Saturday, August 30, 2008

But first, a correction...

So I'm trying to get on through Chapter 3 but, I have to say honestly, it's a slog. I'm trying to read with an open mind but so much of what is being said is so blatantly, cynically dishonest that my poor insulted intellect recoils at just about every paragraph. You'll see what I mean when I finally get through, but it's slow going.

In the meantime, I have to take back something I said early on about Strobel's use of the term "Darwinism." What I said about objecting to its use, since evolutionary scientists are not bound to Darwin's statements because they are Darwin's in the same way that Christians are bound to Christ's statements because they are Christ's, I still contend and uphold.

I cannot, however, say that Strobel is being dishonest or misleading in his use of the term, as in doing some review of various written and spoken works, I've discovered that Richard Dawkins, of all people, also refers to the theory of evolution by way of natural selection as "Darwinism." So while I think it is a dangerous and misleading term, I can't fault Strobel for using it, and if I'm going to be demanding the journalistic high ground from Strobel, I need to reach for it myself.

As the papers say, I regret the error.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How to Convert an Atheist

Before moving forward with Case for a Creator, I want to address a question that I have a feeling will come up. In fact it already sort of has. I don't know (despite having read two chapters of the book) what evidence Strobel intends to give, so now is the time to establish what kind of evidence I would be willing to accept for the existence of a deity, and more specifically a particular deity as espoused by a particular religion.

Ebon Musings has two great articles that I read through on this subject that I think are just about perfect. Since I got on Strobel's case about not properly citing sources, I'll link you directly to the source so you can read it at your leisure.

The first is, How to Convert an Atheist. The article proposes a list of evidence that would convince him that a given religion was true. I'll summarize the bullet points here, but head over to the page for a full explication of each one.

I agree absolutely with the list, which is why I am duplicating it here.

First, things that would convince the author (and me) immediately of a given religion's truth:

- Verified, specific prophecies that couldn't have been contrived.
- Scientific knowledge, in holy books, that wasn't available at the time [of their writing].
- Miraculous occurrences, especially if brought about through prayer.
- Any direct manifestation of the divine.
- Aliens who believed in the exact same religion.

Next, a list of anecdotal evidence that, while not eligible for insta-conversion, would get the author (and me) to think there might just be something to a particular religion:

- A genuinely flawless and consistent holy book.
- A religion without internal disputes or factions.
- A religion whose followers have never committed or taken part in atrocities.
- A religion that had a consistent record of winning its jihads and holy wars.

And third, the list of items that will not be seen as convincing, by the author or myself:

- Speaking in tongues or other pseudo-miracles.
- People's conversion stories.
- Any subjective experience.
- The Bible Code or similar numerological feats.

He also lists "Creationism of any sort," but I'll take that one off the table. Strobel gets his shot at convincing me, as long as his evidence is solid. Worth noting, though, that disproving evolution does not inherently prove creationism or intelligent design.

I would add to that list that I do not find arguments from personal incredulity to be compelling. If you say to me "I can't see how [blank] could be true without God," my answer is "Do some research." Nor do I find the argument from beauty to be compelling. A gorgeous sunset, the intricacy of a snowflake, or other astounding elements of natural beauty are not valid evidence of God.

As I said, there is a second article about how NOT to convert an atheist. This one interests me because, looking through, this is like a checklist of exactly the tactics Strobel seems to be employing:

- Don't tell atheists what they think; let them tell you what they think.
- Don't assume that atheists aren't familiar with the beliefs of your religion.
- Don't make assertions you're not prepared or willing to defend.
- Don't ignore sincere questions.
- Don't use threats, personal insults, or ad hominem attacks.
- Don't try to be an armchair psychologist.
- Don't ask atheists to do something for you if you're not prepared to offer the same courtesy in return.1
- Don't refuse to acknowledge your mistakes.
- Don't assume that any one atheist speaks for all atheists.
- Don't refuse to consider the atheist viewpoint honestly and seriously.

So, let's see how Strobel approaches this.

  1. Drew may well find a gift of an alternative viewpoint in his mailbox after I've finished Case for a Creator, unless of course Strobel manages to convince me. The God Delusion is, after all, in paperback now.

