Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 English speaking films

During the Covid-19 Pandemic most of us probably watched more films more often in a streaming format.  There has been some criticism over movie production going ahead while many had to stay at home.  I am lucky, retired I am not losing any money staying home, but like many others I suffer from cabin fever and am grateful that there are a lot of archive films and new ones available.  A trend for me, shared by many others is to mini series perhaps accelerated by the pandemic.  I was fortunate to have a conversation with Lawrence Hill, successful author negotiating a mini series.  He felt there was more room for character development.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/09/the-book-of-negroes.html 

 "Nomadland" (2020)  A movie more about character than plot.  Frances McDormand is displaced due to a plant shutdown and limited financial resources takes off in her van.  She meets a lot of displaced people who develop strategies for coping.  Won Oscars for Frances McDormand (first to win for both acting and producing), and Chloe Zhao.

 

 

 

 

 

 "Promising Young Woman" (2020) had a good plot focused on sexual consent and the unfairness of women's treatment.  It had bits of humor, suspense and twist (of course).

   "The White Tiger" (2021) has a lot of Bollywood connections, but is 90% English.  Priyanka Chopra Jonas is one of the three main stars and is also an executive producer.  Rao Rajkumar, a popular Bollywood star played probably the second star.   The real star is Adarsh Gourav who plays a poor man who eventually becomes rich.  Corruption, crime and caste all play a role.  Based on a Booker Mann literary award.   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/01/the-white-tiger.html

 

 "One Night in Miami" (2021) perhaps inspired by an actual meeting between Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X.  Underlying theme is what blacks need to do to empower themselves.  Malcolm X seems to feel that Jim Brown and Sam Cooke are catering to the white man while they point out that is where they can gain wealth and power.    One interesting example was with Sam Cooke gaining enough wealth and power to form his own music company that allowed him to hire black musicians and composers.   One of the composers had a rhythm and blues song reach number94 on billboard, but Sam was able to sell rights to the Rolling Stones and they turned "It's All over Now" into a number one hit that eventually gave the original composer a huge residual.

 "Jojo Rabbit" (2019) doesn't glorify Naziism and in fact brilliantly satirizes it.  From the talented Taika Waititi of New Zealand 

 "The Dig" (2021) was a movie about recognition.  Before WW II a wealthy woman hired an "excavator" to explore some mounds.  Basil Brown uncovered an ancient ship used for a burial, but museum people took over. 

"Judy" (2019) about an icon and one who seemed so innocent when we first became aware of her.  Renee Zellweger deservedly won an Oscar.  Tragic story.

"Dark Waters" (2019) based on true story concerning misleading practices of DuPont.  Some of the actual participants consulted and had bit parts in the movie.

"Bombshell" (2019) included because it uncovers Roger Ailes, but done much better  (more detail) with "The Loudest Voice"  A good short version.

"Let him Go" (2020) starred Kevin Costner and Diane Lane in a conflict about parenting styles.  A son has died and his parents visit their grand son and feel he is being abused.

"News of the World" (2020) Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel who stole a lot of the show without speaking hardly any English

"Top End Wedding" (2019) is in some ways a typical romance comedy, but it is noteworthy having been co-written by a well known aboriginal actress Miranda Tapley? and set in aboriginal territory of Australia.

 "Our Friend" (2019) tear jerker based on a true story.

 "Fatherhood" (2021)  Father loses his wife after a child birth and decides to tackle bringing up his daughter on his own  The big surprise was how good Kevin Hart could be.  

"The Mauritanian" (2021) Guantonamo detainee for 15 years.  You would think he would be discouraged and bitter.  A charming man in real life--sings along with Bob Dylan song.    Rule of law affects  everyone.  Tahir Rahim and Jodie Foster were excellent.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/07/the-mauritanian.html 


 

 

 

 "Words of Bathroom Walls" (2020) is a story about a young man with schizophrenia who tries to hide it.  With Charlie Plummer and Taylor Russell.

"Judas and the Black Messiah" (2021)  won two Oscars, one for Danial Kaluuya and one for music.   It pitted the Black Panthers against FBI who had an inside spy.


 

 

 

 

 "Grand Unified Theory" (2016) is a semi typical family angst movie, but has a redeeming feature.  One of the characters is an astro physicist who brings up provocative questions such as how do we get something from nothing.

"tick, tick...BOOM" (2021) musical on Jonathan Larson who wrote "Rent" I had watched the movie only because my cousin Linda who doesn't like musicals, commented that she did like Rent.  Good music


 

 

 

 

"The Power of the Dog" (2021) is a modern Western with Benedict Cumberbatch.

"Pig" (2021) shows Nicolas Cage in a very different role.  He has a pig he uses to find truffles and someone steals it.  We learn that his character had been a greatly respected restaurant owner, but dropped out many years ago to live by himself chasing after truffles.  He was very attached to the pig.  The DVD comes with a special feature showing Nicolas Cage cooking on two videos under the guidance of a master chef with some interesting recipes. 

 

"The Unforgivable" (2021) A de glamorized Sandra Bullock, also a producer.  We all make judgments based on superficial information and sometimes we are terribly wrong and unfair to others.   A story based on British series created by Sally Wainwright who also contributed to some of my favorites such as  "Happy Valley" (2014-2022), "Last Tango in Halifax" (2012-2020) and "Scott and Bailey" (2011-2016).



 

Older flims (before 2011)

"The Magnificent Seven" (1960) Mexico was upset over "Vera Cruz"(1954) that they felt insulted Mexicans.  Some censorship and even plot change--asked for guns first rather than gunmen, clean clothes (1960)    http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/02/steve-mcqueen-mr-cool.html

"The Elephant Man" (1980) made me feel something like a voyeur, somewhat repulsed, but very curious.  We like to picture ourselves as very open minded, but we are have fairly set ideas of normalcy and beauty. I remember actually hiring someone who had a distorted face that I at first felt repulsive, but gradually accepted and found him to be helpful whereas I also felt protective.  Some of those feelings were evoked by this film.  We do have prejudice against appearances and don't always realize there is a person there.  Mel Brooks, noted for comedy was the deliberately uncredited executive  producer who was very involved with decisions.  

I watched the revival "The Producers" (2005) to remind what Mel Brooks usually specializing in.  In poor taste, but hard not to laugh at points.

"The Aviator" (2004) was a blockbuster I missed when it came out.  Leo DiCaprio was phenomenal.   Howard Hughes stood up against Hollywood censors and the United States Senate.  A very innovative man, but with some devastating faults.

"Seven Years in Tibet" (1997) had been seen many years before, but not really appreciated at the time.  Since then I have come to admire the Dalai Lama who is depicted as an inquisitive 14 year old boy.  Magnificent scenery.  I have also come to enjoy music of Yo Yo Ma, here composed by John Williams. 

"Holiday" (1938) with Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Lew Ayres.  Directed by George Cukor. 

"Erin Brockovich" (2000) won an Oscar for Julia Roberts in an out of character role.  

"Jezebel" (1938)." Now, Voyager" (1942), "Dead Ringer" (1942)," The Little Foxes" (1941) were seen as part of my Bette Davis study.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/08/bette-davis.html

"Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962) had been censored from the original Broadway production written by Tennessee Williams.  Paul Newman had a clause that allowed him to take on Broadway shows that he liked and so he opted for this one and then brought it to the screen along with Geraldine Page and Rip Thorn.

