A Clockwork Orange

Image(The Jameson Rating: 90% An excellent controversial film that makes us concerned for the future. State of the art British acting and a concept so bizarre it’s intriguing.) Very rarely we ask ourselves the question as to who we really are and what our purpose is. When we look very deep into the answer, the results are puzzling and frankly, a little terrifying. Whether or not we make our own decisions, in regards to if we truly have free will or not, or if our decisions are already made or destined to be upon us, is a difficult understanding. Are our choices really our choices, or are they determined based on our genetics and past experiences? These are actually a little scary to think about, because we may never find out. For all we know, we could be brainwashed zombies, programmed by the government. As is the case in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel, “A Clockwork Orange”. A government organization brainwashes criminal Alex free of his own choices and decisions. He is left with a sick feeling every time he has an urge to perform violent acts. Alex is left with the decision to either still act violently, or live how the government wants him to. Should he still rage, Alex will suffer horribly, so he really has little choice.

Pulp Fiction

Image(The Jameson Rating: 95% A brilliant, brilliant movie. The concept of time, the characters, the plot, the dialogue; all magnificent. Having been written and directed by Quentin Tarantino makes it an absolute treat.) The famed Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, left behind one of the greatest legacies ever to exist. With his views on government, ethics, and his extreme criticism, Socrates has given us all a different view on… everything. One of the legacies he is most well known for is that he developed what is referred to Socratic Dialogue. It is the very reason why people loved him, and the same as to why people hated him. It involved repeatedly asking questions, after not being satisfied with the answers given. A painful, yet clever conversation method, it can drive the other to madness while he smiles pleasantly. The form of communication is used  today by philosophy enthusiasts and young bothersome children. It can sometimes be seen in forms of literature, or in the case of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction”; movies. Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta play two hit men that have a wide array of strange conversation topics. Unintentionally, Samuel L. Jackson’s character Jules Winnfield carries through a conversation with John Travolta’s Vincent Vega in a form of communication similar to a Socratic Dialogue. Please be aware that there is some coarse language.

[JULES]
Okay so, tell me again about the hash bars.
[VINCENT]
Okey what do you want to know?
[JULES]
Well, hash is legal over there, right?
[VINCENT]
Yeah,It’s legal but it ain’t hundred percent legal, I mean, you just can’t walk into a restaurant,
roll a joint and start puffin’ away. They want you to smoke in your home or certain designated places.
[JULES]
And those are the hash bars?
[VINCENT]
Yeah, It breaks down like this, ok, it’s legal to buy it, it’s legal to own it,
And if you’re the proprietor of a hash bar, it’s legal to sell it.
It’s legal to carry it, but…but that dosen’t matter, ’cause, get a load of this; all right,
If you get stopped by a cop in Amsterdam, it’s illegal for them to search you.
I mean that’s a right the cops in Amsterdam don’t have.
[JULES]
Oh, man, I’m goin’, that’s all there is to it. I’m fuckin’ goin’.
[VINCENT]
I know, baby, you’d dig it the most.. But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
[JULES]
What?
[VINCENT]
It’s the little differences. A lotta the same shit we got here,
they got there, but there they’re a little different.
[JULES]
Example ?
[VINCENT]
Alright, when you …. into a movie theatre in Amsterdam, you can buy beer.
And I don’t mean in a paper cup either. They give you a glass of beer
And in Paris, you can buy beer at MacDonald’s.
And you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
[JULES]
They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?
[VINCENT]
No, they got the metric system there, they wouldn’t know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is.
[JULES]
What’d they call it?
[VINCENT]
They call it Royale with Cheese.
[JULES]
Royale with Cheese. What’d they call a Big Mac?
[VINCENT]
Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac.
[JULES]
Le big Mac ! Ahhaha, what do they call a Whopper?
[VINCENT]
I dunno, I didn’t go into a Burger King.
But you know what they put on french fries in Holland instead of ketchup?
[JULES]
What?
[VINCENT]
Mayonnaise.
[JULES]
Goddamn!

If dialogue like that doesn’t intrigue you, then I’m not sure what will.

