Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tag: Domhnall Gleeson

Brooklyn (2015)

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Title: Brooklyn
Rating: PG-13
Directed by: John Crowley
Written by: Nick Hornby
Based on the novel by: Colm Tóibín
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson
Release Date: 11/4/2015
Running Time: 111 minutes

Official Site
IMDb

An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.


What did you think of this film?

During Credits? No

After Credits? No

Memoriam: In Memory of Clare Dwyer


Ex Machina Review – 5 out of 5 Stars

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I would love to see someone watch a double feature of Ex Machina and Her. If Her was a person telling us to come and embrace the strange and beautiful places where technology is taking us, then Ex Machina is the person screaming at us to run away while we can from the complex, questionable artificial intelligence which we are creating.

This is one of those incredible films where the moment it ended I wanted to dive back into the mysterious, absorbing world writer/director Alex Garland had created. I wanted to talk to someone in great detail for hours about what they got out of the questions and theories that the film brings up. There’s no way not to have a fascinating discussion after seeing something like this. Ex Machina is more than just your average Frankenstein style take on the artificial intelligence. It’s an absorbing look into the inevitability of technology transforming into a more evolved version of ourselves. We get to experience the first step in the evolution of the next great species, something that we ourselves built.

I’ll try to keep the synopsis to the bare minimum but I should warn you that it’s probably better to read what follows having actually watched the flick. What you need to know is this; Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is a young programmer working at one of the biggest companies in the world. He ends up winning a contest to come and visit the giant, near underground home of Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), the reclusive CEO of the company. When he gets to Nathan’s home, Caleb discovers that he will be the first to experience the artificially intelligent robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander) that Nathan has created.

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The movie distinguishes itself firstly by taking place mostly inside the house of Nathan. If Apple were to make a house, this would probably be what it would look like. You’re stuck inside this minimalist, underground home with countless hallways and a slick, metal design for most of the movie. Garland was clearly inspired by Kubrick’s The Shining as the production design seems built to make you feel a sense of imprisonment throughout. He wants to make you feel the trap we are making for ourselves in the developments we’re making. The cold, distant architecture of Nathan’s home at least sets up the mysterious tone the director is trying to get across. A lot of period pieces get credit for the production design but the realistic yet surreal sets that were built for Ex Machina are equally if not more fascinating to explore.

The film also establishes itself by only featuring three big characters throughout, four if you’re counting Nathan’s quiet and secretive assistant Kyoko. That not only helps with the isolation of the production design but it also allows for truly brilliant conversations to sprout between Caleb, Nathan and Ava. The movie hits its peak when you’re watching these well developed, richly crafted characters discuss their vastly different outlooks on this strange, groundbreaking situation. The revolution doesn’t come through violence or fights but rather through a series of enrichingly written discussions.

I admire the film for not taking the easy route when it came to the main character of Caleb. They could’ve made him just your average schmuck who gets sucked into this wacky situation that’s beyond him. Instead, Caleb is made to be this brilliant, intellectual who can hold his ground against a genius inventor and an enigmatic robot. There are points where I was trying to figure out the ways in which the other two characters could be putting him into a trap and I was surprised how many times Caleb was able to confront and address these theories that I had. This movie easily could’ve made him an ordinary guy with clear intentions but the movie adds a layer of mystery even to him. You begin to question if he’s working for someone or if he has ulterior motives for the things that he’s doing. Though Gleeson’s subtle performance is often overshadowed by the more loud and inventive performances of Isaac and Vikander, it’s still great work from him and it’s another film he can add to the quickly increasing resume he has built for himself over the past year with this and Frank, Unbroken and Calvary.

