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INTERSTELLAR: Do Not Go Humble Into That Good Night

The Science of InterstellarThe Science of Interstellar by Kip S. Thorne

My Rating★★★★☆


DO NOT GO HUMBLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

 

The book discusses the movie, so it is only fair that I use most of the space to discuss the movie as well. I will discuss the book itself in one of the sections below. To get a better understanding, we can break our discussion it up into three overlapping sections —
The Three aspects of the movie that has to be examined to get at its core Premise:

1. The Future

2. The Science

3. The Dreams

Book Rating: 4/5 (Goodreads); Movie Rating: 9/10 (IMDB)


Caution: Spoilers Ahead; Spoilers Abound

“The overriding question, ‘What might we build tomorrow?’
blinds us to questions of our ongoing responsibilities
for what we built yesterday.”
~ Paul Dourish


THE FUTURE


Scenario

Interstellar is about mankind’s future and about the options we face. It challenges us to think about how we should react to that future.

It starts from the premise that the Earth has been wrecked.

We have become a largely agrarian society, struggling to feed and shelter ourselves. But ours is not a dystopia. Life is still tolerable and in some ways pleasant, with little amenities such as baseball continuing. However, we no longer think big. We no longer aspire to great things. We aspire to little more than just keeping life going.

Humans have coped with their sudden tragedy by shutting down technology, engineering, research and all the marvels of science. This was the only option left to them.

But why this extreme reaction by a species that was not frightened even by Frankenstein’s monster? Presumably science/progress had something to do with unleashing the blight? My guess would be too much monoculture.

Most of them seem to think that the catastrophes are finished, that we humans are securing ourselves in this new world and things may start improving. But in reality the blight is so lethal, and leaps so quickly from crop to crop (there is also a bit of unscientific nonsense about Nitrogen versus Oxygen, but let us not be too critical), that the human race is doomed within the lifetime of Cooper’s grandchildren. The only hope is to start dreaming again. To get back on the Science Bandwagon.

And (thankfully?) there are dreamers, who refuse to give up to this sub-par, non-imaginative existence.

We are explorers, we are adventurers. Humanity is not meant to give up like this, Nolan tells us. And uses Dylan to drive the point home (too many times!).

The prevailing attitude of stopping progress and just focussing on ‘surviving’ is seen to be a regressive step by our intrepid explorers.

Instead our heroes decide to risk it all on a cross-galaxy exploration. To find a new home for humanity, out among the stars.

In the process Nolan also attempts to reverse the message of Kubrick’s Space Odyssey and portray technology as a friend to humanity (TARS), instead of an unknown and volatile threat (as embodied by HAL).


Commentary

This is an eminently plausible future. It is also an eminent plausible reaction to such a future. In face it is very close to what Naomi Oreskes  imagines in her own Near-future scenario: Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. A dictatorial regime, community-based (communist, in fact), strictly controlled, paranoid. We have seen these things before in history, during the dark ages. It is one of our worst nightmares.

A totalitarian govt is pretty much what would be in store in such a future. Freedom comes with trade-offs — the more we can indulge now, the more we restrict humanity later.

The only problem is that by the time we have had time to degrade so much, to feel the hopelessness, to tighten control over a society so much with so less technology, it would probably be too late to be even thinking of interstellar travel.

And that is where the Future that is shown to us breaks down. It shows us an agrarian world that is still capable of inter-planetary travel. That would require a very fast breakdown of things. Fast enough to not let the technology or the knowledge wither away. One bad generation would enough to lose the skills that were required for the Exodus. The plot had to assume an almost impossible fast degeneration and a lot of coincidental happenings in that very small window allowed even in such a world. That is not very realistic.

Lucky we had a miracle to bail us out.

See high-res Here: http://goo.gl/x0eoa


THE SCIENCE


Soft Science

This is where science comes in. Under what scientific capacity we have, and with what technology we can reasonably expect in the near future, we cannot really travel inter-galactic distances in a time span that is remotely realistic, at least for current generations. Nor do we have the cryopreservation methods to take any live humans across such time spans.

And if we were capable of sacrificing our present for the future generations…? Well. Umm. We wouldn’t be in a fix in the first place, would we?

