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This is the Direction Science Fiction Should Take: My Impression of the Film "Her"
Somewhat belatedly, I managed to catch Spike Jonze's great contemporary science fiction film"Her".
Before seeing it, I had believed that science fiction as a genre was dead.
Although the great novels and films in the history of science fiction have always depicted a new vision of the future, nowadays science fiction novels and films seem to be nothing more than imitations of what has gone before.
For example, in the film "Transcendence," the consciousness of a scientific genius is transplanted into cyberspace. I read this idea in William Gibson's novel "Neuromancer" which was first published back in 1984.
n "Transcendence", the transplanted consciousness attacks human beings. Again, I first came across this idea (computers attacking human beings) in the 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey."
In contrast, the film, "Her", envisions a future L.A., which is both similar to, and slightly different from, today's actual L.A. Spike Jonze's attention to every detail is what makes the film's vision so convincing.
The main character and an AI fall in love with each other. They constantly communicate with each other via PC and smart phone. While I find it hard to believe that computers would attack human beings in the near future, to me the idea that a human being and an AI could fall in love sounds entirely plausible.
I believe this film indicates a new direction for science fiction.
Every actor did a really good job. Scarlett Johansson, who voiced the role of the AI, was especially good. Watching "Her", I was once again struck by her talent.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman has no limit. But you do, sir.
I'm really looking forward to the last film of the "The Dark Knight" trilogy, "The Dark Knight Rises", which will be released in this summer. So I reviewed "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight". I was quite impressed by them.
The story of "Batman Begins" is about the reason why Bruce Wayne became Batman, and the story of "The Dark Knight" is about overcoming adversity. But at the same time he lost a lot of things and became "the dark knight".
Alfred, a faithful butler of Bruce Wayne, talked to Bruce, when Bruce returned from his work as a Batman with his injury.
Alfred: Now, your limit, master Wayne. Bruce: Batman has no limit. Alfred: But you do,sir.
At this time, Bruce hadn't realized the fact that even Batman had his limit.
Harvey Dent, a prosecutor believing in justice, and Bruce were fighting against the evil in Gotham City together. Harvey talked to the citizen of Gotham City about hope.
Harvey: The night is darkest just before dawn. I promise you, "Dawn is coming."
They were "heroes", so they were bound by their morality. For example, Batman could never kill anyone.
But their enemy, Joker, was completely free from any rules. He could do anything and drove them into the corner.
Joker: I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, do you know about chaos? It's fear.
Bruce realized his inability and talked to Alfred.
Bruce: What do I have to do? Alfred: Endure, master Wayne.
And then, Batman tried to wiretap all people in Gotham City in order to find where Joker was.
Batman: Beautiful, isn't it? Fox: Beautiful, unethical, dangerous. This is wrong.
In the end, Harvey dropped into his dark side like Darth Vader.
Joker: I took Gotham's white knight and I brought him to our level. It wasn't hard. Madness, as you know, is like gravity. All I take is a little push. Harvey: The world is cruel.
The only morality in the cruel world is chance. Batman dared to suffer the disgrace saving Harvey's honor as Gotham's white knight.
At the end of "The Dark Knight", Batman, as a dark knight, was chased by police.
Gordon: He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a dark knight. I'd like to talk a little about myself.
When I was 20's and 30's, I believed that I had no limit. If I had been serious, I could do anything, I thought. But in fact, I was never so serious and I couldn't accomplish anything.
After I have suffered from depression, I realized that I had my own limit. I asked myself what I had to do and just endured my worthlessness. So I can understand how Harvey and Bruce felt.
I myself can come back to our society. I'm looking forward to seeing how Batman, as a dark knight, will get himself back in "The Dark Knight Rises".
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Buddhism and Tsundere
Recently, I read several books about Buddhism and wrote the entry "Exoteric Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism: Buddha, Wittgenstein, and Me." In this entry, I summarized Buddha's teachings as follows.
========== Early Buddhism was exoteric. Buddha's original teaching was very simple. Our lives are full of pain and nobody can run away from it. There is nothing eternal and everything is changing in this world. He said that we should just accept this. In other words, it is the truth that there was no way to escape our painful lives, but we just had to accept such a cruel truth. It is too hard for ordinary people to accept it.