The Case for a Creator: Chapter Two

Remember yesterday, when I said that it seems that Strobel seems very concerned with telling us about himself, and how very very atheist he was? Chapter Two begins thusly:
Rewind history to 1966. The big hit on the radio was Paul McCartney crooning "Michelle." On a television show called I Spy, Bill Cosby was becoming the first African-American to share the lead in a dramatic series. Bread was nineteen cents a loaf; a new Ford Fairlane cost $1,600.
As a fourteen-year-old freshman at Prospect High School in northwest suburban Chicago, I was sitting in a third-floor science classroom overlooking the asphalt parking lot, second row from the window, third seat from the front, when I first heard the liberating information that propelled me toward a life of atheism.
[page 17]
I check the cover to make sure the subtitle is, in fact, "A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God," and not "The Pointlessly Detailed Life of Lee Strobel." Maybe they teach you to pad your word count with "colorful details" in the papers, Lee, but I was told that this was going to be an investigation of scientific evidence that points toward God. It would be great if you could get on with that.

It's clear throughout this chapter that Strobel really wants to hammer home just how he was "toooooootally atheist, guys! Like seriously!" Like Durin pointed out yesterday, I can't shake the feeling that this is setting up an implicit Argument from Authority. I mean, if someone THAT atheist could be convinced, this MUST be good evidence.

It in fact has the opposite effect -- I begin to wonder if Strobel was actually ever an atheist at all. The atheism Strobel describes is a standard Christian caricature of atheism, as evidenced below:
I reveled in my newly achieved freedom from God's moral strictures. For me, living without God meant living one hundred percent for myself. Freed from someday being held accountable for my actions, I felt unleashed to pursue personal happiness and pleasure at all costs. [page 25]
It is this statement in particular that leads me to think that Strobel was never actually an atheist; rather, he is attempting to convince me that he was an atheist so that, as I said above, I will be compelled by his radical conversion. Having never been an atheist, he instead describes how he thinks atheists think, which will convince those who already believe (also having likely not been atheists themselves), but actual non-believers will have to conclude that if he ever was an atheist, he was a grotesquely stupid one.

The subject of morality without God deserves a post of its own (and even that is probably selling the subject short; books have been written), so I won't sidetrack this one with the subject. Suffice it to say that no atheist I know actually sees it as an "excuse" to misbehave -- the fact that so many of the religious seem to think that the only thing keeping them from raping and/or murdering every man, woman, child and pet they come across is the threat of God's punishment only belies the fact that they are not good or moral people at all.1 The moral person does good because it is good; the man who does good because he's afraid of what will happen to him if he does bad is not moral, he is merely a coward.

Buuuut, that's getting off the subject a bit. My point is that Strobel's attempts to convince me that he was an atheist have in fact convinced me of the polar opposite, and I will have trouble putting aside the fact that I believe he is being dishonest with me. Fascinatingly, he even describes himself as being "smugly arrogant" -- exactly the two words I used yesterday to describe the atheist characterization he was laying on so thick.

Ultimately, however, it doesn't necessarily matter if Strobel was or wasn't an atheist (which makes it yet more annoying that he spends so much time on the subject). The more important question is, does the scientific evidence he presents indeed point toward a Creator? Well, I'd like to tell you, but at this point he still hasn't presented any.

Actually, I take that back. In this chapter, Strobel presents the evidence that led to his apparent atheism when he learned it in his science class. This chapter is called "The Images of Evolution," and he refers to several iconic concepts (or "images") that, to him, represent(ed) the undeniable fact of evolution:

Image 1: The Miller-Urey Experiment -- in which scientist Stanley Miller reproduced, under laboratory conditions, an approximation of the atmosphere of the early Earth, and via application of electricity was able to spontaneously produce amino acids, the building blocks of life.

It should be noted, before moving on, that the Miller experiment is one testing the abiogenesis hypothesis -- the notion of life arising from non-life on the early Earth. Abiogenesis is a separate theory from evolution; evolution does not concern itself with how life started, only with explaining the diversity of life that arose after the moment that life began.

Image 2: Darwin's "Tree of Life" -- referring to an illustration in On The Origin of Species, showing life's theoretical common ancestor as the bottom of the tree, and all the diversity of life growing and diverging and blossoming upwards from there.

