Saturday, May 30, 2015

Woman in Gold (2015) film review

Year: 2015
Running Time: 109 minutes
Director: Simon Curtis
Writers: E. Randol Schoenberg and Maria Altmann (life stories), Alexi Kaye Campbell (screenplay)
Cast: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Tatiana Maslany, Katie Holmes, Max Irons, Charles Dance

Woman in Gold is a biographical film that does a fine job of telling the story of Maria Altmann and her family, but it's dramatization struggles to remain immune from the curse of cliché. Based on the ground-breaking case of the Republic of Austria v. Altmann, Woman in Gold is the tale of Austrian born Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) who's family were the owners of the incredible painting by Gustav Klimt of her aunt, Adele (Antje Traue) entitled "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer" until their home was invaded by Nazis who took possession of the everything including the painting. Now living in Los Angeles in the 1990's, Maria seeks the assistance of young lawyer, Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) to help her seek justice for having her family's property stolen. Her journey takes her back to the country she vowed never to return to and to face the past she wanted to forget.

Maria Altmann's life story is told wonderfully on screen. From her life of hardships in war torn Vienna to her later years fighting for justice in the United States, her fight for her life and then for justice is well documented and very thorough. Altmann's earlier years in Vienna (as portrayed by Tatiana Maslany) are particularly well done, as great suspense is generated with her and her husband's (Max Irons) quest to leave the Nazi dominated city and her inevitable separation from her family is extremely emotional. However, the scenes set in the 1990's struggle for the same type of suspense. While the real life proceedings in the case were undoubtedly eventful and extremely important, it's dramatization in the film is somewhat cliché and feels almost overdone. There are several features of the film which were changed from the reality for dramatic effect (such as Randol working without pay for years), but these changes come across as extremely cliché due to the heroism that is attempted to be attached to the characters and their situations.

However, what is done well in the scenes set in Maria's later life are the internal struggles that she experiences in deciding whether to go ahead with her case. The portrait in question which is now on display in New York City's Neue Galerie, was much loved by the Austrian people when it was hung in their country. This is one of the ethical dilemmas that Maria is faced with in the film as she does not want to take something away that is so important to her homeland, yet she believes that justice must be served. The other dilemma she is faced with is whether she should just let the past be the past or if she should seek to reclaim something that belonged to her family half a century earlier. It is indeed a painful thing for her to revisit the past and to once again see the place she left because of the horrors that were occurring there. Maria's journey is an emotional one for her as it means going back to a place she vowed never to return to. She is also faced with the pressure of outsiders making their opinion that she should just let it all go very vocal. Yet her belief in doing what is right by her family who are now gone, but always a part of her is very admirable.

Woman in Gold is beautifully shot with some incredibly lovely images. The beauty of the city of Vienna is well captured on camera with glorious shots of it's sights including the Hofburg Palace. The Vienna occupied by Nazis and the Vienna Maria returns to have two completely different atmospheres. Of course this is created by the oppression felt by the Nazis which is not there upon returning, but the cinematography allows for the feeling of a dark cloud constantly following the characters during the war. The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Martin Phipps is absolutely exquisite.

Helen Mirren does a very good job in the lead as Maria Altmann. She gives a solid performance as a woman who is exhausted from her years of guilt over leaving her family and bitterness towards her home country. The one problematic thing about Mirren's Maria is that her past between when she first arrives in America and when she looks for a lawyer is a mystery. There is no word of when her husband died or whether they had any children (which she did indeed as she had three sons and one daughter). Ryan Reynolds also gives a very good performance and shows a great deal of emotion especially when he acknowledges his own Austrian heritage. Tatiana Maslany doe exceptionally well as the younger Maria and the pairing of her and Max Irons works extremely well.

