Movie: Collision: Christopher Hitchens vs Douglas Wilson
A bit of an unusual movie screening, this one: a church in Newtown arranged for a screening of this documentary at the Dendy in Newtown.
Matt had mentioned this film to me recently as one that took an unusual approach. Instead of showing simply the debates between renowned atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian pastor / scholar Doug Wilson, it follows them on a multi-state tour of various venues where they were promoting a book that they had co-authored: Is Christianity Good for the World? (affiliate link). Excerpts from a series of debates are interspersed with footage of them chatting in general, and some background on Wilson’s home-life (the footage of Hitchens’ home-life is limited to a brief tour of his library).
After the screening, there was a brief moderated discussion between (centre for public Christianity director) Dr Greg Clarke, and (UNSW Philosophy lecturer) Dr Peter Slezak.
The whole thing (both the film, and the debate afterward) was conducted with remarkable respect on both sides: while ideas were attacked, the people in general respected each other.
If you’re curious about the movie, I bought a copy of the DVD – there was so much content in there, I felt it needed a second viewing to take it all in.
[ Aaron Swartz ] How Aaron Swarts Hires Programmers is a little different to the traditional multi-phase interview approach. Looks like it would do a better job of making a cohesive team, but may prove troubling for larger organisations as it doesn’t tick all the HR boxes.
[ gavin ] Anti-telemarketing EGBG counterscript – turn the tables on an unwelcome call by following these instructions
This Liam Neeson as lead in an action movie business works about as well as you might hope – he certainly handles himself well in the various sequences which themselves owe a lot to the recent Jason Bourne trilogy, and perhaps a hat-tip to The Transporter as well.
It was a review by Mark Kermode that persuaded me to watch this: he tore shreds from it, and left with the question “who’s driving the boat?” which is – granted – something of a plot hole in a film that honestly doesn’t bear much close inspection.
The underlying topic area of human trafficking, itself deserving more publicity, awareness, and – dare I say – to be brought to an end is really just the vehicle for an action movie in the same way that the cold war or apartheid were in films of previous decades: though there are a couple of scenes that touch on this, the issue is never properly discussed.
The film also carries the message that it’s not possible to be an honest worker and a successful family man with kids: the loving father in the film (himself deeply flawed) traded time with family for being an honest worker: other fathers in the film have much darker character flaws.
If you’re looking for an action film in the vein of Payback, though with a slight underlying purpose, with weak characterisation, laughable dialogue, that ticks the majority of the action boxes, then this will amply suit. Perhaps it’s my dark sense of humour, but the line “apologise to your wife for me” brought for me the biggest laugh in the film.
An animation illustrating the worsening face of unemployment in the USA.
Book: A Book of Endings
It’s not often I get to read a book where I know the author. Reading an introduction written by another author where your friend is referred to by surname, and has many positive things said about them is an unusual experience indeed, but certainly made me curious to read the book.
In this case, it’s a book of short stories, each around an “ending” theme, be it the end of the world, the end of a character’s life, or the end of a relationship. Reading this collection has made me want to read more short stories – it’s a writing form with so much potential to entertain in such a short space of time.
Here the characterisations are vivid, the places (when the premise for the story allows it) are clearly portrayed, giving a greater sense of realism to the surreal plot element around which the story is based.
I can’t claim that I understood what was going on in every story – a couple of them confused me, but even there, I enjoyed the puzzling journey. If you can get a copy of this book, and you can cope with stories that are often very dark indeed, this book will repay the reading.
DVD: Tropic Thunder
I missed this one when it was out on the big screen, but finally managed to track it down as a weekly rental (the movies get to weekly rental pretty quick these days). It was as expected.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s a Ben Stiller-directed action/comedy about a misfit group of actors (Hollywood actors playing parody versions of other Hollywood actors) working on a troubled action film.
Part of the comedy comes from the film’s parody of action-movie cliches, another part from the crass humour that’s employed, and then the film attempts to have some more dramatic substance than an average action film.
With all these genres in play, along with a huge budget for the action effects (visually, it could rival a real action film), it feels a bit disjointed, and trying to do too many things, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyable journey.
If you have thought about sponsoring me for Movember, to help raise money to fight prostate cancer and men’s depression, but haven’t acted on that thought, there’s still time to donate.
Single Origin coffee. 379 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe. Having now been open a couple of months, it seems that this place has found its groove. With the feel of a converted old milkbar: subdued lighting and a metal roller-door guarding the entrance, there’s a sense of history about the place.
The staff, though helpful and accommodating, are not completely knowledgeable about the menu, which is a little odd: there’s not so much there that it would be confusing. As far as pricing, the full breakfast (available all day) is $14.
There’s a little Sunbeam grinder off to the side for decaf – a suggestion that they’re not expecting to sell a lot of decaf, but at least they have the grinder!
Coffee is good enough – a thick head of foam and an earthy flavour.