Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Confucius the movie?

January 31, 2010

Yes apparently the life of Confucious is going to be made into a movie, with Chow Yun Fat in the lead role. As Gene Expression points out:

In terms of a big-budget biopic it seems to me that the life of Confucius is a very thin source of blockbuster material in relation to other social-religious figures of eminence. Jesus, Moses and Buddha have supernatural aspects to their lives. Muhammad’s life offers the opportunity for set-piece battles. Confucius was in many ways a failed bureaucrat, a genius unrecognized in his own day. His life can’t be easily appreciated unless you have the proper context of his impact on Chinese history in mind.

It will be interesting to see if this can be pulled off.

I see that Lao Tzu is also going to feature in this movie. How much more of a free society would China be today if Lao Tzu’s thought had prevailed over Confucius?

A quirky take on Avatar

January 20, 2010

This is one of the reasons I read Steve Sailer though it’s hard to agree with him on a lot of politics:

… rather than being the America-hating leftist of neocon fulminations, Cameron is a worthy successor to the greatest American science fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988).

A highly imaginative writer, Heinlein’s politics were far from consistent. (His three cult novels have three wildly different cults: Starship Troopers was the second book on the official U.S. Marine Corps reading list, while Stranger in a Strange Land was beloved by hippies, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by U. of Chicago libertarians.) Still, it’s fair to say that Heinlein was not a conventional Hollywood liberal.

Having been raised on Heinlein novels, I could always see where Cameron was coming from. His second film, 1986’s Aliens, struck me as Heinlein’s Starship Troopers done better than Heinlein himself could manage. Cameron left out the political chatter and added extra helpings of suspense and combat between giant space bugs and humans in powered armor suits

Heinlein’s thumbprints can be found all over Avatar’s pastiche of a plot. For instance, the device that launches Cameron’s scenario—one identical twin must substitute at the last minute for his brother on an interstellar voyage—is also in Heinlein’s 1956 novel Time for the Stars. Moreover, Avatar appears to borrow one of its central ideas—Pandora, a planet where the entire ecosystem is a single living network exchanging information—from the climax of Heinlein’s 1953 book for boys, Starman Jones.

Indeed, Avatar’s main plot—a human soldier teams up with a seemingly primitive but actually wise alien tribe to prevent an evil Earthling mining company from despoiling their sacred tropical homeland—an be found in Heinlein’s 1948 “young adult” story Space Cadet.

This is not to say Cameron is plagiarizing Heinlein. Rather, Heinlein’s ideas are part of the creative DNA of every artist working in hard sci-fi.

Further, Cameron is confronted with the same storytelling problem as Heinlein: they both love giant machines, but audiences don’t want to see the overdog win. Heinlein used a more convoluted variant of the Avatar plot in both Red Planet (1949) and Between Planets (1951). In these, the heroes are human settlers on Mars or Venus who enlist the admirable indigenous aliens in their fight for planetary independence from the oligarchic rulers of Earth.

Eastwood’s new movie

January 4, 2010

I am not usually keen on movies that have some sporting event as a main focus of the plot in some way. The only exception to this rule is the sweet science – boxing.

There have been many great movies that revolve around boxing. Rocky 1, 2 and 3 and Rocky Balboa (the last one). Million Dollar Baby. Raging Bull with Robert De Niro compellingly cast as the tragic Jake La Motta. Even the Ali movie with Will Smith was alright though not outstanding. And that’s just the fictionalised movies.

One exception I’ll be making to this rule will be Invictus. I’ll really be looking forward to this one. It’s about rugby, a sport I know next to nothing about. But Clint Eastwood is behind it. Eastwood has been going from strength to strength lately. He’s made great movies about war (Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of our fathers), boxing and euthanasia (Million Dollar Baby of course), revisionist Westerns (Unforgiven), miscarriage of justice (Changeling), multiculturalism (Gran Torino or How an aged Dirty Harry helps assimilate migrants). Now he’s tackling Nelson Mandela and rugby. It will be entertaining to watch how he pulls it off, just as it will be entertaining to watch Morgan Freeman play Mandela (who better?)