Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Snow Screen: Ex Machina

While over 100 million folks watched the Super Bowl Sunday, we headed to West Hollywood for Happy Hour and a movie. The highways and streets were bare and WeHo was luckily busy but not that busy. It was warm out and I don't think I've ever seen so many tank tops in a few blocks per capita. Kitchen 24 on Cahuenga has long been one our Hollywood hangouts and this would be our first visit to their WeHo location. Bigger with patio seating, the place was empty as we sipped on HH Old Fashions while munching on fried chicken, wings then a turkey and brie sammich with fries. Everything was delectable and K24 has one of the best and longest running Happy Hours in town. Down the street is The Pacific Design Center; home to shops, offices, restaurants, a theater and art exhibit space. I'd never been inside the giant blue building but I'm pretty sure Demolition Man shot here.

There was a whole day of films celebrating Oscar nominee Alicia Vikander and the young actress appeared after a screening of The Danish Girl earlier. A Royal Affair, Testament of Youth and Ex Machina followed. While the PDC was closed, we strolled around the lobby and checked out a few random things on display and were surprised by the amount of stores inside. The Silver Screen Theater is beautifully modern and I wonder if they do regular programming like LACMA. Being in WeHo you had to have some odd balls around and tonight we got a lady who was chewing some stranger out about I don't even know what, then she fell asleep and started snoring during the movie. Since it was a free screening I have no clue if she'd been there all day instead of out on the street. Anyways, Ex Machina was released way back in April of 2015 and we'd caught it on Amazon Prime already. But it was a cool flick and nice to see on the big screen. 28 Days Later and Dredd's Alex Garland writes and directs the moody, sci-fi tinged drama about programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) who is selected to join billionaire inventor Nathan (Oscar Isaac) for a week in a secluded compound to test Ava (Vikander), a humanoid creation with earth shattering artificial intelligence.

It's an intriguing, funny, weird and visual chess match that looks at what makes us human, whether you're born with it or created, programmed and learned. It was a weird continuation on the theme of wanting to be human after Blade Runner and Robocop viewings in recent weeks. Tears in the rain, I guess. All three leads are excellent in their roles with Gleeson playing naive and slightly lovelorn, Isaac eccentric, piercing and bullying and Vikander is innocent and searching. The end gets a little messed up and all I could think of RAT TRAP and Michael Biehn's crude but true thoughts on lengths men will go to for "just a little bit of p*ssy", even if it's robotic. The set design of the partially subterranean bunker in the middle of wilderness is awesome and resulted in me finding out it's a hotel in Norway. Although it cracked me up that Nathan works out every morning with a rudimentary weight set versus a full gym, I mean come on, Arnold used to have equipment shipped to every Hyatt hotel he stayed at. But maybe that's more difficult on a low budget indie. Gleeson and Isaac would coincidentally both go on to appear in the big budgeted Star Wars: The Force Awakens but swap sides as the redheaded actor portrayed evil General Hux while Isaac is the dashing and supportive big brother you never had/best pilot in the universe for the Rebellion. Who you gonna call?! Ghostbusters, man!

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