Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday and Sundry Things That Made Me Go "Hmmm..." This Week

Things that made me go "hmmm ..." in a good way:

Frequencies, a movie seen on Netflix. It's a very unusual type of sci-fi film. No CGI, just lots of ideas which benefit from mulling over afterwards. As well as an unusual kind of love story examined, Frequencies debates free will versus determinism, as well as investigating the science that might lie behind old superstitions and mysteries. A rather deadpan tone with acting to match has to be accepted - the film was made on a tiny budget, no big names, no special effects. The film's novelty, intelligence and interesting ideas make it easy to overlook any shortcomings.
See HERE and HERE.

The film received a 100% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes!

I had more than a sneaking suspicion that what we call astrology could well have something to do with "frequencies".

This week I received E-mails from two different cousins on my Dad's side of the family. I last met both long ago and far away, when they were still children. They had both, separately, read and appreciated my family history posts regarding our common Scott background. One of the cousins emigrated to the US as long ago as 1989, lives in NJ now. Both had been alerted to my family history material by yet another cousin who had sent me her own e-mail address at Christmas, which I used to send her links to my genealogy posts - and word spread! Ain't the internet grand!

Lovely instrumental rendition of A Change is Gonna Come by saxophonist
Anat Cohen - hadn't heard this version, or this musician, before. Good stuff!

Things that made me go "hmmm..." in a bad way:

Articles about the film American Sniper currently doing the rounds. It was directed by Clint Eastwood. Much as I've enjoyed several Eastwood-directed movies, I will not ever watch this one, reading about it was more than enough to make me cringe.
The Rude Pundit's review of the film is well worth a read.
"Through it all, all the people he shoots (and, truly, Bradley Cooper seems like he's acting in a different, much deeper film), all the scenes of him watching fellows soldiers get killed and wounded, all the psychological damage he does to his poor wife when he calls her during firefights, Kyle maintains a pathetic belief in the good of his mission and in the protection of his "brothers." It has an effect on him - he suffers from PTSD - but the film wants us to believe that it was necessary. So, in the end, American Sniper is the story of a dumb man who wrecked himself for a worthless cause and about all the young men (and it is all, mostly white, men in it) who were sacrificed for nothing.

It's not the film that tells us it's nothing. We know it was for nothing. We know that one of the great crimes of the new century is the invasion of Iraq for absolutely no rational, demonstrable reason. We know that all those "savages," as Kyle calls the Iraqis, that we killed were for nothing. We know that all those Americans who died lost their lives for nothing. Our military was protecting us from nothing. Our freedoms weren't at risk from Iraq.

And the lie many soldiers from Iraq cling to and the lie we tell ourselves, and the lie that so many have worked so hard to maintain, is that as long as we don't discuss that it was for nothing, as long as we pretend that the fact that soldiers fought when they were told to fight and, mostly, did so nobly, we don't have to face the truly gut-wrenching reality of our national complicity in the crime.

Another relevant piece is at Common Dreams

English actor Benedict Cumberbatch was hauled over the coals and made to feel it necessary to apologise profusely for using the term "coloured" in a US TV interview. This guy is English, remember. He doesn't have the background experience and in-depth knowledge Americans have of the horrendous segregation practices in the USA, carried on as recently as during the lifetimes of many who are still around. He's likely not aware of those disgusting signs which used to be displayed over drinking fountains or in cafés and entrance-ways: "No Coloreds". A little quiet thought and understanding by those who allegedly took offence at his use of the term would have been as good a thing as Cumberbatch doing a little preparation for an interview, when in the ultra-sensitive (when it suits 'em) USA. I was pleased to see he has gained support from a fellow actor. HERE.

We watched 3 episodes of Terra Nova the TV series via Netflix. Enough was enough of this terrible comic bookish version of sci-fi. No wonder it wasn't renewed after its first season! It's the direct opposite of Frequencies (mentioned at the top of this post), in terms of quality ideas and writing.


mike said...