It's here that Strobel again tips his hand to, if not intentionally misrepresenting evolution, at the very least misunderstanding it:
It seemed obvious to me that there's such a phenomenon as microevolution, or variation within different kinds of animals. I could see this illustrated in my own neighborhood, where we had dozens of different varieties of dogs. But I was captivated by the more ambitious claim of macroevolution -- that natural selection acting on random variation can explain how primitive cells morphed over long periods of time into every species of creatures, including human beings. [page 20]
See, the creationist folk realized some time ago that they could not deny that evolution does occur. It is, as he points out, an observable fact. So instead they have inserted an arbitrary designation between microevolution and macroevolution -- two terms that, in a scientific context, do not exist. There is only evolution.

All evolution is small changes within a population of organisms.2 As he says, over time the sum of those small changes can result in organisms so totally different that they are scientifically classified as different species.

As an analogy, imagine that you are five feet tall at the age of fifteen. Every day for a year you measure your height, and on a day to day basis you will see little difference between one day and the day immediately before or after. Yet at the end of that year you find you are six feet tall. Even though the changes were small, at the end it resulted in the need to recategorize you (from "five foot tall person" to "six foot tall person").

Evolution is this concept writ large, with billions of organisms over billions of years. The notion of a separation between "micro" and "macro" is a semantical dodge, designed to allow creationist (or intelligent design) proponents to admit to what they can no longer deny, while continuing to deny what they don't wish to admit.

Image 3: Ernst Haeckl's Drawings of Embryos -- up to a certain point, the embryos of vastly different organisms can look almost totally indistinguishable. This is taken as demonstrating how similar we all are genetically, and by extension the likelihood that we share common genetics, since that would logically result in common development up to the point where our genetics diverge.

Fast-forwarding back to 2008 (we're in 1966, remember), it's worth noting that we now have pictures of these various embryos and their striking similarities, not just taking an artist's word for it.

Image #4: The Missing Link -- referring to archaeopetryx, the famous transitional form between reptile and bird.

Strobel spends the rest of the chapter establishing his argument, which is that you've got to take a stand and choose between evolution or God. He acknowledges that there are some who believe that evolution and God are compatible, but he immediately determines that because evolution leaves no need for God, it leaves no room for one.

And not just any God, mind you, but the Christian God specifically:
Certainly Christians would say that God is not a hidden and uninvolved deity who thoroughly conceals his activity, but rather that he has intervened in the world so much that the Bible says his qualities "have been clearly seen...from what has been made." [page 22]
But what would Muslims say, Mr. Strobel, and what does the Quran say about God's qualities? The Hindus and the Vedas? You haven't even proven that there is a God at all, let's not jump to conclusions about which God it is.

Of course, he isn't concerned with those other possible Gods, because Mr. Strobel has already determined for himself that the Christian God exists, and is seeking only to find and deliver validation for that belief.

If Strobel's intentions are becoming more plain, his methods are becoming more dubious:
I was experiencing on a personal level what philosopher Daniel Dennett has observed: Darwinism is a "universal acid" that "eats through just about every traditional concept and leaves in its wake a revolutionized worldview." [page 24]
Note, again, the selective quotation. Strobel puts the word "Darwinism" into Dennett's mouth to ingrain it further. More alarming, though, is the citation found if you follow this quote to the endnotes, which gives this source:
Quoted in: Phillip E. Johnson, "The Intelligent Design Movement: Challenging the Modernist Monopoly on Science," in: William A Dembski and James M. Kushiner, editors, Signs of Intelligence, 34. [page 308]
If the significance of that citation isn't immediately apparent, let me explain. Strobel has not quoted Dennett in his argument -- he has quoted ANOTHER person quoting Dennett, that other person being an Intelligent Design proponent, making the quote in a pro-ID essay.

Why cite the quote secondhand? If Johnson did not include a citation of his own so that it could be traced back to the source -- and context -- of Dennett's remark, then the use of the quotation in both Johnson and Strobel's works is highly suspect. If Johnson DID include a citation, and Strobel chose to cite from Johnson's essay instead of researching the quote directly himself -- and, in so doing, making it more difficult for a reader of his own work to trackback the quote -- then the use of the quote is, again, suspect.

Granted, Signs of Intelligence is readily available on Amazon, but why quote a quote instead of going directly to the source? As a journalist Strobel should know better, which leads me to believe he intentionally evaded properly citing Dennett's remark -- which may in fact have had nothing to do with "Darwinism" at all.