Extremely well made and a fine tribute to both Maria Altmann and other families who suffered the hardships her and her family once did, Woman in Gold is entertaining but would be taken more seriously if it did not try to overdramatize itself. The story itself is incredible enough without inserting Hollywood clichés into it.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) film review


Year: 2015
Running Time: 110 minutes
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Kay Cannon
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam DeVine, Skylar Astin, Katey Segal, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Ben Platt

Pitch Perfect 2 is arguably the biggest female empowerment film of the year. With Elizabeth Banks making her debut in the director's seat, the film speaks (or sings) loudly of the strength of women and minorities in society and does so with incredible wit and humour. All girl acapella group, the Barden Bellas have been reigning as champions for the past three years, but it seems that their winning streak has come to a grinding halt when Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) accidently exposes herself in front of an audience that includes the President of the United States. As a result, the girls are competition wise, but through a loophole they still able to enter the international acapella championships which no American team has ever won. The girls find that they feel extremely out of their comfort zone when they size up the competition and find that they may have to search for their sound once again.

This foot-tapping sequel to the original 2012 film is incredibly witty and funny, but at the same time is far more layered than a musical comedy set on an American college campus has any right to be. The script by Kay Cannon is exceptionally well written and with Elizabeth Bank's tight direction gives a combination that works exceptionally well and takes full advantage of the colourful characters already established in the first film. Pitch Perfect 2 is indeed predictable as is expected and desired by it's target audience. A trap that many film makers fall into when making sequels is to take what made the first film work and give the audience more...which can more often than not lead to over-exaggeration and annoyance. Pitch Perfect 2 does do this, but it does it in an unique way that makes it work by explaining to the audience why it is doing this. For example, the second film contains a great deal more of Fat Amy and her antics, who was a crowd favourite in the first film. However, the script actually explains why her antics are exaggerated and this is because Fat Amy never does anything by halves. It's in her character to do everything on a massive scale. By doing this, the film actually explains why certain aspects of it are exaggerated and this works in the film's favour.

The film's sense of humour is particularly unique. It avoids being chastised for any prejudice by purely making fun of absolutely everybody. Nobody is nationality, no body size, no sexual orientation and even no hair colour. This type of sarcastic humour would have the prospect of being construed as completely offensive if it weren't so incredibly over the top that it can hardly be taken seriously. However, what can be taken seriously about Pitch Perfect 2 is it's strong message of female empowerment. With a string of strong female characters who are superior to the male characters in every way, their rendition of Beyoncé's "Run The World (Girls)" is the perfect anthem. On the other hand, the original song "Flashlight" (sung by Hailee Steinfeld) is the anthem for sisterhood and the important message of women working together.

It does not come as a surprise that Pitch Perfect 2's soundtrack is one of the greatest positves of the film as it is a modern musical film relevant to today's sound and it's predecessor's soundtrack was an enormous success. Fans of the 2012 film will be pleased with the return of "Cups" by Anna Kendrick which was made popular in the first film, but will also be happy to see that Mark Mothersbaugh has kept up with the top chart music of 2015 so far and placed songs in the film where they bring out the most in the scene.

The majority of the cast from the original Pitch Perfect film return for the second and reprise their roles with the same strength of character that they did in the first. Anna Kendrick returns as Beca Mitchell, the leader the of The Bellas and is once again the heroine which every girl can relate to. She is incredibly real and although Beca is one to put up a tough front, has her beautiful moments of frailty. Rebel Wilson is once again very funny as Fat Amy, but for some there may be just a little too much Fat Amy screen time wise if you are not a fan of her sense of humour.

Hailee Steinfeld is a newcomer to the Pitch Perfect universe as Bella legacy, Emily. From the very first moment she is incredibly likeable with her naivety but quirky streak that gives her a wonderful sense of humour. Director Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins return as acapella commentators and experts Gail and John are truly hilarious with some of the most memorable quotes of the film.

Pitch Perfect 2 will undeniably thrill anyone who was a fan of the first film. Although those who haven't seen the first can also enjoy, it is recommended that the first is seen so the characters are greater understood. The film is a huge amount of fun that has the talent to create many smiles, laughs and impromptu dance moves.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Infini (2015) film review

Year: 2015
Running Time: 110 minutes
Director: Shane Abbess
Writers: Shane Abbess and Brian Cachia
Cast: Daniel MacPherson, Grace Huang, Luke Hemsworth, Bren Foster, Luke Ford, Dwaine Stevenson, Louisa Mignone, Tess Haubrich

Infini is now available on demand in Australia and is distributed by Entertainment One. Now showing in cinemas in the United States.

