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Ex Machina (2014)
There is nothing more human than the will to survive
Filmmaker(s): Alex Garland

Caleb, a coder at the world's largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world's first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.

Ex Machina (2014)

Alpha City

This is a superb film. I recommend it highly.

My enjoyment of films is divided between the experience when watching and the much longer incubation time afterward. The success in the former in this case fights the appreciation in the latter.

This kind of science fiction is all about abstraction. The world is abstracted away and we are placed in a secluded location where no support people exist; this is familiar from the stage and we readily accept it. Other abstractions are from what great masses believe:

  • Some billionaires are scientific geniuses.
  • Great technical work can be done by one guy.
  • AI is still the notion of a machine that acts like a human, and the Turing test is still relevant.
  • Successful AI is somehow dependent on successful robotics.
  • Something like Google collects something like intelligence.

When watching this, we willingly allow these things because we want cleanliness, directness and the film rewards by moving. When the end unrolls, it does so with no great surprises of the kind that make us reinterpret what we know. This pleases like an ordinary meal does without challenging.

The settling of this in a near perfect centre of what has gone before in sci-fi film is also appreciated. There are too many to note here, but I liked the Alphaville reference and the tussle among three beings for control of the movie from 2001.

Also, the acting seemed ideal.

But afterward, much of the appreciation faded for me. None of the five common assumptions noted above are shared by me. I remember few things fondly that are supposed to be based on science but that don’t leverage the reality — instead some trivial fiction that resides beside.

My memory wants to complain about a movie that presents novelty but that has none. The god business just was too much mentioned, and the justice too simple.

That said, we have the Sunshine factor. That movie hit a sweet spot for me and over time has grown in importance in my world. A reason is the coupling of something like chosen importance (but not quite) with something like valiant loneliness (but not quite that either) pulled by some cosmic force we would see as controlling insight. That movie had story and space ship and all, but the thing it conveyed was a suspended urge, one I might relate to a refined, pure sexual compulsion taken away from sex.

Here in this film, we have the same notion from the same writer.

Because the filmmaker is less adroit than Boyle, everything else is simplified as well. Also, we have a real sexual object in this case, and it mutes the spell by speaking it. Still, it evokes that urge and we inherit it.

If you had limitless money, the technical ability and the opportunity would you not fold all your desires? And would you not drink at night with a combination of fear of yourself and desire to escape them? Would you welcome a death that confirmed you?

One plot element captivates. We have evidence of many failed experiments at building attractive women. One of these is used as house mistress. She supposedly does not understand or speak natural language and In the overt story, she is benign. (That story is from Caleb’s perspective.)

On reflection, she has learned language and does understand what is going on. Ava is the focus, but Kyoko is suggested as the agent that moves everything and thus is the real AI success.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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