It's not that the quote even really affects the argument being made -- it is, at least as reported here, a statement in support of the non-ID view of things -- but it certainly does not instill confidence in Strobel's journalistic integrity, nor his devotion to "not only...ask questions...but to go wherever the answers would take me." [page 29]

None of this necessarily negates his argument -- good evidence is good evidence no matter the source -- but it certainly makes it clear that Strobel is not playing a fair game.

Nowhere does this become clearer than in the home stretch of the chapter, in which Strobel says:
My approach would be to cross-examine authorities in various scientific disciplines about the most current findings in their fields. In selecting these experts, I sought doctorate-level professors who have unquestioned expertise, are able to communicate in accessible language, and who refuse to limit themselves only to the politically correct world of naturalism or materialism. [page 28]
Emphasis mine. The problem with this approach is that, despite Strobel's attempt to couch it as "politically correct," or previous attempts he's made within to characterize "naturalism" as only a particular "sect" of scientific study, the fact is that science by its very nature concerns itself with the natural, material, measurable world. Once you introduce supernatural hypotheses, science goes out the window because they cannot be tested and are therefore not scientific.

In choosing his "experts," Strobel has in fact chosen specifically only those who are already sympathetic to his beliefs. A truly neutral, journalistic approach would be to talk to people on both sides of the issue and let the facts speak for themselves. Strobel instead reveals his bias by limiting his conversation to those he knows will agree with his pre-ordained conclusion, silencing the opposition by simply not speaking to them.

Astonishingly, he follows that declaration with this one:
After all, it wouldn't make sense to rule out any hypothesis at the outset. I wanted the freedom to pursue all possibilities. [ibid]
So. He didn't want to rule out any hypothesis -- except the natural or material ones -- and wanted to pursue all possibilities -- except the natural or material ones.





Strobel cautions the reader that "getting beyond our prejudices can be difficult. At least, it was for me...I didn't want there to be a God who would hold me responsible for my immoral lifestyle." [page 29]

Again with that. I can't speak for other atheists, but I don't lead an immoral lifestyle -- even by Christian standards. I don't lie to people, I don't cheat people, I am not sexually promiscuous, I don't get shitfaced-drunk or hurt people or do any other "immoral" things, certainly no more than your average Christian and I would bet, pound for pound, less so than most of them.

Strobel wants to assert that I'm afraid to admit God exists; I'm not. I live a good life, I am a decent person, and I'm confident that any God worth worshipping would take that into account when the time comes. If God exists and he/she/it is truly righteous, then I'll shrug, say "my bad, good to meet you," we'll have a laugh and move on with eternity. And if God exists and is not righteous, then fuck him/her/it anyway.

Either way I'm unafraid of the notion that God might be real. But if I'm going to believe, I'm going to need evidence -- and despite the book's subtitle, Strobel still hasn't given any. Instead he's written two "chapters," really glorified forewords or prefaces, which combined have made me more wary of his claims, and more likely to do due diligence on what's being said and who is saying it, than I think they were intended to do.

That being the case, future installments of my analysis may not be daily. I need research time, and I'm doing this around After Effects renders, so that time doesn't come easy. The next chapter is called "Doubts about Darwinism." I'm doing my best to approach this openly and without bias, but when the author refuses to do so, when he announces his prejudices in the same breath as he asks me to set aside my own, it makes it much more difficult.

  1. Nor does it make much sense, since -- at least in Christianity -- all they have to do, whatever the transgression, is be genuinely sorry afterward and all is forgiven. But that is also a topic for another day.

  2. I notice he uses the word "kinds" of animals rather than "species," "kind" being the Biblical designation; another flash of the cards he seems to be stacking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Case for a Creator: Chapter One

I begin my reading of Strobel's The Case for a Creator with, appropriately, Chapter One: "White Coated Scientists versus Black-Robed Preachers."

My first impression upon reading this book is one of surprise. Considering Strobel is supposed to be a journalist, he doesn't strike me as a very good writer (in the very first sentence, he describes the atmosphere of a newsroom as being "carbonated with activity"). But maybe he's just being overzealous in trying to create a narrative and draw the reader in; after all, this book is presumably more about factual evidence than anecdotal experiences.

