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Category: sci-fi

Film Review: ANON

Reviewed by Zoe Margolis

Shot in a monochromatic, desaturated style, ANON offers a dulled vision of a near-future where no one has any secrets, or privacy. Unlike now, where people voluntarily upload personal information to social media platforms (or involuntarily, as is the case with Cambridge Analytica’s exploitation of Facebook content), citizens of this society appear to have no choice as to how their data is accessed. Instead of mobile devices capturing events, human beings have biological computer implants – a “Mind’s Eye” – which work as personal video recorders, enabling others to witness their point of view (POV), similar to Strange Days’ S.Q.U.I.Ds. In ANON this happens without the use of external equipment: the brain itself has become a shareable hard drive. Whilst this means people can return to any moment of their life that they wish to, the recording of every millisecond is downloaded to a vast grid called The Ether which law enforcement can access, so nothing anyone does or says is private.

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Film Review: Ready Player One

Reviewed by Zack Evans

Cyberpunk has been with us for quite some time, but it has never quite gone mainstream. Whilst Philip K Dick has been embedded in sci-fi film culture for decades, surprisingly few of the other big names (Sterling, Stephenson, Noon…) have made it directly into the medium, except Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic, and his Pattern Recognition is stuck in Dev Hell. Instead, cyberpunk has diffused through geek culture in general, and from there leaked into screenplays through influence on, well, everyone.

80s film culture is equally pervasive, and the book Ready Player One finally provided a bridge from geek to popular, through an outrageous mix of the two – and if you need someone to do something outrageously popular with culture, director Spielberg is your man.

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Film Review: Marjorie Prime

Adapted by Michael Almereyda from Jordan Harrison’s 2014 play, Marjorie Prime is a gently haunting and deeply affecting tale which deals with themes relating to what separates human beings from artificial intelligence and whether holding on to someone’s memories, even after their death, is an essential part of who we are. Set in a near-future, the film offers a thought-provoking look at humanity’s acceptance of AI despite all the obvious pitfall attached to it.

Veteran stage and screen actress Lois Smith is Marjorie, a widowed octogenarian struggling to keep the memory of her dearly departed husband Walter alive. To keep her mind occupied and loneliness at bay, Marjorie’s daughter Tess (Gina Davis) and son in-law Jon (Tim Robbins) offer the old woman the company of a “ Prime”, a computer simulated much younger version of her late husband, played with a mesmeric precision and majestic stillness by Jon Hamm. Programmed to interact with Marjorie by listening to second-hand accounts from the old woman and her relatives’, Walter is able to quickly pick up whole chunks of history as inaccurate as they are, and then retelling them as ifs they were cast iron truths.

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LFF 2017: Grain

In Grain, cinematographer Giles Nuttgens provides a stunning visualisation of director Kaplanoglu’s dystopian vision, using black and white film shot on three continents, blended seamlessly into bold, harsh landscapes which immediately suggest an odyssey. The City is also a composite of Detroit, industrial German (e.g. Essen), and Konya, Anatolia (This is a Turkish production). These are perfectly assembled into an urban version of a colony ship. The city is now the only civilisation, with the individual nation-states long since abandoned in order to deal with a much bigger crisis – a total lack of food.

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LFF 2017 Film Review: Life Guidance

This film is about choosing a direction in life and how much help you really want or need; and Life Guidance certainly needs some help choosing a direction. The beginning of the film is essentially an update of Fahrenheit 451, with Alexander Dworsky (Fritz Karl) providing a Montag somewhat less flighty than Truffaut’s version, and his career choice is also a great deal more mundane – he is a futures trader at a faceless finance corporation. So very faceless that they all dress exactly the same way – which is an excellent excuse for Mader to deploy her strong and subtle use of palette to really control the tone of this film.

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