News, Reviews

Zone 6: Ex Machina: A Sci Fi Movie for the Literary

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Two male characters spending the majority of the movie discussing human consciousness and tackling philosophical questions may not sound like an interesting hook to some, but its execution in Ex Machina is truly a work of art, and embodies the tradition of classic science fiction. Like Domnhall Gleeson, one of the movie’s main actors said: “Just because something is science fiction doesn’t make it just spaceships. In my head, they tell you more about people than they do about machines.”

Alex Garland, screenplay writer of 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go makes his directorial debut with Ex Machina. The title of the movie alone evokes the universal question all of science fiction tries to answer: “What makes us human?” Ex Machina, or “from the machine”, immediately incites feelings of the uncanny, challenging our preconceived notions of what it means to be human.

The movie sets itself up innocently enough, in that it deceives its audience into a seemingly simple plot. A programmer of the world’s most popular internet search company, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), wins a contest to meet his hero, one he describes as the “Mozart of Computer Programming” – Nathan (Oscar Isaac). Caleb then travels to Nathan’s abode, where we are first introduced into the first lie, in a movie where the central theme is  deception and manipulation. Nathan’s hideout and laboratory is in the middle of a natural, beautiful landscape, the exterior of which is an inconspicuous cabin in he middle of the forest. Upon entering, Caleb finds himself in an immense mansion, complete with modern decoration, minimalist furniture, a vacant-looking Japanese maid, and a variety of android skins bearing creepy human expressions as decorations on the wall.

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Dammit, Janet.

tape recorder by stengchen

tape recorder by stengchen

Oh, how quickly we weave stories
from barely existing points of inquiries:
what I can spin from a profile pic
and a quick google search
can fill the length of
an entire Led Zeppelin discography.
Not everyone does this? –I wonder why,
it’s the only thing that separates their truths from their lies.
Put their stories in quotes
and memorize their anecdotes
and you’ll see how everything everyone says–
is a sad, tired repost.

Point in fact:
I met quite the act,
Who smoked his cigars and delivered
Jokes so funny I shivered.
I swooned and I mooned to his intelligent woos,
only to catch his entire act on Youtube.

Which makes me wonder,
about the validity of others,
Is that your photograph or did you get it from Flickr?

Found a girl in wide glasses, she must be your lover,
White dog in her lap named Janet.
Did she break your heart and crush it?
Or did she see right through your kindess?
Or did you weave a story so real
to convince me what a true man is?

I can tell you’re quite the magician,
Show me your favourite type of manipulation —
But I warn you now, I’m best at contradiction,
Nothing anyone says doesn’t require an investigation,
I’ll find your truth, you see it’s my addiction,

Because weeding out the filters and the liars is a mighty fine obsession.


Magic & Hearsay

Little Sister meets Big Daddy (street graffiti from Waterfront Trail)

There’s a man I (think I)  know
Who opens office doors
In grey sweatpants &
a stained white tee.

If you’re not careful
You will think nothing of him

as you make your way in
What would turn out to be
The place where you will spend
The rest of your waking hours.

Mentalists will often say
Human nature is a marvellous thing—
For it is human nature to believe
That one is entirely and overachingly unique
And that one’s thoughts and inner secrets
Are impenetrable to the public.

the reason why
Magicians can tell
A woman will choose the queen of hearts
Every time they are given 52 other options–
is because most women do.

Just as petty thieves can tell you
That most people’s safes
will be hidden behind a landscape painting
inside the master’s bedroom.

Mind-readers will tell you
to watch people’s feet
(instead of trying to decipher
whether it’s Dolce or Gabbana)

Because most people are aware
that their inner thoughts can be transcribed
from the way their fingers tremble
or the way their lips purse–

But most won’t think twice
about their feet’s own version
of curling into fetal position.

Move your feet
From cold basements to lushful greens
Because most people are content
Living other people’s lives
Rather than their own–
(that doesn’t mean
you have to).