Friday One Sheet: Youth

This provocative, and somewhat digitally airbrushed, poster for the latest film from Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty, Il Divo) is certainly eye catching. From both points of view – ours, as well, I imagine as that of Harvey Keitel and Michael Cain. The film will debut in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this month.

The trailer is also tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

Final Fury Road Trailer

The final, Mad Max: Fury Road trailer popped up online yesterday. It features much of the wild tone and imagery of all the previous trailers, but this one exists more or less to communicate the actual story beats.

At this point, I’m not sure what Warner Brother’s feels they need to sell with the film, either people are chomping at the bit to see the promised insanity and over-the-top imagery, or they have decided it is not for them.

I’d argue that the marketing folks nailed everything there is to nail with the Comic-Con trailer last year, with its Clockwork Orange meets massive post-apocalyptic chase imagery, but if need to scratch the itch for a few new bits of Fury Road before the films May 15th release date, this trailer more than hits the spot.

Some Thoughts on Ex Machina

The great science fiction writer-philosopher Stanislaw Lem wrote, “We do not want other worlds, we want mirrors.” And to that extent, writer-director Alex Garland’s ominous take on A.I., Ex Machina is just that. It is far less about the potential birth of a new form of intelligence and far more an allegory about how men fear and control women. It demonstrates this both with Oscar Isaac’s recluse inventor, Nathan, and his billion dollar bachelor pad to Domhnall Gleeson’s sensitive young programmer, Caleb, who is clearly in over his head talking to AVA, the artificial woman, or rather woman void of agency, played by Alicia Vikander and some impressive CGI, in her glass cage.

Despite all the dialogue about Prometheus and Turing, and a score by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow which echoes the notes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the film is best exemplified by how Nathan remembers Ghostbusters – as that movie where the ghost gives Dan Aykroyd a blow-job. Other remarkable scenes include a bit of spectacular discotheque dancing of Nathan with his mute Japanese assistant-servant-slave girl to establish dominance and intimidate Caleb as well as a secretive whisper between Ava and said assistant at a moment of weakness for both of the men which crystallized my reading of the film.

As an act of design and the distance between design and emotion, Ex Machina would make a very good double bill with Spike Jonze’s Her, albeit, Jonze’s film is more optimistic and warm, certainly less grim and grisly (and cool) than Garland’s take. Blade Runner, along with Soderbergh’s Solaris remain, remain, for me, the master-class entries on capturing the ‘feeling’ of it’s subjects consciousness, but Ex Machina more prosaically examines consciousness with a session-debrief narrative structure, and in-text nods to Wittgenstein’s Blue Book, along with discussion of several iconic thought experiments on consciousness. It’s a film and a primer and both work pretty well.

Ex Machina styles itself as a chess match between two men of different ideologies, but really it’s a sex match of dominance for the right to decide the fate of AVA. What makes it is a good bit of science fiction, because it shows just how much our impulses and biology bring out the worst in us, no matter how much technology, concrete or glass we put in between them. Well, that, and the inevitability that women will rule the earth.

Friday One Sheet: Hot Docs!

Toronto’s massive documentary film festival, Hot Docs has started up and will be showcasing hundreds of documentary films over the next few days. May of these films have one-sheets that will be on display, here are two of my favourites, both framing people dwarfed by their own landscapes.

Above is the mythic American West in the 21st century, as four cattle drivers attempt a trail from Mexico to Canada with their herd in Unbranded. Below is the barren desert in Waziristan, one of many subjects tackled in the frightening documentary about the asymmetry of modern warfare, Drone.

Ex Machina: Trailer #3

On the eve of its US release, A24 put out one more trailer for Alex Garland’s artificial intelligence thriller starring Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander. This one emphasizes the connection to actual science and social theory regarding the subject. Along with additional images and scenes from the film, quotes on the subject matter from 21st century thinkers, scientists and businessmen are interspersed instead of the usual critics blurbs.

My favourite is from Dr. Scott Phoenix: “If you invent artificial intelligence, that is the last invention you will ever have to invent.” Sounds either ominous or optimistic. Possibly, paradoxically, both.

A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.

Friday One Sheet: Advertising is a Climb

A simple, if text-heavy poster for Sundance dramedy, Results emphasizes the fitness aspect of the film (two of the characters are personal trainers, the other one, a bit of a schlub) through the only photographic elements. The rest is text. Is that to imply the film is perhaps smarter? Or lower key than your usual Rom-Com? Maybe. This seems to fit similarly with the trailer, which doesn’t over promise, but doesn’t exactly scream ‘tasteless and crass’ which, alas, the romantic comedy genre seems to have devolved (at least the studio entries) in the past few years.

The advertising may not immediately sell the movie, or even tell you exactly what it is, but it’s inviting enough to look a little closer. The tagline, “They’re going to feel it in the morning” implies both the work out, as well as love triangle.

A Clip from Pixar’s Inside Out

After getting the chance to see the first 10 minutes of Pete Doctor’s Inside Out, the Pixar animated film told from the POV of inside a 12 year old girls subconscious, a few weeks ago, I have been rapidly raising my anticipation levels for the film after its middling first trailer.

Because the film was announced as part of the 2015 Cannes line-up today, Pixar offers this treat, a short scene from the film, on how anthropomorphisized feelings prepare for the first day of school.

Cannes 2015 Line-up!

As always, the Cannes Line-up is brimming with promise and the leading qualities of World Cinema. Joel and Ethan Coen are heading up this years jury, and they have new films from Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Yorgo Lanthimos, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Todd Haynes, Paolo Sorrentino, Gus Van Sant, Denis Villeneuve and Jia Zhang-Ke in the Official Competition on which to pick the Palm D’Or Winner.

Emmanuelle Bercot’s Standing Tall is the fest opener and not in competition. Also out of competition is George Miller’s Fury Road, Pixar’s Inside/Out, this year’s Woody Allen film, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest, Journey To The Shore, and in her debut as director, a film from Natalie Portman.

The full line-up is tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: Results

A low-key Sundance-y romantic comedy starring Cobie Smulders, Guy Pearce and Kevin Corrigan? Sure, Why Not! Writer and Director Andrew Bujalski makes a significant shift from his micro-indie hit Computer Chess by moving into the under-serviced (quality-wise) Rom-Com genre, with, Results. The fact that it is difficult to completely convey what the film is, seemly as distant from Bujalki’s Funny Ha Ha mumblecore roots as it is from a Studio picture, gives me hope that the film will be good. Plus, Kevin Corrigan is one of those character actors who is a sniper for finding greatness in seedy characters. And oh, lookie there, Giovanni Ribsi is also hiding in the cast.

Recently divorced, newly rich, and utterly miserable, Danny (Kevin Corrigan) would seem to be the perfect test subject for a definitive look at the relationship between money and happiness. Danny’s well-funded ennui is interrupted by a momentous trip to the local gym, where he meets self-styled guru/owner Trevor (Guy Pearce) and irresistibly acerbic trainer Kat (Cobie Smulders). Soon, their three lives are inextricably knotted, both professionally and personally.