Maybe I'll watch "Frequencies" tonight, SOLELY on your recommendation, Twilight! Saturday & Sunday TV viewing is usually at an even lower ebb than weeknights, but the Roku-Netflix combo has obliterated any nothing-on-TV notion. I'm fascinated by the on-demand aspect of streaming from the internet.

My sister did a stellar job of compiling the family genealogy, obstacles and all, over a ten year duration. She clamored over the newest releases of data that agencies and companies released periodically, always updating lists. She hit a brick wall regarding my paternal grandfather until she received an email from a distant relative that came across some of my sister's genealogy posts on one of the sites. My sister announced a year ago that she was finished with it all, but still finds she can't quite let go...LOL.

Terrorists, 9-11-2001, Bush, Iraq-Afghanistan, Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice, weapons of mass destruction, drones, bombs, snipers, Seals, PATRIOT Act, exceptionalism-nationalism, et al...all of it is a black hole of karma that I perceive to be a worst nightmare. So ironic that we Americans are the terrorists, the instigators, and the anti-christs. I classify "American Sniper" as a dark parody.

Cumberbatch's alleged offense reminds me of the kaffir lime, a limey-like citrus used in Asian and African cooking. Kaffir is an offensive word:

"... So why are these limes called by that name? The K-word has a long, complex history, but how it came to refer to a type of citrus fruit is a bit murky. The Arabic word kafir was originally used to refer to non-Muslims, but over the centuries it was adopted by white colonialists to describe black Africans. By the 20th century, kaffir was widely understood to be a slur, and its power to insult and offend only grew in apartheid-era South Africa, so much so that its use became legally actionable. In Sri Lanka, an ethnic group called the Kaffirs retained a neutral understanding of the word, but everywhere else, the epithet is as injurious as they come."

Browsing the infinite Netflix selection last night, I viewed the first season's episode of "Portlandia"...a bit "Monty Python" with satirical, didactic vignettes that give pause. I'm not sure about the series. I may watch S1:E2 to further evaluate...then again, I may not.

Twilight said...

mike ~ If you watch "Frequencies" do let me know your thoughts. I didn't begin getting really keenly into it until around half-way through. After that things branch out in a couple of different and fascinating directions. The ideas could, perhaps, benefit from being re-made or re-hashed with a bigger budget.

The internet, plus and other genealogy websites must have put jet engines under family history research, whereas previously all it had were clunky wooden wheels - much prone to falling off. :-)


I so wish Eastwood had intended "American Sniper" as a parody, but sadly I doubt very much that that is the case. We can categorise it as such ourselves though, the majority will not be doing so, according to the commentary I've read so far.

I didn't know about "kaffir" - interesting - and I see the connection.

It's not that "coloured" is an 100% acceptable term in use in Britain, but it certainly doesn't have the same history there as in the USA.

In Britain those with darker-hued skin than pinkish-beige will have arrived there from one of Britain's old colonies - mainly the West Indies, Pakistan, India - a few from Nigeria and other parts of the African continent, but a smaller minority. So there's no common description comparable to "African-American" in use. Really, they are all just "Brits" of different ethnicities. Various racial slurs are slung around though - which I'll not include here.

Thinking back to my time in the UK, I tended to call a person simply by name if describing them to an acquaintance, with no reference at all to ethnicity. If it happened that I didn't know the person's name and was trying to describe them, I'd hazard a guess at their ethnicity and say -"I think he/she has Asian/West Indian/Pakistani, Indian etc. background" - never referencing skin colour at all - it truly is irrelevant.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Meant to say - we haven't sampled "Portlandia" yet. Sounds very quirky!

We gingerly dip into stuff, can tell within 15 minutes or so whether it'll be worth pursuing. We've "dumped" around half a dozen series or movies so far. There are such a lot in both films and series created for a much younger audience - under 30 I'd say. I'd watch one of these if there were some redeeming feature, but usually there doesn't seem to be. Wavelengths are just too dissimilar.

