Archive | Country Matters

In Defense of Real Science at the Movies

I keep flashing on what a colleague said to me as we exited a critics’ screening of “The Martian.” “Good movie,” he said. “But too much science.” I couldn’t help laughing. His comment reminded me of my favorite scene from “Amadeus” (1984), in which the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II dismisses a new work by composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by saying, “There are simply too many notes.”

To be clear, I’m not suggesting director Ridley Scott is on the level of Mozart. (Sometimes he’s not even on the level of Salieri; hi, “Prometheus.”) But I do think that you can never have “too much science” in a movie, at least when the science is accurate and well-executed. Matter-of-factly miraculous, science is like cinema at its best. Continue Reading →

Q&A: Team ‘He Named Me Malala’

“Just because she has become a P.R. machine doesn’t mean she’s not the real deal,” said director Davis Guggenheim of Malala Yousafzai, the eighteen-year-old education activist who was shot in the head in 2012 and lived to tell her story. We were at New York’s The London hotel, where, along with producers Laurie MacDonald and Walter Parkes, Guggenheim had convened to discuss “He Named Me Malala,” their documentary about the Pakistani teenager who had become a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, opening October 2. At times, the conversation, though polite, became quite charged.

Because he was in a room of mostly American journalists, one of the first questions lobbed at Guggenheim was, “How, as filmmakers, did you navigate the fact that Malala has become a brand?”

“I understand why you have to ask that,” said Guggenheim, with a professorial patience. “But I live in a very nice Hollywood ghetto and my process is to make the stories I want to make, which is very separate from brand-making.” (Among the director’s previous projects is the Academy Award-winning eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”) Continue Reading →

How We Belong to Each Other

I’m amazed once again by the beautiful tenderness of others. It would have been so easy to dismiss my sorrow about losing my beloved auto Sadie as indulgent, disproportionate, even mad. Instead, I received so much gentle kindness yesterday. In some cases it was because others empathized with what I was mourning–the loss of insouciance; the loss of my grandfather (again); the loss of a dear friend, inanimate or not–but generally speaking it was simpler than that. Pain is pain, and to date nothing has robbed us of our basic impulse to tend to those who feel it. I am grateful.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy