Sunday, May 31, 2015

Michael5000 at the imdb Top 250, part 4

Michael5000 at the imdb Top 250, part 4

The permanent, updated version of this list is here.

See also 
Imdb rankings and ratings as of March 1, 2015.  

151. The Deer Hunter (1978): 8.2
  • I've seen it: Quite some time ago.
152. How to Train Your Dragon (2010): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
153. Cool Hand Luke (1967): 8.1
  • I've seen it: Once, on the big screen.  I liked it!
  • provisional imdb score: 8.
154. It Happened One Night (1934): 8.1
  • I've think I've seen it.
155. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961): 8.1
  • I've seen it: in 2009.  I liked it!
156. Fargo (1996): 8.1
  • I've seen it: In original release, and two or three times since.
  • I've reviewed it: " of the all-time great dark comedies."
  • provisional imdb score: 9. 
157. Trainspotting (1996): 8.1
  • I've seen it: a few year after it came out.
158. Gone with the Wind (1939): 8.1
  • I've seen it: in 2010.
  • I've reviewed it: " I am told that for many it casts an almost magical spell, creating a vividly romantic world where events of high and moving passion, tragedy, and excitement occur. I wanted to like it. And it goes without saying that, in disliking Gone With the Wind, I represent a thin minority among seven decades of moviegoers."  
  • From the comments:  Rebel -- "It's not just 'look at the pretty dresses, ain't slavery grand,' it's a very complex story where the heroes aren't always right, and the villains aren't always bad, and frail proper women can sometimes have the strength of steel inside them."
159. A Beautiful Mind (2001): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
160. Into the Wild (2007): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
161. Rush (2013): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
162. The Maltese Falcon (1941): 8.1
  • I've seen it: any number of times.
  • I've reviewed it: "it's your quintessential old movie."  
  • From the comments:  Rex Parker -- "The movie is the quintessential film noir, not the quintessential 'old movie.' That assertion is just cruel."
163. Dial M for Murder (1954): 8.1
  • I've seen it: I'm pretty sure of it!
164. The Sixth Sense (1999): 8.1
  • I've seen it: In original release.
165. Hotel Rwanda (2004): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
166. The Wages of Fear (1953): 8.1
  • Never heard of it... but I'm currently watching it.
167. The Thing (1982): 8.1
  • I've seen it: In high school.  What is it doing on this list?
168. Finding Nemo (2003): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
169. Incendies (2010): 8.1
  • Never heard of it.
170. Mary and Max (2009): 8.1
  • Never heard of it.
171. No Country for Old Men (2010): 8.1
  • I've seen it: in 2010
  • I've reviewed it: "...highly entertaining and damned near technically perfect." 
  • provisional imdb score: 8. 
172. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
173. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003): 8.1
  • I've seen it: in original release.
174. Platoon (1986): 8.1
  • I've seen it: in original release.
175. Life of Brian (1979): 8.1
  • I've seen it: a time or two.
176. Boyhood (2014): 8.1
  • I've seen it: It was the first movie I watched as a direct result of compiling this list.
  • I've reviewed it: "A highly successful and worthy experiment in movie-making."
  • From the comments:  gl.-- " was original and i am just SO HAPPY to see something vaguely original."
  • my imdb score: 7.
177. Network (1976): 8.1
  • I've seen it: twice.
  • I've reviewed it: "Network is a very smart movie, and it has many brilliant scenes and darkly funny moments. It is too bad that it is also just a little bit of a mess. It doesn't quite hang together. "
178. 12 Years a Slave (2013): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
179. Touch of Evil (1958): 8.1
  • I've seen it: once or twice.
180. Diabolique (1955): 8.1
  • Never heard of it.
181. There Will Be Blood (2007): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
182. Annie Hall (1977): 8.1
  • I've seen it: back in the day.
183. The Princess Bride (1987): 8.1
  • I've seen it: a couple of times.
184. Stand by Me (1986): 8.1
  • I've seen it: in original release.
185. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): 8.1 
  • I've seen it: It's the movie that made me want to start taking movies seriously again!
  • I've reviewed it: "Really fun, really funny, and highly recommended for anybody who likes a glib and world-weary movie with heart and vim." 
  • My imdb score: 9.
186. Ben-Hur (1959): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
187. Sin City (2005): 8.1
  • I've seen it: In original release.  I liked it, but wouldn't have expected to see it on this list.
188. Amores Perros (2000): 8.1
  • I've seen it: once.
189. In the Name of the Father (1993): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
190. The 400 Blows (1959): 8.1
  • I've seen it: In 2007, at the beginning of the Great Movies project.
  • I've reviewed it: "The power of the movie is in the details -- how the young protagonist interacts with peers and adults, how adults take advantage of children, how children take advantage of adults, how life in picturesque Paris might not be equally romantic for everyone."
191. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
192. Dil Chahta Hai (2001): 8.1
  • I've seen it: and liked it.
193. Million Dollar Baby (2004): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
194. The Grapes of Wrath (1940): 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
195. Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009): 8.1
  • Never heard of it.
196. Persona (1966): 8.1
  • I've seen it: for the Great Movies project.
  • I've reviewed it: "It is intellectually painful, but fortunately it is also very tedious, which dulls the pain."  
  • provisional imdb score: 2. 
197. The Wizard of Oz (1939): 8.1
  • I've seen it: twice, apparently.
  • I've reviewed it:"..I thought the whole thing was kind of fun. None of it makes a lick of sense, of course, but it’s all so exuberantly campy that it’s hard to care too much."   
198. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 8.1
  • I have not seen it.
199. The Imitation Game (2014) 8.1
  • Never heard of it.
200. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) 8.1
  • Never heard of it.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Monet v. Moore!

