Ex Machina Is the Pick of the Week

A poster of a film ex machina uk

At work today, I was listening to the Invisibilia podcast, specifically the one entitled “Our Computers, Ourselves.” It was all about how computers and technology have changed us as a society, culturally, and individually. I was especially fascinated with the segment on Thad Starner who has essentially been wearing a computer (kind of a prototype of Google Glass – which he helped invent actually) for the last couple of decades.

He swears it has been nothing but helpful, with no downside at all. He constantly types information into his hard drive about what he’s thinking, what he’s doing, and the conversations he’s having with others in real time. Then the next time he’s talking to that person the computer can pull up information about what they talked about last time, or where it was they initially met, or where their kids are going to school. It not only searches the Internet for him, but also his own life, bringing up information from his past like a perfect memory.

It’s a fascinating idea, and one I’m not all that comfortable with. I’m not sure I want that kind of constant access floating around my eyeballs at every moment. Many others feel the same as me, which is partly why Google Glass never quite took off.

Science fiction writers and filmmakers have been pondering these types of questions – what role does and should technology have in our lives – for years and years. Recently Terminator Genisys rebooted a film from 1984 that pondered the consequences of computers gaining sentience and deciding to destroy humanity.

And now we have Ex Machina coming to home video. It’s about the CEO of a Google-like company who has created an android with very human-like artificial intelligence. From the trailer (and a precursory knowledge of sci-fi tropes) we see things take a creepy and violent turn.

I don’t really know much else about the film as I’ve tried my best to avoid spoilers, but what I have seen looks fascinating, and the buzz has consistently been positive. Mostly, I’m just excited that interesting people are still making intelligent-sounding science fiction films for me to ponder over.

As technology and computers continue to take over our lives in strange and fascinating ways, I have no doubt that writers and filmmakers will continue to tell stories about where this will lead us. I, for one, look forward to it.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Cut: When this hit theaters, the fanboy noise was both ecstatic and exasperated. Almost every one loved the film and almost everyone wondered what happened to Rogue. She was featured in some of the early trailers and marketing material, but other than a brief cameo she was nowhere to be seen in the actual film. Apparently, her role wound up on the cutting room floor. Until now. We finally get her scenes edited back in. Early buzz is that they don’t really add that much to the film, but I’m interested to see it anyways. Read Gordon S. Miller’s review.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: The first film was a charming, funny, rather adorable little film starring some of the best British actors around (or at least the best British actors past a certain age.) This sequel promises more of the same. And Richard Gere.

It Follows: I’ve heard nothing but good things about this horror film about a sexually transmitted haunting – that is some sort of paranormal boogeyman who comes after you after you’ve had sex with someone infected with it. Or something. The concept sounds silly but I keep hearing it’s really quite scary.

The Black Stallion (Criterion Collection:) The famed family film about a boy and his horse was somehow missed by me back in the day and up till now. Criterion has worked its magic on it, which actually makes me want to see it.

Hiroshima Mon Amour (Criterion Collection:) I bought the Chinese bootleg of this film while in Shanghai on a whim, having never heard of it before. I never bothered to watch it (partially because Chinese bootlegs of foreign films tend to have terrible translation problems) but it’s stayed in my mind as something I probably ought to see. It’s only grown in that idea as I keep seeing it on lists of people’s favorite movies.

Around the World with Orson Welles: In the mid-’50s, Orson Welles filmed a series of short travelogues of him adventuring in Europe (despite the name he apparently never left that continent). Welles is always interesting and this sounds like fun.

Mat Brewster

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