Although Australian film has had much success on a national and international scale with such horror pieces of cinema as Wolf Creek and The Babadook, it is not known for yet conquering the sci-fi genre. Infini is a triumph for Australian cinema that will destroy this perception with it's shocking and intense combination of futuristic thriller and horror. Towards the end of the 23rd century, off-Earth travel has been achieved through the process of slipstreaming, which is a most controversial subject due to the danger involved and it's high fatality rate. Whit Carmichael (Daniel MacPherson) is stranded on a distant mining station after a freak accident involving the rest of his team and an elite rescue team sets out to rescue him. What awaits the team on this remote station is a lethal contagion where death is only the beginning of the horror.

Opening with complete chaos, Infini is intense and action-packed from it's very first moment. The combination of the sci-fi and horror film may not be a brand new one, but Shane Abbess' film puts a new spin on what the future beholds and what new nightmares may come our way. While paying homage to Alien in it's production and ever so slightly to 1998's Phantoms with it's horror element, Infini very much knows what it is and is a survival film rather than a narrative. Incredibly intense and not for the faint-hearted or queasy, the film is unpredictable and surprising. It can be rather shocking in it's screenplay and visually, but this is an enjoyable form of confrontation for anyone who enjoys either or both sci-fi and horror.

The method of rapid and non-continuous editing that the film employs can originally feel messy and often confusing, but as the film goes on one comes to understand why this decision was made as it adds to the final revelations. The production design of the world in the 23rd century and of the mining station are very well done. Sci-fi territory tends to come with the expectation of extravagant and impressive special effects. However, while Infini has minimal special effects compared to the big budget Hollywood genre films, it does not for one moment feel as though it is lacking. All CGI and special effects are used when they need to be and used well. The absence of more isn't felt throughout the film as one is so engrossed in the story that the suspense doesn't allow you time to think otherwise and when there is the time it is something to embrace.

Daniel MacPherson gives an exceptional performance as Whit Carmichael. He is the perfect leading man for the film with his strong presence and sense of confidence that he projects on screen. Yet, his character is still very much relatable and very human as he swings between the emotions one would when they are made fully aware that survival is not guaranteed. Grace Huang is also a stand out and Luke Hemsworth, Dwaine Stevenson and Harry Pavlidis can all be rather terrifying.

Infini is a fine achievement in Australian cinema, but it is a fine film in it's own right with it's intensity and clever production.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Katharine Hepburn at the Oscars

Katharine Hepburn was never a fan of the Academy Awards. In her eyes, awards meant nothing.

"My prize is my work" Hepburn once said.

Despite this aversion to film's night of nights, she still remains the actor who has won the most Academy Awards to date by winning four golden statues from her twelve nominations. Hepburn never once turned up to accept any of her awards. In fact, the only time Hepburn ever appeared at the Academy Awards was in 1974 to present the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial award to Lawrence Weingarten. Hepburn's Oscar wins are a representative of her truly incredible career. She won her first award in 1934 and her final in 1981, nearly 50 years after she won her first. With a background in theatre, her film career spanned over 60 years and despite being labelled box-office poison early in her career, is remembered for her strong female characters and incredible versatility.

It only takes a look at the roles in which Hepburn was nominated for and won in order to understand why she is considered one of the greatest or many will argue that she is in fact the greatest film actress to have lived. Her versatility and passion for the fascinating and strong characters which she wholly committed to remains an inspiration for many actors even today who still admire her as an actress and an incredibly strong woman.

As it is 108 years to the day that Hepburn was born in Hartford, Connecticut, let's take a look at what the Academy recognised as Hepburn's twelve greatest roles.

Morning Glory (1933) Won

Katharine Hepburn won her first Oscar with her very first nomination at the sixth Academy Awards. In Morning Glory (1934), she played Eva Lovelace, a young woman with stars in her eyes who desires to become a Broadway actress. This was only Hepburn's third film and was a role she could relate to having come from a theatre background herself. However, as she so often exemplified, being that she could relate to the film wasn't an excuse for not putting her all into the performance. As would become tradition, Hepburn was not there to accept the award.