The first portion of the chapter is devoted to descriptions of said newsroom, filled with newspaper jargon that I guess is intended to reassure me that he did, in fact, work at the Chicago Tribune. He talks about how his boss sends him, a fresh-faced new-to-the-beat reporter, to West Virginia to cover a brouhaha:

"Crazy stuff..." he said. "People getting shot at, schools getting bombed, all because some hillbillies are mad about the textbooks" [page 8]

Strobel -- the one in the narrative -- demonstrates significant contempt for Christians and Christianity. On the back of the book is a quote by Strobel which I suppose will be in the text: "My road to atheism was paved by science...but ironically, so was my later journey to God."1

The back cover also provides me with the first red flag as to what I'm reading here, where it says the following:

In recent years, a diverse and impressive body of research has increasingly supported the conclusion that the universe was intelligently designed. At the same time, Darwinism has faltered in the face of concrete facts and hard reason.

I suppose from the title it should have been obvious that this was a creationist tome, and it will apparently be playing the "intelligent design" concept. The flag, moreso, is referring to the theory of evolution as Darwinism.

The theory of evolution should no more be referred to as "Darwinism" than the theory of gravity should be referred to as "Newtonism." Appending "-ism" to the end of the name implies that it is -- like theism or atheism -- a dogmatic and rigid belief system. A religion, if you will.

But evolution is not a religion, having no central tenets of behavior and no ceremonial observations -- unless you include the scientific method, but every branch of science utilizes that, and I don't hear any of them being touted as religions. It's also worth noting that Darwin did not create the theory of evolution, as evolution had been observed for some time before he came on the scene. Darwin proposed the mechanism (natural selection) by which evolution occurs. Natural selection currently offers the best understanding of how evolution occurs, but scientists have no dogmatic loyalty to Darwin's theory, nor to Darwin himself. Should evidence arise that natural selection could not account for, natural selection would come into question and new explanations would be examined.2

Back into the book, and the subheading of the next section that sends up the next red flag: "Is Darwin Responsible?"

Strobel describes arriving in the West Virginian town and interviewing folks about why there was such violence and turmoil over what textbooks were teaching. Evolution, of course, but they also banned other books because students were being asked to analyze them and think critically.

To Strobel's credit, he is not the one blaming Darwin for what's going on in the town; that is the argument given by one of the townfolk he interviews, who says:

"If Darwin's right, were just sophisticated monkeys. The Bible is wrong. There is no God. And without God, there's no right or wrong. We can just make up our morals as we go." [page 11]

Since this is not Strobel's argument (at this point) I won't address the glaring holes in it (at this point). In fact, Strobel articulates -- at least in part -- what was going through my mind as I read this and other quotes he puts down:

In the last part of the twentieth century, in an era when we had split the atom and put people on the moon and found fossils that prove evolution beyond all doubt, a bunch of religious zealots were tying a county into knots because they couldn't let go of religious folklore. It simply defied all reason. [page 12]

He next describes a religious rally that he and an accompanying photojournalist were nearly tossed out of until the local preacher calmed the crowd and let them stay. (The detail of using KFC buckets as collection baskets is a nice touch.) He finishes off the chapter still "in character" as an atheist, looking forward to the day that the concrete facts of evolution show those lot that their whole basis of faith is ridiculous, that miracles are impossible.

I feel the need to point out that the fact of evolution actually proves nothing of the sort. The truth of evolution does nothing to demonstrate that miracles are impossible, as they are two completely different things. It's here that Strobel tips his hand as to perhaps not being entirely truthful about his approach. Strobel protests a bit too much, characterizing himself as smug and arrogantly anti-religious -- going so far as to insult the believers specifically, rather than just their beliefs. I'm sure they exist, but the characterization of atheists as thinking "haha jesus w/e noob grr i hate everyone" constantly is not accurate to most of the atheists I know, least of all myself, and seems to be more of a common Christian caricature of what they seem to think must go through the minds of atheists, than anything like atheists actually think.

So overall, a lot of groundwork laid that Strobel is, at this point in the tale, a non-believer of religion ("just like you," is the implication), but no arguments yet in the case for a creator. I guess in a sense that made this first chapter the foreword. Presumably he will begin making the book's eponymous case in chapter two, which we'll look at next time.

  1. I can give that to him as irony, in case you're wondering.

  2. In fact, my example of Newton is a prime one, as the established system of Newtonian physics is insufficient in certain situations, such as "at very small scales, very high speeds, or very strong gravitational fields" (from Wikipedia). This has required new models of understanding, like general relativity and quantum mechanics, and not a dogmatic adherence to the use of Newtonian equations.

