People are cats’ pets. At least how it seems from lots of memes. Never been owned by a cat (nor the other way around) I can’t form a personal opinion on the topic. In Jexi, the 2019, often hilarious comedy, a smartphone enhanced(?) with Artificial Intelligence takes a liking of the phone’s owner to comic and tragic consequences. There are several ways to approach our communal obsessions with our phones. One of the best one is with humor and this light movie does a good job at that.
Another one is how it is done in one of the books I am reading right now. In C. Gockel’s sci fi series, “Archangel” there is a cat-like species, called werfle whose mind is taken over at one point by extremely smart telepathic alien species. Some humans kept werfles as pets. So they thought. Meanwhile the superior aliens living in the werfles considered these very same humans their pets. It is the same in this movie, where the AI is (or wants to be) the dominant in a symbiotic relationship, while the puny human is degraded to a subservient role. Many of us have already become addicted to our phones and turn to it as an emotional coping mechanism. Just a few hours ago in John Kellden’s excellent “Conversation” Facebook group I saw a poignant distillation of this, so I will leave it here:
There’s two cults in the western world:
f2f: consumption digital:
consumption of shiny memes
The first cult: an island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, the size of France.
The second cult: a learned helplessness, a social cognition rot, reduced to a like button clicking creature of habit.
Setting is often as important to whether one likes a movie or not as the plot. In this case the outdoor scenes, all shots and depicting gorgeous San Francisco helped to ease this movie into my heart. I happen to have been to San Fran lots of time and love the city as a frequent tourist. Hence every time I saw an iconic location–or even not so iconic, just an average yet typical SF street– I got a little jolt of pleasure.
A part of my education here was learning about Kid Cudi. I admit I don’t follow modern pop/rap music so I never heard of him. When I first saw his name in the movie I thought they just made up a famous-looking music star for the movie’s sake. Turns out he is real and seems to be really successful, including having sold 16 million records according to his wikipedia page. To learn more about him and close a hole in my pop-culture knowledge I searched on Youtube and watched the first video that came up. It was the “Pursuit of Happiness” from 2009 with close to 200million views. Its lyrics includes these lines: “Everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold (hey) I’ll be fine once I get it, get it in, I’ll be good”.
It entails the message of the film: A, The plot revolves around the pursuit of happiness (through reaching for the impossible and following dreams.) And B. it is not (through) a shiny object. OK, message is delivered, even explicitly spelled out at the end in case someone doesn’t want to take the extra step to think even for a second what the movie was about. Now go watch it and have fun.
In the second scene of the 2011 movie Hysteria, set in 1880, an old school doctor confronting a young one over the existence of germs: tiny, invisible things that can make you sick. I heard that there is a TV personality who didn’t wash his hands in 10 years, because he doesn’t believe in invisible things. Amazing, 130 years later some people will opt for willful ignorance even in the smallest matters. I wonder whether he still keeps it up today, when good hygiene could save his life.
Here is a conversation later from the film, verbatim.
Charlotte Dalrymple: Occasionally we sneak in something slightly progressive. Oh…you might like this. Actually look. For example, this is where the children wash their hand. We use soap and boiled water. We do our best to keep the settlement sanitary, but you can’t imagine the filth and the germs. Mortimer Granville: You know about germs? Dalrymple: I do read, Doctor. Granville: I spend years trying to convinced the medical establishment that the hand washing prevent disease and unsuccessfully. And then here you are teaching it to the children. And with great success. Dalrymple: I know. With the parents is another story. But, eventually the children will teach them themselves.
This month most of us learned the proper way to wash our hands. What else should be teaching to our children with the hope they their children will always know it?
Igencsak tudom értékelni amikor egy film mestermunka. Márpedig Leonardo D’Agostini rendező első filmje A Bajnok (Il Campione) az. Sok filmnyelvi ujdoságot nem kínál, viszont a történetet nemcsak, hogy tisztességesen és hatásosan elmeséli, hanem be is bizonyitja, hogy érti a szakmáját. Tujda irányítani a színészeket, jó érzeke van a dinamikához és a mise en scène-hez is. Ennél többet nem is igen vár(hat)ok el.
A történet kisé kiszámítható, de ez nem baj és nem ezért szerettem a filmet. Ahogy a vetítés előtti bevezetőben elhangzott: akit érdekel a fozi azért (is) nézze meg a filmet, akit pedig nem érdekel annak is bőven van miről szólnia. Volt is. A sztori tipikus “hero’s journey”, azaz a hős útját mutatja be Joseph Campbelli értelemben. Elindul egy egyszerünek tűnő, de érzelmileg nyilvánvalóan sérült, tehetséges focistával, akit mindenki ki akar és tud is használni az ő szeretet hiánya miatt. A film végére, viszont helyrebillen a lelki egyensúly és megtalálja az “igazi“ értékeket. Avagy a pénz helyére (vagy legalábbis mellé) beül a tudás.
