Apr. 20th, 2015

starlady: Cindi Mayweather running through Metropolis (i believe in the archandroid)
This is another movie that I've been tracking obsessively on IMDB, and I was very happy to see that it was playing in San Francisco when I got here last week. I think it was Kate Elliott on Twitter who made a comment about it last year that tipped me off, and I have to say, it's one of the best and most stylish SF movies I've seen in a while. I would highly recommend it to just about everybody.

The plot is simple, and revealed within the first five minutes: a young software developer at a tech giant (Blue Book, sort of like Google crossed with the Weyland Corp.) wins a company-wide lottery to spend a week at the reclusive founder's estate…to serve as the human component in a(n unorthodox) Turing Test, since it turns out the the reclusive founder has been spending his time working on AI, and he's come damn close.

There's a lot to say about the Turing Test, gender, artificial intelligence and the various ages of cybernetics beginning in the 1950s and they way they have understood information versus consciousness with respect to embodiment. I'm a big fan of Kate Hayles' book How We Became Posthuman, which means that I'm a highly informed skeptic about all of those topics from a feminist perspective, and the thing I liked best about the movie was how shockingly intelligent it was about all of these things. Everything in the movie is consciously commenting on these exact same issues (just as Caleb, the programmer, quickly learns that his selection wasn't random at all), and it even throws a commentary on race into the mix. It's also pretty realistic about the culture of the tech world and Silicon Valley, even though the location of the estate is never mentioned (Norway has never looked more beautiful on film) and Caleb lives on Long Island. And the movie uses all of those aspects to tell a pretty darn good story that doesn't go anywhere I expected. The film is far more feminist than it lets on almost until the credits roll.