Movies


Charles Darwin film ‘too controversial for religious America’

A British film about Charles Darwin has failed to find a US distributor because his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences, according to its producer.

Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin’s “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

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Holy fuck. If the rest of the world didn’t think Americans were out their minds, then this – blocking a film because it deals with a historical figure who described one of the most influential scientific theories – will not help in the least. I’m curious as to the exact reasons that the Religious Right is opposed to this movie: if your faith can be shaken by 120 minutes of cute Paul Bettany and his hot wife Jennifer Connelly (playing Darwin and wife Emma, respectively), then maybe that says more about your faith than it does about the movie. And if evolution to you is as much a fairy tale as the Bible is to me, well then, you can just look at the film as a story of a confused and troubled man suffering from the death of his daughter. Big whoop.

This debacle brings to mind a somewhat related bit of controversy that recently swept the nation: the President’s speech to school-children. Now, that is old news, but I’d still like to comment on it. Unlike some people, I was perfectly fine with parents keeping their kids home, telling them not to listen to the Big Bad President or being prepared with a rebuttal after the speech was made. I actually think that that was a very good thing to happen. America’s Right helped emphasize a point I’ve been making for years, and that is of personal responsibility: if you don’t want your kids brainwashed by MTV, the liberal media, evolution-spewing “science” teachers, violent movies or whatever, stand up and ACT LIKE A PARENT. Which is what the Right finally did. I’m somewhat disappointed that they would pick this time to do it, but that’s their choice. It’s actually good parenting to talk to your children, find out what they were taught in school that day and reconcile that new-found knowledge with whatever baseline you happen to adhere to. Maybe the Religious Right should take the same stance with Creation: let your kids watch it, then at home explain that it was all horse-shit, non-sense and contained about as much truth as a Harry Potter flick.

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This week at work is a bit hectic: all of my bugs have to be fixed by Friday/Monday. (It’s technically supposed to be Friday, but if I get them in my Monday then all’s good.) So that brings us to a bit of a dilemma. For the past half a year or so I haven’t been working on weekends. At all. Yeah, a huge achievement, considering that before that, for the past two years, I’ve been at work every single weekend.

So, here’s the dilemma: this weekend I’ve got scheduled a writing session, a fair amount of Lego Batman, the new Mass Effect expansion pack, the new Batman game, programming my ray tracer (of course). A packed weekend to be sure. But then, if I don’t get my bugs finished off by Friday, that means that all the plans go right out the window. Sigh.

More on the individual things I’ve got planned for the weekend:

  • An ex-coworker is organizing a writing session. For some of us it’s about planning for the next NaNoWriMo, for me it’s about just practicing writing short stories.
  • I’ve been playing Lego Batman for the past two weeks and it’s really a lot of fun, even for a silly kid’s game. And for a silly kid’s game, there are some interesting puzzles in the game. It’s taking a while to get everything there.
    lego-batman
  • A new expansion has been released for Mass Effect. It’s only 5$, so I don’t expect to spend a lot of time on it, but it’ll still be something new to experience. Can’t wait!
    mass_effect
  • The new Batman game, Arkham Asylum, is really quite amazing. I tried out the demo just an hour ago and I’m very impressed. From the looks of it, there’s a large amount of stealth – sneaking up on unsuspecting enemies and ambushing them while hanging upside down – as well as pure kick-ass fighting.
    batman-arkham-asylum
  • I’ve been doing quite a bit of coding on my ray tracer application, and this weekend should be no different: I’m trying to optimize the application so it’s viable to add interesting effects and construct complex scenes. ATM, it takes anywhere between 4 and 35 minutes to render a single pig (3D pig-shaped object consisting of 7,000 polygons). That’s way too damn slow, even considering that the rendering is occurring on a dinky old laptop and in managed code. So I’m implementing some accelerators, like k-d trees, lazy initialization and caching some frequently-accessed data.
    computer-ray-tracing

If only I could squeeze in a few other things, like dim sum, reading (haven’t been reading for a while now), getting mildly drunk, watching a movie, watching a movie while getting mildly drunk, etc. Ah, wishful thinking. Ooh, maybe Labor Day weekend. 🙂

Big Lebowski

Just came back from watching “District 9”. First off, that was the closest I’ve ever gotten to vomiting without having eaten something bad. The theater was packed, even though we got there twenty minutes before the start of the movie, so the first half hour I had to look up at the screen from the third row. I got incredible motion-sickness going there. So had to move to one of the back rows, which thankfully had an empty seat. After that, the movie actually got enjoyable.

The film itself is quite good, both in terms of visual presentation, the drama, the action (quite a lot of action, actually) and the tiny bits of comedy. The two things I didn’t care for were the over-use of hand-held cameras (duh!) and the very weak scientific backing.

See, the premises of the film is that this alien mothership hangs over Johannesburg and then 1.5 million aliens (after two decades) are living in slums in District 9. There’s unrest and the aliens (called “prawns” in the movie for their appearance) are eventually segregated from the humans. The movie picks up at the point when the entire prawn population of the slums is being evicted to a different area.

Now, that whole scenario that I described may sound perfectly attractive to an English major looking for analogies and Apartheid references, but to someone more scientifically minded (or simply raised on sci-fi) this whole idea sounds like bullshit. Aliens land on earth and all we can do is round them up in a shanty-town? The place is run by corporate security forces and exploited by Nigerian scammers (seriously). Not a single scientist or researcher in sight. As if that’s not enough, there are entirely too many scientific mistakes in the movie. For one thing, what’s up with the aliens being human-sized, human-shaped, capable of breathing our air and eating our food? We learn their language, but no one tries to communicate with them, figure out why the aliens are here and how we can help them? The idea of weapons that work for aliens but not for us is glossed over completely. And they seemed to almost forget the fact that a ship-load of aliens seems entirely too willing to forget about their space-ship and settle in the life of luxury here on earth.

But hey, if you overlook some of these fallacies, the movie is great. Just don’t sit too close to the screen.

On Sunday, it was this song:

Today, it was this one:

Why can’t I get something else stuck in my head, like a harpoon or Mr Poe’s ‘The Raven’.

Oh, speaking of Firefly, I’m watching ‘Ariel’ and wondering, as always, what would have happened if the Hands of Blue got to the gang before Mal and Zoe? What’s a good sonic gun against a high-frequency device that makes you bleed to death?

This weekend I went to the Science Fiction Short Film Festival at the Cinerama, sponsored by the Seattle International Film Festival. This was a 5 hour event consisting of two 2-hour sessions and a one hour intermission. Each session consisted of 10 films, so there were 20 films total.

It was enjoyable, though seeing as how this was my first film festival (of any sort), I didn’t really have much in the way of expectations. Synopsis, reviews and spoilers after the jump.

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A Jumper video game? Oh, man. Now I will know how those Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Golden Compass, etc. fans feel when their beloved story is sucked dry by the entertainment industry to create a crappy game.

Here’s the Kotaku story and trailer that made me weep.

That video looks horrible! I don’t think I’ve seen worse game graphics in quite a long time. And it’s one thing that the movie take a different direction that the book, I’ve come to accept that already, but the game seems to be really taking things too far. In the trailer, the teleporter kills people in a variety of ways that just weren’t in the original novels: one guy is dropped into a shark tank, another character is left at the mercy of a polar bear, and, this is a bit odd, that same character seems to be left in the shockwave of an atomic blast. Huh?

Anyway. While I don’t think I’ll be buying this game, I’ll probably try to rent it from Blockbuster, just to see what those bastards are doing with the story.

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