MC round up 5/24

Well it has been a long month since my last one – Holy Week and Easter tend to be busy! And I tend to be tired, so lots of rewatching old things. This is a long list, basically in chronological order

Transporter 3 – just completing the sequence 3/5
Dune 2 – a marvellous film, but moving away from the source material is concerning for the overall arc – it really deserves a 5/5 but that aspect is making me hesitate
Morbius – much better than expected 3/5
Chaos – a relaxing Statham flick 3/5
Trainspotting (rewatch with son) – genius 5/5
Good Will Hunting – (rewatch) a bit of a formative film for me, still perfect 5/5
Shaun of the Dead (rewatch) – just wonderful 5/5
Miss Congeniality (rewatch) – 3/5
The Equalizer (rewatch, Denzel version) – 4/5
Road House (remake) – better than expected 4/5
Dark Knight Rises (rewatch) – 5/5 I wanted to remember the Gotham moment
Passion of the Christ – my annual Good Friday devotion, a rating seems rather sacrilegious. I’m becoming more aware of Gibson’s own biases (we all have them) and the ways in which this film is deficient, but it’s coming from such a great height. I might watch a different life of Christ next year, I struggle with violence more than I used to.
The Rock (rewatch – had to introduce eldest to it) – 3/5
Apocalypse Now Redux (first time watching this version) – just amazing, and this version makes the narrative arc much clearer 6/5
Men in Black (International) – so so 3/5
Ghostbusters Afterlife – quite enjoyed that 3/5
Logan Lucky (rewatch) – Soderbergh slumming it a bit 3/5
Snatch (rewatch) – working through Guy Ritchie films a lot at the moment 3/5
Zulu (rewatch – but after about 30 years!) – holds up rather well, although the pacing drags for a modern viewer 4/5

Three Body Problem – really enjoyed this, but I am unfamiliar with the source material, which is a lack I shall remedy, 4/5
Also watched a lot more Dr Who – now up to second season of Matt Smith
Continuing to watch Sopranos with eldest
Watched all of The Gentlemen – loved it 5/5

Living with lacunae

I’ve recently had cause to ponder situations where my need to understand something has been bouncing up against limits. Where it has become clear that there is no explanation to be had, that, instead, wisdom requires a living with the absence of an explanation – what philosophers call a lacuna, a gap in the understanding. I think this is healthy, but it has made me reflect on some areas in my life where I have come to what I now think of as premature certainty, a premature closing off of the gap, a refusal to live with the lacunae.

Two examples from the United States, as they are matters far from my daily life, and therefore quite clearly areas where there is no need for me to seek any certainty, where it is easiest.

The first is the collapse of WTC7. This does not make sense to me. The official explanation is that it was brought down by fire. The official explanation has been proven false. To an outside observer it looks very like a controlled demolition, but positing a controlled demolition requires a large amount of other hypotheses which very rapidly enter into the realms of madness. If I ponder this for too long then I end up in a place of extreme cognitive dissonance. So now I say: I don’t know what happened. I don’t understand what happened. It’s a gap.

The second is the 2020 election. I remember when it happened thinking that it was odd, and in particular I remember the fact that 18 of the 19 hitherto ‘bellwether’ counties had voted for Trump, so Biden winning in that context seemed very odd (the conventional explanation for that oddness is here). The ‘down the rabbit-hole’ explanation is here. Pondering the way in which US elections are carried out – and the role of the ‘voting machines’ – makes me think that, if there isn’t fraud, that is a result of divine grace rather than a robust system. I have no idea what the truth is. I don’t know what happened. I don’t understand what happened. It’s a gap.

I’m coming to see that desire for premature certainty as the high road to delusion (and also all sorts of conflicts), and I interpret it now in the light of lateral hemispheres. The desire for certainty is a sign of left-hemisphere capture, a hall of mirrors. Whereas sitting with paradox, with ignorance, with acknowledged lacunae – this is the way.

I am slowly becoming healthy again. Thanks be to God.

MC round up 4/24

I think these may end up being monthly… and probably not comprehensive! So I am failing to be quite as mindful as desired. Hey ho.

Most important films I’ve watched: I have rewatched Godfathers 1 and 2 with my boys. These remain astonishing films (and we’ll watch the coda soon); these days I am more aware of the tragedy and idolatry involved in Michael’s story, as opposed to – when I first watched them – the ‘coolness’ of the violence and power. So good, both 5/5. Also provides context for Sopranos, which we shall resume watching soon.

Watched Transporter 1 and 2 – if I want to switch off and veg out in front of the goggle box, Mr Statham is a reliable companion. 4/5 (second one better)

The Night Agent (Netflix) – very enjoyable; formulaic and derivative, but enjoyable. 3/5

I have cancelled my Disney+ subscription, for various reasons, but I rewatched The Marvels. Which is fine, and Brie Larson is good in the role. Shoot me. 3/5

I have given up video games for Lent. Which is hard, but which I think is doing me good.

