Elephant Dung and the Final Defeat of Liberalism

The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are engaged in quite the game of brinksmanship of late. Amid warnings from leadership on both sides that a default of the US Government is imminent in a little over a week unless the debt ceiling is raised, no one on either side seems willing to get a deal done, despite the fact that all the compromise deals that have been offered by both sides, and rogue elements within their parties, are similar to the point of being indistinguishable to anyone who sees little difference between two and three trillion dollars. (That’s where we’ve come to in our debt and deficit debates, where our leaders are quibbling over numbers so vast that they enter into the abstract. It’s not the number ‘trillion’ that catches the eye in this mess, it’s the numbers ‘two’ and ‘three,’ and even ‘3.2.’) Continue reading “Elephant Dung and the Final Defeat of Liberalism”

The Empty Balcony: Source Code

Written by Ben Ripley and directed by Duncan Jones, Source Code is a modern terrorism thriller that has an interesting premise. Using technology, a government agency has developed a method of melding a person’s consciousness with the last eight minutes in the life of a dead man. In this case, the dead man is a victim of a terrorist attack on a train that happened that very morning. For those eight minutes, the film’s protagonist, Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), experiences all the sights and sounds the victim did while aboard the train, but this isn’t a replay of recorded events. Colter can move around and interact with the environment, exploring places that were hidden from the view of his deceased avatar, strike up new conversations, etc., all in an effort to find out what happened aboard that train. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Source Code”

The Empty Balcony: Gojira & Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

Gojira is a very serious film. To watch it is to glimpse how grievously Japan was traumatized by World War II. Released only nine years after the end of the war, the film is heavy on imagery meant to invoke memories of the destruction that swept Japan’s cities. The origins of the monster Gojira are a pricking of the wounds left over from the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the firebomings that destroyed almost all large Japanese cities. What we see in this film is a generation of people still trying to cope with events from a decade past. At times, in scenes that take place in overflowing hospital wards or on streets where characters are surveying the devastation, I was struck by the realization that these people on screen were drawing from their own memories in their portrayals. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Gojira & Godzilla, King of the Monsters!”

The Empty Balcony: The Adjustment Bureau, or, Angels Play Dirty

Mr. Dick has hit the silver screen again. The Adjustment Bureau, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, is a love story with a divine bent. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a young, very successful politician who discovers by accident that the world is not as it seems. Free will? No. There is none, unless one was to count the meaningless minutiae of daily life, such as what toothpaste to use in the morning. The big stuff, like wars and choosing the right insurance policy, is left up to ‘The Plan’ — a set of instructions for the direction of the entire human race penned by a mysterious figure called the Chairman. In the Chairman’s employ are an army of caseworkers who adjust the actions, and even impulses, of humans when they stray from THE PLAN. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: The Adjustment Bureau, or, Angels Play Dirty”