Carol : A Film Review

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Director, Todd Haynes, Cast, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, John Magaro, Cory Michael Smith, Carrie Brownstein, Kevin Crowley, Nik Paget.
UK/USA/France. Duration 1hr 58mins. Cert. 15.
The Price of Salt
Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel “The Price of Salt,” is a love story set in an impassioned fire of attraction, longing, desire, openness and discovery. Therese the younger attraction to Carol our central character, is played by the dreaming, longing attentive Rooney Mara who is a shopgirl seen in a Christmas of that age. Shopper Carol Aird played by the top to toe extravagantly dressed, furred, Cate Blanchett is no less a striking image. They share a moment in their roles in the bustling Department store parting with no more than a shared connection of each’s attractiveness to the other.
Therese Belivet is looking through Carol and seeing a mirror image of a confidence she admires, possibly aspires to and reflecting her dreaming youth and beguiling imagination of what is to come. Therese is almost lynx like and mercurial with natural beauty and open eyes. If Carol has a mask it is her assuredness which carries her through despite her inner demons and uncertainties.
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The art of attraction is a frisson of design found in a world view and here reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn. Seen as we have the recent ad with Hepburn restored in a dark chocolate chauffeur driven role, it is a hard act to follow. We are brought into a confident arena of New York space in which Therese is a foal and Carol a fully developed throughbred ace and pilot of her generous friendships including Abby (Sarah Paulson) who is besotted though an instrument of Carols muse.
Abby is a muse from an earlier stage of the decade long marriage to Harge (Kyle Chandler) Carols omnipresent ex-husband whose remaining love for her is always a danger and sometimes unmanageable presence due to their daughters upbringing bringing with it all the confusions a young child has to cope with when their mother and father live apart.
Abby entered the collection of relationships we learn near the 7 year itch.
She has moved on remaining friends but Harge uses her as sabre to thrust control over Carols life in bring up their child.
Higher or lower
Highsmiths men never are (Ripley excused due to intellect?!) ones who garner sympathy when cast as villain nor hero when cast as saviour.
Her own complex personality not so much causes her not to ‘know’ men but to never be driven to use any insight preferring to view the female role in its complexity. That is the writers, perhaps even virtuous, gift – to so describe and construct a female character as to have every bone and sinew flex and appear real and so powerful. Carol is a brilliantly composed, rounded – in the sense the flaws and rawness are clear, – even the coyness, control in the lovemaking scenes – when she is in command is done with a finesse of restraint and therefore creating more depth and characterisation in place of the written word.
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Perfecting the Story
The narrative sweep of the film has two core turning points.
The first is when Harge makes things difficult for Carol to hold onto
Mood and Period Pitch perfect
Therese has a casual boyfriend whose (Highsmith again reigns) besotted and dullard view is thrust into wider confusion for the young girl finding female attractiveness a better option, also another companion also fancying her, a journalist friend, Dannie (John Magaro) on The New York Times, whose more realistic view contains a view of Therese for her skills – she has an ambitious photographers eye and it is cultivated in several ways – beautifully involving the look of the film – and he encourages her wider and higher than her own vision by his access to the newspaper and it’s oeuvre. Talking of which Harge is also a character lifted into a role which takes a lot of playing. His blinkeredness concerning business and success – evident through the lifestyle they both can live in separation, and the controlling freakery he uses as lighting the blue touchpaper Carol is struggling with concerning her array of feelings and values makes for a memorable and persuasive part. It cannot be easy playing the villain though the otherwise I’m sure, charming Chandler might coyly retort ‘it’s tough but it pays well!’
Similarly Dannie is a good part and when it is shown he watches Sunset Boulevard a lot – to see what’s not being said – that point serves the silences we come across.
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Finessing
The masterly Todd Haynes has prepared for us several emotional hammer blows while at the same time created featherlight moments. Music is the oeuvre for two most telling pieces of love visualisation when it’s used in singular tonal orchestral refrain with close up to set it apart and capture the moment. If anyone else spotted that code within it I would appreciate knowing otherwise I’m out on a limb! The direction is superbly slow and measured. Never are scenes broken up by constant reframing but single long shots are frequent. In them the sides are sometimes brought in by corridor, door, booth, to create almost a square, asymmetrically at times which gives the sense of looking in on a part of the story which is intimate and out of our participation. One such scene is late on at a family gathering at home when mannerisms are affecting and behavior is saviour end as story.
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Her friends are not in short supply. Out of the book the conservative Highsmith is elevated and our vision encapsulated by the real lovers in thrall is a never overtaken image.
Once viewed once smitten as they entwine as transference of each other’s adoration. Pure and erotic and poetry captured by the cinematographer, as accomplished by the storyteller, Highsmith, the screenwriter, Phyllis Nagy and Todd Haynes weight of delivery.

