Archive for the ‘Kevin Spacey’ Category

MOVIE: Horrible Bosses (2011)

July 22, 2011

Horrible Bosses = Horrible Movie.

(Shortest movie review ever? It’s really all you need to know, trust me!)

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre: Comedy, Crap
Cast:  Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Julie Bowen, Donald Sutherland, Lindsay Sloane

MOVIE: Moon (2009)

June 3, 2009

Last week, I got a chance to see this new sci-fi movie at the Seattle International Film Festival.  Yes!  I saw a movie IN A THEATER!  It’s a freakin’ miracle, I know!

To be honest, based on what I’d heard about this film, I was pretty sure it would be terrible.   But I love Sam Rockwell, and when I heard that the director, Duncan Jones, was also going to be at the screening, that kind of clinched it for me.  I love hearing filmmakers talk about their own movies, even when their movies might sort of suck.  And that goes double for when the director also happens to be the son of David Bowie (Duncan Jones = Zowie Bowie).  How could I NOT go see what Zowie Bowie was like in person?  Couldn’t.

First things first:  Zowie Bowie is completely adorable.  The moment he cited Outland and Silent Running as the two movies that made him fall in love with science fiction, I knew we were meant to be together forever.  Zowie:  call me.  We’ll talk.

Second things second:  This movie turned out to be completely different from what I’d expected based on the plot descriptions I’d read.  Some of what I’d heard was true:  it is indeed about an astronaut engineer (named Sam and played by Sam) who has been living alone on the moon for three years running a drilling operation that harvests an alternative energy source called Helium 3.  He’s almost done with his three-year contract when a bunch of strange things start to happen, including the sudden appearance of a young dark-haired woman, not his wife. But here’s where the plot description breaks from the movie:  I’d heard he starts to go mad, and, as it turns out, that’s not what happens at all.

And thank god for that too, because about fifteen minutes into this film, I knew the madness thing wasn’t going to work for me.  This film is set in the future, and we already know right NOW that you can’t put a human being in total isolation for three years and expect him to be functional (go read Hellhole by Atul Gawande for a stunning look at solitary confinement and its effects:  http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/03/30/090330fa_fact_gawande).   No corporation would ever do that — not for three years.  It didn’t make any sense; it wouldn’t be a viable operation.  When, about fifteen minutes into this film, it looked like the story was indeed headed in that direction, a tsunami of total annoyance came a’crashin’ over me.  In fact, I got so annoyed, I scribbled the word “FRAK” in all-caps with 8 exclamation points after it in my notebook.

Like this –> FRAK!!!!!!!!

Now that’s annoyed, people!

Luckily, this isn’t actually what’s going on.  What’s going on is far more interesting and makes a rather brilliant amount of sense, especially from a corporate perspective.  And while I had the “twist” figured out much earlier than I think Jones wanted me to — in fact, I had it figured out the moment Sam crashed his rover about twenty minutes into the picture — the way the story progressed from there was still pretty satisfying, I thought.

And so, as it turned out, I ended up really liking this movie.  It is not without a few flaws, though, the primary one being the character Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey).   Gerty is Sam’s only companion, a computer like Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, except not quite as sociopathic.  Gerty’s “face” is a screen that features an ever-changing cartoon-style emoticon, used to convey the tone with which his statements to Sam are to be received:  a smiley face when all is good, a sad face when there is a problem, a questioning face when something does not compute, etc.  I thought this was quite clever, actually, since the vapid overuse of emoticons is something most of us can relate to these days, and it’s used to great comedic effect on Gerty, I must say.

The problem I had with Gerty, though, is that, as a computer programmer of sorts myself, his “behavior” struck me as completely illogical.  Gerty has been programmed to assist Sam in any way he might need assistance, and it seems clear early on that Gerty’s primary function is to help and protect Sam and Sam alone.  But as the movie progresses, Gerty starts telling Sam all kinds of things it made no sense for him to tell Sam.  Without giving anything away, Gerty tells Sam the truth about himself, as well as all kinds of details about what’s actually going on from the corporate side of things.  But I’m telling you this: the people running the show behind the scenes would not have programmed Gerty to tell Sam anything about the truth — it could only serve to panic Sam and ruin their entire operation, which is exactly what ends up happening.  But more importantly, not only would Gerty not have been programmed to tell Sam the truth, Gerty would have been explicitly programmed NOT to tell Sam the truth. There would not have been left a loophole on this.  And computers can’t just make up their reactions — every reaction is programmed, even if it seems spontaneous.  Their “behavior” isn’t behavior; it’s code.

That said, as problems go, this was a pretty minor one, all things considered.  At the root of this film is a pretty moving and often amusing story of one man struggling with a major, major identity crisis, trapped in an glaringly-white space station 86 gazillion miles from Earth, alone, lonely, lost, and increasingly alarmed.  And Sam Rockwell just kicks this movie’s ASS, people.  It’s the Sam Rockwell Show, for reals.  I have to make that man a Boyfriend of the Week STAT.

This movie opens on June 12th in New York, and will spread to other cities shortly after that.  If it comes to your town, definitely check it out and let me know what you think!

[Pre-queue me at Netflix | Trailer]

Genre: Science Fiction
Cast:  Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey (voice)