Saturday, December 30, 2006


Written and Directed by Bill Condon

A few short years ago, a little musical called CHICAGO came along and set the new standard for the modern movie musical. Picking up where CABARET left off fifteen or so years earlier, CHICAGO featured quick-paced editing that compartmentalized and sexualized many a shake and just as many a gyration. Its polished glitz and glamour announced the second coming of a genre that had been struggling for years. Long gone were the days of showcasing talent, leaving composition and aesthetic to bring up the rear. From now on, talent would be constructed to work with the visuals, allowing the musical genre to appeal to a generation that can’t hold its focus longer than the time it takes to execute a four-step combination. The bar had been raised and no film has come close to CHICAGO’s caliber since, until now. Following 1960’s girl group, The Dreams, from their humble beginnings to their ultimate dissolution, DREAMGIRLS brings the musical back to the multiplex with a brand new R&B groove to back it up. Director Bill Condon hopes DREAMGIRLS will follow in CHICAGO’s successful footwork all the way to solid box-office gold and with it, he throws his hat into the Oscar race one more time (following moderately successful bids with GODS AND MONSTERS and KINSEY). What all this repackaging suggests though is that a musical is a naturally difficult sell and though DREAMGIRLS had me bopping along, rootin’ for the girls and crying out loud, it never let me forget how much it was trying to get me to like it.

Condon paints a colorful scene, rich with deep blues and golds but all his aesthetic work is overshadowed by the brazen performances of his exuberant cast. Much has been said already but everything you’ve heard is actually true. As James Early, a womanizing, coke-snorting master of funk, Eddie Murphy is sneaky and sleazy and enjoying every minute of it. His descent from fame weathers his face but his spark always manages to find its way through the funk that finds itself watered down through the years. In many ways, Murphy’s career mirrors Early’s so the applause echoes both on and off screen. With Murphy showing new life later in his career, Beyonce Knowles shows a promise I had not expected so early in hers, if at all. Months of acting classes were a great investment for Knowles. As Deena Jones, Knowles transitions from a naïve girl hoping to succeed into a grown woman at the forefront of a groundbreaking female trio struggling to take back some control over her life, which has been directed entirely by the recording industry. It might not sound like a stretch for Knowles given her experience with Destiny’s Child but her performance as Jones shows both vulnerability and desire. Perhaps her most impressive feat is scaling back her trademark vocals to play someone who supposedly has no colour in her voice. And then there is Jennifer Hudson, this year’s breakout star. Your eye is instantly drawn to her and you wait for her to show you what she’s got. When she does, you’ll see why everyone is talking. Hudson’s voice is so powerful and exudes so much character and emotion that it brought me to tears more than once. Hudson’s Effie White gets all the best songs and the best trajectory as well but if Hudson didn’t own every aspect of this character’s fragile ego as it crumbles and falls hard, no one would care about this movie. That only leaves Jamie Foxx as Dreams manager, Curtis Taylor JR. You haven’t heard much about Foxx but that’s probably because he underplays the role so much that he ends up leaving no mark at all.

The musical is not always simply song and dance; the musical can also be meaningful. DREAMGIRLS has plenty to say and it says it directly and without shame. The bulk of its malice is pointed straight at the music industry. The first point of its one-two punch assault is in regards to the treatment of artists in the industry. Deena replaces Effie as lead singer of The Dreams because there is more chance for The Dreams to crossover with a smoother, more accessible (read, more white, but more on that later) sound and the group gets no say. One artist will rerecord another’s song and usurp all of their radio play if the label executives say so. The girls eventually lose all say over what they want to do with their own lives for the sake of their careers. In Deena’s case, this is even more abusive as her manager, Taylor, is also her husband. The second punch attacks the industry for its whitening of soul music. Often, the songs that were being rerecorded were being done so by white recording artists with more popular appeal. This is what made The Dreams so important. They were able to crossover from the R&B stations to the pop stations. While the industry was exploiting their artists and exploiting an entire race, these same black artists managed to make their own inroads towards fighting racism by appealing to white listeners who were forced to face images they were not willing to before. That’s the healing property of music, I suppose.