The nearest star (other than our Sun) thought to have a habitable planet is Tau Ceti, 11.9 light-years from Earth, so traveling at light speed you would need 11.9 years to reach it. If there are any habitable planets closer than that, they can’t be much closer.

Voyager 1 is traveling out of the solar system at 17 kilometers per second, having been boosted by gravitational slingshots around Jupiter and Saturn. In Interstellar, the Endurance travels from Earth to Saturn in two years, at an average speed of about 20 kilometers per second.

Even if we imagine an extreme 300 kilometers per second, we would need 5000 years to reach Proxima Centauri (nearest star to earth) and 13,000 years to reach Tau Ceti. Not a pleasant prospect!

Using twenty-first-century technology, we are stuck with thousands of years to reach other solar systems. The only hope (an exceedingly faint hope) for faster interstellar travel, in the event of an earthly disaster, is a wormhole like that in Interstellar, or some other extreme form of spacetime warp.

So a major inter-galactic, centuries-spanning exploration is out of the question.

What then?

Luckily we have the Gods helping us (well, 5 dimensional beings – “them” for short) out.

They make our job a lot easier with a strategically placed wormhole – not too near to rip earth apart, but not so far that we don’t notice it, or will have to spend too much time reaching it. And it takes us to a place with multiple earth-like planets. And we go there on LAZARUS missions (Get it? Christ will walk amongst us at The End of Days — as Technology!). Resurrection itself, no less, is on display here!

Talk about miracles.

“And whoever They are, They appear to be looking out for us. That wormhole lets us travel to other stars. It came along right as we needed it.”

Well, what do you know, we are a lucky species.


Hard Science

I have heard a lot of people criticizing the science behind the movie. To me that is the most acceptable part in the movie. The science mostly makes good sense, except for a few artistic liberties here and there. Also the story was written first and the science was made-to-order. But despite that, it hangs together well.

The movie is exclusively based on a String Theory interpretation of the universe. Most of it won’t make sense unless you accept all the premises required under String Theory.

So we live in a “Brane” inside a “Bulk”. Our universe is the Brane and the Bulk Beings live in higher dimension, in the Bulk. The movie simplifies matters a bit by assuming the Bulk to be in only 1 dimension more than ours, while String Theorists tend to assume 5-6 extra dimensions in the Bulk. Also they are supposed to be curled-up microscopic dimensions, certainly not big enough for Cooper to be floating around in. Nolan didn’t want to confuse a mass audience. Let us accept that as fair.

All this is beautifully explained in the book and reading it will make you respect the rigor and faithfulness to scientific principles that is on view in the movie. Everything (including all those stunning visuals) is modeled based on equations and backed by scientific possibility (speculation at best). The movie allows us to visualize what a wormhole, black-hole, accretion disks, tesseract, world-tubes, etc. would look like IF they were real. And they allow us to do so with scientific rigor. Nolan brings String Theory to spectacular life. So this movie sets a pretty high standard as far as fidelity to science is concerned. Let us give full points for that.

I am wiling to defend most of the science on display in the movie. Please feel free to fire away in the comment section.

They even use realistic equations in the movie. Gotta give points for that too.

Even when the equation is attempting to “solve gravity”. *chuckles*

In short, it is easy to be skeptical of the science, but this companion book does a good job of shooting down most objections you might have and proves how well-founded most o the exotic stuff in the movie is. The really exotic things turn out to be closer to home, in the Future that is depicted and in the Dreams we are being asked to nurture! I started this book being very critical of the movie, looking for weapons to bludgeon it with, but the constant doses of science has softened me up. Reading this book will probably make you respect the movie much more too. Highly recommended.


Artistic Licences

That said, Nolan does take many liberties with science in the movie, but mostly they are for visual effect.

As Kip says, If Chris had followed the dictates of Einstein’s laws, it would have spoiled his movie. So Chris consciously invoked artistic license at some points. Although I’m a scientist and aspire to science accuracy in science fiction, I can’t blame Chris at all. I would have done the same, had I been making the decision. And you’d have thanked me for it.


Truth, Educated Guesses, and Speculations

The science of Interstellar lies in all four domains: Newtonian, relativistic, quantum, and quantum gravity. Correspondingly, some of the science is known to be true, some is an educated guess, and some is speculation.

