## domingo, março 18, 2018

### Eigen-stuff Applied to Buridan's Ass: “Dichronauts” by Greg Egan

When I read an Egan's book I cannot tackle it on a purely literary level. Egan's fiction makes me think about things I didn't know I wanted to think about. This is another one of those novels with a mind-boggling universe.

Egan's world has far consequences:

The space won't be isotropic any more. Thus, things would behave differently if you rotate them around the zz-axis and any linear combination of xx and yy. The laws of the physics would behave differently in the different (space) directions.

On the Noether theorem, the symmetries of the Universe have a deep connection to its conservation laws. The isotropy of the space results the conservation of angular momentum. In a non-isotropic Universe, the angular momentum isn't a conserved quantity any more. Any effect will be instant around any direction, for which dx2+dy2-dz2=0dx2+dy2-dz2=0. It would effectively mean, that moving any point-like particle on such an axis, you get the same system. This would be a new symmetry, which would result a new conservation law, what doesn't exist in our Universe. To calculate, which conservation law is it, is complex but it doesn't require much more math/physics skills as in the high school.

Note: this all depends on if the (non-curved) space-time of your Universe is still governed by the Special Relativity, as ours.

NB: Things would significantly change if you calculate what happens with the gravitation, too. Gravitation changes the geometry of the spacetime, thus the distances wouldn't be calculated like ds2=dx2+dy2-dz2-dt2ds2=dx2+dy2-dz2-dt2, instead you have a tensor (essentially a table) for which
ds2=dr--??????gxxgyxgzxgtxgxygyygzygtygxzgyzgzzgtzgxtgytgztgtt??????dr--
ds2=dr_[gxxgxygxzgxtgyxgyygyzgytgzxgzygzzgztgtxgtygtzgtt]dr_
gn1n2gn1n2 is determined by the mass and impulse distributions, it is essentially the General Relativity analogy of the gravitational field. For small (much lighter as black holes) and slow (much slower as speed of light) you get the Newtonian gravitation from it.

It is possible, that near strongly gravitational objects the space-time would be multidimensional again. I think this universe is so remarkable, because most universes would not give rise to stars, planets, and intelligent life. From my perspective, this may be one of the crappier universes I’ve ever read. I personally think humans are a scourge. But the fact remains it required a great deal of fine-tuning of physical constants to produce a universe with stars, planets, and at least one intelligent life form. I am a true solipsist. I believe everything we experience could be a virtual reality that the universe we experience does not exist anywhere. Whereas, this is a distinct possibility, I would not say it is probable. If our universe was just a dream, mathematics would not be the helpful too it is. The universe would be more irrational. I am certain the universe we see only exists in our minds. Real objects in our universe do not possess the property of color. Our brains colorize the universe. Moreover, we see large solid objects, when reality is quite different. Every particle is in some manner of speaking is spread-out through all of space-time. We only see a limited number of dimensions. We don't perceive time as spatial dimension. The universe we see with our eyes is nothing the universe that really exists. More than likely the universe is a multidimensional complex field filled with colorless, odorless, tasteless, silent multidimensional waves, branes à la String Theory or what have you. Your body like most matter is mostly empty space spread-out over space-time…

There is no evidence anything infinite or infinitesimal actually exists. More than likely space-time is finite, but unbounded.

I believe micro-states increases with space-time inflation, and decreases with space-time deflation. It is, therefore, space-time inflation that gives rise to the 2LoT and the arrow of time. I believe the number of micro-states decrease, entropy increases, matter and energy congeals and unifies with space-time implosion that we could travel backwards in "time" without revisiting Earth history. Time started at the Big Bang, but there are many ways back to the Big Bang. Our past is only one of those ways. All black holes lead back to the Big Bang, and the beginning of time.

I imagined the nascent in the exact same predicament as Buridan's ass. Buridan's ass was a perfectly logical creature the starved to death between two equidistant bushels of hay.