Claude Monet
1840 - 1926


Henry Moore
1898 - 1986


Vote for the artist of your choice! Votes go in the comments. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Friday, May 29, 2015

At the Movies: "Oslo, August 31"

At the Movies with Michael5000

Oslo, August 31
Joachim Trier, 2011.

imbd: 7.6
Ebert: Four Stars.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%(!) Fresh

Norway must have just about the strongest film industry in the world, if you take it on a per capita basis. Norwegian movies are, naturally enough, very European in feel, and often seem to occupy a wry middle ground between drama and comedy. I had a great time with 2011’s Headhunters (Hodejegerne), reviewed here. I was bemused but also impressed by the same year’s Turn Me On, Dammit! (Få meg på, for faen), which you could describe as a teen sex comedy that is neither sexy nor conventionally funny, and enjoyed 2010’s A Somewhat Gentle Man (En ganske snill mann), an entry in the “burnt-out aging gangster” genre. 2000’s quirky Detector (Detektor) involves a couple of lovably dorky guys who accidentally get themselves involved with the darker side of life; you can watch it in its entirety on YouTube so long as you haven’t let your Norwegian get rusty, but there are no subtitles.  If you feel like plunging headlong into Norwegian cinema, incidentally there’s a good list of 113 titles here.

Oslo, August 31st is a more sophisticated movie then any of the above, and does not share their half-comic tone. It is very specifically a film about how difficult it is for people whose lives have been derailed by addiction to return to society’s fold. It might also be more generally about how grounded people’s identities are in their day-to-day routines, which are in turn shaped by the places that they live. The movie is also, in any event, a troubled love letter to the city of Oslo, which we see beautifully filmed here not as a series of tourist landmarks but from the insider’s vantage of local parks and neighborhood streets. Often, the city seems bizarrely empty of people and activity, but then we realize that it is August in Scandinavia: the sun is up, but it's nighttime, and everyone is home in bed.

Intercut with the narrative events of Oslo, August 31st are a series of montages. The opening sequence, which overlays footage of streets and neighbors with characters talking about their memories of the city, is alone worth the price of the ticket. Another extraordinary sequence at about the halfway point shows Anders, the movie’s protagonist, sitting alone in a coffeeshop, letting his attention wander to the conversations of people at other tables and to people passing by.  We watch, for instance, as he notices an attractive woman and then follows her, in her imagination, through the rest of her ordinary day. It’s a terrific simulation of the process of people-watching, and it's particularly poignant because it underscores Anders' belief that he is unable to join the normal people around him in living an ordinary life.

Plot: We follow Anders, who is in the last stages of treatment in a rehab facility, through August 30th – the day, interestingly, before the day in the movie’s title. Early in the day (I’m going to try to avoid spoilers, here) something kind of shocking happens, and for the rest of the movie we will keep wondering if that really happened, and what it might imply. We’re going to see that Anders is extremely intelligent, charming, and seemingly very attached to his friends and family. We’ll like him. At the same time, we’re going to see a number of signs that he is still a deeply troubled man. Eventually, we realize that there is a sort of internal race going on, pitting the Anders who has begun to sort himself out against the Anders who is on the verge of giving in to dispair. Which side will prevail tomorrow, on August 31?

