half girl, half robot

but which half?

Star Trek into Feelings

Currently listening to: Ben Howard - Follaton Wood

I went there. Sorry. I have a lot of Star Trek into Darkness feels. A lot of them. I’ve basically spewed them over the comments of two different livejournal entries on my friends page, so I figure I might as well collate them somewhat. It’s got to be a list, really. A disjointed list. With spoilers.

I really do get a bit overwhelmed with feels, but only to the extent of all-caps, rather than keysmashing. I’m finding that the further away I get from my viewing of the film, the more problems I spot.

Read more…

posted by Rachel in Film and have Comments (3)

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Currently listening to: We Were Evergreen - Baby Blue

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Blood

Currently listening to: Tori Amos - Bouncing off Clouds

Blood posterAnother film I saw at last year’s London Film Festival. Which was in October. And I last wrote about a film I saw then in… January. SO IT GOES. I made no promises. Once again, something of a list and bear in mind this is a film that I saw once nearly 6 months ago (saying that though, I saw it 6 months ago and it made enough of an impression that I’m writing about it now).

  • When I sat down in the cinema to see this film, I admit, I couldn’t remember what the hell I was seeing. It was a film called “Blood” – that much I knew from the ticket. Other than that? Not a clue. Blood is the kind of title that could mean anything, though in this case I think it refers to the familial relationships within the film. In the Q&A with the director Nick Murphy after the film, he described it as like a Greek tragedy and I’d agree that it has that kind of scale and timelessness. The fact that this is a drama involving policemen is pretty much secondary to the relationships between the characters and their reactions to events.
  • The character development and the relationship development is well-paced. As it should be.
  • To digress a bit, you know how in Romeo and Juliet, there’s that moment in Act 3, Scene 1 where it’s all a bit “HOLY COW” and everything changes? The impact of that varies from production to production and depends, I suspect, a bit on how familiar you are with the play. I’m guessing that if you know a bit about this film, but not necessarily all the detail and maybe not this point (even though it’s probably the pivotal moment in the film)…uh. Lost track there. MY POINT, now that I’ve got here, is that Blood has a moment where I could hear the entire audience kind of think “Holy S***” – it’s got that kind of impact. Which I really liked.
  • MARK STRONG. Ok. This film has a lot of really good actors in it. A lot of them and all really good, who have done other work that I’ve really enjoyed. Paul Bettany gives the best performance that I’ve seen him give in like….anything I’ve seen him in (in fact, this pretty much confirms that I would want him to play John Constantine in a Hellblazer film). MARK STRONG THOUGH. I LOVE MARK STRONG. Well. Maybe not love him per se, but his work. My favourite thing is when he plays a normal person rather than an out-and-out villainous character (like in…Sherlock Holmes and…stuff…he’s good at it, but y’know). I think that sometimes it’s easy to forget that Strong can absolutely kill as a not-villain. Well, not literally ;).If this was a romantic comedy, I might have swooned. As it isn’t, I only swooned a bit at his character’s competence. That and that one scene where he’s wearing a shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Sorry. I have a pulse and he’s Mark Strong.
  • What else? Well, last year I saw a heck of a lot of films, but out of the films that came out in 2012, that I saw, Blood was the most awesome. You can see my list hereBlood beat Red TailsAvengers AssembleThe HobbitDreddArgo and…lots of other really good films (also, obvs, the not so good ones but whatevs). I gave it 4.5 stars out of 5 (I don’t really rate many things 5 out of 5) and my end of year thoughts were as follows:

    Yes, technically this film is released next year. I don’t care. In fact, this film is so good, I’ll probably go see again next year and put it high up on next year’s ratings too. The cast in this film is astounding. I love Mark Strong. I love Paul Bettany. They are both spot-on in this film (“spot-on” has pretty much become my go-to end of year saying). The relationships between the characters are rightly at the heart of this film and that’s what makes it so good. Forget that it’s a police drama. Forget the totally amazing HOLY COW moment. How the brothers related to each other and their father. How they related to their colleagues. Everything. Best film.

  • Mark Strong and Paul Bettany, man. JUST LOOK AT THEM. Read more…
posted by Rachel in Film and have Comment (1)

Review: The Prince

The Prince
The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had been expecting something more dry and boring. The Prince was a far quicker read than I thought it would be. Machiavelli doesn’t bother with flowery terms or dragging out his points.

It’ll be good to see how it compares to Erasmus’ The Education of a Christian Prince

View all my reviews

posted by Rachel in Books and have Comment (1)

Doomsday Book

Yes. The London Film Festival was last year.  I just didn’t get around to talking about any of the films. What can I say? First up is Doomsday Book in bullet points. All of this  will be  bullet points. I saw 12 films. I don’t know how I managed it. I make no promises about spoilers. I also make no promises about ever getting around to the other films.