From one assumption, I have been able to deduce a large part of modern physics. I assume the universe is perfectly logical, that the universe is not capricious, random, or arbitrary. I admit I can be wrong. This is merely a working hypothesis on my part. If it is true, then the universe had a near infinite number of equally good pathways it could have taken. If the universe was not conscious, if it did not have free choice, how could it choose one random path over a near infinite number of equally good paths? I concluded that like electricity, the universe took every possible pathway. Moreover, this is the only way Feynman's path-integral, sum-over-histories solution to QED makes any sense. It is the only way it could be true. Max Tegmark expands on this very concept, though he dismisses my analogy to Buridan's ass.

My conjecture explains why there is so much balance and order in our universe. According to it, the universe has to balance out. The multiverse must have zero energy. It explains why for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. It explains the laws of matter-energy conservation, and all the other conservation laws. I believe the universe is completely balanced, that there is a hidden symmetry, that the universe is a perfect unity, that the universe is not capricious, random, or arbitrary. Every scientific discovery with the exception of Borh's and Heisenberg's interpretation of Quantum Mechanics supports my conjecture, that the universe is completely deterministic, unitary, and holographic. "Entanglement" is more evidence for my overly speculative, wild conjecture. The existence of vacuum fluctuations would falsify my theory. Vacuum fluctuations and virtual particles appear to exist. I predict they will disappear as our knowledge of physics increases.

Bottom-Line: How about another 5-dimensional universe Mr. Egan like you did on “Diaspora”, but this time using 5-fold-eigenvalues? Greg Egan keeps on producing SF like no other. 5 stars for the physics, 0 stars for the story which is crap; rounded to 4 stars overall.

NB: Ah! It feels good to be back at reviewing books…

SF = Speculative Fiction.

## sexta-feira, março 16, 2018

### RetroWave: Fav2018

It's midnight and I am sitting in front of my vt220 green screen terminal and conversing with the UNIX machines from all over the world using nothing but pure text... listening to this music with headphones on (max volume!) and feeling like on Nostromo spaceship travelling through the deep space...

Or, it's the sound of rain-slicked neon city backstreets and nightclubs pulsing with swelling synth magic. But it's also the sound of a cool November night in a big Portuguese town, 1984. The shadows dance off of the sides of suburban houses, illuminated by the lights that you and your closest friends mounted on your bikes to explore the streets after the witching hour. Just marvelous all around.﻿

Or, hanging out with the same friends.  Printed out into different eras, quantum computers were nothing compared to this tech. They continuously meet in non existent planes of timelessness. Love of friendship, of sharing. sharing a day together, making memories, picking up where you last left off. Laughing until the memory is now, just now.  Slow time kids - these are our times - they ran falling over and over into different dimensions meeting each other over and over learning and teaching others .....  the spirit of the native Lisboner in this dimension was awake and well. The yells were of joy, steam lodges lit up the city, beautiful tiny homes were the norm. Neon lights smoke in the air combined with solar panels. The diet was native to the land, business was free from politicians free from kings.. Honesty reigned. Fighting still happened but it was in the gym and never escalated.  Mycellium glows in the dark tech to light up the nights, vitamin D sunshine state oh honey tans beautiful mixed people, dark honey light honey .  forget the money it was something else in this dimension, something a peaceful person by nature would immediately feel, people were in shape, yoga studios, style dens and gyms in ever neighborhood, the people were flexible, strong and biological polished.  Healthy eating and pain management was learned from a young age. Singing was encouraged, the medicine man always asked when was the last time you sang? Fundamentally, this dimension is cool as fuck. Hopefully I get to visit again.

