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The space research discussion came after a passing mention of Christopher Nolan's new movie Interstellar, which I have now seen.

I found both the acting and the visuals spectacular, but for a film proud of having had a scientific adviser, by the end the tired old pseudo-scientific munbo-jumbo was too much for me: the talk of gravity 'being the only thing transcending time and space' and thus useful for information time travel, of love as a distinct force of Nature in a 5D world, stuff like that.

Still, the film is to be praised for the first half-way correct portrayal of a black hole (on its edges you should see what's behind it) and at least the entrance of a wormhole (no 2D surface but a sphere that's a looking glass on the other side) on the big screen. Interstellar is a return to 2001: Space Odyssey after Star Wars-inspired portrayals of space (and there are plenty of homages to Kubrick's classic).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 21st, 2014 at 02:56:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of films: at long last I watched the 1979 English gangster epic The Long Good Friday, which I wanted to see ever since ChrisCook posted a YouTube video with its ending.

This is the film in which Bob Hoskins (whom I only knew for his later, mostly comedic roles) shows the acting of his life as a gangster boss trying to become a legal businessman, and in which young Pierce Brosman left enough impression in a role with a single "Hi" as the only spoken word to establish his career in film, but Helen Mirren as the brain behind the brawn was just as impressive.

I read in advance that the film was prophetic in capturing the spirit of the coming Thatcher era. This included the very project Hoskins's gangster wanted to start to become a 'legal businessman': re-developing London's Docklands district (which happened in reality, on an even grander scale than imagined in the film). And here it got personal for me: as a child I visited London in 1980 (on a grand trip of Western Europe with my family) and we also took a walk across the Docklands, and I recognised where on the grand camera pan early in the film (shot just a year before we were there); now all of this is history.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 21st, 2014 at 03:13:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I, too, thought that was a fabulous film. Oddly enough, Hoskin's gangster's attitude of dismissal toward the issues posed by Brosnan's people reminded me strongly of the saying "you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you."  His expression while riding in the car, when he realized how wrong he had been to ignore them, was perfect.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2014 at 05:37:07 PM EST
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It's many years since I saw the film but my memory suggests that Brosnan was making a power play and was using the sourcing of weapons from the IRA as a way to remove the leader.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2014 at 09:01:37 AM EST
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Brosnan was only one member of a hitman team sent in revenge for IRA deaths. At the start of the film, a subordinate of the gangster boss takes some "revolutionary tax" to Northern Ireland, steals from it before handing it over, and then someone kills the IRA men just when they counted the money and noticed the missing amount; later on, it is told that the IRA concluded that the gangster boss was behind the killings. Later on the gangster boss thinks he dealt with the IRA problem by murdering the two men who ran the IRA's London representation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Nov 22nd, 2014 at 10:54:13 AM EST
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I think it was a slightly different take: the gangster saw politics as a corrupt business which can be bought or threatened like any other business, and refused to listen to subordinates who warned him that the IRA are fanatics and thus in a different league. (In that, the film was again prophetic: the IRA did prove to be a greater menace in London, too, than the gangsters of the 1960s ever were.)

I read the film failed to find a distributor for one year due to the IRA angle.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Nov 22nd, 2014 at 10:58:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I add that not long after the space research discussion, the three guests got into a twenty-minute discussion of divorce law, during which I wondered: who cares that deeply about such a boring subject!? (None of them were divorced and all of them were engineers, not lawyers.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 21st, 2014 at 03:21:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They must have had divorce at the back of their minds...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2014 at 03:28:58 PM EST
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It is a good starting point to complain that woman have all the advantages nowadays
by IM on Sun Nov 23rd, 2014 at 12:38:57 PM EST
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