THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING directed by James Marsh (UK, 2014)
The doctors who told Stephen Hawking that he only had around two years to live must be feeling pretty silly. They obviously weren’t counting on the man’s superhuman willpower or what the love and dedication of a good woman can do.
In some ways Hawking’s story is like one of those Sci-Fi movies where a brain is alive when the rest of the body is dead. In Cold Lazarus, for example, Dennis Potter’s final play for television, a preserved head is tapped for the brain waves it generates.
In the recent movie, Transcendence (a turkey by all accounts) starring Johnny Depp, there is a similar theme of a scientist’s brain surviving the death of his body.
Hawking’s case is different in one crucial respect, however. The fact that he has still been able to father three children is proof that his ‘muscle of life’ is unaffected by the motor neuron disease. Bizarre tabloid reports of him attending sex clubs and enjoying the attention of lap dancers also shows that his sex drive remains high. Continue reading
The late, lamented Frank Zappa preached about the need for constant vigilance against the repressive, self-righteous, bigoted forces who censor what we can see, hear and read.
Zappa was an articulate and outspoken critic of religious fundamentalists who seek to restrict our freedom claiming they are saving us from the devil’s work.
He explained his views during an interview with Larry King which you can see below.
As a way to counteract the Parental Advisory stickers on rock albums, Zappa wrote his own ‘Warning Label’ for a Mothers of Invention album.
Above – Steve Coogan and Judi Dench
Below – the real Martin Sixsmith & Philomena Lee
PHILOMENA – directed by Stephen Frears (UK, 2013)
There’s one reference to the clitoris and a few ‘fucks’ but otherwise this is the kind of film you could watch with your mom without fear of embarrassment.
The presence of Dame Judi Dench in the title role adds a further weight of respectability to proceedings.
Peter Mullen’s The Magdalene Sisters touches on similar themes of vindictive nuns doing bad things to ‘fallen’ women in Ireland but that movie was much fiercer.
The rage in Philomena comes not from the wronged woman but from Alex Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), the BBC journalist who helps her trace the long lost son who was sold to a wealthy American couple 50 years before.
The human interest story of Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) and Philomena means that is not simply a rant against religious hypocrisy although we are left in no doubt about Sixsmith’s views on Catholicism! The film is based on a true story but since Philomena never actually travelled to the U.S. with Sixsmith many parts have obviously been made up for dramatic effect.
Ultimately, it’s a cosy buddy movie with a message and, paradoxically, the gentle, warm-hearted tone is probably more effective than Mullen’s film in highlighting the injustice done to Philomena and many other women like her.
The real story of Philomena Lee (Daily Mail)