Or, I can picture  a 66 year old retired Sonny on the sailboat in Biscayne Bay. He's staring out into the twilight thinking about the old times, remembering Martin Castillo, remembering Gina Calabrese, Zito and Switek and especially his partner and best friend Rico Tubbs. Why this sudden surge of memories? The Sinaloa Cartel has approached him and offered him millions as a consultant regarding undercover operations in Miami-Dade County. He's old, he's tired, he's fighting prostate cancer and he doesn't know if he'll be around much longer. All he has in this world is his son and he would like to leave him better off than he is. So does he accept their offer? And if does, does he betray the badge or the Cartel?﻿

Or, I am waking from a hyper-sleep pod, doing pull-ups in a PT montage, donning a yellow space suit and taking a 24-mile-long space elevator to the surface of a moon around a gas giant orbiting the star Beta Orion so that I can go to work in a mine and stumble upon alien technology that will unlock my mind and lead to the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy to bring about the galactic hegemony of the empire of mankind.

Or, cool white suit, white shoes with no socks, pastel coloured shirt, big shades, black Daytona Spyder or white Testarossa...and no speed limits on the street towards the sunset!﻿

NB1: One thing I love about this genre, aside from being just great to listen to, is that at its heart lies a fundamental question.  Can something made now be more true to the spirit and style of a previous era than the very things left over from the era it's trying to emulate?  (Hopefully that sentence made sense.)﻿ I think 1986-1991 was hands down the best 5 years in music, narrowing it down to that time frame because that's about how long it lasted for the most part. It's nice to see that genre has finally come back again, full circle.﻿ On Repeat while watching "Halt and Catch Fire" TV Series, one of the best things I've watched on TV in a long time.

NB2: The compilation (2 hours) above made by yours truly. It's almost 2 o´clock in the morning...Over and out.

## quarta-feira, março 14, 2018

### Stephen Hawking, Good Luck, 1942 - 2018

"Whereas the rest of the animals were looking downwards at the ground,  he gave humans a raised face and ordered them to look toward the skies and lift up their erect head to the stars."

In "Metamorphoses" by Ovid

When Dr. Hawking's body started to fail him he said that one of the things he was challenged with was being unable to work out his formulas on a blackboard. He had to do them in his head instead.'fancy graphics and technology'? He was a physicist and mathematician. He had his brain. Very few of us can conceive of what that would be like.

I am humbled when I think of what this incredible human being achieved in his brief moment in time. He did not let the adversity of his infirmity detract from an incredible mind. He used his static position to explore the universe and bring the infinity of potential scientific knowledge to us mere mortals. He leaves an amazing legacy for the scientists of the future. And he showed that whatever comes our way, we all have something amazing to offer. As much as I beginning to admire Dr. Neil De Grasse Tyson (Saw Stephen Hawking on " Star Talk " with Neil Degrasse Tyson couple of weeks ago, the professor was very sharp and very informative), Dr. Hawking was one of the modern epitomes of the Theoretical Physicist (the other one is Roger Penrose). Hawking definitely believed his disability helped him mentally picture abstract ideas. How incredible to live to the age he did and what an extraordinary life. His cameo performances in the "Big Bang Theory" showed his sense of humour and took him to a younger generation of whom my daughters and son were one of them. Talking about multi-dimensional universes took the theory into possibilities rather than the pseudo-science it had always been dismissed as such. He was a definition of genius yet in his own universe he was a pupil looking curiously at the great design of the universe till the end of his last breath. It was curiosity to find reason behind a marvel that prompted him to go deep in sea of knowledge. All of his body was still as statue except upper important organ of human body that as his brain which gave us new dimensions, views and secrets of the universe, nature and stars!!!! But what makes Hawking a magician is a rare quality of him to dive in this universe which he has explored with the masses!!! He is solely responsible figure in modern times to bring science and especially cosmology to us! During the 80's people would buy and put "The Brief History of Time" in the home library without understanding; just to show-off that they did read Hawking! He was such genius who has made special space for science in the houses. Along with this, how can we forget to discuss his work which is a classic in itself? Even the name of his PhD thesis shows his mastery over a difficult questions of his time which is "the properties of expanding universe". Later on there was not a subject on cosmology that was left behind by Hawking like birth and death of black holes, possibilities beyond black holes, on the death and origin of our universe! Like millions of minds Hawking was also responsible to increase my interest in science through his famous discovery channel documentaries on questions of the universe titled as "Into the universe with Stephen Hawking". Today that man has died. And I am happy with this life who had given him and us such beautiful brain to shape us.

