The Scientific Activist

I don’t make it to the movies too often in the UK. To start with, they’re prohibitively expensive, and I’m often seeing them months after my friends back home. When you then consider the fact that the popcorn here tastes like salty styrofoam (it’s called butter, people! Look into it!), there really isn’t much of a draw.

However, after completing my transfer viva Thursday, I needed to kick back this weekend. Since you can only go to the pub so many times before people start to call you an alcoholic (people back home, at least), I joined some friends at the movies. On Friday we saw Nacho Libre and on Saturday A Scanner Darkly.

Going in, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Nacho Libre, but I found it pretty damn funny. In telling this story of a monk-turned-Mexican wrestler, Director Jared Hess (of Napoleon Dynamite fame) sticks to his guns. Even though that means that at times it was kind of like watching Napoleon Dynamite with a more familiar face (Jack Black), I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the movie relies a bit too much on somewhat offensive Mexican stereotypes, so there was a slight feeling of discomfort throughout. Regardless, I’d still recommend it. Hell, it even pokes a bit of fun at the religious right. When Esqueleto (who has no connection to science whatsoever) sports the tag line “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science”, the movie takes one of their most often relied upon stereotypes (the God-hating scientist) and turns it on its head. (That’s my interpretation, anyway.)

A Scanner Darkly, on the other hand, was intense. Period. Director Richard Linklater builds upon an all-star cast in bringing to life this animated adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s dark novel. It’s a tale about drugs, addiction, and the dubious intentions and effects of the drug war. The animation is weird, but kind of cool. If felt quite a bit like watching Requiem for a Dream (one of my all time favorites), but with added political undertones, which are generally a plus in my book. I’d highly recommend it.

Comments

  1. #1 Craig Pennington
    August 20, 2006

    Man, Requiem for a Dream was a good movie, but hard to watch. Not the feel-good hit of the summer. I look forward to A Scanner Darkley; I read it a while back and found it quite good; the wife’s reading it now.

  2. #2 Nick Anthis
    August 20, 2006

    It might not have been the best way to “kick back” and relax, but it was damn good. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’d certainly like to.

  3. #3 somnilista, FCD
    August 20, 2006

    When Esqueleto (who has no connection to science whatsoever) sports the tag line “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science”, the movie takes one of their most often relied upon stereotypes (the God-hating scientist) and turns it on its head. (That’s my interpretation, anyway.)

    But later in the movie, we find that he believes in supserstition (the eagle egg thing), and later on he is forcibly baptised and even leads a prayer session before the big wrestling match.

  4. #4 Nick Anthis
    August 20, 2006

    Yep, those evangelicals even got to him, too…. Ha!

    I’m sure I’m reading way too much into things, but I thought it was funny just because it was so random (since this character didn’t have any other interest in science). It’s just as outlandish as the idea that scientists walk around saying “hmmm… how can I destroy God today?”

    Most importantly though: very funny.

  5. #5 Stefan Jones
    August 20, 2006

    “I thought it was funny just because it was so random”

    Agreed. The guy’s a half-feral nacho-stealing somewhat-grow-up street urchin, and here he spits out something you’d expect a freshman Objectivist to say.

    Absurd little touches like that made the movie.

    Oh, and the “secret tunnels.”

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