Saturday, August 14, 2010
Contact, baby! One of the most thought-provoking movies of all time! Sorry more of you haven't seen it--or seen it recently enough to stay in your memories very well. Besides great acting, this film is completely engrossing even as it is wrestling with very high-level science and cultural commentary. If we actually had discovered irrefutable evidence of uber-intelligent life in another galaxy and this other species invited us to build a machine, I absolutely think the variety of reactions portrayed in this film would be nearly exactly the same--everything from the military and defense guys' worries over security, to the religious groups trying to protect their turf (in both subtle and terrible ways), to the parties and crazy folk, to the international committees attempts to find the right kind of person(s) to represent our species to the aliens, etc. Besides being fascinating in all these ways, it is also--at least to me--very inspiring, pointing toward a more ennobling future. I highly recommend it.
As a teaser to get some more of you to see it, there is a very short but unflattering Utah reference in the film (though not really something to be upset about as there is no Mormon-specific commentary). The reference relates to this crazy character (played by Gary Busey's son, who totally looks like his dad, I think):
Side note: Carl Sagan, the author of the book that this was based on, and which was quite different than the movie, spoke at my Ph.D. graduation just months before he died and also before the film came out. He admitted to being very much like the Jodie Foster character in this film: skeptical but capable of profoundly religious-type feelings upon some of his experiences pondering the cosmos. He didn't think it was a good idea to look to God or outside forces to solve our planetary crises--that is our job--but he could still understand the feeling of mystery at the heart of much religion.
So, how did the contest go? Matt and Alex weighed in with good guesses, though wrong ones, based on the Monday clue. They guessed Finding Forrester and Juno respectively. No one guessed anything from the Wednesday clue. Our winner came following the Thursday one about how they should have sent a poet--and that winner was George. I didn't know this was quite so high on his list of all-time favorites so perhaps the contest was a bit unfair. BUT it does show that the man with the unusual musical tastes does know a great film when he sees it! The Friday clues brought two more correct guesses, the first by Emily quite quickly after the clues were posted, and then a few hours later by Matt. That was it. (Let me quickly add that Emily is an impressive player to me. This was the second or third time she's weighed in on films that I've picked where she tells me she really isn't all that familiar with the film but then shares how she pieces the clues together to make her guesses. And she's been right each time simply based on really examining the quotes for any kind of context they provide and then running through films that she knows are about those subjects. So congrats to her for a well-deserved First Runner-up this week.)
George, you are stomping us in this contest! Congrats. Looking forward to what film you choose for this week's competition....