I’m briefly side-stepping Hollywood Elsewhere‘s blanket policy of ignoring Iron Man 3 by pointing to a spoiler piece by Entertainment Weekly‘s Anthony Breznican about Ben Kingsley‘s Mandarin villain. Eff this movie, eff Marvel, eff Downey, eff the fanboys who are keeping CG comic-book sludge in the pipeline 24-7. But the Mandarin scheme and backstory is at least an interesting spin on a tediously familiar cliche — I’ll give it that.
A Frankfurt-based rep for British Airways baggage told me a half-hour ago that my two bags are on their way to Berlin’s Tegel Airport and should be available by noon or thereabouts. No breathing easy until the chickens have hatched, of course, but this is somewhat comforting news. Fingers crossed.
If you’re determined to kill the serious bad guys, it’s inevitable that some not-so-bad and innocent guys (including women and children) are going to be cut down also. Ugly, sad stuff. How many innocent people died needlessly as a result of Julius Caesar‘s many military campaigns? How many kids were killed by the armies of Alexander the Great? Zeal will always overstep its bounds. Fatal mistakes will happen. Even the best war technology is imprecise. War is cruel, messy, heartless.
The best thing in Maureen Dowd‘s 5.5 N.Y. Times column about Baz Luhrmann‘s The Great Gatsby is the title. The second best is the closing passage in which she quotes New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier, to wit:
“[Wieseltier] “understands that we’re drawn back to Gatsby because we keep seeing modern buccaneers of banking and hedge funds, swathed in carelessness and opulence. ‘But what most people don’t understand is that the adjective ‘Great’ in the title was meant laconically,” he says. ‘There’s nothing genuinely great about Gatsby. He’s a poignant phony. Owing to the money-addled society we live in, people have lost the irony of Fitzgerald’s title. So the movies become complicit in the excessively materialistic culture that the novel set out to criticize.”
“He notes that Gatsby movies are usually just moving versions of Town and Country or The Times’s T magazine, and that filmmakers ‘get seduced by the seductions that the book itself is warning about.’
“A really great movie of the novel, he argues, would ‘show a dissenting streak of austerity.’ He thinks it’s time for a black Gatsby, noting that Jay-Z might be an inspirational starting point — ‘a young man of talents with an unsavory past consumed by status anxiety and ascending unstoppably through tireless self-promotion and increasingly conspicuous wealth.’
“The problem with the Gatsby movies, he said, ‘is that they look like they were made by Gatsby. The trick is to make a Gatsby movie that couldn’t have been made by Gatsby — an unglossy portrait of gloss.”
The irony, of course, is that if you explore any scientific fact through to its ultimate knowability, you’ll find yourself regarding an aspect of a grand cosmic design. All science leads to God…if you pull back from the Christian-idiot definition of the term. Needless to add I feel great rapport with this trailer, three months old and copied from Sasha Stone’s Awards Daily. Does the doc discuss the “God particle”? If so, The Unbelievers isn’t quite right as a title. Because all scientific thinkers are mystics at heart.
On 7.24.12 I wrote the following:
“The discovery of the Higgs boson or ‘God particle‘ — a subatomic element that informs the size and shape and contour of all physical matter, ‘the missing cornerstone of particle physics” — was announced yesterday. Don’t look now, but this is almost (I say ‘almost’) like the discovery of the black monolith on the moon in 2001: A Space Odyssey. And yet it’s been there all along. The supreme scientific equation…proven.
“The ‘intelligent design’ crowd is celebrating this all across America, you bet. I despise what Christianity has become in this country, but I happen to believe in intelligent design also, in a sense. There is obviously a unified flow and an absolute cosmic commonality in all living things and all aspects of the architecture. The difference is that I don’t attach a Bible-belt morality to this overwhelming fact. To me God is impartial, celestial, biological, mathematical, amoral, unemotional, miraculous and breathtaking.
“However you define the altogether, He/She/It has absolutely zero ‘interest’ in whether you or your great-uncle or next door neighbor are adhering to the Ten Commandments or having an abortion or helping a homeless person or what-have-you. The molecular perfection and mind-blowingly infinite implications of God are way, way beyond ground-level morality.
“People whose lives are, in their minds, basically about finding spiritual fulfillment and deliverance after they’re dead are ridiculous figures. They’re certainly appalling. The only reason religions are good for society is that they keep the nutters (i.e. those who would otherwise be seeking solace in alcohol or drugs or in the ravings of some antisocial cult leader) in line, and they instill a sense of moral order and temperance among people who lack the intelligence or drive or hunger to seek spiritual satori on their own.”