In Praise of the Hannibal TV Series
With FBI detective work, lead by an unhinged and mentally ill detective, police procedure and forensics and a slew of enigmatic serial killers each week, Hannibal doesn’t appear to offer anything new to the table. Even the inclusion of Hannibal as an ally of the detectives has been done before. So why do I love this show so much?
Certainly Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy bring exciting performances to the screen, which would be enough to make the show a success, but this is merely the icing on the cake.
What makes Hannibal truly special is it’s dedication to aesthetics. Where similar shows and films have given us serial killers with a taste for the theatrical, their work is almost singularly depicted as horrific. The gore of their killing takes centre stage, to provide horror for the audience.
In Hannibal, however, the horror is primarily found in the psychological element of the show, in Will Graham and Dr. Lecter’s mind games, among other things. This leaves plenty of room for the audience to appreciate the artistic quality of the murders - horrified though we might be at the materials used, the artistic merit of the murders cannot be disputed.
This is underlined in Dr. Lecter’s passion for the higher arts. Not only is he someone who has an appreciation for food, literature, music and the like, he is himself an accomplished musician, chef and auteur. The scenes in which he prepares his famously cannibalistic meals are depicted in as beautiful a way as the scenes in which he composes a piece of music on the harpsichord. It is natural, then, that his victims are displayed in such shockingly artistic ways.
It is this dedication to how Dr. Lecter interacts with the world which makes the show so great. It shows us the soul of an artist, though lacking in conscience and morality, is yet the most human character in the series.
The Fifth Estate (review)
The Fifth Estate is an enjoyable, if fictitious account of the story of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks and its’ enigmatic mastermind, Julian Assange, up to the events surrounding the leak of classified information that would come to be dubbed “Cablegate.” Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Assange is a joy to watch, echoing his performances of the recent past as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s modern take on the sleuth, and as the villainous Khan from Star Trek Into Darkness . David Thewlis’ performance is also commendable as Guardian reporter, Nick Davies.
At times, The Fifth Estate is reminiscent of 2010’s The Social Network, although …Estate never reaches the greatness of the latter film. Like …Network, …Estate takes liberties with the source material. However, in light of the recent imprisonment of Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning and the severity of the allegations currently levelled against both WikiLeaks and Assange himself, the deviation from reality presented in the film have far reaching and potentially damaging implications. Ironically, this mirrors the accusations made regarding the leaks in the third act, where Assange is turned into the villain.
Overall, the film is presented well, with director Bill Condon turning scenes of Assange and his associate Berg typing on keyboards into engaging action sequences and dreamscapes. The soundtrack is adequate, but it only further serves to make The Fifth Estate feel like a second-rate version of The Social Network.
Is anyone actually surprised by the news that the USA is collecting and storing massive amounts of personal data?
"This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper."
LucasArts is gone. With their final game being the poorly received and poorly reviewed Star Wars Kinect, their demise has given T.S. Eliot’s words from The Hollow Men credence.
Best known for their many Star Wars games, such as Rogue Squadron, the Dark Forces series, Knights of the Old Republic and Battlefront, and also the Monkey Island series, LucasArts has been a beacon of brilliance in the video game industry, having showcased work from legends like Tim Schaffer and Dave Grossman.
In what some may consider an act of kindness, Disney gutted the famed game studio, forcing roughly 150 people out of their jobs and cancelling all current projects, although the company will still exist as a licencor for the Star Wars games.
Before the internet haet machine rears its ugly head to rage at Disney, I feel that it is important to remember a couple of things.
1) Disney will be licencing out the Star Wars licence to 3rd party developers. This should be a good thing.
2) Disney are in the business of making more money. They’ll remember the games that made LucasArts money, if nothing else. Remember that LucasArts made some excellent and well selling games.
3) Star Wars Kinect was so awful that it was most likely a subconscious suicide note from LucasArts
Circumcision and Religious Freedom
If you want to remove part of your body for religious, health or even fashion reasons, that is fine. It doesn’t matter to me what you do to your own body. What I object to is when you force a child to have part of their body removed to please your mumbo-jumbo deity. You are sick and disgusting for depriving another human being the opportunity to investigate the pros and cons of having it removed and to make the decision themselves.
What kind of depraved mind believes that it should be a freedom to inflict a permanent change on another human’s body to please their imaginary friend? It honestly baffles me. What confuses me more is how so many of the people who support this insanity claim to be individualists, yet they would willingly refuse their own child the choice of whether he wants to keep his foreskin or not.
