A New Take on the Fountain of Youth: SELF/LESS

Friday, July 10, 2015

Movie Highlight: Self/Less

By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

The fountain of youth is a legendary spring or fountain that brings youth to those who drink its water. The myth goes back to Herodotus in the 5th century B.C.E. And stories of Alexander the Great are often associated with the fountain of youth, although, his search was for a river, not a fountain. With all the power, wealth and land that Alexander attained during his lifetime, it's understandable that he'd want to find a way to stay here to enjoy his spoils that much longer, but seeing as he died in his early thirties, why would he be hung up on something to reverse the aging process? Wouldn't he have done better to find something that made him unable to be killed?

T&T Brief Synopsis: In SELF/LESS directed by Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall, Immortals) Damien Hale (Ben Kingsley) is a self-made billionaire, full of entitlement and a cut throat business acumen. He resides in a gilded Manhattan high rise mausoleum; is used to private jets, chauffeurs and getting his own way with everyone, except his daughter Claire (Michelle Dockery) who runs a do-gooder non-profit organization and wants very little to do with her father and nothing to do with his money. Despite his failure with his daughter, Damien loves his life and is not ready to pass on to the next one - cancer metastasized through his body be damned.  He's mysteriously given a business card, on the back is written - This Can Help You.  "This" turns out to be "shedding" which is a bit more than a cancer center or even cryogenics. Shedding is switching your consciousness into another healthy, younger body.  But where do these bodies come from?

"Self/Less" puts me in mind of the Flintstones where Fred gets conked on the head by a bowling ball and Barney takes him to see Dr. Frankenstone who has been experimenting with switching personalities in animals - during this episode called "Monster Fred" Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty, Dino and the doctor all wind up switching personalities. [Note: above video will not be visible to those receiving Tinsel & Tine via RSS Feed. Click HERE to view].

T&T Deduction: Self/Less is really more thriller than sci-fi. It brings up some interesting concepts, but it's hardly interested in defining consciousness or how it can be harnessed and moved.  Instead the movie focuses in on Damien in his new body, which is played by Ryan Reynolds.  My main issue with the movie is that Reynolds didn't try in the least to bring any of Ben Kinsley's sense of self-entitlement and gracious manners into his new body.  He's simply Ryan Reynolds through and through.  The side-effects to switching bodies is the fact that sometimes you revert back to the memories of the person who had your body before you -  so it would makes sense that during these scenes, Reynolds should play himself as the ex-Army guy who used to inhabit the body; but when he's Damien, we should be able to see the difference. The other issue - there's absolutely no suspense in terms of wondering how it will end, it's very obvious half way through. 

What does work is the action, the fun of picking up clues as to what's really going on beneath the surface, and the peril of the characters once they realize they are in danger, and why.

Bonus: A Q&A was held after the movie featuring John Kounios, Ph.D. Director, Doctoral Program in Applied Cognitive and Brain Sciences at Drexel University.  He's co-written a book called "The Eureka Factor". Dr. Kounios was asked about the plausibility of being able to have two separate consciousness housed in one body. He said, although he really enjoyed Self/Less, admittedly medical science is no where near ready to do anything like this, that it's still not completely understood just where memory is stored in the brain, let alone personality and sense of uniqueness. 

Afterwards, I asked my friend T who saw the movie with me, and suffers from quite a few physical impairments, if he could switch bodies with a younger, healthier specimen would he try it?  His answer surprised me, he said no, it wouldn't be fair because his disabilities stem from being a dare-devil in his youth and wracking himself up, that he'd had his fun and accepts life as it is. Of course if Damien's view on life had been similar, it would have been a very short movie.

T &T's LAMB Score: 2.5 outta 5

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About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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