Archive for September, 2014

shelambilism

Friday, September 19th, 2014

A word I just made up to describe the feeling you get when you discover a previously unknown, informative portion of the internet that you know will delight you for some time to come.

Libertador/The Liberator Film Review

Friday, September 19th, 2014

The Liberator — insipid, banal, morally dubious Simon Bolivar biopic directed by a dude named Alberto Arvelo. The ghost of Hugo Chavez is strong in this film. Controversy and uncertainty are injected into areas that have strong historical consensus (The film suggests that Simon Bolivar was assassinated in a conspiracy by those close to him and suggests Bolivar’s tuberculosis was a rumor spread by his enemies to create a convenient excuse for his death. Quite a few folks who were loyal to his end corroborate the account of him dying from tuberculosis on a deathbed. If he was assassinated, it was by a poison, and repeated exhumations of his body for analysis have not been able to find suspicious elements.) and moral gray areas have been whitewashed (The legacy of Francisco Miranda is done a great disservice in this film to boost that of Simon Bolivar. Indeed, a strong case can be made that Bolivar was the traitor in the real life situation.)

The definition of boring and wishy-washy direction of acting, pacing, editing, other pillars of the cinematic arts. Bolivar delivers one Rousing, Inspiring Speech About Freedom and Liberty after another, though his dialog in the film somehow sounds dumber, less piercing, less lucid than Bolivar’s left behind writings read. Scenes showing Bolivar’s hot bloodedness are followed by scenes where I think we the audience are supposed to feel that he is facing an interior challenge. Bolivar resolves these challenges by first assuming a blank expression, then breaking said expression by furrowing his eyebrows and then delivering a one liner. Other characters either describe how much he is like/how much better he is than Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, talk about how wonderful the weather is in South America compared to the rest of the world, or sneer and connive against his idealism. The terrible lighting and VFX are the over-sugared icing on the bland tasting cake.

The remarkable presence of Edgar Ramirez (you can see an effective deployment of him in Carlos) is wasted in this film. This is a funny thing to say, but his passion and fiery anger looks phoned in. Bad casting — Edgar Ramirez is not a slight, dainty, bony man, which Bolivar’s portraits, his friends’ accounts of him suggest him to be. Edgar is a full-bodied, powerful porkchop. A better person IMO would have been Gael Garcia Bernal, though changing the actor would not have fit the direction.

The film felt like a bad combination/imitation of Oliver Stone and Spielberg. It is a mediocre film rendered unforgivable by how it treats Bolivar’s death.

We Are All Made of Each Other

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

You know that clichéd line that astronomy/cosmology university lecturers use in their introductory classes not intended for physics students — “we are all made of star stuff” or “we are all made of the stars” (among other variations)?

Used a lot, but for me, it has not dulled in its ability to evoke a beautiful mental image.

So as I was driving today I suddenly thought, not only are we made of “star stuff” H,O,C,N , we are also made of each other, previous and current iterations, through the legacies of the carbon and nitrogen cycles.

I amuse myself by thinking of a Where’s George? for Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon molecules. Perhaps a current nitrogen molecule in one of my cells happened to be urea passed by Genghis Khan on the Central Asian steppes once upon a time?