Everyone has the capability to find something in life that's worth living for. That doesn't mean people who don't are somehow weaker, or that they are failing, just that they have unfortunately been unable to find that thing. I my view, love is the thing that makes life always worth living, and I don't believe at all it was Hawking's exceptional mind that made life worth living. I think it was his exceptional love for science and the fact that he was still able to live for this love that meant his life continued to be one that is worthwhile. Love is not something that is inaccessible to those of us who are normal or not exceptional, love is something anyone can find in a myriad of different ways, but at the same time it can of course be nigh on impossible to see through the said despair. So unfortunately, not everyone finds a reason to live, but I still believe it means anyone can.

A personal note for what's worth. Hawking was one of the persons that made me believe there's God, as impossible as it may seem coming from an atheist Theoretical Physicist. He made me believe there's no way atheism stands up to any kind of scrutiny. Relativity demonstrates how space and time are observation dependent. Quantum mechanics demonstrates how our universe (a concrete noun) is built by abstract nouns. Abstract nouns are ideas and ideas don't "exist" without some thinker that is thinking of them. Every particle in the standard model, regardless of whether they are virtual or real particles are abstract nouns. This can be demonstrated by the double slit experiments. These particles are statements of probability until the observer changes their state of probability into a state of actuality. This implies that if we could eliminate all observers there won't be an actual universe. Obviously we cannot demonstrate that but atheism is based on the philosophical monism of materialism. Materialism cannot stand without local realism, non-local realism or naive realism being tenable. The violation of Bell's inequality renders local realism untenable and we, no doubt, know the rest. Religious believers have the satisfaction of thinking that their consciousness will be around to see themselves proven correct. Atheists believe that Stephen Hawking's consciousness is in the same place it was before he was conceived. Non-existence. That belief holds nothing to fear. There were nearly 14 billion years before he popped into existence, made the world a better place and increased our understanding of the universe. To each his or her own.

It's amazing how a death of someone you don't know and have never met can still hit you. The guy was amazing in so many different ways. He understood things in a way most of us never will. Where many people would have given up on life battling those illnesses, Hawking continued on and adapted to continue learning and finding out new things. And among all this he still had the time and kindness to contribute to things like "The Big Bang Theory" on a few occasions where we've seen some fantastic humour from him.

How long until he is again "among" us...?
1. 9 years to track down and debate all of the greatest minds from the dawn of time;
2. 9 months of first hand studies on black holes, stellar phenomena, dark matter, worm holes, time travel, parallel dimensions, and the sub-subatomic intricacies of the multiverse;
3. 1 month cataloging alien civilizations that may try to wipe out humanity and sabotaging their efforts;
4. 1 month to locate the supreme AI in our galaxy, subdue it, make it his pet and name it Ezrium, and reconfigure it to prevent an Earth based AI from destroying all of the carbon units;
5. 10 days to write his new book "The Mysteries of Other Side. I was wrong, so what?";
6. 10 days to debug the human genome, upgrade it and design a new corporeal biological domicile for his return;
7. 9 days to rest, relax, reflect and drink copious amounts of space beer on the sun drenched beaches of New Paleokastritsa which orbits the distant star Tau Ceti;
8. 90 hours to study ancient Vedic knowledge, improve it, break the law of death and return to the land of the living.

I'd say RIP but I think he’ll not be resting but questioning and challenging. Good luck over in spacetime.

NB: In 2016 I had the fortune to be able to get my hands on his Reith Lectures. What a frigging book!

