The Universe and Me

Friday, May 27, 2016

I've seen a lot of what the world can do

Documentary: Where to Invade Next. Michael Moore-lite. Not what one would expect from the title, which would be a rehash of where the US has invaded up until now or what countries we should invade (although the latter would be a very short film, since the answer to that should be none.) More of a travelogue, this concerned some very interesting practices of a variety of different countries that perhaps the US should implement, especially since the ideas, the film claims, seemed to originate with us. Examples: Italian work ethic, or more likely, Italian relaxation ethic which serves to improve their quality of work. French school lunches being a gourmet meal on fine china everyday. I cringed to see Moore introduce American fast food to these wonderful French children. The Slovenian concept of free college tuition for anyone on the planet. Norwegian prisons that are without uniforms and more like dormitory living. Finnish excelling at education although they have no homework, no testing, and spend very little time in school. I found the discussion most interesting where they were pointing out the difference in mentality, the community minded versus the individually minded. On the down side, sadly every country has issues. No place is perfect to live. It's unfortunate we can't all be have the resources to find where we fit in best and live there.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

You're gonna need a bigger room

Movie: Room. I thought this was very well done. While some claustrophobic people may have had difficulty watching the first part where the action is enclosed in 11x11 or less, it didn't bother me. The acting was wonderful, especially Ma and Jack (Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay.) The little boy emoted so well, often without saying anything. I haven't read the book so I don't know how it compares. The only thing that bothered me was the reporter/interviewer and her stupid question of didn't Ma think she should have given Jack to Old Nick to take anonymously to a hospital so Jack could have a better/normal life and Ma's response which was to question herself and send her into a downward spiral, not helped by PTSD as it was. I was hoping Ma would defend herself and say, hey! How could I possibly know Nick wouldn't have immediately killed the child? The question was totally unreasonable and the correct answer missing.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Probably the oddest thing in the Universe

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, radio series, television show and movies all employed the Babel Fish: a small, yellow alien fish that you could put in your ear. Once there, it fed on your brain waves and somehow translated any languages coming into your ear to your language. It served well as a translator throughout the universe. Many times I have wished for one of these little critters in real life to make it easier to understand foreign languages without taking the time or effort to learn them. Now there may be such a thing for real. Called The Pilot System, developed by Waverly Labs, it seems to work on a similar principle as Google translates. It you wear it, it listens to your conversation and communicates with your phone to translate what you hear, whispering it back into your ear possibly by magic.  Current languages it works with are French, Spanish, Italian and English.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Alone until I get home

Movie: The Revenant. Very loosely based on novel loosely based on some incidents in the life of trapper Hugh Glass, circa 1823. I admit to ff'ing through some of the violence and gore because that's not my deal so I can't speak for normal speed, but in ff that bear didn't look very real. Leo, beyond the beginning, didn't have many lines as he was trying to recover from his mauling. Really no one came across very good but life was hard back then. Unfortunately they made the bad guy the only one to spout religion. It's been done before (see Les Miserables) and far better. The vision at the end made it seem like Hugh was mortally wounded and drifting off to the Heavenly Realm but he lived for ten years after these events. Also, it was tough to figure out locations. We guessed the Dakotas just by the landscape and yes, it was South Dakota. I never heard mention of any places that would've answered definitively. Towards the end they talked about Yellowstone, but that's Wyoming, so I was totally confused. If the states were not yet states, they could have shown a map of sorts to give us some frame of reference. Overall, they probably should have stuck closer to the book because compared to the likes of Jeremiah Johnson, all this has to offer is great scenery.

If communism comes knocking at your door

Movie: Trumbo. Nice to see Bryan Cranston in a non-Walter White role and he did a great job with it. About the communist witch hunt in Hollywood that coincided with the beginnings of the Cold War. Very strange anyone was sentenced to prison when the Constitution allows for many different political party affiliations. How paranoid do people have to be? What really astonished me about Dalton Trumbo was his ability to churn out so many screenplays - and excellent ones at that - in such a short amount of time. To be told you have a week to ten days to write a gem and agree and then do it is staggering. To spend decades writing brilliant and often Oscar winning screenplays (see Roman Holiday, The Brave One, Spartacus, The Way We Were, Hawaii, Exodus) is genius. Luckily he did not let prison or blacklisting silence his talent. And good for Kirk Douglas for being brave enough to credit him when no one else dared.