Volt szerencsém megnézni ezt a filmet a 17. Olasz Filmfesztivál keretében telt ház első sorában a Puskin Moziban. Így alkalmam volt a film utáni beszélgetést is meghallgatni és fel is venni videóra. Leonardo D’Agostini rendező és Antonella Lattanzi forgatókönyvíró válaszolt a kérdésekre. Például arra,
hogy mi adta az inspirációt a filmre
hogyan választották ki a főszereplőt játszó színészt, Andrea Carpenzano-t
mi történik, ha egy 18 éves gyerek belecsöppen a foci zárt világába amiről mindneki azt hiszi, hogy ismeri
hogyan születik meg a kapcsolat egy tanár és egy önfejű fiatal között
hogyan lehet visszatérni egy elveszett útra
hogyan vettek fel a stadionbeli jeleneteket…
Ha tudsz olaszul akkor az alábbi videót élvezni fogod. Ha magyarul tudsz, akkor várd ki azokat a részt amikor a tolmács fordít. :- )
Earlier this month I posted a list of all movies I saw last year. In the distant past I used to attempt to write sort reflections about each movie I watch. I more or less gave up this dream due to lack of time. I still dream to do it one day though. Meanwhile here are the movies I liked the most from last year and why. FYI: I am not including summaries, you can read short synopsis for each of these at the IMDB links. I only share personal reflections here.
Bridges are multi-edged metaphors. In peace time they symbolize connections; we like to “build bridges” between people, cultures, seemingly disparate or even opposite fragments of the world, to emphasize the common ground. In wartime though it shows that there is no common ground under the bridge. Instead their symbolical meaning gets reversed. What once was a fragile road towards the and each other now becomes the place where nobody is protected. When you are on a bridge there is nowhere to run from a sniper. Nowhere to hide. By committing the brave or foolish act of stepping onto it you expose yourself to possible enemy fire.
Twice Born, with Penélope Cruz, painfully drives the point home, by showing both the way to the famous Mostar bridge, which was a symbol of multicultural understanding to the slaughtering of innocent people on various bridges. The symbolism gets even worse and stronger. As we learn towards the end of the movie the main surviving characters of the war live on an island. No bridges leading there, only ferries. They didn’t want to burn the bridges up behind themselves, but their country did it for them. The only more or less safe refuge they found was strictly off-coast.
Religion, Society, Technology
From now on, in my musings about movies and books I will pay extra attention to religion, technology and society. I believe every piece of artwork has something to say about them. Let me test this theory by pointing a few connections out.
Religion barely plays any role in the movie. At one point we learn about a couple, both of them university professors, where he is Jewish and she is Muslim. This fact is unceremoniously mentioned in passing and the point is to show that for being a loving couple they doesn’t have to be co-religionists. Much later when the bohemian photographer lost his joie de vivre and helps distributing food and supplies to people in a vest that bears a cross on its back, his scared wife compares him to a desperate Jesus figure. Yes, just like Jesus, he abandoned his self-preservation instinct in favor of helping others. For those who love him as a person it was hard to take.
What kind of pictures does the movie paint of human society? It is a war-story with its specific horrible atrocities. Hence it is best summarized by the words of a doctor, who after examining one of the victims in the movie says: “Her… orifices will heal slowly. It will take some time. I am ashamed to belong to the human race. God will not forgive us. Not even the children.” The things humans are capable of are seemingly unimaginable. The trouble is that some humans not just imagined but executed those atrocious crimes.
Everything is technology. The word’s meaning move on a large scale. Let’s narrow it down to man-made objects. For simplicity’s stake–and because that is one of my man interest–let’s further narrow it to computer technology. It only comes up in the very last scene, which is yet again a nice bridge between past and future. It is suggested to the 17 year old innocent boy, who was born twice, that the war should be explained to him by a comedian like Buster Keaton. So, on his way out of the island and the movie he snaps his cell-phone out and starts watching a Keaton film. New technology used by a new generation suggests progress and maybe, just maybe that he will grow up with more connecting bridges than killing fields. Also, him connecting to a classic oldie also gives hope that by studying history he and his generation will not repeat it.
IMDB summary: The fervent affair of the Italian Gemma and the American photographer Diego will be put to the test by the insurmountable problem of infertility, as the couple’s desperate desire to conceive will prompt them to make difficult choices. Now, sixteen years after the 1992 siege of Sarajevo, Gemma–after accepting her old friend Gojko’s invitation–will return to the once war-torn city accompanied by her 16-year-old son, Pietro, only to unearth powerful memories and bottled-up emotions. But, there, decades after her perilous escape, Gemma is also in for a terrible and tragic revelation–one that will uncover the true horrors of war and the full extent of her loss.