Archive for April, 2012

Let’s visit the British Library

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment

The British Library entrance Source:

Gloomy, dark, dusty, boring, full of strange silent people with unfashionable glasses become bent because of the huge amount of time spent on the books.

This has been the usual picture of a library – a place reserved for a small niche of intellectuals concentrated in reading, thinking, and meditating about every written work existing on the Earth…

But there is a place in London where this idea is completely overturned – the British Library.

This has not the usual image described before; further the books archive, the visitors can find an exhibition room where the entire history of England– but not only – combines with the original literature, poetry and religion writings.

The room was – yes, it is – gloomy and dark, and the lights are low and suffused, but this measure was taken to avoid the deterioration of the precious exhibits.

Geoffrey Chaucer and his masterpiece “The Canterbury Tales” welcomed to whom get in – considered the oldest example of British literature, it contained a set of stories which a group of pilgrims was telling during their travel from Southwark to Saint Thomas Beckett tomb

In Seventeenth century writers were not only writers, but a numerous part of them were politician – John Milton, the author of the poem ‘Paradise Lost’, wrote and addressed to the Parliament the dialogue ‘Areopagitica’, in order to defend the freedom of speech and expression.

The window contained ‘Commonplace Book’, a small notebook in which Milton took down his thoughts about politics, marriage, divorce, censorship, and education.

Turning our back on this section of the display, the collection of another amazing writer loomed in front of us: William Shakespeare.

The original pages of the most famous, mysterious and enigmatic playwright – his real identity is nowadays unknown – were located close the works of other famous rival dramatists, such as Marlowe, Beamount, Fletcher, and Middleton, who competed with the Elizabethan master all their lifetime.

In the library, it was possible to discover new sides of well-known masterpieces authors embedded in never-published pages, for instance Arthur Conan Doyle.

The first exhibit of Sherlock Holmes’ creatos was his first novel “The Narrative of John Smith” – an autobiographical story which through the main character, John Smith exactly, told the thoughts of the writer about politics, war, science, religion, literature, and education.

Italy was present as well with one of its most enlightened artist and inventor: Leornardo Da Vinci, which in these hand-written notebooks voiced all his scientific criticism against the theory of colleagues, such as Leon Battista Alberti.

Since the beginning of the world, the Man was intrigued in understanding the functioning of human being and the relative ways to solve diseases and malfunctions.

Joannes de Ketham has been the first physician to create a detailed medical book – “Fasciculus Medicinae” (1491) – where he has explained his theory of ‘four humours’, consisting of the principle that four kind of bile (black, yellow, blood and phlegm) filled the human body by being balanced perfectly.

While two century later, the Chinese naturalist Li Shizhen listed and studied 1000 kind of animals and 1000 kind of plants having extreme medical value, enclosing them with more then 8000 prescriptions and use.

The most historically relevant part of the exhibition appeared suddenly at our eyes: the Gutemberg Bible (1454) – more than 180 copies were printed with the financial partnership of Johann Fust.

Unfortunately the great discovery brought no fortune to its inventor, which in 1457 failed for debt, and in 1465 he could get a small pension for the benevolence of the Archbishop of Mainz.

Nearby the curators of the museum had arranged the display of the King James’ Bible (1611) – which its 400th Anniversary was celebrated the past year.

This was the first official English translation, but considered by the clergy heretical because it undermined the duty of the Church to be the only one interpreter and preacher of the Scriptures.

Wandering around these windows, it is possible to taste the extraordinary historical spirit of the new technology, which also helped to diminish the illiteracy, but the densest atmosphere came from a small room aside them.

This small, half-hidden room contained the original copies of the Magna Carta, the document considered the first parliamentary treaty.

Its birth was during the reign of King John, characterized by big defeats with France and the Church, which caused the exploitation of the feudal rights in order to finance them.

The dissent of the noble increased until they thought a way to limit King’s powers by finding it in the Charta – the negotiations started on 19th June in Runnymede, near theThamesRiver.

In this way started the origin of our western parliamentary, which then spread – in different kinds – in all European countries after centuries.

The British Library is a good way to compare history and books not only by using stacks and stacks of books, but observing physically them, and connecting with their historical period.

