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Archive for January, 2019

X+Y” (2014)  —  movie review, released in the US as “A Brilliant Young Mind” (2015)
Today’s review is for the 2014 / 2015 movie “X+Y“, aka: “A Brilliant Young Mind“.  The movie stars Asa Butterfield as Nathan Ellis (autistic math genius), Rafe Spall as Martin Humphreys (Nathan’s tutor), Sally Hawkins as Julie Ellis (Nathan’s mum), Eddie Marsan as Richard (UK tutor), Jo Yang as Zhang Mei (Nathan’s love interest), Martin McCann as Michael Ellis (Nathan’s dad), Jake Davies as Luke Shelton (mocked math genius), Alex Lawther as Isaac Cooper (mocking math genius), Alexa Davies as Rebecca Dunn (Piano girl / jealous crush).
There is something called the “International Mathematics Olympiad” (IMO) which brings together all of the maths geniuses from around the world to compete on their respective national teams.  It seems China is the historically dominant power at this event.
Nathan is an autistic maths wiz.  The only person he is close with is his dad who dies in a car accident.  The accident makes Nathan even more reclusive / eccentric than he was before.
Nathan’s mum (the fish lady / maid in “The Shape of Water“) is not able to relate with her son and finally gets a piece of relief by shipping him off to compete in the IMO.  Nathan’s tutor (Martin) is himself a “failed” maths prodigy and slowly builds a relationship with Nathan and his mum.  Eddie Marsan plays the UK team manager who’s only concern is for the team to beat the Chinese team. Zhang Mei is Nathan’s “love” interest.  He slowly pries Nathan from his turtle shell.  Martin McCann is Nathan’s dad and is the only one who sees him as special and not weird.  At least that is how Nathan feels.  The final three main characters (Luke, Isaac and Rebecca) are other “kids” on the IMO team who are meant to demonstrate some other levels of autism or to act as a kind of alternative love interest.
Is this movie any good?  Does it say anything about math?  Does it say anything about kids?  Does it say anything about autism?  Yes, a little, nothing new, and I don’t know.
I really enjoyed this movie. I got interested in it a while back when I saw Butterfield in “Ender’s War” and thought I’d look out for any of his other work.  (I’ve seen the previews for this film and the bits and bobs available on YouTube and have been waiting for this movie to become available on cable or on Vudu.)  Now I’ve seen him in two very good roles and it will be interesting to see if he develops into a good adult actor or if he fades.  As with “Ender”, Asa plays the straight role well and the emotional role almost as well.  I don’t really understand autism, so I can’t say how accurately he portrayed the ending transformation.  My gut feeling was it was too Hollywood and not realistic, but that just may be me.
The movie relates math to various aspects of the real world: pattern recognition, music, art, architecture, philosophy and love.  They were not main points of the film though, so if you blink, you may miss a couple of them.
I don’t think this movie says anything original about kids.  Certainly nothing you couldn’t get from a half-dozen other movies starting with “Lord of the Flies”.  Yes, kids are mean and pick on other kids who may be viewed as somehow “different”.
As mentioned above, Nathan is “transformed” at the end of the movie.  I doubt autism is cured on the road to Damascus, so I didn’t care for the resolution / summing up.  It just seemed too tidy for my taste.  Apparently, the movie is based on a real-life person and his reaction to viewing the film was: I am a maths wiz.  I am not a rain man.  For me, to the extent the movie related Nathan’s love for math, I felt it stood on firmer ground.
Final recommendation: very strong to highly. I do have an “unusual” fondness for movies with even the slightest math / science / computing theme, so you have to take this recommendation with the normal grain of salt you take my reviews…   (LOL)  I’m not usually a big fan of hazy / distorted filming to represent the perception of genius, but in this case, it worked pretty well.  I liked the acting, the story and loose correlation of math to music, color, flow and pattern recognition.  I will watch it again in the future.
One final note: I got to see this movie for free!  I joined my local library (re-joined) and they have a pretty interesting selection of movies you can stream just for being a member of the library.  It saved me having to purchase a movie I really wanted to see.  They do limit my viewing to eight per calendar month, but it still seems a great deal to me!  Who knew??
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On This Day In:
2018 And May Never Be
2017 Don’t Forget
2016 I Was A Percentage Man
2015 It Waits Patiently
2014 Unknown
2013 Explaining Love?
2012 Echoes of 1%
2011 Salaam, Egypt!!
Where Do You Learn?
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To achieve satisfaction in everything desire it in nothing.  To possess everything, desire to have nothing.  To be everything, desire to be nothing.  To know everything, desire to know nothing.
  —  John of the Cross
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On This Day In:
2018 And May Never Be
2017 Don’t Forget
2016 I Was A Percentage Man
2015 It Waits Patiently
2014 Unknown
2013 Explaining Love?
2012 Echoes of 1%
2011 Salaam, Egypt!!
Where Do You Learn?