"2001:  A Space Odyssey" (1968) Amazing concepts of the near future.  Most perceptive would a danger of artificial intelligence.   


 

 

 

 

 "Limitless" (2011) depicted Bradley Cooper as a man given a pill that opened one's whole intelligence enabling him to make an immense fortune.  But life is not that simple.

"Ordinary People" (1980) An excellent movie on human relations.  A big shock for me was Mary Tyler Moore who been a favorite on tv.  Donald Sutherland showed his versatility.  Surprised to learn it was directed by Robert Redford.   



 

 

 

"Midnight Cowboy" (1969) regret I consciously avoided.  An excellent story of two men who come to support one another.. 

"Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979) Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep  After a divorce the mother decides she wants her son back.

"Stranger than Fiction" (2006) Will Ferrell--a new opinion  Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson

"A Beautiful Mind" (2001) A contrast to previous Russell Crowe movie, "Gladiator"  (2000).  Game theory, Ron Howard, director and writer conveyed mental illness in way that at first caught one off guard, but increased our understanding of the disease.

"Groundhog Day" (1993)  Everyone would like a second chance.  Bill Murray classic.

"White Dog" (1982) a film that had been shelved, partly as one authority declared it to be racist.  Actually it is anti-racist demonstrating racism exists.  Heard about as had been a book by Romain Gary.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/10/white-dog.html

"The Importance of Being Earnest" (1952)  An Oscar Wilde play.  Manners of English upper class.

"In the Heat of the Night" (1966) with the impressive duo of Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier.  Displays the racial animosities of the time with slight melting with a very long way to go.  Big well deserved Oscar winner.  Racial tension had Sidney Poitier requesting all filming north of the Mason Dixon line.


 

 

 

 

"Chicago" (2003) winner of 6 Oscar Awards.   Who knew Richard Gere could tap dance?  Murder and music and especially dancing with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Chita Rivera,



"Beat the Devil" (1953) Despite a stellar cast and crew this film is only included  because of a side issue.  Humphrey Bogart had a serious auto accident while filming and was not able to speak clearly so the studio found a man gifted for voices--Peter Sellers.

"Seconds" (1966) was a rare movie for glamor superstar Rock Hudson, but he proves a better actor than credited.  It is sort of science fiction where a man dissatisfied for life accepts an opportunity with plastic surgery, rehabilitation and coaching to restart life.  Satisfaction in life is hard to define.  From the supplements appreciated the cinematography of James Wong Howe.  Not a box office success, but has since achieved cult status.

"The Fallen Idol" (1948) is a British masterpiece inspired by a Graham Greene story, directed by Carol Reed with Ralph Richardson and Jack Hawkins playing a role.  About an eight year old boy who doesn't understand deceptions of adults and gets involved in police investigation.  Innocent and not so innocent lies play a role.

"Sunrise" (1927) A silent film, but including some music and street sounds.  Won 3 Oscars.  An early cinematographic model.

"Fried Green Tomatoes" (1991).  A fine cast led by Jessica Tandy gives a view of the South in the twentieth century.

Mini Series

"John Adams" (2008) of course had a lot of history involving critical people and their decisions that carry on to today.  A tremendous effort to convey the atmosphere of the times.  Abigail Adams was given almost equal coverage and demonstrated that women did deserve the vote.

"Six Feet Under" (2001- 2005)had been seen in part years ago, but decided to watch total series.  The ending was unique in that it truly projected an ending.  Ernest Hemingway once said in paraphrase that if there is no death it is not a true story.  Fictional stories are more credible that end in death.

"Chernobyl" (2019) a horror film, although it is true.  A phrase to remember: "Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth.  sooner or later that debt is paid."

"I, Claudius" (1976)  A classic starring favorite Derek Jacobi.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/09/i-claudius.html 


 

 

 

 

 "William and Mary" (2004-2007) was a series I had seen partially on tv many years ago, but enjoyed even more when able to see full set on DVD.  Julie Graham is a favorite and Martin Clunes (a favorite of Helen Rigby) was not at all obnoxious.   He plays an undertaker and she is a midwife, covering the circle of life.

"United Shades of America"  (2018- 2021) such a mind opening.  Racism is obvious, but the unconscious part is also dangerous.  Education is so critical and when everyone has the same opportunity we all benefit.  W. Kamau Bell and his crew are excellent at uncovering basic problems.  Sexual orientation, refugees, blacks and minority    how racial factors interact with establishment.

"Startup" (2016- 2018) about a trio that uses their skills to set up their own organized crime syndicate. 

"Wire in the Blood" (2002) Watched as part of Robson Green blog.  A bit gory.  Robson played a police affiliated psychologist who liked to get inside the mind of serial killers and their victims.  Robson was very good at that.   link



 

 

 "Castle and Castle" (2018)is from Nigeria which is slowly gaining international recognition and English is fairly common.  They have money and have built up some expertise.  This is about a legal firm which is one way of connecting to power.  They try to copy American and European high end people, but do have a few unique angles--Muslims with more than one wife, colonial laws, extradition to the U.S.  tribal loyalties.  They do have inventive relationship entanglements.  Lagos is a very large modern city which impacts the rest of the world.   Nollywood is making progress:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/07/nollywood-upcoming-force-in-global-films.html

 Documentaries

"Inside Einstein's Mind" (2015) using graphics and animation demonstrated Einstein's theories.  Hadn't realized the scope of his thinking.  

"The True Cost" (2015) uncovers the cost of fashion.  It starts at farming where genetic engineering, fertilizers, pesticide spraying are intended to increase profits at the expense of famrers and labourers.  Creates financial stress that has resultin farmer suicides.  A profit driven society stresses that consumption will solve problems.  Trash increases as we dispose of used up products.  The real bottom line is unbridled capitalism.

"The Secret Mind of Slime" (2020) follows experiments with slime and discover that brainless entities are able to duplicate some laboratory results obtained by such animals as mice.  One of the thoughts is that this is a step in evolution.  The slime is able to distinguish light and chemical that it either wants to eat or avoid.  One experienment demonstrated that over time it is able to get around a substance they do not like such as salt to reach the food that had been blocked.

"Lincoln: Divided We Stand" (2021)  Six part CNN series points out that Lincoln was a complicated man who didn't set out to free black slaves, but evolved in his thinking.  He was open minded and practical.

"In Defense of Food" (2015) processed foods, cheaper--Govt finds itself attacked by interest groups when trying to regulate such things as sugar--French are healthier--French serve smaller portions--food meant to be enjoyed--eating is an event--eat slowly

"The Whale Detective" (2019) following a whale breaching on top of producer Tom Mustill.  Awesome

"The Hunt" (2015) is a mini series narrated by David Attenborough.  The most basic story of life.  The inter play between predator and prey.  Very wide reaching.  The effort to kill more often fails, but persistence and ingenuity pay off.   Balance of nature, ignored at our peril.    Too many survivors result in starvation and/or depravity.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/05/the-hunt-is-what-life-is-all-about.html     

"Cowspiracy" (2015)  Climate change is fueled significantly with meat eating.  The cattle industry is well entrenched.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/05/cowspiracy-points-out-major-premier.html.

"Raise Hell:  The Life and Times of Molly Ivins" (2019)  Very astute political observer with a excellent  irreverent sense of  humour.  Brings up important point that politics should not be boring, it affects everyone every day with their decisions.

