Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Scary Movie

It seems that our good friend Lubosh Motl is the protagonist of Martin Scorcese's new "stringsta" movie String King's. Boasting a big budget and a star studded cast, this important new movie has almost all the ingredients for Oscar contention, except for being, quite unfortunately, apparently imaginary. Sean Carroll has "Steve's" review over a Cosmic Variance. Excerpts below:


The “String Kings”, Scorsese’s latest, is a highly violent but satisfying gangster movie, certainly on a par with Goodfellas or the Godfather trilogy, and does give the viewer insights into the raw and violent world of fundamental string theory research. The film also boasts a first-rate Hollywood cast: Joe Pesci as Michael “Mo “Green; Burt Young as John Schwarz; Antonio Banderas as the hot-bloodied Juan Maldacena, who is as fast with a flicknife as he is with an ADS duality; Leonardo deCaprio as Lubos “The Kid” Motl; Robert de Niro as Tom Banks; Harvey Keitel as Joe “the (quantum) Mechanic” Polchinski, Michael Douglas as Michael Douglas; Amanda Peet as Amanda Peet, Terrence Stamp as Lenny Susskind, Jackie Chan as Michio Kaku, Samuel L Jackson as Clifford V. Johnson and Eugene Levy as “Boss of Bosses” Ed Witten. The film is characterised by some extreme and gratuitous violence and is not for the mathematically squeamish, but this is to be expected considering the subject matter.


Most of the casting is impeccable, but diCaprio? He's a good actor, but does he have the gravitas, or for that matter, the levitas, to carry this kind of part. What was really needed here was clearly a young Al Pacino or Jonny Depp.

In the film, Lubos Motl becomes involved with the string mafia at a young age. As he says in the film, “I always wanted to become a string theorist”. As an undergraduate he idolises the string theory gangsters in the US and eagerly studies every page of GSW, Vols. I and II. ... Upon getting his Phd he moves to Harvard and gets to rub shoulders with some of the “made guys” within the east-coast string underworld. Ruthless and violent and described as “perturbatively unstable” he quickly establishes his reputation. From his Harvard base he helps the mob take over local bars, clubs, businesses, casinos, hotels, libraries, graduate schools and journal editorial boards. ...

However, at this time the FBI also begin to keep a close watch…

Perhaps the most violent scenes in the film follow when “Boss of Bosses” Ed Witten, from a huge luxury mansion in Princeton NJ, calmly gives the order for a long list of people to be “taken out” (spoiler alert). In a chilling sequence, the film repeatedly cuts between the increasingly violent mob hits and Ed giving a seminar on the twistor space structure of 1-loop amplitudes in gauge theory. Lee Smolin is seen shot multiple times in the back as he writes LQG constraint equations on a blackboard. There is a scene showing work on an extension of the New Jersey turnpike, involving string henchmen (disguised with hard hats and overalls) a large cement truck and Peter Woit. ....

Overall, String Kings will appeal to fans fo the gangster genre and despite the ending will probably still become a Scorsese classic.

Maybe a bit more Scarface than Goodfellas.