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Showing posts from March, 2014

Noah

Noah

Anyone who's seen Aronofsky's previous film might be wondering what is up with this one, for it's about the inverse of "Black Swan." In "Black Swan," a parent's control over her child has to be breached in order for her to realize her potential. To facilitate this is another ballerina, who consistently prompts her to explore her rebellious side, to live a little. No snake in the garden is she, but someone with good intentions -- and who is in fact necessary to assist Natalie Portman's Nina in shoving her mother aside and embracing her own fate. 

In "Noah," Noah is the parent determined to have his will hold over his children, and he is leveraged powerfully; impossibly powerfully -- by God. One of his boys -- Ham -- to some extent plays the equivalent of Natalie Portman's rebellious child Nina, in that he shows signs of wanting to step outside of his father's influence and discover the world for himself. But those he'd d…

Divergent

Divergent

There are five factions everyone gets to choose to count part of. One of them dresses in modest clothing, and are deathly afraid of over-spicing their food for fear of sin -- Abnegation, of course. They look showered … which is about their only physical difference to what lies outside the factions -- the homeless, who've gone whole-hog destitute. When choosing day comes, they hope their children will choose their clan, even when they'll be baited with the Dauntless, who are totally bad-ass and own the streets, and Erudite, who are essentially the officer's club, absent the brandy. Since the parental bond is a nest of sympathy the society seems bent on showing it can rape, at the moment of choosing kids really do feel like they've got a choice -- and so of course flee their parents' pathetic asses left and right. Their parents pretend they're happy, which is hard to do, after being raped, and so just look like they've just been.

The main protagonist…

The beginning of time

Lawrence Krauss wrote:
At rare moments in scientific history, a new window on the universe opens up that changes everything. Today was quite possibly such a day. At a press conference on Monday morning at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a team of scientists operating a sensitive microwave telescope at the South Pole announced the discovery of polarization distortions in the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, which is the observable afterglow of the Big Bang. The distortions appear to be due to the presence of gravitational waves, which would date back to almost the beginning of time.
[…]
For some people, the possibility that the laws of physics might illuminate even the creation of our own universe, without the need for supernatural intervention or any demonstration of purpose, is truly terrifying. But Monday’s announcement heralds the possible beginning of a new era, where even such cosmic existential questions are becoming accessible to experiment. (“A scientific b…

With the protagonist, or with those she sucked off?

Richard Brody wrote: What the four-hour run of the two “volumes” of Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac” shows and says about its protagonist is trivial, but what it reveals about von Trier and his method is worth considering. A man returning from a small convenience store finds a woman lying—torpid and bleeding—in a sepulchral courtyard. She refuses medical care, refuses the police, but will accept a cup of tea, and goes with him to his apartment. She’s Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg); he’s Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård). After getting cleaned up, she rests in his bed and tells him the story of her life, which is mainly the story of her sex life. Throughout the telling, the quietly fanciful Joe, a sort of erotic Scheherazade, intently affirms a vague and unnamed guilt that the polymathic scholar Seligman tries to reason her out of. Joe’s precocious genital consciousness led her to follow the lead of a high-school friend, called B (Sophie Kennedy Clark), in a game of sexual conquests aboard a train.…

Impossible to defend

Andrew O’Hehir wrote: […] Instead, I’d rather go beneath the surface to look at the structural function of these stories – the role they play in the cultural economy – where I think we can identify even more intriguing similarities. Both “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” are fundamentally works of propaganda disguised as fantasy or science fiction. They’re not propaganda on behalf of the left or the right, exactly, or at least not the way we generally use those words in America. They are propaganda for the ethos of individualism, the central ideology of consumer capitalism, which also undergirds both major political parties and almost all American public discourse. It’s an ideology that transcends notions of left and right and permeates the entire atmosphere with the seeming naturalness of oxygen in the air. But at least if we acknowledge that it is an ideology, we can begin to understand that it limits political action and political debate, and restricts the heated warfare between Dem…

Could of had elves instead

Tim Donovon wrote: There is a demographic group in crisis today, though they’re rarely discussed. Occasionally, they’re used as a foil on conservative cable news shows, where overpaid hosts sneer derisively at their endemic “laziness.” Sometimes, members of Congress will trot them out as straw men to drum up support in rural districts. These are not your struggling baristas with their undergraduate degrees and mountains of debt, or your former-newsmen-turned-retail-drones. They’re not “overeducated and underemployed.” No, this demographic group, the undereducated and underemployed, are in far more dire straits. This subset of millennials might not look like the “Gen Y” that’s commonly portrayed in the media — this site included. They aren’t the duck-faced “Rich Kids of Instagram,” the Lena Dunhams or the Mark Zuckerbergs that we use as generational stand-ins (rather than, say, wealthy and successful millennials LeBron James and Kendrick Lamar). These millennials – young, undereducated, p…

Re-adopting the conquerer's position

Randa Jarrar said this: I’ve written about the Boston bomber; about the U.S. government’s attempts to deport my brother, which kept him in jail for weeks; and about Israel detaining me – a U.S. citizen – and denying me entry in March 2012, but the essay of mine that has sparked the most impassioned responses is one about … Belly dancing. […] There were amazing, supportive, beautiful emails from Arab-American sister writers. There were also violently angry emails and tweets that, in a typically sexist and fatphobic way, criticized my appearance and my size. I have been called a fat camel and a hairy ape and a dirty terrorist ever since I moved to the U.S. at the age of 13, so – I’m used to it. But call some people out for wearing genie pants and makeup, which are supposed to make them look Arab, and they go nuts. In my essay, I historicized the appropriation of belly dancing, but I naively thought people knew about the British empire, about U.S. imperialism, about how these have fucked the M…