Archives for posts with tag: oscar isaac

In our continuing obsession with robots and how they’ll probably take over the world and murder us comes the entry Ex Machina. I seem to recall a lot of hype about how ground-breaking and intelligent it was. I disagree on at least one of those points.

Nathan (Oscar Isaac) is a tech billionaire who is developing humanoid AIs in his remote mansion, because obviously he is. Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is a peon in his company who wins a contest to go meet the AI. Ava (Alicia Vikander) is the AI. Amid very stylish surroundings, Nathan is a giant creep, Caleb is creeped out, Ava is a really convincing robot.

MV5BMTUxNzc0OTIxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDI3NzU2NDE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_.jpgTo its credit, this movie addresses a few issues that often come up in this scenario, like “why does the AI have to be a sexy lady?” The answer to that is that Nathan is a creepy weirdo, which is at least stereotypically probable. “Why does Oscar Isaac have that terrible beard?” goes unanswered. “How did we get to the point where AIs are really plausible sexy ladies without a lot of hiccups?” is, however, terrifyingly answered by a gallery of uncanny valley failed AIs. “Can robots dance?” is a glorious yes.

This movie did, at least, kind of consider how robots might think and how this may or may not make them want to kill us all.

On the other hand, I don’t know about you, but I watched Battlestar Galactica, so….

Director: Alex Garland
Rating: R
Length: 108 minutes
Score: 4/5

This movie could have been substantially worse. But let me run a few things by you:

  1. Mystique is angry at everyone and lectures people about mutantdom or something (and basically acts a lot like Katniss Everdeen, which isn’t more attractive if you’re blue and naked).
  2. Erik Lensherr needs to be reminded that humanity is probably worth saving, Nazis and other bigots notwithstanding. But first people are awful and somebody dies.
  3. Somebody gets into Charles’s head, and it’s a problem.
  4. Some long-latent cosmic power is defeated with suspicious ease by an unlikely bunch of mutants who realize at the last moment that they need to work as a team.

Does that sound like…every X-Men movie?

Everyone’s phoning it in at this point, with the exception of Rose Byrne’s Moira McTaggart, who remains the only person in these movies with any sort of consistent and rational appeal. This is the point of Moira, of course. Jennifer Lawrence is just recycling her pouting noxiousness, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are visibly bored (which is understandable), and Oscar Isaac is unrecognizably painted blue, so you can’t really tell if he’s acting. The kids have very little to do–there are too many characters to bother caring about them, particularly when Psylocke (Olivia Munn) is given practically no dialogue (or clothing!). Conversely it’s probably a relief that Jubilee (Lana Condor) is barely there.

The fights are fine; the effects are fine; the Egyptian stuff is Mummy levels of insane nonsense, but who really cares.

Hmm. Maybe I just need to stop watching superhero movies until they seem less samey and dumb. Except Ragnarok: Once Thor with Feeling. I am going to see that a hundred times.

Stray observations:

  • Apparently Ally Sheedy has a small part. I didn’t notice.
  • “I’m blue! I’m Kurt!” Nightcrawler is always going to be the most charming.
  • Young Scott is not handsome enough.

Director: Bryan Singer
Rating: PG-13
Length: 144 minutes
Score: 3/5

Spoilers below, sort of.

Read the rest of this entry »

You know who was pretty interesting? Wallis Simpson, and also the Duke of Windsor. I’d watch a movie about them. I thought this was a movie about them. I question the choice of putting out a movie about the Duke of Windsor just after The King’s Speech, but, well, whatever, Madonna.

This movie was, however, only sort of about the titular W. and E. Instead, there was an asinine framing device: Wally (Abbie Cornish, and so named because her mother was obsessed with Mrs. Simpson, and also apparently cruel and deranged) desperately wants to have a baby; her husband William (Jeff from “Coupling”) does not. Wally’s coping mechanism is to haunt the sale of the Windsors’ estate at Sotheby’s and flirt with Evgeni (Oscar Isaac), a security guard. Intermittently Mrs. Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) will appear in Wally’s imagination to give her advice.

I submit, my dear, that if you need advice on your life plans, that Wallis Simpson may not be the place to turn.

In and around all this garbage is an abbreviated account of the romance between Mrs. Simpson and the Prince of Wales &c. (James D’Arcy). The angle, though, is purported to be new: everyone knows what Edward VIII gave up to marry an American divorcée, but what, the film asks, did Wallis give up to marry Edward? The film doesn’t answer this question satisfactorily, and even if it did, the answer is still “not a kingdom” and “who cares?”

Riseborough and D’Arcy show fairly well, but the convoluted drama of Wally-William-Evgeni just embarrasses the actors involved. Bertie (to become George VI) is relegated back to the role of a clumsy stutterer whose wife speaks for him in all things, presumably in the interests of making his brother look more dashing. It sort of works, but you feel manipulated. This is the problem with the whole movie, in fact: you get what it’s doing, but it’s so heavy-handed that you lose interest.

Stray notes:

  • In case you were wondering, ladies, this movie clears up any doubts: if you can get pregnant, you are a worthwhile human being.

Director: Madonna
Rating: R
Length: 119 min.
Score: 2/5.

I was struggling with the genre on this one, but I figured “Coen Brothers” fit the bill. Two points to start:

1. I missed when Justin Timberlake became a proper actor, and I’ve seen nothing else he’s done, so that threw me.

2. I desperately hate movies about people who, for whatever reason, feel entitled not to be fully paid-up members of the human race.

So. The music is amazing, and early 60s New York is lovingly (too lovingly, perhaps) sketched out for us. And that’s…about as far as this movie got me. This is a movie about crappy people, who are crappy to each other, and to whom crappy things happen. Fair enough, I guess.

But also: almost nothing does happen. You start out being sorry that you have to watch Oscar Isaac get hit in the face, because you figure it’s unlikely that he really needed to be hit in the face, and at the end you maybe still think that he didn’t need to be hit in the face, but you don’t really care one way or the other. I’m not asking for grand personal growth on the part of the protagonist, or his friends, or his damn cat, but something would be nice. I know with Mausam I was complaining that it went off the rails, but with this I was honestly waiting–hoping, even–that someone would shoot Brad Pitt in the head. He wasn’t even in the movie.

….yeah.

Stray points:

I could not understand a word Garrett Hedlund said. I can’t tell if this is an improvement on either Troy or Tron.

Conversely, Carey Mulligan’s accent was well-enunciated but terrible, as were her bangs. At least she didn’t smirk.

John Goodman observing that everyone knows that you jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, not the George Washington, was painfully hilarious.

There is something about Adam Driver that really, really puts me off. I think it’s his face.

Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake
Rating: R, for a really impressive number of four-letter words
Length: 104 min.
Score: 3/5. You can’t ignore how carefully it was made, or how good the music is. But oof.