Book Reading: "The Case for a Creator"

So, interesting development. One of my readers/a fellow I know from TFN and other places has sent me a book of apologetics, Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator, subtitled "A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God."

I've been meaning to read some more apologetics, Christian and otherwise (I'm very interested in reading some Muslim apologetics, and of course the Quran itself), and this is a fair enough place to start, especially since Drew went out of his way to send me this book as a gift (nicely wrapped by Amazon and everything!). This will also give me an excuse to do more blogging -- as I go through the book, I'll discuss my impressions of Strobel's argument. If they're convincing, you'll get to see a real-time conversion right here! Won't that be exciting!

The book is relatively brief, with short (~30 pages) chapters, so I should be able to get through a chapter and my impressions every, or every-other day. There's eleven chapters, so this should get me through the next few weeks, assuming I intersperse it with other stuff as it comes up. Maybe I'll even get one up later today.

Thanks Drew!

Friday, August 08, 2008

I never did follow-up...

At Comic-Con, RvD2 won the Star Wars Fan Movie Award for Best Visual Effects, which is a previously non-existent category apparently created solely to award us for it.1

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth; MC Steve Sansweet had some amazingly kind things to say about both RvD and RvD2. I'm paraphrasing here, but it was to the effect of "When they announced that they were going to do a second one, we all wondered how they could possibly top themselves. But they did. Great work."

I may be reading into things, but that very brief kudos holds a lot of information between the lines. To wit:

-I assume that the "we" means, generally, "folks at Lucasfilm," potentially up to and including Lucas himself (to whom Sansweet has a direct line)

-They were aware of -- and apparently liked -- RvD well before RvD2 hit the scene

-They were paying enough attention to us to notice that we had announced a sequel in the works. This also means:

-They were aware of our call for donations before the film, and are almost certainly fully aware of the fact that we are selling DVDs. Regardless of the fact that the donations were true, voluntary donations, and the content being sold is legally ours to sell, both could have raised some hackles, and the fact that LFL has not only turned a blind eye to our activities but actively praised those activities' product is worth my gratitude.

I may be cynical about what LFL is offering the fans these days, but there can be no denying that they do know how valuable those fans are.

So thank you, Steve Sansweet, Atom, and Lucasfilm. I probably wouldn't have given two shakes if you didn't like the films, but it does mean something to me that you did.

  1. Oddly, a category that did exist in previous years, and the one for which I actually thought we would be in the running -- Best Action -- was omitted from this year's competition.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Everyone Can Relax, I've Seen The Godfather

Hello, everyone. My name is Michael "Dorkman" Scott, I'm 25 years old, a filmmaker, and until earlier today I had not seen Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather.

I have lost count of how many times someone has nearly leapt across a table and wang-chung'd me after I have been forced to make that confession in conversation. Even those who were kind about it treated me like the filmgoing equivalent of the 40 Year Old Virgin: they were nice about it to the level of slight condescension, assuring me that I'd see it "when I was ready."

Well, as the subject line says, everyone can relax. I've seen the fucking movie.

Obviously, with the kind of reaction people would have to my not having seen the flick, I went in with some pretty high expectations. Some films, like Pulp Fiction, and more recently The Dark Knight, manage to live up to and even, miraculously, sometimes surpass even the highest of expectations. The aforementioned Pulp Fiction was another on the list of "You mean you HAVEN'T SEEN -- ?!" reactions until finally I did see it about five years ago -- and understood what all the fuss was about.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are films like 2001, Blade Runner, and recently the obscenely-lauded Pan's Labyrinth, for which, for the life of me and even with multiple viewings, I cannot begin to understand the hype and passionate love people have.

So it was up in the air as to what I might think of Godfather now that I've had a quarter century of people telling me I'd better see it if I knew what was good for me. Fortunately, I liked it.

There's very little I can say about the film that hasn't already been said, so I won't bother to review or analyze it here. I think I need time for it to sink in before I can say I love the film, but I do think it's a great film. I wasn't blown away by it like I was by Pulp Fiction; it fits into a rarer category of a film that exactly hits my expectations, neither falling short nor exceeding. Another film to do that was The Shawshank Redemption. Didn't blow my mind, but I didn't get bored, and in a three-hour film that's always noteworthy. And of course the performances were flawless.

Now I guess I'd better see Godfather II, if I know what's good for me.