To erase the line between man and machine
March 8, 2016 8:48 AM   Subscribe

 
I still haven't seen Ex Machina, so I can't speak to the FX really, but I love the fact that a $15M movie beat out fucking Star Wars for the FX Oscar.
posted by brundlefly at 9:30 AM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ex Machina was really great, I thought. One the best thoughtful sci fi flicks in years. The FX were good but not something that stood out necessarily. Can't wait for Alex Garland's Annihilation movie to lay upon my eyes.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:37 AM on March 8, 2016


I love the fact that a $15M movie beat out fucking Star Wars for the FX Oscar.

Also that the same two actors were in both.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:42 AM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Ex Machina is so insanely good. If it were up to me that movie would have won every award in every category at every awards show.
posted by pjsky at 9:50 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


SW had the wow factor, but Ex Machina was the innovator.
posted by Mr.Pointy at 10:02 AM on March 8, 2016


So many great films! And Cocoon!
posted by rlk at 10:11 AM on March 8, 2016


I think I'm really missing the boat on Ex Machina, which I described to a friend as Neil LaBute's Blade Runner (not a compliment). But the effects are very cool.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:35 AM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Neil LaBute's Blade Runner

You're not wholly wrong, but I think the movie was far more self-aware of the techbro misogyny/chauvinism being displayed by the male leads than LaBute would ever even think of being. It did not endorse either of their worldviews in the tiniest.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:45 AM on March 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


SW had the wow factor, but Ex Machina was the innovator.

TBH, I think Ex Machina's innovations gave it a bigger wow factor than Star Wars. We've basically already seen all of SW's visual effects before, in successively prettier packages, over the last 38 years. But photorealistic performance-captured android bodies with transparent chassises and mechanical worky-bits, melded seamlessly with the live actors? That's effing wizardry.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:50 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ex Machina is very well made but I'm with kittens. I don't think the film was nearly as progressive as everyone made it out to be. Very ethno-, techno- and gender-centric. I had similar frustrations with "Gone Girl" and "Her" to a lesser degree for similar reasons.

These are big films presumably championing female strength and empowerment that never, to me, escape the confines of their genesis in male fantasy. They fail to recognize movements for equity/equality as more than a zero-sum war of attrition.

Likewise they ensure that no matter what kind of story is told, the same objectification is welcomed to the table and given its time to make the case for the subjugation of the female body and the eroticization of the male experience.
posted by an animate objects at 10:50 AM on March 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


You're not wholly wrong, but I think the movie was far more self-aware of the techbro misogyny/chauvinism being displayed by the male leads than LaBute would ever even think of being. It did not endorse either of their worldviews in the tiniest.

It may be similar to how it's impossible to make an anti-war movie that doesn't glamorize war. Can you have your anti-sexist film that's full of hot naked girls who do whatever dudes want? Something something Simone de Beaubrah, you see where I'm going with this.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:56 AM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


an animate objects and kittens for breakfast, you make really good points. The movie (which, full disclosure: I loved) does lots of woman-objectifying on its way to making the point that current technology culture contains a lot of chauvinism--some obvious, some subtler. However, if you want to make a movie that calls out that aspect of tech culture, wouldn't it be hard to do so effectively without in some way representing the behavior you want to criticize?
posted by The Baffled King at 11:55 AM on March 8, 2016


Is Ex Machina depressing? I haven't watched it yet because it looks like it's probably depressing. I haven't seen Her either for similar reasons.
posted by ODiV at 12:17 PM on March 8, 2016


ODiV - not really. It's open-ended, and one can argue quite well that everyone gets what they deserve. I consider the ending to be quite up-beat myself. Scary, but up-beat.
posted by labberdasher at 12:39 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I didn't have high expectations going into Ex Machina, but I thought it was quite good. Yes, it's very male gaze-y, but it serves the story, and it's capable of provoking considerable thought.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:59 PM on March 8, 2016


However, if you want to make a movie that calls out that aspect of tech culture, wouldn't it be hard to do so effectively without in some way representing the behavior you want to criticize?

Yeah, probably. Start by choosing Ava for the fucking protagonist and you're at least halfway there.
posted by an animate objects at 2:47 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


The FX were good but not something that stood out necessarily.

The best SFX should never stand out or draw attention. When they blend in and fit the setting, they are their most effective. IMHO, of course.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:02 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thunderball won an Oscar for visual effects? Strange but oddly satisfying.

It's interesting watching that montage - for quite some time it's all good-for-then aerial combat, the odd flash of live-action Disney, costume epic hokum and so on, only to suddenly cut into 2001 which by comparison looks like the product of extra-terrestrial intelligence. The more I think about it, the more I think the film itself was the monolith.
posted by specialbrew at 3:21 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


But photorealistic performance-captured android bodies with transparent chassises and mechanical worky-bits, melded seamlessly with the live actors? That's effing wizardry.

It's also probably no coincidence that two of the leads have a background as ballet dancers...

(and yeah, I guess that's a bit of a spoiler)
posted by effbot at 3:56 PM on March 8, 2016


Likewise they ensure that no matter what kind of story is told, the same objectification is welcomed to the table and given its time to make the case for the subjugation of the female body and the eroticization of the male experience.

Can you have your anti-sexist film that's full of hot naked girls who do whatever dudes want?

What are you talking about? At what point in the movie do we see a hot naked girl doing what the dudes want? Did you see the same movie I did? And when, at any point, is this film erotic? It's a horror movie.

The (fully-clothed) dance sequence is an act of coercion, Ava's flirting with Caleb is a ploy to help her escape, after which she locks him in an empty corridor to starve to death, meanwhile the second Kyoko has any autonomy to speak of she tries to murder Nathan, oh and by the way the film makes it a point to show us Nathan's former android models literally destroying themselves attempting to escape their existence with him. How is this a male fantasy? The whole point of the film is that while Nathan may be an intellectual genius, he is an utter shitstain of a human being, not unlike that guy in Ohio who imprisoned those women in his basement.

And the only nudity in the entire movie (as I recall) is Ava strapping flesh-covered limbs and skin onto herself and marveling at having a human appearance to match her human consciousness. That scene was as desexualized as you could reasonably expect a nude scene to be.
posted by Ndwright at 6:46 PM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


specialbrew: "It's interesting watching that montage - for quite some time it's all good-for-then aerial combat, the odd flash of live-action Disney, costume epic hokum and so on, only to suddenly cut into 2001 which by comparison looks like the product of extra-terrestrial intelligence. The more I think about it, the more I think the film itself was the monolith."

Seriously. There were a few passable effects and then BOOM 2001 comes out of nowhere. Then back to really unimpressive stuff and then BOOM Star Wars. And then BOOM Alien. Each one of these pictures are just enormous leaps over what came before. And then it just goes nuts.
posted by Bugbread at 7:12 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Start by choosing Ava for the fucking protagonist and you're at least halfway there.

Ava is totally the protagonist. The clue is in the title cards that continue after the 'tests' are completed.

Yes its Male-gazey - but its to show its grossness. It's such a beautiful deconstruction of both sides of shitty masculinity. I watched it on a plane alonside 'Force Majeure' and it made for an excellent masculinity discussion double header.

As usual- Film Crit Hulk has written a great essay on it.

(DeHulkifier for those not keen on FCH's schtick.)
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 7:17 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


You guys, I am tagging out before I start telling you all what I really feel about Film Crit Hulk. If my opinion of Ex Machina bummed you out, well...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:33 PM on March 8, 2016


Why are we comparing it to Star Wars? Mad Max had a fucking flamethrowing metalhead in the middle of the Zambia desert. Mad Max destroyed 60 cars without killing anyone. Mad Max had a mechanical arm driving a fucking War Rig. Ex Machina walked around with a see-through arm in a cozy brocastle, trying on Abercrombie spring catalog. Fuck this shit.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:14 PM on March 8, 2016


Start by choosing Ava for the fucking protagonist and you're at least halfway there.

You can make a good case that Ava *is* the protagonist. Film Crit Hulk is not the only reviewer to observe this.
posted by pharm at 12:29 AM on March 9, 2016


Wow it's amazing that there are such widely varying views about this movie (personally I think that's a testament to how good it is). I find it bizarre people don't think Ava is the protagonist? I totally agree that the movie is first set up to think that Caleb and then Nathan are the protagonist but by the end it's hard to argue it wasn't all about Ava all along.

Fanfare discussion here goes pretty deep if anyone wants to check that out.
posted by like_neon at 1:58 AM on March 9, 2016




What I meant to say by the protagonist line was that the story should've been told from Ava's perspective.

That it wasn't, and that in order to achieve what the creator's considered the best effect they felt they needed to tell the story from the male POV, or that in order to subvert the usual story they had to try to tell the usual story and imply to everyone that they were telling the usual story, it's all bundled for me.

The story wasn't regressive the way most films at a similar viewership are, I'm just saying... It's a film telling a sexy story from a techy white hetero male POV, which leaves a lot of ground to cover before you're even back to square one progressivism.

"Oh wow she wasn't really into him" does not get it there for me. "White techy guy is a total asshole" doesn't either.

I need better stories from more perspectives with different priorities. I'm sick of conceding the entire sphere of exceptionally high production value media to this status quo.
posted by an animate objects at 8:36 PM on March 9, 2016


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