Weekend Reading: November 18, 2016

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Department of Shameless Self-Promotion: Here Come the Robots

More artificial futures in 'Ex Machina' (A24)
More artificial futures in ‘Ex Machina’ (A24)

Last Friday’s Wall Street Journal featured in its arts and culture section an article by Don Steinberg about the prevalence of robots and artificial intelligence in movies coming soon to a multiplex near you. It’s a subject that filmmakers just don’t seem able to stay away from.

Don very nicely included a few quotes from myself on the subject in the story: “Invasion of the Friendly Movie Robots.” Check it out.

Screening Room: The Top 5 Sci-Fi Movies That Never Were

Production art from Alejandro Jodorowsky's never-produced 'Dune' (Sony Pictures Classics)
Production art from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s never-produced ‘Dune’ (Sony Pictures Classics)

Sometimes it can be better to think about the possibilities of those great unrealized what-if film projects of legend than to actually see them made. Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, Ridley Scott’s I Am Legend, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs spinoff; there’s a lot of possibilities there for genius, but also insane overreach.

In the interest of indulging the what if side of things, I posted a highly subjective list at Short Ends & Leader of the “Top 5 Sci-Fi Movies That Never Were“:

Even were it not for the mental anguish brought about by the revival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it would be obvious we live in strange times, cinematically speaking. To wit: Every other movie playing in theaters features alien invasions, bionic bodysuit weaponry, time travel, or a half-dozen other elements that make a geeky kid’s heart beat just that much faster. You would think, then, that studios would be dusting off every science-fiction script their D-girls passed on over the past couple decades and working out how to put Matthew McConaughey in it…

 

New in Theaters: ‘Room 237’

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room_237-posterStanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film The Shining is many things: Creepy, deliberate, fiendishly jokey, way over-reliant on Jack Nicholson, and perhaps the last interesting film that Kubrick did. But to some people it was far more than that. The documentary Room 237 weaves footage from the film in with interviews from its many dedicated viewers who have analyzed every single frame…and found things there you wouldn’t believe.

My full review is at Film Journal International; here’s part of it:

If it wasn’t The Shining, it would have been something else. That’s the first conclusion reached while watching Rodney Ascher’s all-enveloping head-first dive into the world of diligent obsessives who have parsed and filleted Stanley Kubrick’s horror film for deeper meaning. Many of them go so deep into each frame that it’s a wonder the many hypotheses hauled up in their nets, wriggling and wild-eyed, weren’t even further out on the fringe. “I admit,” one interviewee says in a rare sober moment, “that I am grasping at straws”…

Room 237 is playing now in limited release.

You can watch the trailer here: