Ep. 44 – Ex Machina, The Age of Adaline, Kung Fu Killer, Adult Beginners, Jared Leto’s Joker, and a wrap up of all our events of the past week

April 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Podcast

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In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys from CineSnob.net review “Ex Machina,” “The Age of Adaline,” “Kung Fu Killer,” and “Adult Beginners.” They also discuss Jared Leto and David Ayer’s version of The Joker for “Suicide Squad” and recap their last week of movie-related events.

[0:00-19:19] Intro, Tommy Wiseau talk and Alamo Drafthouse events recap
[19:19-28:08] Jared Leto and David Ayer’s Joker for Suicide Squad officially revealed
[28:08-47:22] Ex Machina
[47:22-59:09] The Age of Adaline
[59:09-1:07:47] Kung Fu Killer
[1:07:47-1:19:15] Adult Beginners
[1:19:15-1:27:45] Teases for next week, giveaways and close

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Ex Machina

April 24, 2015 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
Directed by: Alex Garland (debut)
Written by: Alex Garland (“28 Days Later”)

After the SXSW premiere of “Ex Machina,” director Alex Garland was asked a directorial question, with this film being his debut after years of solely screenwriting. In a fantastically articulated answer, Garland explained that people tend to deify directors; a sentiment that he called “bullshit.” He contended that he is a writer first, and that every part of the crew from the director down was a “filmmaker.” Writer, director, filmmaker; the semantics, job titles and roles don’t matter. As long as Garland is putting his ideas to screen, like the fascinating ones he has with “Ex Machina,” the film industry is a better place.

After winning a company-wide contest, programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) is invited to spend a week with his reclusive boss and tech CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Previously unsure of what the week would entail, Caleb soon finds out that Nathan has built artificial intelligence, and that he is there to perform a test on its intelligent human behavior. However, as Caleb gets to know the A.I., Ava (Alicia Vikander), he sees that things may not be what they seem.

Another word about “Ex Machina” cannot be written without first acknowledging the staggeringly great performance from Isaac. Equal parts charismatic, humorous, dark and enigmatic, Isaac shows expert level character building and chops. It’s a down-to-earth performance that gives what could easily be an off-putting, egotistical, super-genius character into an affable, fun-loving guy. He’s also responsible for a completely unexpected and equally hilarious dance sequence that will easily go down as one of the best moments in any film this year.

Garland’s smart and ambitious screenplay keeps an air of mystery that allows every moment to unfold without knowing is what to come. After a great set up to pique interest, Garland throws a wrinkle into the film that keeps audiences on their toes. Without getting into too many plot details, motives begin to come into question and the complexity of the story and relationships kick into high gear, allowing audiences to flex their mental muscles to stay engaged.

As “Ex Machina” comes to its dramatic conclusion, there are moments where the storytelling becomes a little too dense and thematically crowded. As a result, the different themes at play get a little muddy and it takes a little unpacking to find the prevailing ones. Even with an overstuffed ending, “Ex Machina” is jam packed with moments of brilliance and bursting with originality. It’s atmospheric, intimate and joins Mike Cahill’s “Another Earth” and Duncan Jones’ “Moon” as one of the best original sci-fi films of the past several years. Also, that Oscar Isaac dance scene.

Oscar Isaac – Ex Machina

March 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Screenwriter Alex Garland (“28 Days Later,” “Sunshine”) makes his directorial debut with the sci-fi film “Ex Machina,” the story of a young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) who is chosen by a reclusive CEO (Oscar Isaac) to participate in a series of experiments where he must interact with an artificial intelligent robot built to look like an attractive young woman. During an interview with Isaac at the South by Southwest Film Festival, I talked to him about his popular dance sequence in the film and discuss what a “bro billionaire” actually is.

Before we start talking about the deeper themes of “Ex Machina,” I have to ask you about my favorite scene of the film — the dance sequence. How did you make it look so…cool?

Single-handedly I made dancing look cool again! Yeah, it was in the script and it says we disco dance. It was a lot of fun. We had a great choreographer. We rehearsed quite a few times. Alex would come in and watch it. He would even join in once in a while.

You said the dancing was in the script, but what about the humor you bring to your character? How much of that was already there for you to work with and how much of it was ad-libbed?

All of it was in the script — the language, the wit, the condescension, the sardonic and biting humor — that was all in there. It was a whole “bro billionaire” kind of thing. There wasn’t a lot of mining to try to find the humor in the character because it was already built in. And sure enough being the hammy actor that I am, I would look to see where I could add more to it in little moments here and there.

Since you brought up the idea of “bro billionaires,” did you look at any of the young tech billionaires of today for any inspiration on the character or someone who might have that “God complex” that your character seems to be suffering from?

Usually I’ll go and do that sort of left-of-field thing when I’m building a character as opposed to getting locked into this one-for-one, literal thing. When I was playing King John in “Robin Hood,” I thought of someone like a mix between Robert Plant and Richard Nixon or something that would get your imagination going. With this one, I kind of landed on [reclusive chess champion] Bobby Fischer as someone who had a brilliant mind, but also had an incredibly dark thing going on. He presented certain aspects of himself and hid other ones. [Film director Stanley] Kubrick was another one. I listened to how he spoke. He was so intelligent, but had this sort of roughness because he was from the Bronx. He had this self-taught kind of thing because I imagined he was really bad at school. He was quite brilliant at chess, as well. So, those are the two I really pulled from.

When it comes to technology, there are some pretty futuristic things happening in this film. In your lifetime, what do you think will be the craziest thing you’ll see come to fruition? Or maybe something you hope to see?

Oh, it would be interesting to have a breakthrough in terms of longevity – something that allows someone’s life span to get longer. There’s a futurist named Ray Kurzweil who is an incredible optimist when it comes to robots and technology and artificial intelligence. He believes in robots that can live inside us and help us live longer. I’d be interested in that kind of advancement.

So, would you personally like to live to be 150 years old?

Yeah, I think battling death, one’s own mortality,  is something that’s in my mind. The inevitability of that is something that humans have grappled with since the beginning of time.

Some people would argue that just because science allows somebody to do something or create something doesn’t necessarily mean we should. Do you agree with that or do you feel most things in science are up for grabs?

I feel two ways about it: One, I feel like it’s completely up for grabs. At the same time, you have to recognize that [humans] are damaged. There are elements in us that are not great. So far, the things we have created have pretty much gone out of our control, whether it’s an industry or socioeconomic systems or technology. We create these things and quickly give our power over to them for the sake of convenience or comfort. To think that it wouldn’t happen with artificial intelligence is a little bit naive.

Can you imagine a film industry in 50 years where actors have become obsolete? Will we get to a point where a studio that wants you to star in their film will just have to upload you into a program and create a performance?

I don’t think so, but I see the film industry already becoming very robotic where everything is a machine. But I think there is something about human expression, the actual organism of a human expressing it’s existence. That’s always going to be interesting for us. I’d like to think that humans can give something unique to a performance.

You’ve been in some tech-heavy movies in your career and will be in a huge one later this year. Would you say you enjoy those elements as much as you do in, say, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” where your performance is front and center without all the other extra stuff going on?

Yeah, I still had a huge camera right in my face when I played Llewyn Davis. You’re dealing with elements all the time on a set. There’s lights, there’s camera, there’s a cat. The nature of it can be slightly different, but it’s all about creating space for your unconscious mind to work regardless of what’s around you.