Conclusion #####5
This film will endure for many reasons, it’s consummate excellent resume and cast, it’s exploration of the sexes and the period stifling orthodoxies of times past. It shapes the New York scenery and the dominance of commerce as a tool to reconfigure America after the War. Optimism outside of McCarthyism is pronounced as the bold confidence of the seemingly open land of opportunity provides insufficient soul and lacks retrospect.
Hides are tough and role play counts a great deal. Honesty is another tool which you use or set aside to preserve the status quo and perpetuity of the age of normal. Cinema of the time was not reflective except for the likes of ‘Whose afraid of ..’ and steamers of the passionate clashing with the errant youth but in the mainstream and novels of this kind were rare taking on marginal live and sexual mores. The delivery of this is therefore fresh and new hitherto unseen in such awesome depth and the playing of all involved is brilliant in conveying the masterful artful direction of Todd Haynes and even the clothes are spectacularly neat conveyances of human structures and fashion. If only someone would add a splash of mud or dirt on car hubs, wheels, and let the windscreens dirt up a bit it would be perfect as a film!

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Phyllis Nagy Screenwriter

John Graham

26 November 2015

Belfast

At QFT Belfast from This Friday until 10 December 2015 so no excuse for not seeing it and maybe a couple of times!

http://www.queensfilmtheatre.com will give further guidance

These are the present scheduled dates and times

This Week
Fri 27th Nov – 6:20pm Fri 27th Nov – 8:50pm
Sat 28th Nov – 6:20pm Sat 28th Nov – 8:50pm
Sun 29th Nov – 6:00pm Sun 29th Nov – 8:30pm
Mon 30th Nov – 6:20pm Mon 30th Nov – 8:50pm
Tue 1st Dec – 6:20pm Tue 1st Dec – 8:50pm
Wed 2nd Dec – 6:20pm Wed 2nd Dec – 8:50pm
Upcoming
Thu 3rd Dec – 6:20pm Thu 3rd Dec – 8:50pm
Fri 4th Dec – 8:50pm
Sat 5th Dec – 1:00pm Sat 5th Dec – 3:50pm
Sun 6th Dec – 7:50pm
Mon 7th Dec – 8:50pm
Tue 8th Dec – 8:50pm
Wed 9th Dec – 8:50pm
Thu 10th Dec – 8:50pm

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War : What and Why

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ANTHROPOPATHY

anthropopathy
– noun

ascription of human passions or feelings to a being or beings not human, especially to a deity.
Also, an·thro·pop·a·thism.

Origin
Anthropology is widely known as study of humans origins distinct from other animals. So it is dubitable assigning anthropathy an otherness likening it to neither human or animal.

Intrinsically we have to make a literal leap of faith to rise above ambiguity of speech or amphiboly. Therein lies the crux of us beginning to, in this the Anthropocene age or epoch, being able to grasp the fundamental dilemma of our existence. That to return to ‘forever’ we have to make the choices renewed in us by the creator. Such choices are the challenges set throughout each persons existence including and foremost in this narrowing of the narrative our conflicts with others. The War thing.
Sustainable on our planet
I have met a distinguished Climate Scientist, this past week. Her name is Jess Spear of Socialist Alliance Seattle. She has used the expression of Anthropocene in her article ‘A World of Change – The Anthropocene age’ (it uses both titles separately in the journal so use either when searching) for the meaning of what can be described as ‘action of the human age’.
The derivation comes from, she explains, ‘anthro – human, cene – new’.