Alice Adams (1935) Nominated
Even though Hepburn was considered box-office poison during the years 1934-1938, this wasn't reflected in the calibre of her performances during this time. Despite being considered an untrustworthy investment in these years, the Academy still acknowledged her performance in Alice Adams in 1936 and she was nominated for a second time. In this George Stevens directed film, Hepburn played the title character who is a young woman trying to climb the social ladder and will go to extreme measures to make sure her façade is not uncovered.

The Philadelphia Story (1940) Nominated
The Philadelphia Story is regarded as the film that marked the end of Katharine Hepburn's label as box-office poison and Hepburn herself said that it was Tracy Lord who gave her her career back. The Broadway play was written by Philip Barry especially for Hepburn and she backed and performed socialite Tracy Lord. Howard Hughes bought the screen rights as a present for Hepburn and she reprised her role on screen, in what was both a critical and financial success.

Woman of the Year (1942) Nominated
Woman of the Year is remembered more often that not as being the first pairing between Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. It was a union which was repeated in eight films after this and symbolised the beginning of the great love affair between Hepburn and Tracy. One cannot argue that acting opposite Tracy did wonderful things for Hepburn, as was shown here in Woman of the Year. Here she played a political journalist who falls in love with a sports writer (Tracy) who works for the same newspaper. The chemistry between the two is unmistakable, but Hepburn's performance of the strong female character would not feel lost in a film in the 2000's.

The African Queen (1952) Nominated
John Huston's film The African Queen is regarded as a timeless classic in which both Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart were nominated for Academy Awards. Hepburn, once again showing her versatility, played a religious spinster who is accompanied up the African river by sea captain (Bogart).  The stories which were told of the time in Africa by Hepburn and close friend, Lauren Bacall became legendary, as has the film itself. This was Humphrey Bogart's only Academy Award win and Hepburn's fifth nomination.

Summertime (1955) Nominated
Summertime marked Katharine Hepburn's sixth Oscar nomination. The film, which was directed by David Lean, saw Hepburn portray a secretary who has resigned herself to living a lonely life and travels to Venice, Italy where she unexpectedly finds love. The film showed Hepburn in a vulnerable, but romantic light and this was a side to her acting that was celebrated by fans and critics alike.

The Rainmaker (1956) Nominated
After being nominated a year before for Summertime, her nomination for The Rainmaker the year after was her first time receiving two nominations in consecutive years. As "plain" girl in town Lizzie Curry who cannot seem to find a man until a drought brings Bill Starbuck to her life, Hepburn was endearing and incredibly likable.

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) Nominated
Suddenly, Last Summer saw a different pace for Katharine Hepburn. She was honoured with her eighth nomination for her role as Violet Venable, the grieving mother who is now responsible for looking after her mentally unstable niece (played by Elizabeth Taylor). In this psychological thriller/ drama, Hepburn gave an extremely strong performance of a mother who could be quite terrifying and disturbing.

Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962) Nominated
Katharine Hepburn continued her nominations with the role of another mother with a harder edge in Long Day's Journey Into Night. The film, which was originally written as a play, was Eugene O' Neill's autobiographical work and Hepburn portrayed the drug dependant mother in a stirring, unsettling and very powerful role. Hepburn's nomination was the only Oscar nomination which the film received and the final time she would be nominated without winning.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967) Won

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner gave Hepburn her long-awaited (but not by her) second Academy Award. The incredibly moving, yet still comical film saw Hepburn and Spencer Tracy pair up for the last time and play parents of a girl (played by Hepburn's niece, Katharine Houghton) who brings home her African-American fiance for the first time. This film was incredibly bittersweet for her as it was no secret that Tracy was a very unwell man and passed away 17 days after filming wound up. Tracy was also nominated for an Academy Award and Hepburn never saw the finished film as it was too painful for her. Her good friend, George Cukor accepted the award on the night on her behalf.