  • Doomsday  BookDoomsday is a film in three parts.
  • The first part was  kind of a zombie love story, where a put-upon young man gets infected with zombie flu along with the girl he went on a date with. The meat they eat also infects a whole bunch of other people. Basically, it’s a total zombie apocalypse.
  • The second part is about a robot that attains enlightenment – the company that built him feel threatened by his evolution and seek to deactivate him.
  • The third part is about a girl, her family and a giant asteroid that is approaching the planet.
  • The first and third parts have the most funny moments – the second…doesn’t really have anything chuckle-worthy (which is fine).
  • Briefly, the first part was very doomy; the second was quite sad in places; and the third was very heartwarming.
  • I enjoyed all three parts – I think my favourite was the second with the robot because it raised a lot of the same questions that I’ve considered thanks to my interest in science fiction and that were brought up in the “Philosophy of Computer Science” (or whatever) module I did at university.
  • My least favourite was the first part, with the zombies. It wasn’t bad or anything, it just wasn’t as cute as the last part.
  • The third part – with the girl and her family – was a good story to end the film on. It had a good solid resolution and left me with the sort of happy satisfied sensation you might get after eating a delicious cheeseburger.
  • I am going to ramble about the second part in more detail though, since it raises interesting questions. Feel free to stop reading here.
  • I did wonder why it seemed impossible for humans and this robot to live together – why it was necessary that he be deactivated. I suppose the fear is that the robots could replace humans some how, forgetting that idea that we could peacefully coexist. The other thing that I though might get mentioned, but didn’t, was when the  CEO was talking about how the creation was a monster that would threaten its creator someday – no one made the suggestion that the created robot was in some ways no different to a human child. A baby can grow up into a monster and threaten its creators (its parents) but no one uses that as an argument for killing babies.
  • With the reveal that the technician was also a robot (or at least, had a robot arm), I wondered who had created him and how he was able to fit in, assuming that he would never age. What would the reaction be if it was him that was the perceived threat and not this enlightened robot? It’s something that I would have liked to have seen explored further.
  • So if he is a robot, how does that change the perception of what he seems to think of the enlightened robot? Does he act out of a kind of fear for his own discovery? What about the risk he takes in protecting the robot?
  • Then I suppose the disposable attitude towards robots that many of the humans share should be addressed. The girl with the dog demands that the technician  fix it right away (and for free too apparently), but when the repaired dog is not as good as before (and still needing a visit to the proper repair shop), she easily ditches the puppy in the rubbish, despite the hissy fit she pitched when the technician was initially reluctant to fix it. Does she know that he is a robot? Or do the other people who live nearby know? Is this why she has such an entitled and demanding attitude towards him or is she like this with everyone? We don’t know.

 

 

posted by Rachel in Film and have No Comments

On Mass and Moshpits

I’ve thought about this, on and off over the years, and while I tend to be fairly loathe to really get into it about anything to do with religion 1, I figure sometimes you have to gather your thoughts and brain-dump them somewhere.

That and I’ve never been one for paper journals. Child of the internet and all that.

Plus I’ve been reading The Power of Place by Winifred Gallagher which touches briefly on some of the thoughts that I’ve had.

So. What was I thinking about? Mostly, the similarities between the experience of being in a moshpit and of going to Mass. Admittedly,  it is possible that there isn’t an obvious connection. For the most part, I suspect it’s a very subjective thing – which, yes, that is entirely what experiences from my viewpoint are. That’s the thing with personal experience. 😉

To begin: The first proper gig I went to was AFI’s Nightmare After Christmas 2 show at the London Astoria in January 2002 – before that, I’d been to the Reading Festival a couple of times. I would have been 17. It was amazing. AFI were and still are a band that I love with all of my heart – in the way that the bands you love as a teenager stay with you for the rest of your life and for me, it’s not just the music they made then, when I first got into them. I’m lucky enough that the direction their music has taken has coincided with the spread of my own taste in music.

Being there at the front, surrounded by other fans of AFI, was a phenomenal experience. It felt kind of transcendent – like we all had the same joy in our hearts and were all part of the same one thing. Which I suppose we were – we were all in the same crowd, pressed together with all the heat and sweat of the pit, connected by love of the same band. I’ve had the same kind of feeling at other gigs since then – usually when I’ve seen AFI but also at a few Alkaline Trio and Gaslight Anthem gigs. I think there’s something special about the first band to really grab your heart though.

