A movie detour

Holiday is a time to experience optionality: we stray from standard paths and take detours. We de-frag and bootstrap our minds. We take time to explore things that pass us by in everyday routine.

By now you have probably worked out that I’m on holiday 🙂 !!!

Stuck on a long flight, I immediately went off course by choosing to watch three not-so-recently-broadcast movies: at home, I rarely go to the cinema or watch TV, with the embarrassing exception of historical soap Downton Abbey on a Sunday night.

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I have always been fascinated by the peaceful co-existence of opposites. Our rational minds like us to think black or white, but the world around us thrives on the dynamic relationship of conflicting models, a bit like work vs holiday: in standard physics we observe linear behaviours of “paths of least resistance”, while in quantum mechanics we intuit the infinite possibilities of particle paths; in economics we drown in “rational” forecasts, but cognitive science informs us of the ever-presence of irrational behaviour in our decision making; in language, our brains can easily cope with the equal-and-opposite-meaning of identical words – think of “wicked”.

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Now back to the movies: I really enjoyed the first one, The Chef. It is a cool cinematic metaphor of what I wrote above: we spend years working hard on things we say we enjoy (and we do enjoy them at least to the extent that they give us a sense of pride, incremental learning and financial security), but sometimes we forget about the things we LOVE. Or indeed we rediscover love and passion after the catharsis of a few years of routine. The “back-to-basics” voyage of “El Jefe” made me smile as it resonated with some of my recent experiences.

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The second one was – as they say in my adopted kingdom – “a bit pants”. Noah appealed to me because it would allow me to sail through more than two hours of boring air travel and because of that men’s man that is Russell Crowe. At his zenith, when he was Decimus Maximus Meridius, he inspired me so much I set out to translate the whole movie into Latin (…curious? Check this out). But as Noah he only managed to remind me about that other watery mega-flop, Waterworld.

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I was attracted to the third one, Edge of tomorrow, for exactly the opposite reasons than number two: you are tired, you want to park your brain but you need stay awake another 113′. I LOVED IT! This is Back to the future on acid, with a Tom Cruise that strangely delivers again on the action front, perhaps because he is learning to take more edgy, less obvious, self-ironic roles (have you seen him on Black Thunder?). The movie is also a powerful reminder of a famous saying attributed to Niels Bohr: “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field” – so long, of course, as one doesn’t die trying (or perhaps not*).
*you can only understand this if you have seen the movie.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed my non-linear detour as a movie critic… “That’s all, folks!”

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