Enemy, 2014

This was a weird one, and by the end of it, I’m not sure i really understand what was going on.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a boring history teacher, who, when watching a movie notices an actor that looks exactly like him. He tracks the actor down and finds that they seem to be exact doubles. And the movie just gets weirder from there.

The whole film has some kind of filter over it, making everything seem in shades of brown and yellow. I don’t know if that’s just supposed to make everything seem dirty or drab, or if it has some other meaning… with this movie, I’m second guessing what every little thing might mean.

The music, for the most part, was good and helped build the weird ambiance. It worked well, because I found myself on the edge of my seat, so to speak, for most the movie, even though most of the time nothing was really ‘happening’ as far as action goes. I just felt a very intent desire to see what happened next. There was one note, though, that repeated throughout the movie, that seemed very out of place and kind of, Italian? like it should be in the Godfather or something. But again, with this movie, I have no idea what is symbolism and what is literal and what is just for convenience.

And the end of the movie, i just don’t understand. I feel I’m missing the point of the movie, because the last scene is very shocking, and I believe that it is meant to bring some revelation, but, I just don’t get it.

[SPOILERS!]

So, is she a spider? Is that symbolizing some side of her he is seeing, some dark side? It doesn’t seem literal because his reaction, that little sigh he gives, is more like someone saying ‘oh, okay.’ or, being resigned to something, or giving in to something. Not like someone seeing a giant spider instead of their pregnant wife.

There were spiders in the beginning of the movie too. And of course in the dreams he had. But I don’t get what they represent. At the strip show, or whatever it is, people are watching the spider maybe, instead of the women? And the guy who lets him into Anthony’s apartment mentions that he’d do anything to see the show again. Does the spider symbolize some addiction?

I don’t get it.

[/SPOILERS]

Even though I don’t get it, I enjoyed it. Jake is a good actor and was very believable as each person. If you like slow, creepy movies that you have to think about, then I’d give this one a shot. Don’t expect it to make sense though. And if it does make sense to you, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised and enjoy it even more!

The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut

This was clever, fun and charming, as is everything by Vonnegut that I’ve read. And it also says a lot about how the world works.

The plot centers on Malachi Constant, son of the luckiest man on Earth, who invested in the stock markets using the Bible as a guide telling him what to buy or sell, and when. Malachi continues his father’s system and with it, his luck. Until during a month-long bender he gives away most of his wealth in a drunken haze, and with nowhere left to turn he joins the Martian army, has his memory wiped and an antenna put in his head… and that’s just the start of the story.

I enjoyed this a lot because the innocence of the characters really seemed out of place with what was going on around them, and that made them all the more likable. Malachi, or ‘Unc’ as we come to know him, really has no idea about anything that is going on, and is an almost literal pawn in giant schemes he can’t conceive of. Yet he still retains goals and ideas of his own, even with no memory to speak of.

Something about the bluntness and simpleness of Vonnegut’s characters has always made me enjoy them. Not to say that they are simple, but their thoughts are simple, their way of seeing and understanding things are simple, every day, identifiable. A simple understanding of complex things as are found in sci fi novels can be very entertaining.

The over all theme of this book seems to be ‘we have no control over anything that happens in life, and we shouldn’t pretend we do’. Or something like that. The characters often seem to be out of control, that is to say, they are being lead by someone or some outside force, and have no real influence on their own lives. They are always being used by someone for this or that. By the end of the book it seems that humanity itself has had no control over the direction it took. I’m not sure what commentary the author is trying to make on this other than ‘that’s just how life is’. Maybe he’s saying that in a sardonic tone.

A lot of crazy stuff goes on in this book, and all of it loads of fun to read (or listen to, in my case). I very much recommend it to any sci fi fan. Check it out!

Europa

NASA’s budget for 2016 was announced on Monday, and within the 18.5 billion they received, is 30 million specifically for a robotic mission to Europa.

Europa has always been the hot spot for the possibility of life in our solar system, and now we may be able to catch a glimpse of anything living beneath the frozen oceans of the moon.

This started me thinking about what would happen if we really did discover life there. Life of any kind. How would it affect the psyche of the world, knowing that we are not alone? How would it affect religions and philosophies?

I tried to think about how it would affect me. Would I be changed, knowing that there was other life, completely alien from anything I knew before, that had sprung up spontaneously in the same way I, and every other living thing I’ve encountered, did?