Now, as some of you might know, I’m Catholic. I believe in God, transubstantiation, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, blah blah blah and all that.  I go to church on Sundays and holy days of obligation. I go on pilgrimage to Walsingham every year 3.  I don’t feel especially religious 4, but I guess to a lot of people I am due to my somewhat active involvement with my faith. On the other hand, I guess since I’ve got a foot in the door, I get to see all the other people on the inside who are far more involved and active and who I would consider as “religious”. Now, that feeling of almost transcendent oneness is a feeling that I sometimes feel at Mass – mostly when singing certain religious songs, hymns or particularly rousing requiem Masses in Latin. It’s a thing that happens.

Now, I’m sure I had a point (other than this whole thing being a bit interesting) back in August when I started writing this post – but I remember that I got interrupted halfway through and it’s been sitting in my drafts ever since. I figured I should at least round it off a little and release it into the wild.

To finish, however, is a comment I posted on Frank Turner’s reddit AMA on a thread where someone was asking about reactions to his atheist hymn “Glory Hallelujah”.

I really like Glory Hallelujah as a song. I also really like singing along at gigs – it gives me a comparable high/buzz to when I’m really into it singing in Latin about death on Good Friday at church or like…a really good worship hymn that doesn’t make me cringe while I’m singing it.

I have discovered that I can’t sing along to Glory Hallelujah. At all. I open my mouth and nothing comes out. I think my brain short-circuits at the paradox.

 

 

 

1 Because, hey, each to their own really, so long as it doesn’t impact negatively on others.

2  Which after a bit of searching is apparently the greatest show that AFI ever did. Or so I am told.

3 This one is a story all on its own, involving the unlikely but apparently somewhat miraculous event of my conception. Probably not one for sharing all the details.

4 There’s probably also a story here where I talk about how atheists/agnostics I know have told me how “normal” I seem for a practising Christian, how with the blue hair etc I look a little unconventional and how my faith, appearance and taste in music are all tied into not caring if I’m like anyone else.

posted by Rachel in Music,Religion and have Comments (4)

Global Truce 2012 NGO Coalition

Currently listening to: Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger

During the course of the work that I’ve done as part of my Masters course, especially in peace-building, there has been an emphasis on the importance of relationships and providing opportunities and spaces for these to grow and flower in a positive and constructive way. I believe, and am very hopeful, that this Global Truce Coalition can very much help to further that process.

It is, in itself, a coming-together of a number of organisations with a similar goal: to improve the lives of all people, and especially the most vulnerable, by working to reduce and eliminate conflict of all kinds.

By working together, the whole can have a far greater reach and more effectively carry out the individual mission of each part where it is needed. Furthermore, the idea behind Peace One Day – that if we can all work together to achieve one day of non-violence, then we have taken the first steps towards a global community where conflict in all forms can be reduced or even eradicated – can only reach a wider audience and inspire the hope that is necessary for such an undertaking.

I wish the Global Truce 2012 NGO Coalition every success in achieving its goals.

Other points mentioned during the launch:

  • Conflict (along with disease and lack of food, which are connected to war) affect the vulnerable members of society most – the children. Peace Day is used very effectively to try to work against the spread of disease, especially among the young.
  • Peace work is often met with reluctance from governments – this is where NGOs can step in, with the benefit of them having a great passion for doing this.
  • Peace is justice, equality and freedom for all – conflict has to be managed.
  • Skepticism and cynicism  are the biggest hindrance when it comes to the hope for peace – people can do it (reduce conflict) and we can help to foster that hope.
  • Peace has to be locally owned (something that’s also come up on my course) – the most effective peace happens when local communities take matters into their own hands and set up their own local  government which they feel is legitimate and can be respected. The communities can take control of their own destiny and this makes the hope of peace a reality. There’s something in there about empowerment.
  • Transitional environments offer tremendous opportunities for change (heh actually wrote an essay vaguely related to this idea about the “necessity for conflict transformation”)
  • People living in situations of conflict are twice as likely to be malnourished and three times as likely to be uneducated
  • Securing a fragile peace, where there is violent conflict, means taking out the fuel for further conflict – the weapons and ammunition.
  • Coalitions and relationships are the way forward.
  • NGOs are among the most trusted organisations – governments and banks have become less trusted due to current economic and political issues, but NGOs are more trusted due to their primarily social concerns.

I can’t quite remember the question OR the responses to this one exactly (which is terribly frustrating, because at the time it was really interesting to me and is probably handy for the essay I’m working on now), but the issue of violence against women was brought up and the male-dominated nature of a lot of the organisations that deal with the various routes towards reducing conflict. I suspect I’ll have to corral my thoughts about that one and squeeze it into my essay for my course rather than blogging about it!

