All of Us are Dead

The radio said  that “All of Us are Dead” (Korean zombie film) is number one on Netflix, though when I looked a moment ago  it seems to only be number two.  I finished watching it a few days ago.

Zombie films in general seem a tired genre, but this one has a twist: a very small percentage of the population are relatively immune to the zombie virus, and, though they are infected, they are able to keep their mental faculties intact.  Even more, they become physically superhuman, with incredible strength, greatly enhanced sensory acuity, and enormous recuperative powers. This tiny population of superhumans, the “halfbies”,  also remain infectious.

However, the disease is apparently only transmitted via mingled bodily fluids (ie, chomping on a victim), and so it is possible for the halfbies and humans to be friends, though a halfbie could be overtaken by hunger, decide to eat a human, and thus produce another outbreak. A halfbie is a potentially horrifying monster, but also possibly a terribly lonely friend. At the end we are left with a cliffhanger balancing that uncertainty. I look forward to season two.

A brief review of “W”

I’m a tremendous fan of “Memories of Alhambra“,  a Korean series of 16 episodes on Netflix.  There are many excellent aspects — the acting is great, the actors are attractive and engaging, the scenery is interesting, the directing is wonderful, and the production qualities are great.  The only negative I noticed, and it’s a small one, is that occasionally the editing seems a bit abrupt.

But the absolutely knockout feature of “Memories of Alhambra” is the writing.  It is a wonderful and creative story.  The characters are well-developed, believable, and complex.  The secondary characters are just as real.  The plot builds through the entire series, and is unpredictable to the end .  Since I don’t speak Korean, I can’t really comment on the quality of the dialogue, but even through the subtitles it seems spot on to me.

So I was very interested to discover “W — Two Worlds“, an earlier series by the same writer, Song Jae Jung. It received rave reviews, but unfortunately is not available on Netflix. It is available, however, on viki.com, and I just finished watching it yesterday.

It is good, and it deserves the rave reviews.  In my opinion it’s not at the same level as “Alhambra” in many ways — but it shares the same creative storytelling.  One of the reviews said that it was instrumental in founding a new wave of Korean cinema, and I can see that.

“Alhambra” is science fiction, almost, where some attention is paid to having a  basis in reality for the fantastic events.  “W” is a fantasy about an alternate dimension, and there is no attempt to explain how the alternate dimension came into existence.  You can only take it as a pure story; the alternate world is just an imagination that you have to accept for the story to proceed. Both main characters die, and are brought back to life through trans-dimensional manipulations, and you can’t be distracted by how this actually happens. This is where the true talent of Song Jae Jung is revealed — she is able to make you forget the absurd basis and fall into the story as a story.

“W” is also much more a conventional romance — every episode has a “kiss” scene between the two main characters, for example, and the ultimate resolution is them living “happily ever after” .   This may be a bit too cliche for some — and there are hints in an interview that this may be a deviation from the original script.

The story goes through about 4 major arcs of death/despair to blissful romance, and it does get a bit predictable. And the series a bit too primary in its emotional colors.  But I liked it.  I notice that there is another Netflix series, “Nine: Nine Time Travels“,  written by Song Jae Jung.  Next on my list…

Teacups from China

Assembled
Disassembled

I ordered these “Lazy Tea Cups” from the Guilin Tea Research Institute, in China. The shipping time was an anxious 2 months.

They are rather fragile, but not to worry — the packaging was absolutely insane. Each of the round white cannon balls contains another cup, and they could be used on a soccer field. The box in the background was completely filled with dense packing material; the box was completely covered in packing tape. Felt like you could drop it from an airplane.

They are a joy to use.  The tiny saucer is actually functional — it insulates your hand from the heat, making it quite comfortable to carry the whole assembly in one hand…

Guilin Tea Reasearch Institute

Netflix Review: “Memories of the Alhambra”

Netflix Review: “Memories of the Alhambra”

Just finished Episode 6 of the new Korean language Netflix series “Memories of the Alhambra”, and now I have to wait a week for the next one. At this point there are only a few possible explanations: 1) the protagonist is actually crazy; 2) magic; 3) alien super science; 4) deal with the devil; 5) the writers are so caught up in the story that they simply don’t care about reality. I favor the later at this point — I’m so caught up in the story that I don’t care, either. 🙂

The Consciousness Deniers

The Consciousness Deniers

Originally shared by rare avis

On Consciousness: The New York Review Of Books

“What is the silliest claim ever made?

“The competition is fierce, but I think the answer is easy. Some people have denied the existence of consciousness: conscious experience, the subjective character of experience, the “what-it-is-like” of experience. Next to this denial—I’ll call it “the Denial”—every known religious belief is only a little less sensible than the belief that grass is green.”

This essay is adapted from Things That Bother Me: Death, Freedom, the Self, Etc., published this week by New York Review Books.

Iain M Banks has died

A sad day when Iain M Banks died: http://sciphijournal.org/why-the-culture-wins-an-appreciation-of-iain-m-banks/

One of my favorite authors…  Banks had a vision of the future that made it really seem worth living. He was young, and had so many more stories to tell.

Here’s a more substantive article:

Why the Culture wins — an appreciation of Iain M Banks, by Joseph Heath