## domingo, março 11, 2018

### Homemade and Fermented Hot-Sauce: Habaneros and Bird's Eye Chiles

(Ingredients)

Because Spring is almost here, it's time for making hot-sauce...Love spicy food. Hotter the better. Subtlety works too. It depends on what you're cooking. I make soups nobody I know will eat they're that ferocious (with the exception of my friend João Claudio who's also an aficionado of "hot" food; he's even thinking of founding a hot-chile fraternity...before I start receiving hate email, "chile" is the country and the spice. Chili is the dish...lol). Homemade and fermented chile just gives that huge extra dimension to a meal.  I believe it's the rush that comes from eating hot-chile with my food that is so pleasurable. It enhances food and definitely makes it more interesting and more connected to what I'm eating.

My favourite sensation is when eating something "hot" and (not sure if I'm describing it properly or if others get the same) it feels like the pores on my head, under my hair, are opening up. It's almost like the sensation of just getting your hair cut then going outside on a windy day. Like a cold frisson type sensation couple with sweaty-red face. I don't quite know why I enjoy it so much, so it's good to have some research looking into it. I truly love the tastes of hot food, various curries, etc,; they're great cuisine in their own right. But it's the burn that really makes it for me, some weird thing where you love the tastes of the food, and can only just take the level of heat, and it's not entirely comfortable, and somehow that makes it better.

A downside of being into chiles is that you find a lot of food underwhelming if it's an North-and-Centre-European version of the real thing. In Portugal, because of the Mediterranean culture (food, weather, etc.), the chili aficionados are very knowledgeable...

Fake chile shit with some horrid sauce. No thanks.

Ingredients:
1. Habaneros [Scoville heat units: 100,000-350,000 (extremely hot)];
2. Bird's Eye Chiles [Scoville heat units: 50,000-100,000 (very hot)];
3. 3 large Onions (one for each jar);
4. Ginger;
5. 6 cloves (2 for each jar);
6. 1 litre of Brine Water (35 grams of salt per litre);
7. Gloves
Preparation:
• Put on your gloves...you only ever fail to wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards before going to the loo once...lmao;
• Wash the habaneros and the bird's eye chiles in running water;
• Cut them in half (the habaneros) and crosswise (the bird's eye chiles);
• Insert the cloves and the ginger into each one of the jars;
• Insert the freshly-cut habaneros and bird's eye chiles into each one of the jars;
• Insert the onion ring on top of each one of the jars;
• Top-up each one of the jars with the brine water (the top of the onion ring must be fully immersed in water!);
(From left to right: the first two, habaneros; the last one with the bird's eye chiles)
• Cover each one of the jars with a plastic bag;
• To make them air-tight, use a rubber band (or in my case, black hair bobbles) at the top and bottom of the glasses.
• Wait at least 2 weeks for the concoction to ferment in a safe place.

NB: Follow-up post in 2 weeks' time.

## domingo, março 04, 2018

### Samsung Gear S3: My First Wearable APP Using the Tizen OS by MySelfie

Samsung Gear S3 showing what it can do...

0 - Install the Development Environment with the SDK Tools (Tizen Studio 2.2 with IDE installer, Tizen Extension SDK, Samsung Accessory SDK, and the Samsung Rich Notification SDK):

1 - Install the Tizen Studio IDE;

2 - In the Tizen Studio package manager, install everything for the 2.3.2 wearable;

Tizen SDK Tools:

3 - Install the Samsung Certificate Extension;

4 - Creating the App; I chose the watch because I like all things that glitter...

Some C code spinets of the Watch Gear S3 App:

5 - Running the emulator a gazillion times (from 11:28 in the morning until 2 o'clock in the afternoon...Wife calling for lunch...) until the frigging thing was ok:

6 - Find the IP on your Samsung Gear S3 given by your router:

7 - Run sdb connect 192.168.1.128 on the command prompt;

8 - Turn "debugging mode" on Gear S3;

9 - After the connection is established, use "device manager" on Tools in the Tizen Studio and install it. If you want to go the way of deploying the tpk, you can install the Watch App to a connected device with the tpk ("watchmaantao-1.0.0-x86.tpk"; (vide next screenshot). In the device list, right-click the device to which you want to install an application, and select Install app. In the file dialog, select the "watchmaantao-1.0.0-x86.tpk" file to install and click OK.