That is why throughout this book, when discussing the science of Interstellar, Kip has to explain the status of that science—truth, educated guess, or speculation—and he label it so at the beginning of a chapter or section with a symbol:


TO SUM UP

The thing is that a wormhole cant work (they are just not stable enough to be traversable, even if they actually exist — admitted freely in the book, in fact Kip goes so far as to almost admit that Wormholes are the most impossible outrageous idea in the book, and he was also the one responsible for introducing a wormhole into Contact and thus into mass consciousness!), time can’t be fixed, and if you have enough energy/tech to make a new planet habitable, you will definitely have enough to make earth re-habitable!

So we will never actually face a choice — either we will be capable of saving the earth AND colonizing a new planet. Or we will be incapable of both. And if the earth is in a bad enough condition it is unlikely that a true centuries-spanning mission is going to get funding anyway. And if we can fix the planet, how can we choose to leave all the other species behind? (Diversity being so important, as mentioned in the movie — and true genetic diversity should also include species diversity.)

The Science in the Movie DOES NOT matter. Because it is not a question of what is possible, but of what we want to believe in.


Cooper = Christ

This movie is about Miracles & Dreams, not of Science. And, to drive it home, religious hints litter the movie, as pointed out with the Lazarus missions above.

We thus have Cooper in a double role, as a Christ figure who brings God’s message to a Prophet, and also as an Apostle-Prime, who alone has experienced divinity, who is convinced that the miracles are being performed by The Children of Men. That men will become Gods one day, capable of miracles. Get it? The Bulk-beings, the 5-Dimensional Gods are nothing but the Children of Men, conceived immaculately through a Technology-Mary)

“Not yet,” Cooper says, “but one day. Not you and me but people, people who’ve evolved beyond the four dimensions we know.”

Traditionally, when you fall into a black hole, you should get pulled apart, instead the movie itself gets pulled apart by its seams. It was a plot necessity. Of course, our new understanding of singularities allow a slim chance of survival, but certainly not for the Nolan-esque climax. It’s a brave plunge, either way.


THE DREAMS

The real message of the movie might very well be to show how difficult it would be to find an inhabitable planet and get to it, even with plenty of miraculous deus ex machinas thrown in. And we still need to have in source of energy — gravity itself — to have any shot at a humane solution (of transporting everyone instead of having to deal with the rough job of choosing WHO gets to go!)

In the move, it all ends in an optimistic note in COOPER STATION, but what of the Earth? Kip admits in the book that to “harness gravity” to get off the earth would probably require a complete destruction of the planet (through extreme compression).

If they had access to enormous energy, through “solving gravity”, then surely they could have fixed Earth instead? Given the choice between a beautiful Earth and an artificially recreated station (limited by man’s imagination, even if by the imagination of the most brilliant among us), where would you choose to live? What would you choose for your child? Even today, would you rather stay in a magnificently designed IT park imitation or actually go and visit the original? And what of the history, architecture and ecology we have to leave behind? I know what choice I will make. I might make a visit, but I would want come back to earth.


A Cut-And-Run Theme

As an article puts it:

At first glance, Interstellar does seem to have a green message, warning that climate change could make the world uninhabitable for humans (and, presumably, other species). Yet there’s an odd twist. The tag line for the film is, “The end of the Earth will not be the end of us.” And the lead scientist, played by Michael Caine (no longer Alfred the Butler), says at one point: “We are not meant to save the world. We are meant to leave it.” In other words, if humans do trash the planet, don’t worry, some super-smart folks will help us make a nice get-away somewhere else in this swell and expanding universe. Given that Grinspoon researches life and planetary development, I wondered what he thought of this cut-and-run theme.

Once we cut out all the fantasy elements, Interstellar has this dire projection for us:

1. We are ruining the planet

2. We need to look for options to save ourselves.

Now, I have no objection to Humans leaving the Planet. Best case might even be that Humans leave the Planet to save the Planet.

3. But, whatever solutions we want to imagine/implement, we need to do it before it is too late.

By the time it is too late for the planet, it is bound to be too late for our technology too.

