Paper Man (2009) -quick film review

quick review:  

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3/5 stars.  decent movie. i really like the genre of quirky introverted personalities trying to figure out the meaning of life (aka “how to be happy and help others in this too”).  this movie started off very confusing and things start to make sense only near the end.  before then it isn’t known why a grown guy is wanting to hang out w/ a teen at his house (later it is shown that he didn’t really know why either at the time).  So throughout the movie i felt it deserved 2 stars (which i rarely rate a movie).  at the end there was enough meat in the dish to bite off, chew on for a minute and digest.  since i was able to take something away from the movie (some morsels of knowledge about human relationships) i bump it up to 3 stars.  in netflix i gave it four just so that it won’t shy from suggesting more movies of this ilk my way.  and that, is the reason for this post- it was inspired by the fact that i didn’t feel quite right rating a movie higher than it deserved and then not explaining myself.

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the token atheist in movies

atheists in movies are always the kind who have no arguments for their worldview, but just arrived at disbelief b/c of the cruelness of the world.  these thoughts that follow by PZ Myers echo my own.  i recently watched The Reaping, where the atheist-skeptic (based on Joe Nickell) in the movie also fits this description perfectly:

I recently saw the new Will Smith movie, I Am Legend, last night. In short, it was far worse than I expected, with a drawn out and rather boring beginning (Smith is lonely, everyone is dead except for his dog. Got it), and the ending felt like a stapled-on feel-good absurdity that didn’t follow from the premise—and is only a happy ending if your dream of paradise is an armed camp of Christians. The only virtue I’d heard about the story is that the hero is openly atheist … but that was a disappointment, too, because I discovered he was the wrong kind of atheist.

Atheists in the movies aren’t that common. Most seem to be cast as amoral opportunists — the villains. They are rarely cast as the hero, and when they are there is only one atheist stereotype allowed in that role, and Will Smith filled it perfectly.

The acceptable atheist is the one who has faced so much tragedy, whose life has been damaged by cruel fate to such a degree that his declaration that there is no god is understandable. He is a failed Job; he’s portrayed not as an actual contented atheist, but as someone who has broken under the burden a god has placed on him, and is therefore a sympathetic figure, and also is implicitly endorsing the audience’s beliefs about god. Job without god, after all, is just a deluded loser.

That’s the standard trope: the atheist is a broken man, a nihilist, a cynic, someone who has come to his disbelief as a consequence of a devastating emotional experience. This is the kind of atheist theists are comfortable with — but it’s not the kind of atheists the New Atheists [who are not “new”] are, and especially not the scientific branch. We don’t fit into their unthinking convention, which is probably why they stuck us with the label “new”.

There are atheists who look on a tragedy and cry, “There is no god,” in despair. But we are atheists who look on beauty and complexity and awesome immensity and shout out, “There is no god!” and we are glad.

That’s the distinction we’ve got to get across. We are fulfilled, happy atheists who rejoice in the superfluity of the old myths. We generally don’t have a tragic backstory — quite the contrary, we’ve come to our conclusions because we have found natural explanations satisfying and promising.

Bug (2007)

just watched this creepy, disturbing movie last night with my wife (she loves the gross thrillers like Saw and Hostel, for example). we really enjoyed Bug and i highly recommend it for the insights into mental illness, paranoia, delusion and group hallucination- all fun topics in the study of religion!

csi: b.s.

Fan of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” “CSI”, or “CSI: Miami”? Ever wondered how close to reality these dramas really are? A reporter who attended the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS) in San Antonio, Texas wrote an article about it. Here’s a snippet from MSNBC:

It takes weeks to get a toxicology report, not the 45 seconds (with musical accompaniment) you see on TV. DNA? That takes even longer and is a real budget buster. That is, if they can find it in the first place … apparently criminals don’t blithely leave their DNA around and even if they do, there’s the problem of contamination. And fingerprints? Don’t even get me started. Do you know how hard it is to find a useable print? I found out in San Antonio.

According to the law-enforcement officials I spoke to at the conference, the average police department doesn’t have money in its budget for the officers they need, never mind ballistic databases, photo-enhancing software and an in-Hummer scanner that match fingerprints at the crime scene.

msnbc

007 and Urban Sport “Yamakasi”

First of all: Something for James Bond fans – every trailer and every title sequence.

I heard about Yamakasi a few years ago and I was just reminded of the sport’s existence when I saw the beginning of the new 007 movie, Casino Royale (I give the movie 3.5 out of 5 stars, by the way) . In a scene in the movie, a man jumps around from high above the ground as if he were a character in a video game. He leaps from ledge to ledge and other dangerous places too. What he is doing is a real urban sport from France called Yamakasi. The video that introduced me to the sport a few years ago follows:

For more videos on Yamakasi, click here.