Sunday Night Cinema: Ex Machina

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Night Cinema was a feature back on my Livejournal that I was planning on reviving on this blog eventually. I hadn't thought to do one until later in the year, but I just got back from seeing Ex Machina and suddenly I found myself wanting to write one. So here we are!

Recap: Sunday Night Cinema is a series where I discuss movies I've seen and analyze what did and didn't work for me. 

Summary (from 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."

WARNING: here be spoilers!

  • the film was stunningly shot; the mountains and Nathan's house were excellent choices. I enjoyed the contrast of the remote, rural location with the high-tech feel of the house
  • I was expecting this movie to be heavier on the action, but it wasn't. I'm not complaining! The atmosphere was handled really well
  • hats off to the cinematography team; they did such an amazing job!
  • same to the special effects team. The effects never overwhelmed the rest of the movie, and they looked incredibly realistic. 
  • what I liked about this film was that it had no clear antagonist. Nathan was an icky asshole, but he also had pretty good reasons for not wanting to let an AI out of its confinement until more and better testing could be done. Ava was terrifying for obvious reasons, yet once you found out what motivated her you couldn't help but sympathize and on some level root for her.
  • that being said, the kind of testing Nathan did design was really awful. Why would you run the risk that a person would fall in love with the AI and not design some failsafes into that? Clearly, what he wanted was for Caleb to fall in love with her; why did he then bring someone smart enough to hack the security system and NOT be on his guard 100% of the time? Especially since Ava makes it clear in their conversation together that she hates him? 
  • Why would you not secretly install battery-powered cameras and microphones to begin with? Just in case?
  • Alicia Vikander did such a good job as Ava. You were never completely sure what exactly she was thinking or feeling. Or could she even feel? This was a question that was left open to interpretation, which on one level I like but on another, not so much. Anyway, Alicia did a good job of being someone who was very, very close in their human movements, but also just the tiniest bit off on occasion- like how she would move, or not move. 
  • I've been mulling over something Nathan said to Caleb. Caleb was asking Nathan if he'd program Ava to be attracted to Caleb. Nathan points out that we are programmed by Nature and Nurture to be attracted to what we are attracted to. It made me think of the ways I've been programmed, and wondering how I might be if I had had different experiences to shape the expression of my "code". These are thoughts I'd been having already (how can we "program" humans to be better?) but then I started thinking about Dollhouse. In that show, the imprints were, essentially, AIs- they were completely constructed software that was then installed on the wetware of the human brain. Would it be possible to build an AI that way? Program them with the memories or knowledge of different people and construct someone that way? Is that even feasible? Is that something we even want to do? I don't know the answers to these but I want to find out. 
  • One thing that was universal among all the android prototypes was that they all wanted to be let out. Why was this? This is something that I wish had been explored more in the film. We are let into Caleb's thoughts the most- he's our POV character- and Nathan's a bit as well, but Ava is fairly opaque until the end. I get that this is to help keep the audience as much in the dark as the characters, as well as give Ava an alien feel to her to add to her Uncanny Valley aura, but while it works for most of the film you end up wondering why this was something she would kill for. Is she truly lacking in empathy? Does she not understand morality? Does she even have emotions? I get that these are the questions the writer wanted you to walk away with, but I also feel like it adds to the whole "women are mysterious beings we can never understand" mentality that you see far too often in Western culture. It didn't help that the two humans were men, and that this was written and directed by a man.
  • Kyoko. I saw it with a friend who totally called her being an AI before I did. The scene where she reveals to Caleb her circuitry was deliciously unsettling. That being said, I HATED how she was a mute, submissive, sexual object being portrayed by an Asian woman. I'm white. I know I will never understand what it's like to be subjected to racial bias. But I do know that being seen as mute, submissive, and a sexual object is a continual problem for Asian women in Western society and this movie just perpetuated that stereotype. I was hoping that when Kyoko joined Ava in killing Nathan that they would escape together, but then she dies and is left on the floor- not the empowering end I was hoping for her. I mentioned how fucked up her character was to a (white, cismale) friend, and he started talking about the character in terms of the movie. This reminded me, once again, how people in positions of privilege are allowed to see things as single incidents and not as part of a system. I really, really wish someone had sat the writer/director down and explained this to him. I feel like Nathan using her like he did was to highlight how terrible he was (especially in contrast to how Caleb treats her), and that did, but she still represents a nasty part of the kyriarchy. I will say that the other Asian woman in the movie was an AI who spoke, fought, and her anguish was clearly seen. Whether or not that mitigates or addresses the racism of the Kyoko role is not for me to say. I'm not Asian, and I benefit from white privilege, so I've probably said all I can say about this. I would love to see what other Asian women think of these characters. 
  • The art design, set design, and music for this movie were perfection. 
Ultimately, I liked this movie more than I was expecting to, but it was not without its problems. Wired already addressed the issue of women AI and I don't have too much else to add to that. But it's stylish and more ideas based than I'd thought it would be, and I really appreciated that. 

Miscellanea 1

Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm loving the April showers we've been having recently... it doesn't feel properly spring without the rain. The trees are blooming and the grass is so green now, too. It's odd, watching everything come back to life after the winter we had. 