From the work which appears in Socialist Today Dec/Jan 2015/16 No. 194, she posits the word as defining our present age. She suggests it may be ‘a new geological epoch which we are in is correctly defined in use of this word – “..we are now hotly debating whether we have entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene – ‘anthro – human, cene – new’ – or maybe we have been in it for centuries but just didn’t know it.

She goes on to place the previous epochs, known and less elastic, as in ‘difference’ – “the Holocene and (before that the Pleistocene).”

The Anthropocene is clearly of the human age and is our epoch.

The human condition is challenged to know itself and its place in the universe. No greater guidance is in existence than the word.

Emanating from our boundaries delivered to us in human limitations the encounter with choice is the foremost privilege given as a life form of difference. This prerogative is held dependent on others.

What choices

—Related forms
an·thro·po·path·ic [an-thruh-puh-path-ik] , adjective
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Anthropopathy
This is a virtually extinct word or absent from our daily conscious.
When associative words appear in newsreels or in cinematic revivals of horrific human cannibalism the word anthropophagi appears as a cast of the group who consume human flesh.

Programmed to fear
Consider the plight of the human brains thoughts when it comes down in a wilderness ‘in the middle of nowhere’. The human mind turns to its programmes of survival.

Consider that escape or discovery is slipping away and hope is narrowing then other extreme thoughts enter the mind. Many times humans have killed or scavenged from the ones who do not survive and who die through natural causes. Groups may even create among themselves the resort to killing other outsiders who stand apart, ethnically, class, or nationally.
They adopt the pretext of group difference to give credence to a new view and purpose which is validated as a group not individual intention or act.

So far we are reaching a point where this analogy is creeping towards a comprehension which implicates acts of War.

The primacy of division and difference has been around so long as we have not found mutual means of survival which have been flung far and wide to the measures of adoption of agrarian or anthropological advantage and access. Every location and human is unique in possibilities. The sum is also different.

The worlds diversity has not so far allowed its range of resource and limitations to be stabilised within the compass of mankind. Nevertheless each day and each generation and precisely because their is before us, time in motion, a forward thrust, regulated by a Universal system of perpetuity, every human experiences newness.
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Evolution is driven through and beyond perpetuity by other than natural ‘laws’. Our governance, ourselves create and restrict parameters and choices disintegrate or generate the possible outcomes alongside the natural laws we have no control over.

The narrowness of our minds is our limiting hub. Without collective agreement there shall always be disharmony and this is sent to the extreme act of killing and preventing others from surviving as a race or construct beyond the deity they the war makers have any likelihood of encountering or experiencing. It can happen though they are the only ones to love first themselves and to inspire change from within. Never despair of it not happening because with or without you, at a time near or far it shall happen. Neither an optimist nor a pessimist be.

The presence of a deity is the core relief and prophetic savior of our world.
Send division among people through in acceptance of one deity and creator and the continuity of behaviors will not halt.

This is where the word cannibalism and anthropopathy have an implied resonance as conveyors of truth and understanding.

More material evidence can be discovered by advancing and transposing the immediate concerns more locally and in its many formulations.
The application of this is not secondary but a telling component of the principle thesis.

There is much to think on but reason and asking the question why is key to bringing about change and reversal of the use of war as a means to deliver peace within humanity.

Change needs to start within the individual.

The Wonder of Science : 1600 light years

  

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Discovery of a solar system

 We have a moon and it circles is as we circle the sun so when little images detected by microscopic light changes observe something close (but literally 1600 light years away) our astrophysists get excited.

Here is their excitement

There is a peculiar system 1,600 light-years from our solar system. It is composed of two brown dwarfs, massive objects too big to be planets and too small to fuse hydrogen and become stars. But that is not the strange part: Scientists have now discovered a Venus-sized planet around the smaller brown dwarf. 
A rocky planet orbiting a brown dwarf has never been observed before. This system is therefore thought to be either a scaled-up version of a moon going around a planet or a scaled-down version of a planet going around a star. The ratio between the mass of the host brown dwarf and that of the planet is the same as the ratio between the Sun and Uranus and between Jupiter and Callisto (its second largest moon). The astronomers argue that this suggests the same mechanisms formed Uranus, Callisto and the new planet. 

