Ex Machina – Film Review

Harry Dalian Film

This movie was quite compelling because it’s set in the not-so-far-out future. A young, possibly naive, computer programmer named Caleb Smith works at the world’s largest search engine company called Blue Book. The company’s reclusive CEO invites him to his abode in the mountains – only accessible by helicopter – after Caleb won a “competition”.

Caleb arrives at the alcoholic CEO’s getaway home and is surprised to find out a few answers to his many questions: Why is Caleb there? What is really going on in this house? And who can Caleb trust?

The film wavers between humanity and robots, all while blurring the lines of reality. Even the audience is fooled between the two in regards to a few “quiet” characters. The main three characters of the film perform an outstanding work of art in Ex Machina. Each role is played extremely well and realistically.

The movie proves itself right when all hell breaks loose – leaving the audience with an interesting idea: If you create a robot that is so close to human (or more human than you, if that’s possible) you can’t keep the being locked up. Humans retaliate and have a survival instinct, when that is passed onto a robot, consciousness is born. The film tests this hypothesis and leaves people with an interesting taste in their mouths.

The whole point of Caleb is to test out the Artificial Intelligence to see if he is convinced that Ava, the A.I. has consciousness. The film undoubtedly proves this, as things get quite messy and complicated towards the end. Definitely worth seeing, it’s one of the smartest and realistic Sci-Fi films out there at the moment.

Birdman

Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance features actor Michael Keaton as a former movie star Riggan Thomson who is most remembered for his comic book hero Birdman on the big screen, which is implied to be in the 1990s. Two decades later, Thomson is no longer a well-esteemed or popular Hollywood commodity. Thomson is broke, separated from his wife, and estranged from his daughter, as well as forgotten by his fans. He sets out to prove that he’s not worthless and opts to write, direct and star in Broadway show. Harry Dalian

Thomson is upset with one the actors in his production and makes a last minute replacement. Impressed by the new actor’s sincerity and authenticity, Thomson hires the new actor within 24 hours to the first preview performance of his play. This doesn’t seem to be the best idea when the new actor in the play throws a fit and inevitably throws Thomson into a spiral of self-doubt, worry, and fear.

Birdman was written and directed by filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. The main cast is incredibly strong throughout the film and ever single actor or actress receives their moment to shine within the film. Keaton’s performance leads the team of actors with a performance that is made all the more intriguing given his own former A-list superhero past. Keaton’s sincerity and talent are the true foundations for his memorable performance. The actor has had a long and successful career with several iconic roles, but Birdman features some of his best and most powerful work to date.

Costars Edward Norton and Emma Stone are both given rich, complex characters to unravel. Norton’s role is an especially fun endeavor as he is cast as the secondary actor in Thomson’s play. Norton has some genuinely brazen scenes and a thoroughly thoughtful platform to reflect on the art of acting. Sam, played by Emma Stone, isn’t much of a stretch for the actress, however provides a grand opportunity to play off of a supporting cast of Hollywood veterans. Stone absolutely shines in an especially intense monologue which is performed in a single take.

Other actors that are prominently feature are: Lindsay Duncan, Amy Ryan, Naomi Watts, and Zach Galifianakis. Each actor provides a quality performance and also sharp commentary on themes int he film. Some key themes include different aspirations for love and acceptance. The cast serves its primary function, however a few story lines are left unresolved as some moviegoers may find frustrating.

Overall, Inarritu has given a mesmerizing tale of art and love in a time of fast-paced gossip and viral internet news and videos. Bird man is not going to be for everyone, however potential viewers who are hoping for a lighthearted comic book movie culture feel will probably be surprised and possibly put-off. Those open to the film’s experimental style will find Birdman provides an inventive exploration of family, artistry, power, and prestige, and most importantly about when we talk about love.

Review: The Imitation Game

Harry Dalian

Benedict Cumberbatch cracks the code in this film about cryptology during WWII in support of the Allies.

The Imitation Game is an immersive true story that incorporates tension and raw emotion together. Benedict Cumberbatch, the Emmy award-winning Sherlock Holmes star, turns not he brain power to play Alan Turing, a genius mathematician and social misfit during World War II. Alan Turing teamed up with a group of cryptanalysis at London’s Bletchley Park to crack the Nazis’ naval code and help in the war. Turing and his group were successful, only to have his achievements buried in government secrecy and to end his own life in 1954 after being persecuted for being a homosexual. The queen actually pardoned him posthumously last year.