As for the arguments regarding the health benefits of removing it - apparently it reduces the risk of HIV - that’s all well and good, yet seeing how the vast majority of you sick bastards have some deeply held religious belief that removing the foreskin will make your god happy, it brings to mind the question: do you also expect your child to abstain from sex until marriage, as your religious doctrines dictate? After all, if your child abstains from sex until marriage, it is only just before his wedding night that he even needs to consider circumcision. If you do not expect your child to abstain, then you clearly have no care for that specific religious belief, at least not to the extent that you would force your child to abstain, so why force them to undergo this permanent procedure?
"One of the basic conditions for the victory of socialism is the arming of the workers and the disarming of the bourgeoisie."
- Vladimir Lenin
Says the man who then became elevated to the level of the displaced bourgeois.
Review: The Bible
With breathtaking scope, the world of Bible is an alternative history of our own world, where a powerful deity, known only as Lord God, seeks to save humanity from the punishment he sentenced them to.
In the first book, The Old Testament, Lord God creates the world and everything which exists, before creating the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. When they are tricked into eating the forbidden fruit by a talking snake, Lord God banishes them from the paradise he had created, thus setting in motion the 4000 year epic which follows the stories of Adam and Eve and their descendants, through triumph, misery and the wrath of the vengeful Lord God.
The sequel, The New Testament, sees Lord God’s heart soften enough to attempt to save humanity by becoming one himself through a miraculous virgin birth. Renaming himself Jesus, he challenges the ideas many other humans have, developing a following, preaching love and forgiveness as virtues and using his magic to impress and help people. Unfortunately this mission is a short lived failure, as after only 4 chapters, Lord God’s human avatar is brutally murdered by the very people he was trying to save. What follows is an attempt to spread the tale of Lord God’s brief time in the world.
While the author has constructed a believable and magical world, his overzealous moralising, misogyny and homophobia mar what is could otherwise be a great work of fiction.
The Bible is out now.
I have heard the phrase “Who are we to judge?” too many times in recent months. There is an assumption amongst some thinkers that from a position of moral subjectivity, since one’s own standards are different from another’s, one cannot judge them by their actions.
"Judge not that ye be not judged," say the famous (if often misquoted) words of Jesus Christ, a most insidious form of moral cowardice. To fear the judgement of others is to lack the conviction of the morals you have chosen for yourself. The moral relativist knows that their morals are not set in stone, and that thus to be judged allows them to re-evaluate their own positions.
I do not feel that judging is a moral duty, but when your defence against criticism is that no one has the right to judge, followed by a justification that you, yourself, do not judge, you are judging those who judge, which is hypocrisy.
Simply holding different standards to someone else does not make you any more right than them, but you are perfectly justified in saying that you disapprove of their actions. Perspective can help you understand the motives behind the actions, but that does not always excuse them. It is cowardice to stay silent when you witness actions you hold to be immoral.
Never belong to a crowd; Never belong to a nation; Never belong to a religion; Never belong to a race. Belong to the whole existence. Why limit yourself to small things? When the whole is available.
Get stuck. Stay in one place your whole life. Always order vanilla even though the menu is four pages long. Become the type of person who sends back lattes. Save up your money for a plasma TV instead of a plane ticket. Talk a lot about things you know nothing about. Have an affair with someone you don’t even find attractive.
Refuse to forget your ex. Make it impossible for yourself to do anything without remembering that you used to do it with them. Hug your knees under the sheets and think about how safe you felt when they held you at night. Remind yourself daily of how empty you feel. Find new ways to make yourself sad.
Get drunk all the time. Consider no Saturday night, national holiday or extended happy hour complete without a vodka-induced breakdown. Graduate college but keep drinking like you’re still in it. Notice that cheap beer tastes watery and stale when you drink it alone but drink it anyway. Look at old Facebook photos wasted and wonder where everyone went.
Never drink. Never do anything that could potentially be “bad” for you. Treat your body like the temple it is and say no to carbs, yes to wheatgrass, go to bed at ten sharp and turn down cake on your birthday. Take fifteen different dietary supplements. Monitor carefully. Succumb to nothing. Miss out on everything.
Compare yourself constantly, to everyone. Allow the standards of image-obsessed, age-obsessed culture to make you feel decrepit at 25. Scroll through skinny girls on Tumblr feeling wistful and inadequate. Pull at the skin on your hipbones, stomach, and underarms in the mirror. Sigh a lot. Sigh all the time.
Don’t fall in love with anyone or anything. Put an impenetrable wall between yourself and other people. Add a fire-breathing dragon and eight yards of barbed wire. Be suspicious of everyone’s motives. Hold grudges long after you’ve forgotten what for.
Fall in love with everyone and everything. Run after the next best thing like it’s a bus you’re perpetually late for. Throw your heart into every other stranger’s hands and be genuinely surprised to be hurt. Refuse to learn. Refuse to ever learn.