"I am Not Your Negro" (2016) James Baldwin, articulate spokesman wrote the script many years ago.

"Control Room" (2004) focused on the Iraqi invasion as covered by Al Jazeera and referencing American media and state--Donald Rumsfeld (who lied about justification) said Al Jazeera was pounding flat out lies all day--realize edited to make points, but my experience with Al Jazeera is they make an honest attempt to be objective--they offend many Mid East governments--one of American military spokesman came to realize Al Jazeera is trying to do a job

"Putin Interviews" (2017) U.S supported Taliban against Russia  U.S. initiated Turkish missile sites that provoked Russia to put missiles in cuba.  NATO supposedly not needed after collapse of Soviet Union, but missiles surround Russia.  Has sense of humour.     Ukraine, Georgia, Chechen  Snowden, Trump--denials and dubious justifications

"Escape from Extinction" (2020) focuses on the increasing animal extinctions.  It also attempts to shift criticisms of previous zoo practices to their efforts to curb extinctions.   It eased my guilty conscience a little bit.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/10/escape-from-extinction.html

 

"Haida Modern" (2019)  Have been fascinated with the Haida nation since a news announcement fromPierre Trudeau.  Have a few prints on hand.  Robert Davidson was the focus (no relation). 

 

 

 

 

"The Game Changers"(2019) This film will tip me closer to veganism.  Athletes deostrate that being a vegan can be a boos.  Doctors and scientists and archaeologists provide rational proof.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/12/the-game-changers.html    




 


 

 For subtitled movies from around the world check out:   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/12/enjoyable-subtitled-movies-seen-in-2021.html   Why should you bother with "foreign" films?  A different perspective--help you understand and appreciate.  Best of all because creativity is everywhere.they are enjoyable.  After awhile you will notice a lot of borrowing between cultures.  This year my top ones come from that list.

Enjoyable Subtitled movies seen in 2021

Why should you waste your precious time on subtitled movies?  They require more attention and sharper vision, they don't have any of the stars you are used to and they are well, "foreign." The world is more interconnected and it is consequently ever more important to understand how others think and live.  Subtitled moves are only one tool, but easily accessible and a push in the right direction.   On top of all those reasons they really can be very enjoyable.  Creativity thrives globally.

 The photo to the left is of my most satisfying movie of the year.  It also had the highest rating ever on IMDB.  Appropriately it is on a human rights issue and how many try to bury them often requiring a super human effort to fix them.  Last year my top movie was also a Tamil movie, "Peranbu" (2018):  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/03/peranbu-top-film-out-of-india.html

A few trends that I have become conscious of.  Mini series are favored for streaming and their advantage is that they give opportunity for both character and plot development.  Their disadvantage is they can drag on a good idea to the point of monotony   Koreans seem to have mastered them.  I have also come to admire both Tamil and Malayalam film industries that deserve more international respect.  I still pick up DVDs at the library which offers an older selection and some which come with special features helping one to better appreciate the quality.

Denmark

Mads Mikkelsen and Sisse Graum Jorgensen have some history around  the Oscar with this being their latest triumph for 2020.  "Another Round" (2020) is about a group who for awhile believe getting mildly drunk each day helps them teach better.  However as you might imagine it is too easy to get carried away. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/06/another-round-picks-up-oscar.html  Denmark acknowledges a problem with alcohol.
 

 

 

 

  Swedish

"My Life as a Dog" (1985) directed by internationally renown Lars Hallstrom.  Focused on a young boy who felt life had been unfair to him. 

"The Unlikely Murderer" (2021) One of the great mysteries-Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme killed .  Referred to in Stig Larrsson "Dragon" books.   In this film Stig Engstrom, real person is portrayed as a bitter man with a political agenda seeking attention.  The police investigation was sloppy at the beginning, but did develop in a major way.   Years later a journalist re examined evidence and concluded Stig was guilty.  The film series says the murder has not been proven, but both the media and the police believe Stig did it.

"The Caliphate" (2020)  gullible young girls from Sweden get involved with terrorists, while one who left for to live with ISIS want to escape back home.  



 

 

 

Norwegian

"Loverkvinnen" (2016 Lion Woman) was about a child born with hair growing all over her face and her ability to overcome prejudice and shocked first reactions.  The film uses 3 actresses to portray the woman at three different ages.  Another leading character was played by Rolf Lassgard who I have watched in three different languages, Norwegian, Danish ("After the Wedding") and Swedish ("A Man Called Ove).

"The Painter and the Thief" (2020) is a documentary telling the story of how a painter relates to the man who stole her painting (which was never recovered.  She became very supportive of the thief with addictions and even visited him in prison.

French

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2020) was the headliner for AGH Film Festival, but I waited to see it on a DVD.   In the late 1700's, a female painter is hired to paint a picture on an isolated island of a woman about to be married to an aristocrat she has never met.



 

 

Spanish

"Money Heist" (2017-2021))  was another Netflix blockbuster.   My favorite series of the year.  Some things it has going for it:  really good twists, psychological understanding, enjoyable actors and good camera work.    http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/12/money-heist-best-heist-movie-ever.html 

"The Lighhouse of the Orcas" (2016) is based on a true story about a man helping an autistic boy with whales.  My most popular movie blogs:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/03/the-lighthouse-of-orcas.html
Set in Argentina.


 

 

 

 

 "Live Twice, Love Once" (2019)  set in Valencia is one of a few with an Alzheimer theme.  Very well done.  Watch for a precocious child actress--the script was re-written for her.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/08/live-twice-love-once-spanish-gem.html

Monday, December 27, 2021

War

 In many historical accounts the emphasis is on wars--who won them and the consequences.  Others declare that historians overlook the more important cultural developments.  Margaret MacMillan contends that wars have shaped us in ways that deserve serious study.  To run an organized military assault (or defense) requires organization that came after the Agricultural Revolution.  Ironically cultures both transfer organization to military powers, but also receive many cultural items from military experiences.  One example, Norman Bethune developed blood transfusions during Chinese Revolution.

Society is pulled in different directions by warfare.  There are many factors encouraging war, but there are also many counterpoints.  Margaret has studied both sides. 

 Margaret quotes Carl von Clausewitz for a definition,  "War is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will."

Warfare advanced as civilization advanced.  Mankind discovered how to shape metals and tamed horses for our ends.  Many developments boosted our ability to kill others.  Horse stirrups provided a more stable platform to inflict killing.  Napoleon marching at night caught the enemy off guard. The  Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb was the most intensive use of science for military goals.  

Strategies include developing superior weapons, more effective discipline and as Sun Tzu declares, "All War is based on deception."  That reminds me of a book title "The Name of the Game is Deception" describing basketball, but in reality could be used for almost any sport.  All sports could be considered preparation for warfare which is leveraging your resources effectively.

Reasons for war are many, but they boil down to greed and fear and include religion.  In reality it the ruling class who sees an opportunity or is fearful.  They then attempt to persuade the citizens that the cause effects them war can break out.

Frederick the Great felt "A soldier must fear his officer more than the enemy."  All procedures to reinforce obedience were critical.  In contrast the author has Tim O'Brien tell us "Man killed and died because they were embarrassed not to.  It was what had brought them to war in the first place  Nothing positive, no dreams of glory or  honor just to avoid the blush of dishonor."  On the other hand some men developed fighting skills and would hire themselves out.