Movie: “Crank” (2006)

April 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Crank, 2006 Source:

Title: Crank

Year: 2006

Director: Neveldine/Taylor

Producer: Tom Rosemberg, Skip Williamson, Michael Davis, Gary Lucchesi, Richard S. Wright

Written by: Neveldine/Taylor

Music: Paul Haslinger

Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Efren Ramirez, Dwight Yoakam, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Keone Young

Length: 93 min

Genre: Action Movie

Distributed: Lionsgate Lakeshore Entertainment

Released: September 1, 2006

Chev Chelios (Jason Statham), a killer engaged to murder Don Kim (Keone Young) – boss of the expanding Chinese mafia – on behalf of Carlito, leader of the Mexican-American criminal branch, woke up in a bedroom in Los Angeles.

He did not remember anything, but he found a DVD – Ricky Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo), his long-time rival, has poisoned him with a new synthetic drug, ‘Beijing Cocktail’, which inhibited the flux of adrenaline by slowing the working of the hearth and causing the death of the person who has been injected to.

It started a long run against the time to try an antidote to stop the effects of the drug.

Among shoot-outs, chases, and paradoxical situations, the advice of Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam), a doctor of the Mafia, and the particular support of Eve (Amy Smart), the Chelios’ girlfriend, helped the unfortunate killer to keep high the level of adrenaline and settled the situation with his rivals.

The rhythm of the movie is fast, appealing and frantic – without doubt the viewers do not fall asleep – and the story is original enough to catch the curiosity of the people.

A good soundtrack, having strong hard rock and in some part hip-hop hints, goes with the narration effectively – it is worth to quote Quiet Riot, ‘Metal health’, or Refused, ‘New noise’.

Jason Statham acts his role in a perfect way by alternating violent-killer moments with funny and embarrassing situations – no one would like, or imagine, to have sex in the middle of a crowded Chinatown to keep high the adrenaline level.

The film maintains the expectations of a good action story by giving the spectators the originality of the plot and moments in which burst in pleasant laugh – ideal to pass a nice evening in company of bullets, chases and fierce criminal.

Movie: “The Illusionist” (2006)

April 8, 2012 Leave a comment

The Illusionist, theatrical poster Source: Wikipedia

Title: The Illusionist

Year: 2006

Director: Neil Burger

Producer: Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Michael London, Cathy Schulman, Bob Yari

Written by: Steven Millhauser (short-story), Neil Burger (screenplay)

Music: Philip Glass

Starring: Edward Norton, Aaron Johnson, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, Eleanor Tomlinson, Rufus Sewell

Length: 109 min

Genre: Drama, Romance, Science Fiction

Distributed: Yari Film Group, 20th Century Fox (DVD)

Released: August 18, 2006

Vienna, 19th century, Edward Abramovic (Edward Norton), also known as Eisenheim the Illusionist, was arrested with the charges of disturbing public order, necromancy, and threat against the Empire by the Chief Inspector Walter Uhl (Paul Giamatti) during a performance.

Eisenheim (Aaron Johson) was born in a little village from the family of a cabinetmaker in the Austrian countryside, and deeply intrigued by magician tricks.

One day, teenager, he met the young Sophie (Eleanor Tomlinson), daughter of the Duke von Teschen, and they fell in love each other by starting to meet secretly – but because of the different social classes, her father discovered the place where they were used to stay, obliging them not to meet anymore.

Eisenheim escaped towards East, reappearing after 15 years as master illusionist inVienna, where, during a show, he recognized Sophie (Jessica Biel), who was going to get married the Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell).

The love between them was stronger than before, so they began to think a way to escape and live together.

After a performance to prove the truthfulness of the tricks, the Prince, who was humiliated during this in front of his noble friends and relatives, decided to shut down the theater.

Leopold had also given the Inspector the job to investigate about the illusionist by discovering the relationship with the future Empress – the following night, the Prince, asking explanation of the betrayal, murdered Sophie because of an excess of wrath and drunkenness while she was trying to escape.

This tragic episode forced the illusionist to open another theater with his savings and focus on a new performance: evoking the spirit of dead people ghosts, including the loved noblewoman.

During the show, the indignation of the spectators soared suddenly being willing to know the real causes of her death, but the police could not arrest Eisenheim for inciting to revolt, because in that moment he disappeared like a spirit.

The Inspector concluded the investigate on the case by discovering the Prince was real guilty of the murder, and during the final report, Leopold committed suicide, concluding the story.

Sure to have concluded the case, the inspector carried on his duties, until, struck by a little detail in the illusionist laboratory, he discovered the real astonishing development of the facts.

An amazing movie which confirms the strong ability of Edward Norton – main character of ‘American History X’, movie which allowed him to be consecrated great actor, and ‘Primal Fear’ with Richard Gere – of acting the roles of clever and shrewd cheat.

