The Magnificent Seven (2016 version) is a remake of the classic 1960 movie starring You Brinner, Steve McQuinn, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn, among others. Both of those are in turn based on the classic Japanese movie The Seven Samurai (1954), by Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshiro Mifune. (Yet another, animated, take on the same story was produced in 1998 with the title A Bug’s Life, featuring Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Hyde Pierce, and many others.) Why so many versions of the basic, simple story? Because it is a timeless tale of injustice, oppression, and fighting against inconceivable odds; a tale that, as it happens, also features a number of Stoic themes.
Imperium is a well acted, deeply disturbing movie about the little talked about topic of domestic terrorism, particularly of the “white supremacy” type. It features an idealistic FBI agent, Nate Foster (played by the excellent Daniel Radcliffe, he of Harry Potter memory), who is enlisted in an undercover operation by higher level operative Angela Zamparo (played by the ever fascinating Toni Collette). Agent Foster is a good Stoic character, and the very end of the movie (minor spoilers ahead) could have been written by Seneca.
Perhaps against my own better judgment, I went to see Captain America: Civil War. I couldn’t really avoid it. I was in Italy with my brother, who is a big fan of comic books, and I have, after all, taught an entire course on superheroes (and supervillains) and philosophy… Indeed, I used the Marvel “Civil War” saga with my students to highlight the complexities of ethical decision making. (Warning: this post includes spoilers of both the movie and the graphic novel on which it is based.)
What, you say? Stoic comedy? Isn’t that almost the definition of an oxymoron? Not for Melbourne-based comedian Michael Connell it isn’t! I was first made aware of Michael when he did this funny bit for a past edition of Stoic Week, and I’ve been in touch with him ever since, even giving him some feedback (from the philosophical, not comedic, side of things) on his Stoic-related routines.
Well, now his brand new all-Stoic special has been released on YouTube, and I’d like to present some of the highlights and invite people to check out the full 31′ of it. I will make a concerted effort not to spoil his jokes, of course.
You might have heard of positive psychology. It has been all the rage in the media for a while now, especially thanks to the high profile work of its founder, Martin Seligman. Positive psychology (PP, henceforth) focuses on the achievement of a satisfactory life, rather than on illness, on personal growth rather than pathology. But what is the relationship, if any, between Stoicism (ancient and modern) and positive psychology?
(from artist Kevin Nordstrom, illustrator of awesome things. Reproduced with permission.)
Recently I went to see this year’s New York City Opera Renaissance production of Puccini’s Tosca, which originally premiered in Rome in 1900. The action is set in the year 1800, also in Rome, and the story provides quite a few points of reflection from a Stoic perspective.
Briefly (you can read a more in-depth summary here) the three main characters are the painter Mario Cavaradossi, his lover, the singer Floria Tosca, and the brutal chief of the Roman police, Baron Scarpia.