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Nathan on the other hand is certainly eccentric but you often find yourself wondering to what degree his madness is. You can see him as having gone crazy but you also get a lot of moments where he comes off as a normal guy with a habit of heavy drinking. One moment he’ll be comparing himself to a god and the next he’ll be making a reference to Ghostbusters. What are the areas this character is willing to go to in the accuracy of his invention? What is his moral code when it comes to the treatment of his creation? A lot of people may know and praise him from Inside Llewyn Davis or A Most Violent Year but I think this might be the first time I’ve been deeply impressed by a performance from Oscar Isaac. Of the three performances in the film I think I might enjoy Isaac’s the most because there’s a wide range that he gets to show with the character whether it be humor, terror or arrogance among other things. The conversations him and Caleb have are riveting to watch because you’re getting some insight into this sarcastic, cynical genius who you can’t take your eyes off of because you’re trying to find the full intent of his character.

Mark my words, Alicia Vikander’s performance as Ava will go down as one of the best debut performances of the year. Ava is interesting as a robot because her character takes into consideration something that many artificial intelligence films don’t notice, attraction. It becomes clear quickly on that Caleb is becoming attracted to Ava but the big question ends up being how much of her attraction to Caleb is real. Unlike in Her where you can almost immediately tell that there is something at least sympathetic about Samantha, Ava appears human at times but also at times has errors and you have to wonder if it’s in fact real. Does she have any sympathy for other human beings? Would her release into the world cause further chaos or peace? What will be her reaction when she meets her creator? You are juggling this endless collection of questions that haunt you about Ava long after the final shot comes and goes.

The big end theme isn’t what truly makes the film original so much as the way it is delivered. In the conclusion of the film, Ava is shown to be the clear dominant one of the three. This robot that has been built to satisfy the desires of Caleb is like a smarter, stronger version of him and the robot has the same amount if not more power than Nathan but lacks the laziness and human faults. The film ends with the only certainty being that the AI will live another day in a larger world and what her next move will be is beyond us. Ava to me symbolizes the start of the next great species and what will lead to the fall of mankind. We have built this machine that can imitate emotions without the flaws of actual human beings. The only possible step after that is that these machines will be able to outthink us and corner and entrap us into extinction. The people who invented them will be destroyed and the men they were supposed to service will be forgotten and made unnecessary.

It sounds like something you’ve seen before but never in the way Garland presents it. The movie often looks like it’s being shot from the eyes of a security camera that’s being hidden within the walls, following our main character. The more I thought about it, that camera is Ava stocking and observing the battles of the two main characters. The movie plays out like this mental game of dominance being played in dimly lit halls between the human and the machine. Caleb and Nathan spend a lot of the time lying to each other in trying to prove that they are better than the other. This movie is about people tricking each other and ultimately it’s about why the robots would probably win this game. Even the smartest of humans are capable of failure and Ava can use a single weakness to get rid of all your other pieces in this metaphorical game of chess.

Years from now, students will be writing long thesis papers of the meaning of this film. Everything here from the score to the characters feels damn near perfect. Ex Machina has amazing performances, ambiguous characters and themes that will make you think twice before buying that next big piece of tech. From the first minute I was mesmerized by the simple yet unique way in which Alex Garland presented the bleak, cold future we might have to look forward to. This year can’t be so bad if I’m already giving my best possible rating for a film so early on in the year.

Rating:(5/5)

Review by: Ryan M.

Release Date: April 10, 2015

Rating: R

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Corey Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno

Directed by: Alex Garland

Written by: Alex Garland

Ex Machina (2015)

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Title: Ex Machina
Rating: R
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac
Release Date: 4/10/2015
Running Time: 108 minutes

Official Site
IMDb

A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.


What did you think of this film?

During Credits? No

After Credits? No

Note: Animated computer line art plays in the background during the credits.


Unbroken (2014)

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TITLE: Unbroken

RELEASE DATE: 12/25/2014

RATING: PG-13

After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he’s caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.

What did you think of this film?


Official Site

IMDb


During Credits? No

After Credits? No

Frank (2014)

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TITLE: Frank

RELEASE DATE: 5/9/2014

RATING: R

Jon, a young wanna-be musician, discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank.

What did you think of this film?


Official Site

Amazon

IMDb


During Credits? No

After Credits? No

NOTE: Dedicated to Chris Sievey (1955-2010) whose outsider spirit and big fake head inspired this film.