Bruce Almighty

Image(The Jameson Rating: 75% A good slap stick comedy to be enjoyed, not critiqued. Many laughs will be had, and a great feel-good movie.) The existence of God is widely seen as the sort of topic that is avoided in almost all conversations. Out of fear that people will be disrespectful to personal beliefs, or that an angry dispute will begin, most stray from the topic. For the sake of a decent blog post, I will have to challenge that. When questioning the existence of a supreme being, there is another questions we must also ask ourselves. Is the existence of God based on evidence or belief? If you answer with evidence, then the question is a little trickier. It may very well be a fact that we cannot see, hear, or feel God, but we should never base conclusions on whether something is physical or not. If that were the case, then what would we say about wind, gravity, and love? Sure, there are factors that may contribute to the those theories, but could they just be results of something else we are incapable of seeing, or even just coincidences? We judge the reality of many of these based on theoretical belief, that just “makes sense”. To many, it just “makes sense” that a supreme being, like God, exists. These people are relying on the same sorts of beliefs that many Scientology-based people are relying on, and they are ridiculed for it. Despite it’s comical presence, the film “Bruce Almighty” starring Jim Carrey greatly questions the existence of God. The movie follows how someone like God is sometimes regarded as mean for allowing many of the tragedies like job loss, divorce, and death to occur. With so many devastations occurring, many people believe that there is no way someone like God could exist, but with a matter of hope and belief, He’s there.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Image(The Jameson Rating: 100% One of my all-time favourite films. Little to be said, just incredible.) As opposed to my typical style of blog posts, where I write based on something we have discussed in class, I decided to have a bit of a twist this time. There are now 9 class days remaining, and as I’m sure my teacher may have noticed, I’ve been doing my fair share of procrastinating. With so much to do, so many projects and assignments that must be handed in by the end of the week, I did what any right-minded teenage student would do. I took some time off. I never really accomplished anything in doing so; but that was exactly the goal. From laying on the couch doing nothing, to taking a bike ride around town, I never once had “school” on my mind. It was phenomenal. I asked myself some very philosophical questions with all the free time. “If I don’t do any of my work. does it matter?” “Why do people do all this school work? Will it matter years from now?” “Should I have the normal, or raspberry frozen lemonade at Tim Hoton’s?”  My little vacation reminded me of a film I have always regarded as one of the greatest, John Hughes’ “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. It is a coming-of-age classic that both entertains and captivates the audience. The movie inspires many to enjoy life now, after all, (if I can recite my absolute favourite line): “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The Lorax

Image(The Jameson Rating: 65% A pleasant animated children’s film derived loosely from a classic Dr. Seuss story. A cute, funny movie with family-favorite actors and actresses; it teaches a good lesson, while providing a fun evening.) Recently we have been given a large project in which we are to study a serious ethical issue and analyze as to why it is performed. Although I am still unsure as to what I will choose to investigate, the topic of environmentalism caught my my eye. Despite having a broad range, when I think environmental issues I think of the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Just to prove how distracted my mind can get, a movie enters my thoughts when I get on this topic. The adaption of the Dr. Seuss book made just last year, “The Lorax”. Although it is a funny film for young children, it still teaches them a valuable lesson while informing them of an ethical issue going on currently in their lives. Obviously here I’m referring to deforestation. One of the main characters, The Once-ler, discusses his story with a younger character about how he developed a product that required the frequent cutting of trees in a forest. Through the process of cutting trees, the Once-ler encounters a small creature, the Lorax, that defends the forest. The Lorax informs the Once-ler that he is making a serious mistake by carrying out the action of cutting down the trees. Nevertheless, Once-ler still cuts the trees to the point that there are no trees left. This results in a plastic utopia in which there are no signs of any vegetation or fauna. The producers hope that the child viewers are then in shock of this issue, and feel obliged to do something in regards to helping the cause.

Back to the Future

Image(The Jameson Rating: 95% Disputed as one of the best films Michael J. Fox has ever performed in and my second favorite directed by Robert Zemeckis (after “Forrest Gump.). A highly intelligent film with a beautiful script, superb acting, and a gorgeous plot. I could spend hours describing the brilliance of this film.) This week we began to do some work on paradoxes; what they are, a few examples, and elaborating on how to understand them. Admittedly, they are a little difficult to comprehend, some much more than others. A paradox is a statement in which seems contradictory and absurd, but further analyzing will prove it to be true. A good example of paradox includes: “The next statement is a lie. The first statement is true.” Such a message sounds a little tricky at first. If the first statement is peaking correctly, then the second must be a lie. However, that would mean the second statement is lying about the first statement telling the truth. Yes, this is an odd concept to try to wrap your head around. In fact, you could spend hours upon hours trying to figure it out, and you could never fully prove this concept. It’s the characteristic of being an unsolvable mystery that makes me love paradoxes. A famous paradox in a movie is the paradox in the film, “Back to the Future.” Heck, the name itself is a paradox. By going backwards, one would be traveling in a path backwards, not to the future. “Back to the Future” is a movie of time travel, a whole genre of mind-bending, brain-hurting concepts that sometimes don’t make sense, but do nonetheless. The film is a brilliant, funny adventure for a young boy and a professor. This is the kind of movie that we should be watching in a philosophy class! *hint* *hint*