The application is installed and launched on the Samsung Gear S3:

(final version; app already with all the builtin bell and whistles that should come with every Watch app; the photos before this one belonged to the barebone version of my Watch App)

### Fevered with Love's Anxiety: "Phantom Thread" by Paul Thomas Anderson

This movie made think on one of Saint John of the Cross' poems.

At 3am the dragon set forth along the Caparica beach and stared out over the water, lit only with the full moon:

In an obscure night, Fevered with love's anxiety (O hapless, happy plight!), I went, none seeing me, Forth from my cave, where all things quiet be,” said the dragon, to no one in particular. But someone was there, creeping around in the shadows. Arthur, Arthur Scargill the vampire, twiddling his strangely long thumbs.

'Zombies! Zombies everywhere!' Cried the Dragon. 'Quick!' Said Arthur, 'Get in my futuristic looking Ford Sierra. Don't mind Stig he does that.' 'What's that thudding sound?' Said the dragon, 'Don't mind them. That's me killer robots.' Said Arthur as they crashed through some barriers and narrowly missed going over a cliff. 'What am I sitting on?' Said the dragon gloomily. 'That's just big bird.' Said Arthur.

Vampire Arthur Scargill wasn't in the mood for a moody Dragon, and had come to look up to the Beast, through the sunroof, as a source of inspiration. "You just turn that frown upside down, Laddie."

He stopped the car and told the Grumpy Dragon to look behind them; nothing but chaos, dust, and a shed on a tow-rope.
'Go and look in't shed, eh? I've got Mr. Sheen in there.' The Gloomy Dragon flapped his great wings, and whooooosh was half-way out of the sunroof in a second. Arthur had to push him through the rest of the way, but he made it and was at the Shed door. He was very excited and pondered to himself in Dragonspeak 'I dunno if I like Martin or Charlie the best... What if it's Michael? I bet it's Michael, it's gotta be Michael because Vampire Arthur Scargill'll have a love/hate relationship with him, he played Brian Clough, but he also played Blair... twice.'
The great Dragon tilted his head to listen for signs of life but all he could hear was an Australian shouting over and over... 'What's your country of origin? Where are you from, you foreign polish bastard?'
The door was opened and there in full Highland regalia was Mel Racist gripping a can of furniture polish, drunkenly spitting at it, in rage. 'I told thee I 'ad Mr. Sheen in the Shed' chortled Vampire Arthur Scargill, who watched in horror as the Dragon set light to Mr. Sheen, who set light to Mel Racist, who set light to Dan's home for over 30 years.
Dan peaked out of the boot of the futuristic-looking Ford Sierra for a few seconds (wearing his 'There Will Be Blood 'tache) before going back to method acting the part of an actor kidnapped in a futuristic-looking Ford Sierra) by Vampire Arthur Scargill, a Dragon, Big Bird, and the Stig. The nightmare didn't really end for anyone until they safely retired in Grimsby. Except Day-Lewis, who made another film 12 months later, then announced his retirement, once again.

The End

I've seen so many similar relationships of a man subjugated to his mother who never grows up and then plays games with woman ever after -- unable to commit to anyone not as cruel as the bitch who bore and raised him. The outcome is perhaps bachelorhood but -- in this case -- Reynolds swears he's waited all his life to meet the waitress who can remember a ridiculously-long list of breakfast food and how he likes it. But what seems truly arresting to him is her pronouncement that if he wants to stare her down, he will lose. And so the contest begins and he's apparently losing interest [as he always does] when she insists that a client who passed out in one of his dresses "doesn't deserve it" and that they should go into her home and strip her of the gown. THIS is spectacular to him and, I believe, that's the moment he realises he's FINALLY met someone as cruel as his own mother, as humiliating and terrifying. And suddenly he wants marriage and declares "love" which is actually just a sick need. And from the incident she discovers how to conquer and hold him. It's just a question of how vicious she's willing to be. And -- the perfect metaphor for the ultimately toxic relationship -- she discovers a way to poison him with mushroom in a delicious meal that just about kills him, but not quite, rendering him helpless, submissive and beaten. The apparent congruity with his childhood -- of being emasculated but never quite flattened -- is oh-so-familiar and comforting, allowing him to be revived and lash out into his creative world again and again, with the promise of being repeatedly humiliated and brought to his knees [quite literally] in a way that reminds him so of home-crap-home with his mother. To me it's the perfect metaphor with near-lethal co-dependence that sooner or later will prove miscalculated and deadly. And the script builds in an incredible way -- the clues having been there from nearly the first line.