DREAMGIRLS is not simply a monumental musical but it is a mammoth film. It is grand in scope and large in life. Though it stumbles at times, its soul is infectious and its satisfaction is sweet. Mr. Condon, you needn’t have tried so hard. I would have liked you just the same.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Written by Steve Conrad
Directed by Gabriele Muccino

As the opening shots of THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS establish San Francisco as the setting for this tale of adversity with the Golden Gate Bridge and hordes of people rushing up and down the steep hills to get to their important jobs, I couldn’t help but begin to worry that I was about to be fed Hollywood’s take on what it means to go through hard times. This is after all a Will Smith picture. My anxiety eased up slightly though when the view dropped down from the indistinguishable faces of the swarm to a face that blended in all too well amongst the masses of determined feet. Throughout the opening credits, Italian film director, Gabriele Muccino, drew my attention away from a race I know all too well and ever so subtly forced me to look at what I am accustomed to looking away from, the homeless. And though Smith’s Chris Gardner is currently employed, he is about to face challenge after soul-depleting challenge until he too finds himself amongst the people he turns away from as hurries about his day as a unsuccessful salesman. THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS is a hollowing drama that drags both its protagonist and its audience deeper into despair than either would have expected. It is a relentless assault on the sense of security and entitlement many of us have as supposed functional members of a working society and by the time I left, I knew that I had absolutely nothing to complain about.

Chris Gardner’s story would be nothing more than one man’s pursuit of the American dream if it weren’t for one very important thing. In this case, that thing is actually a very charming, young boy, Chris’ son, Christopher (played by Smith’s real-life son, Jaden). Watching Will and Jaden quibble and endure provides for some endearing screen time but their plight and performances overshadow their off-screen family ties. If Chris fails, he will not only be begging for his food but he will lose the one thing that gives him purpose. Little Christopher’s future depends on whether his father can successfully overcome his horrible misfortune to beat out nineteen other candidates in a competitive internship for thriving brokerage firm, Dean Whitter. Today, the American dream often symbolizes an unhealthy, greedy amassment of unnecessary material goods but Chris’ fight is for the bare essentials. His son deserves a stable home and regular meals. He deserves these and other rudimentary needs in order to have the opportunity to pursue his own dreams. And while I’m certain Chris wouldn’t mind a bigger piece of the proverbial pie, he knows what he needs to survive and by chasing that, he reminds the audience that the American dream should be spread more evenly. It is not a contest to win out miles ahead while the rest clamor for scraps.

Will Smith is by far the most successful black box-office star of his generation, if not of all time. He has broken barriers around the world and yet manages to find himself facing criticism for not addressing any specific racial issues in THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS. However, not verbalizing the unavoidable prejudices a black man must face competing against a room full of white faces in 1981 doesn’t mean it isn’t there. If anything, Smith’s Chris exhibits his intelligence by pushing his understandable racial frustrations aside in order to appease his potential employers. He becomes the showman who gets his foot in the door by making the white folk laugh, all the while knowing he has the goods to surpass all their expectations once he’s in. In one of the film’s many moments of desperation and impending disaster, Chris finds himself sitting in his first interview at Dean Whitter, splattered in dried paint, wearing overalls and no shirt at all. The men who sit opposite him are all white and not amused. When they leer at him, they certainly aren’t just uncomfortable with his appearance; they see his black skin just as plainly. Not focusing on the obvious showcases Muccino’s subtle grace handling Hollywood and allows Chris to be the smartest man in the room. It also allows for Smith to give a performance where he appears as though he might break at any given moment while he wears the knowledge that closing his eyes for even a second is never an option.

Without confirming whether THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS actually concludes with Chris achieving the happiness he works so hard to get, I can say that it deftly humbling and certainly doesn’t allow for the viewer leaving that happy. Smith’s backwards journey towards the top speaks to anyone who has ever struggled to succeed. What it says to them is to ask themselves if they have ever truly suffered and if so, for what? Have you been fighting to make your dreams come true or fighting to beat out the next guy? More importantly, have you ever tried to be happy in exactly the spot you’re standing?

