After work this evening, I stopped off at the Guam Megaplex at GPO to watch A History of Violence. It is directed by David Cronenberg, the vision behind a series of surreal and vaguely erotic films like Dead Ringers, The Naked Lunch, Scanners, eXistenZ, Crash and The Dead Zone. And A History of Violence certainly fits right in with the rest of his ouvre. Flashes of chilling violence, and vague unease that makes a person squirm in his seat.
But if this film really resembles anything, it is Clint Eastwood’s paean to blood lust and revenge, Unforgiven. A man of violence, reformed in his ways and living a small, quiet family life, returns to violence with irrevocable results. I left the theater appreciating A History of Violence, a good film with a difficult path to tread. A man remaking his troubled past into a picture perfect vision of respectability, only to succumb to violence in the end. A good movie, but I doubt I’ll watch it again. It’s just too damn violent.
I returned home and discovered Doctor Zhivago on TCM. Which of course got me thinking about a character from Pasternak’s novel who does the reverse, a moral and high minded man remade into an avatar of violence under the assumed name of Strelnikov. Tom Stall and Pavel Pavlovich Antipov, inverse mirrors of each other. One abandons a life of senseless violence for a simple life, the other abandons a simple life to bath the world in blood. Curious.
The Fantasy Novelist’s Exam: This made me laugh, mostly because I remember a time in my life when I spent far too many hours crafting the framework of a fantasy world that I spun intricate tales of high fantasy around. And it was all hackneyed crap, that hits dozens of these no-no’s on the exam. But hey, I was a pimply 13 year old at the time.
As an added bonus, the exam contains an interesting link to this essay about the weight of medieval and renaissance swords. Contrary to what is commonly portrayed in movies and popular culture, these historical swords were actually light and nimble killing machines, with many weighing around 3 to 4 pounds. A far cry from the massive cudgels of pig iron with sharp sides that folks today seem to think they were. Hell, the iBook I’m writing this on right now weighs 5.9 pounds.
Well, I’m off to hit the movie theater after a Saturday at the office. More on that when I get home tonight…
This is surprisingly fun. I really enjoy playing The Set Game every day for the past week. Sort of like those old Sesame Street jingles, “One of these things is not like the other…”
Gosh, you mean the movie is going belly up and will never see the light of day? What an amazing development, nobody saw this coming…
Before I head into the office, here’s a smattering of links that I would like to share:
- Will Humanity Be Left Home Alone – A sobering essay by John Gray, author of Straw Dogs. Gray paints a bleak future for humanity living in a stripped environment, suffering from wars and famine. He points to the single, ultimate source of this havoc, human overpopulation.
- A Review of Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science – Boy, Cosma Shalizi sure doesn’t like Stephen Wolfram, or his 2002 monograph, A New Kind of Science. He really doesn’t like him.
- Antikythera Mechanism – Looks like the ancient Greeks were more advanced than we thought. Archimedes was tantalizingly close to the Calculus, and the ancients also wrought sophisticated mechanical devices to compute astronomical positions. So close, yet everything they created was lost to the sands of time. It took millennia for humanity to regain the heights achieved by the ancient Greeks. I wonder what our descendants will think of us in 2,500 years?