Things I Noticed Last Week – 4.27.2015

I made it to the movies this week. I don’t mean to make it sound like some sort of triumph, but sadly it is becoming something I do less and less frequently. When I do go, I try really hard to see something good because I don’t want my infrequent trips to the cinema to be spoiled; thankfully, Kevin James had just the blockbuster I was looking for. It was imperative I make it to see the critically acclaimed sequel to Paul Blart Mall Cop because if it was anything like the incredible piece of filmmaking it’s predecessor was, it was destined to be an instant classic.

Other than going to the movies, none of this story is true. Without having seen the film I can only speculate by the reviews I’ve read and the number of 16 year old boys taking their girlfriends on first dates to see it, that Paul Blart 2 is a giant dumpster full of food court garbage.

1. The film I did see however, was quite good. Ex Machina, the debut from director Alex Garland, is legitimately worthy of critical acclaim. The sci-fi tale centers around a young computer programmer who wins a contest to go visit the compound of the CEO of a Goolge-type company, played by Oscar Isaac. The problem? He doesn’t quite understand what he has “won” until ultimately it is too late.

The story is a cautionary tale of man vs. machine, not unlike many of it’s predecessor in many respects. Essentially we have a brilliant computer scientist who constructs state of the art artificial intelligence and gets more than what he bargained for. Of course like all good science fiction, Ex Machina is a cautionary tale of the world we currently live. This A.I., named Ava, is not created by a single man in a lab, it is created by each and every one of us. The company in question, BlueBook (the Google-esque coporation) is a search engine we all continue to dump loads of information into everyday. Nathan (Oscar Isaac) the CEO, mines this information including thoughts, feelings, facial expressions, desires, and instinct, to create the perfect brain for the perfect artificially intelligent woman.

Sure the commentary derives from conspiracy theory but is it that far fetched? If we give computers every ounce of our knowledge, every ounce of our being, and they can recall any of it within fractions of a second, how can we possibly keep up? How can we compete when these real companies are fighting everyday to get more and more of our information to build bigger and better technology to replace us in almost every aspect of daily live? And what happens when they use this intelligence against us?

This is science fiction that would make the greats proud. What it lacks in big budget special effects, it makes up for with impressive and compelling storytelling, along with breathtaking CGI. Whether you believe in conspiracies or not, it will definitely make you think twice about just how much you are revealing on the internet.

2. In an observation that goes hand in hand with the first, comes a question: where has Oscar Isaac been all these years?

Of course I understand he has been working his way up with bit parts in movies, but how has his talent gone unrecognized for so long?

Over the past couple of years he has now been in three critically acclaimed films: Inside Llewyn DavisA Most Violent Year, and Ex Machina. On top of that, he has a roles in the upcoming X-Men film along with the next two Star Wars films, and that is only what’s been announced.

I would guess you can look no further than the current Hollywood system for the answer to this question. Right now there are is a small number of top-rate dramas to go around. Hollywood has been dumping all of it’s money into blockbusters and unless you have a big name you aren’t making the cut. Being that he was not a household name he’s been forced to pick at the scraps and take what he can get, while working his way up the ladder. If there were ever a poster-boy for what we’re missing out on in the way Hollywood currently operates, it would be Oscar Isaac. I guess better late than never right?

3. I guess it’s as good a time as ever for my obligatory statement on the image of Jared Leto as The Joker. It’s a joke right?

Can we take a moment to consider the evolution of The Joker as an on-screen, live action character?

First we have Cesar Romero of the 1960’s Batman television series fame. Romero’s Joker was a devious party clown who chased Adam West and Burt Ward behind a shroud of POW’s and BAM’s. This evolved into Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the 1980’s Tim Burton Batman film. Nicholson was quite sinister but didn’t differ much in appearance form Romero, though his actions weren’t as G-rated. As Batman turned darker, so did his nemesis. And finally the 2000’s found Heath Ledger taking over the role in the Christopher Nolan film, The Dark Knight. Ledger’s Joker was a homicidal hobo who had no regard for anyone or anything.

Let me pause for a second and offer this disclaimer: I have always been a fan of Batman, but cannot claim to have ever read any of the comics. I’m completely in dark as to what the source material intended for the character, but I have to guess it was closer to Romero and Nicholson, because why would two very different in appearance Batman’s (West and Michael Keaton) have quite similar in appearance villains?

That leads us to Leto. I don’t even know how to describe this incarnation. He looks like Powder if he were a strung out methamphetamine addict. The tattoos are ridiculous, the grill is ridiculous, and the lack of eyebrows is just kind of weird. Leto is a tremendous actor, but if this is the character tasked with taking down Ben Affleck’s Batman, I would say Gotham City has nothing to worry about.

I mean seriously, this is a joke right?

4. I have not and do not plan on ever watching Grey’s Anatomy. With that said, something big happened on this week’s episode (don’t worry, no spoilers here). And with that said (and yes I’ve said this before), there is a special place in hell for people who spoil film and television for others.

I don’t care if you watched something in real time, where do you get off thinking everyone has? You must be the same person who goes around ruining surprise parties for others because obviously you have no sense of common courtesy. Am I taking this a little too far? Probably. But ultimately entertainment is the one thing we all can enjoy and because you think you need to be the first person on Facebook to tell everyone else about what you just witnessed you prove what my grandparents have always said: No one has manners anymore!

Would it kill you to say, “Hey did anyone just see that episode? Want to private message me to talk about it?” Even I know what happened in this episode and I have never watched a second of the show. If you must be inconsiderate at least use “SPOILER ALERT” before running your mouth. The world would be a much better place if we all just thought about other people once in a while.

5. Lastly, I watched a tremendous film titled A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. It’s hard to nail down a genre for this one. It’s an Iranian film from Ana Lily Amirpour, and it’s tagline states it to be the first Iranian vampire film. Sure it is a vampire film but it also so much more. Part noir, part western, part love story, with a lot of new wave mixed in, and you get this unmistakeably great film that is not just a film it’s an experience. I haven’t seen anyone make film this way other than Tarantino. It’s daring, provocative, and deserves multiple viewings. The second the film completed, the only thing I wanted to do was hit play again.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!