Going to the movies this weekend? Lots of interesting choices, but perhaps you especially want to see some portrayals of people in academic careers by some of the hot young phenoms. Well, here are two you might not have considered, both films released May 6th.
1. Observe Nathalie Portman as an astrophysicist in Thor. I don’t find this to be too much of a stretch since the actress always seemed to me to radiate an intensity and intelligence that would help make such a role believable, even in films where everything else is rather a disaster as far as believability is concerned. (cough, cough, Star Wars prequels, cough, cough) Well, it turns out that Thor is not the disaster I thought it would be and is rather well put together, all things considered (this is one of several Marvel characters that I was underwhelmed by in the old days). So go for Portman, stay for the hammer, lightning bolts, and other stuff. Turns out the physicist aspect of her performance was not as well studied as her ballet in that other film, but oh well. It was not like it was the central issue of the film. But enjoy all the Einstein-Rosen bridge mentions!
2. Observe Jessica Alba as a mathematics teacher who loves numbers in An Invisible Sign. Now, er, this for me was casting that did not bode well, but to be fair, my feelings on this are a result of the kind of roles I’ve seen her in before, which seem more interested in her physical attributes than possible other talents. So I’m open to be surprised. I have an interest in this film because it is based on the first novel of Aimee Bender, a dear friend and colleague of mine. I like the novel a lot, but since the filmmaking has nothing to do with her, I find myself a bit worried about what the filmmakers might have done with it. I don’t expect to go and see the novel –that is not the point of making a film based on a novel– but I hope they found some of the many good and strong themes and ideas within it and do something worthwhile with them. Must go and see it soon…