Sunday, April 13, 2008

Movies, a Book, and a Board Game

I've been watching lots of movies again, which usually means I either have no work to do (yeah right!) or I have tons of work to do, and I'm trying to avoid it. Anyway, here's what I've seen:

An Inconvenient Truth
I'd heard a lot about this movie before I saw it, but it was still not what I expected. I thought there would be a lot of pictures of the earth, and of changing climates, and there were, actually. However, there was also a lot of discussion of graphs and scientific results and more technical issues, which I thought was really interesting. There was also a decent amount of Al Gore autobiography, which I really wasn't expecting, but was also fairly interesting. It was a heavier movie than I thought it'd be - more technical and serious than emotional - at least compared to what I had expected. I'd recommend checking it out and then reading up a bit more on the issue. This movie also brought up the issue of scientific integrity and how you tell good science from hack science, which I think about a lot, and I'm going to try to blog on that issue in a bit.

August Rush
I actually saw this one on the plane on the way back from Ecuador. I didn't really like it at first, because I didn't know what it was and couldn't tell if it was going to turn into a corny Disney movie or an existential indie-film. It's about a boy who can hear music in everything (kind of like Bjork in Dancer in the Dark - which is an amazing film). His parents are also very musical, but all three of them are separated, so the boy decides to try to find the parents by "following the music". It also has a creepy Robin Williams who gets homeless children to live in a warehouse and play music for money during the day. I won't tell you the end, but I'd say it was a mix of corney Disney and odd indie-film. It was pretty entertaining along the way, and a cute movie overall, but I wouldn't say great. Maybe if Bjork was his mother instead of Keri Russel, it would have been more interesting. ;)

Good Night and Good Luck
This movie was about Edward R. Murrow, a news anchor during the 1950's that decided to take on Senator McCarthy. If you took social studies in middle school, you should know about McCarthyism, but if you weren't paying attention, get a little reminder from wikipedia. Anyway, the movie is well done and interesting, particularly because its based on real events. It also highlights how difficult it is to fight a popular movement, since just by putting yourself against it, you risk everyone disliking and not trusting you. This one is worth watching.

Water is an Indian movie about widows living in a city in India. It is set in the 1940's era when India is on the verge of independence, and Ghandi is traveling the country. It follows the story of one young girl whose (much older) husband dies. She is sent to live in the enclosed area for widows where she will have to stay for the rest of her life. They talk about how the practice is more economic than religious - since a woman could not have a job, she would be an economic burden for the husband's family, so she is sent away. It is a really interesting movie, and is nothing like the big Bollywood films with millions of dance numbers, there is actually no singing and dancing in this movie.

This one is mentioned partly in jest. I actually watched it while on a bus in Ecuador, so it was all in Spanish. (And I don't speak Spanish.) Luckily, in this fast-paced film starring Nick Cage, that didn't seem to matter. Also, whoever did the Spanish translation did a pretty good job on the Nick Cage accent. He is a guy who can see into the future about what is going to happen next, so the government wants to get a hold of him to stop a nuclear explosion in he U.S. For some reason he doesn't seem to be interested until his girlfriend is kidnapped. But then he becomes the action hero we all knew he was. Watch out for the rediculously action/ sci-fi twist at the end.

The Panama Hat Trail
This is a book that I read while I was in Ecuador, because it is about Ecuador. The Panama Hat is actually made in Ecuador, which is basically the point of the book. It was pretty interesting and is mostly a travel journal of all the places this person goes while trying to learn about how the hat is made and shipped all over the world.

Settlers of Catan
My friends and I have played this two weeks in a row, and it's getting a bit addicting. It's a super nerdy board game - the board comes as a series of colored hexagons so that the board is different every time. You build roads and houses and cities and you need these to get materials to build more- it's kind of like a board game version of some of the online games around - but this one came first, I think. Anyway, it sounds complicated the first time you play, but actually becomes clear very quickly and is really fun. I'd recommend checking it out!

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