I watched the film "Silver Linings Playbook" and found the way how main characters in this film overcame their problems was quite Buddhistic.
The main character, Pat, played by Bradley Cooper, obsessed his wife, who betrayed him. He believed that his wife still loved him, but people around him knew that she didn't love him any more. He suffered from bipolar disorder, and his obsession about his wife made him lose control.
The opposite character, Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, obsessed his husband, who was killed by a traffic accident. She couldn't accept the fact that her husband was dead. She also lost control by her obsession about him.
Buddha might say that both of them should accept the fact, even if it was cruel, and it was the only way to overcome their pain.
In this film, they started training dance in preparation for a competition. At first, Pat couldn't understand why he should dance, but he became deeply involved in dance and gradually got freed from his obsession. While he was dancing, he didn't think about anything. Dance itself wasn't important, but devotion to dance was important.
Buddha just meditated and realized the truth, and Pat just danced and was freed from his obsession.
I'll change the subject.
The character of Tiffany was typically "tsundere(ツンデレ)."
"Tsundere" is a type of heroines in Japanese anime. "Tsun tsun" means being sullen or arrogant, and "dere dere" means being sweet or charming. At first a "tsundere" heroin behaves toward the main character coldly, and sometimes they fight each other. He doesn't understand why she is so cold to him at all. After they find that they love each other, she dramatically turns to be sweet to him.
Tiffany in "Silver Linings Playbook" showed up on Pat as an eccentric and rude woman. In other words, she was completely "tsun tsun." In the last part of this film, she turned to be "dere dere."
Jennifer Lawrence perfectly played the role of "tsundere" heroin and was so cute. Her performance was worth the Oscar award.
A Quiet, Simple, and Elegant Film
I visited Eastern Europe, Berlin, Prague, and Budapest, in March 1990. At that time, the Berlin Wall had already been fallen down, but Germany had not reunited yet.
People could freely come and go over the borders between East and West Germany. I went through Checkpoint Charlie to East Berlin, and I visited retro-future TV tower and saw Ladas running on street.
In a night train from Berlin to Prague, I asked a passenger who sat next to me if Germany would reunite in a year, and he answered that he didn't believe it would happen so early. In fact, Germany reunited in October 1990.
Although I actually visited East Berlin, now, it is hardly for me to believe that the half of Germany was a communist state just twenty-three years ago.
"Barbara" is a German film about people living in East Germany in 1980. Barbara is a female doctor, who was watched by the secret police.
It is one of the greatest German films that I have ever seen. There is no exaggeration and omission in this film. Every element in it is necessary, and I couldn't find that any things were unnecessary.
This film is very quiet, because there is no background music. That makes audience concentrated in every tiny sound. Barbara was always nervous about the secret police, so she got surprised when the doorbell started to ring, and the audience also got really surprised with the sound of the doorbell, and fully understood her emotion.
Nina Hoss, as Barbara, was also great and attractive. She didn't overplay at all, but accurately expressed how Barbara felt in her mind. After seeing her performance, most actors and actress became to look unnatural.
This film is a quiet, simple, and elegant. If you love films, I strongly recommend you to see it.
Side by Side (2012)
Punk Rock and the Digital Camera
Johnny Rotten shouted, "I wanna be anarchy," and he broke down the values of music.
When I was a high school student, some of my friends formed a band and played punk rock in the school festival. The reason that they chose punk rock was because they could only play punk rock.
Before the Sex Pistols, music played better technically was better, but Sex Pistols showed that music didn't have to be played technically well. They democratized rock music.
I watched the documentary "Side by Side" about the transition from film cameras to digital cameras in the movie industry. In this movie, Keanu Reeves interviewed many people: directors, cinematographers, producers, actors, editors, colorists, and so on. Some of them welcomed digital cameras, while others stuck to film cameras.
Digitalization changed movie making in two ways.
Firstly, movie making by a digital camera is far cheaper than by a film camera. Videotapes, which don't have to be developed, are much cheaper than films, and it is much easier to use a digital camera than a film camera, so they don't need trained professionals. But the picture quality of digital cameras used to be lesser than film cameras.