Cut-And-Run is not a feasible option. Deus Ex Machina happens only in movies.

As I have repeated many times by now The Science of Interstellar is the least questionable aspect of the movie. Its core premise (the Future & The Dreams) is what is really questionable.

Interstellar operates from a premise that it is never too late as long we keep the flame of exploration and technology alive. It ignores the ethical dilemmas of leaving a planet and most of its inhabitants (including humans) to die. It also ignores the more present question of how to avert a cut-and-run scenario from ever manifesting itself. That is the real question in front of humanity today. By skipping ahead and showing us an imaginary solution to present day problems, Nolan is indulging in a sort of escapism.

Let us just deal with it:

The right dream to have might just be of saving the planet and thus ourselves, and not of leaving it.

The movie was good entertainment and the book does a wonderful job of backing it up scientifically. But having the right dream is important too, to direct Science, which is merely a tool.

Humanity was not meant to die on Earth.
Earth was not meant to die of Humanity either.


VERDICT: THE SCIENCE IS SOLID. THE FUTURE IS SHAKY. AND THE DREAM IS JUST PLAIN STUPID.

Arthur C. Clarke took us on a similar journey in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but he asked us uncomfortable questions: Where are we headed? Are we ready to rely on Technology? What hidden dangers lurk in the Highway of Progress?

Nolan instead chooses to allay most of those uncomfortable questions and leaves us with a too simple an answer: Trust in technology, keep the spirit alive and everything will be fine.

I am not sure that is the right message for our times. It needs to be examined, and hence the review. I have done a shoddy job of it, but it is something.

All this is not to indulge in technology-bashing. Our scientific knowledge and our capacity for improvement are still our best bets to continuing survival. But “Solutionism” is not the answer.

This is how “Solutionism” is defined:

“‘Solutionism’ interprets issues as puzzles to which there is a solution, rather than problems to which there may be a response.”
~ Gilles Paquet

We should be optimistic, but only cautiously so. We should not ride headlong into a future we don’t want, expecting a miracle at the end of the lane to bail us out. We should respect science and trust in it, and expect it to not only be a miracle, but also a path-finder. Science should show us the way, it should show us the means to avoid the unwanted future. It should be a companion, not a god-of-last-resort, to which we turn only once we have ruined ourselves by ignoring it.

Let us use science to chart the best course. Let us respect what our scientists tell us instead of allowing our politicians and our run-away consumerist economy to take us to a cliff from which even Science cannot be expected to work a Miracle.

Even though the movie was supposed to be a powerful message about Man’s power, in the end it turns out to be about man’s desperate need for miracles, for easy answers. That is its failure.

View all my reviews

 

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Agneepath (अग्निपथ) – A poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan – An English Translation

I was greatly inspired by this wonderful poem and was searching for a good english translation. Finding none, what follows below is my own attempt at translating the poem. If you know of an official translation or one that captures the spirit better, please post it in the comments section. So, Here is the famous poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan. “It is dedicated to those whose life is a tough struggle all the way, but whose resolve is superhuman.” ~ Rajiv Krishna Saxena

अग्निपथ

वृक्ष हों भले खड़े,
हों घने, हों बड़े,
एक पत्र छाँह भी
मांग मत! मांग मत! मांग मत!
अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ!

तू न थकेगा कभी,
तू न थमेगा कभी,
तू न मुड़ेगा कभी,
कर शपथ! कर शपथ! कर शपथ!
अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ!

यह महान दृश्य है,
चल रहा मनुष्य है,
अश्रु, स्वेद, रक्त से
लथ-पथ, लथ-पथ, लथ-पथ,
अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Vriksh hon bhale khade,
Hon ghane, hoh bade,
Ek patra chhah bhi
Maang mat! Maang mat! Maang mat!
Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!

Tu na thakega kabhi,
Tu na thamega kabhi,
Tu na mudega kabhi,
Kar shapath! Kar shapath! Kar shapath!
Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!

Yeh mahaan drishya hai,
Chal raha manushya hai
Ashru, swed, rakt se
Lath-path, lath-path, lath-path,
Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Agneepath – English Translation

Even if there are mighty trees all around you,
Let them be shady, let them be huge,
But, even for the shade of a single leaf,
Beg not, beg never, ask never!
The path of fire you shall tread! The path of fire! Yes, That Path of Fire!