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Written by Allan Bennett
Directed by Nicolas Hytner

These boys are tight. They would have to be after the amount of time and dedication they’ve given to Allan Bennett’s play, THE HISTORY BOYS, just recently released as a feature film, directed by Nicolas Hytner. This group of eight young actors originated their roles on the London stage and stayed with the success through the year long run. They then found themselves on stage together again in the Broadway production, which ran for almost another year. And now, these talented fellas find themselves on screen together, some two years after they first formed their gang. Theirs is a gang built on brilliance and banter. These young men have all performed so well that they are all within reach of admission to Oxford, an educational pinnacle that they all believe will set them up for life. They are on the edge of completing their studies; they are on the verge of discovering their true selves; they are on the cusp of their very own lives. The energy these boys feel pushing them forward is infectious and it makes for an exhilarating film experience. All they need to do now is put aside their confusions about sex, class and identity long enough to master their field of concentration, history. For mastering history ensures these boys a bright future.

The boys are not the only ones being schooled either. THE HISTORY BOYS offers the audience its own insights that make it a rich and provocative film. As the school these boys attend also has its own interests in seeing these boys make it into Oxford, they hire a coach of sorts to give them an edge. Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore) must show these boys that understanding history is not just memorizing facts but rather exploring the era to see what these facts are covering for. They must then take these more rounded views and learn to spin them in a fashion that grabs the readers’ attention. In other words, they must learn the art of show. What they end up learning along the way is that, while sprinkling your arguments with little known nuggets of information might make for a more colorful debate, nothing speaks louder than an effective formulation of your own original thoughts. This is quite the challenge for these boys as speaking for themselves does not fall in line with always saying exactly what everyone wants to hear.

Pleasing other people and pleasing yourself is a difficult line to tow for the “history boys.” This is especially relevant when there are students and teachers on either side of the line. The boys pit new boy, Irwin, directly against their “general studies” teacher, Hector (Richard Griffiths, a Tony Award winner for this role). Between both supposed role models, the boys take turns trying to capture their teacher’s attention, and in some cases, affection. It is as though their existence and opinions are somewhat more valid if they are applauded by their authority figures. As we rarely see any of the boys’ parents, these two teachers are the closest things they’ve got. As the boys play their games with the teachers though, it is the teachers that unknowingly and unexpectedly end up addicted to the attention feigned upon them, as though being the central figure in these boys’ lives somehow means they have the same boundless futures ahead of them. Like their parents, the boys must come to terms with the humanity of their teachers. However, unlike the boys’ parents, the teachers must conceal these vulnerable sides of themselves in order to maintain authority and protect their own emotional investments. After all, when these boys graduate, they will leave their teachers behind them.

Aside from an obsession with fondling his students, Hector also has an obsession with the subjunctive. The theme runs throughout and forces the boys, the teachers and the audience to question the fragility of fact. History is most often summed up with facts but all of these could have been entirely different if there had been a slight alteration in the circumstances in which they took place. As these boys decide whether they will be the ones to make history or to react to it, THE HISTORY BOYS affirms that their futures, no matter how bright they might seem in the present, can give way to any number of possibilities caused by circumstance. And despite all the life the boys naturally exude, despite all of their seemingly boundless opportunities, one day in the not-so-distant-future, their lives will also be the subject of history.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Written and Directed by Pedro Almodovar

Spanish film auteur, Pedro Almodovar, has never shied away from death in the past. But never has he immersed himself and his viewers in so much of it before either, as he has in his latest work, VOLVER. Within the first ten or twenty minutes of the film, each scene revolves around death and how it surrounds us in time and space. Several women, including VOLVER’S heroines Raimunda and Sole (Penelope Cruz and Lola Duenas), clean the tombstones of their departed relatives during the opening credits. The graves these two clean belong to their parents who died in a fire four years prior. Their next stop after polishing the resting places of their parents, a visit to their aunt, whose visit here on earth is nearing its end. While on their visit, they drop in next door for tea with their aunt’s neighbor, Augustina (Blanco Portillo), who has cancer. She could die just as easily as Raimunda and Sole the next day but her fate seems more sealed than theirs. These sisters, neither one of which cares to deal with death, are haunted by past deaths, facing present ones and mentally avoiding those that wait in their future. The onslaught of death culminates when Raimunda returns home from her hard day to find her husband dead, more specifically, killed. Bear in mind, this is still the first twenty minutes. The seeds of complexity that enrich most of Almodovar’s work have been sewn but they too seem to die before their time. After Raimunda makes temporary arrangements for her husband’s body in an industrial-sized freezer, she seems to forget him there. The build is abruptly halted and what follows is a string of odd choices and events that make for an uncharacteristically lifeless experience.