Visuals: The montages are great, but the narrative flow of the movie is well-filmed and anchored by strong performances from a terrific supporting cast.

Dialog: In Norwegian, with subtitles.

Prognosis: I don’t know about you, but a movie that I know will be emotionally challenging often sits on the heap for ages, until Mrs.5000 finally insists that we watch it, already, for crying out loud. I checked out Oslo, August 31st from the library in December, and finally watched it in May. I was right to stall – it’s a challenging movie. But it’s also a rewarding and darkly beautiful movie. If it sounds daunting, start with Headhunters or A Somewhat Gentle Man to get into the Norwegian groove, and work your way up to it that way.

Michael5000's imdb rating: 8.

Also Mentioned:
  • Headhunters (Hodejegerne). imbd: 7.6. Michael5000: 8.
  • Turn Me On, Dammit! (Få meg på, for faen). imbd: 6.4. Michael5000: 7.
  • A Somewhat Gentle Man (En ganske snill mann). imbd: 7.0. Michael5000: 7.
  • Detector (Detektor). imbd: 6.7. Michael5000: 7.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Third Round: Hobbema v. De Hooch!

Hobbema and de Hooch have both faced some impressive competition.  It was de Hooch who handed Homer his first loss, and Hobbema kicked Goya right out of the Tournament.  

The two Dutch contemporaries meet today for a battle of landscapes versus interiors.  The winner gets his name on the semifinals bracket sheet; the loser will always remember that time he beat Goya, or Homer.

Meindert Hobbema
1638 - 1706

Pieter De Hooch
1629 - 1684
  • Overcame Gerrit van Honthorst, his countryman from the previous generation, in Round 1.
  • Shocked American Winslow Homer in Round 2 by a single vote. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Lost to Remedios Varo in Round 3.

Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Wednesday Post

The Avatar Reaches Dighton
you need Lane County, Kansas!

When checked on the running Avatar in early March, he was in Atwood, Kansas, and having trouble getting much mileage due to various minor health problems in his alter ego, which is to say me.  He didn't know the meaning of sluggish back then.  After logging an unremarkable but respectable March, I caught a persistent crud that limited me -- and the Avatar -- to a miserable 19 miles in April.

When you stop running for more than a few weeks, you can start to fall out of the habit.  So, as I started feeling better this May, one of my goals was to start "being a runner" again.  I found an old wall map from my Kansas days, and since the Avatar is in Kansas, I figured it might be kind of motivating to hang it at the top of the stairs and plot his progress in real time.  Me and Mrs.5000 have kind of a flexible approach to interior decor.

Anyway, last Sunday I made it to Dighton!

There are two little motels in Dighton.  I parked the Avatar at Jay's Inn.

As the seat of, and only real town in, Lane County, Dighton has about a thousand residents.  Heck, that's even smaller than ~my~ hometown!  If they wanted to put on an amateur production of Mahler's 8th, they could only pull it off if everybody agreed to participate.  They'd have to recruit the audience from out of the county.

A lot of towns this small have nothing but basic statistical data in their Wikipedia entry.  Dighton has a little more content, but I'm not sure if it helps.  Here, for instance, is the section on the town's 20th century history in its entirety:
On May 23, 1928, the Fleagle Gang arrived in Dighton after robbing the First National Bank of Lamar, Colorado. Needing medical attention, they kidnapped local doctor W.W. Weinenger, and later shot him and dumped his body into a ravine.

The courtroom mural, "The First House of Lane County," by Mary Alice Bosley, was featured in Kansas Murals: A Traveler's Guide, by Jost and Loewenstein. The canvas work, painted in 1961 as a background for the pageant at the Lane County Fair, was then installed in the courthouse, where it still remains.
So that's what the 20th century was like in Dighton, I guess.

The slogan used on the town's official website,, is "Where Children Can Walk to School."   This probably perhaps tells us more about the ideas Dightonians harbor about the outside world than it does about the virtues of life in their own little town.

The Lane County Economic Development department's website, with the charming URL of, is on-message as it invites us to "Lane, America's Breadbasket":
If you live in a town where children dare not venture out and your personal safety is only as good as your door locks, then you need Lane County, Kansas!