British series are better in the age-group respect, we're finding. Most feature a variety of ages, so as to appeal to all. We use the sub-titles when availabkle so that anyjazz doesn't have to repeatedly say: "What did he say?"...."What did she mean?" etc. LOL! I need the subtitles myself on occasion too - especially if certain British accents are prevalent.

LB said...

Twilight ~ When I was searching for something on Ross Caputi (a former veteran and advocate whose views I have a lot of respect for), I ran across a VERY thoughtful interview he gave on "The Alan Colmes Show" related to the movie, "American Sniper".

The interview is a nice companion piece to the movie review he wrote, which Abby Zimet linked to in her own review. Please don't let the fact that it's on Fox keep you from listening:

When Ross Caputi talks about the troubling "polarization" that frequently happens in our discussions and also of our "collective responsibility", I immediately thought of Carl Jung and his thoughts on the collective shadow, collective unconscious and how projection works.

None of us are immune to the "us versus them" way of thinking, which so often leads to denial and the dehumanization of others.

It takes a lot of moral and intellectual courage to be willing to look at ourselves and the individual roles each of us play as part of the larger collective.

mike (again) said...

It's easy to find trouble when using words. I have a limited vocabulary of Spanish-Mexican words and many have an entirely different meaning, some profane, with a simple inflection or intonation of their vowels. Dangerous!

Portlandia is quirky. I need to view another episode to determine if it builds upon itself or if each episode is independent, but the first episode is composed of vignettes that interlace, so it's difficult to decide whether to continue watching beyond the first 15 minutes. The show has won an award (Peabody?).

I only saw the three episodes of the last season of "Sherlock", so I have the previous to view at some point. They are independent of each other, so it matters not. I'm sure there is character development, however.

I'm overwhelmed with the variety and availability of selections on Netflix. I've been watching some PBS programming available on Roku's PBS channel, which I've enjoyed...I don't feel that I have to keep our local PBS schedule, since it's available on-demand now. I've had problems with Roku's History Channel, as it needs to pause-and-load every five or ten minutes. I don't have that problem with the other Roku channels.

I forgot to mention I've caught this season's "Genealogy Roadshow" on PBS, too. Fast paced and in-depth.

I have to say that British programming is far superior to American, but that may be changing with Netflix, Amazon, Showtime, and HBO all getting into the fray for attractive series. "The Paradise", "Sherlock", etc have been high quality productions.

BTW - There is a measles outbreak, which started in Disneyland...LOL. I just saw a snippet on the news stating that individuals having the vaccine needn't be concerned. Well, here's an article stating that we vaccinated should maintain a modicum of concern:

LB said...

Thanks, mike.:) Your comment about measles prompted me to pull out my childhood vaccination record, something I've been meaning to do anyway. My mother (bless her!) kept detailed records and had the foresight to pass them along to my brother and I when we became adults.

Though I don't see anything on my formal records about the MMR vaccine, I did find a handwritten note with the words "measles 1962" beneath my name. Since the measles vaccine didn't become available until 1963, I'm **assuming** that means I had the virus, which is as I remembered. Interesting this all happened during the transit of Mercury Retrograde which began conjunct my 6H Chiron.

Things were different when I was a kid. Adding how I was *not* born before 1957.

The subject of whether or not to vaccinate is complicated, so I'm not making any recommendations either way.

R J Adams said...

"American Sniper" makes me sick to the stomach. Like you, I wouldn't waste my time viewing it. The real guy died because he took another soldier, suffering from a serious case of PTSD, to a firing range. He thought 'it might help him'. Nice thinking. That poor soldier will probably face life in a prison now, thanks to the stupid, irresponsible actions of his supposed 'friend'.
Glorification of killing? It's all the media does these days, and the US public - and probably the great British public also - lap it up like it was breast milk.

Don't have much time for Cumberbatch. His portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is disgraceful. He wears a nicotine patch, for God's sake! No sign of the cocaine needle, of course.