  
Callisto

Planets and moons form from an accretion disk, a rotating ring-like structure surrounding a larger gravitational body made of dust and gas. Over time, these materials coalesce into large objects that we recognize as planets and moons. The latest discovery indicates that the formation of objects from accretion disks are similar for planets, brown dwarfs and stars.
OGLE-2013-BLG-0723B, the name of the object in question, orbits its host in about 400 days and at a distance of 50 million kilometers (31 million miles). It is 30 percent less massive than the Earth and only slightly less massive than Venus. The discovery and its importance were published in a paper in the Astrophysical Journal.  

  
Saturn

Find out more on ifscience.com

Comment content ie.me!

The thing that finds things

Looking through powerful lenses can be done with computation taking up the visual perceptions beyond the human.  They spot the change of light when the two pass and apparently there are also two dwarfs to observe.

The spooky thing it apparently takes around 400 days to complete a circuit.

The whole formation of planets requires hydrogen to make one.

So out there even more stranger planets will exist.

A stranger being one you don’t know.

John Graham

17 November 2015

Belfast

Gueros : A Film Review

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Mexican Comedy, Subtitled, Cast, Tenoch Huerta, Sebastian Aguirre, Ilse Salas, Leonardo Ortizgris.
Duration 109 mins. Cert. 12 but check for details.

Gueros, which was co-produced by Mexican star Gael Garcia Bernal, has picked up a number of top prizes at the film festival circuit over the past year, including the Best Cinematography prize at last year’s (14) New York City Tribeca Film Festival.
Director Alonso Ruizpalacios
Music Epigmenio Cruz
Güeros is Mexican slang for a person with light hair.
Is everything clearer in Black and White?
Ridley Scott’s man on Mars, ‘The Martian‘ has pulled in half a billion $ in revenue so far and it comprises he says the four cornerstones for ‘Movie success’ – Emotion, Action, Humour, Drama.
This film is an antidote to that box office film which is entertaining and outstanding in its breathtaking speed our of imaginative escapism, making no matter how good this film is it instead it sets it’s self up as firstly an attempt at portraying visually the reality of life in Mexico, Mexicans, Mexico City. It has aspirations in other words.
Secondly it produces a narrative of stream of consciousness through a little boy, 16 with an observational trait. His choice of T – shirt carries the slogan in English, ‘don’t look back’ and carries a small cheap 35mm camera which he snaps key token turning points in the story.
It begins mischievously with a bucket of water ballons and the dropping of one on a pram introducing the ex-girlfriend of the boys brother and himself as the water bomber.
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In 4:3 format the film maker carries on through standard sequences of running as a means of defining neighborhood and propulsion.
Rather than this it becomes a statis and exposition of a type of, stereo type of film camera work and we see the next part where the disillusioned and uncontrollable water bomber is shipped of to the main city by his mother and so begins an odyssey. It dispels backwardness of a type which hinders Mexico while acclaim it’s realism. It uses the aspirations of the Student politics to attach its narrative drive to and to juxtapose the exterior relentless daily competition with the Americanisation epoch of capitalism.
Solely in taking this on it replicates it. As indeed the filmmaker has with the homage to Francois Truffaut among others.
A scene depicts the bourgeoise at a film festival party, (within it, the environs, racism as the title Gueros implies, is extant as it is implied wherever people have fears formulating them with barriers of one kind or another and it manifests in a small standoff at a leisure/ornamental pool) were the poseurs simultaneously forming sweat beads on their foreheads, or by being coked and liquered, for local culture and filmmaking it stands representative of an elitist set (as representing modernity of the City and it’s values maybe) in an outing for recognition amongst themselves. It propels careers while discarding the semblance of the task of constructing a compelling contemporaneous story reflective of history people and truth telling. The elite decide fashionable vehicles from the TV stations – Ana is deflected by this journey – from commandeering the TV stations as an extension of the Guerrilla radio she has commanded interest through her broadcast passions.
If it is of value then so be it but this film still lacks the strength of the idea held within it. The narrowness of character is possibly to blame. Heroes and anti-heros innocence and stereotyping female roles is a negative slant to the film.
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Home
Into the Mexico tenements we are taken next where his older brother is staked out high in a municipal slum block, sans electricity, lift, facilities for normal living. Sombra (real name Federico) is his brother and his friend Santos sit around a table as they explore aimlessly their place in this City at the time of the students strike of 1999. So setting the time period.