Women played a variety of roles.  Unfortunately prostitutes followed the armies--the term hooker comes from brothel prostitutes that followed the army of General Joseph Hooker.   In the last century or two many women filled in for the men gone to war leaving factory jobs more important than ever.  Women gradually picked up roles closer to combat such as nurses, ambulance drivers, clerical support.  By the time of the WWI they were no longer ready to go back to their old roles with many countries opened up the vote for women.  Too often women are affected in another way:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/11/remembrance-day-is-not-just-for.html

Legalities are difficult to get nations to agree to and even more difficult to enforce.   Agreements were made for prisoners of war civilians, women-.  Flame throwers were legal, but not poison   The Nuremberg trials were intended to make war criminals accountable with following orders not acceptable as an excuse.  One irony was that one activity not indicted was mass bombings. United States does not accept judgments from the International Criminal Court (but would quote findings for their own purposes)

Manufacturers benefited from warfare.  Eisenhower warned the American public about the military industrial complex and we can see today that their lobbyists are very successful in boosting military budgets in many nations.  Alfred Noble invented more effective explosives, originally for the mining industry, but realized the military increased his profits.  His guilt feelings led to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Newspapers and the media profit from increased attention.  Winston Churchill was a correspondent during the Boer War and like many war correspondents supported "patriotic" efforts.  

The Arts have been involved with wars.   They have been used to glorify and spur, but also to protest.  Censorship has been used to control critical information and also to mislead.

 Marching music is not only used to recruit, but also to move troops in battle.  A wide variety of orders can be communicated with drums and bugles over the battle sounds.

Photography was used for the American Civil War.  Most of the early photography could be controlled through censorship, but as both the size and price of cameras came down it was more difficult to control the distribution of photos.  Vietnam photos turned off the American pubic convincing many it was unjust and unwinnable.

Paintings have been used to commemorate and glority.  Picasso's famous "Guernica" was used to denounce war and the artitst refused to let it go to Spain until democracy restored.  As of 1981 it sits in Madrid.   It is said that a Gestapo official visited Picasso in occupied France and upon seeing a photo of "Guernica" asked if Picasso had done it and the reply was, "You did."

Wars create heroes or you might say they churn them out.  Incentives are used to lure recruits such as money, glory, travel, learn a trade.  On average it is easier to attract the poor.  For the wealthier glory is used.

 As a youngster G. A. Henty adventure stories fascinated me.  Not conscious that I was being indoctrinated, but looking back Margaret was right to point out the indoctrination was deliberately encouraged.

Costa Rica is one country that decided to dispense with a national army so they could apply that expense to boosting literacy for its citizens. The ancient Chinese glorified scholars more than warriors.

All groups make decisions. President Dwight Eisenhower had a quote that behooves us to weigh more carefully.  "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."   

The future of warfare seems likely to be cyber warfare  Get ready as it will change things all over again.  Already attacks have taken place

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Isa Pa with Feelings really helps understanding

This film is beyond a self imposed limit for the year, but left me with an unexpected feeling of understanding something new.  I also thought I had reached my quota of Filipino movies, but one more put the effort beyond any quota.  It has a universal message you can feel.  Glad that Netflix chooses to show such great films.

In a sense"Isa Pa with Feelings" (2019) is a romance drama with an obstacle.  We are used to racial, religious and class differences, but physical differences are rarer.  The story starts off with the leading lady being happy, so happy she puts on a wireless headphone and dances all over her apartment and then goes out to the balcony.  There she is seen by her neighbor who gets excited, really laughing with joy, but she sees him as some sort of pervert.  Soon there is an uncomfortable scene as they share an elevator and avoid looking at one another.

On her side we learn that she has a young deaf niece who she obviously is very fond of, but can't really communicate with although she has promised to take sign language lessons.  We also learn that she is an architecture student who is very highly regarded by the teacher and her classmates and she takes an exam that everyone assumes she would ace.  In the meantime she does decide to start sign language lessons and is startled to find that her neighbor is her instructor.  The awkwardness lasts only a short time as he is very good and she realizes for the first time he is deaf.  One lesson is when describing the sign for "I'm sorry" he pointed out that sign language doesn't allow for tone and that has to be supplied with facial expressions.

Then we learn that her exam was a failure and to compound things she locked herself out of her apartment when he chanced upon her.  Eventually he persuades her to wait in his apartment.  There is a little misunderstanding and at one point he leaves to go to the balcony and climbs over the rail.  A suicide attempt makes no sense, but we all concluded that was his intention.  We learn later when he actually did it that he was planning to get over to her balcony so he could open her door from the inside.  Her apartment is a mess due to her depression which he doesn't quite understand.

She becomes obligated to him for a car repair and he insists she doesn't need to pay, but he would like a favor.  A strange favor because he is looking for a dance partner.  Later we learn that he had wanted to dance to impress a fiancee's family, a relationship that had left scars.  She gets involved and finds it enjoyable, but when asked she describes herself as just a friend.

They get closer, for instance he gets her interested in buying a fish.  But there were bumps along the road.  He went with her to a party with her former classmates and as she got called away for a private conversation he had nobody to talk with and left because of his discomfort.  A contrasting scene when she went to a party with his deaf friends when everyone, including her had a fun time.  A few other minor bumps leading up to a big bump when he felt she was being too protective and pitying.

One film tool that made the feeling of helplessness that deaf people must often endure was when the sound was cut off and he was both unaware of and bewildered by the actions of others.  Hearing is a big part of our awareness, but taken for granted.  Another strategy was using pop up subtitles for both Tagalog and English, leaving some words as blanks indicating what the receiving person didn't understand of the sign language.

 As a young newspaper boy I went with my mother for my first day of delivering newspapers.  What wasn't appreciated at first was that my predecessor had done a poor job and upset a lot of the customers.  It really came to a head when I pushed the door bell that activated a light.  The man who came to the door saw my red Telegram bag and actually started shaking his fist.  My mother was with me so he restrained himself, but he was obviously frustrated.  He calmed down, but I dreaded future visits to collect money for the paper, however he was a lot friendlier after that.  It was my first encounter with a deaf person and I was reminded of it when in the film the leading lady decided to solve her not yet boy friend's inability to hear the door being knocked on by setting up a light that would go off when someone rang the buzzer.  I can't really say I went on to better understand the plight of deaf people, as other than watching a few other movies such as "Children of a Lesser God" I hadn't really had any contact.  

It takes a lot of people to put together such a delicate film.

The story originated with Jenilee Chuaunsu and Kookai Labayen  (also an associate producer )who worked together not only on the story, but also on the script. 

Directed by Prime Cruz who has acted, written and produced films. 

Produced by Kriz G. Gazmen and Camille Gomba-Montano and Marjorie Lachica    Olivia M. Lamasan, executive producer directed "Barcelona:  a Love Untold" (2016)   Marizel Samson-Martinez, supervising producer was involved with"Love you to the Stars and Back" (2017) and "Barcelona:  A Love Untold."

Andrew R. Florentino was responsible for the music--which played an important role in the movie about the deaf man.

Tey Clamor handled the cinematography.

Benjaimin Gonzales Tolentino was the award winning editor.

Maine Mendoza played the leading lady.  She went from this role into a long lasting series (over 100 episodes).

Carlo Aquino played the leading man.  He has appeared in a variety of roles starting back in 1995.  Has won a few national awards and along with Maine Mendoza was nominated as Movie Love Couple of the Year.

