A quarter century ago British plasterer-turned-ski jumper Michael Edwards made a name for himself—Eddie the Eagle—by not skiing or jumping very well at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. Short on talent but long on panache and derring-do, he had no illusions about his ability, no dreams of gold or silver or even bronze. Blinking myopically behind the bottle glass of his pink-and-white-rimmed glasses, he told the press: “In my case, there are only two kinds of hope—Bob Hope and no hope.”
Undeterred, Edwards sluiced on. Wearing six pairs of socks inside hand-me-down ski boots, he stepped onto the slopes, pushed off down the steep ramp and rag-dolled through the air. When he touched down, broadcasters chorused: “The Eagle has landed!” By taking a huge leap of faith, Edwards captured the world’s imagination and achieved the sort of renown that can only come overnight….Edwards, after all, did what Englishmen do surpassingly well—coming in gloriously, irretrievably and spectacularly last. Of the 58 jumpers in the 70-meter event, he just missed being 59th. He also brought up the rear at 90 meters, though technically he aced out three jumpers who were scratched—one of whom, a Frenchman, failed to show because he had broken a leg on a practice run the day before.
He’s had something of a demi-celebrity life since, making two pop records, some reality television, and public appearances. This movie should keep that going for another few decades.
The Great British Television Map — Find Everything from Fawlty Towers to Downton Abbey
Posted on February 26, 2016 at 3:48 pm
You love British television but can’t tell Derbyshire from Yorkshire, or Bath from Bristol? Here’s a map that shows you exactly where all your favorite characters are. Look for “Downton Abbey,” “The Office,” “Poldark,” “Call the Midwife,” and, of course, “Dr. Who.”
What Do Movies Teach Children About Money, Class, and Status?
Posted on February 26, 2016 at 8:00 am
Science of Us reports on a new paper about the way money, class, and status are portrayed in films for children. It is Benign Inequality: Frames of Poverty and Social Class Inequality in Children’s Movies published in the Journal of Poverty by Dr. Jessi Streib, Miryea Ayala, and Colleen Wixted. Some of the findings:
The films mostly feature wealthy primary characters. The researchers evaluated the films’ content to divide primary characters into five classes, from “upper class” to “poor,” and discovered that more than 56 percent of the films’ primary characters were in the top two categories, upper class or upper middle class (it turns out Santa Claus is upper middle class). So, at least compared to the real-world distribution of wealth, middle- and lower-class characters were significantly underrepresented.
The films mostly make class out to not be a big deal. Streib and her co-authors note that even when characters from lower classes are represented, “their hardships are generally downplayed or erased.”
Of course, these portrayals are not unique to movies. Films like “Cinderella” and “Aladdin” are based on old stories. And fiction for all ages tends to speak to our fantasies about having money and power or by outsmarting those who do. But studies like these provide an important reminder that parents should use what children see as an opportunity to talk to them about their values and let them know that they should ask (privately) any time they have questions about money, class, and status.
“Gods of Egypt” has more gods than IQ points. There are some grand and striking visuals and some well-staged fight scenes, but there are also effects that look like they were created for a 64-bit computer game and lines of dialogue that make cheesy sword and sandal epics of the Steve Reeves era look like Noel Coward. It may be pretty to look at, but this is a big budget wheel of cheddar.
The producer and director have both apologized, too little and too late, for making a film based on Egyptian mythology without a single Egyptian actor. The gods are played by Australian Geoffrey Rush (Ra, the sun god and father and grandfather to the other gods), Danish Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Horus, god of air and libertine turned hero), Scotsman Gerard Butler (Set, angry and ambitious god of the desert), American Chadwick Boseman (Thoth, smug god of wisdom), and French Elodie Yung (Hathor, goddess of love). And then there are a few humans, Australian Brenton Thwaites as an Aladdin-style street thief called Bek, and imperious as always British Rufus Sewell as Urshu, Set’s obsequious architect. Given the results, I imagine the Egyptians are relieved not to be a part of it.
The ponderous opening narration informs us that ancient Egypt is the cradle of civilization and so the gods decided to live there among the humans, though they are much taller and have gold for blood. As the story begins, Horus wakes up bleary following an orgy as he is about to take over as king from his wise and progressive father (Australian Bryan Brown). But his uncle Set arrives, kills the king, and plucks out Horus’ super-special eyes. Horus, humiliated and blind, retreats to his temple to sulk and drink. And Set enslaves the entire population to build structures for his glory and decrees that only the rich will obtain eternal life.
Zaya (Australian Courtney Eaton, very appealing) is the servant of Urshu, and the beloved of Bek. With access to Urshu’s architectural drawings, she shows Bek where Horus’ eyes are hidden. She believes that if Horus’ sight was restored, he would be able to defeat Set. Bek gets through an Indiana Jones-style series of traps to retrieve one eye, delivers it to Horus, and persuades him to fight Set and get back his kingdom.
There is visual splendor on a scale Cecil B. DeMille could only dream of, with sumptuous production design by Ian Gracie and costumes by Liz Keogh. But some of the CGI effects are less persuasive than Ray Harryhausen‘s stop-motion miniatures, and a few of them, like Ra’s flames and a sort of sand-based version of Skype, look like they came from a 64-bit video game. The mis-matched sizing of the gods and humans is more silly than impressive. The dialogue is a mish-mash of pretentious claptrap about the Journey and comments like “death is not the end” and “never doubt a man fighting for the one thing as powerful as any god — love.” Occasionally there are painful attempts at humor, as when Bek tells Horus to run from danger: “Mortals do it all the time!” or when Hathor brags that she is “the goddess of too much.” The mythology of ancient Egypt is fascinating and meaningful. This movie is not. It cannot decide whether it wants to be campy or thrilling, but it really does not matter because it fails at both.
Parents should know that this film includes extended sword and sorcery peril and violence with many characters injured and killed, monsters, disturbing images, sexual references and situations, and brief strong language.
Family discussion: Why did Ra treat his sons differently? Why does he say he wants human destiny to be uncertain?