A while back when I was a little more gung ho about updating, I posted Michael Shermer’s last TED lecture on strange beliefs. This time, we’ve got a bit more from the editor of Skeptic Magazine as he discusses the patterns behind self deception. Filmed at TED2010 in February 2010, Long Beach, CA.
Shermer’s works irks some new atheists in that he accepts the reality of and makes an effort to understand of religious beliefs (being squarely in the skeptic/agnostic column). I’m not sure I jive with the criticisms, as I feel Shermer’s supposed ambivalence as permitting him the characteristic of empathy. He tries to not only learn, but also understand why people believe what they experience.
I kind of wish there had been a bigger media push for this film. It really could have taken off in theaters.
Quite simply, there are a handful of movies that manage to just make one laugh out loud uncontrollably. It’s more common that you run across those comedies in a theater when mob mentality has you rolling in the rows. I last experienced this with The Hangover and, before that, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It is that more rare comedy that can have you rolling with laughter when watching at home. I present to you one extraordinary example of that in In the Loop.
Based on the British TV show “The Thick Of It,” the political drama is one-third The Office (UK version), one-third Curb Your Enthusiasm and one-third The West Wing. In other words, it’s freaking brilliant, even though its not for the faint of heart when it comes to language.
The BBC program it was based on focused solely on the antics of Downing Street enforcer Malcolm Turner (Peter Capaldi, a veteran of Brit TV shows such as Torchwood: Children of the Earth, which I reviewed yesterday). Turner is the Machiavellian, potty mouthed king of communications and the show follows his interactions with the team at the Ministry of Social Affairs. There he deals with MP Hugh Abbot and his right hands Glenn Cullen, Terri Coverley (Joanna Scanlan) and Oliver Reeder (Chris Addison).
In the film, director and producer Armando Iannucci keeps Capaldi’s Malcom Turner in place and reshuffles a few actors like Addison into new characters who retain some of the characteristics, despite different roles. As impish aide Oliver Reeder, Addison plays Mr. Fix-It as a transfer into a dysfunctional foreign development ministry and its incompetent MP Simon Foster (Tom Hollander). The story follows Foster’s role in the run-up to a UN resolution to declare war in a situation that is a thinly veiled stand-in for Iraq. No Qumar here, either. They just don’t overtly reference the country.
The third Series of Torchwood is clearly the cream of the crop, but the entire run is enjoyable.
BBC America fans might be familiar with Torchwood, but it’s not terribly likely. It’s a bit of a shame, as this was one of the better serialized shows on TV in the sci-fi genre. For a country that really embraced The X-Files for nine seasons and two full length features, you’d think there could be a place for Torchwood.
I start with the X-Files reference because, for comparison purposes, it really is the most spot on. Torchwood is a serialized mystery show spun off from the BBC’s thirty-plus season Doctor Who phenomenon. It follows Doctor Who crossover Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and the Cardiff-based branch of a secret agency referred to as the Torchwood Institute.
It’s hard to decide to what degree of depth I should go into on the series mythology on this. I’m gonna go on the light side, but give just some of the basics. Cardiff is the Welsh city in which a space/time tear has opened a dimensional gateway of sorts. As a result, there’s a tremendous amount of alien activity in and around the city. The British Government commissioned the Torchwood Institute a long time ago to monitor and keep alien activity in check.
I’ve not really had time for the site of late, which is unfortunate. I’ve got a handful of half finished posts which I hope to get back to eventually. Among them is my LOST finale recap, which I hope to finish maybe next weekend. In the meantime, check this completely awesome fan tribute.