Skepticism

Sigourney Weaver Gets Skeptical!

Sigourney Weaver (<3) is set to star in Rodrigo Cortés' latest film Red Lights, which he describes as being “about how the brain does not give a true picture of reality.” Bloody Disgusting says:

Bloody Disgusting got the exclusive tip today (and confirmed) that Sigourney Weaver has been secured for the role of “Margaret Matheson” in the film that follows a para-psychologist who attempts to debunk a very reputable psychic who has just returned to the limelight after 30 years.

Oooooh! This could be very good: badass Alien-killing Ghostbusting Sigourney as a skeptic who (SHOCK) may actually be correct? That’s just a theory, of course, but judging by the director’s single-sentence synopsis, it sounds like it could be about how “psychics” and their ilk use cold reading, sleight-of-hand, and good ol’ fashioned bullshitting to get one over on the general public.

but who is the real-life parapsychologist inspiration? There’s gotta be one. Randi? Sue Blackmore? Ray Hyman?

The info is so new that there isn’t even an IMDB page for the movie yet, so hopefully we’ll find out more soon. In the meanwhile, let’s talk other recent skeptic-friendly cinema: Carrie gave big props to the very skeptical main character of How to Train Your Dragon, and I really enjoyed the recent Sherlock Holmes reboot, where logical reasoning triumphs over paranormal explanations. And I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m told that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is pretty great and nerdy.

What else have you seen recently that satisfied your rational side? Anything coming out soon that has you excited?

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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35 Comments

  1. Outspoken “Avatar” star Weaver said she believed Cameron — who lost out to his ex-wife, “The Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow — didn’t win because the academy wanted to make history by naming its first ever female Best Director.

    “Jim didn’t have breasts, and I think that was the reason,” Weaver told Brazilian news site Folha Online over the weekend. “He should have taken home that Oscar.” source

    I lost almost all respect for her after that one.

  2. I’ve just got to say that the information about the movie in that link is too sparse to say whether it’ll actually be skeptical.

    “the brain does not give a true picture of reality” can mean “it’s easily fooled and tricked”, but it can also mean “it doesn’t pick up all the useful mystical vibes unless you’re receptive”.

  3. I remain skeptical. It smells like a bait and switch similar to the movie version of Contact. The skeptic will have all the answers until some moment at the end where she finds/sees something she can’t explain (probably relating to a dead family member) and sums it up with some cheesy dialogue about faith. Hopefully I am wrong.

  4. @Bjornar: See, that’s what I was thinking and remain worried about.

    Aside from that though, I remember being in second grade and when asked to write down my favorite actress, pondering thoughtfully on how in the world I was going to spell Sigourney Weaver.

  5. @demian: I never read the book (although it’s on my list) but I was religious when I saw the movie a long time ago and I remember being disappointed that the movie actually went out of its way to explain that it was not her dead father.

    Thinking back on that first time seeing it now, I am far from disappointed (but again, I can’t compare it to anything.)

  6. Echoing above comments. In fact, given the standard rules in Hollywood I’m almost certain that the skeptic by the end will either be thoroughly convinced by the psychic or will be shown to be outright evil in the desire to not acknowledge the evidence in front of them. That’s just par for the course.

  7. I just checked hsx.com, and I couldn’t find anything either. I looked under Sweav, and it had several upcoming movies, but not this.

    @Gabrielbrawley: I’ve never seen it, and I pretty much refuse to. I think everyone is throwing themselves at him. So, you made the highest grossing film of all time, that’s great. That doesn’t mean you’re a good director. Besides, those who I know that have seen it pretty much agree it’s Pocahontas with Smurfs.

  8. @Brian’s A Wild Downer: He doesn’t dislike the movie “because” of some other movie; he dislikes the movie because it is exactly like Pocahontas … but with very tall Smurfs.

    It probably wouldn’t bother people so much if James Cameron wasn’t trying to tout Avatar as some sort of movie revolution, instead of the cliche movie with pretty special affects that it is.

  9. Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of Stieg Larsson’s Millenenium trilogy which began with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo definitely satisfies my rational side.

    Though she is a a very non traditional hero, full of flaws, damaged by abuse, and guided by her very individualistic set of morals, she functions in this world solely on rational thought, computer savvy, and her very unique ethical compass.