A supporting role was by Angeli Bayani who played a leading role in "Ilo Ilo" (2013).)

"Isa Pa with Feelings" had a human feeling that brought home that all humans are better off when we can communicate with one another.

For other Filipino films check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/10/four-filipino-movies.html

I have bolded the first mention of a movie I have seen, partly for vanity, but also to assure my readers of some familiarity of the topic.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Money Heist--the best heist movie ever?

The title may be an audacious claim and I will qualify it by saying in my experience "Money Heist" (2017-2021) indeed is the best heist movie.  It is different in several regards.  Instead of trying to get the stolen goods out as soon as possible, they want to delay the process.  Hostages that have been well researched are more important and processed differently than other heist films plus the robbers want to work with the public. 

They did not go into the Spanish money mint planning a quick exit, but rather stalled to have a long stay.  They were not robbing what everyone expected.  There are four groups---the robbers and the police, the hostages and the mint staff and each group has different often times conflicting motivations.  During the series there are dynamic changes in the relationships.

Preparation is key.  It is for all of us and in this project the planning takes several months preceded by much more serious thought. One detail is that the people involved are told not to use their real names even among themselves.  So they adopt names of cities.  They hide behind masks made to resemble famous Spanish artist Salvador Dali.

The key character, known as the Professor has to be one of the most thorough planners ever shown on screen.  He anticipates pretty much every obstacle and the opportunity to overcome it.  There are a few unexpected slip-ups, but they are well handled.  Like a lot of series there are cliff hangers that keep the viewer engaged, however it should be added there are many other challenges in the middle of episodes.

Like some, I noticed a change in tone after the two seasons which were done by the Spaniards.  Then apparently Neflix exerted more control and the stories were subjected to American ideas of what works--more gun shooting, more hand combat and more explosions.  But clever plotting remained and the actors were very likable. We all love to see the small guy beat the arrogant bosses.  The characters are very engaging and we get to know most of them in more depth over time.

It took a lot of people to make this a big success.  Here are only a few.

Created by Alex Pina who wrote scripts as head writer and also producer.  He began as a journalist and started writing and editing films in 1993.  From 1997 he became a creator and producer.  In 2016 he founded Vancouver Media and made "La Casa de Papel" which in English translates to "Money Heist."  It has won a few awards and has generated a massive following.

Jesus Colmenar, is a director and producer who has worked on several other projects with Alex Pina. 

Javier Gomez Santander is a writer and co-executive producer with a good track record.  He has been a journalist

Ivan Martinez lacamara and Manuel Santisteban handled the music

Migue Amaedo, David Azcana and Serge Brtoli provided the music.

Luismi Glez Bedmar, David Pelegrin and Regino Hernandez, headed the editorial staff.

Ursula Corbero was the main story teller keeping the viewer aware of developments.  Her name was Tokyo.  She started in films in 2002 at age 13.  As a spinoff she was noticed by an American producer and hired for "Snake Eyes" 2021) without an audition.

Alvaro Morte plays the main character, the Professor who mostly seems unflappable, but his tone is challenged a lot.  His performance in this series has resulted in 7 awards and a few nominations.

Itziar Iturbo makes the biggest swing of any character and handles in very well.  She begins as the main negotiator  and is both clever and ruthless.  Itziar got her first break in film after she learned to speak Basque and appeared in a few films.  She has also sung with three different bands.

Pedro Alonso plays Berlin, the nominally in charge leader of the robbers.  He is tyrannical in a comical sort of way.  He won an award for this role.  He brings a lot of humor to the role and is considered the funniest among cast and crew members.

Miguel Herran plays Rio who likes to dance.  

Alba Flores plays Nairobi, one of two flamboyant leading ladies among the robbers.   She wasn't originally in the series, until Alex Pino realized there was only one woman with the robbers.  He remembered Alba from a previous film ("Vis a Vis" 2015-2019 ) and asked if she would be interested and if so he would write a role for her.  She really adds pizzazz. 

Najwa Nimri starts off as a hostage, but switches sides later on.  Najwa was in "Open Your Eyes" (Abre los Ojos 1997).  Najwa not only has sung in bands, but has turned out albums and composed for five movies. 

Jaime Lorent plays Denver.  He had appeared in "Everybody Knows" (2018).

Ferrnando Cayo plays a heavy in charge of the government response for the second robbery.  He has appeared in "The Skin I Live In" (2011).  

I remember an early Netflix collaboration with Spanish film makers.  It was about mediation in a dramatic setting.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/11/7-anos.html

To really appreciate the series Netflix also offers a documentary on the series.  Scientific calculations, sets, makeup, posturing, team scripting, rehearing on a treadmill.  It also contains spoilers.

I understand there is a Korean version being filmed under guidance of Alex Pina.  Most remakes are not quite as good as the original, but I was impressed how the Korean version of Designated Survivor turned out.   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/10/designated-survivor-60-days-remake-of.html

Friday, December 17, 2021

The Game Changers

 Pushing my limits on blog frequency this film had to be included.  My long time friend Bob Stone recommended "The Game Changers" (2019)  and it made an impression that will be hard to cast aside.  

Veganism is something never heard of in my youth, but I have met a few people who are or who have attempted to be one.  Cruelty to animals is repulsive and one also learns that climate change is being accelerated by our meat eating habits.  Although those thoughts are impactful our habits are difficult to change.  The thrust of this film is on our health and for men especially on concepts of masculinity.

Arnold Schwartzenegger epitomizes for many of us masculinity personified.  He admits in his body building days eating meat and eggs was a big part of his strategy, but since has studied the issues more closely and has concluded a plant based diet is not only healthier but does not impeded muscle accumulation.  Arnold is one of the executive producers and talks about his conversion.

The quote I remember most and resets our thinking comes from Patrik Babourmian who demonstrates why he has been labeled "the world's strongest man."  Someone commented to him that he was as strong as an ox and he replied "Have you ever seen an ox eat meat?"  For that matter our favorite sources of meat are cows, pigs and chickens.  

The film is narrated and presented by James Wilks a champion UFC fighter.  A few clips of his fights are shown to demonstrate that not only strength, but quickness are required to reach his level.  During the film he introduces us to a wide variety of athletes who have adopted a vegan lifestyle.  Doctors are also brought to explain the scientific logic for veganism. We see football players, track athletes, cyclists and even a champion Grand Prix racer.

Protein is protein, but actually there is a difference between animal protein and plant protein.  Animal protein contains inflammatory elements that are unhealthy.  As is explained a few times our meat sources are like a middle man taking their protein from plants before passing the adjusted protein to us meat eaters.  

We are shown graphs that illustrates the impact of even a temporary vegan diet.  Strength is maintained and even increased.  Speed and endurance are boosted.   One doctor takes three college football players and demonstrates that sexual virility is enhanced with a vegan diet.

Opposed to veganism are economic interests.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/05/cowspiracy-points-out-major-premier.html

Directed by Louie Psihoyos who has one Oscar  for "The Cove" (2009) to his credit and a big shelf full of other awards.  Script was handled by Mark Monroe, Joseph Pace and Shannon Kornelsen.  

Editing such a wide ranging film covering a number of short clips requires expertise.  Dan Swietlik had edited "An Inconvenient Truth"(2006) and "Sicko" (2007) along with many other documentaries.  " (2007).  Stephanie Mechura has edited a number of Frontline episodes and such films as "The Price of Sex" (2011).