The day after her husband’s death, Raimunda finds herself unexpectedly running a restaurant. For a moment, I feared I was about to be subjected to a WOMAN ON TOP sequel. Luckily, in the hands of the right director, Cruz can cook on screen without ruining the recipe. One could argue that what Raimunda does after she dumps her husband in the freezer is exactly what she’s been doing since her parents died. She is avoiding both reality and her pain. Almodovar will have none of that. His hand is always present and while Raimunda finds new life in a growing opportunity, a painful figure from her past returns. This figure is her mother, Irene (Carmen Maura). It is unclear whether her mother is back from the dead or just never died but what is clear is that Raimunda will now have the chance to face off against the demons she believed to be buried with her parents. The uncertainty of Irene’s life/death status brings out Almodovar’s playful side. You can feel him laughing at his characters’ confusion and all the while, laughing at ours as well. Yet at no time does he belittle the overwhelming impact of the return of a relative long thought to be dead.

The women of VOLVER continue the Almodovar tradition of being complex dichotomies of fragility and strength. Raimunda is a hard working mother who holds down as many jobs as is necessary to keep her family comfortable. Her happiness is never a priority though she seems content just being there for her daughter (Yohana Cabo). Cruz plays her with a sassy exterior protecting a sad little girl interior. She is a captivating beauty but her beauty overshadows the mess she should be considering everything she has to deal with. As the grand matriarch, Irene is perhaps the most fascinating of the bunch. She has spent the lest few years taking care of her sister and her return to Madrid allows her to get to know Sole again and make amends with Raimunda. Mothering people is what she does best yet her past with Raimunda, including an incident that scarred Raimunda without Irene ever knowing about it, has haunted her so intensely that a return was inevitable. Reluctantly, Raimunda has adopted her mother’s nurturing instincts despite herself. Watching her daughter face some of the same struggles she had to, forces her to face her past but neatly set it aside to ensure her daughter’s safety.

VOLVER is both enjoyable and meaningful to a degree but, like the lives of the people on the screen, it feels unfinished and melodramatic for the sake of the viewer and not the story itself. There is a fascination with trash television that runs throughout VOLVER. People cannot stand it but cannot look away, regardless of how it stumps their sleep or turns their stomachs. In some ways, VOLVER could be adapted into a trashy television miniseries. Somewhere buried beneath all of this death lies a secret. It is a secret that would only cause pain were it to be dug up. It is a secret that does not need to be shared with the rest of the world. Yet it is also a secret that, no matter how twisted it is, it needs to be unearthed so that all involved can move on. And while it is true that secrets that go to the grave cannot be kept secret by covering them with six feet of earth, these same secrets cannot be relied upon to give a film its ultimate meaning.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Written and directed by Emilio Estevez

Can’t you imagine it? Frazzled, sitting around in a housecoat at a motel outside of Los Angeles, writer/director/actor, Emilio Estevez, puts out his cigarette and picks up the phone.

“Can I get an outside line?” Moments later, he dials the number and swallows nervously while he waits for her to pick up.

Finally, the phone is answered but it isn’t her. “Whadup,” says the man’s voice on the other end of the line.

“Uh, hi. Is, uh, is Demi around?”

“Yeah, hold up.” He drops the phone clumsily to the floor. The sound of his bellowing can be heard getting more faint as he walks further away from the dangling telephone. “Baaaaaaabe! Phone!”

Emilio is waiting. This isn’t unusual, he thinks to himself. We’ve had some good times. There’s no reason why I should be nervous. He hears the phone being handled.


There’s the voice he’s been waiting to hear. “Demi, hi. It’s Emilio.”


“No. No, it’s Emilio Estevez.”

“Jesus! Emilio! How the hell are you?” She doesn’t wait for him to answer. “What has it been already?” Again, she doesn’t wait. “I heard you moved to some motel to become a hermit or something.”

“Well, not exactly. I am at a hotel but I’m writing.”

“Writing? Wow. That’s … Wow. God, you haven’t written a movie since ‘Men at Work’.”

