Monday, February 12, 2018

Critics At Large : The Film Critic as Moral Haranguer: A.O. Scott on Woody Allen

Hollywood’s behavior around Dylan Farrow’s renewed allegation has been reprehensible – not only because, to quote a play I dislike, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, it assumes that the accuser is always holy now, but mainly because it’s obnoxiously sanctimonious and despicably self-serving. The actors in Allen’s unreleased new movie who have made a big show of donating their salaries to various organizations that support abused women are making sure that, in this cultural climate, they look like they’re on the right side, just as in the 1950s actors who were worried about their careers made sure to distance themselves from anyone who was under investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee. What makes Rebecca Hall so positive that Dylan Farrow is telling the truth and Woody Allen is lying? When Diane Keaton spoke up for Allen, she had to endure Judd Apatow’s insults. Who the hell is Judd Apatow to put down Keaton, a close friend and colleague of Allen’s for half a century, for standing up for him? Apatow’s merely trumpeting his own virtue – and, I’m sorry to say, so is A.O. Scott. An acknowledgement of betrayal and shame? Scott ought to be ashamed of himself.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Hostiles (2017) *

Some lovely scenery interrupted by long takes of one actor talking followed by sequences of extreme violence. Nothing new or special about this poorly directed Hollywood Western.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Consciousness and the World | by Riccardo Manzotti | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

Tim: You mean, essentially, that we are objects, and objects “take place,” rather than act.

Riccardo: We are part of the physical world, hence objects. What else could we be—immaterial souls?

As for identity, we are what we are because we are identical with a portion of the world that has come together over the years in a certain way. The traditional separation of subject and object that underpins all standard thinking on consciousness and identity lies at the heart of our troubles as individuals and as a society. Convinced that we are separate from the world, we feel we have been expelled from the Garden of Eden, and we yearn to return, maybe after death. But however useful the subject-object divide may be for all kinds of practical matters, it is plain wrong.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Why is pop culture obsessed with battles between good and evil? | Aeon Essays

Good guy/bad guy narratives might not possess any moral sophistication, but they do promote social stability, and they’re useful for getting people to sign up for armies and fight in wars with other nations. Their values feel like morality, and the association with folklore and mythology lends them a patina of legitimacy, but still, they don’t arise from a moral vision. They are rooted instead in a political vision, which is why they don’t help us deliberate, or think more deeply about the meanings of our actions. Like the original Grimm stories, they’re a political tool designed to bind nations together.

It’s no coincidence that good guy/bad guy movies, comic books and games have large, impassioned and volatile fandoms – even the word ‘fandom’ suggests the idea of a nation, or kingdom. What’s more, the moral physics of these stories about superheroes fighting the good fight, or battling to save the world, does not commend genuine empowerment. The one thing the good guys teach us is that people on the other team aren’t like us. In fact, they’re so bad, and the stakes are so high, that we have to forgive every transgression by our own team in order to win.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Acne Vulgaris | Acne | JAMA Dermatology | The JAMA Network

Conclusions: The astonishing difference in acne incidence rates between nonwesternized and fully modernized societies cannot be solely attributed to genetic differences among populations but likely results from differing environmental factors. Identification of these factors may be useful in the treatment of acne in Western populations.

Here's a clue perhaps?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Phantom Thread (2017) **

The actors and production design are admirable but the script and direction is lacking. There doesn't seem to be any coherent point not even logically. And simply an astounding number of extreme closeups of one actor's face at a time.

Friday, January 19, 2018

How to see a memory

This collection of work from multiple groups has built a strong case that the physiological trace of a memory — or at least key components of this trace — can be pinned down to specific neurons, says Silva. Still, neurons in one part of the hippocampus or the amygdala are only a tiny part of a fearful foot-shock engram, which involves sights, smells, sounds and countless other sensations. “It’s probably in 10–30 different brain regions — that’s just a wild guess,” says Silva.