  10. What I don’t understand are people who say they don’t like a movie because the plot has been done before. Movies like LotR’s and Star Wars which are considered great movies (arguably, yes but they are classics in many an eye) all have the same exact plot — so did Beowulf, The Odyssy, etc. etc. The Hero’s Journey.

    The reason certain plots are reused and recycled is because they hit on themes that are popular within their culture and that people are drawn to.

    I’m not saying Avatar is a masterpiece by any means, and I agree that it didn’t deserve to win the academy award (except for special effects) but it was still an enjoyable movie whether or not the plot has been recycled a thousand times over.

    It’s nice to see a good movie with an original story, but sometimes I just want to nestle down with that old familiar friend.

  11. My daughter and I both liked Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. At one point the main character (Flint) is explaining how his invention works, something about how it modifies the DNA of the rain into the DNA of food. I loved how my 8-year-old stood up and started yelling at the screen that there is no DNA in rain or in food. After I got her calmed down we enjoyed the rest of the movie.

    In the car on the way home we talked about how crazy that explanation was and how it was so crazy that it was funny, but she didn’t let them off the hook and said that some kids might believe it and she didn’t think that was “nice.”

    My heart about burst.

  12. But there is DNA in food. Unless you’re a Breatharian.

    Me, I like Bones. I do, however, think they overdo the unaware-of-popular-culture thing. Are the writers not aware that science nerds are people too?

  13. I completely agree with everyone who says the skeptic will “see the light” in the end. And worse, it’ll be seen as some kind of redemption. Definitely waiting for the reviews before I laud the idea.

  14. So many things to comment on.
    Rebecca: “I really enjoyed the recent Sherlock Holmes reboot, where logical reasoning triumphs over paranormal explanations.”
    That will have Conan-Doyle spinning in his grave. There’s a wonderful little bit in Connie Willis’s “To Say Nothing of the Dog” where they summarize the career of a medium – moving all around the world and getting exposed as a fake everywhere until she eventually moves back to England where Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle pronounces her ‘unquestionably geniune.’

    “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”: Mad-scientist-nerd hero and heroine. Quite good, but nerd rather than skeptic friendly.

    “Avatar”: Fun movie to watch, I’d say a good movie, but falls short of greatness (and ‘best picture’) due to the cliched plot. It would have been much better if the hero had not quickly outpaced the natives at the stuff they’ve been doing all their lives. I can’t compare with Pochohontas, as I haven’t seen that one.

    Agora: I’m hopeful for this one. Note that according to Wikipedia, Hypatia was born between 350 and 370 AD, and died in 415 AD, so was 45 to 65 years old at death, but I bet they’ve cast someone who looks 25 to play her.

  15. @Filias Cupio: As a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories I can confidently say that even though Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle believed in the paranormal, Sherlock Holmes knew it was all bunk. The original stories tend to be more pedestrian than the film and not deal with big questions, but at least “The Hound of the Baskervilles” took the line that a paranormal claim should be scrutinized.

  16. @DominEditrix: Regarding Bones, the only one unaware-of-popular-culture is Bones herself, not the other “squints”. It’s debatable whether Dr. Brennan is realistic, but the writers aren’t saying all scientists are monomaniacs, just some.

  17. @Filias Cupio: While you’re correct that Conan-Doyle was extremely credulous, I’m sure it would come as no surprise to his corpse that Holmes was seen as a defender of rationalism and that he often triumphed. Doyle meant for him to be a buffoonish, not particularly likable character, but definitely logical and rational.

  18. @Stevie:

    What I don’t understand are people who say they don’t like a movie because the plot has been done before.

    It can be done well if done subtly. But Avatar wasn’t done well. It’s far too obvious. And empty. Pretty, but completely empty. And thus, it bores me.

  19. @DataJack: See Last Samurai did it well. In my opinion. Of course I watched it when it first came out on DVD, so who knows what I’d think of it now. But, still. It was a decent movie. Better than Avatar.

    Neither, imo, are Oscar-worthy, however.

    I’m not even sure Hurt Locker is Oscar-worthy, though, even though I REALLY enjoyed it. Still, it was at least pretty original and had some great acting. I also really, really love explosions and Bigelow movies in general. So there could be a slight bias there. :)

  20. If they do have a cheesy ending where they end up with only a paranormal explanation, they need to either bring in Randi for a cameo (or the broader skeptic community) to imply that the question isn’t settled yet (and that there will be a sequel), or bring up the idea of the psychic considering the $ 1 million challenge and refusing to try it.

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