Film No 2 (2015) : Lucy

lucyWhen Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is forced by a casual boyfriend to deliver a locked case to a mysterious Mr Jang, she has no idea of the nightmare which is about to unfold. Together with three other captives, she is forced to undergo surgery to implant a package of concentrated CPH4 into her abdomen. CPH4 is a natural molecule produced by pregnant women which stimulates the growth of their unborn baby’s brain. When the package inside Lucy is ruptured following an assault by a guard, the leaking of the chemical into her body stimulates her brain to rapidly increase its functional capacity from 10% to 100%. Knowing that her rapid development will lead to ‘overload’, Lucy contacts renowned neuroscientist Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman)  to help her as she hurtles towards her inevitable demise.

Apparently the science doesn’t stack up in this movie. Although growth molecules clearly exist in nature, CPH4 is not real, and a similar substance would not produce the changes explored in the film. But as an imaginary journey into the unexplored realms of the human mind, this film was fascinating. Lucy develops unimagined abilities, but these are not of the superhero brute-strength type; her skills are more refined. One of my favourite scenes in the film is where Lucy can ‘see’ all the phone signals emanating from mobiles. She is able to scroll through them as if she is playing the strings of the harp, in order to isolate the conversation she is searching for. That kind of realisation of an imaginary concept by the director, Luc Besson, is for me what made this film so intriguing. Scarlett Johansson is a gutsy, uncompromising heroine and the inconsistencies in the film were not enough for me to be prevented from enjoying it.

In the final scenes of  the film, as Lucy’s brain is approaching 100% capacity, she knows everything. As she searches for energy, she frantically downloads everything she knows, all the secrets of the Universe, onto a computer which will be accessible long after she has gone. As time speeds up, moving objects eventually become invisible, time stands still. So although the facts behind this film may render it science-fictional nonsense, art did mirror reality for the 89 minutes I spent watching ‘Lucy’; I was so engrossed, that time did seem to stand still.

Film No 25 (2014) : The Bucket List

the bucket listEdward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) meet on an oncology ward, where they are both faced with terminal illness. Their lives have been different; Edward has made a lot of money and lived a playboy lifestyle, but is now alone after several failed marriages and estrangement from his daughter. Carter, on the other hand, has had a settled job as a car mechanic and been married ‘long enough for the both of us’. The two men strike up an unlikely friendship and between them draw up a ‘Bucket List’ – a list of things to do before they die. The film shows how they fulfil some of their remaining dreams and make some peace with themselves and the world.

I was having a conversation with a real-life movie buff today and tried to explain that I really have no idea what constitutes a ‘good’ film. For me, it’s usually a case of whether I became engrossed in the story, was not offended by the content, enjoyed the scenes and came away with something to think about. Using those very simplistic criteria, I really enjoyed ‘The Bucket List’. It’s witty and tender, with some genuinely thought-provoking moments.

One of the parts of the film which made me reflect is a short scene in the middle of the film, where Cole and Carter are surveying the view over the Pyramids. Edward explains to Carter that: ‘“You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death.  pyramidsWhen their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions.  Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not.  ‘Have you found joy in your life?’  ‘Has your life brought joy to others?’” I mentally made a list of the things in life that bring me joy (those of you who know me will probably be surprised to know that chocolate didn’t make it into the rankings!) It also occurred to me to think about the ways in which my own life could bring more joy to others, a process which involved a fair amount of honest self-appraisal.

This 97-minute movie made me contemplate some very profound issues and, more importantly, I may make some changes as a result. I can’t guarantee the film will have the same effect on everyone, it might just be a bit too melodramatic for some, but it worked for me.bucket list