Secondary, digital cameras got rid of the technical limitation of film cameras. A film camera can shoot only ten minutes, and a director has to wait for a day to watch the pictures that they take, because films need to be developed. On the contrary, a digital camera can shoot much longer than a film camera, and director can check the pictures that they take simultaneously. The picture quality of digital cameras is getting better and is now comparable to film cameras.
The first way was represented by Danny Boyle and Anthony Dod Mantle, who made "Slumdog Millionaire," and the second way was represented by George Lucas and James Cameron, and "Star Wars" and "Avatar".
Dod Mantle worked for Dogme 95 project, in which they used digital cameras earliest to make movies.
Danny Boyle was deeply impressed by his avant-garde pictures and decided to make a movie with him using a digital camera. They used a handy digital camera and expressed the dynamism of Mumbai in "Slumdog Millionaire."
George Lucas and James Cameron have been developing the new digital technology to make images that they want, and their movies, in which they used these technologies, were quite successful commercially. They are entrepreneurs in the movie industry.
Danny Boyle and Dod Mantel democratized movies by digital camera like the Sex Pistols, and George Lucas and James Cameron industrialized movies like Thomas Edison.
I want to watch a movie made by punk rockers more than by Thomas Edison.
She Looked Very Cute and Fashionable, and That's All, but It's Enough
Déborah François as the heroin, Rose Pamphyle, looked very cute and fashionable. That's all, but it's enough for me to see this movie for a change. I am guessing that Régis Roinsard, the director of this movie, just wanted to make Déborah look as cute and fashionable as possible in this movie, and he was successful.
Although this movie has many shortcomings that audience can point out, it doesn't matter at all. For example, the plot of this movie is quite stereotyped, but it is better to make audience concentrated in the heroin Déborah.
I love Kabuki, whose plots are usually dubious. The audience of Kabuki mainly wants to be fascinated with the beauty of Kabuki actors, and a deep plot would disturb the entertainment of Kabuki.
Of course, Déborah François herself is very attractive. She shows a variety of expressions, smile, anger, tears, envy, and love, and all of them are charming.
If you thought that she was cute in the trailer, it would be worth seeing this movie.
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
Do What You Feels Right, When You Have No Idea What I Should Do
After work, I went to see "Star Trek Into Darkness." It is a very interesting movie, I think.
Compared with "Man of Steel," the visual effect of this movie looks cheaper, although that of "Man of Steel" is outstanding.
Actually, the biggest appeal of "Star Trek Into Darkness" isn't visuals but dialogs between characters, especially Kirk and Spock. When I read the quotes of it, I found that the script was really well written.
Since I became a middle manager of my company, I have been thinking about management and leadership for two years. "Star Trek" series are very helpful for it.
Spock is always quite logical and clear, so he is an extremely capable manager. Then, why is Kirk a captain of the USS Enterprise?
The answer is that management and leadership aren't different. Spock is the best manager, but he isn't good enough for a leader, and Kirk is inferior to Spock as a manager, but he is the leader of the USS Enterprise.
I think that the most important roles of leaders are motivating people and making a decision.
Motivation of human beings isn't necessary logical. Sometimes emotional sympathy moves people more than reasonable explanation. It is important for leaders to express what they feel. Spock isn't good at expressing emotion at all. Although Kirk is too emotional as a manager, it is one of the most important qualities of a leader.
Leaders have to make a decision, even when they don't have any idea what they should do logically. Such a decision is often critical. Spock can point out only what shouldn't do, but he can't decide what really they will do. Kirk is sometimes thoughtless and makes a mistake, but he can make such a difficult and critical decision.
I'd like to show a typical dialog between Spock and Kirk.
Spock: Captain, I cannot allow you to do this! Bones: Jim, you're not actually going after this guy, are you? James T. Kirk: I have no idea what I'm supposed to do! I only know what I CAN do! ===========
Spock warned Kirk that his idea was too dangerous, but he couldn't show what they should do. On the other hand, Kirk decided to do what he could do.
Spock is appropriate for the lieutenant of the USS Enterprise and Kirk is appropriate for the captain.
Do what I feels right, when I have no idea what I should do.
