19 July 2010


Last night I made the mistake of going to watch Inception, a new film by Christopher Nolan. The verdict:
Complete, utter trash.
It starts as a boring story. It gets more boring by trying to be complicated, it develops into a boring scenario, when it becomes so boring that you have to walk out.

So I did: After an hour or so, I couldn't take it any more and walked out feeling that I had (i) wasted money, (ii) wasted time, and (iii) become irritated by my stupid choice to go see an idiotic film.

But I should have known better. I should have read the New Yorker's review of the film:
Christopher Nolan, the British-born director of “Memento” and of the two most recent Batman movies, appears to believe that if he can do certain things in cinema—especially very complicated things—then he has to do them. But why? To what end? His new movie, “Inception,” is an astonishment, an engineering feat, and, finally, a folly.
He has spent 10 years contemplating the movie and finally came up with total trash.
He has been contemplating the movie for ten years, and as movie technology changed he must have realized that he could do more and more complex things. He wound up overcooking the idea.
If only I had spent 5 minutes looking at the review I would have realized the unfathomable stupidity of the film whose main idea is that we are watching people dreaming about dreaming:
Nolan gives us dreams within dreams (people dream that they’re dreaming); he also stages action within different levels of dreaming—deep, deeper, and deepest, with matching physical movements played out at each level—all of it cut together with trombone-heavy music by Hans Zimmer, which pounds us into near-deafness, if not quite submission.
I would have known that Nolan makes films at the level of Big Brother, for audiences who love watching films in order to kill 2 hours of their time:
Dreams, of course, are a fertile subject for moviemakers. Buñuel created dream sequences in the teasing masterpieces “Belle de Jour” (1967) and “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972), but he was not making a hundred-and-sixty-million-dollar thriller. He hardly needed to bother with car chases and gun battles; he was free to give his work the peculiar malign intensity of actual dreams. Buñuel was a surrealist— Nolan is a literal-minded man.
If only I had realized that Nolan was the one who took a wonderful Norwegian film, Insomnia, a 1997 film by Erik Skjoldbjærg, and made it into a Holywood blockbuster in 2002, a very poor immitation of the 1997 original, I would have known that Nolan's films are to be avoided at all costs. But I hadn't relized that Nolan is the same joke of a director who spoiled the Norwegian film.

David Denby, in his review for the New Yorker, concludes thus:
In any case, I would like to plant in Christopher Nolan’s head the thought that he might consider working more simply next time. His way of dodging powerful emotion is beginning to look like a grand-scale version of a puzzle-maker’s obsession with mazes and tropes.
I absolutely agree. However, I'm afraid that as long as there are Big Brother watchers, Nolan's films will keep generating money for him and his sponsors.

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What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant