David Vaughn

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David Vaughn Posted: Sep 11, 2010 0 comments
Based on the novel by Phillip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly is set seven years in the future when much of society is hooked on the drug Substance D. Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) is an undercover narcotics agent leading a double life as both an enforcer and breaker of the law. In his private time he associates with a group of junkies who have no idea that he's a narc.

While I love the style of animation and story, most of the voice acting is atrocious. Both Reeves and Winona Ryder are flat and wooden, but Robert Downy Jr. steals every scene with his superior acting talent. The film features prolific drug use, so if you're turned off by this sort of thing, don't tune in.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 26, 2010 0 comments
It's 1967, and poor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) isn't having a good year. His wife is leaving him, his unemployed brother (Richard Kind) is sleeping on his couch, his kids are deviants, and he's being blackmailed by a student at the Midwestern university where he serves as a physics professor. Diving into his faith, Larry seeks the advice of three rabbis. But do they have the answers he seeks?

I'm generally a fan of the Coen brothers' films, but this bizarre tale confused the hell out of me with all the Jewish references. Despite my bewilderment, I couldn't stop thinking about the plot for days afterward, and when revisiting some scenes for this Ultimate Demo, I found myself laughing out loud, and I will certainly revisit it in the future to not only laugh but to enjoy the demo-worthy video presentation.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 29, 2010 0 comments
An alcoholic movie star (James Mason) stumbles on stage when a young singer (Judy Garland) is performing. The kindness she shows him after the incident makes an impression on him and he convinces her to leave her band and take a shot to be a movie star. The two eventually marry and when her star shines brighter than his there's bound to be problems.

For the record, I generally like musicals but for some reason I couldn't get into this film. The dramatic elements are great, but just when things start to get interesting Garland will burst into an overlong and unmemorable song. At nearly three hours, the films pacing is severely challenged and I can see why Warner shortened it over 30 minutes for its theatrical run in 1954. The restored cut includes some still shots since the original footage was destroyed, but the studio found the original full-length audio tracks to make thing coherent.

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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 08, 2011 1 comments
In the future, the polar ice caps have melted, the sea waters have flooded coastal cities, and you must obtain a license to have a child. Science has evolved to the point of creating artificial beings, called mechas, to serve humans and preserve precious natural resources. One such mecha, David (Haley Joel Osment), is the first of its kind; an artificial kid that can give and receive unconditional love to his adoptive parents.

Of all of Spielberg's films, this is probably my least favorite. Its pacing is horrendous, it runs much too long at 145 minutes, and its last 40 minutes are a bizarre waste of time. While the acting and special effects are very good they can't overcome the boring second act and the horrendous ending(s).

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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 25, 2014 0 comments
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Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) have been inseparable from a young age, growing up in a quaint coastal Australian community. When Lil’s husband passes away, the two grow even closer, and their two young boys, Ian and Tom, develop a similar close relationship. Roz’s husband takes a job in Sydney, and with him away, the quartet starts to spend even more time together going to the beach, eating dinner, and drinking heavily with each other. After a night of partying, Ian (Lil’s son) professes his secret love for Roz, she succumbs to his advances, and they wind up sleeping together. Unbeknownst to either of them, Tom spies his mom leaving Ian’s room and decides two can play that game and makes a move on Lil. This opens up Pandora’s box, and the lines between family, friendship, and morality all become blurred.
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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 25, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/adventureland.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Recent college graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has his European summer vacation canceled when his parents tell him they can't afford to help him with grad school. Instead, he's forced take a job at Adventureland, a local Pennsylvania amusement park. His co-workers are an eclectic bunch and include Em (Kristen Stewart), a beautiful yet reclusive co-ed who catches his eye. And despite the "help" of the park handyman (Ryan Reynolds), James may yet get the girl.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 14, 2011 0 comments
Deep in the heart of the African savanna, a rivalry between two lion prides takes place while a cheetah family tries to stick together. Mara is an endearing lion cub who strives to grow up with her mother's strength, spirit, and wisdom, but an accident threatens to make her an orphan. Then there's Sita, a fearless cheetah and single mother of five newborns who must try and keep her cubs alive until they can fend for themselves. Finally, there's Fang, the leader of the pride who must defend his family from a rival lion clan that is looking to take over his land.

This is the first Disneynature production I've had a chance to see, and while the narrative is geared toward younger audiences, I still enjoyed it. The young cheetah and lion cubs are adorable, and I kept wondering how the filmmakers were able to get such close-up images. The story can turn a tad dark at times, but Disney provides a great vehicle to introduce kids to the African savanna.

David Vaughn Posted: Jul 05, 2012 0 comments
Do wireless HDMI kits really work? We test three to find out.

In late 2003, HDMI-equipped consumer-electronic devices started to appear on the market. Unfortunately, the transition to digital has been anything but smooth. Although HDMI was a vast improvement over DVI (Digital Visual Interface) in its ability to carry both audio and video in one cable, it came with its own set of issues.

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David Vaughn Posted: May 25, 2010 0 comments
Alice (Mia Wasikowska), now 19 years old, returns to the mysterious world she first entered as a child and embarks on a journey to discover her true destiny. Along the way, she meets the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), and many others who help her complete her quest.

I'm a huge fan of director Tim Burton and was eager to see his take on the classic tale. The theatrical reviews were mixed, but the box-office take ($332 million) makes it Disney's fourth-highest-grossing film of all time. Despite the bizarre second act, it's very entertaining, and the amazing sets and costumes certainly helped draw me in. While not perfect, the 1080p encode boasts some amazingly detailed scenes, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is just as impressive with a plethora of discrete effects.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 31, 2011 0 comments
While dozing off, young Alice dreams about falling down a rabbit hole that is populated by a peculiar series of misadventures. The always sensible Alice whirls through a world of contradictions, imagination, and surprises where she encounters amazing creatures including a pocket watch-toting White Rabbit, the imperious Queen of Hearts and her army of playing cards, and a Cheshire Cat with a lingering smile.

Walt Disney was one of the most influential movie makers of the 20th Century and had considered adapting Lewis Carroll's famous story in 1933, but shelved the idea after Paramount released its version. He later had artist David Hall create some concept art for the project, but WWII intervened and his animated version didn't hit the screen until 1951. On a recent visit to the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco, I discovered that Walt wasn't too keen on the results of the film and complained that it had no "heart." I tend to agree with him and as a kid this was one of my least favorite Disney productions.

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