The Lion in Winter (1968) Won

Katharine Hepburn won back-to-back Academy Awards when the year after Guess Who's Coming To Dinner she won for The Lion in Winter, which she tied with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl. Hepburn played Eleanor of Aquitaine, an historical figure which she admitted to finding absolutely fascinating. Playing one of the most outspoken and fiercely protective mothers in history, she gave a brilliant performance that was historically accurate of the queen as we know her and was a perfect match for Peter O'Toole's Henry II. The film's director, Anthony Harvey accepted the award on her behalf.
On Golden Pond (1981) Won
With her final nomination nearly 50 years after her first, Katharine Hepburn won her fourth Academy Award at the 54th annual show. She was at her loveliest in the play turned film, On Golden Pond where she played wife and mother, Ethel. Hepburn played opposite both Henry Fonda and his daughter, Jane Fonda. On Golden Pond is the only film to date in which both the lead actors who played husband and wife won Academy Awards, yet neither of them were there on the night to accept their awards.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Royal Night Out (2015) film review

Year: 2015
Running Time: 97 minutes
Director: Julian Jarrold
Writer: Trevor De Silva and Kevin Hood
Cast: Sarah Gadon, Bel Powley, Emily Watson, Rupert Everette, Jack Reynor

A Royal Night Out will open in Australian cinemas on May 14 and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures. To open in the UK and Ireland on May 15.

Tremendous fun and wonderfully nostalgic, A Royal Night Out champions it's way to finding a terrific balance where it is respectful to those it portrays in the film as well as being charming and hilarious. In Buckingham Palace on V.E. Day 1945, the heir to the throne, Princess Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and her sister Princess Margaret (Bel Powley) watch with envy as London celebrates long-awaited peace with the end of World War II. The two finally convince their reluctant parents, King George VI (Rupert Everett) and Queen Elizabeth (Emily Watson) to allow them one night out on the town without the fanfare that typically follows them everywhere they go. What follows is a night of many adventures that neither of the princesses will ever forget.

A Royal Night Out is a thoroughly enjoyable and very easy watch. While there is not a great deal of story, it is well and truly forgiven as a result of how much fun it truly is. The spots that the princesses find themselves in are a tad predictable, but as they are played out by such strong characters and reasonably original (as one has never seen the two princesses on screen in these situations before) it is accepted and enjoyed. What is so remarkable about the film and what director, Julian Jarrold and writers, Trevor De Silva and Kevin Hood should be commended for, is that it is fun and hilarious without being disrespectful to those involved. One can laugh at the misfortunes of Princess Elizabeth and the carefree and party girl edge that Princess Margaret possesses without feeling even a little bit guilty, which is good news for royalists.

While what happens outside the palace walls in the film is fictional, it notion that the princesses were allowed outside to take part in London's peace celebrations is in fact true. In recent times, it is inconceivable how royal figures such as Prince William and Prince Harry could possibly not be noticed if they venture into the public (as has been seen thanks to the tabloids) as their images are so recognisable due to almost daily coverage on the television, in print and online and a more laid back attitude from their superiors to having them mix in society. In 1945, images of the princesses were seen more in print and it was unheard of for royalty to be socializing outside their class so the lack of recognition they receive is much more believable. One can only imagine that Queen Elizabeth II did in her younger years desire a moment of normality and it can be expected that many of the things she says in the film would not be far from the truth. Indeed, they are things that any member of the monarchy including those current younger members would desire and that is go wherever they want and be just another face in the crowd. Princess Margaret does also have similar notions, but when she states that this many be her only time to go out and have a good time, one cannot help but giggle knowing the party princess she was the earn the reputation of being in years to come.

The film is also a wonderful piece of nostalgia and a fitting tribute to that night of celebration in London that will make many wish they were right there, although the film ensures that it's audience feels as though they are. The costume design by Claire Anderson is truly exquisite and the production design by Laurence Dorman very impressive. The film itself is not an overall emotional experience, but there are some scenes which are in fact quite emotional due to the design and direction. In particular the first look at the celebrations in Trafalgar Square is breathtaking and the dancing scene at Chelsea Barracks radiates freedom and happiness. The soundtrack is also a great deal of fun and fitting of a joyous party in 1945.

The two lead roles of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret are ones that despite this being a comedy and slightly fictional come with extremely high expectations. It has been proven in the past that portrayals of royalty in film are very much hit or miss, but Sarah Gadon and Bel Powley do extremely well in the roles of the young princesses. Gadon personifies the young Queen Elizabeth II with the grace in which she carries herself and her desire to enjoy herself, but inbuilt inability to really let herself go. She is exceptionally strong in the role and has the presence that her character should on screen.