Man of Steel (2013)
Superman, the Loneliest Superhero
I saw the movie "Man of Steel" in an IMAX theater.
I didn't like Superman, because he was so comical and he didn't look cool at all. For example his costume was too gaudy. People who love the original superman would think that "Man of Steel" is too serious, but I was moved deeply by this powerful movie.
Superheroes are lonely, because they are too special for ordinary people to understand them. They show their superpower to try to save people, but their superpower makes people fear them. Superheroes are like Jesus who was betrayed by the people he wanted to help.
I think that Superman is the loneliest superhero.
Bruce Wayne is basically an ordinary human being. He wanted to be special, and he wears a mask to be Batman.
On other hand, Kal-El was born in the planet Krypton and he isn't a human being. He is fundamentally different from people on the planet earth. But he fought against and killed Kryptonians to save human beings. He is far lonelier than Bruce Wayne.
The plot of this movie expressed the loneliness of Superman very well. He is lonely, so the plot couldn't be comical but serious.
As an aside, Diane Lane, who played Martha Kent, Clark's mother on Earth, was great. I was surprised that Laurence Fishburne has became so fat.
Star Trek (2009)
"Put Aside Logic. Do What Feels Right."
First of all, I'm not a Trekky at all, but I'm interested in "Star Trek Into Darkness," because I heard the director J. J. Abram said that he wasn't Trekky, either, so he made it not for Trekkies but people hadn't seen Star Trek yet.
In preparation of seeing "Star Trek into Darkness," I saw the previous movie "Star Trek," which was also directed by J. J. Abram. It was interesting enough for me not to change my mind to see "Star Trek Into Darkness," though I don't know whether Trekkies were satisfied with this movie.
Especially, I empathized with Mr. Spock.
People around me often say that I am so argumentative, and I myself agree with it. When I argue with someone, I try to be logical. At such time, I don't look emotional at all, like Mr. Spock.
Sometime, I feel that I am really not emotional at all, but it might be wrong. In fact I am so emotional that I suppress my emotion without intension. Of course it is unhealthy.
In this movie, Mr. Spock encountered a deep tragedy, and he tried to keep being logical. But in the end, he lost control of his emotion, because his sadness was too deep to suppress it. He said, "I am emotionally compromised and no longer fit for command," and gave up his duty.
I also did the same thing, and I understand Mr. Spock very well. Now I know how dangerous it is to suppress emotion.
In the end of this movie, Mr. Spock said, "Put aside logic. Do what feels right." I understand that it is important to "put aside logic," but I don't fully understand "what feels right," yet.
If I release my emotion, will I understand "what feels right?"
The Great Gatsby (2013)
A Great Story, Good Actors and Actresses, and a Cheap Direction
I saw the movie "the Great Gatsby" yesterday.
I love the novel "the Great Gatsby," so I was looking forward to this movie, and at the same time I felt anxious about it.
Of course, the story of this movie was great, not due to any staff of this movie but to Scott Fitzgerald.
Gatsby devoted whole his life to Daisy, who wasn't what she really was but what he believed that she should be. He did anything that he believed that she would love, but actually it wasn't sure that she would love it. Finally, he was betrayed by the real Daisy, because she wasn't what he thought of her as.
In this sense, "the Great Gatsby" is tragedy and comedy like "Don Quixote." Gatsby and Don Quixote lived in their own imagination. All of us also live more or less in our imagination, but we can't forget the real world at all. Therefore, we look down on them and adore them at the same time like Nick Carter.
Which do you like to live your own life at any cost and go to ruin like Jay Gatsby, or to watch someone else's life from a safety zone like Nick Carter?
Tobey Maguire was adequate to Nick Carter. Although sometimes Leonardo DiCaprio overacted, I can't imagine that another actor palys Gatsby. Carey Mulligan was cute enough for Daisy who Gatsby loved.
But I was really disappointed that the direction was so cheap.
In this movie, everything in the images was unnatural. If it was a music video, I could say that their images were fashionable, but in this movie they broke my concentration on the story.
Did they use such artificial images in order to express the cheapness of the Roaring Twenties? If they wanted it, it would be successful. In fact, I seemed this movie to be cheap.
I'll try Robert Redford's "the Great Gatsby."