The Imitation Game doesn’t waste any time on the social treachery of the situation, but instead alleviates the emotionsin the piece during the stale period. Norwegian filmmaker Morton Tyldym (Headhunters) directs the movie with masterly assurance as he fuses suspense and character to create a movie that emanates energy.

The star of the film, Cumberbatch, is a great actor whose talents shine bright in The Imitation. The film is an explosive, emotionally complex arrangement of characters and events.

The story itself is quite interesting and scientific, however, the movie does rely mostly on action and emotion to illustrate this time and these events. It has been a long time since intellectual aspiring create such excitement on the big screen.

The movie is a classic representation of struggle, perseverance, emotion with retro themes and elements. Overall, it is a great film to watch as the actors present an amazing performance.

Exodus: A Solid Retelling of Moses’ Story

“Exodus: Gods and Kings,” is the retelling of an infamous story—the tale of Moses, the exodus from Egypt, the burning bush, the frogs, the boils, the hail, the commandments and the Red Sea crossing. To review this rendition of the well-known tale, a critic completed an article for The Chicago Tribune, detailing the high and low points of the progression of the film.

The movie was directed by Ridley Scott, who the reviewer notes did an excellent job of keeping everyone on the screen grounded—clearly working hard and earnestly, with a sense of seriousness towards the purpose of the film. The script was completed in shifts and phases by a number of people, including Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian. However, despite the number of sheer contributors, the critic often found the writer to be more expedient than inspired.

In terms of acting, Christian Bale plays Moses. Bale starts the film displaying a mid-Atlantic/British combination of a dialect but morphs over the course of the movie to sound and act more as traditionally favored Moses’ have, such as Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments,” and even Mel Brooks in “History of the World—Part I.” This could be the direct result of viewing “History of the World,” as Bale has acknowledged that he viewed the film as part of his research for the part. The supporting cast receives some note from the reviewer as well. John Turturro and Sigourney Weaver receive compliments on the attire they wear in their roles as Ramses’ parents. Ben Kingsley plays Nun, the Hebrew scholar and slave leader and, in the process, brings his patented, slightly unhinged gravitas to the character. Aaron Paul lends a multitude of support as he serves as Joshua, Moses’ right-hand man. The only bit of casting to be seen relatively negatively is Isaac Andrews as God; the actor and director worked to bring about a God as played by a preteen British boy, who is found of scowling and issuing rhetorical and spiritual challenges to His go-to human. Some Biblical literalists do not approve of the representation.
The plagues are, perhaps, what had the reviewer most intrigued, as twenty-first century technology could bring these troubles to life in a completely new way. Not only do the plagues look fitting to modern moviemaking, there is an accompanying explanation with each, which adds a plausible aspect to the plagues.
Ultimately, the reviewer believes individual audience reactions to the piece will correspond with Scott’s previous epic—“Robin Hood.” The reviewer found each to be square and rather heavy on its feet. However, both films easily held his attention, even when its bigness trumped its goodness.

Harry Dalian

Germany Finally Gets Netflix

Another nail in the coffin of video rental stores was hit recently when Germany became the next big marketplace to get Netflix streaming. The mighty entertainment giant seems to be traversing a path of global domination in the realms of rentals and streaming. More focused on streaming, this is starting to be an interesting technical push forward. The expansion previously saw France get the streaming option, and now with the inclusion of Germany, a big push forward is being made by these companies as they are creating market share that is definitely on par with what consumers want.

Netflix Germany

Not Just In The U.S.

In the United States, the subscriber base jumped by more than half a million new subscribers, and over 1 million new subscribers outside of the United States. The company will be offering original programming amidst a slew of movies, and content through the streaming channel for 7.99 euros. This is not just a good thing for home viewers, the plan allows streaming through all media connected devices including smartphones, tablets, and more. This will also be added to streaming boxes in the area and are starting to get a lot of recognition throughout Europe.

