On this day in music history, The Beatles mixed "I am the Walrus". The song is probably the most random piece of music ever created by The Beatles!
Yesterday, it was announced that Amazon, DeepMind, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft created a partnership revolving around artificial intelligence. So, let's start by looking at what artificial intelligence is exactly. According to wikipedia, AI is "intelligence exhibited by machines." That is mildly creepy, but also could be practically useful for future technological advancements. For example, Uber has recently completed work on self-driving cars that would reduce the amount of human-caused car accidents. I'm still unsure of how I feel about the idea of cars driving themselves, but if accidents are less likely with this innovation then it is a practical development in AI. Based on the Partnership on AI website, the mission of the partnership is to benefit people and society through research and discussions. AI has been something that people have feared since the release of I, Robot. Okay maybe some people feared it before then, but people definitely feared it after they saw the stark images of intelligent robots trying to take over the world.
Alright, this might be a confusing blog post at this point. You might be pondering why you should care about this. Well if you haven't noticed that the cinema world is exploring AI more and more, then you are a bit behind with the times. If you look at the list of films I have reviewed, there are at least a handful of films that I have discussed involving AI. These films include Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. I predict that films about AI are going to become more prevalent as technological innovations advance. Upcoming films with AI include Blade Runner 2, Assassin's Creed, Star Wars: Episode VIII, and many more. It will be very interesting to see how these technological advances leak into the cinematic universe, where there seems to be a call for better CGI and special effects.
Now I will leave you with a broad question: Should we fear the creation of artificial intelligence?
Let me know what you think in the comments or on Facebook.
PS: I totally used to have one of these Tekno Puppys, and it was awesome!
Image credit: By Toyloverz - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19687619
When news broke that Steve Jobs was pushed out of his own company, the world went a bit crazy. The man who everyone believed had been the crucial part of Apple parted ways for a while, but eventually made a triumphant return to his brainchild. With this new film, Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 127 Hours) breaks down this complex character that the world really never fully understood. Rumors constantly revolved around Jobs, who had a bad family history and an articulate vision for his creations. Steve Jobs shows the audience a behind the scenes look at the legendary man, using an odd storytelling method that feels original and holistic.
Steve Jobs discusses the story behind Jobs's life through a look at three different public product launches. Personally, I knew very little about Jobs's background and the first two product releases. As a Macbook Pro user, I was somewhat ashamed that I had no knowledge of the product releases. The first release brings us into the story with grainy 1980s imagery and costuming. The first 30-45 minutes of the film are portrayed as a period piece, delving us into the life of Jobs at a time where conflict was boiling under the surface. At the second release, the conflict unravels into a full-out fight between Jobs and John Sculley. The audience starts to choose sides during the conflict, and Boyle gives us a level playing field. Finally, we are brought into the final product release where resolution is forced into the story. I have an issue with the very last scene, which gave me flashbacks to The Newsroom season 2 finale. Still, this film does a great job telling a story that Apple-users and PC-users are mostly unfamiliar with.
Adding to the originality of the film, all of the performances are different for the respective actors. Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds, X-Men) does a great job as Steve Jobs, the man whose inner-struggles constantly impacted his relationship with his family and coworkers. Seth Rogen (This is the End, Superbad, The Interview) finally takes on a serious role as Steve Wozniack, showing audiences that he can not only make them laugh but also make them sympathize. Pairing with Fassbender, Kate Winslet (Titanic) plays Joanna Hoffman. Winslet's accent is believable for a Polish women, and she adds to the emotion behind Fassbender's portrayal of jobs. Finally, we come to Jeff Daniels's (Looper) portrayal of John Sculley. Daniels's performance guides us through one of Jobs's tougher relationships. At times we understand what Sculley is doing, but we also choose whether or not we like or hate him. To me, all of these performances were on par in the making of an original take on a contemporary story.
The Bottom Line: Danny Boyle takes three events from a man's life and creates an original film to reflect on Steve Jobs's inner-struggles.
Image credit: By MetalGearLiquid, based on File:Steve_Jobs_Headshot_2010-CROP.jpg made by Matt Yohe - Own work, based on File:Steve_Jobs_Headshot_2010-CROP.jpg made by Matt Yohe, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16232621
You guys rock!
I feel like the website is continuing to grow, which is amazing. As of right now, we have 86 Facebook likes on the official fb page for Firstflix Reviews. We are sooooooo close to 100 and I am on the edge of my seat for that moment. As of right now, I am catching up on some missed blog posts from the past two days, but rest assured that we will be back on track very shortly! A new review should also be posted later today for a past Oscar-nominated film.
Coming up later today: A film review, A Touch of Weird, and Flix for Friday
Of course, I again ask that if you have anything you want to put up on the blog you can Facebook it to me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I really want to post some more guest reviews on the site, so if you have any interest in writing about films or music albums just hit me up.
For now, I will be posting quite a bit today so it is time for me to get to work.
The Magnificent Seven shoots to the top!
