Saturday, January 22, 2022

Of course afterlife exists. Afterlife 3 by Ricky Gervais review.


I enjoyed Afterlife 3, written and directed by Ricky Gervais.

As is well known, Mr. Gervais is an atheist. In Afterlife 3, however, there seemed to be a nod at the idea of the afterlife, in an attempt to be humane, rather than ideologically pure, in the script and acting.

After all we are all in this together, this life on the earth, and the gist of the attitude is to share. The symbolic bench scenes capture the spirit of coming together, acknowledging each other's miseries and imperfections.

If there is a young soul who has a genuine interest in the afterlife, what should one do but to convey a warm heart through kind words? In one of the unforgettable moments of the series, Mr. Gerais says that he believes there is an afterlife to a child who is undergoing chemotherapy. A true sign of humanity.

The lemon scene in episode 2 was brilliant deep, signaling a watershed moment in the psyche of the series, foretelling the enigmatic but deeply satisfying final scene of people and a dog walking on the greens. A superb ending to the whole series. 


Saturday, January 08, 2022

The Lost Daughter. Life is actually about a lost doll.


The Lost Daughter, written and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, is a complexly rich statement on womanhood and motherhood. There is that enigma about the doll, which remained unresolved until the end. However, rather than giving an exact landing point for the doll mystery, it would be more appropriate to leave it there, like life's many intricacies that just happen and leave us fundamentally changed in the process.

Life is actually about a lost doll.

The stellar performances of the mature (Olivia Colman) and young (Jessie Buckley) Leda are unforgettable, the latter reminding me again of the superb film I'm thinking of Ending things.

A Psychodrama succeeds when it depicts fully the extent of the complexity of depth of the human mind as it happens, not within the confinements of ethics and ideologies ("humans are and should be like this" and that kind of thing), and The Lost Daughter does just that. 


Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Seeing Tokyo Story is a great training for not crying in public.


On 26th of December last year (2021), I had the delight of viewing Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story in Cinema Onomichi. Onomichi, needless to say, is the place where the beginning and the end of the film was located. It was magical to walk out of the cinema, just after the film finished, into the real Onomichi of today. The sun was setting, and everything was embraced in golden reddish light. The sudden transformation appeared to present before me the magic of the cinema and the world we live in at the same time. I could almost cry.

I did not weep, as I had to give a public lecture soon afterwards. Seeing Tokyo Story is a great training for not crying in public. For me, it seems that I tend to shed some tears when I feel that I have touched some truths in an abrupt manner. Just being exposed to a sad scene does not trigger that magic circuit in me. With Tokyo Story, there are many scenes which reveal generic human truth, so there is a genuine risk of weeping in public, albeit in the comfort of the darkness of the theater. I did weep rather heavily when I saw Tokyo Story in London, while I was doing postdoc in University of Cambridge. I felt that the dry crack within me was filled with serene water. 

Monday, January 03, 2022

The power of the dog then leaves an unforgettable impression, like the soil under our feet from which greens flourish and flowers bloom.



A few days after viewing The Power of the Dog, my mind is still vibrating in the recollected afterglow of impressions I received from this film. The casting is superb, and I do think it is Benedict Cumberbatch's best performance in career so far.

There is something enigmatic about the film, and I do not claim to have deciphered the mystery. I think the taming of the wild and unpredictable, the power of the dog, is a common theme in contemporary society with which we can all identify and shiver. It is a nuisance and should be cleverly phased out. And yet, we see at the same time that love, life's vital forces, and a sense of community all arise because of the power of the dog, which we utilise and then shamelessly discard. The power of the dog then leaves an unforgettable impression, like the soil under our feet from which greens flourish and flowers bloom. 

The score by Jonny Greenwood was very original, eerily piercing, and totally profound.

 


Sunday, January 02, 2022

Albert's Regrets.

For some time, I have been thinking of writing a fictional work titled Albert's Regrets. When you think of the life of Albert Einstein, you would think that his greatest regret scientifically has been the fact that he could not complete his unified theory of physics. He might regret his treatment of his first wife, Mileva, both on personal and professional terms. Some estimate that Mileva contributed to theory of relativity much more than is usually thought.

Albert's greatest regret, however, would have been the signing of the letter to President Roosevelt to develop the atomic bomb. There was historical urgency to do so, to be sure. On the other hand, when you know Einstein's deeply pacifist views, he would have been the last person you would expect to be involved in such a conduct. So there is a genuinely profound food for thought in the circumstances in which Albert Einstein wrote that crucial letter.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Ecological sharing in bonsai.



I wrote about this in my forthcoming book The Way of Nagomi, and I think the editor did not cut it (although at this particular moment I am not that sure). I think the Japanese art of bonsai is a great way for plants to share the ecological space.

When you see a great tree, it is all beautiful. At the same time, it means that the tree has a monopoly on the ecological niche. When you have bonsai, a tree can fulfil its life potentials in a limited space while allowing other entities to enjoy the adjacent spaces. 

This, I think, is the most beautiful aspect of bonsai.