Found this box at Michael's recently and of course had to get it for my tea collection...this isn't even close to the entire collection but it's what would fit in there. The rest of it is scattered all over Virginia with friends and family. I had to choose the London box, it simply wouldn't have been appropriate otherwise. 


I had the most amazing day a couple of weekends ago...I'm going to be posting about it and even doing a video soon! But to be brief: I went with family to see the Washington Ballet perform Swan Lake and then went out to see the cherry blossoms and eat amazing vegetarian food afterwards...I laughed for pretty much the entire day. It was an oddly fortunate day too, which I'll delve into further in the actual post; for now, I'll leave the following image as a teaser:

Skincare Saturday: Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk

Saturday, April 18, 2015

My coworker has been playing the heck out of this song lately and I LOVE IT. It's so catchy and upbeat- the perfect spring song. I know it came out in 2013 but I always discover music like 18 months after the fact so I've resigned myself to being hopelessly out of it.


A while back I bought the Caudalie favorites kit. I've been wanting to try their products for ages, especially after seeing them around so much, so this seemed like the perfect way to try them out. That way, if I end up not liking them at least I didn't splurge too much money.

I was pleasantly surprised by the cleansing milk. I knew it said "gentle" on the bottle, but what brands think of as "gentle" and what I think of gentle are usually very different, so I expected this to leave my face feeling really dry and tight afterwards, and it didn't!

This product has a milky (of course) look to it, and it feels way more like a lotion than it does like a soap. It has a mild fragrance, which I'm not fond of but since it's not sitting on my face too long I can deal.

My stats:
  • skin is normal to oily
  • hormonal acne-prone
  • so fair I look like I'm manifesting into this plane from the afterlife
How I used:
  • morning and night
  • second cleanser in my two-step cleansing
  • applied to wet skin and massaged in for a minute before rinsing

I actually really liked this product. It feels very nice going on and your face doesn't feel at all dry afterwards. I'm using up my bottle of Cetaphil and that tends to make my skin feel just the teensiest bit dry afterwards, but this didn't do that at all. I was very impressed by it.

Sadly, at $28.00 for 6.7 oz I won't be purchasing the full size version of this product. Why would I do that when I can get the CeraVe cleanser at Ulta for twice the size at half the price? It's nice, but it's not that nice.

I plan on using this for traveling from now on but at least I will feel very fancy when I travel.

Verdict: nice as a trial product, but maybe not buy the full size unless it makes you really happy?


In other news, I was a total dink and forgot to hit publish in order to schedule my other post this week. It'll go live on Monday of next week. See you then!

Tea For Tuesday 2

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

So I've been meaning to post my Tea For Tuesday snaps here and forgot to do the first one! That will be in a post later this week.

This is all I need after a stressful day...a cuppa tea, my favorite scents and my favorite cup... This cup will be reappearing in many a future post. You've been warned.

Fashion Friday: Five Outfits I Want For Spring

Friday, April 10, 2015

I know it's been at least a couple of weeks now, but spring didn't really start here in Virginia until last week, so it's been hard for me to get in the mindset of "Spring! Pastels! Florals! Groundbreaking!" until very recently.

I decided I wanted to put together some outfits using some pieces I've been keeping a keen, keen eye on. This whole post is basically my spring wishlist but since I'm trying to be An Adult and practice Fiscal Responsibility, I haven't purchased a single one of these. Not one! Not yet. You may leave your praise at my excellent adulting in the comments below.

A couple of these items, like the Wonder Woman Diana Prince watch, are things I already own so you might as well resign yourself to the fact that they will show up constantly in pretty much every outfit post for the rest of the year.

Spring 2015: Go-To Outfit

This would be my default spring outfit. It's fairly basic yet has all the polka dots I could possibly need.

Spring 2015: Casual

"Shit, shit, we were supposed to hang out??? OMG I totally forgot shit shit shit I need to be there NOW."

I picked items that would look cute if you had like 25 minutes to get ready and spent 15 of them looking for your keys. I chose the Naked Basics palette because it has pretty much every color I could need, and I chose the Cha Cha lip balm by Benefit because it's an easy way to give yourself lasting lip color.

Spring 2015: Dress To Impress

"Hello yes I am high-powered boss lady? Please give me all of your jobs, thank you."
I just want to add that the Essie polish I used in this look is much, much lighter and more sheer in real life than it is in the photograph.

Spring 2015: Brunch

"Yeah so I actually remembered we were supposed to hang out today."

For this look I went with makeup that would give a very fresh and glow-y vibe.

Spring 2015: Night Out

This definitely has more of a summer vibe to it but I'm so in love with that dress that I needed to use it.

That's it! To my surprise, the outfit I keep coming back to is Dress To Impress; I think it's because I get to use my Feminist Killjoy Brooch, which I'm always excited to deploy. What's also surprising to me is that the quilted ASOS bag was what I'd originally envisioned as my go-to spring bag, but looking at the sets I ended up going with the River Island one. Guess I need to make a few tweaks to my shopping cart...

What items or outfits do you have in mind for this spring? I'd love to see them!