The Rest of The World

Before the launch of the German expansion, the company also pushed forward in Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden just to name a few. The company is looking add 6 million new members by the ned of the month and are looking at gaining ground to subscribe over 50 million total. The move forward to entertainment via streams, instead of buying physical media and renting discs is quite fascinating, creating a great deal of influence in the technical world.
Even though there was a push into a new country, Wall Street didn’t see a huge jump in shares, however, they are still a strong stock that is well worth looking into. The expansion march is not ending there, as Netflix continues to have strong numbers with their streaming media, and they continue to develop new programs, and increase licensing deals across the world.

Boyhood Draws Questions of Manhood

Richard Linklater's New Film, BoyhoodFilm director Richard Linklater’s new film Boyhood is unique. Instead of a few month’s production, it was filmed with the same cast over the course of twelve years, allowing the audience to actually follow the development of a young boy, as he journey’s through boyhood. However, according to an article recently completed by The Huffington Post, the platform also allows the audience to follow those who surround the boy and influence his sense of what it will mean to one day be a man.

All of the men—or, as the author disclaims, the ungrown men, who are little more than big boys—that surround the protagonist Mason are stuck in a perpetual state of boyhood. The only strong and mature adult figures in the film are women, with only one noted exception—a photography teacher that actually does encourage some form of growing up and manhood on the boy. Mason’s biological father is essentially a boy, as he repeatedly fails to follow through on his responsibilities of family and career. The relationship’s the boy’s mother engages in all have partners that are equally as fickle and immature as well.

This lack of manhood in Boyhood drew some reflections for the author of the article, particularly in terms of evidence of true manhood in real-life society. Grown men are a rare commodity, according to the author. Instead, society is full of ungrown men—drunks, abusers, workaholics, priest and teachers who take advantage of their position of power, and many more. Most often in society, the models provided as an example of manhood often rely on a false notion of strength—that rash and bold moves equate to masculinity. On the contrary, the author feels that to listen and be willing to seek change is truly a sign of strength. Integrity, a sense of mission and devotion—all of these things are what makes a man no longer a boy, to the author. Often, they are found in those who serve in the military, but are so rarely found in civilians. To the author, that is due to a required initiation of sorts that is lacking in the protocols of ordinary life. In Boyhood, the film ends with Mason on the cusp of manhood—just entering college, he’s experienced work and struggle. However, he knows nothing of real, deep, inner work of the soul, which is required to definitely declare a state of manhood.

For more news on film and movies, visit Harry Dalian’s LinkedIn page, and SlideShare.

Terry Gilliam: Zero Theorem Q&A

Legendary film director Terry Gilliam’s Zero Theorem has its US release date tonight, September 19th, 2014.

To kick off the film, Terry Gilliam will be attending a screening at the IFC theater in Greenwich Village, New York City. For two screenings only, 7:20pm and 9:45pm. At the 7:20 showing, Gilliam will be hosting a question and answer session open to any that attend in the audience. While this won’t be available for the 9:45 showing, Gilliam will still be present at 9:45 to introduce the film, and bid the audience good watching before the film starts.

Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem

Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam’s new film is a quirky, distopian rendition of a future, not necessarily set in our world. As you can see from the trailer, the story and plot are slightly elusive… We do know that the film stars Christoph Waltz, made famous in Quentin Tarantino’s Ingolrious Basterds and his most recent feature, Django Unchained.

The film however, was released in Italy a year ago, and thus we can gleam a plot and story from those who have seen it before. The protagonist has a mission to decipher the meaning of existence through his knowledge of hacking and computers, though his attempts to ascertain meaning are put off by a beautiful girl sent to distract him.

Terry Gilliam’s previous work includes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 12 Monkeys. As an actor, Gilliam was part of the original Monty Python comedy group. He later branched off to become the most successful director of the group. Though others are well known too, like John Cleese, Terry Gilliam perhaps has the most respected career in mainstream and cult film of the Monty Python bunch.

If you are still looking for tickets to the screening accompanied by Terry Gilliam, look to the IFC website, and tickets for the 9:45 showing are still available.

For more film news and local event listing, please visit Harry Dalian’s websites and SlideShare page!

Great Films Leaving Netflix This Week

Tomorrow, on August 1st, 2014, over seventy films are leaving the Netflix database. We won’t bore you with all the titles you never would have watched anyway. Instead, here is a short list of films you should see. They are worth your while whether you have heard of them as classics, or overlooked them due to a lack of information. Here goes. Watch ’em quick.