Emmanuel Jal mentioned that Jeremy Gilley had told him that his grandfather had been a Japanese POW during the Second World War and that part of his motivation to create Peace One Day had been that no one’s grandfather should have to go through that treatment. My own grandfather was interrogated and tortured by the Japanese soldiers in Malaysia, because they believed that he would know where his Communist brother-in-law was (he was probably hiding somewhere in the jungle, but no one knew where – including my Gua kong). It took some serious bribery from my grandmother’s mother to get him released – if he hadn’t been, then my mother wouldn’t have been born and I wouldn’t exist! The stories I’ve heard about what happened to my mother’s family while the Japanese occupied Malaysia really bring the reality of conflict close to home – while I live in the UK, war has directly touched people who I share close blood-ties with. The Second World War isn’t really something that justhappened 60 years ago to people who are elderly now for me – it’s something that happened to members of my family. And conflict still happens now, all around the world, and people suffer because of it.

But peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings.

— John F. Kennedy

More information

Global Truce Day Campaign Launched

Peace One Day and Interpeace Launch NGO Coalition

PeaceOneDay and InterpeaceTweet’s storify accounts of the launch

Peace One Day 

Interpeace

BRAC

Mercy Corps 

War Child

MAG (Mines Advisory Group) 

ACCORD (African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes) 

Viva Rio 

posted by Rachel in Peace,Real Life and have Comments (2)

iLL Manors (2012)

Currently listening to: Beach House - Gila

Two words: unremittingly grim. Wow. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the greatest of ideas to go to see Ill Manors AND Red Tails on the same day. It was pretty heavy-going.

The music plays a huge part of many films, and I don’t think more so than in this film – the words of Plan B (and John Cooper Clarke, who was an unexpected bonus when he appeared) tell a lot of the story that isn’t necessarily laid out explicitly on-screen. Incredibly effectively too. The lyrics provided an extra narrative that wasn’t intrusive and fit well with the feel of the film.

Then there’s the use of mobile phone-style camera footage at times and old home video style footage at others. Both very of the time of the subject being filmed.

No one really comes out as completely flawed or completely flawless, but that’s how life is, isn’t it? Many will call this film “harrowing”, but some shade of it will probably exist in the streets near you.

posted by Rachel in Film and have No Comments

Red Tails (2012)

I have so many feels, you guys. I can’t.

This may well top Avengers Assemble as my film of the year, and  Avengers Assemble was incredible. And I saw that twice and would happily see it again.

The tension throughout was  incredible – most notably during the aerial engagement scenes. I don’t think I’ve been more on edge during a film since I saw Jurassic Park for the first time and I was…what? 9 years old at the time? Admittedly a large part of the  tension stems from the fact that at every moment I was expecting one of the main cast to die – it’s a war film, that happens.

I admit, yes, I do love watching war films – it’s something I grew up with, thanks to my Dad. A lot of the films  we watched were about just this era – World War Two. More than that though, he used to read books written by ex-servicemen from that time and I suppose that’s where Red Tails really comes through. The books that my Dad and I read really brought through the experiences of the airmen (all the books tended towards the RAF rather than any other service, since my Dad had been in the RAF when he was younger) and not just of the time they spent fighting in the air, but the relationships  on the ground.

Red Tails really captures the loss and heartbreak suffered by those at war – both in the armed forces and to an extend, for the  civilians too. It’s easy to forget, often, that the men doing all these heroic deeds had families back home waiting for them and though the focus of this film is obviously on the pilots, you don’t forget that they all belong to someone – whether as a husband, father or son.

I only have a limited knowledge of the segregation and racism faced by black people at the time (and for that matter, now – I’m a mixed-ethnicity girl in the UK) but seeing this film has made me want to really find out more about the situation then. I think every single film or book that I’ve seen/read about the Second World War has been from an entirely white perspective. The only alternative view I really know well is that of my mum’s father’s experience in Malaysia at the hands of the Japanese and my lack of Hokkien and his lack of English, combined with the generation gap and that he didn’t like to talk about it…well, that doesn’t really give that full a picture (although there is still quite a story there about my Chinese grandparents).

This is a great film.

Rating: 8/10

IMDB Link 

posted by Rachel in Film and have Comments (2)

Snow White & the Huntsman (2012)

First off, no idea why “& the Huntsman” is in the title other than to get more of a male audience. This is about Snow White and Queen Ravenna. As it should be. Kirsten Stewart was ok as Snow White. Charlize Theron was really good as Queen Ravenna. Chris Hemsworth was actually really good as the Huntsman, and had a pretty interesting character and story and all. The dwarves. OH THE DWARVES. I loved them all. Ian McShane! Nick Frost! Ray Winstone! Toby Jones! Other people who I recognised but cannot name right now! Bob Hoskins! OH. They were lovely.

So yeah. It was pretty good.

Rating: 7/10

IMDB Link

posted by Rachel in Film and have No Comments