You shall never tire,
You shall never slow down,
You shall never turn back,
This oath you will take today!
This oath you will fulfill in your life!
Take this oath!
And walk the Path of Fire, every single day!
The oath of fire! Yes, That Path of Fire!

What greater spectacle,
Than to see such a man walk,
Who in tears, sweat and blood,
Is soaked, covered and coated;
And still walks on in the Path of fire!
Walks the path of fire! Yes, That Path of Fire!

Agneepath (अग्निपथ)

A poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Translated into english by Riku Sayuj.

 

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Source Code – An Intelligent Mind Bender or Just A Messy Attempt?

I just watched the movie Source Code – are the comparisons with Inception justified?

It does feel a lot like ‘Inception meets Groundhog Day‘. But, is it as much fun as either of them?

Well, I wont answer that question but at least Inception does make a decent attempt at explaining its premises and hence manages to stand pretty firm on its own ground in spite of a few glaring holes (like why didn’t De Caprio just shoot his wife and himself if he was sure he as in a dream? Why did he have to do inception on her and set in motion the whole hullaballoo? Well, let us discuss that another day)

And, Source Code?

My main problem with Source Code is that for a movie that is trying to be intelligent (at least for the first half), it does not do a good enough job of explaining its basic premise.

<<< Spoilers Ahead >>>

In a nutshell, this is the movie – A ‘great’ quantum physicist has developed a brand new software. Apparently, whenever a person dies, the last 8 minutes of his brain is stored in his brain. This software taps this memory and is able to feed it into the brain of a dead operative who can then plug into that memory and live out those 8 minutes. 

They want to use this to fight terror. So far so good? The problem is that the operative can now not only access the memory of the dead guy, but can also go in and generate new information that was never part of his memory.

How is that possible? For a more detailed analysis on why this explanation just doesn’t cut it, head over to my friend’s blog as he overthinks it:

By this explanation, it’s the ultimate extension of those b.s. “enhance… enhance…” scenes in movies and CSIsh television shows, where computers let you get information from an old photograph that it can’t possibly have captured because of silly things like resolution. It doesn’t make sense that source code operatives can interrogate people in the memory of the deceased. If the dead person didn’t perceive something, it wouldn’t be in his memory. It’s like this great scene from the legendary British sci-fi show Red Dwarf:

Before you go forward, I must tell you that if you skipped the video above, you really have missed a laugh.

What I just described above is one of the major pet peeves about the movie in many blogs. 

I admit that the movie never addressed it or made an attempt to explain it. but let me just make it clear that there is an explanation we could come with after watching the movie – First of all, even though the scientist mentions Source Code is based on Quantum Physics, there is no mention of the same in the explanation he gives about SC in the movie. So where exactly does Quantum Physics come into the picture? My take is that what is happening is that Source Code is a programme which used the information (8 minutes of memory) and uses that to create a virtual reality in the mind of the operative. Now since quantum physics is weird and is supposed to be dependant on consciousness according to some theories, this instead of creating a virtual reality, creates an actual parallel universe. Even though this explanation sounds ok to me, it still doesn’t explain how he was able to come back and report on it in the current reality.

Besides, why did it have to spin into a romantic drama in the end? And “it’s all gonna be alright”? Come On! How is that even related?

On thinking about it, he starts saying that line only in the second half of the movie. I honestly think that the first half and second half must have been written by different people. It starts well and had me hooked in the first 15 minutes. I eagerly listened to the explanation of what Source Code is and I tried to suspend disbelief and go with it as the movie violated its own explanations. I enjoyed the irony in ‘Beleaguered castle‘ and I tried to come up with my own explanations to excuse the movie (see above) and I kept watching. I tried… I really tried! But when he started repeating “it is gonna be alright”, I had to give up on the movie.

So the movie becomes a complete failure when I look at it with a harsh sci-fi fan’s eyes. It is not a good sci-fi movie if it can’t explain itself or doesn’t even make a decent attempt. Period.

If anyone has better insights on how to explain the weirdo stuff happening in the movie, please use the comments section to your heart’s content.

