Thursday, October 14, 2021

Reflections on memory

Last week we watched a movie called Knives Out, and quite enjoyed it. (A DVD from the library, if you must know.) There's a ton of well known actors in it, including Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Frank Oz (I still remember him from The Blues Brothers in what might be termed a breakout role) and M. Emmet Walsh (whom I hadn't recognized till I read the credits.) Chris Evans is listed in the second spot but I didn't recognize his name. He's been in a bunch of superhero movies that I haven't seen, so that's probably the name most people would recognize.

As an aside, I don't think I knew that Christopher Plummer died Feb 2021. This was while we were still in New Zealand I think, and not paying much attention to the news. My favourite role of his was in The Man Who Would be King, with Sean Connery and Michael Caine, well worth checking out if you like adventure films. Don't make me explain who Connery and Caine are.

Which is a second lead in to today's blog. Did I in fact know at the time that Christopher Plummer had died? And, had Linda and I (separately) seen Knives out on a night flight between here and New Zealand, either coming or going? 

Normally I'm pretty good at remember which books I've read or which movies I've seen. Or, I suppose I should say, I used to be pretty good. After more than 50 years of reading and watching they start to pile up. And then there's the remakes, but we won't go there. 

There was the documented post shift work memory loss, proven by my request to watch a Bond video, while we were at the store picking out videos. (Remember doing that?) They all looked at me funny and said we'd all seen it in the theatre some months back. I had no memory. Later I rented it myself (it's the one where they use a violin case to slide down a mountain, but it was otherwise eminently forgettable) and did NOT have the aha moment of 'now I remember'. I had no memory of it whatever and yet my friends assured me I had seen it. All I can conclude is that the memory tape drive might have been running but the record heads were not energized. That was just one of the incidents to convince me to do whatever was necessary to escape shift-work, and that advice is still good today.

Knives Out was not like that. While there was no conclusive 'aha!' moment, we did recognize little bits and pieces of it. Or did we? The plot is elaborately convoluted, but no more so than other movies we've seen. The home is completely overly decorated in an eccentric way, but that's been true of other homes in other shows. I sometimes suspect that set decorators go all out for these sorts of movies, finally getting to use some prop they picked up decades ago, sure they'd be able to use it sooner or later. All we could think about is that there must be a herd of maids to stay on top of the dusting.

You'd think seeing James Bond affecting a Southern drawl would be memorable, and yet that wasn't conclusive either. Someone else doing a detective role with that accent? Maybe so. Or maybe I'm conflating several things together. Or maybe making it up entirely. 

All that is without anyone messing with my head, other than me. Maybe this is another example of the tape drive running, but with the record heads powered only intermittently. Watching during a long overnight flight makes this quite plausible. There's been studies done showing how shockingly easy it is to induce false memories, and how easy it is for people to forget details as time goes by. Why then do we rely so heavily on eyewitness testimony in the courtroom? 

What do we know? How do we know it? You've heard the saying, the camera never lies, but really it should be, the camera never tells the truth. Every photo you've ever seen has been edited; you just don't know by whom, how much, and for what reason. 

And films. Even back in the day, film makers were ingenious at presenting special effects to entertain, and now they can do anything that someone is willing to pay for. I almost don't like the green screen revolution. Back in the day they had stunt people doing stunts, and one could assume there were at least some nods to their safety. I liked thinking about how a stunt could be safely done, even as I enjoyed watching them do it. 

But then they ruined it, with explosions every other minute for no reason. Cuts coming so fast you don't even know who was in a scene or what they were doing. Scenes of people surviving stuff that's not just implausible, but actually impossible. Elaborate chase scenes where you don't know who is chasing who, or why, and don't care. So many shows where the solution is a bigger gun. So much stupidity. Passing by a remakes rant, again. Sigh.

I think it all comes from an ever-shortening span of attention. People don't follow a story from A to B to C to D anymore and notice when something doesn't follow. Usually when they get to C, they've forgotten A, and filmmakers know it. In fact, they rely on it, and it lets them get away with sloppy work.

People don't read long stories much. Harry Potter and Twilight excepted, and even though I think they're unreadable, they got lots of kids hooked on reading, and for that I applaud. I have the uncomfortable feeling that many of my longer blogs are TLDR. One of the stats that I'm not sure I believe is the average time spent on the blog. It isn't long enough to read the text and enjoy the photos. Of course, there are a few who do read the text and enjoy the photos, and I appreciate every one of them. 

But that number has been diminishing. Facebook and Instagram and Youtube and TikTok (whatever THAT is) and I don't even know what else, been seducing readers away from blogs. And yet, I think the writing is a truer measure of content creation than a reaction video or a Tiktok. Youtube videos are somewhere in between. They can be actual interesting content, but mostly they're annoying. No book has ever told me to subscribe and hit the like button.

If you don't remember anything, then everything is new and interesting, at least for this moment, and then  you're looking for the next thing. If you can't remember similar content you don't know if something is good or not.  That's a problem for movie reviewers; they've seen so many movies and thought about them so much, they've pretty well seen everything so it's all boring. 

Maybe that's my problem, even though I'm not a big fan of mysteries or who dunnits, I've seen enough of them that there is nothing new under the sun.

Some reflection photos.
From 2016

I'm almost certain I blogged these, but the tagging says not. Which loops us back to the beginning of the blog. Did I just forget to tag them? Did I tag them and it didn't take for some reason. (I've seen that happen.) Did the computer eat the tagging somewhere along the way? Did I put them on Facebook and think I'd blogged them? Are these new photos for you?

Of the Day






1 comment:

  1. My memory is not as good as it once was. In part I think that is because I rely on Google more than I would like and I resent that. Photographically, 5 and 15 struck my fancy today. 15 is a great use of focus and depth of field - nicely done. Cheers, Sean


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