Monday, June 7, 2010

Dicing, Splicing, & Cooking with Class

Pressure CookerThis weekend I saw two movies worth writing about.  First up was the documentary Pressure Cooker which is on dvd.  The film follows Wilma Stepheson, who teaches culinary arts at Frankford High School in Philadelphia, and three of her students.  Through tough talk and fearless caring for her charges, Stephenson has been able to coach her inner-city students into winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarship money through cooking competitions.  Even if these students don't go on to be chefs, they are certainly imbued with the dignity of hard work, focus, and a sense of accomplishment.  Every student should be blessed with such a commanding and caring teacher.

Splice"What's the worst that could happen?"   That's the last line of the new sci-fi thriller Splice starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley.  The question sounds simple but has enormous implications in the context of the film.  Brody and Polley play scientists Clive and Elsa who tinker with animal DNA in the hopes of finding some super protein.  With the news their lab is soon going to be shut down before they can test their knowledge on humans, they end up making a human animal hybrid whom they name Dren (nerd spelled backwards).  It starts off as a challenge just proving they can do it, but Elsa becomes more attached to Dren who she treats as a surrogate child.  Dren seems cute, but the older she gets, the more inhuman she becomes.  Although marketed as a horror movie, I saw the film more as a morality tale--can science go too far?  And what costs and risks are we willing take to advance our knowledge?  Seems that human ambition may be more scary than any monster we can create.  Definitely a film worth watching.

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