PS. For those of you who enjoyed the concepts in Source Code and wants more of the same, I would strongly recommend Quantum Leap (will be available in DC on request).

 
7 Comments

Posted by on June 17, 2011 in Movie Discussions, Movie Reviews, Movies

 

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The MAD & The BAD: Today’s Dose of Entertainment

The previous post thus confirms saturday’s genre of picks, Action for movies and Detective/psychological for books. All picks will be updated at the dedicated page. Let us go ahead with today’s picks, shall we?

 

Today’s MAD Recommendation

MOVIE: THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS

IMDb link: The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009) – IMDb

IMDb General Rating: 6.4/10

My IMDb Rating: 8/10

Genre: War, Comedy

Men Who Stare At Goats

Plot:

A reporter, trying to lose himself in the romance of war after his marriage fails, gets more than he bargains for when he meets a special forces agent who reveals the existence of a secret, psychic military unit whose goal is to end war as we know it. The founder of the unit has gone missing and the trail leads to another psychic soldier who has distorted the mission to serve his own ends.

“In this quirky dark comedy inspired by a real life story you will hardly believe is actually true, astonishing revelations about a top-secret wing of the U.S. military come to light when a reporter encounters an enigmatic Special Forces operator on a mind-boggling mission.

Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is in search of his next big story when he encounters Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a shadowy figure who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit. According to Cassady, the New Earth Army is changing the way wars are fought. A legion of “Warrior Monks” with unparalleled psychic powers can read the enemy’s thoughts, pass through solid walls, and even kill a goat simply by staring at it. Now, the program’s founder, Bill Django (Oscar® nominee Jeff Bridges), has gone missing and Cassady’s mission is to find him.

Intrigued by his new acquaintance’s far-fetched stories, Bob impulsively decides to accompany him on the search. When the pair tracks Django to a clandestine training camp run by renegade psychic Larry Hooper (two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey), the reporter is trapped in the middle of a grudge match between the forces of Django’s New Earth Army and Hooper’s personal militia of super soldiers. In order to survive this wild adventure, Bob will have to outwit an enemy he never thought possible.”


“More of this is true than you would believe”


Reviews:


“A serendipitous marriage of talent in which all hearts seem to beat as one… fashions a superbly written loony-tunes satire, played by a tony cast at the top of its game.”  — variety.com


“This is the anti-Hurt Locker experience: Where that Iraq War film was absorbing and deadly serious, The Men Who Stare at Goats is irreverent and lighthearted.” — Usatoday.com


“More of this is true than you would believe”


Why You should Watch it:

  1. If you like the brand of absurdist, farcical on your face comedy, you should lap it up.
  2. If you want 2 hours of light-hearted fun and not worry about what a movies message is, then too this movie is for you.
  3. If you are a Clooney fan, this movie will not disappoint you.
  4. If you are the sort who likes a movie to have three layers of meaning, then this is up your alley.
  5. “More of this is true than you would believe”

Why I loved it:

  1. For the ensemble cast who all delivered to expectations. – George ClooneyEwan McGregorJeff BridgesKevin Spacey – I was in fandom heaven.
  2. The Star Wars references between Clooney and Skywalker!
  3. One of the few movies which is better than the book.
  4. “More of this is true than you would believe”

_______________________________________________________________________

 

Today’s BAD Recommendation

BOOK: PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER by PATRICK SÜSKIND

GoodReads link: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

GoodReads General Rating: 3.83/5

My GoodReads Rating: 4/5

Genre: Thriller, Novel

Plot:

In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift — an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and frest-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume” — the scent of a beautiful young virgin. He turns into a serial killer on his quest for the Ultimate Perfume which can bestow on him God like Powers – one of manipulating emotions of people towards him and of being irresistibly loved by everyone he wished.

Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.