Surreal elements of nuanced close up with a crushed spider opening Sombras flat door, by magic eh!, notions of French film outré panning in single shot and returning to orthodox and overhead outdoor filming as a discourse takes place with Aurora, an autistic girl in the flat below who they trick into supplying a lead for electricity are the closest we get to any characterisation.
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That is a bit harsh, apart from from early indications that Sombras has health problems concerning visions of a marauding tiger, little is developed in each character. An implied metaphor of the conditional state lived in. Pawing at his senses of truth and idealism, linked to the Students despair and antipathy with the system and it’s degrading corruption and lack of control. It therefore prefaces the downward decline of state and control and exploration of its people witnessed presently.

There is an inanimate object harnessed into giving some narrative and it is a backwards sentimental journey used as an allegory of the filmmakers set of concerns.
To move or not to move
A philosophy is hinged upon concerning adventure, moving, travel, exploring, absorbing, challenging you the viewer to consider how much is changed in the person and the alternative of standing still and observing that orthodoxy that has everyone chasing their tails so to speak.

Except it is done through a cassette much loved by their father and once again music as in many peoples lives, instinctively or otherwise, comes to the rescue or at least as a consolatory medium. It has a complete focus and intention and works pleasantly as the vehicle for this story.
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The flat is departed when they decide after seeing the cassettes author is in hospital in a dated newspaper go to find him at whatever hospital it seems he is at.
Getting in gear and exploring
So the journey starts. Misfortune, misdirection, meet ups (with Ana the Student activist and ex of Sombras, as they jointly embark on this adventure and homage to eulogise over the forgotten artist hero of their fathers and no the sole messenger of the consciousness and philosophy they imbue.

Like a rock star such as Keith Richards without the dough, Epigmenio Cruz has genes which perpetuate his survival and after a chronic illness has departed the hospital. Despots and desperadoes frequent part

Here comes a very audacious eloquent stirring film with constant engrossing thoughts and provocative notions. It is a stimulating story told in three parts each special and haunting. From the home both the principal character, a young Tomás And his mother have a parting of the ways.
Is it a road movie? There is movement of a kind which is symbolic, through the hospital encounters, the Student political statements and anthropological diatribe offered in this miniature society depiction, the roundabout journey of over old ground seen differently, to the denouement of the journey and it’s objective.
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De-formalising
The use of bit part non-actors, and sometimes I thought the principles were playing into this by ad-libbing, is a rustic charming piece of surreality.
While consciously putting forward the film as non reality it assumes another dimension as art work. The pleasantly shot cinematography by Ruizpalacio enhances it extensively and the evocative provocative auditory (I had to cover my ears during one droning sequence) with acoustic traditional Mexicano music was complimentary for the most part.

Music as originated by a real Epigmenio Cruz was strikingly beautiful and helped choreograph the films movements.

Conclusion ###3 #### 4 if your a film buff interested in variety (not the magazine) etc
This is a film short on real narrative and development of character. Within its self imposed narrow constraints it exposes the measure of live as lived in certain places. Unique as Mexico is it has universal authority but was been willfully or savagely brutalized by the events that are the passage of time and new life discovery. No religiosity as might be a refugee creeps in but a fundamental string of ideas though not pearls exact an emotional and willing warm response.
There is poetry in it fine film making excellent acting and the reward or one of them is a well framed soliloquy in the final elements which is exemplary on several levels. The speech is akin to Plato or Cicero as ‘agnostic’ philosophy goes to my mind. It is a semblance of order in disorder.

John Graham

18 November 2015

Belfast

On at QFT Belfast from this Friday 20 November 2015 until and including Thursday 26 November 2015

Check http://www.queensfilmtheatre.com for other releases and films, events for this Season for mostly intelligent blissful entertainment and to banish the woes of winter and to be sure of times etc.

