Sunday, July 12, 2015

Self/less [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (PG-13)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (K. Jensen) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (B. Tollerico) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review  

Self/less [2015] (directed by Tersem Singh [IMDb], screenplay by David and Alex Pastor) is a rather _thought-provoking_ (smaller) summer-time "sci-fi-ish" film about a very rich man, a high-flying New York real-estate developer named Damian (played by Ben Kingsley), who's offered a means of extending his life when it would seem that, with terminal cancer, at least Death would finally get the best-of-him.

The process called "shedding" involved the mapping a person's brain and then transferring his/her consciousness by means of a parallel MRI-like device from his/her aging body to a much younger "genetically optimized" donor body.  One can't move one's head, can't have any metal fillings in one's mouth during the scan but ... in a couple of minutes one's consciousness would transferred from one brain to the other (kinda like "transferring one's computer files from one hard drive to another" when one buys a new computer ;-).

And the process costs "only" $250 million ... (probably not something that will be offered by as part of "MediCare Z" any time soon ;-)

There's "a hitch" though ... there's _always_ a hitch.  As Dr. Albright (played, in a perfectly / frighteningly "even-keeled" manner by Matthew Goode), founder and CEO of "Phoenix Corp" working out of (famous for its Voodoo folklore) New Orleans, calmly explained to Damian after he transferred his consciousness into a fit 35-40 y/o donor body (and is played from that point onward by Ryan Reynolds ... talk about "an upgrade" ;-), he has to "take a pill" once a day, for about a year, to "ward off hallucinations."

'Cept ... when Damian inevitably forgets to take his dose, one time, those hallucinations ... feel a lot like ... "flashbacks."  Hey, whose body was this anyway?  The rest of the story ensues ...

Okay, the film is, of course, science fiction-ish, because we can't really do this ... yet.  However, it struck me immediately that the director, Tersem Singh [IMDb], though working out of Hollywood, was Indian born.  And in India, actual occurrences of desperate people sacrificing themselves for their loved ones -- either to make quick-money to save loved ones or offering their organs (at the expense of their lives) for the sake of loved ones -- has been tragically quite common place.  A recent story of this type involving a girl committing suicide in order to _give her eyes_ to her dad who was losing his sight appeared in the Times of India in 2011.   Further some years back, my own Religious Order, the Servants of Mary, were involved in the EXPOSING of an organ trafficking ring operating out of Northern Mozambique (orphans were being drugged and killed for their healthy organs ...).  A BBC story on that matter can be found here.

The Catholic Church's position on organ transplantation is articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2296): _Organ transplants_ are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good that is sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorous act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.

So, though "a Hollywood film" of a "science fiction" variety, the issues that it touches are quite _contemporary_ today.  So good job folks, good job!

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