Films Leaving Netflix

Headhunters

An expert art thief working as a headhunter at a major corporation, steals an invaluable painting belonging to another kind of headhunter, a mercenary. What starts out as a professional job, well executed by a familiar expert, turns into a riotous, disturbing fight for survival. The film will surprise you in how far it is willing to go to provide its characters with ultimate pain and discomfort.

Harry Dalian, BravehartIf you haven’t seen this film yet, you should. It’s not surprising that many people have not heard of it. The film came out of Norway by director Morten Tyldum and was only released in a few Art House theaters in major US cities, like the Sunshine Landmark Cinema in the SOHO area of New York City. Regardless of its limited release, the film is a superb and surprising action thriller.

Braveheart

The classic film about Scottish hero William Wallace, directed and starred in by Mel Gibson. Most likely you’ve seen the film, which is an utter classic and perhaps a basis for many films coming after it- Gladiator, The Patriot…

If you need a good bit of inspiration, get to the speech William Wallace delivers rallying his troops into battle.

Donnie Brasco

A Johnny Depp, Al Pacino team up to recreate the story of undercover mafia cop Donnie Brasco. The film contains some memorable scenes including the awkward gift of a lion, and feeding it endless cheeseburgers. More than anything, Donnie Brasco allows the audience to see a performance by Johnny Depp which does not capitalize on the “weird factor”, and is not balls to the wall space cadet inspired. Instead, Depp plays this one cool, and is a rare glimpse into what the actor can due when not under the spell of Tim Burton.

Films Arriving to Netflix (August 1st)Harry Dalian, Chocolat

Chocolat

A classic tale of love, lust, and connection all inspired by a little chocolate.

Buffalo Soldiers

Joaquin Phoenix, Ed Harris play US soldiers participating in criminal activity at their post in West Germany before the wall falls in 1990.

Top 10 Movies Of All Time

Based on a selection of voting entries from IMDB’s Top 250, and determined by an equation weighting the average rating of the movie, the number of votes for the movie (volume), minimum number of votes to be included in the list, and the mean rating number across the whole number of entries analyzed. The equation used is:  (WR) = (V / (V + M)) * R + (M / (V + M)) * C

Top 5 Movies of All Time

1: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Based on the 1982 novella by Steven King, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” in his collection “Different Seasons”, The Shawshank Redemption is the greatly loved adaptation that Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins, and Bob Gunton turned into a stand alone piece to be remembered by generations hereafter. Director Frank Darabont, who directed The Green Mile five years later, added a voice to this film that made this story of believe, persistance, brotherhood, and smarts, a truly unforgettable film.

2: The Godfather (1972)Harry Dalian, The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppola’s notorious film could stand alone as the archetypical crime, mafia movie. The film became initially recognized for its steps away from Hollywood, which including a graceful, gentlemanly approach to crime and violence, and some never before seen on such a wide scale mood lighting by recently deceased Director of Photography Gordon Willis. There is no question that the film is fantastic, while its renown seems built on acclaim compounded over years,

3: The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Coming in right behind the original, The Godfather: Part II chronicles the Don’s war hero son Michael Corleone’s journey further into a life embracing death and darkness as he expands his father’s crime empire farther to Las Vegas and Cuba. The film continues the original’s civil demeanor toward crime and violence, and eloquently extends the charm and thrill of the first. In many lists, Part II is accredited as the best of the two.

4: The Dark Knight (2008)The Dark Knight Movie Poster, Harry Dalian

The Dark Knight showed darkness to audiences in a psychological and cinematic way audiences have never seen before. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was seductive and psychological, captivating to the point where audiences could not take their eyes off of him, no matter how contorted his mind, or disturbing his actions. Another benefit of Christopher Nolan’s second film in the trilogy is a wonderful script and moral quandaries for each character, including the competing philosophies of Batman, The Joker, and Harvey Dent.

5: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Just as Harvey Weinstein had found success creating his filmmaking empire bringing “independent” type films to Hollywood, stuff the studio system would have never touched, Quentin Tarantino came around. With his second big film after Reservoir Dogs, this smash hit won the De Palma Award and was picked up for distribution with a binding contract with the Weinstein’s company, Miramax. Pulp Fiction will be a cult and mainstream favorite for as long as we are there to watch.