Two weeks back, a colleague wore a shirt with a text that also included ‘NEO-TOKYO’. I asked him if this was a reference to Akira, and it turns out that he hadn’t seen that movie. In fact, he didn’t know what I was talking about! So I told him Akira is an iconic anime movie, set in ‘Neo Tokyo’. I offered to loan the DVD it to him, and he was curious enough to take me up on the offer.
So when he returned the disc, I asked if he liked it. He had been very interested, and had watched the whole movie through in one sitting… I offered to loan him that other cyberpunk masterpiece, Ghost in the Shell, which he also had never heard about… And now he has the second GitS movie on loan too, and he told me that he wouldn’t mind having a movie night every Sunday evening…

So now I’m planning out the whole list of movies I’m going to loan him, and a logical sequence between the movies… It’s great when you can share your interests in such a way.

If you think about it, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the most Buddhist movie ever. Of course, Indiana Jones has a lot of desires — the one that drives the movie is his desire to stop the Nazi’s from getting the Ark of the Covenant. And he does suffer because of his desires: he gets shot at, stomped, slapped and kicked — he takes a serious beating throughout the movie in his pursuit of this desire.
And yet, if he had done nothing, the end result would have been exactly the same: the Nazi’s would have opened the Ark and got their face-melting and head-exploding just rewards anyway. So if he would have learned to let go, he would have suffered a lot less, and things would have resolved themselves in the best possible way.

If that doesn’t tell us that desire begets suffering, I don’t know what does.

Facetime

Wednesday, we were in a bookstore, and they also had a display rack with DVDs and BluRays. One of them was a copy of De Nieuwe Wildernis on BluRay. It was reasonably priced, I read good things about it, so I picked it up on a whim.
It’s a feature-length nature documentary about the Oostvaardersplassen, a nature preserve in reclaimed land. Tucked in between Lelystad and Almere, it’s 70 square kilometer of marshes and grasslands. Deer, wild bovines and wild horses have been released there, and it’s a favourite spot for many geese and foxes. There is no active stewardship: nature is left to run its course — hence the title “the new wilds”.

One of the scenes shows a doe in winter, who is not going to make it. She lies down to die, and the movie shows a close-up shot of her eyes as she dies. Then there’s a timelapse of the close-up, and you see the moon rising in the reflection of the eye, and then the eye freezes over.
That was very, very moving to see. Which made us think: why is this so moving to us?

A philosopher friend of ours once pointed out that we tend to project ourselves into animals, and attribute emotions and thoughts when there are none. An important factor was whether the animal had a face that we could recognise and (try to) read. Almost all of our pets are predators, who have their eyes looking to the front, like we. That gives them a face similar to ours, which makes it easier for us to project a personality into the animal. Herbivores, like horses and cows, have their eyes on either side of their elongated heads, making it harder for us to identify with them, and we don’t ascribe as rich personalities to them as we do to our predator pets.

But if you zoom in on only the eye, then that’s all you see. That makes it easier to project a personality, or at least an emotion, to the deer — in the ‘making of’ documentary, one of the cameramen remarks that they chose to emphasize the eyes of the animals, to show ‘the soul of the animal’. In other words, so that we humans could more easily identify with the animal.
And that was why it was so moving to see that doe die: to see the life leaving her eye and it then freezing over.

I know that’s how it works, but it was still an emotional moment in the movie. I guess it’s hard-wired into us.

Skyfall

We went to see Skyfall this afternoon. I had ordered and paid tickets in advance through the magic of the internet, and we were assigned specific seats. And it was very busy, what with it being the last day of the vacation.
But when we entered the room, these seats were already taken by people who had been assigned those specific seats too — but from the ticket office. It took some time to get it resolved, and it resulted with us getting not the best seats. By then the trailers had already started, so we had to stumble across half a row of seats to get to ours.
I hate it when things seemingly have been taken care of, except that they aren’t and nobody told you in advance. I don’t think I’ll be taking this route for getting tickets anymore.

Anyway, the movie. We enjoyed it — it had all those traditional exotic Bond locales like tall skyscrapers, casinos and even an uninhabited island. But at the same time it’s also a bit grittier and ‘dirtier’ than Moore and Connery-era Bond, which I liked.
I disliked the new Q, though. His disdain for field work is uncalled for. And I can’t believe he thought himself to be so smart while connecting the laptop of a known super-hacker to the MI6 internal network. That’s just stupid — my clients don’t allow that, even though I have the latest virus scanners on my laptop.

All in all, a good time was had.