THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 2021
A movie which didn't get noticed: We're working on the final installment of this week's "Einstein made easy" report. As the later Wittgenstein basically said:
It's easy to create confusion, hard to get it untangled.
(As we noted yesterday: "We feel as if we had to repair a torn spider's web with our fingers." So Wittgenstein says at one point in Philosophical Investigations, his hopelessly jumbled attempt to offer a road map to cogency.)
We probably should have started with Nova's dumbed-down attempt to explain "the relativity of simultaneity," rather than with Walter Isaacson's more convoluted explication. Sadly, you learn these things as you go.
The "thought experiment" we're discussing this week concerns "a very long train." So does a superb movie we found ourselves describing yesterday, to a friend, over the telephone.
The film in question is Brad Anderson's weirdly overlooked Transsiberian (2008). Here's the start of Roger Ebert's review:
EBERT (8/14/08): "Transsiberian" is (how shall I put this?) one hell of a thriller.
It's not often that I feel true suspense and dread building within me, but they were building during long stretches of this expertly constructed film. It takes place mostly on board the Transsiberian Express from Beijing to Moscow, at eight days the longest train journey in the world.
After stumbling upon Transsiberian earlier this year, we recommended it to a friend. His report:
He couldn't watch it all in one sitting, the suspense was so hard to bear.
"The movie, written and directed by Brad Anderson...is constructed with many of the devices and much of the skill of a Hitchcock," Ebert said at a later point in his review.
We know of only one Hitchcock film which approaches Transsiberian for the building of suspense and dread. That's the transplendent Notorious, in which Hitchcock explores the dynamic by which some men seem to loathe the women they otherwise seem to love.
Transsiberian truly is an "expert construction." Back in 2008, it disappeared without a trace. All this year, it's been sitting amid a collection of junk in our free On Demand listings.
It features a very long, slow train—a train ride which is even longer than the one we're taking this week. If it's expert construction of dread you seek, you should give it a look!
Concerning the cast: Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley, Kate Mara