Knowing

Image(The Jameson Rating: 25% One of the worst films I have ever seen. Horrible acting, horrible script, horrible everything. When people ask why I dislike Nicholas Cage’s acting, this is the film I reference.) In the past few weeks we have done a lot of talk on all the different types of syllogisms. Whether hypothetical or categorical, whether with “all” terms or “some” terms; we have spent countless weeks on them. That being said, it only makes sense to write a blog on them. The origin of a syllogism dates back as far as Ancient Greece, and are thought to have been discovered by Aristotle. An excerpt of his book “Prior Analytics” in which Aristotle describes a syllogism reads: “a discourse in which certain (specific) things having been supposed, something different from the things supposed results of necessity because these things are so.” You really have to wrap your head around this concept to try and understand it. This whole thought can be written in a simple equation:
All A are B
All C are A
Therefore all C are B
The funny thing about syllogisms is that no matter how preposterous the statements may be, and no matter how socially incorrect they may be, they can still be classified as valid. For example (and I do not at all suggest this as my own opinion);
All things involving guns are fun
All killings involve guns
Therefore, all killings are fun
Obviously this should not be seen as they are written, for it is a very inappropriate statement to make, but it is still called valid. Syllogisms can be found everywhere in everyday life. Songs, literature, and films. A particular movie I think of is one of my cousin’s favourite’s, Alex Proyas’ “Knowing”. Nicholas Cage’s character investigates a series of numbers found in a time capsule from 50 years ago. These numbers all reveal to be dates of natural and terrorist disasters in the past years. A few more dates remain on the sheet, which the character suspects to be more disasters. The character goes through a lot of searching to find that the last one written is the date of the apocalypse. His discovery can be incorporated into a simple syllogism:
“Earth is about to be destroyed
Humankind lives on Earth
Therefore, Humankind is about to be destroyed.”
After some more poor acting and a couple of cheap side plots, his discovery proves to be valid, and the Earth is destroyed along with humankind.

Les Miserables

Image (The Jameson Rating: 75% A moving and powerful production superior to the latest adaption. One of the few roles I’ve seen Liam Neeson in where he performs as a mighty actor.) This week myself and two other classmates had to make a seminar presentation on one of the many views on human nature. The view that we chose, or rather, was one of the few remaining by the time we got to choose, was the Traditional Western Religious View. We learned very quickly that the whole presentation could not just be done overnight, like I’m sure many of the other presentations will be, as it covers a very broad range. At the same time though, the topic was very difficult to grasp an understanding of. Human nature as a whole is seen by the traditionalists of this view as rational, purposeful, and independent. Humankind is capable of holding a relationship with a greater being, God, to understand love and compassion. By having a relationship with God, humans can learn many lessons about the difference between what is right and wrong. One of the greatest lessons that God teaches us is that it is only natural that we all make mistakes, it we can still be forgiven for them. In the 1998 adaption of Victor Hugo’s novel, “Les Misérables”, one of the characters learns the same lesson from a priest. Jean Valjean is a refugee in the times of revolutionary France, and is desperate for money. While sleeping on the streets, nuns point him in the direction of a local priest’s home. There Jean is welcomed with open arms, given a dinner, and a place to rest. Despite these lovely gifts, Jean Valejean awakes in the middle of the night, steals silverware of the priest, and takes off into the night. The next day officers bring Jean back to the priest’s home with the silverware, and he lied claiming that the priest gave them to him. The priest defends his story, despite it being a lie, and adds that he forgot the silver candlesticks. The priest then tells Jean in private that he has to promise to be a better man. It is such powerful examples of human support that connect to God’s lesson that is seen in the Traditional Western Religious View.  

Freaky Friday

Image(The Jameson Rating: 65% A Disney classic that could mend any fight between mother and daughter. Now a little out dated, making it is difficult for modern mother-daughter movie nights.) This week we watched an RSA Animate video on empathy. Previous to the idea I only saw empathy as a sort of feeling one has for another when they are experiencing a hardship. For example, if someone had just lost someone very close to them, I would feel empathetic. That’s all the word meant to me, until I saw this video. It turns out that there’s a whole lot more to empathy, and it isn’t all about being warm-hearted and caring. If anything, as the narrator describes, empathy is actually quite dangerous. Empathy can lead to revolutions of human relationships. There are two types of empathy: affective empathy, in which a person shares another’s feelings by watching them experience those feelings, and cognitive empathy, in which one puts themselves in another’s shoes entirely. One of the most famous examples in movie history of people in a state of cognitive empathy is the 1976 Walt Disney original “Freaky Friday”. In the film only the worst imaginable for a teenage girl that could ever happen, happens. Annabel Andrews switches bodies with her mother, Ellen Andrews, after a strange incident on Friday the 13th. The two must both spend a day trapped within each other’s body, while experiencing a whole new world. Ellen must experience what it’s like to be a teenager in the modern world with technology in a typing class, and Annabel must understand what it’s like to be an adult while having to organize a banquet. It was because of this film that over a couple dozen more body-switching movies were made. It teaches the audience that you have to try to understand other people’s difficulties, and perhaps be a little more empathetic (in the good way) for them.