed trapped in a teenage boy's fantasy world. The Aviator" wisely focuses on the glory years, although we can see the shadows falling, and so can Hughes. It's an impressive storytelling that takes us through a grandiose career, from rich playboy to moviemaker to pilot, plane-builder, tycoon and on to the brink of madness. Adapted for a movie some real life instances have been warped but that is expected and besides, few people here would know about it anyway.

The movie is very well made with great and convincing special effects. But in the end it was too depressing for this movie buff.

Immortal Cities
Children of the Nile

By Niloy

Rising Stars rating: 6.9
The ancient Egyptian civilization lasted thousands of years and playing Children of the Nile sometimes feels nearly as long. This new city builder game from Tilted Mill is original and full of great ideas but the product is slightly disappointing and some times painfully lengthy.

As the name suggests, in Immortal Cities you play a pharaoh, and you manage an ancient Egyptian city. Or, rather, you hope to manage a city one day, because what you usually start with is an empty land. So you tell your subjects what buildings to construct and where, and then they scurry around to get the work done.

For example, early in the game you have to build your palace, which gives you a place to live, and which also allows you to place six farm houses. Then you place those farm houses somewhere near the Nile (where the best farming soil is). Then you place some shops, so you and the farmers can buy things; a few noble estates, so you can add more farm houses; homes for brick makers and layers, so you can construct bigger and more complex buildings (like temples); and more.

Unlike most other city building games, this is a game about people, not buildings. Where other games have buildings that generate income or provide for your city's needs, they are merely homes and work places for your subjects in the game.

The game is played in beautiful 3D and time is divided into days and nights. Each game year equals three days representing the three cycles of the Nile: flooding, planting, and harvesting. The inhabitants that run around your screen doing your order are like miniature versions of the Sims; each with their own needs and desires ranging from basic foods to luxuries like jewelry and dancing girls.

My main gripe with these kind of flawed, but great games is the fact that it all eventually boils down to mathematic equations. As I scanned the net to find ideas for town-building, I ran across more and more Excel spreadsheets. The residents of these games were locked into an algorithm and they would not move away from it. All you had to do was figure out their movement ranges, their needs, and how they reacted to obstacles, and it became fairly easy to build modular city blocks. Once that skill was mastered, you needed only to plan out where to fit those blocks on the world map, and the sky was the limit.

No longer are you stuck on an invisible, but cruel grid. Your buildings can face in any direction you desire. Roads, paths and plaza no longer cost you anything to build, as they are simply aesthetic improvements. Food is your currency now, so there is no need to send out minions to pan for gold. If you build a pottery shop, the shopkeeper will go out and make sure that he has the proper materials to peddle his wares. In essence, you initially just need to plan out where you want everything to be, and then put it there. Sounds easy, right?

Just when you think you are doing well, your people start complaining. To be fair, they are merely asking for facilities nearby. Like any sim-populace, they need food, jobs, recreation, education, sanitation, religion, and so on, and they look to you for guidance and assistance. Your regular run-of-the-tilted-mill peasants aren't sufficiently bright enough to carry out your plans all on their own. You'll need educated graduates, noblemen, and priests to begin your true task to conquer the Nile.

Three detailed tutorials will take you by the sceptre and will give you a basic understanding of the game's mechanics. It boils down to basics, so just building your city all at once and waiting for your culture to catch up is a recipe for instant failure. The initial backbone of your growing society is the Graduate. These learned men can become Priests and Scribes, who respectively tend to churches, healthcare, education, embalming religion, tax assessment, import tariffs and the like. Without educated people, you have a village of idiots.

As matters of fact, all of your nobles are concerned about their afterlives, so be sure to build enough mustabas (gravesites for the uninitiated) to house their corpses in. Noble families will become very dissatisfied with your city if their dear departed loved ones are just dropped in a hole to rot. But be certain that YOUR tomb is the biggest, grandest most sublime in all the land because prestige is a very valuable commodity in this world.

Then there's the military. You must build a city guard, and also assemble armies to crush raiding parties, or expand your empire. They must be led by a Commander, equipped with weapons, chariots and the like, trained, and housed.

You can build remote mining operations that will function just as small satellite cities, provided you equip them with the basic amenities. These are crucial for building the large structures you will need in order to garner more prestige. More prestige equals more graduates who will take orders from you. Oh, and make sure all of the Gods are happy.

As you can see, most every building or decision you make can adversely (or positively) affect every other niche in the game.

You also have access to a World Map from where you can open trade routes to neighbouring cities to help you amass some of the resources you don't make at home, send diplomats to create political alliances, and send your armies for conquest or defence.