I think it would make me feel awed, in the true sense of the word. I get a little tingling in my gut, thinking about it, a glimmer of how huge and old and completely unknowable the universe is. It feels strange, and a bit scary, but also comforting in a weird way.

Would such a discovery make the rest of the world feel this way? Or would they brush it off, joke about it, minimize it, or outright deny it? Or would it be met with a collective ‘huh, that’s interesting’ and be old, forgotten news in a few weeks?

I don’t know anymore. I feel like it should be momentous, it should be history making, the biggest event in modern science and something unforgettable and world shaking. But maybe these things aren’t important to most people. You cant interview a microbe or fish-like thing beneath ice on a moon four-hundred million miles away. Maybe it would only mean anything to scientists or sci fi fans.

I’d like to think not, though. I’d like to think that kind of news would draw humanity together in collective amazement, and joy at such a discovery. I’d like to think it would make us all better people.

But maybe I’m just an idealist.

Anyway, we’ll have to actually get to Europa first! Right now a launch date of 2022 is in the works. I’ll be watching excitedly as the mission is planned, implemented and executed over the coming years.

Ad lib writing

I haven’t been doing a lot of writing lately, and what I have been doing has been completely improvised and for no purpose other than my own entertainment. Of course, I do hope other people end up enjoying it, but if they didn’t and told me to stop, I wouldn’t.

It’s sort of cathartic, liberating even, to write without a care of the outcome. To purely improvise with imagination the only tool. With zero planning and plotting, with every stroke and twist of story coming as if drawn from thin air. Maybe I enjoy this kind of writing because I’m good at it, but I find it exercises a certain kind of imagination, an unfiltered, unedited creation that can be a great resource.

I recommend any of you writers to try it as well. Write with careless abandon, reckless glee. Change nothing, edit nothing, disregard punctuation and spelling if you wish. Just write write write. And the ideas you’ll find flowing out of your head may surprise you in their quality. And even if you control + a delete the whole lot of it, the scenes and scenarios and ideas that came from it can be used elsewhere. And you’ll get much practice stitching unrelated themes and characters together and forcing them to make sense.

Gracepoint

I just finished watching this crime drama mini-series over the past few days. I was interested in it because I like mystery shows, and I also liked Anna Gunn in Breaking Bad. Only after I started watching did I find David Tennant was in it as well, and that got me even more excited.

The show is about the murder of a local boy in a small town, and the lives of the people there and how they are affected. Anna Gunn plays a detective, who’s promotion is given away while she is on vacation to a new hire who is now her boss, played by David Tennant (who I didn’t even recognize at first with an American accent).

The dynamic between the two is not what I expected it to be, and was the first mild letdown. Anna Gunn is frustrated with losing the job she thought she had to this new guy, and he is a brash jerk who doesn’t care about feelings, niceties, etc. I expected there to be more clashing between them, but Anna kind of just rolls over for him after token protest, obeying his every command. Maybe a small thing, but I expected more sparks to fly, and her to be more forceful and give more push-back and maybe be right more often.

The mystery itself was good for most of the show, I suspected many different people throughout. The acting I thought was mostly good, and the writing was very good. David Tennant I thought could have done better, the character didn’t seem very interesting or deep and felt sort of one dimensional ‘tough guy with a good heart’ role. I didn’t detect much of his own flavor added to it.

I felt that the ending of this series fell short for a few reasons:

[SPOILERS]

So, I know it’s good to be surprised by the badguy, but I felt that this one was just too far out of left field to be enjoyable. Yes, all the clues were there for the crime, but none for the criminal. We get the hint from Ruth about not knowing her spouse was an abuser and killer, we get the hint of pedophilia from Jack, we get the hint of Tom knowing something from various places. But there was no hint that I noticed, in his actions or otherwise, that Joe had anything to do with it. So the ending was kind of just… ‘what? Oh.. okay… I guess’ and not very satisfying.

[END SPOILERS]

The build-up, though, was very good and enjoyable and, I think, worth the time to watch, especially if you’re a fan of either of the leads.

The structure of this show reminded me somewhat of The Killing, though it wasn’t as good as that one, I don’t think (though I’ve only seen season 1 of that show).

I’d recommend this show to any murder mystery/ crime show fans, or any fans of Anna Gunn or David Tennant. Enjoyable, but not stellar.