MC round up 3/24

Can’t believe I’ve left it this long, three weeks! These are the key things that I remember:

Most important film I’ve watched: Silence (Scorcese) – this will probably get a stand-alone review. 5/5 obviously.
Insomnia, rewatch after at least ten, maybe fifteen years. Holds up well as an early Nolan. 4/5
Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher version) – I really like Fincher, and I love these books (the main trilogy) but… don’t know. The long swedish version is better. Still 4/5
Kingsman 1 and 2 (rewatch, great fun, both 4/5)
Hangover 1 (rewatch, one of my favourite comedies, at least a 4/5)
Watched the new series of Reacher. I love the books (have read all of them) but am dissatisfied with the series, not with the main actor who I think is great, but the characterisation seems a little bit off. I wonder if Lee Child brings a bit of UK scepticism to his portrayal, which is lost by a US translation into the different medium. Not sure, will think about that more. Series 2 gets a 3/5 from me, where series 1 got 4/5
Watched the latest series of the Traitors! That was fun. Not sure it qualifies for ratings. I have been tempted to apply (they approached me) but I haven’t got the spare time.

Am watching the Sopranos with my oldest (so Dr Who is in abeyance at the moment) – we are half way through Season 1.

I think that’s it.

Am playing too much Civ…

Russia’s little green men

So – I quite like playing Civilisation. Probably a bit too much. But one of the things that happens in the game, even when I want to play peacefully (win through culture or science or religion… normally the latter 🙂 is that I get attacked by another player. Which is fine, it is a fun part of the game.

But – assuming I win that fight, and as I get better at the game, that’s what happens more often – at the end of that conflict I have an army. Moreover, that army was expensively accrued, has accumulated lots of XP points, and is cheap to run, especially if they raid or pillage, in which case they become net positives on that asset score.

Of course, I could hold to my original intention and disband the army, but that would be quite a waste of resources.

I ponder this because the risk of Putin winning in the Ukraine is non-trivial (by winning I mean being allowed to continue in possession of some area of Ukrainian land). I think it’s non-trivial because the Western governing classes are generally crap, and because Putin can hold on until Trump comes in, and Trump… well, Trump is Trump. Europe needs to think about it’s own defence.

If Putin wins, he will have a large army. How will he play it?

I think Poland has already worked this out, and at least part of the UK defence establishment is fully on board. It feels like 1938 all over again 🙁

This is not a conflict in a far away land of which we know nothing. Putin has to lose, and be seen to lose. The sooner the better.

On needing to be opened by the wonderful

Help comes
When you need it most
I’m cured by laughter
Mood swings – not sure I can cope
My life’s in plaster (In plaster)

May your mind set you free (Be opened by the wonderful)
May your heart lead you on
May your mind let you be through all disasters (Be opened by the wonderful)
May your heart lead you on

These wounds are all self-imposed
Life’s no disaster
All roads lead onto death row
Who knows what’s after

May your mind be wide open
May your heart beat strong
May your minds will be broken
By this heartfelt song

(and this is a very good description of the left-brain’s need for the right-brain…)

Strengthening the centre

I’m more and more convinced that the most urgent political task of our time is to strengthen the centre against extremes. Which means people of good will coming together, not just affirming where they agree but also clarifying where they disagree, and the nature of that disagreement, and the bounds within which that disagreement functions.

In other words, a process to ‘de-demonise the Other’.

An example – I sometimes refer to myself as a ‘deep green climate sceptic’. The latter two words tend to trigger extreme responses, that eclipse the weight of the first two – which is why I’m persuaded that the argument is basically a religious one (recently bought this, but haven’t read it yet). Yet there is so much that might be agreed upon, and worked towards (eg around transport). Same applies to Brexit of course.

It’s as if we need to re-establish good disagreement (a nod towards Psybertron here, who has been saying this for quite some time) and the rules of civilised discourse. It’s OK to disagree. Of course I could be wrong. And so on.

Just today’s thoughts. I’ll do my best to work towards it.

MC roundup 2/24

It has been a busy week, so only two things to share:
The Tourist (season one) which I watched last weekend. Really enjoyed this, especially all the call-outs to other movies like True Romance and Pulp Fiction, and it was interesting to see an area of the world that I do not know very well at all (but very much want to visit – I’ve never been south of the Equator). 4/5 I’ll watch s2 in a couple of weeks.
Padre Pio (Abel Ferrara) – I’ve only watched one other Ferrara film (Bad Lieutenant) and that must have been about thirty years ago and, I must confess, I was watching this with, and at the request of, my eldest, so I went in with a completely open mind, not knowing the director or anything else. It is less of a biographical story, more of a theological argument, with the key theme established right at the beginning, of sharing in the suffering of Christ, culminating in a union of priest and people via stigmata. Some tremendous visuals (which have apparently become memes) and good performances – it is stretching things a bit but I think I’m going to give this 5/5. It has made me think.