Posts Tagged ‘film’

Last night (after crepes) we went to see the 7:05pm showing of Creation at the Landmark Sunshine. We got there early because I imagined that it would be packed. It’s a film that struggled to get a US distributor because it is about Charles Darwin – surely that is a no brainer for a packed out art house cinema in the East Village. Apparently not, and I can only hope that word of mouth lifts the profile of this film. It is excellent. A thoughtful, layered drama about Charles Darwin’s struggle/journey to write On the Origin of the Species and deal with the death of his eldest child, Annie.

It quite brilliantly weaves in flashbacks of Darwin travels and observations as a natural philosopher as the story unfolds with his crisis of conscious over the lost of Annie and that his theory has discredited the teachings of the bible. This is not a heavy handed Richard Dawkins/Christopher Hitchins diatribe.  It’s a gentle yet brutal portrayal of Darwin as a man who has opened Pandora’s box. There is no return to a state of blind acceptance of Genesis when armed with evidence to the contrary. This is one of the best films that I have seen Paul Bettany in for a long time, and it worked well having Jennifer Connelly as his wife Emma (though she did remind me of Gina McKee who would have made a good Mrs Darwin as well).

Alex and I got quite indignant over Entertainment Weekly only giving it a C- and for it’s bitchy review.  I was actually relieved that this film didn’t focus on Darwin’s travels on the H.M.S. Beagle as I felt that was ground that has been adequately covered elsewhere, and it is naive to imagine that there was one  ‘ah-ha’ moment in Darwin’s studies and that it would be interesting enough for a film. Trust me I have a degree in geology and the scene with Darwin on the beach with his children learning about sedimentary rocks is about as rock ‘n’ roll as it gets (funnily enough geology is not like The Core or Volcano).  Also, to boil Darwin down to one single moment is to do a disservice to his lifetime of study. Darwin was a polymath, something that has sadly been lost (or perhaps discouraged) in our culture. It was his years of travels and observations that gave him the lens with which to view the natural world.  He didn’t wake up one morning with the idea fully formed. It took years and years (and many pigeon carcasses) to greenhouse it. Probably a good time to note that Sir Isaac Newton most likely had an inkling about gravity before the apple hit him on the head. If there ever was an apple, and it wasn’t just a dinner party anecdote.

This film is fascinating because it deals with the personal aftermath of Darwin’s theory. The toll it took on his health, his psyche and his family. The guilt that he had destroyed god (and perhaps with it civilisation) is a lot for one man to bear in the 19th century (look how Topher went loopy in the Dollhouse after his technology actually destroyed humanity).


Posted: 01/21/2010 in Navel gazing
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I gave up the opportunity of drinks tonight so I could tidy the apartment. Saddo or what.  I have a huge laundry list of things to do this weekend (all related to Pompeii, essays and cooking Chinese food) so I wanted to make sure that I had a head start by kicking off the weekend with hoovered floors, clean bedding and all the usual random stuff tided away into neat piles. Oh it feels good. Though I am left with a dilemma for Friday night: go out to see Creation or skip opening weekend and chill out with the DVR. Fringe and Human Target sound good with some freshly baked peanut butter and chocolate-chip cookies. It’s been a busy few weeks so I think a time out is in order.  We’ve found a new apartment and will be moving at the end of February. Out of the blue Alex got a job offer so the traveling will come to a halt and I will actually get to see him on week days.

I am so so happy that it is Christmas Eve, and that 2009 is almost put to bed. It was only a half day in the office, so I was able to meet up with Alex to watch a matinee of  ‘Up In The Air’. (Really enjoyed it.) Once we got home I buzzed about the kitchen prepping for tomorrow whilst we listened to a This American Life podcast. It was pure middle class bliss. I made another match of mince pies, this time I have the pastry recipe down and Alex is a much better roller than I am since my pie crusts were uneven and an inch thick. Then I moved on to making Smitten Kitchen’s winter fruit salad and Baked’s sour lemon buttermilk scones. With the scones I followed Smitten Kitchen’s advice and flash froze them so I can bake them straight from the freezer tomorrow morning.  And since the recipe yielded way more scones than we can eat in the morning I will have some tasty breakfast treats to look forward to. We will have the scones (plus tea) in bed whilst we open our Santa socks (and listen to Morning Edition), and then breakfast proper will be the winter fruit salad and Pioneer Woman’s savory bread pudding.  We are going to friends for an early Christmas dinner around 5pm so I need to make sure that we don’t go hungry and graze on mince pies all afternoon!

I am so happy happy to be on vacation for the next week. No big plans just plenty of cooking, eating, studying and watching Band of Brothers again.

Happy holidays, or to follow Richard Dawkins’ lead and celebrate the creation of the universe.

Never Let Me Go

Posted: 10/08/2009 in films
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Earlier this week an invitation to attend a sneak preview of Never Let Me Go popped into my inbox. Given that I really enjoyed the book, and that it was showing at a movie theatre that was only a few blocks from work I took it as a sign that I should attend.  Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel looks at the issue (and ethics) of cloning but with a really light touch. So whilst I was lining up for the movie this evening  I tried to push aside my fears about how they would manage to adapt such a gentle book and not turn it into an art house version of The Island. As it turned out it was way more Gattaca than Michael Bay.

Never Let Me Go is set in a world where in the 50s a cure for cancer was discovered, and people are starting to live into their 100s. But, in order for all this to happen there is a need for a constant supply of organ donors and that is where the clones come in.  The story focuses in on three friends (clones), and follows them from their school days in early 1970s (in a spooky boarding school) to their lives in the 90s as ‘Donors’ and ‘Carers’. Like with Gattaca the science bit is pushed to one side, and it has a very stylized look. Though this one is straight from my childhood: chunky sweaters and bangs.

It’s an incredible thought provoking film, and as it unravels rather horrifying. Do you remember the key scene in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest where Jack Nicholson fights back well that is what I was hoping all the way through. The clones don’t have free will, they are resigned to living out their days and that really wanted to make me scream.

I could tell that this film wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea at the screening but I really enjoyed it and scrawled that all over the questionnaire.