Overall, Immortal Cities is a nice game but not a great one. It's slow-paced and thoughtful, it looks nice and it's polished, and while it has some problems here and there, none of them are major. It's just that nothing about the game made me say "Wow!"


Sites Unseen

By Niloy

I'm thinking of making a special Sites Unseen for March 24 issue. You, the readers, will be sending links to sites you like, and they'll be featured along with your names. Cool, huh? Email your links to me (niloy.me@gmail.com) before March 18.

In other news, the DOOM movie is completed. It's coming out it August. Apparently, the story this movie won't happen inside a Space Station in Mars, won't feature demons spawned from hell and there're rumours abound that it'll have some mushiness. What happened to our dreams of a movie with nothing but two full hours of mindless blasting of evil unforgiving creatures? http://www.bdgamer.net/?itemid=16627

As usual, the whole Sites Unseen and all it's links will be available at my blog, niloywrites.blogspot.com, so that you don't have to type them up.
The usual cool links:

Their Circular life

"An exploration about human behaviour… Humans are all equal. They have the same needs. They feel, act and behave accordingly to an unknown law. Urban places know this well. By living the day life of urban infrastructure and not yours, you become an external observer of what happens everyday in every place on earth: People live." Basically, it's a flash animation thingy where you get to see the days pass. Feel free to speed things up, slow things down, or stop time altogether. Cool stuff!

The San Andreas theme music
I can't believe that I didn't pass this to you before! I've been listening this for months and it's a superb piece of music. Clearly shows how cool the game is going to be. 600 kb Ogg file (will play on your Winamp Full version.)

X-men parody
"No, no, NO! Don't change the subject! Why aren't YOU dead?"

Dragon Ball Z Parody

Parody about the series poking fun at different stuff about it. Not very funny, though, as it makes a parody of a not-so-good thing. 1.25 MB.
Falling down

A game where you try to go down the gaps and stay on the screen. 185kb.
iPod versus the plain old Cassette

iPod costs 24000 tk, a cassette costs 35 tk. iPod plays itself, but needs speakers/headphones. A cassette needs a player to play, but don't need speakers. iPod gives out the hip message "LOOK! I'm filthy rich! Bow to me!", a cassette speaks out "I'm sad and back-dated. Please don't be rude." Anyway, these are realistic comparisons… and this has some cooler ones.
Game: Cheat your way out of University!

Studies were never meant to be fair. This happens basically duo to the indifference of Society. Anyway, when they are not fair, why should you be fair to them? Here's a game that let's you try that out without risking anything. Funny game. 600 kb.
Order a Pizza while playing Everquest 2

Honestly... what more is left to be said? It's hilariously sad and pathetic all on its own. Unfortunately, it's entirely true.
Here's Ctrl-Alt-Del's take on that:

Calvin & Hobbes comics archive

All the Calvin & Hobbes comics ever published are stashed here. And some of them were actually quite good! Check them out.
You can visit my blog at niloywrites.blogspot.com or email me to niloy.me@gmail.com

By Steven Musil

The Mozilla Foundation released on Thursday an update to the Firefox Web browser to fix several vulnerabilities, including one that would allow domain spoofing.

The open-source project released Firefox 1.0.1 to fix, among other bugs, a vulnerability in the Internationalized Domain Names (IDN), a standard for handling special character sets in domain names that lets companies register domain names that appear to be the same in different languages.

The IDN vulnerability allowed an attacker to create a fake Web site on a non-Microsoft browser in order to pull off a phishing scam. A spoofed link would seem to be a legitimate URL in the address bar of affected browsers. But instead of taking the victim to the trusted site, the link would lead to a phony Web site with a domain rendered as the same address under the IDN process.

The updated browser will display the IDN Punycode in the address bar, preventing URL spoofing. Punycode is the encoding of Unicode strings into the limited character set supported by the Domain Name System and IDN.

"Regular security updates are essential for maintaining a safe browsing experience for our users," Chris Hofmann, director of engineering for the Mozilla Foundation, said in a statement.

Phishing attacks, which try to fool consumers into handing over sensitive information by creating legitimate-looking Web sites and e-mail messages, have become a central security concern recently. While vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Internet Explorer have been the focus of much of the concern, other browsers also have had their fair share of flaws.

The update is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux at Mozilla.org.

Firefox recently surpassed 25 million downloads, achieving that mark in 100 days. Mozilla, which released the free 1.0 program in November, said an average of 250,000 people download Firefox every day and more than half a million Web sites feature Firefox promotions.

Mozilla, an open-source software foundation formed by Netscape, was spun off from Time Warner in 2003.



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