Now, I don't know if everyone in Dighton is so freaked out with fear of the outside world, but I'm certainly not picking up much of a "welcome, stranger!" vibe.  I'm sure there's nothing to worry about, though -- according to the most recent statistics available from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Lane County's violent crime rate is only a little bit higher than that of the state as a whole.

The running Avatar says hi.  Perhaps he'll visit your town, somewhere down the road!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Second Round: Lippi v. Liotard!

Filippino Lippi
1457 - 1504

Lost to his father in Round 1.
Crushed fifteenth century German Stefan Lochner in First Round Elimination.

Jean-Étienne Liotard
1702 - 1789

Defeated sculptor Jacques Lipchitz in Round 1.
Lost badly to Ansel Adams in Round 2.

Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting, but likely much longer.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Michael5000 at the imdb Top 250, part 3

Michael5000 at the imdb Top 250, part 3

The permanent, updated version of this list is here.

See also 
Imdb rankings and ratings as of March 1, 2015.  

101. Toy Story (1995), imdb rating: 8.3
  • I think I've seen it.
102. Some Like It Hot (1959): 8.3
  • I've seen it: in 2009.
  • I've reviewed it: "It is well-paced, well-cast, and genially preposterous."
  • provisional imdb score: 7. 
103. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948): 8.3
  • I have not seen it.
104. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989): 8.3
  • I have not seen it.
105. A Separation (2011): 8.3
  • I have not seen it.
106. The Third Man (1949): 8.3
107. Yojimbo (1961): 8.3
  • I have not seen it.
108. Batman Begins (2005): 8.3
  • I have not seen it.
109. Like Stars on Earth (2007): 8.3
  • Never heard of it.
110. Metropolis (1927): 8.3
  • I don't think I've seen it.
111. Unforgiven (1992): 8.3
  • I've seen it.  I remember it as very good.
112. Scarface (1983): 8.3
  • I don't think I've seen it.
113. Raging Bull (1980): 8.3
  • I've seen it: I was impressed!
  • I've reviewed it: "Raging Bull would be on my list of the ten best filmed movies of all time."
114. 3 Idiots (2009): 8.2
  • I've seen it.  I liked it. 
  • provisional imdb score: 7. 
115. Up (2009): 8.2
  • I've seen it.  Delightful.
  • provisional imdb score: 8. 
116. Chinatown (1974): 8.2
  • I've seen it: any number of times.
  • I've reviewed it: " of the very finest movies of all time."
  • provisional imdb score: 10. 
117. Downfall (2004): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
118. The Great Escape (1963): 8.2
  • I think I've seen it
119. Die Hard (1988): 8.2
  • I've seen it.  It's good at what it does.
  • provisional imdb score: 7. 
120. The Hunt (2012): 8.2
  • Never heard of it.
121. On the Waterfront (1954): 8.2
  • I've seen it: in 2009.
  • I've reviewed it: "The final scenes deteriorate into a real mess..."
122. Heat (1995): 8.2
  • I've seen it, back in the day.  I remember thinking it wasn't very good, so I'm surprised to see it here.
123. Pan's Labyrinth (2006): 8.2
  • I've seen it, and remember that it was the hot ticket at the time, but I don't remember much else about it..
124. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939): 8.2
  • I think I've seen it
125. Good Will Hunting (1997): 8.2
  • I've seen it on its original release.  I thought it was rubbish.
  • provisional imdb score: 4. 
126. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957): 8.2
  • I've seen it: quite a while ago.
127. My Neighbor Totoro (1988): 8.2
  • I've seen it: Charming!
128. The Seventh Seal (1957): 8.2
  • I've seen it: any number of times.
  • I've reviewed it: " I dreaded this movie. I put off watching it for weeks.  But as it turns out, The Seventh Seal is awesome." 
  • provisional imdb score: 8. 
129. The Gold Rush (1925): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
130. The Bandit (1996): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
131. Ikiru (1952): 8.2
  • I've seen it: in 2008.
  • I've reviewed it: "It's rather sad, really. But it is underlain with a sharp wit, and its parodies of life and work in 1950s Japan can still hold their own in 2000s America." 
  • provisional imdb score: 8. 
132. The Elephant Man (1980): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
133. Ran (1985): 8.2
  • I've seen it: ...I think.
134. Blade Runner (1982): 8.2
  • I've seen it: Several times.
135. Wild Strawberries (1957): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
136. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998): 8.2
  • I've seen it: and I think I kind of loved it.
137. The General (1926): 8.2
  • I've seen it: as part of the Great Movie Project.
  • I've reviewed it: "If you watch just one silent movie this year, this is the one to watch!"
  • provisional imdb score: 7. 
138. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
139. Gone Girl (2014): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
140. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
141. Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
142. Casino (1995): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
143. Gran Torino (2008): 8.2
  • I have not seen it.
144. The Big Lebowski (1998): 8.2
  • I've seen it: any number of times.  I can never decide if it's good, or just kind of funny.
  • provisional imdb score: 7. 
145. Warrior (2011): 8.2
  • Never heard of it.
146. Howl's Moving Castle (2004): 8.2
  • I've seen it: I liked it!
147. V for Vendetta (2005) 8.2
  • I've seen it: but wasn't as impressed as my nieces.
148. A Wednesday (2008) 8.2
  • Never heard of it.
149. Rebecca (1940): 8.2
  • I've seen it: ...I think.
150. Rang De Basanti (2006): 8.2
  • Never heard of it.

