A Man with a Flashlight


Seung-Hui Cho and “Oldboy”
April 24, 2007, 12:09 am
Filed under: Depression, Movies

Odd, but about the only worthwhile comment I’ve read on the Virginia Tech murders was written by a movie critic. A.O. Scott gets it about right. Movies aren’t to blame. Would that it were that simple.

I haven’t written much about this here. Obviously it’s an important story, but I don’t have much to say. Discussing prevention measures, if indeed any are feasible, should wait for a thorough analysis of what led up to the murders, to the extent it is knowable.

I will only add that this seems like a good occasion to reflect how serious an illness depression is, and how important it is to treat early and aggressively. But it’s not clear that was the issue here. Cho’s depression was noticed and may have been treated. Earlier detection may have made a difference, or it may not have. Some sickness, inevitably, will not be healed.

I recommend two great books on depression: Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon and Peter Kramer’s Listening to Prozac. Beyond depression itself, they contain fascinating insights into the relationship between brain chemistry and personality.

In the future, early screening for depression will be as routine as screening for prostrate or breast cancer.

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“Japanese animators are reaching for the moon…”
April 16, 2007, 1:55 am
Filed under: Movies, The East

“… while most of their American counterparts remain stuck in the kiddie sandbox with their underage audiences.” – Manohla Dargis, commenting on Satoshi Kon’s new anime Paprika, at the New York Film Festival in October. (Nod to Goyablog.)

If you haven’t dipped your toes into anime yet, then you have no idea how right Dargis is. Here’s your homework: Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll.

The visual style is light years ahead of American cartoons. But that’s not even the point – what really distinguish animes are the plots, which take full advantage of animation’s ability to show an audience just about anything that can be imagined.

Here’s the trailer for the film Dargis was talking about:

From Dargis’s description, I’m a little wary – it looks like it may be blighted by the Matrix-style elevation of complication over character that made Ghost in the Shell: Innocence nearly unwatchable.



What’s the opposite of irony?
April 3, 2007, 12:37 am
Filed under: Movies, The Earth

Whatever it is, that’s what this is. NY Times, reg required. To wit:

“Like the sinking of the Titanic, catastrophes are not democratic,” said Henry I. Miller, a fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “A much higher fraction of passengers from the cheaper decks were lost. We’ll see the same phenomenon with global warming.”

While we’re on the subject of the apocalypse, the sequel to 28 Days Later is coming out. Sequels are sort of a rough ride no matter what. If you didn’t like the original, then why see it. But if you liked the original, you just know the sequel is going to defile it.

Well let’s have a looksee shall we?
[Youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCjleOos16Y%5D