1. The Magnificent Seven - $34.7M
2. Storks - $21.3M
3. Sully - $13.5M
4. Bridget Jones's Baby - $4.6M
5. Snowden - $4.0M
6. Blair Witch - $4.0M
7. Don't Breathe - $3.7M
8. Suicide Squad - $3.1M
9. When The Bough Breaks - $2.5M
10. Kubo and the Two Strings - $1.1M
Image credit: By Andrew Walker - Cast of The Magnificent Seven, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51456763
Pre-order the films on Amazon:
1. A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings by Beach Slang - I listened to this album without any prior experience listening to Beach Slang. However, all you need to see with this album to get a sense of what you are about to hear is the title. This album has all that stereotypical teenage angst that is common in the punk genre. Distorted voices and loud guitars triumph the whole way through, and the writing is surprisingly fun to listen to! I was never hugely into the punk genre, but this album is an all-around bash to fight the man. I can't argue with that!
Favorite Tracks: "Future Mixtape For The Art Kids", "Spin The Dial", "Punks In A Disco Bar"
2. Chapter and Verse by Bruce Springsteen - Put down those chicken fingers because Bruce is back baby. If you don't get that reference, it's okay I am too familiar with Bruce because I am a loyal listener of his classic albums. This new album acts as a sort of anthology, featuring old songs from past projects that Bruce was a part of. The old stuff is really fun with that raw, harsh recording sound of the early days of rock and roll. Then Bruce takes us to his big hits from back in the day, ranging from "Born to Run" to "Born in the U.S.A." Finally, we are dropped into the newer music from his more recent albums. Overall, the album is just a joyful look back at the life and times of Mr. Springsteen. Even though most of this album is recycled music, it hits home as an original structure in song placement.
Favorite Tracks: "Henry Boy", "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)", "Born to Run", "The River", "The Rising"
3. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam - I could listen to the first track on this album 1000 times and still be hooked by it's catchy melodies. When you put a member of The Walkmen and a member of Vampire Weekend together, you apparently get a nice softer rock band with some dreamy vocals. This album reminds me of the creative spirit behind Arcade Fire's catchy tunes, bringing a charming atmosphere to it's listeners. The instrumentals are a ton of fun with some songs featuring unique acoustic instruments. In some of the songs, we get to hear a very articulate piano that keeps the piece going. Beyond instrumentals, Leithauser's voice gives a masterful performance on most of the pieces as he starts of soothingly and then expands into more intense vocals.
Favorite Tracks: "A 1000 Times", "Peaceful Morning", "When The Truth Is..."
Image credit: By Craig ONeal - The Boss~Live!, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4994575
Get the albums here:
We would be going amiss if we did not mention the leading actors in Sicario. Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Looper, The Devil Wears Prada), Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects), and Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) bring fascinating characters to life on the big screen. None of the characters are easy to read into, creating the mysterious and dark tone in the dialogue. There is an odd relationship between del Toro's character and Emily Blunt's character. The ending only creates more fogginess in their relationship. In every film that I have seen with del Toro, his character is surrounded in a cloud of mystery. Sicario uses his perfected character form as he portrays one of the members in the government task force. Brolin's character is set in between the two, as a straight-edged and serious proponent of the task force. All three of the actors are spectacularly cast and fitting for Villeneuve's thrilling cartel film.
Sicario also achieves it's suiting tone through the technical aspects. The soundtrack is constantly pulsing through the speakers, bringing us into the terror of gang territory. The beat chugs us through the story, often times not easily noticeable. Most of the time, when a soundtrack is less noticeable, it fits into the film better. There also some very unique shots that include thermal vision in a way that I have never seen before. Birds-eye-views place us above the action a lot of the time, giving us a real sense of war. Overall, this film is produced with the style that we expect out of Villeneuve's previous works.
The Bottom Line: Villeneuve continues to bring tense stories with good casts to audiences who are familiar with his past works.
Bobby Breen (b. 1927) - Way Down South
Curtis Hanson (b. 1945) - 8 Mile
Gian Luigi Rondi (b. 1921) - Beauties of the Night
Richard Hong (b. 1975) - Tied Up
Bill Nunn (b. 1953) - Spider-Man
By Eric Antoniou - https://www.flickr.com/photos/huntingtontheatreco/7061660779, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32916135\
By David Shankbone (attribution required) - cropped from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Curtis_Hanson_by_David_Shankbone.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45706523
1. Shaun of the Dead - Don't stop me as I join the Cornetto Trilogy gang in the pub where it all started.
2. Dazed and Confused - Relive the college days with Matthew McConaughey in this film directed by Richard Linklater.
3. Revenge of the Nerds - A true classic filled with panty-stealing shenanigans and literally nerds taking revenge on the people who oppress them.
4. Superbad - You can't go wrong with this inappropriate comedy. That is, as long as you remember to bring the bottle with the gold flakes at the bottom.
5. National Lampoon's Animal House - I have not seen this film yet, but I hear it is a college necessity.
6. The Social Network - For those of you that need a serious film, here's one about the creation of Facebook.
7. Monsters University - This one is family friendly and features one of my favorite Pixar characters, Mike Wazowski.
And finally, the featured flick of the week:
8. Beerfest - This movie is crazy, based around the idea of an underground drinking competition. The film features lederhosen and a heck of a lot of beer pints. The best part of all is definitely Das Boot, which amazingly I have conquered with my own friends at a German bar in Seattle!
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