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If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple.  But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
  ―  George Bernard Shaw
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On This Day In:
2018 Disciplined Models
2017 We Cannot Afford Enemies
2016 Love Is Just A State Of Mind
2015 Waiting?
2014 Big C, Little B (II)
Where God Has Not
2013 Chasing His Dragon
Shaped And Molded
2012 Believe In Yourself
2011 Cultural Equivalence
Why Not?
Books About Books
The Basis For Adult Continuing Education

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He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you.  He really is an idiot.
   ―  Groucho Marx
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On This Day In:
2018 Trying To Stay Young
2017 Seems Reasonable To Me
2016 We Can Get Through This Together (In Time)
2015 How Long Is A Piece Of String?
2014 Heathen, n.
2013 Wisdom’s Folly
2012 When The Student Is Ready
Disconnected Leadership
2011 The Complex Richness Of Life

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The Punisher” (2018 – Season 2) — series review
Caution: “some” spoilers in this review.  If you intend to view the series, stop now…  You’ve been warned.  Also, much of this review is the same as / similar to my review of season one.
This is a Marvel Comics Universe “TV” series appearing on NetFlix.  The “Punisher” character was introduced in the (recently cancelled) “DareDevil” series (in season two) – and pretty much took it over – and this review is for the second season of his (the Punisher’s) series.  Basically, (in season 1) the family of a military expert is killed and he takes revenge against the killers.  He leaves one guy, who he promises (“threatens”) to come back for.  Blah, blah, blah.  Segue to season two…  So, now the guy who survived season one escapes from the mental hospital and the Punisher has to finish the job.
Ok, that’s pretty much what I expected from the end of season one…  And, it’s almost what you get in season 2.  The thing about the “Punisher” series is it is NEVER about the dozens of people he kills.  It is ALWAYS about “justice” for the guys behind the violent criminals.  The ones who are actually pulling the strings.  (And in this series, discovery means execution.)  In DareDevil, it was finding out who had his family executed.  In season one, it was about who actually did the executions.  Because that season ended in a non-fatal way, the antagonist could be a returning villain, but they could not be the “main” baddie.  Like season one, a new string-puller has to be introduced: in this case a husband and wife team who use religion to make themselves wealthy and powerful.  And, then they have a puppet (on a string)…
This season, the series still stars Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle / Punisher, Ben Barnes returns to the second season as Billy Russo (Frank’s wartime friend who was the bad guy in season 1), Amber Rose Revah returns as Dinah Madani (Homeland Security Officer), Corbin Bernsen and Annette O’Toole as Anderson and Eliza Schultz (the “real” bad guys for this season), Josh Stewart plays John Pilgrim (the hyper-violent “religious” puppet of the Schultz’s), Giorgia Whigham plays Amy Bendix (the “innocent” who must be protected by Castle), Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle (the Vet “do-gooder” medic), and Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page (a carry over from Daredevil).
The season is dark but not as dark as the first season.  Literally.  There just seemed to be a lot more daylight / outdoor scenes.  But the killing is mostly done at night or in darker / indoors lighting.  (I think it’s meant to be a metaphor, but it’s easy to make this type of show more sophisticated than it really is: always remember, it’s “just” a comic book adaptation.)  The series continues to try to deal with a host of issues, “BIG” philosophical issues, from right and wrong, to innocence, vigilantism, friendship, personal loss, and a rather bizarre attitude that “justice” almost always ends with violence – particularly gun violence.  While the depiction of gun violence is pretty accurate, the depiction of physical recovery remains essentially: “and then a miracle happens.”  There are scars, but recovery (from blows, gun shot wounds, knife cuts and broken bones) is almost instantaneous.  Like I said: comic book…
Does it work and is it any good?  If you like this kind of thing (same as season one: explosions, excessive violence, explosions, hand-to-hand combat, lots and lots of guns and gun fire, and did I mention explosions), and I do, then you’ll continue to enjoy this series.  And, I did.  The question was: is it any good and was it better than season one?  Everything I said about season one remains true: “As a comic book adaptation, it is very good.  As an action / adventure / who-dun-it, it’s pretty good.  As a realistic portrayal of armed and unarmed combat, uh, it’s a comic book…”
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  This season is rated higher than season one because they let the actors act more and kill / maim less (slightly).  In typical Marvel fashion, Billy Russo “almost” becomes a sympathetic character as we are introduced to his childhood and his earlier relationship with Castle.  Again, the series is definitely for mature audiences ONLY.  It feels strange to say (admit) it, but I (again) enjoyed the acting and the story more than I did the violence.  I particularly enjoyed the four part twist at the end of the season.  This was a better season and I hope Marvel and NetFlix give “The Punisher” another season to see where Castle’s wandering takes us.
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On This Day In:
2018 Choose Goodness
2017 Developing Translations
2016 Think Like A Hero
2015 Reductionism
2014 Gravitation, n.
2013 Ups And Downs
2012 Nerd Heard – And Good-Bye
Your Continuum
2011 Career Tips (Part 2)

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Make your own Bible.  Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.
  ―  Ralph Waldo Emerson
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On This Day In:
2018 Choose Goodness
2017 Developing Translations
2016 Think Like A Hero
2015 Reductionism
2014 Gravitation, n.
2013 Ups And Downs
2012 Nerd Heard – And Good-Bye
Your Continuum
2011 Career Tips (Part 2)

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Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.
  ―  Ralph Waldo Emerson
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On This Day In:
2018 Simple
2017 Knowledge Pays
2016 Brief Glimpses And Full Glances
2015 Pursuing Perspective
2014 Wearing Down?
2013 Labouring Under A Curse
2012 Listen To Yourself
2011 Career Tips (Part 1)
No Captain Dunsel

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