“Yeah, I know. This one’s different though, better, much. I’m writing a movie about the Ambassador Hotel, on the day that Bobby Kennedy was shot.”


He was hoping for a little more but this would have to do. “I’m having a bit of a hard time getting the money together to make it though.”

“Oh, honey, I’m not looking for a project to invest in right now.”

“No, no. I’m not asking you for any money. There’s a part I thought you might like. And I figured if I get enough people on board, the funding might come a little easier.”

“A part? Hmmm. Well, who else is doin’ it?”

“A few people. Heather Graham, Bill Macy, Helen Hunt, Larry Fishburn, Sharon Stone.”

“Wow. Anybody else?” He could tell she was coming around.

“Uh, yeah. Tony Hopkins, Christian Slater, Dad.”

“Aw, I love your father. What’s the part?” He knew he could tell her almost anything now. It didn’t matter. He had her.

“You would play Virginia Fallon. She’s a popular singer who frequently plays the hotel. She’s a total drunk too.” He hesitates for a moment. “And she’s concerned that the public doesn’t really care so much for her anymore, y’know, because of her … age.” He waits for it but it’s oddly quiet.

“Ageing, hmmm.” Suddenly, All Emilio could hear were the teenagers hitting the ice machine down the hall. Then, she finally spoke. “I bet you I could get an Oscar out of this. An actress not afraid to play her age, or at least close to it. And a drunk! I’m as good as there!”

“Yeah! There’s this great scene between you and Sharon. She is going to play the hotel stylist. She’s doing your hair and your nails. You’re drunk. She’s tired. And the two of you just talk about how nobody wants you when you’re a woman of a certain age.”

“Yeah, that sounds great but I have the better lines, right? I would hate to see her walk away with my nod.”

“Demi, please. You know she’s got nothing on you.” He didn’t know he could be such a convincing liar. Even more so in retrospect, given that Stone is the only actor featured in BOBBY to be getting any Oscar attention.

“Aw, Emilio, thanks. I’ll have to check my schedule but I should be good. So, what’s the whole thing about?” she asks after the fact.

“Well, it’s really about the death of all the necessary social and political change that Bobby represented. The last 15 minutes are gonna have everybody ballin’ their eyes out. Bobby gives his speech at the hotel and then gets shot in the kitchen. People won’t know what hit ‘em. I mean, they’ll know it’s coming but it’s still gonna be rough.”

The level of excitement in his voice is like that of a young boy. Demi is familiar with this enthusiasm. She is also wise enough to know to scale it back. “Ok but what about the hour and half that comes before the end? What happens there?”

Emilio snaps out of his zone. “Well, stuff obviously.” He hears the defensive tone in his voice. “I mean, there are so many people in this movie and so many hotel guests. It’s got so many possibilities for different things going on.”

“Alright, that’s interesting. It’s got an Altman-esque quality to it. And I guess all the different stories somehow connect with each other or have some deeper level of significance. It will be an indirect criticism on today’s society, right?”

He had not thought about bridging the divide between the centuries for his wide variety of characters. He always thought Kennedy himself would take care of that. Having the cast involved in topical and symbolic plots complicates things. Having them involved in more random, dramatic situations was a lot easier. When he thought of tying everything together in other ways than just through Kennedy’s assassination, it made him feel that his script might be weak. He didn’t like to think about that. He also didn’t want to admit it.

“Of course. Plus I managed to sign that Lindsay Lohan everyone talks about and that guy who played Frodo. There will be so many faces in this film, people won’t know where to look. And I’m planning all this moving camera aesthetic. People will be so dizzy, a good dizzy of course. And there are the costumes! I’m thinking big hair for you.”

“God, I love big hair." You could hear her smile through the phone. "Alright, I’ll have my agent call you, on one condition.”

“Name it. I really want you in this.”

“Can you put Ashton in the picture? I need to separate him from his PS3 for a while. Y’know, give the kids a chance to play.”

“I need a stoner drug dealer part filled still. Do you think he can do that?”

“Yes, I think a stoner would be fine,” she said flatly.

“Great, than it’s settled. One last thing … Do you think you could give Bruce a call?”

“Don’t push it, Emilio.”

