Film review: Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

This Woody Allen production that he wrote and directed has a plot that readers of this blog will be able to easily relate to. It is 1928 and Colin Firth plays a famous magician and illusionist who also has a second career as a debunker of all those who claim to be mediums who can talk to the dead or other supernatural powers. He is a total materialist and rationalist and has never failed to expose anyone who came under his investigative gaze. Think of James Randi but even more so.
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Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

The death of Leonard Nimoy a few days ago at the age of 83 has opened the floodgates of memories for the many people who were entranced by Star Trek. I was not in the US during the heyday of the show and so was not sucked into the intense fan loyalty that it generated. But I had seen a couple of episodes here and there and appreciated the fact that its basic message was a very positive one, ahead of its time especially in the way that it treated diversity, and Spock’s mixed parentage offered opportunities to explore that dimension.
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Film review: The Newburgh Sting (2014)

This is an absolutely riveting, must-see HBO documentary directed and edited by Kate David and David Heilbroner about four men accused in 2009 of plotting to carry out a terrorist plot. We all know that the US government uses money and other lures to coax young minor criminals who have no prospects and little sense into signing on to hare-brained schemes of violence so that the government can then triumphantly unmask the plot. They also carefully manufacture a link with a mosque in order to exploit the fears and anti-Muslim sentiment of the US public.
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Doc Martin and English country life

I lived in England as a young boy a long time ago and my memories are faint. But I lived entirely in London so my knowledge of what life is like in a small English village is non-existent. So I was interested in what the British TV show Doc Martin showed about life there. I have watched the complete six seasons of the series so far and quite enjoyed it, as my earlier review indicated.
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Snowden documentary wins Oscar

Laura Poitras won an Academy Award yesterday for her documentary Citizenfour about Edward Snowden that I reviewed favorably. In this photo from the awards ceremony last night, we see the three winners: producer Dirk Wilutzky (far left), Poitras next to him, and editor Mathilde Bonnefoy (far right). Glenn Greenwald and Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills (who now lives with him in Moscow most of the time) joined them on the stage
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Beware of the blob!

I came across this video that shows what happens when you embed ferromagnetic particles into putty to make it magnetic and then put a neodymium magnet (these are very strong magnets) near it. The caption to this video says that it was taken over 1.5 hours at three frames per second and then played back at 24 fps. (This cannot be right because then the playback should be a little over ten minutes and not 52 seconds.)
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Film review: Dear White People (2014)

I watched this much-talked about film recently. It was interesting but not quite what I expected. I expected a more biting comedy about the kinds of racial tensions that exist on elite college campuses that seek to have a diverse student body and yet struggle to make minorities feel welcome, making mistakes that are can be awkward, patronizing, and cringe-inducing. It is something that the college I work at also struggles with.
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