Tag Archives: genius

To infinity and beyond: my articles for The Guardian on The Man Who Knew Infinity

8 Apr

Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel star in The Man Who Knew Infinity, filmed in Trinity College, Cambridge where the real-life maths duo of GH Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan worked

The latest in a long line of films about improbably brilliant maths minds, The Man Who Knew Infinity, opens in UK cinemas today. I won’t review it here, since I’ve written a whole raft of stuff about it for the Guardian as “branded content” (in other words, the film company pay the Guardian to carry relevant articles), so you would be rightly sceptical about my impartiality.

As it happens, I did really like the film – Jeremy Irons deserves an Oscar nom imo as the emotionally repressed Cambridge don who takes poor young Madras maths prodigy Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) under his stiff upper wing, and though it has emotional heft it doesn’t dumb down the maths – but rather than going on about it, let me just direct you to some cool stuff on the Guardian website I put together around the theme:

Could you be a maths genius? I got Mensa, the High IQ Society, to set a quiz. Even my brain-box son got stumped halfway through, so yes, it ain’t easy. But it requires no advanced maths knowledge; it’s more a test of reasoning. Leave me a Comment if you get through it, I’ll be impressed!

Are you smarter than an 11-year-old? Stumped by the above quiz? Then try this one, taken from sample Key Stage 2 maths papers. If you can’t do this one, best keep quiet about it.

The Beauty of Maths – in pictures. I love this one, though it was a bugger to research and write the captions for, when my Maths doesn’t extend beyond A Level (and even then I struggled incredibly hard to attain my lowly C grade). If nothing else… Look! Mandelbrot! Pretty pictures!

And a bunch of other stuff: Galleries, trailer, Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons on the making of the film… and if you look at today’s Guardian, that’s my cover wrap round G2, that is 🙂

4 articles about Whiplash, the little film that could

9 Jan
Miles Teller and JK Simmons in Whiplash, described as "Full Metal Jacket set at Juilliard"

Miles Teller and JK Simmons in Whiplash, described as “Full Metal Jacket set at Juilliard”

A really terrific little movie opens next week: Whiplash, about a young drumming prodigy’s fractious relationship with his terrifyingly perfectionist mentor, which although made in 19 days on a budget of $3 million is attracting Oscar buzz. I was commissioned by the Guardian to write four different pieces on the film, which is especially close to my heart as my son is an ace drummer himself (check out his band Venus Envy on Soundcloud).

Whiplash’s young writer-director had lofty goals, setting out to do for drumming what Martin Scorsese once did for boxing. But in many ways it’s less like Raging Bull than like Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam masterpiece: producer Jason Reitman describes the film as “Full Metal Jacket set in Juilliard”.

Check out my Guardian pieces, which came out today:

— Why Whiplash is not just about drumming, but a psychological thriller, sports/war movie and mismatched buddy movie all in one. Discover the “Dead Poets Society from hell”.

— How do you make an Oscar-worthy feature in just 19 days? Despite cracked ribs and a car crash, this is how Damien Chazelle got it done.

— Both lead actors in Whiplash underwent an extraordinary transformation for their roles. From Lon Chaney Jr to Holly Hunter and Daniel Day-Lewis, discover the ten biggest transformations in film history.

— Einstein himself said that “genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work”. From Isambard Kingdom Brunel to Marie Curie, here are ten great men and women who owe as much to perspiration as inspiration.