The two producers were James Wilks and Jason Pace who will also produced "Eating Our Way to Extinction" (2021).  Executive producers included Pamela Anderson, James Cameron, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton and Arnold Schwartzenegger.

Veganism is a difficult concept to commit to, but have been tipping in that direction.  Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist is aware of the challenge and has offered a suggestion I have had some limit4d success with--see http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/11/vb6-vegan-before-6.html  After watching "Octopus:  Making Contact" (2019) and "My Octopus Teacher" (2020) I was struck by this odd creature having intelligence that I have decided I could no longer eat calamari.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/09/for-me-this-is-year-of-octopus.html

My personal difficulty is I am addicted to the taste and perhaps even more the traditions associated with meat dishes.  It seems animals are subject to humans' sense of fashion.  What to do with all the farm animals as we convert to veganism:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2018/01/what-happens-to-farm-animals-when.html

Another film that hit me personally was "Escape from Extinction" (2020) We humans are very self centered, often to the point of hurting our survival.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/10/escape-from-extinction.html

All films have some impact on us. One of my motives for blogging is to remember important things.  

The first mention of films I have seen are bolded, partly for my vanity, but also to indicate some familiarity. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The King's Affection

It was easy to get intrigued by the premise of "The King's Affection," but I was forced to watch the old fashioned way.  I started watching the first 6 episodes in a semi binge manner that got me hooked, but learned (there were warnings) that I would have to wait another week before I could find out the next step followed by a second new episode one day later.  Waiting is agony.

 The premise of gender deception is not totally new, but perhaps was wrinkled a little differently.  Supposedly in medieval Korea twins were considered taboo for the royal couple.  As it happened the princess gave birth to twins that were one boy and one girl.  The prince was furious and ordered the second child, the girl to be killed before anyone could find out.  His wife was horrified and arranged despite resistance to send the daughter away with the intention of never seeing her again.  Fortune intervened and the daughter ended up as a court maid, entirely ignorant of her royal birth.  Again fortune intrudes and the young crown prince meets her and is struck by how similar they look.  He has a problem; his favorite tutor has run afoul of the royal court and is about to be executed.  He decides to put on his "twin's" female clothes to meet his tutor, but somehow is mistaken for an intruder and is killed.  The princess is horrified and afraid her secret will be outed and she seeks her daughter to complete the disguise was dressed as the crown prince and commands her to pretend to be the crown prince.  

Wow, that is only the first two episodes.  An overlooked detail is that a young boy whose father is a court official  becomes attracted to the young court maid and she likes him.  They are separated when she is forced to pretend to be the crown prince.  He is sent away and surprisingly is brought back to court as a very capable tutor and natural physician and she is forced to accept him as her royal tutor.  You can sense some sexual tension and at the beginning of this new relationship she decide he needs to be executed.  Of course he avoids that.  Further complications ensue amid various power struggles and the threat that exposure could mean death for several.

What happens when the Queen Dowager decides an heir is required?  What happens when the Crown Prince doesn't need to shave?  What happens when a childhood sweetheart is attracted to "him"?   What happens when suspicions of a homosexual nature are taking place? What happens when inevitably more people learn the secret?  Plenty of royal court intrigue including corruption tied into these speculations.

It reflects medieval thoughts on gender equality, but does comment that beneficial rule is better than corruption.  Has a poetic ending.

During the filming they had two delays.  One was a fire on location and the other was due to Covid-19.

One reviewer had this experience:  "but the last 10-12 minutes of each episode have been riveting. You want it to resolve, but don't want it to end!  It will seriously have you talking to your TV."

Yun Wook Song, director has been directing tv. series since 2009.

Han Hee-Jung and Lee So-Young were the writers and it appears that the story originated as a comic.

Eun-bin Park had the tough job of playing a masculine female with sword fighting and archery and making decisions while still underneath it all being feminine.

 Kim Ro Woon  played the court tutor who had befriended the princess before it was even known she was of royal blood and then felt attracted to her as the crown prince although he thought she was a man.  But there were little clues about their common knowledge. 

Deception plays a role in many of the stories we enjoy.  How can the hero or villain fool so many for so long?  In reality gender deception has happened.  Enjoy this film as it carries the tradition of deception very well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Japan Sinks: People of Hope Emigration on a national scope

There is a scarcity of my normal information available, but thinking the themes and execution are worth exploring here are some random thoughts on "Japan Sinks:  People of Hope" (2021 ) available on Netflix.
  

The original "Japan Sinks" book was published in 1973 and won several literary awards for science fiction author Sakyo Komatsu  and was concerned with an actual sinking of land.  It has been adapted a few times over the years and this version reflects current concerns.  Without giving away the plot this version has attached climate change and global pandemics to the sinking.  

But it goes beyond actual geo/bio logical disasters and explores the possible political and social implications.  Fiction, especially science fiction has the ability to make us think--what if?  Because some of those what ifs are more relevant than we might realize. 

When the Japanese came up with the concept they projected from their circumstances.  As an island nation with a history of severe earthquakes they have always felt vulnerabilities that have only been exasperated by rising seawater.  In the first episodes a scientist declares the area around Tokyo is going to sink below the water and this later is projected  to include the whole island.  Right away some people want to suppress information in order to preserve business--as one politician declares the economy is the basis for society.  Perhaps that may touch a few nerves as we notice  the stresses on our economy by the Covid 19 pandemic.

Some people see the disaster as an opportunity.  Stocks go up or down by inside information.  Properties are sold before the market disappears.  Politicians legitimately want to avoid rattling the population so that rational moves can be made and of course information and misinformation soon cause panic.

The film focuses on people who try to deal positively with the problem and learn to adapt to ever rising new aspects to the problem.  A government environmentalist and a journalist work together with scientists and even corporate leaders.

In their case someone decides the most practical solution would be massive immigration with in effect eco refugees.  Today we are aware of strong resistance to immigration as the established citizens fear hordes of strange people imposing on their lives.  The Japanese in particular are resistant to immigration.

They approach several countries and at first are rejected, however the idea of locating major Japanese corporations in Japantowns demonstrates they could be benefits to recipient countries.

The first time it has been suggested that an entire nation (and not a poor one) would relocate.  There always seems to be a conflict when newcomers try to fit into a new neighborhood.  They succeed in getting international co-operation but have trouble convincing many of their citizens from leaving home to live in a strange country where the language and customs may be frightening.  

To be fair the immigration program is to be decided by lottery.  Various schemes run into opposition, but are smoothed out.  A complication comes later in the series (a bit of a spoiler, but helpful to develop the theme) with a global pandemic being attributed to Japan.  As you can imagine by our reaction to a variant in South Africa this puts a damper on the entire immigration program.  In this fictional version the Japanese talent for innovation alleviates the concern and even boosts their desirability.

Many of my readers may recall having to leave one's first home and many more are where they are because some of their ancestors had to make the decision to leave their home environment on a leap of faith.  This film paints a stark picture, but we should all realize our future could easily force similar decisions on us and our descendants.  "People of hope" in the title refers to the persistence of politicians an scientists despite very difficult obstacles.

The presentation is very thought provoking and will try to credit some of those who contributed. 