The Wonder of Science : Sight Restoration

bcpb  Worldwide Assistance Programmes

Science Alert reports the following.

As it is a copy I have made I do so with the offering of the charity for donations to readers who wish to follow it up.

http://www.bcpb.org 

On this site you can obtain information on this the British Council for Prevention of Blindness.

  
This picture shows you how.

A little while back I covered the loss of sight in a film blog.  It concerned a country which us a no go area for the British Council, Indonesia.  It was a salutary tale.
Researchers in the US have developed a new drug that can be delivered directly into the eye via an eye dropper to shrink down and dissolve cataracts – the leading cause of blindness in humans. 
While the effects have yet to be tested on humans, the team from the University of California, San Diego hopes to replicate the findings in clinical trials and offer an alternative to the only treatment that’s currently available to cataract patients – painful and often prohibitively expensive surgery.

Affecting tens of millions of people worldwide, cataracts cause the lens of the eye to become progressively cloudy, and when left untreated, can lead to total blindness. This occurs when the structure of the crystallin proteins that make up the lens in our eyes deteriorates, causing the damaged or disorganised proteins to clump and form a milky blue or brown layer. While cataracts cannot spread from one eye to the other, they can occur independently in both eyes. 

  
Scientists aren’t entirely sure what causes cataracts, but most cases are related to age, with the US National Eye Institute reporting that by the age of 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract, or have had cataract surgery. While unpleasant, the surgical procedure to remove a cataract is very simple and safe, but many communities in developing countries and regional areas do not have access to the money or facilities to perform it, which means blindness is inevitable for the vast majority of patients.
According to the Fred Hollows Foundation, an estimated 32.4 million people around the world today are blind, and 90 percent of them live in developing countries. More than half of these cases were caused by cataracts, which means having an eye drop as an alternative to surgery would make an incredible difference. 
The new drug is based on a naturally-occurring steroid called lanosterol. The idea to test the effectiveness of lanosterol on cataracts came to the researchers when they became aware of two children in China who had inherited a congenital form of cataract, which had never affected their parents. The researchers discovered that these siblings shared a mutation that stopped the production of lanosterol, which their parents lacked. 

Hanae Armitage at Science Mag

So if the parents were producing lanosterol and didn’t get cataracts, but their children weren’t producing lanosterol and did get cataracts, the researchers proposed that the steroid might halt the defective crystallin proteins from clumping together and forming cataracts in the non-congenital form of the disease.
They tested their lanosterol-based eye drops in three types of experiments. They worked with human lens in the lab and saw a decrease in cataract size. They then tested the effects on rabbits, and according to Hanae Armitage at Science Mag, after six days, all but two of their 13 patients had gone from having severe cataracts to mild cataracts or no cataracts at all. Finally, they tested the eye drops on dogs with naturally occurring cataracts. Just like the human lens in the lab and the rabbits, the dogs responded positively to the drug, with severe cataracts shrinking away to nothing, or almost nothing.
The results have been published in Nature.

MIT

“This is a really comprehensive and compelling paper – the strongest I’ve seen of its kind in a decade,” molecular biologist Jonathan King from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) told Armitage. While not affiliated with this study, King has been involved in cataract research for the past 15 years. “They discovered the phenomena and then followed with all of the experiments that you should do – that’s as biologically relevant as you can get.”

  
The next step is for the researchers to figure out exactly how the lanosterol-based eye drops are eliciting this response from the cataract proteins, and to progress their research to human trials. 

Another thing, visit the Science Alert site where new outcomes and interesting roads to discovery are continually brought to your attention.

John Graham

11 November 2015

Belfast

Peace and goodwill to all mankind on this day of Remembrance.