I seem to remember in Britain, the dark people got upset if you called them 'black'. They wanted to be known as 'coloured'. It's a weird world, and getting weirder.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Thank you for the link - I shall watch it later, with interest - am running late just now, after bogging myself down with a next week's post which went all over the place...rabbit hole time! :-)

Twilight said...

mike ~ I've seen a couple of episodes of Genealogy Roadshow - enjoyed them.

We've had the "pause" problems only with Warehouse13 episodes. I came to the conclusion it must be due to the fact that the episodes from early on are near the bottom of some digital pile...something like that. We have no such probs anywhere else.

Measles? I had it as a child. Am I immune then? My mother didn't believe in vaccinations - didn't have any at all until I was old enough to choose for myself. I think I had smallpox vacc. then, and various others - tetanus, etc...and modern ones like flu shots, pneumonia etc.

Twilight said...

RJ ~ Sickening ain't it!?

I haven't seen Cumberbatch in anything, yet, so really can't judge what kind of guy he is. thought he was piled upon unfairly in this case though.

It's hard to know what to say for the best in those cases (re colour of skin) - makes one feel like simply staying schtum. :-/

mike (again) said...

Geeeeez, Twilight! "Frequencies" is quite the movie and then some. I may have to watch it again now that I know how it plays-out and re-fit some of the pieces. Interesting how the movie is constantly re-fitting the pieces, yet constantly evolving toward the final scene(s). As Marie said to Zach at the end, "Does it matter?". I have to say that the end (the last 15 minutes or so) was a twist that I didn't perceive...and the last several minutes were particularly aberrant.

The "words vs Mozart"...control vs will vs fate or predetermination...were overridden in the last two minutes of the film (I think).

Twilight said...

LB ~ I've listened to the link you provided now - Caputi is very fair and level-headed in his assessment - very good interview. Thank you, again, for the link.

As was said the blame has to be "collective". The only snag,though when he said Americans voted for the people who took the country into Iraq....did they though? In 2000 didn't as many vote for Al Gore (maybe even more than voted for Bush but tweaking might have gone on?) Didn't sCOTUS choose in the end?

How different would history be if Al Gore had been President. So .... I don't know about the "collective blame". Things could have been going on in the backroom, manipulation.....Many did vote for Bush et al, of course, but an equal number didn't.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Oh good! I'm glad you found the film interesting. I'd like to see it again too, I'll do so some afternoon when feeling bored.

I agree about the last scene - it seemed like they were rushing to tie up the story somehow - the film could easily have gone on....and on for me! Maybe some film producer will decide to enlarge on the ideas presented in skeleton form in "Frequencies" - and create a sequel of sorts - this is one case where I'm hoping so.

LB said...

Ok, now I'm going to have to watch "Frequencies". It's going on my list of movies to request from the library.

Btw, Twilight ~ my husband and I have been enjoying the sequel to "Cranford".:) Thanks again.

Also glad you appreciated the link to the radio interview with Ross Caputi.

As far as the collective goes, the core issues are deeply routed in our culture and began long before the election you mentioned.

Considering the big picture (and what little I know of Al Gore), I don't share your faith in him as being someone who would've lead us in a significantly different direction. Apparently, I'm not alone in thinking this:

If it wasn't Iraq, it might've been somewhere or something else.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Glad you enjoyed Cranford #2. :-)

I'm not well-enough informed, nor of sufficient time here, to form a proper opinion. I do think Gore would have gone into Afghanistan after 9/11, but the Iraq thing - less likely, from what I know of him.

But...similar thing to the time travel tales I enjoy, maybe we'd have reached where we are today, just by a different route.
We are where we're meant to be in time's ol' cycle I guess.

mike (again) said...

LB - So, who would you propose that has an actual chance of winning the 2016 election? That pretty much boils the soup down to a Democrat or Republican candidate. Who's your pick from either of those parties?

LB said...

mike ~ I wouldn't vote for a Democratic or Republican candidate, which doesn't necessarily mean I'd vote for a viable candidate from an alternative party either.