Based on famed science fiction writer Sakyo Komatsu book of 1973. He had been born in 1931 and thus was a teenager when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  He studied Italian literature at Kyoto University.  In 1961 entered science fiction contest and wrote a story as if Japan had not lost in 1945, but focused on one man's defense.  Writing his famous book in 1973 it sold 4 million copies in Japan and was adapted to an American film, "Tidal Wave" (1973).   Another of his books was also adapted to the United States. "Bye Bye Jupiter" in 1984.  A quote I would like to share, “I sometimes wonder if our intolerant territoriality is really justifiable on this planet, where continents are constantly drifting.”

 Hiroshi Hashimoto has been credited with writing the script to fit today's understanding.  He has been involved writing scripts since 1989. 

The lead actor is Shun Oguri plays a government official in an environment department that warns the government of impending danger and has to be persuasive and innovative to work around the dilemma.  Last year he won an award as most popular actor.  He started with films in 1995 at age 13 and has over 100 credits.

 Jun Kunimura plays one of the stern politicians resisting moving too fast.  Ironically Jun's first movie was An American edited version of the original "Submersion of Japan" (1973).  Not only has he appeared in Japanese films, but also American and Korean including "Kill Bill"(2003 and 2004), "Like Father, Like Son"  (2013) and  "The Wailing" (2016),

Ken-ichi Matsuyama, played another progressive politician.  Ken-ichi started in films 2002 with over 80 credits including "Norwegian Wood" (2010). 

Teruyuki Kagawa plays the obnoxious scientist raising the alarm against political opposition.  He has won a fe  His films inlude "Quill:  The Life of a Guide Dog" (2004), "Key of Life" (2012)  He won several national awards.  He comes from a family of Kabuki actors and is involved himself.

Anne Watanabe plays the journalist and close friend to the leading man.  She is the daughter of famous actor Ken Watanabe,

The actual series had the fourth episode delayed as it coincided with the Japanese election   Netflix is planning to bring two more Japanese series to their schedule in near future.

Outer space exploration has had as one motive the desire for more space.  It is to be hoped that mankind doesn't blow up or otherwise destroy our home planet. It is unlikely mankind would ever be able to transport millions to outer space colonies.  Maybe send up embryos as proposed by some science fiction authors.  

How I reconnected to science fiction: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2011/09/conversion-can-sneak-up-on-you-too.html

I have bolded the first mention of movies that I have seen, partly for vanity, but also to assure you I have some familiarity. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Is it human to be a hypocrite?

 There are few things worse than to be called a hypocrite.  Basically it means you claim to believe something, but in reality betray your beliefs and practice doing something else.  But deep down inside many of us acknowledge the conflict between what we feel and what we express.  We are all influenced by how other people react.  We all have secrets, but are concerned for appearance.  We probably all bend the rules a little and some bend the rules a lot more.  

Partly we all like to believe we are in the right and that our intentions are not only in our best interests, but also honorable.  Mostly it is human nature to avoid conflicts with people we have to deal with.  And being weak humans we often find it difficult to live up to high standards.  There may be more to it than false bravado.  Every one of us alive plays different roles in life and they are often in conflict.For instance you can be a man, an employee, a father, a husband, a hockey fan, a voter, a member of a religious group, a New Yorker, a native of your location,  Sooner or later we all get caught in a conflict of roles.  Roles are often in conflict.

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.  Thomas would be considered a liberal by many modern people and wrote the Declaration of Independence spouting about freedom and the pursuit of happiness.  He was also a slave holder and although a kindly one it now seems indisputable that he fathered some children with his slave.  We don't know if it was even a loving relationship as he was careful to avoid public knowledge.  Read more:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2017/06/thomas-jefferson-and-sally-hemings-make.html

At the time of Bill Clinton's impeachment campaign one of the persecutors was Newt Gingrich who we later learned at the same time was engaged in adulterous behavior.  Many people would have said that such a person shouldn't be pointing fingers, but he was doing so in a very vociferous manner.  Others felt it was nobody's business, but not Newt.  He felt it was unacceptable for a leader to be so immoral, but really it was political maneuvering.  More recently Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani two divorced adulterous men feel compelled to criticize Hilary Clinton for her marital problems.

Trump himself identified voter targets and decided how best to seduce them.  Evangelicals, the poorly educated, racists.  In some cases he would laugh at their stupidities.

Republicans for the most part have an economic agenda on the idea that anyone has the right to make as much money as possible and to keep it.  Freedom somehow seems to allow the exploitation of other people.  Although most people would like to make more money too many would realize they are being left out.  In order to gain power those seeking it for their economic agenda have to offer something to satisfy the majority they need to get elected.  Most powerful people with notable exceptions are educated and reasonably intelligent realizing they have to win over people less educated and intelligent.  I will let others point out the hypocrisy of liberals which they also share.
 
Dichotomies can be hard on us.  Being a parent and also being active social person presents conflicts. You don't want your children to have your bad habits, but you aren't willing to give them all up, at least not forever.  Many smoking moms and dads will try to hide their habit from prying eyes.  Sooner or later it usually fails.  

One unfortunate historical reality was with closeted gay people.  For most of history it was natural for them to hide their sexual preference, but some went further.  To distract possible accusers they criticized, sometimes viciously other gay people or tried to blackmail them.  Perhaps an extreme, but illustrates all conflicts Read more on  Barney Frank http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/07/barney-frank-has-interesting-book-out.html

The anti abortion protesters hit our consciousness with the sacredness of life.  Many of the same are opposed to contraception, sex education, parental leave and other abortion reducing measures leaving me to feel a big part of their motivation is against promiscuity and recreational sex.  Many of the same people support gun rights in the face of all too frequent school shootings. 

We all tend to be hypocrites on small matters.  Perhaps we should be tolerant of other hypocrites on small matters, but there is a limit.  Sometimes when our own hypocrisy is pointed out we reflect and more rarely change our behavior.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Zero to Hero

 It seems like a sports movie, except it is about a Paralympic athlete and set in Hong Kong.  It is also about a mother's role in bringing a handicapped baby into a Paralympic champion.  Available on Netflix.

At first the challenge is to accept a baby that was supposed never to walk and likely to be deaf.  So Wa Wai's mother was strong willed and spent many hours encouraging him to walk.  They found a hearing device.  She heard about Paralympics and came across a coach.  Once walking, So Wa Wai loved to run and the coach and his sister were able to get him going.  He was seen as the fourth runner for a relay team (to replace the coach himself).  

They are entered in the 1996 Atlanta ParaOlympics with a squabble.  The traditionally fastest runner had always run the anchor leg, but the coach determined that So Wa Wai with his uneven stride would do better on the straight way and thus give the team a better chance of winning.  This is based on a true story, but it was well dramatized in the sports movie tradition with So Wa Wai getting the baton behind several runners, but pulling up to a photo finish victory.  That was Hong Kong's first Paralympic gold medal.  The film is about half over and I thought this was the climax. 

To maintain his training the mother had taken on other jobs.  She had another son (after the doctor assured them their son's condition was not hereditary).  China had a one child rule but I guess not applied to Hong Kong or they were exempted.   Over time the other son helped with the older brother in his training and the many tasks that were difficult for a handicapped boy.  After Sun Wa Wai had won a few more gold medals the younger son exploded in his anger that he had only been born to serve his handicapped brother and there did seem to be truth to his anger.  Reminds me of "It is Okay Not to be Okay" (2020) where the mother deliberately had another child to take care of the first who had been born autistic.   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/03/its-okay-not-to-be-okay.html  Both sons were upset over how their parents treated them. 

