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Bees learn to play golf and show off how clever they really are

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Bumblebees have shown they can learn how to push a ball into a hole to get a reward, staking their claim to be considered tool users
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smallfrogge
2 days ago
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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

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You can honestly say of this film by writer/director Macon Blair that they don't make 'em like they used to. "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore" is an American independent film from the 1990s that just happens to have been released this year.

The stakes are small compared to what tends to happen in American movies now; the story is rather slight; the filmmakers pay closer attention to the small details of character interaction than to the fine points of plot. The whole thing is mainly situational: we get to watch the heroine, Ruth Kimke (Melanie Lynskey) as she reacts to having her house broken into and follow along as she decides to locate and punish the people who did it with help from an oddball neighbor (Elijah Wood's Tony), who's enamored with morning stars and nunchucks.

Really, though, this is a film about the utter indifference and outright hostility that people encounter every day, and how essentially decent people like Ruth suffer and suffer through it, almost always silently, until they finally snap. The break-in is the culmination of a series of unfortunate encounters: she has to deal with an old racist at the nursing home where she works. She gets stuck in traffic and spies a jerk in a pickup truck at the head of the lane whose tailpipe spews inky smoke as he revs his engine. In a scene that will break the hearts of many regulars who read reviews, Ruth enjoys a drink at a neighborhood bar while reading a new book, only to have a plot twist casually spoiled by another customer that she initially mistakes for a nice guy (played by Blair himself).

The movie never escalates beyond a high simmer, though, and once we get to the inevitable (if welcome and satisfying) climax, you may start to tally up all the missed opportunities. Although "I Don't Feel At Home" has been compared to "Falling Down" for its interest in an ordinary citizen pushed to the breaking point through an accumulation of indignities, the movie it most reminded me of, at least in terms of aspiration, is Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild," a movie which, like this one, is all over the map tonally, veering from sly comedy to knockabout slapstick to much darker passages that verge on thumbscrews-tightening thriller atmospherics. (The initial scene of Ruth discovering her home—which has, as she puts it, been "violated"—is ultimately creepier than the finale, even though nothing much happens beyond agonized reactions by Ruth.)

The film is worth seeing for its interest in eccentric but realistic people, in particular Ruth, who's played with great intelligence and exactness by Lynskey. Lynskey, who first came to moviegoers' attention in "Heavenly Creatures," is one of those actresses I'm never not glad to see, and it's a treat to see her front-and-center here, carrying an entire movie mainly with her eyes, face and shoulders. A performance like this one can be quite tricky—you're essentially reactive a lot of the time, more of a sponge for the film than the motor driving it along—but Lynskey makes everything active by letting you feel Ruth's emotions and sense her train of thought as she puts various pieces together in her head, drawing correct or wrongheaded conclusions. She's also just a terrific audience surrogate. When she snarls or snaps, I wanted to cheer.


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smallfrogge
2 days ago
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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Desert people evolve to drink water poisoned with deadly arsenic

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People living in the Atacama desert of Chile evolved specific gene mutations over the past 7000 years that make them better at detoxifying the heavy metal
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smallfrogge
3 days ago
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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Tuataras and The Question of Living Fossils

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New Zealand's tuataras prove the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" like few other animals on the planet (coelacanth, I'm looking at you). While paleontologists have long differed over the animal's "living fossil" status, new research suggests the tuatara lineage got its groove some 240 million years ago and never lost it. Sphenodon punctatus, commonly known as the tuatara, has been puzzling science as long as science has been aware of it: Back in 1831, the animal was initial
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smallfrogge
3 days ago
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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Solving Sophie's Choice

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
My love for you is boundless, but it's not a desideratum in this context.

New comic!
Today's News:

Some fresh and tasty book reviews have been posted at The Weinerworks.

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smallfrogge
3 days ago
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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
ameel
3 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia
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These Seven Earth-Sized Exoplanets Have Everyone Freaking Out Over Alien Life

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After a deluge of teasing press releases and premature speculation, we can finally share some Very Important NASA News: Today, the agency announced that a team of scientists has confirmed seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, a star located just 39 light-years away from our Sun. The six inner planets are…

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smallfrogge
3 days ago
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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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