‘Writers Choice’ is a monthly segment. Each month a theme will be chosen and the contributors asked to choose a film to mini-review based around said theme. This months theme is ‘technology’.
Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children, gives a dark and cruel view of technology. This 2014 drama follows the lives of people who are heavily effected by the internet and social media. A teenage girl’s anorexia is fed by images of thin women online, and others in her position giving tips on how to eat less. A mother demands complete control of her daughter’s life through tracking her every move and online interaction to keep her “safe”. Married parents cheat on each other through dating websites and online escort services.
Don (Adam Sandler) says “the reason we got cell phones was to make sure we could get a hold of each other” implying how far we have come form the initial use of technology.
Tim (Ansel Elgort) sees the meaninglessness of our actions, along with Emma Thompson’s voice over they suggest a deeper meaning to the film, with the idea that all the mistakes we make as people become irrelevant as time goes by and the earth continues to spin.
While somewhat accurately depicting our society’s response to the rise of technology, the film overall seems to only focus on the negative effects in order to get its point across.
Although sharing a director with Juno this film in no way encapsulates the same happy-go-lucky attitude. Men, Women & Children gives a bleak view on our society and the evolution of the human race. –Louise Pam
In ‘The Social Network’, the 2010 sensation from David Fincher about Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook, technology is both inevitably central and curiously distant. Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his relationship with his technological creation is rich and complex. On one hand he is more connected to the world than he’s ever been, and much more successful in mastering, through an inherent redefinition, the realm of socialising. On the other hand, the advances Zuckerberg makes in what friendship and the social world can consist of cause him to regress into a more isolated state than ever before. He’s at once a the definitive social butterfly and the ultimate loner, surly and callous – it’s clear that there’s no technology that can alter his unpersonable nature. ‘The Social Network’ is written by Aaron Sorkin, a man notoriously surly himself towards the modern, technology obsessed world, and it’s excellence is borne from that stance. It would have been easier to write a soaring, celebratory script which venerates the technological revolution Facebook caused, but instead ‘The Social Network’ breaks technology down into the motivations behind it and the consequences it leaves in its wake – an anti-hero driven, loaded dramatic triumph about sex and ego, greed and betrayal. –Ashley Woodvine
Considering how far we have come in the 2010s, 1980s technology can often seem incredibly dated and extremely silly on film. However, 1983’s WarGames is so energetic and exhilarating that you find yourself ignoring the state of dated technology and instead completely swept up in the story. Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy play two teenagers who hack the Pentagon’s computer and inadvertently cause the start of a nuclear World War III. They must stop the computer’s control over the firing of its weapons. WarGames balances effervescent comedy with tense, heavily dramatic thrills and genuine nail-biting suspense. In the ending scene, the computer must run through an infinite amount of nuclear outcomes. These nuclear outcomes are shown on the Pentagon’s enormous computer screens, streams of bright light flash across a map of the world in a seemingly endless loop. The computer must play the game with itself, predicting every possible outcome of every nuclear strike. The lights flash faster and faster and the technology nearly implodes on itself. The conclusion? “Strange game. The only winning move is not to play,” the computer says. I found this a moving moment, where WarGames exposes the senselessness of war and the dangers of handing over our fates to technology, especially through the use of deadly nuclear weapons. What could be written off as a simple teen action film from the 1980s is actually a subversive, and I would argue timeless, tale of technology vs. humanity, war vs. peace. –Caroline Madden
With this month’s theme, the first film that came to my mind was Alex Garland’s highly praised, somewhat harrowing take on the advancement of technology, Ex Machina. The film follows Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a young programmer who enters the estate of his boss Nathan (Oscar Isaac) in order to test a newly developed Artificial Intelligence named Ava (Alicia Vikander).
Although superficially, the film could be considered an ‘easy watch’ in that Caleb’s only goal is to find out if Ava is aware, the plot takes a sinister turn and gains in complexity until you’re utterly consumed, confronted with questioning the motives of every character, and perhaps (this isn’t even too extreme) questioning morality itself.
Oscar Isaac is brilliant in portraying the seemingly likeable Nathan- the scene in which he dances with Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) is particularly notable- genuinely worth watching this film for their choreographed moves. In addition to the light hearted aspect however, the film is almost suffocating in that it is set in just one location; Nathan’s isolated research facility that is surrounded by vast forest. This was appealing aesthetically, with the sleek white of the inside contrasted beautifully with the dark greens and browns of outside, however the isolating landscape also emphasises the brutal intensity of the plot.
Overall Ex Machina is definitely worth a watch- Oscar Isaac’s dancing, aesthetically pleasing and most importantly, an intricate story that provokes questions surrounding AI and what technology can be capable of. -Laura Hague