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Posts Tagged ‘Mathematics’

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
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2015 It Waits Patiently
2014 Unknown
2013 Explaining Love?
2012 Echoes of 1%
2011 Salaam, Egypt!!
Where Do You Learn?

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Philosophy is a game with objectives and no rules.  Mathematics is a game with rules and no objectives.
  —  Anonymous
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On This Day In:
2017 Which Did You Learn?
2016 Shape And Limit
2015 Me Either
2014 Just Business
2013 Beautiful Adventure
2012 Precedence
2011 Ya Think?

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After years of finding mathematics easy, I finally reached integral calculus and came up against a barrier.  I realized that this was as far as I could go, and to this day I have never successfully gone beyond it in any but the most superficial way.
  —  Isaac Asimov
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On This Day In:
2017 And The Future Is Now
2016 I Am
2015 Positively Aiming Higher
2014 Suspicious Minds
2013 We Are Not Alone
2012 Lawyer, n.
2011 Each Day Remember…
2010 Impossible Dreams of Camelot

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A Beautiful Mind  (2001)  —  movie review
This movie asks the question: is it possible to separate genius from insanity?  The movie is an adaptation of the book (biography) of the same name written by Sylvia Nasar.  The movie relates the story of American mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr.  Nash won the Nobel Prize (shared actually) for Economics in 1994 for work he did back in 1950 on “Game Theory” – more specifically on non-cooperative games.  Russell Crowe, of “Gladiator” fame, stars as Nash and Jennifer Connelly stars as his long suffering wife, Alicia Nash.  Long suffering because she cared for him most of his adult life as Nash himself suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
I read the book (way back when) and I bought and watched the DVD, too, but really didn’t remember either in much detail.  About all I remembered was the bit about agreeing to work in your own self interest as long as it doesn’t detract from the total group interest of the group you belong to.  In other words, you can do anything you want to do as long what you do doesn’t hurt your team.  In a world which had long accepted “dog-eat-dog” / “me first” as the fundamental of economic theory, this was a shock.  Essentially, it means if we all benefit (more or less) from “the game”, no one should try to destroy the game to keep anyone else from winning or from benefitting a little more than everyone else.  At least, this is the rational course of action.
The movie is beautifully shot and Connelly is simultaneously drop-dead gorgeous and sympathetic in her role.  I must admit to not being a big Crowe fan.  I haven’t seen many of his films, so my opinion is somewhat biased here, but I think this was the first movie where I thought, “Wow!  This guy CAN act.”  What I really found interesting was that there is “chemistry” between the two leads, but it didn’t strike me as sexual chemistry – even when it was meant to by the scenes.  They “seemed” to me to be adult friends who genuinely cared about each other – loved rather than being in love.  Either way, I thought they were both excellent in their respective roles.
Maybe I understand the concept of the Nash Equilibrium better than before, even if I still have no clue about the math behind it.  Final recommendation: moderate to strong recommendation.  I don’t really feel like I understand schizophrenia any more than before watching this movie.  I’m not sure if we are meant to.  Nash himself said it was difficult to separate the delusions from the real because both the delusions and his mathematical genius both came from the same place: his mind.  Is it possible to separate genius from insanity?  The answer seems to be: only with love.
…My quest has taken me through the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional, and back.  And I’ve made the most important discovery of my life.  It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logical reasons can be found.
     —  John Nash
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On This Day In:
2015 He Says It’s Hard To Get There From Here
2014 Question From A Founding Father
2013 Make Heroes
2012 See And Hold
2011 Am Not, Are So

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I myself figured out the peculiar form of mathematics and harmonies that was strange to all the world but me.
 —  Fred “Jelly Roll” Morton
This quote was found in the book: “Perfect Figures” by Bunny Crumpacker
[Check him out on YouTube. You’ll be glad you did… — KMAB]
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Music is the arithmetic of sounds as optics is the geometry of light.
 —  Claude Debussey
This quote was found in the book: “Perfect Figures” by Bunny Crumpacker
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Besides, what if a study is not of earth-shaking importance?  If it stimulates the imagination and whets the appetite for more, is not that enough?  Do we dare to hope that this book has done as much for you?  Have we cast a little light on what was formerly dim, so that you now wish you knew more about some of these things?
 

The path is endless, but many rewards are offered along the way.  One could do worse than follow the gleam of numbers.
 

—  C. Stanley Ogilvy and John T. Anderson
from their book: “Excursions In Number Theory
 

[The pursuit of truth and knowledge is always endless.  The reward is the path as well as the goal, irrespective of importance, and is enough.  —  KMAB]
 

 

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