Reviews:


Perfume is a historical tale that delves into the macabre, but it also has the rare quality of being able to change the way you experience life, albeit through an olfactory perspective. Perfume does more than let you get lost in the world of a book — it puts you in touch with one of the strongest senses we possess and magnifies that experience to the extreme.”  — PowellsBooks


“An astonishing performance, a masterwork of artistic conception and execution. A totally gripping page-turner.” — The San Francisco Chronicle


“In my opinion, it should be considered, digested then savoured, for it was not until I had completed the book that I was able to fully appreciate how truly amazing and spellbinding it really is. Overall, I found Perfume to be as captivating as it is disturbing, tender yet wicked, and on the whole, one of the most thought-provoking novels I have ever encountered.” — Laura Kilvington

“The audiobook, read by Sean Barrett, is the best audio performance I have ever heard; he snuffles and sniffles his way to greatness and you almost believe he is inhaling bliss, or the essence of a stone. I once almost destroyed a dinner party by putting it on for “five minutes,” after which nobody wanted to stop listening.” — Roger Ebert


Why You should Read it:

  1. You will be torn by this book. You will find yourself actually liking and sympathising with the monstrous odd murderer.
  2. You will be lead to believe that all those exotic smells actually exist in the world and will change how you see ordinary things at least for a day or two
  3. The movie is also an amazing feat of art. ANd you should not watch the amazing movie without reading this stunning book. You will enjoy the movie tenfold after reading it.
  4. It is erotic beyond belief. And is also a new brand of erotic – one based on smell and not on sight.

Why I loved it:

  1. The class of the writer, Suskind is peerless in sheer story telling ability and mastery. Every sentence was captivating, intense and filled with life. Every emotion going on in the unfathomable head of the protagonist who thinks with different senses is somehow conveyed to us.
  2. For how it made me keep questioning the morality of Grenouille’s actions. I kept on moving between approving of his murders by understanding the reason and thinking about how he is absolved because from his perspective he really is doing nothing wrong and the conventional morality of being outraged at murder.
  3. It took me back to the place I was in after watching Memento. Morally there was just no reconciling the character as good or bad. It is frustrating and exhilarating. After all, the fundamental theme of any book I would like to write would again be the absence of morality and how it is just a construct of circumstances and perspective… but I digress.
  4. It reminded me very very strongly of The Picture of Dorian Grey which I am a big fan of. To top, it is so very Dickensian in its approach to story telling.


That is it for today folks! See you tomorrow! Hope you enjoy the picks!


PS. For readers from inside campus, a small bonus package is provided! The movie and the book can be lent from me personally from my username at DC++, please understand that I am only lending you the copy and you are advised to delete the copy of the movie/book after usage. The details will be updated along with the posts.

Disclaimer: This blog does not support the propagation of pirated material in any way and the books and movies are to be lent on a personal basis only. [ Just in case 🙂 ]

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7 Comments

Posted by on February 20, 2011 in Book Reviews, Books, Movie Discussions, Movie Reviews, Movies

 

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The Mad & The Bad: Your Daily Dose of Entertainment

The MAD Project

The Movie-A-Day Project

 

Enjoy with MAD

 

A New Movie Recommendation will be updated here every day. Every day will be allotted a genre after the first week of MAD is completed.

The archives will be updated in the MAD page accessible from the “Movies ” menu above.

The recommendation will be followed by a small overview, a micro review from me on why I think you should watch it and excerpts from reviews in popular review sites.

Today’s MAD Recommendation

MOVIE: GET SHORTY

IMDb link: Get Shorty (1995) – IMDb

IMDb General Rating: 6.9/10

My IMDb Rating: 7/10

Genre: Crime, Comedy

Plot:

Chili Palmer is a loan shark working out of Miami, but he really doesn’t like it. He hates having to work with scum, especially Ray “Bones” Barboni, a local wiseguy who has been feuding with Chili for 12 years over a leather coat. Truth be told, Chili would much rather be making movies.

So when a dry-cleaner named Leo who owes Chili a few thousand dollars fakes his own death, rips-off his insurance company and heads for L.A., Chili sees a golden opportunity.
Partnering with Harry Zimm, a small-time producer most famous for his “Slime Creatures” series, and Karen Allen, a former scream-queen who desperately wants to produce, Chili plans to make a major motion picture starring two-time Academy Award-winner Michael Weir.