Frank Review – 3 1/2 out of 5 Stars

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Before going into full detail, I think everyone needs to check out whatever soundtrack there is for this movie. The movie is filled with great songs and in the finale the film features a song called “I Love you All” and it sparks one of the best scenes of the year for film. I really hope they can campaign that song for the Academy Award because that would be awesome to see. Here’s a link to the song, I highly recommend it:

Frank tells the story of an experimental band that is run by a crazed song writing genius named Frank (Michael Fassbender) who wears a paper Mache mask. The band loses its pianist and by coincidence hires young, independent songwriter Jon (Domnhall Gleeson). The movie mostly shows Jon’s evolution with the band from there studio to their performance at SXSW.

The movie uses a very stereotypical format for its story of the evolution of the band. There is the breakup of the band. Some of the people of the band start to care about themselves than about the music. And ultimately, the band gets back together again through the power of a song. The films storyline is one we have seen time and time again in all band movies. Besides that, the film manages to bring up a slew of other conveniences that we have seen before. I would even go as far as to call the main character Jon a wet blanket on the movie but I think that the great performances, cool soundtrack and strange interest of the dialogue made this something that was quite original.

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As Frank, Michael Fassbender gives one of his best performances to date. We only see his face for ten minutes of screen time give or take but he is energetic and wild before then. Fassbender adds large amounts of tragedy and hilarity to the character in a way that really makes it his own. It is one of the most memorable performances of the year so far. Frank himself is a worthy and touchingly created main character. He is loopy and weird but you get this sense that there is something much more to him psychologically both negatively and positively. He is a character with a performance that is worthy of a movie.

I enjoyed Maggie Gyllenhaal as Frank’ sidekick Clara. She is very domineering and hateful to Jon throughout the film. I think she works for the role that she has to play. Scott McNairy is the bands manager and is the nicest person to Jon. He is one of the more grounded people of the movie while stilling playing to the strangeness of the movie; I think I would’ve actually liked it better if he was the main character.

Speaking of which, I think Jon is the weakest aspect of the film by far. First of all, Domhnall Gleeson isn’t that bad in the movie. He is fine as to playing to the character that the movie writes and he even added moments of dimension and sympathy. What I hated about the character is how obvious it felt that they were using him as a way to keep the movie grounded. The rest of the people featured have really cools quirks so the writer compensates by making the lead as flat and inside the box as they can. He never seems to learn anything and there isn’t a point where he really seems to do anything that is nicer or more memorable than what any other character is doing. He isn’t terrible at anything, he is simply ok. Domhnall plays Jon with a lot of subtlety which makes him extremely normal. The fact that our main character holds this trait really does an injustice to the story being told. If the movie wanted to take that route they should’ve picked a more intense actor (no offense to Gleeson) or presented us with a character that still managed to be interesting despite being a clear plot device. Frank feels like The Big Lebowski if the main character wasn’t The Dude and instead was an average and forgettable young adult character that seemed to avoid the weird things happening around him. He just feels like such a roadblock to this movie.

I did find the dialogue to be very funny at times. It builds many of the characters and manages to be dark, funny and touching at the same time. The movie for me is about creativity beyond everything else. The movie tries to go into the mind of a group of artists trying to explore the deepest depths of their mind and the troubles they face in attempting to do so. You can become too controlling, you can have a lack of focus or you can simply not have what it takes. I really enjoyed what this film did in attempting to figure out what really leads artists to do the work that they create.

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Frank is a fairly decent movie. Its main character is weak and it drags a little near the end but all comes back around to having good music, good performances and charming and interesting themes and dialogue. I would give this a shot when it comes out to theaters or at least when it comes out to on demand.

Rating:(3.5/5)

Review by: Ryan M.

Release Date: 4/4/2014

Rating: NR

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Scoot McNairy

Directed by: Leonard Abrahamson

Screenplay by: Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan

About Time (2013)*

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TITLE: About Time

RELEASE DATE: 11/8/2013

RATING: R

At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.

What did you think of this film?


Official Site

Amazon

IMDb


During Credits? Yes

Click to see whats: during the credits

 

After Credits? No

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Special thanks to Frank S. for this submission