I've seen 23 of this set and written reviews for 7.  There are 22 I haven't seen, and 5 I'm not sure of.

The New Monday Quiz Classic


Hey, it's a national holiday here in the United States of America! I'm taking the day off!  In the meantime, please enjoy this New Monday Quiz Classictm that first appeared in January 2011.  

Meanwhile, I've been cooking up an ALL-NEW QUIZ CONCEPT that will debut new week.  You'll love it.

1. Originally an Italian banker, he took part in early exploratory expeditions to South America in the service of Spain and Portugal and wrote (or had ghost-written) accounts or their discoveries. Today, he is famous only for his name. Who are we talking about?

2. Igor Stravinsky dismissed his music as "the same concerto 400 times." What Baroque composer is probably 18th Century Italy's most famous redhead?

3. Charlotte Brontë wrote a few other books aside from Jane Eyre. Her second most famous might be one about an English woman named Lucy Snow who works as a teacher in a fictional city that bears a remarkable resemblance to Brussels. What is the name of the fictional city, which is also the title the novel?

4. Where is this?

5. Louis Pasteur was among the first to suspect their existance, after all that work with his microscope failed to turn up a cause for rabies. What are they?

6. Where's this?

7. The Koran calls her سورة مريم, and Greek manuscripts say that she was a παρθένος. Who are we talking about?

8. What's this?  I mean, the bit in the green circle.

9. The element with atomic number 23 isn't found in its pure form in nature, but it was isolated and named in 1831. It's often used in steel alloys. What's it called, again?

10. Who wrote The Age of Louis XIV, Essay on the Customs and the Spirit of the Nations, Zadig, Micromégas, and, oh yeah, Candide?

Give it the old college try!  Or, if you didn't go to an old college, flaunt your independent book larnin'! 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Moholy-Nagy v. Mondrian!

László Moholy-Nagy
1895 - 1946
Hungarian; worked in Germany and U.S.


Piet Mondrian
1872 - 1944


Vote for the artist of your choice! Votes go in the comments. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Friday, May 22, 2015

At the Movies: "Ex Machina"

At the Movies with Michael5000

Ex Machina
Alex Garner, 2015.

imbd: 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% Fresh

Ex Machina asks a question that is pretty familiar in science fiction: how would an human-made artificial intelligence react to its self-awareness? What would it think of its highly successful but conspicuously flawed creator species? The answer to these questions is often implicit in a fictional world: in Terminator, Skynet decides not to play well with its makers; in Next-Generation Star Trek, Data is a core member of the ship's company. In Ex Machina, the question of an artificial intelligence's relationship with humanity is front and center.

Now, there are plenty of smart folks who think that the "singularity event" at which artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence is right around the bend. They are, I think, kidding themselves. Given current technology and our understanding of how cognition works, I think a safe estimate for when we will see the development of real artificial consciousness is: never.

Whether or not a sentient android is a realistic concept, however, it's a concept that science fiction can use to think about how we treat people who are not like us. "What happens to me if I fail your test?" asks Ex Machina's artificially intelligent entity.  The machine certainly feels conscious -- or has the capacity of claiming to feel conscious, anyway -- and it is pretty anxious about what its human makers will do if they decide its consciousness is not "real," or not real enough. Humans may never find themselves in the position of making exactly this decision, but this kind of decision gets made all the time.  Individually or collectively, we continually make judgements as to whether other people (or groups, or nations) are sincere. Are their beliefs legitimate? Are their priorities worthy of respect? Are their values close enough to our own that we can "do business with them"? The social value of a movie like Ex Machina is that it makes us rethink our obligations to people who will be affected by our judgements of them.