Money was very tight and the main cause was the training time needed for a Paralympian.  Then the mother was approached by a sports promoter who wanted So Wa Wai to do some ads.  At first it was resisted, then they got involved for awhile, but it interfered with the training.  Dropped the ad effort, but came back to it as the mother realized after he was finished running at the Paralympics he would have nothing to do and basically be close to unemployable.  Went into again and this time So Wa Wai resented being told to stutter so he would seem more handicapped.   In Canada we were able to watch numerous Paralympians doing commericals.

His time off training had to be made up and it was agonizing as he was behind in his times from the Atlanta games.  His mother was his motivator when he wanted to give up  The coach's sister had attended much of the practices over the years and even clipped his toenails.  The mother, seeing her son's shyness and his limited future prospects suggested that the coach's sister should be his girlfriend, but she responded that he was not her "dream man."  Very embarrassing.

It is not much of a spoiler to say the film ends on a high note with So Wa Wai re-setting his world record for the 200 meter run in category T-36 which apparently still stands.  In the credits you see the actual people including So Wa Wai, the coach parents and brother.  Decades ago China had declared they had no handicapped people, but when they campaigned for the Olympics they had to accept the Paralympics and not only did they do so, but made an effort to be competitive.

What makes an engaging film is the people behind it.  Here are some of them.

Chi-Man Wan was the director.  He started writing for movies and in 2006 and by 2010 directed one of his scripts and then moved on to direct another three movies.

Sandra Kwan Yue Ng, the producer has been a very popular star in Hong Kong cinema with well over 100 acting credits and at one time the highest grossing Hong Kong actress with national awards.  By 2014 she had started expanding into directing and producing.  She won best actress award for this film at the Chinese American Film Festival.

Music was provided by Day Tai and cinematography by Wan-Kai Tam

Chung-Hang Leung played So Wa Wai.  Required to run and display a range of emotions.  Believable.

Louis Cheung played the coach.

Curran Pang, the editor had 60 credits including "Infernal Affairs" (2002). 

Sports films belong with the more common ones of someone overcoming obstacles to have a more satisfying life.  "Zero to Hero" does a good job.

A documentary on the Paralympics explains a bit the purpose of the games:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/09/rising-phoenix-disabled-move-forward.html

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The 8th Wave

 One of my reasons for blogging is to sort out how I ended up where I am.  One thing discovered is the concept of "white privilege."  We take a lot for granted--my grandfather owned a business which helped my father start a business which in many ways gave me experiences denied other people and a little financial cushion.  One of those privileges is to read and hear about how we conquered the land (really stole it).  We think we are sophisticated and technology savvy, but when my ancestors first came to North America we were dependent on their technology.  They now are taking part in "our" technology.      

Released in 2012.  I picked up a 3 disc DVD at the local library but was unable to get information from my usual sources.  Not rated at IMDB.  The film website was down.  The special features were helpful.  Started watching this on the American Thanksgiving.

 Our stereotypes of "Indians" are acknowledged.  They have a problem with alcohol, drugs and crime.  We also think they are lazy, poorly educated and mooches.  However that is changing, partly with better understanding.  We were all shocked at recent residential burial uncoverings and are just learning and understanding

Stereotypes tend to be self reinforcing.  A lack of education limits options.  Poor water supply can be crippling.   Another concern is the lack of role models.  Stanley Vollant, the first Innu to become a surgeon and attaining high administrative positions.  A 6,000 kilometre march on snowshoes brought him to talk to Innu youngsters and motivate some of them by his example. 

Residential schools were part of a strategy to assimilate the indigenous to a European life style.  The students were separated from their parents (not able to learn parenting skills) and not permitted to speak their native languages.  They operated  from the 1870's to the 1990's with the last closing in1996 covering the ages 4-16.  Really there has only been about two generations to undo the harm which included sexual abuse.  In addition over 10,000 indigenous children were either adopted or fostered, mostly to "white" household

Schools in primarily indigenous areas get much less money than non aboriginal schools.  It becomes even harder to recruit teachers with turnover is high  An earlier blog dealt with education in Innuit territory that had the highest suicide rate in the world.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/01/an-unexpected-canadian-film-gem.html 

They do not want to be dependents, but too many live in  a culture of despair.  This leads to alcoholism, drug addiction, school drop outs, prostitution and suicide.  The patterns are slowly changing, but much needs to be done.   Some government work projects require the indigenous to be hired. 

From the special feature presented more information.  Metis, early on preferred to present themselves  as French Canadian.  I do remember learning about Louis Riel as an insane leader, but now recognize he was fighting for the rights of Metis.  They too are having their culture revived including their French heritage.  No mention of the Metis with Scottish background but for them it might have been easier to assimilate.   

The Haldimand Tract Treaty of 1794 was meant to compensate the Six Nations  who had fought with the British against the Americans in the War of Independence and lost land mostly in New York state for fighting on the losing side.  Has since  been cut to 5% of the original.  According to the script Welland Canal started on land that had belonged to natives, but that land had been flooded      

On my personal experience have driven by the barricaded areas around Caledonia both working and on way to Port Dover.  Actually sold product to a business in Ohsweken and learned of their tax exemption first hand.  A relative bought cigarettes there to save money for his bad habit.

It had been discovered that between 1980 to 2012 16% of all female homicides were among the indigenous and Metis while they only represented 4% of the female population.  To a significant extent these figure might be related to prostitution which is really only another indicator of economic disparity.  Stephen Harper famously decided not to open an inquiry into this problem with the stats even more serious among his western Canadian base.  Justin Trudeau did start an inquiry in 2016.  As I write female indigenous murders are still in the news.

Another side issue is that Indian status could be lost if Indigenous women married non Indian.  Laws have corrected that, but still  can lose status over generations of marrying outside Indian

Reconciliation is in the news.  The title "8th Fire" refers to the idea that at some point the indigenous and the colonizers would resolve their differences which hopefully we are edging towards.

Wab Kinew presents different segments of the documentary.  He currently is the leader of the NDP which forms  the opposition party for the Manitoba Parliament.  Prior to that he had been a musician (I have some of his songs from iTunes), broadcaster for CBC radio and television.  He keeps the narrative flowing.

Paul Martin made comments on a few clips.  He is a man I think was a great leader, although not enough people followed him.  Among many things he recognized the indigenous people were an under utilized resource that had been treated unfairly.   An earlier view:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/03/paul-martin-under-appreciated.html

Watched a Lisa Ling special while doing blog.  Elements were familiar, but there was a big twist that in some ways reinforces oppression of the indigenous.  The Osage lived in a huge area in the American Midwest, but over time the area shrunk dramatically.  At one point they bought a rocky stretch of land in Oklahoma with the idea they would be left alone.  However the land contained an enormous amount of oil that allowed the whole tribe to become the wealthiest group of people in the whole country.  They adopted a luxurious lifestyle that attracted envy.  Some people died mysteriously and the first investigation of the F.B.I. was with some of the murders and they did in fact arrest and convicted two white men behind the deaths.  But the deaths continued and many remain unsolved.  The government appointed guardians to manage the money of well off Osage.  Restrictions and procedures were specifically imposed on the Osage.  One witness pointed out that some of their neighbors were descended from the killers.  George Bush helped to restore much of their integrity.  Earlier I had done a blog that covers some of the Osage story:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2018/01/killers-of-flower-moon-bit-of-history.html