Saturday, June 6, 2009

Neuroanthropology 2009 Student Posts

The student posts for Dan Lende's class on 'Culture and Compulsion' are posted on Neuroanthropology. As usual, interesting reading that shows off the quality of our majors. Pretty interesting stuff, worth a look. Here are the individual topics, go to the Neuroanthropology link above to access them:

• Why Do They Do It? Portrayals of Alcohol on Facebook and MySpace
• Gambling and Compulsion: Neurobiology Meets Casinos
• What’s the Dope on Music and Drugs?
• Tobacco Worse Than Cocaine?
• Caught in the Net – The Internet & Compulsion
• Lights, Camera… Alcohol?
• Confessions of a Shopaholic
• Can Videogames Actually Be Good For You?
• The New Performance Enhancing Drugs

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Movie Night: "Up"

Michael, Doug and I have been hitting the theaters over the past few weeks to see a variety of movies. Today was supposed to be "Terminator," but "Up" won out due to the time. And I'm glad it did - what an enjoyable movie. (I made this colorful skull balloon image in honor of the film).

Highly recommended - good story about realizing life goals, friendship, adventure, fatherhood, aging, etc. It's also a very beautiful, colorful film. Totally worth going to - with or without kids in tow.

Here's part of a critique of the film:

As a Depression-era kid, Carl thrills to the newsreel exploits of explorer Charles Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer), who pilots his dirigible the Spirit of Adventure to exotic climes. Brought together by a mutual admiration for Muntz, young Carl bonds with tomboyish Ellie, and their make-believe adventures give way to an achingly lovely montage of their marriage and life together. Alas, real-world demands force the couple to perpetually postpone travelling until Ellie becomes too frail for such excitement.

As a stubborn widower, Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) refuses to budge from the couple's pastel Victorian home, even though it's surrounded by a mammoth urban construction site. Rather than go gently to a retirement home, Carl resolves to keep his pledge to Ellie and sets off for South America with the help of a zillion helium balloons. Carl finds an unwanted companion in the perky Boy Scout Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai). Russell wants to help the elderly man, but never expected to be shanghaied by a flying house.

Docter turns Up's whimsical notions into surprisingly potent metaphors. On arrival in South America, Carl and Russell end up on terra firma, tethered to the house like it's a parade float. Docter shows Carl tugging his home, possessions and memories almost literally on his back, as if he's both treasuring his past and shouldering a Sisyphean burden. Ironically, Carl arrives in the land of his dreams but still drags his mundane reality around with him.

Carl encounters a sinister alter ego when he discovers the fate of long-lost Muntz, but Up doesn't dwell on its heavier ideas. Instead, the film strikes a lighter-than-air balancing act, with dizzying adventure scenes inspired by pulp novels and movie serials. Docter shows his genius for spinning endless variations off a handful of clever ideas. For instance, Dug, a floppy-eared, slack-tongued mutt, has a gizmo on his collar that translates his single-minded canine concerns into words. Dug's ability to speak turns out to be the beginning of a series of uproarious, dog-based jokes that prove as inspired as anything in Pixar's canon.

As two of Pixar's rare human heroes, Carl and Russell have facial designs that wittily reflect their life experiences...The audience feels privileged to soar and drift with them. In fact, you may never want to go back down to earth.

From: "Pixar's new movie Up sweeps audiences off their feet." by Curt Holman, 5/27/09, Creative Loafing blog.