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Showing posts from October, 2015

Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies
Bridge of Spies is a film which salutes competence, canniness and experience, and as such it leave the two young Americans caught out in Russia and East Germany, out in the cold. Tom Hanks’ James Donovan is a newbie spy, but it turns out his genius in negotiating insurance—where he reframes an incident where a multiple number of victims might potentially each file a claim against his client so that it's justifiably only one claim against him—is perfect training for negotiating an exchange of spies, where he also brazenly and successfully insists that there aren’t two deals on the table but rather only one: two young Americans for their one caught senior Russian spy. The film begins with showing off Donovan's competence, and we are meant to remember it later when gets over the brief initial hump of feeling a bit unprepared for his new undertaking. It also begins by showing off the senior Russian spy’s: when the CIA have barged into his apartment and surrounded hi…

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs
The film begins with 50s footage of the futurist Arthur C. Clarke predicting that at one point what were then only gigantic, takes-a-warehouse-to-fit-one computers would become so small that every home would have one. It’s clear he’s envisioning big things from out of the this titanic diminution in scale, but from our vantage point, with him speaking as one coifed in 50s “grey flannel suit” style, speaking within 50s big corporation society, we might not be so sure he is. If everyone has a personal computer at home, but only in home offices, where their routine seems about the same as it would if they’d commuted to work at General Electric, or Proctor and Gamble, or IBM, or whatever — what change, really? If it enables everyone to be a work drone in corporate culture, subsumed as a distinct person to the greatness of one’s company, regardless of where one lives in New York or in some remote rural hell, how empowering, really? Giving everyone easy access to the kind of compu…

The Martian

The Martian
In Ridey Scott’s Alien, Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley was put in a situation where she had to refuse a teammate from coming aboard, and it wasn’t easy for her. She wasn’t someone who just obeys protocol no matter what. And she certainly wasn’t malicious … like Charlize Theron’s character kind of was in Scott’s Alien follow-up, Prometheus, who seemed eager to show she’d be willing to melt a teammate before letting any one of them push her around. Rather, she cared deeply for the person who was afflicted by some kind of unknown parasite; was aware how cold it is to be spurned just at the point where treatment might finally be before one; but refused to alleviate her teammate’s distress by letting the besotted teammate into the ship, for it genuinely being an unwise thing to do. For this, for even not be dissuaded by the captain — who too like everyone else other than Ripley, wanted protocol passed by this time for decency sake, and who was hardly otherwise insensible and foolhar…