But of course, you don't go to the movies for a lesson in tolerance. You go to the movies to be to transported into a elaborately crafted alternative reality! Fortunately, Ex Machina delivers on the entertainment front. It's an action-adventure with very little "action" per se; much of the drama and suspense comes from trying to figure out what the characters are up to.  Much of what they say are clearly half-truths in the service of personal agendas, but we have to constantly revise our notions of what exactly their agendas are. By the end of their week long "adventure," some characters will clearly be better off than others, but whether that is because they have acted more "intelligently," or more intentionally, is up for debate. It's stylish, a bit unsettling, and a lot of fun to watch.

Plot: It's a bit like The Tempest, actually. Our Prospero is Nathan, a wealthy but world-weary software tycoon, and his island is an enormously isolated mountain compound. He has the place tricked out in sleek, spartan luxury, and thoroughly wired for the security and surveillance apparatus that comprise his Ariel and his Caliban. He invites a young and apparently rather naive employee named Caleb out to the compound for a week. Caleb will become a sort of Fernando, manipulated by a scheming Prospero into an infatuation with his beautiful daughter Miranda. In Ex Machina, though, the beautiful daughter is an android named Ana. Caleb is asked to subject Ana to the "Turing test" -- to interact with her in order to decide whether she possesses genuine intelligence and self-consciousness.

In Shakespeare, Fernando and Miranda are happily paired up by the final curtain, and Prospero is poised to reclaim the Dutchy of Milan. Maybe things will end equally well for Caleb, Ana, and Nathan in Ex Machina! Or maybe not. I'll never tell.

Visuals: Ana the robot is largely transparent -- literally, at least -- and this is a striking visual image. Otherwise, most of the film's visual identity comes from its location, the disturbingly clean interiors of Nathan's empty modernist mansion. It's an appropriately sterile environment for the social and technical experiment that takes place there.

Dialogue: It's a really strong screenplay!  Nathan talks like an arrogant, intelligent man who hasn't had to deal with contradiction in many years, and Caleb talks like a deferential, intelligent man who doesn't contradict people very often. Ana talks like... well, what does she talk like, anyway?

Prognosis: Some people have a blanket dislike of science fiction, and some people don't much like dialog-driven films. Ex Machina isn't for those folks, but most others should find it pretty interesting stuff.

Michael 5000's imdb rating: 8.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Third Round: Homer v. Hodler!

Winslow Homer
1836 - 1910

Ferdinand Hodler
1853 - 1918
  • Defeated Hans Hofmann in Round 1.
  • Tied with David Hockney in Round 2. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!
  • Outpolled big name Francisco Goya in a second try at Round 2.
  • Lost to Andō Hiroshige in Round 3.


Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Wednesday Post

Tales from an American Roadtrip, part 2
She sings just like she used to.

The Horseshoe Falls

Traveled with John Shirley and family as far as Niagara Falls. They left at 9 AM for Missouri, and I have been seeing the place by tour, Maid of the Mist boat and on foot.

Have to spend an hour or two in Schnectady on way back.


Have to be at work Tuesday

The Memorial Buildings are wholly a Hoosier creation, constructed of native limestone and sandstone.  Two low buildings connected by a cloister make up a unit with the Memorial Court in the center.

The sinks of Popo Agie River, where the stream disappears under the mountain side, is Wyoming's Geological Wonders.

Dear Mrs. Jones:

I'm having a great time here in Lander with JoAnne.  She sings just like she used to.  I've been here almost three weeks.  Be leaving here Thursday.  See you. 

Love, Ruth

San Antonio, Texas

The garden is full of rustic bridges, winding walks and gleaming pools edged by rainbow-hued flowers. The Sunken Garden offers a unique setting for outdoor entertainment.

Hi Guys;

Having a wonderful time the weather is beautiful. See you soon.

Jerry & Elaine

6828 N.E. Union Ave.
Portland 11, Oregon



Telephones and radios in all rooms – With or 
without electric kitchens – Tile showers and 
tubs – wall-to-wall carpets – lounge and party 
room – sample room – conference room – 50 
Beautyrest units. Butler 5-4515