• Category Archives film
  • The Machine

    “Apart from their flesh, what makes them any different from me?”
    A marriage of true artificial intelligence developed through semantic and syntactic analysis of conversation and the power of quantum computing technology. A joining of minds to create the perfect machine.What is it to be alive? What is it to be human? If a machine passes the Turing test does that make it real? What if you needed it to be real? What if you needed the machine to believe it was real, not as a means to pass the test, but to stop bad things happening?
    The movie was shot in around 5 weeks on a relatively low budget, it uses physical effects, very clever prosthetics and amazing special effects to deliver a gritty hard science fiction work of art. Director Caradog W James did his homework and extensive research on AI and advanced robotics used by the Ministry of Defence.
    A computer scientist finds consciousness and the meaning of the soul through a machine who has been modelled on its former developer. However when the machine starts to convey emotion, establish trust and develop a true connection with its master, the question of whether it is artificial becomes unclear.
    Killing is prohibited?
    Killing is prohibited?

    There is a truly beautiful moment in the movie when The Machine (Ava) breaks free from her restraints and begins to explore the power and beauty of her own body, of free movement – it was wonderfully shot and all movements (and indeed all stunts throughout the movie) were performed by an amazing upcoming actress (Caty Lotz – Ava)

    TheMachineConcept_FL01

    This is by far the best original “recent” science fiction film I have seen since Moon. Low budget and from a director who has never done a science fiction film before. The competition between free-will and psychic-driving (influence), the many questions relating to the field of AI, and its masterful delivery through superb casting and acting are a true pleasure to behold.

    The-Machine-Poster

    http://www.redandblackfilms.com/machine-movie-extra/

    The kind minds behind The Machine just added a nice high resolution bonus:

    High Resolution Poster

    The Machine has a very active Facebook page, featuring the chance to win some really cool merchandise, check out The Machine Facebook page here.


  • Mirrormask

    Helena Campbell was born into a family of circus performers who put on an amazing performance of comedy, acrobatics, stunts and entertainment to the masses; however Helena just wants a normal life. In her travelling caravan she has created her own world of light and shadow, and one night she wakens to find her normal world shrouded in darkness, lost in a monochromatic land she has so longed to escape to – however the balance of this world is broken and a shadow threatens to engulf all who stand in its way.

    Mirrormask has been a favourite of mine for so long I forget exactly how I came upon this film. Helena’s adventure begins in a dilapidated apartment building on the seafront of Brighton whose bohemian look sets the visual style for the movie, in fact I found its crumbling walls of dulled whites and mossy blacks so visually striking and characterful that I soon visited the area myself.

    Helens drawings and indeed the world behind the mirror is a surreal sepia dream world of strange creatures and asymmetric architecture complete with flying fish, talking chickens, floating books and giants orbiting. No surprise then that the creative team behind this film is non-other than the Jim Henson Company (responsible for such paradoxes as Labyrinth 1986 and The Dark Crystal 1982).

    The score (composed by Iain Ballamy) is an eclectic mixture of saxophone jazz, ambient soundscapes, and haunting mechanical samples and melodies – it features a particularly surreal version of Close To You by the Carpenters depicted by mechanical clockwork figures who cast a dark enchantment over Helena during her capture by The Queen of Shadows.


  • Tron Legacy

    20 Years away from the grid: Don’t get me wrong, I was a massive Tron fan in my younger 90s days but somewhere in the 20 year gap I forgot about The Grid. Then in late 2009 comic-con released a teaser trailer for a sequel – and suddenly I was revisiting the digital domain of Tron – one aged and much darker than before.

    Kevin Flynn

    The Creator – Flynn

    I was fascinated by Kevin Flynn’s return, the idea of an older, much wiser Flynn and one that is perceived as a deity on The Grid. And so I followed every development and every rumour (much thanks to ign.com) of the film up to its release. I have always believed in the spirit, discovered the art of meditation quite naturally as a very young child, but after seeing this film I have become passionate about Zazen and following my way of Zen.

