Most pitiful ambition

Due to a paucity of appealling offerings from the broadcasters available to the Freeview user, I decided to watch one of the movies sent to me be the folks at Lovefilm.

This started with the usual round of trailers, one of which was for a film entitled Redhill.  I was only paying limited attention, but it didn’t seem terribly reminiscent of the Surrey town in the Borough of Reigate and Banstead.  It seemed oddly American, with some sort of western/police/horror theme (I wasn’t listening or paying much attention, it must be admitted) and seemed to lack any distaff characters at all.  Maybe it was set in a part of Redhill you can’t see from the London-Brighton line?

Anyway, the main “attraction” was a film called Limitless.  This involved a writer, with writer’s block (or, perhaps, a complete lack of ability), who attempts to resolve his problems by pharmaceutical means – so seemed to have some potential relevance to yours truly.  Sadly, it did rely on the fallacious conceit that we only use 20% of our brains: in response I would point out that the human brain is a very expensive organ to possess.  It is life-threatening in childbirth to both participants, requires an extended childhood (mine is still continuing) and is a major energy drain throughout life (hence my constant snacking).  As a result, if 80% were unused it would have rapidly been evolved away.  While writing this, I have begun to wonder if I’m missing a link to the peacock’s tail here.  Very stupid men would be desirable to a potential mate on the grounds that they have the energy cost of maintaining a huge brain which goes almost entirely unused: i.e. the brain is a secondary sexual characteristic used purely for display and to demonstrate fitness (in the purely Darwinian sense).  I fear this might explain all too much about the modern world, but I seem to be indulging in a degree of vagation.

The film is nothing great, but does allow 104 minutes to pass somewhat divertingly.  Our hero becomes hyper-intelligent as a result of his pharmaceutical support but makes depressingly unimaginative use of this boosted intellect.  By the end of the film, he has become amazingly rich and a US senator and seems a shoo-in for the Presidency.  After the film, as I was making a cup of cocoa, I found myself musing on the hero’s paucity of ambition.  I then realised that I was unironically considering that becoming President of the US was a rather disappointing use of one’s intellect: if you can do, if you can’t teach, if you can’t teach become President of the US?  This would be a more supportable position if I had any obvious personal ambitions: so I fear I have becoming clinically pretentious or condescending (or both).

The one positive I did take from the film is that having become hyper-intelligent (in a nod to the late, great Douglas Adams, his eyes turn blue) and dealt with the worst of the consequences of his drug-dependency, the hero has a haircut and dyes his hair ginger.  Whilst the latter fact is never explained, I feel it is a positive message from a Hollywood which otherwise shows very few of the strawberry blonde in its products (Damian Lewis and la famille Weasley being honourable exceptions): perhaps the local climate is considered inimical to their alabaster flesh?  Still, given the current vogue for the vampire in film, I’m surprised we’ve not seen more auburn blood-suckers – so I suspect some degree of prejudice may be involved.


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