“Paths of Glory” by Stanley Kubrick (1957)

I haven’t seen as many movies as I would like. In fact, I own several movies on DVD that I just haven’t got around to watching yet. On the rare occasion that I find myself with a free evening and no objections (the movies I often want to watch aren’t universally appreciated, for some reason), sometimes I’ll sit down and actually watch one of the many many movies that I haven’t yet had the chance to.

One of the few Stanley Kubrick movies that I hadn’t yet seen, Paths of Glory sat in shrink-wrap for a few years before the opportunity presented itself tonight to be watched. And I should have watched it earlier, of course. Kubrick is known for the tightness of his movies (length and tightness needn’t be opposites), and this one is no exception. It’s interesting to reflect on these earlier pieces of his, where his style is still unmistakable but his infamous perfectionism isn’t quite as blatant.

This film is billed as “one of the greatest anti-war film ever”, and while that statement does sum it up quite neatly, there’s not enough context to describe what the film’s about. I guess the feeling of a war movie strongly echoes which war it’s covering. While more modern films such as Full Metal Jacket or Apocalypse Now begin in some sort of reality and descend into situational insanity, Paths of Glory takes a tiny look at war in the trenches and focuses on the futility of the whole situation. Two groups of people facing each other with guns and nowhere to go just can’t be resolved from the inside. But trying to escape the situation isn’t going to work either. Not insane. Just frustrating waste.

One of my favourite experiences is when the credits roll and all you can do is sit in silence thinking about the movie. Too often reality intrudes when I do this, but it’s really a moment to be savoured. It’s not any one part of the film, like great cinematography or a well written script. It’s when the movie evokes feelings that resonate past when the film ends, and you wish everyone could just share in that moment.


I've never been so busy…and I'm rambling…

I’ve been so busy recently that my sleep regulator went unstable. But it’s my fault. I’ve got no excuses after a long weekend. I find it quite interesting the effects of tiredness has on my mental state, particularly the amplification of grumpiness. I find being grumpy fascinating, in that I acknowledge that I’m being completely unreasonable trying to blame everyone else for my troubles, but nonetheless try and justify it to myself anyway. And after blaming people around me for a while, I become depressed; it’s a well-worn spiral.

Luckily for me, my depression doesn’t last. So here I am, two hours later for uni already. MarsEdit has been updated so I can post things to Blogger again without having to go through their web interface (mostly why I’ve been quiet here recently, besides generally having no time). There’s a weird old Italian man in my shower, taking it to bits and putting it back together again, on account of an interminable drip you see. I can’t understand a word he says, but he’ll be there for a while.

I’ve got this experiment going on a uni that totally isn’t working at all. And it needed to be working a couple of weeks ago so I could write a paper on it. I’m kind of screwed, because the deadline is in two and a half weeks. Not a good time to be sitting on the couch at 11am in the morning in my dressing gown. Oh well, in the whole scheme of things it’s not that bad. After this paper is done, I’m going to start my thesis. And my personal theory is that you need practise for writing well, so it would be a bad idea for me to neglect this website any more than I have been doing.

To finish off, here’s some things I’ve learned recently that I found interesting. Pterodactyls weren’t dinosaurs; the word stands for any flying dinosaur. They ranged in size from 20cm to 20m wingspan. Twenty meters!? When we can build aircraft that can fly as efficiently as that, I’ll be happy. Ever heard those amateur model helicopters that are less than a meter long? Damn they’re loud. I want a mechanical pterodactyl.

So it turns out that acupuncture has some sort of scientific basis behind it, which I found very gratifying while having it done to me. (Terrible neck from too much ‘puter.) From what I can gather, “bad” areas along the spine come about from a runaway feedback loop involving the localised nerves and muscles in the area. The first twinge will result in muscles tensing up to protect the delicate nerves/spine/whatever beneath. This is generally beneficial when the spine is being normal. But when something in the spine is wrong, such as a vertebrate out of place, the tensing of the muscles can lead to further problems. So the nerves trigger a signal to protect themselves, which tenses the muscles, which triggers the nerves more, which makes the muscles pull tighter…you get the picture; in the end, the brain is essentially flooding the muscles with “hold tight” signals even when it would be better to relax. Acupuncture resets this somehow in a process that’s too complicated for me to understand. All to do with the impulse pain of the puncture overriding the slow response of the “twinge-tense” action of the muscle, as I understand it.

Anyway, interesting stuff. After the acupuncture, the mis-aligned spine still needs to be massaged into place. I wonder if resonating the spine (locally) with vibrations could make this easier (either for the practitioner or the patient) to fix. If you could excite the twisting mode between individual vertebrate, it should theoretically be relatively easy to excite them back into place. But maybe not — you might end up doing more damage than in the first place!