July 31, 2017

Time is money.

-Benjamin Franklin

Ben Franklin not everything is about money. There’s health and happiness too. 🙂

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July 25, 2017

Television is fast and loose. You have two or three takes to get your part right, and if you have a problem, well, by the time you figure it out, everyone’s moved on to the next scene. It’s good training, keeps you on your toes.

-John Heard

A little delayed but still can’t wrap my head around all these celebrity deaths…RIP John Heard

Dunkirk (2017)

I love going to the movies. It’s the perfect escape from reality. Some escapades though aren’t always the most enjoyable though.

Saw Dunkirk today. The two hour film was about the evacuation of the Allied forces in Dunkirk, a commune situated in Northern France. It starred Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Mark Rylance, Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh. It was directed by Christopher Nolan, who has directed films such as “Interstellar”, “Inception”, and the “Dark Knight” trilogy.

The film started with soldiers walking the abandoned streets, picking up propaganda flyers that fell from the sky. All is silent. Then, out of nowhere, gun shots ring your ears and your heart begins to race. One of the soldiers in that group finds the shooters, stated he was British and heads to the beach where the evacuation was taking place. The film focuses on three plot lines: the soldiers on land heading to sea (“The Mole”), the Spitfire pilots mid-air, and three civilians heading to sea to rescue those evacuating Dunkirk. Each story is on a different timeline. The Mole is on a one week. The civilians are on a one day timeline. The air pilots are on a one hour timeline. Very Nolan-esque if you ask me.

There’s not much talking in the film. The film is dictated by bombs, guns and film score. Nolan tries pretty hard to downplaying their big name cast members. In a movie review given by NPR, David Edelstein insists there was a “running joke directors [insisted] on covering [Tom Hardy’s] great face” (Hardy played one of the Spitfire pilots).

I did not mind the fact there was no gore. Pretty much the only blood you saw were the wounded soldiers on the beach. I applaud the music department as they did a wonderful job adding a deeper level of panic, hope, and suspense to the film. I also applaud Hoyte Van Hoytema, the Director of Photography. The parts where the British pilots spun and dove over the glistening Channel was beautiful. The bombs hitting the boardwalk shook fear inside of the audience.

In terms of the acting, as I said earlier, there isn’t much talking. There is also a lack of representation of the French, Belgian and Dutch soldiers. I counted one main French soldier (Barnard and one Dutch man who was not even a soldier. I didn’t see any Belgians (granted, I was not looking for the Belgians. Sorry Belgians. I was too busy trying to slow my heart down after hearing five bombs go off on a ship full of men).

Kenneth Branagh provided a great performance. Branagh (who I will forever see as the Shakespearean man thanks to a theater class in college) played the selfless Commander Bolton. The downside to Branagh’s performance is the fact the real commander at Dunkirk in 1940 was named Commander James Campbell Clouston. WTF? Why change the name of the hero? In an article on the Daily Beast, Clouston’s family was not at all pleased by the use of a fake name.

Harry Styles. The first time I saw him in the film, he looked out of place. I don’t know if it’s because I have the 1D image of him in my head. Fortunately, he was able to blend in quickly. Was it a grand performance? Branagh was better. Would I like to see him in other films? Sure why not?

If you’re faint-hearted, this film isn’t for you. If you need backstory, you are not going to get it. There isn’t any backstory on the characters. They are men in uniforms, most of them unnamed, retreating from a gruesome battle. Yet, you feel their pain, suffering and willingness to survive at all costs. It’s emotionally and psychologically draining from minute one to the credits. There’s no laughing, only tears. Tears when the civilians fail to reach their goal and tears of joy when the glimmer of hope for the British comes through.

All in all, I’d give it 90%. The score and the cinematography were the best. But if you were to compare it to history and other war movies that have recently been released (i.e. Hacksaw Ridge), then it falls a bit short.

Poetry Games: Louis Armstrong

"Hello, Dolly!"
Why are you such in a folly?
Darlin' quit your shenanigans
And come see "La vie en rose".
Stop and look around you 'cuz
We got "All the Time in the World"!

Darlin' Dolly you're a silly girl
Wanting to dance "Cheek to cheek"
In the rain on "Blueberry Hill".
The world lights up "When You're Smiling" and "What a Wonderful World" that is!

Come with us, come with me,
Give me "a kiss to build
a dream on".
Everything will fine because
"Nobody knows the trouble
I've seen" (except for those
"Jeepers Creepers" at "St. James infirmary!).

Hun, let's be real.
You ain't "On the Sunny Side
of the Street".
So quit your "Muskrat Ramble"
And go back to your
"Rockin' chair".
You've had your chance
To come to the rain to dance.
Face the truth and
All that comes with it.
Hun, you ain't "That Lucky
Old Sun" anymore.
You'll just have to settle and
"Dream a little dream of me".

Steve the Robot

Humans have always been fascinated by robots and artificial intelligence. I mean, there’s R2-D2, Wall-E, the Terminator, and our fellas the Mars rovers.

You would think with technology advancing so fast we’d get used to robots doing the rather mundane jobs like being a security guard. Very, very, very wrong.

My friend John sent me a link to an NPR article about Steve the Knightscope robot who works in Washington, D.C. Steve would patrol the grounds near the Georgetown waterfront, handing out citations or tickets, and making sure everything was okay.

Unfortunately, the robot met its demise when, according to Forbes, Steve missed a step and fell down into its rival: a water fountain. Forbes and NPR both agree it was not foul play. They disagree on the motive. Forbes claims it was sensory issues. NPR had much more fun, saying Steve began questioning its existence and saw the water fountain as a comforting way to end things.

I was much more entertained reading the NPR story and the heart strings really got pulled as Scott Simon, the writer, toyed with the idea of Steve, and robots in general, genuinely feel the void of true emotion as they saw humans experience love, happiness and purpose. That’s not to say the Forbes article, written by Kalev Leetaru, was not entertaining. It provided a realistic possible situation that could have happened to Steve (what is realistic these days?), before going into the question of robotic rights. Yes, you read that correctly: robots have rights.

A good point Leetaru brought up is the scenario of a security guard robot patrolling the streets filled with late-night spots and bars. The bars close and the drunkards fill the streets causing chaos. The security robot films the illegal acts such as vandalism as evidence, or tries to calm the drunkard down. Drunkard doesn’t like the robot and gives it a punch, or worse: destroys the thing. Can the robot’s buddies get together and ask for criminal charges against the drunkard? Would the manufacturer or company who hired the robot provide the necessary tools and resources to fix him (or her? it?) up? Do they get paid to be guards and punching bags? Would they have the right to fight back? What are their rights?? Or if one of their functions fail because the manufacturer was negligent, could they sue their creator? What if they go Frankenstein on their creators? What if they do process human emotion and feel it but feel the negative emotions and try to take over? Would they get the right to vote?

I know all this sounds kind of ridiculous, but I find comfort I am not the only one asking these questions. Considering we are surrounded by new pieces of smarter tech every day, academics, government officials and commercial groups are questioning the same thing. One has to wonder: are robots people too?

Read the full articles here: “The Sad Drowning Of Steve The Robot And The Future Of Robotic Rights” and “I Sink, Therefore I Am: This Robot Wasn’t Programmed For Existential Angst

July 22, 2017

How then did it work out, this? How did one judge people, think of them? How did one add up this and that and conclude that it was liking one felt, or disliking?

-Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Any time I see Virginia Woolf I can’t help but sing Edward Albee’s jingle. ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf, Virgina Woolf, Virgina Woolf…?” xD