Rufus Sewell – already known for the TV series ‘The Pillars of The Earth’ – gives a good demonstration of his flexibility, from the sweet and fond Tom Builder in the series inspired by the Ken Follet book to the arrogant and quick-tempered Prince Leopold.

The movie carries the viewers in an involving story by keeping the grab of their attention and revealing the truth with an unthinkable coupe de theatre – who will allow the final laugh of the Chief Inspector to burst sincerely.

Movie: “Inside Job” (2011)

April 2, 2012 Leave a comment

"Inside Job" poster Source: Wikipedia

Title: Inside Job

Year: 2011

Director: Charles Ferguson

Written by: CharlesFerguson,Chad Beck, Adam Bolt

Starring: Charles Ferguson (interviewer), Matt Damon (narrator)

Length: 108 min.

Genre: Documentary, Video Inquest

Precise, accurate, detailed, one of the best journalistic reports produced in these years, “Inside job” analyzed the American crisis in 2008 with an expert eye by highlighting the strict connections between economy and political world.

The director and co-producer Charles Ferguson interviewed the characters of the story – MPs, bank and financial high rank managers, economists – by asking them biting and provocative questions.

Matt Damon lent his voice as narrator by leading the viewers in this world made of easy high profits, wealth, and political powers assembled in a small group of individuals’ hands.

The documentary consisted of five parts from the beginning of this trouble in the Sixties.

After 20 years, the laissez-faire policies of Ronald Regan boosted the financial industry with the fundamental help of leading American economists: Alan Greenspan – who declined to be interviewed – former Chairman of the Federal Reserve and Robert Rubin, Co-chairman of Goldman Sachs.

A strict cooperation between technology and finance created one of the most dangerous – and, under certain aspects, mysterious – financial products: the derivatives, a sort of ‘gambling’ bond issued to protect to from losses of companies’ failures.

The director edited the movie skilfully by alternating interviews and clips of the investigations realized by the senate hearings, in which appeared clearly the impressive inability of the managers to explain the causes of their bankruptcy.

Subsequently it presented a satisfactory analysis of the journalistic inquests made before and after this catastrophe – the Allan Sloan’s piece, senior editor for Fortune Magazine, stood out among the others for his complete comprehension of the phenomenon.

But the viewer will remain upset by watching and hearing the senseless answers of Daniel Sparks, former mortgages department head of Goldman Sachs, to the insistent questions of Senator Carl Lewin, chairman of the delegation.

Frederick Mishkin, governor of Fed from 2006 to 2008, provided, sadly, the funniest performance – during his interview he alternated vague answers with non-answers.

At a certain point, Charles Ferguson asked him why he left the Fed in August, and the economist answered that he had to revisit a text book.

The director’s remark was blazing: “I’m sure your text book is important, but in 2008, you know, somewhere more important things were going on in the world, don’t you think?”, leaving the economist with a empty look towards nowhere.

The movie carried on interviewing eminent economists and University teachers – for instance Martin Feldstein and Glenn Hubbard – who admitted, astonishingly without regret, their decisions when they were respectively members of the AIG and Capmark Financial Corporation.

The last part – “Where we are now” – consisted of a wrap-up on the current situation; the societies, American in particular, are becoming poorer and more unequal by obliging the governments to increase taxes, especially in education, and cutting public services – while the connections between banks and politics are become stricter.

Although Barack Obama promised to introduce regulation for the financial market, Wall Street carried on its lobbyst power, and William C. Dudley, the former Chief Economist of Goldman Sachs, the biggest financial institution using derivatives, was appointed president of the NY Federal Reserve.

Besides no one financial actor has been prosecuted for security fraud or accounting fraud.

The period after 2008 disorder created a lot of examples of films on the subject – ‘Capitalism: A love story’ (2009) by Michael Moore or ‘Debtocracy’ (2011), by Katerina Kitidi and Aris Hatzistefanou – but this work can be assessed the best, essentially for two strong reasons: the main, Charles Ferguson put the people in front to a camera, and the viewers can see directly who made mistakes and dirty profits.

The second, the journalistic seriousness explaining the facts, combined with a clever hint of irony, does not annoy the viewers by allowing them to enjoy intensely the narration.

Unlike the Moore or Kitidi and Hatzistefanou work, ‘Inside Job’ avoids propagandistic tones by providing all the necessary knowledge to think about a good alternative to the current system.