    People have criticised this film on its slow build-up and story line, personally I believe its slow build-up is necessary – there is 20 years of retrospection to be covered, however when the true-action begins things really start to move. But this review is not about the action, visa vie its inaction what matters, the importance of waiting, being still, moving past wants and needs. Visually Legacy complements its 1982 predecessor perfectly while still maintaining a contemporary visual. The Grid has changed, its much larger, infinitely more possible, and much darker. I will not go into specifics regarding plot, there are plenty of well-read reviews for this already, suffice it to say Kevin Flynn became locked within the world of Tron and (as covered in Tron Uprising) there has been a rebellion by the Programs against its Creator. Tron who was once the architect’s assistant has been corrupted and reprogrammed by Clu who has now gained power over The Grid and forced Kevin Flynn into hiding. When the Son of Flynn enters The Grid the time of meditation is over – the resurrection is begun.

    However all is not what it seems as these actions are all the design of Clu, who’s agenda threatens both the digital domain and the physical world. The chemistry between Creator and Creation, between Flynn and The Grid, is a perfect analogy for the Christianity faith – as is succinctly explained in The Likeness of the Creator by  James F. McGrath:

    ” The creator, Flynn, does not simply condemn and punish his creation, Clu, made in his own image and likeness. He recognizes that the shortcomings of Clu are a reflection of himself as creator. In fact, Clu’s vision of “perfection” mirrored Flynn’s own at the time he created Clu. But what he came to realize later is that such ideals of perfection in fact pale in comparison with the reality of human life, with all its flaws and failures.”

    Naturally Tron Legacy lends itself effortlessly to blu-ray and a good clear HD screen, the visuals are stunning and the digital realm is rendered in flawless detail. Indeed this was one of my best blu-ray purchases and truly made me appreciate just how good my screen is. Contrasts are well defined and edges pin-sharp, and pleasingly these are achieved without losing texture definition.

    light-cycle-tron1

    At the heart of all this is a truly great music score by Daft Punk, the digital realm is brought to life with an amazing soundtrack – digital beats and contemplative ambience. It has been quite some time since I last purposely purchased an OST, but the Tron Legacy OST is a must have and I have been listening to it ever since its release. The remixed score – Reconfigured is an amazing compilation presenting Daft Punk’s electronic masterpiece in another totally awesome light.

    Tron Legacy and the days up to its release have sparked many revelations and followers, the Flynn Lives following (elaborated during the bonus footage potentially showing the origins of a further film Tron 3 – see Tron Legacy blu-ray bonus content), Flynn Frontier, some fascinating fan-made pages and projects including Life Beyond the Digital Frontier by  MAXIMILIAN MAJEWSKI, and the previously mentioned The Likeness of the Creator by  James F. McGrath.

    Tron Legacy is one of three favourite films, and one that is always viewed with the lights dimmed, the surround-sound enabled, and the screen freshly cleaned. Its definitely a thinker’s film, deep and spiritual, a great sci-fi who fans of a digital existence like The Matrix will love.

    -Flynn Lives!


  • Lady In The Water

    Water has memory, it remembers who we were and sees who we now are, it senses the greed of men, water also remembers those things we have forgotten. Emotion, the spirit, kindness, guardianship, love and the future.Like many of M. Night Shyamalan’s films [allegedly] you will either love or hate this film. When I first saw this film I rented it from my local Blockbusters store (now closed down), the check-out guy gave me such an encouraging review of this film, and yet I have also spoken to people who hate it. I myself think it’s a work of art, the photography is amazing, each frame is meticulously shot and establishes a vivid visual style. The acting is sublime and made me an instant fan of Paul Giamatti.

    lady in the water

    A water Narf named Story dwells in a small deep communal pool at a building called The Cove, Story has been sent to fulfil her purpose, to try and make men remember how to listen. She meets Cleveland Heap a man who believes he has no purpose, a man of great knowledge and a man who lost everything. Every being has a purpose, sometimes we just need reminding who we once were.