The call now made, Emilio sits back down to the blank page in his typewriter and stares out the window.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Written and Directed by Darren Aronofsky

THE FOUNTAIN reinvigorates the meaning of “labour of love.” Writer/Director Darren Aronofsky’s ambitious offering had many eyes on it from the moment of its conception, through its disastrous pre-production period and even more so now as it finally unrolls into theatres. When his last film, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, struck many a chord amongst many a different viewer (it is a compelling plea to not use drugs as many people watch the film high and never want to touch the stuff again), people knew they had a young genius in Aronofsky. Naturally, Hollywood wanted him all to itself. The problem is that Aronofsky is anything but Hollywood. When THE FOUNTAIN got the green light from a major Hollywood studio, conditional to Brad Pitt’s attachment to the project, Aronofsky found himself in a new world. In this world, budgets blow up to $75 million, stars back out, funding disappears and you can spend $20 million without shooting a single frame. When THE FOUNTAIN was shut down, Aronofsky would not let go. This is the film his heart wanted to make and so he scaled the budget down to $35 million and found a new cast and new funding. Somehow though, while everyone scrambled to get THE FOUNTAIN made, no one seemed to notice what a hard sell it was going to be. Aronofsky attempts to show in an hour and a half that we as humans are not of our bodies but that the soul, life and love are eternal; that the death of our physical bodies is both a natural and necessary part of what we know as life; that we should neither fear it nor fight it but accept it as peacefully as possible. He attempts to tell this by stretching his story over a thousand years. Though the vastness of his ideas lose some focus around the edges and struggle to remain congealed, THE FOUNTAIN remains incredibly beautiful with piercing performances by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz that plant the seeds necessary for Aronofsky’s ethereal ideas to grow in the souls of his audience. Despite all the love given, the roots could have still used a little more water.

Jackman and Weisz play Tom and Izzi Creo in the year 2000. Izzi has an inoperable tumor in her brain and not much time left on earth. Tom is a scientist, a rational man who believes that death is no more than another disease that can one day be cured. As Tom tries to play God, Izzi embraces that she will soon meet God. Jackman plays Tom as tortured and desperate and his performance is in direct conflict with Weisz’s embodiment of Izzi as a creative beacon of repose and understanding. Yet they still manage to share a life together, one that is clearly based on a deep and engrossing love that binds them, thanks to a tender, caring chemistry between Jackman and Wiesz. The present day chemistry needs to be solid in order for the bookending to fall into place. 500 years later, Tom finds himself traveling through space towards a dying star in order have that life that is fading be reborn in the tree of life he is traveling with. 500 years earlier, Tom finds himself searching for the tree of life in order to give himself and his queen (an earlier incarnation of Izzi) eternal life. It is in these two extremes that Aronofsky exhibits his strengths and weaknesses. The future scenes are organic and spiritual making his quest seem plausible in an other-worldly fashion but the past sequences, told as a story and not confirmed as an actual past life, seem stagy and forced.

Aronofsky’s ambition opens minds to new possibilities but it also takes on too much. A common thread was obviously necessary to tie three story elements that span a thousand years but he focuses on two threads instead, causing a struggle. Tom and Izzi’s love anchors the center story but though Izzi is present in the past and future, their love is not the central issue. There is an expectation that it would be more prominent that is never fulfilled. Instead, what Tom cannot deal with in the central story becomes the focus in the later and prior. No matter when, Tom is always seeking the key to eternal life. Death brings about rebirth and Tom must spend a thousand years trying to figure that out. It is ultimately Tom’s journey but Izzi is so compelling that she draws attention away from him. Despite this, the timelessness of his quest shows how fighting against death is an unnatural exertion that limits potential when one is fortunate enough to be alive that can also only reach its true potential by crossing through death.

There is no dispute that Aronofsky is a genuine artist and genius in his own right. THE FOUNTAIN shows his insight, his openness and his innovation. How else can one describe the usage of chemical reactions in a Petri dish shot with a microphotography camera as the backdrop for the future scenes? The technique is even intrinsically linked to the themes of the film. Obviously the scientific approach is an extension of Tom’s profession but the approach was also chosen to give the film a timeless feel and avoid the dating that can sometimes happen with CGI. But for all its ingenuity, THE FOUNTAIN never feels like it has fully translated from Aronofsky’s complex mind to the screen. That being said, there are worse places to be trapped than the mind of a genius.