But it's not the film, it is the Actor! Day-Lewis' character reeks of something deeply discordant and corrosive. A psychic entrapment that hovers as long as celluloid flickers. Nothing courageous, no self-denying ordinances just lust; deep dark and selfish lust decomposing morality and performing the diabolic tricks of Hollywood's controlling and abusive morality. Sheep deserve better. What a frigging Actor!

## sexta-feira, março 02, 2018

### Borzage Silent: "The Shape of Water" by Guillermo Del Toro

I've been mulling over this film ever since I saw it, and I think the nearest thing I can compare it to are the romantic Borzage silents with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. The intense romanticism, the gorgeous, swooning imagery, the incredible gentleness of the whole thing. If you already like silent films I think "The Shape of Water" will push all the right buttons. It's not like watching a normal film where you follow a spoken narrative in a very literal sense. You feel the story similar to a ballet, with the same intensity of emotion. Films like this rarely get made anymore. At least not for a mass market.

The film has beautiful cinematography, but its theme is a familiar one that has been explored before. To me it did not bring anything new or groundbreaking, except showing us that, when two people are in love, they actually have sex, even though they hail from different species. Pan’s Labyrinth is much more complex and visually arresting then this Disney follow up. It also has a very poignant ending, unlike the sugar coated one designed for the American audience. Watching the first 20 minutes, I was thinking how incredible the film felt. The tone, mood, dialogue, acting. All superb. Didn't manage to sustain this though and had a very slack middle. Sure, it looks great and sounds great, like a sumptuously packaged box of chocolates but with only one decent chocolate in it - Sally Hawkins' performance. The rest....quite how Michael Shannon's cartoonish villain, as if he were auditioning for the part of Snidely Whiplash in "Whacky Races", isn't hauled over the coals, or Octavia "I can do this part in my sleep by now".

The problem with many of Del Toro's films is that they tend to be a series of set pieces driven by visual concepts, but with a narrative frequently undermined by illogical leaps and poorly motivated characters. Why, for example, is Elisa so utterly unafraid of the creature, even though she first encounters it seconds after it has attacked a lab worker? And why is Strickland so carelessly brutal in dealing with a specimen that is a) the only one of its kind in captivity, b) one he's gone to enormous trouble to catch, transport and keep alive, and c) is the total focus of his work? The film is riddled with clumsy missteps that most writer-directors would have easily finessed, buy Del Toro evidently thinks his bold vision will overcome all. Like many, I was impressed with the visual concept, enchanted by Hawkins' deft performance, interested in the metaphor Del Toro was attempting to spin... yet utterly unconvinced and unmoved by it all. Details matter. Where do you think the line should be drawn on a story having some logic to it? One can't just make a sweeping statement that details don't matter and retain a critical credibility. I liked the film but it was much less than perfect. Logical flaws mess with my particular suspension of disbelief. They take me out of the story and limit my ability to empathise and embrace fully on an emotional level.

I think a greater test of any art is how it is experienced at face value without the intellectual context added to the narrative. I enjoy cinema, and "The Shape of Water" is beautifully shot. However, as a stand alone experience, I was underwhelmed.