Wild : A Film Review

imageRevisit anew
Here is a review to accompany the Sky Movie Premiere screening (already debuted on the Channel) of a 2014 film which features the dramatic travelogue of a very well constructed role occupied by Reese Witherspoon.
This is a variously, I enjoyed this at the time of its release and was able to let by certain cinematic indulgences mainly to do with pace and momentum as principally the tale is such that it is much to do with internal challenges.
The writing is also exposed to this but I was able as I say to give it a lenient pass in the visible lift Reese Witherspoon gave the whole movie.
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So the song is behind you.
On a dark desert highway? Eagles? No!
One thousand one hundred Miles? Bruce (Almighty) Springinhisstep? Yes! Possibly but this is the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs along the Western spine America from the Mexican to the Canadian border.
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A young but not faint hearted Cheryl Strayed at the age of 26 set about meeting herself as the song goes by putting down her footprints on the trail in 2006.
It then became a book of recollection, of memoir which made the bookshelves and impressed many who read it.
To see it on the screen directed by The Dallas Buyers Club’s man, Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée and to see the brick hard character of Reese Witherspoon get into the story as the eponymous heroine Cheryl Strayed is a very satisfying start to journey on.

Slightly more mature in years would be accurate to say as to opine Laura Dern as her mother Bobbi, of 46 is more akin to a sisterhood projection in our minds, it’s barely time for the history of TV’s first tidy occult feature Twin Peaks to rest as a classic in the vault, we are entwined with the mother daughter relationship without falter anyway as Laura as Bobbi takes to adult learning at Cheryl’s school this becoming fellow students and de-Facto sisters.

In comes a writer for the Dallas Buyers Club evidenced type Jean-Marc Vallée exhorts the need for and a damn good script to lavish a story worth telling on us, comes forth from Nick Hornby with the wit, the wile, the guile to take us on this footsore journey. One step at a time is remorse sly it. The first false move on the actual trip is not enough to stop it in its tracks but enough to show us the immensity of the intent and drive needed to carry on.
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This spine of the Pacific is a well traversed route. It is an honorable route, it is full of reward in exchange for endeavour and onto the big wide screen we are gifted the lush and gorgeous US hidden away from the prisons, malls, airports, drugs, good/bad/both itineracy of randomness Dallas showed and lives became a cropper with.

Set aside the executions and industrial waist expansion ethos besetting contemporary America of now and ration off some slice of the frontiers scope envisioned back then. Back when the nature was little different and the trail was for expediting sure fire distance conquering.

To acclaim Reese Witherspoons playing of this troubled woman as she confronts all that makes up herself is not in the least undeserved. Uncannily, like Matthew Maconaghy did in Dallas among other films, Reese Witherspon gets to become the glorious actor she has longed for the parts to show us she is immensely talented. Just as Matthew got to become that actor so too delivers Reese. A prolonged unsentimental, troubled, conflicted, driven woman is how we see her initially cope with life’s bad knocks.

Flashbacks to the several layers of domestic and personal difficulties Bobbie has encountered is recalled by Cheryl often on this journey.

There is a gulf between the experience Cheryl is paradoxically having, foot trodden and all, and the interior life had by Bobbie. The immensity of landscape is the first counter contrasting value but what is landscape but personal memory and memorial lye this is set down in every wide sky open throw of the lens beautifully capturing this story as it unfolds.

We get to see the Mojave desert, the Eagles territory, Northern California’s ski slopes to the misty forests of Oregon, not Philidelphias ‘walked a thousand miles/ Just to slip this skin’ as one astute viewer found his vital signs touched by. It is grafted on America. Every bite a bite gained. Relentless fruit from the nation of space to live which has commenced lusting after it’s freedoms by defining a few moves that are not.

The film is able to show and tell a story with immense fortuitous gift of memorial making. It provides us with a ticket on the road where the speech is infrequent, where the soundtrack is familiar soundful walking hawking bygone way past longing gone music immaterial until you met up with it again. A tale of special singular aristo with many broad and expansively beautiful and challenging themes which will reward the attentiveness it deserves.

It is likely Reese Witherspoon will gather in some more deserved acclaim on this successful period of work she has been engaged upon of which several more items are set to roll our way again soon.

It is mature film making with a real story at the heart of it and I see the USA trying really hard in Cinema to overcome the riches advanced on the small screen which has hours of detail and restrain to dwell upon the character movie actors have fairly brief spells to put across.

This makes the mark as a film of strength alacrity sensabiltity discovery and beauty inner and outer.

Well worth seeing before you travel on yonder.

John Graham

10 November 2015 revision

Belfast