revengers

November 19, 2017

sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Saw Thor: Ragnarok yesterday with my family and my son’s friend.  I liked it.   This wasn’t surprising given I’m such a fanboy of comic books (growing up I read a lot of Marvel and DC) and I enjoy the films of the New Zealand director, Taika Waititi.  Had to ask my wife given my bias if it was really good. Thankfully she agreed.

Like any superhero flick there was action and single-line quips but I found the humour quite refreshing.  Seeing as I found the movie franchise disappointing before this latest instalment, I didn’t have high hopes for this one.  It was inspired, if unexpected, to have the Kiwi direct it.

While the first feature was an amalgam with a love story and the second one tried desperately to be serious, I think the fusion with comedy really worked.  I knew that Chris Hemsworth was funny (maybe it’s the Aussie larikinism) but didn’t realise he had great comedic timing.  But for me, what I really enjoyed was the character of Korg voiced by the director – it was cue to not take the movie so seriously.  Sure it wasn’t the best film I ever saw (but it wasn’t trying to be) and it may not ‘pass’ certain tests or criteria.  It was simply and purely a popcorn film – a damn good one in my opinion.  When you watch  a film, it goes down to intent – sometimes you just want to entertained or distracted. It is what it is – one shouldn’t have to serious all the time.

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almost famous

November 13, 2017

the other night I saw the 2015 dramatic film: “The End of the Tour” on SBS.  I wasn’t sure I was going to like it – it was essentially a conversation and given it’s difficult as medium skews heavily toward being visual- but I really enjoyed it.  It was an interview over several days by David Lipsky representing Rolling Stone magazine about the critically-acclaimed author David Foster Wallace (I must confess whose name I hadn’t heard before).

I found that actors cast, Jason Segel (for Wallace) and Jesse Eisenberg (for Lipsky) were well-thought choices.  They were both “smart” enough that neither performance seemed “wooden” (suffice it to say it wasn’t an enormous stretch to suspend disbelief).   This can be “tricky” given it was a mainly dialogue-driven plot.

Aside from the words, I think what drew me in was the shared “addiction” of watching too much television.  Moreover, I can relate to wanting a job where not too much thinking is required (as a respite of sorts) – it reminded me of a friend that once said that a “mindless” task was a welcome break for her from her usual job.  Furthermore, I liked that within it was featured an action movie that didn’t require a whole lot of mental horsepower to enjoy (to what I viewed as juxtaposition when the characters watched a black-and-white film on tv).

I found the scene meaningful when the proponents couldn’t find where they parked their rental car in the airport.  This just illustrates how there are different kinds of smarts and how book-smarts is not always preferable in accomplishing certain everyday tasks.  As the adage goes:  Common Sense is not that common.  This is a moment of levity that cuts the seriousness of an otherwise dry account.

I enjoyed the line:  “Nice but not real.” How some situations are artificial – one doesn’t have to look far for the often fabricated constructs of reality tv.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m not hating on the entire genre but, like all “entertainment”, some shows are more “watchable” given the individual’s purpose.

I’m now curios about Wallace’s opus of a novel:  Infinite Jest and Lipsky’s best-selling memoir: Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. Hopefully, I’ll eventually have time to read them.

heart and mind

October 24, 2017

saw an exhibit of an artist friend of mine who did a Ph.D.  My wife and I met her at the Adelaide Convention Centre – it’s been a couple of years since we last caught up but it feels like it was just yesterday that we met.

she said something of interest to me: the colour yellow sometimes indicates psychotic disturbance –   I had a feature wall at our home painted that hue.  I shared that when the lines on both palms (often referred to as the heart and head lines) align it is said that (I’m of course paraphrasing) that you’re either a genius or crazy – both of us share this rare trait while most of the populations’ lines do not meet.  It might be a case of self-aggrandisement but I subscribe to that belief.

That said, why can’t it be two sides of the same coin?  The traditional notion is either-or, binary thinking. Surely, the interstitial side (often with the grooves) is more interesting.

My upbringing and training often focused on the ‘how’ but psychology  and art has led me to believe the ‘why’ is just as important.

nudge, nudge, wink, wink

October 20, 2017

Richard Thaler recently won the Nobel for Economic Sciences for his contributions to the field of Behavioural Economics (an amalgam of Economics and Psychology).   While it was for numerous works, I enjoyed his book on libertarian paternalism more commonly known as nudge theory (Nudge:  Improving Health, Wealth, and Happiness).  Moreover, he had a cameo in the Oscar-nominated film I liked called The Big Short (based also on a book) –  while intellectually I agree with the hot-hand fallacy as a former basketball player I can’t deny the boost of confidence this gave me.

I think everyone running for public life (or already in it) will be well-served to read it.  Hopefully, I can apply some of the teachings to my own life.

Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz were previously nominated by the committee for economics.  I wonder which author I read will be next?

trivial pursuit

September 18, 2017

for some reason, I’ve always been interested in trivia.  I’ve always enjoyed reading and browsing the Internet. Among other things, I like watching shows like  Jeopardy!, Adam Ruins Everything, and Food:  Fact or Fiction.  One of my most-liked chefs is Heston Blumenthal as I’m intrigued in how chemistry (although I found it boring in high school – it was my least favourite science subject) can be applied to cooking – another of my hobbies.

But I digress.  I’ve recently been made aware of a Google hack: if you type the words “fun facts” in the search bar, a piece of trivia will be returned.

fully sic(k)

August 14, 2017

i enjoyed the film “The Big Sick” but wasn’t really surprised that the cinema was practically empty.  I’m no marketing guru but I think the title (although understandable) could have used some tweaking. Despite receiving a rating of 98% in Rotten Tomatoes and grossing a lot in the US, the film didn’t seem to do well in OZ.  Some might find “sick” in the title; or the plot revolving around a coma; or it being primarily set in a hospital to be off-putting to some movie patrons.  My dark humour aside, my wife & I have firsthand experience with illness so we never really felt confronted.

In a way, this kind of reminded me of the movie The Shawshank Redemption (based on the novella Rita Hayworth and  The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King in the book Different Seasons. Three of the four stories – corresponding to a particular season.  Of note is the tale of The Body or what most know as Stand By Me but that’s another story).  A lot of people have watched the film but it didn’t fare well in the cinema.  That’s because most movies rely on word of mouth but the title was too hard to recall for most viewers (sad to say that this may have been an instance where a focus group may have been helpful).

The movie may not have been advertised enough; or most Aussies may not be familiar with the work of Kumail Nanjani because the television show Silicon Valley isn’t really big here.   Regardless, go out and watch The Big Sick.

the plot thickens

August 11, 2017

according to Shakespeare there are only seven universal plot lines:
1. Overcoming the monster
2.  Rags to riches
3.  The quest
4.  Voyage and return
5.  Comedy
6.  Tragedy
7.  Rebirth

It shouldn’t  surprise anyone that my favourite play of his is Othello. I have an affinity for the Moorish general having grown-up on  a military base and originally hailing from the Philippines (I know the play was set in Venice but we were a former Spanish colony for several centuries but the Moors conquered Spain).  Moreover. Iago reminds me of Wormtongue in the Lord Of The Rings series.