## quinta-feira, março 01, 2018

### Space 1999 Reboot: "Interstellar" by Christopher Nolan

How exactly did "solving gravity" allow them to launch NASA and save all human life? Did they develop some kind of anti-gravity? Isn't that theoretically impossible, no matter how much information of an unspecified nature one gathers from inside black holes? If people in the future are capable of building a device that can send messages through time via gravity, why didn't they just send those messages themselves, instead of waiting for someone from the past to stumble upon the device and use it? Come to that, why set this device to focus on the bedroom of a little girl who might be able to take the information to NASA, and not just focus it on NASA? How come Coop looked about 50 when, according to the film, he was no older than 35 when he left Earth?

The beginning was awesome, then the whole space section deliberately makes no sense so that the end can explain it all which may have been just about bearable if the space section wasn't over 2 hours long and wasn't riddled with plot-holes in its science and even the concepts it makes up, and didn't bash you over the head constantly with forced symbolism and metaphors and themes (if I hear 'Do not go gentle' one more time I will attack something). “Interstellar” starts out as season 1 of "Space: 1999" with lots of big ideas and metaphysical concepts, but ends like season two, in fact I was expecting Fred Freiberger to credited as an executive producer. Or more bluntly, this started out "Wrath of Khan" and ends like "The Final Frontier". The end did solve most of the issues the film had plot-wise, but not pace-wise; by the time it gets to the end it's already lost you and you'll probably laugh at how comically idiotic it is. It doesn't help that apart from the father-daughter duo that certainly had its moments, none of the characters have any real depth or are developed and the dialogue is so inane and boring I challenge anyone to quote to me one line that wasn't a trailer line in the entire script. I checked my watch three times during it and jumped out of my chair the second it cut to black. As for the effects, when it does go full 70mm IMAX cinematography it is one of the most stunning-looking films ever made, but in honesty the worlds are pretty bland and there isn't nearly enough time spent on them. If you stitched all the scenes the film hangs its hat on spectacle-wise together you'd probably get about 10-20 minutes max of screen-time. I watched this again when it came to Netflix to get an opinion on it. It's clearly Nolan got way too carried away with himself and it’s a shame because if this was a 1.5 hour simple space-exploration movie with some intrigue and tight dialogue and a lot more IMAX scenes it probably would have been amazing.

I wonder if there's a conflict between Nolan's desire to make emotional films about love and loss, and his love of intricate clockwork plots. Maybe emotional impact needs looser plotting, and clever puzzle plots need a cooler approach. Perhaps you have to choose between making the audience feel and making them think. For me that conflict is why it fell apart in the last reel*.

(*) yes, it was a reel, and seeing that old 35mm flicker which I've spent far too much of my life looking at in the dark did add a lot of emotional impact for me, especially as I'm fairly confident that cinemas won't exist in ten years' time.

Bottom-line: It was filled with plot holes and inconsistent science (even more so than the "The Dark Knight Rises"). Imagine McConaughey in the movie; upon finding himself inside a pocket universe of infinite bookcases, I burst into a very audible laugh and found myself unable to stop for a good few minutes (when I watched this in a movie theatre I thought someone would come and kick me out). Conceptually, I had very high hopes for this film but found completely let down with the last 15 minutes. I wouldn't say that this is a good film but I would say it it's worth watching, even if it's just for the coldly maniacal Matt Damon and the bizarre and strangely funny robots (Did you see that little alcove in the 5-dimensional bookcase? The one with some clueless monkey laughing in a darkened pit? It was me...)

NB1: a friend of mine says “Signs” is much better than this one. Nope. “Signs” is most definitely not superior to “Interstellar”!  “Signs” is a god-awful farce. The first part of it has some well-crafted tension and at least one genuine shock, but then “Shyamalamalamadingdong” farts it all away with an ending so titanically stupid it makes you wonder if he got one of his children to write the script for him. Aliens are so allergic to water it burns them like acid - and they don't wear clothes! Convenient for the humans, and somewhat daft of the aliens to visit a planet with a surface that is 70% water. Why are they naked as well? Are we supposed to believe they can travel across the stars but haven't figured out how to create a raincoat? Nothing about the ending works at all and renders the rest of film a complete nonsense.