It’s been almost 2 months since I started working at MNK and, I must say, it’s been a ride. Since I’m a filmmaker of the 21st Century, everything I do is related to technology: I love learning about photography hardware, I’m fluent in almost every editing software and I spend HOURS on the internet. Sometimes I even wonder if my boyfriend is a real person or an AI.
These last weeks I’ve realized that it’s true that I live on the internet but, as any other peasant, I don’t know how the internet is made. And while I’m writing this post for an internet blog on my online google docs I think that my approach to technology, internet and AI has been shaped by movies.
Movies are my best friends. I love seeing them and I won’t be able to rest in peace until I make a bunch of them. And what I love about them is that I can sneak a peek into different times, heads and realities.
Cinema is a magic trick. Even documentaries let us see what they want us to see. That’s what I love about it: reality isn’t that fun, well-structured and it’s definitely not as well illuminated as movies. But even more exciting than the trick is the magician. When we produce a short movie or when we write criticism for a movie we usually bring to the table the authorial point of view. Although it's hard to give a textbook definition, I like saying that the authorial point of view is all the little particularities in a movie that couldn’t be portrayed for anyone else but the author -or authors- of the movie. It is the clear and perceptible voice of the director in a piece of art.
So for this first top I did a list of movies I found outstanding for their authorial point of view. Time to get comfortable and bring some popcorn: this is my current top five on movies and tv shows about web development and AI, inspired by all my co-workers.
Devs focuses on a fictional tech giant called Amaya, run by an enigmatic chief executive based on Silicon Valley (where else?) When Sergei, our protagonist, gets a position within the company’s ultra-mysterious Devs department, he’s excited to finally find out exactly what it is that they do. But after his first day, he never makes it back to his girlfriend Lily, who also works at Amaya and is forced to investigate the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance and what he found at Devs. This series has just premiered this year and it’s the latest work from Ex-Machina’s director Alexander Garland.
As a Neo-noir series the cinematography on Devs is very expressionist. This enhances the psychological thriller aspects of the show. It’s clear that Alex Garland has placed aesthetics first, making his work not only narratively compelling, but visually striking too.
The Social Network
Oh, David, David. David Fincher my love. Would this movie be the same without that green coloring over everything? The Social Network follows the idea, birth and development of the most successful social network of our generation: Facebook. David Fincher is known for his excellent portraying of crime and villains, and I think this is what makes Fincher’s Zuckerberg so fascinating. Fincher’s script not only takes us through the ins and outs of silicon valley and startup culture, but does it as a series of intrigues that keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
The Imitation Game
A fan of algorithms and movies about World War II? Take this home.
A World War II period piece, The Imitation Game portrays the life of Alan Turing and his team’s struggle to invent the world's first computer to decipher the famous German Enigma Code, and eventually win the War for the Allies. One of the best things in this movie is Cumberbatch’s performance. We have seen him take a whole movie on his back, as he did in The Fifth Estate, where there wasn’t a single spark of authorial point of view-, but Morten Tyldum did a great work really bringing us into the time period using extensive research and great acting direction.
Sometimes we tend to think that technology can’t be sensitive and capable of making us cry, but oh my lord, Spike Jonze has our heart crumble throughout this whole movie. The production design in this movie is focused on heightening the feeling of loneliness we get from the main character. It borders on dystopian. Every space is devoid of people and full of technology, which brings us even closer to him once the plot takes off. The camera work in Her prioritizes wide shots while he grapples with the crushing world of tech that surrounds him.
Her presents the relationship between Theo and Sam (an AI) in the midst of Theo’s divorce. It is a deep exploration of human relationships and what they’re actually built from. What does it mean to fall in love with someone?
This is an Alexander Garland Stan-post. On his directorial debut we follow a young programmer, Caleb, when he has won a one-week stay at a reclusive CEO’s house. It’s revealed that Nathan, the CEO, has been working on a female humanoid robot called Ava. As they both interact with her, the intricacies of human intellect and emotion are revealed. Shoutout to Turing again, for being prominently featured in this movie in the form of his test to identify artificial intelligence: The Turing Test.
Even though this movie uses CGI extensively, it comes short of feeling like a huge blockbuster and instead takes extra care of making it near imperceptible. It eschews huge spaces in favor of very intimate moments in which the viewer can perceive the minute details of the production. Look out for the tiny homages to previous cinematographic trendsetters like Blade Runner and Metropolis.
If you have seen all of these movies already, I invite you to watch them again this weekend and think about what you think that makes these representations of technology and the way we interact with it outstanding. If you haven’t (like our editor Jesús Lizárraga), I hope that this post has piqued your curiosity.