by Kathryn Whitney Boole on Jun 14, 2015
gifted computer programmer who works for a powerful search engine corporation wins
a contest sponsored by the company’s CEO. The programmer is elated. The prize is a week spent working on a
special project with this world-renowned founder/CEO, an eccentric genius
recluse who lives in a remote mountain compound with an impenetrable security
system, reachable only by helicopter.
the story of Ex Machina begins, a fascinating premise in itself. However this is only the tip of the iceberg,
only a glimpse of the developments - the moral, spiritual and intellectual
dilemmas that proliferate as the story unfolds.
opening camera work deposits us in a seemingly vast, peaceful wooded mountain
world. It appears that in this lushly
green environment, cut off from civilization, a restful and creative week is
about to take place. What unfolds within
the small circle of protagonists is in disturbing contrast to the setting.
is the directing debut of English novelist/ screenwriter/
video-game writer/ film producer Alex Garland.
In spite of being a novice director, Garland knows his way around the
production system. He understood that
unless he kept his budget small, he would lose creative control of the vision
he had for this work. Garland himself
wrote the screenplay – beautifully crafted with enough simplicity to allow the
story’s complex ideas to take on a vital dimension. It’s no coincidence that Garland is
fascinated by human psychology. His
parents are a psychoanalyst and a political cartoonist.
Isaac is so good as the CEO that he is unrecognizable from the role he created
in “Inside Llewyn Davis”. His image here
is quite the opposite from the obligatory nerdy genius technology billionaire,
thanks to Garland’s writing and Isaac’s acting.
It’s also an interesting side note that this character, believing he’s
in total control, physically resembles writer-director Garland.
Gleeson (son of Brendan) and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander also star in the
film. Both superbly, seemingly
effortlessly create fascinating personalities.
Vikander’s many years of training as a professional ballerina serve her well
in this role. Veteran casting director
Francine Maisler did a brilliant job on this film.
Rob Hardy and production designer Mark Digby capture the deceptively soft mood
in the interiors and backgrounds, letting the faces provide the drama and
emotional fire. Editor Mark Day gives
the continuity a flawless movement so that the action never lags, in spite of
contained sets. Norway provided the
landscapes - a perfect setting.
Machina plays with the classic idea of hubris and brings it to light in the
modern world of technology. See this
film, and take with you this thought, presented by the great Stephen Hawking
earlier this month: “Computers will
overtake humans with AI (artificial intelligence)…within the next 100 years…we
need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.” I predict this movie will be studied in film
history classes. Oh - and it’s on my
Oscar Predictions List for 2016.
Kathryn Whitney Boole
was drawn into the entertainment industry as a kid and never left. It has been the backdrop for many awesome
adventures with crazy creative people.
She now works as a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa