Friday — May 27th, 2022: Well well well, another fantastic week in the books! [READ MORE]


Ex Machina


🎙️ EPISODE 486: 06.10.22
ραɾƚ σϝ ƚԋҽ ALEX GARLAND ԃιɾҽƈƚσɾ ϝσƈυʂ

While I don't think it was influenced in any way (the genesis for Ex Machina goes back a long way), there are some fascinating similarities with 2013's Her, the equally genius A.I. film by Spike Jonze from the year prior. Both movies are essentially about trust; the blind faith in which we are asked to interact with our ever-increasingly connected technology every single day. Looking back at the mid 2010s from this seemingly doomed position here in 2022, the preoccupation with falling in love with a robot makes perfect sense. Each work tackles the question from a different perspective: Her wonders if there's an answer for the endless loneliness created by tech INSIDE the tech, and what Ex Machina is essentially saying is that that love and devotion will ultimately destroy us (so we might as well all get drunk and pass out).
In the world of Ex Machina, loneliness isn't necessarily the issue, not in any traditional sense. Both our protagonist (Domhnall Gleeson) and antagonist (Oscar Issac) are seeking connection but their motivations aren't born out of feeling isolated. Issac, as the CEO of Google stand-in called Blue Book named Nathan Bateman, IS physically isolated (to the nth degree), but it's a self-imposed isolation created from obsession. The greater setting of the film is a mostly a mystery. Caleb (Gleeson), a young programmer who think he's won a sweepstakes to hang with the big boss man, lives and works in Long Island (lol - of all places?) and is from Oregon. But we don't know where Nathan's baller pad is or what year it's supposed to be. We are quickly whisked away to this home/lab and the disconnect from real life adds a simmering, threatening undertone to the already insular plot. Caleb has been thoughtfully chosen for this role as much for his own lack of connections (he's single and lost both his parents when he was young) as he is for his personality: gregarious and kind. When he's chosen, he's flooded with congratulatory texts; he must be a popular guy.

The onscreen dynamic between Gleeson and Issac is what drives this film. They have great chemistry in this budding but doomed bromance. This is a hard sci-fi flick on the surface but it has more in common with a great psychological thriller. Throw in the android (Alicia Vikander as Ava), who has her own set of murky motivations, and the result is a series of mind games, not so much presented as a puzzle for the audience to unravel, but as a string of rhetorical questions all revolving around the concept of trust. Why do we blindly engage with a technology that may or may not be outpacing our own capacity to understand it? Why do we willfully submit and forfeit our privacy and identity to a company whose only goal is to profit from it? Is it really all about instant gratification or some hybrid illusion of achieving a higher state? Or is it simply because it's easier, easier than whatever life was like before.

Ultimately, Ex Machina paints a desolate and scary portrait of what the world looks like at the end of this road. Now it seems like there's any number of more imminent threats. The treacherous reality of what Big Tech can and will do, and how it affects our day-to-day life is already here. It's equal parts boring and bleak. It makes you wish there were sexy robots enslaving us and that's why the film is so fascinating. We might self-destruct before we see a life like that, but it's a trip to escape inside the fantasy and wonder what if...


Ex Machina (styled as EX_MACHINA) is a 2014 science fiction thriller film written and directed by Alex Garland in his directorial debut. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Sonoya Mizuno, and Oscar Isaac.It was released on December 16, 2014.


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