But there’s a few little problems with getting “Mr. Lovejoy” into production: Ray Bones has come to town, looking for Chili and the few grand that Leo owes him. Harry Zimm owes money to a group of drug-dealers led by Bo Cattlett, a criminal who is as ruthless as he is stupid. A gang of Colombian smugglers are sniffing around looking for their money, which is currently in an airport locker under D.E.A. surveillance, and, perhaps worst of all, Michael Weir is more interested in making a movie about Chili Palmer than he is in a Harry Zimm picture…

 

Reviews:


“Practically perfect in its unpretentious way, MGM’s Get Shorty is the kind of smart, witty, polished entertainment that restores one’s faith in the studio system.” — Film.com

“Hailed by many critics as one of the best films of 1995, this finely tuned black comedy sparked a renewed interest in movies based on books by prolific crime novelist Elmore Leonard, whose trademark combination of tight plotting and sharp humor is perfectly captured here.” — rottentomatoes


Why You should Watch it:

  1. First of all, look at the cast – John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito.
  2. Then of course Elmore Leonard, need I say more?

Why I loved it:

  1. For it’s intriguing and sarcastic take on how movies are made.
  2. For the Awesome Climax!
  3. For the comic timing of Travolta
  4. Mostly because I loved the book!
Warning: If you prefer books to movies, you should try the book first!

_______________________________________________________________________

The BAD Project

The Book-A-Day Project

 

A New Book Recommendation will be updated here every day. A short overview, a personal explanation and excerpts from popular reviews of the book will be included.

 

Which one to Pick???

Today’s BAD Recommendation

BOOK: STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

GoodReads link: Stranger in a Strange Land

GoodReads General Rating: 3.75/15

My GoodReads Rating: 5/5

Genre: Science Fiction, Novel


Stranger in a Strange Land

 

Plot:

Stranger in a Strange Land is the epic saga of an earthling, Valentine Michael Smith, born and educated on Mars, who arrives on our planet with psi powers – telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, telekinesis, teleportation, pyrolysis, and the ability to take control of the minds of others – and complete innocence regarding the mores of man.

After his tutelage under a surrogate-father figure, Valentine begins his transformation into a messiah figure. His introduction into Earth society, together with his exceptional abilities, lead Valentine to become many things to many people: freak, scam artist, media commodity, searcher, free-love pioneer, neon evangelist, and martyr.

Heinlein won his third Hugo award for this novel, sometimes called Heinlein’s earthly “divine comedy.

 

Reviews:


“The first half of this novel is so amazing to me… The story of Valentine Michael Smith’s re-introduction to Earth life is such a great view of humans from the outside, that I can see why this book affected a generation. It poetically shows us our strengths, and our flaws. …oh that first half…”  — Deven Science

“A brilliant mind-bender.”–Kurt Vonnegut.


Why You should Watch it:

  1. Have you ever heard the word “Grok” and wondered what it is? Like many influential works of literature, Stranger made a contribution to the English language: specifically, the word “grok
  2. The Characters – Jubal and Smith are probably the two most powerful characters you will come across in science fiction literature.
  3. To understand Iron Maiden
  4. I think you get it – The book is too influential to not be read!

Why I loved it:

  1. “Although the narrative of Stranger in a Strange Land operates on many different levels, one obvious interpretation of Mike’s story would be as a postmodern retelling of the Jesus story. Before the novel even begins, we see that the title of Part One is “His Maculate Conception,” a satirical reference to the mythology of Christ’s immaculate conception.”
  2. The philosophy of it. it captivated me. How Heinlein managed to show us humanity seen from a stranger’s eyes…
  3. Also, I couldn’t stop using “I Grok You” to everybody for days 🙂
  4. The Book’s take on sexuality… Hmm, I don’t think I will elaborate on that now.

 

That is it for today folks! See you tomorrow! Hope you enjoy the picks!


PS. For readers from inside campus, a small bonus package is provided! The movie and the book can be lent from me personally from my username at DC++, please understand that I am only lending you the copy and you are advised to delete the copy of the movie/book after usage. The details will be updated along with the posts.

Disclaimer: This blog does not support the propagation of pirated material in any way and the books and movies are to be lent on a personal basis only. [Just in case :)]

Follow Me on Twitter

 
11 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2011 in Book Reviews, Books, Movie Discussions, Movie Reviews, Movies

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
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