    Story’s purpose is revealed through a gathering of 12 people, the vessel, guardian, a symbolist, a guild, one who has no secrets, seven sisters, and the healer.

    No one is ever told who they are.

    A word about which format best to view this film; I would not bother with it in blu-ray, it has been over-treated with such a high contrast that many of the shadow details are gone entirely, the dynamic colour range has been far too compressed and over saturated. The films soundtrack also sounds flatter. – This is far better viewed on DVD (in my opinion).

    This is an emotional film, it stirs the soul – calm waters run deep, and indeed this film is about water – something us Pisceans know all about.


  • A Scanner Darkly

    D is despair, D is desertion, D is finally death, from the head down.

    This is a self-shaded (interpolated rotoscope) tale of psychosis, addiction, split personality disorder, heavy drugs, and conspiracy.

    This is the future? This is a thinker’s film and is stacked closely to my copy of Waking Life and Cypher.

    Bob Arctor is NARC agent; he is also a man slowly falling down the rabbit hole on substance D. A scanner sees all, clearly or darkly? This is only known to those who control the system – although does anybody really control the system? Bob Arctor works for the system but he becomes the subject to its own design. He loses himself and finds strange things, darks things and wondrous unexpected things.

    This is no happy film, it sheds light on our not so distant dark cultural underbelly, glimpses at the mental sewers of those addicted to substance D.

    ” Who am I? And what does a scanner see? Into the head, into the heart, does it see into me? Clearly or darkly? “

    Dark sci-fi by inspired Philip K. Dick’s work of the same name.


  • Ghost In The Machine

    ” There have always been ghosts in the machine, random segments of code grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Unanticipated these free radicals engender questions of free will, creativity, and even the nature of what we might call the soul. Why is it that when some robots are left in darkness they will seek out the light? Why is it that when robots are stored in an empty space they will group together rather than stand alone? How do we explain this behaviour? Random segments of code, or is it something more?

    When does the perceptual schematic become consciousness? When does the difference engine become the search for truth? When does the personality simulation become the bitter mote of the soul?

    – [Dr Lanning] I Robot (movie 2004) inspired by Isaac Asimov‘s short stories under the same name


  • The Fountain

    The Fountain 2006 – Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream).

    This is spirituality 101, life death and rebirth are told here in deep, evocative shades across three interwoven timelines that dance around the spirit. The film’s score (by Clint Mansell) is one of the finest pieces of music I have come across, its haunting meditative flavours are truly penetrating. I have often chosen the score prior to my meditation sessions, it massages the soul and quietens the mind.

    This is one of three favourite spiritual films (see also Tron Legacy, The Big Lebowsky and Winter Spring Summer Spring)

    The use of match-cuts and recurring visual motifs (merging separate scene time lines to tell the same story) is truly mesmerising. This film is intelligent and certainly needs (and deserves) several viewings. The way life, death, life and living, are told through the use of metaphor, metaphysics, meditation, and spirituality is truly humbling.

    The visuals and colours are rich and a treat when viewed in a darkened room with some candles, indeed many of the scenes are bathed in deep warm candle light. Like deep calm waters, the flow of this film is slow and offers no appeal for those seeking action – indeed what’s fundamental to this film is inaction – stopping and looking within, finding stillness and evoking deep contemplation.

    The acting in this is sublime, Hugh Jackman’s performance (as Dr Tom Creo) is the best I have seen – the emotions, despair, guilt, love and loss and ultimately enlightenment are real. The writing is beautifully told and delivered. It would be inappropriate to talk about character development because the very concept of this is what the film is about.

    As for what format makes best viewing I believe DVD gives the best experience, the Blu-Ray version seems overworked, the dynamic colour range is somewhat compressed to compensate for higher contract (the darks are too extreme), also the films score is dampened on Blu-Ray (in my opinion).

    My thinking-mans deep spiritual collection of films is now becoming quite extensive but this remains in my top three, and for the price of DvDs these days this is simply a bargain and something I believe everybody better for seeing sometime in their lives.

    Also reviewed by:

    unpacked thoughts – the ramblings of a grown boy