Bel Powley is an absolute riot and hilarious as Princess Margaret. Playing the 14 year old princess, she still has a playful childish charm that is mixed with her wish to be older. Her charming naivety is used as a source of humour and is the cause for many giggles throughout the film. Powley is an absolute delight. Emily Watson also does well and is the perfect embodiment of the regal mother. Rupert Everett is fine, but although he is regal in his approach, does not personify that particular king a great deal.

A Royal Night Out is a great deal of fun and wonderful tribute to the royal family and their sense of duty. A treat for royalists and a party film like no other.


Ex-Machina (2015) film review

Year: 2015
Running Time: 108 minutes
Director & Writer: Alex Garland
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander

Ex-Machina opens in limited release in Australian cinemas on May 7 and is distributed by Universal Pictures.

Ex-Machina puts a new spin on the ever present cinematic contemplation of artificial intelligence. While it is an intriguing and original notion of the creation and complexities of an AI, it's execution is rather dry due to it's lack of emotional strength and power to promote further thought. After winning the chance to participate in a social experiment at the enigmatic Nathan's (Oscar Isaac) isolated retreat, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) find's himself face to face with Nathan's creation of an AI. To Caleb's astonishment, he finds that this AI comes in the form of a beautiful young woman by the name of Ava (Alicia Vikander) who he is drawn to instantly. He forms a bond with Ava and when she feels that she can trust her new friend, she warns him about Nathan's intentions and makes him realise that he may be a very dangerous man.

Alex Garland's Ex-Machina is a particularly well made film with an original idea moulded around a concept that has been seen in many a science fiction movie in the past. The film absolutely knows who it is and has a true identity of it's own both in narrative and in appearance. The story is intriguing and even though it is of a slow pace and lacks in intense suspense, it remains clever, witty and unpredictable. The aesthetics of the film match the story. The setting of Nathan's remote house which doubles as a research facility is brilliantly designed not only from a production point of view, but also because it almost plays a role in the film with how much character it has. It adds towards the uneasy and claustrophobic atmosphere of the film with it's disconnection from the rest of the human race and the realisation of the secrets it holds. The CGI that is in place of a true body for Ava is rather stunning and completely intriguing, along with the sound effects that accompany her each and every move.

However, it is what Ex-Machina doesn't do rather than what it does do that is frustrating. While the film has some interesting themes such as reality vs. simulation and looks at the negatives involved with the creation of artificial intelligence, it doesn't encourage further thought from it's viewers and one gets the feeling that it does intend to. The film doesn't promote further contemplation of it's themes which is something it is felt it should do considering it's complex and daring ideas. However, it is the lingering thought and the lack of desire to think further that is present and rather disappointing. Emotionally the film feels as sterile as the facility which it is set in. This seems partly intentional by Garland, but many people want to be stirred by the film they see in some sort of way and they feel cheated if they are not. There is a desire for Ex-Machina to make one feel some sort of emotion such as anger or suspense, or feel something for one of the characters, but alas this is a need that is unfulfilled.

Alicia Vikander is a superb choice to portray Ava. Her face radiates with the innocence that is called upon for someone who has only been on this Earth for a short while and it is an innocence that makes her seem perfectly trustworthy and likable. Vikander's performance is certainly a very subtle one, but very interesting and memorable. Of the three main characters, she is perhaps the most likable and it is understandable how Caleb is drawn so quickly to her. Domhnall Gleeson does well enough as Caleb, but he doesn't come across as all that likable and his true feelings for Ava are assumed rather than shown. Oscar Isaac is certainly interesting as Nathan. He is indeed charismatic, but also very enigmatic and mysterious as one is never quite sure what his intentions are and how he really feels. The question that does follow him throughout the film is whether Nathan is really the bad guy, and this is an enjoyable question to ask while it lasts.

Ex-Machina may be a fine looking film with an originality that is craved in it's genre these days, but it doesn't provide a lingering presence that is craved in cinema. It does not force you to feel or think, which is what you want it to do and what the film itself wants you to do.