Review – EX MACHINA (2015)

“What happens if I fail your test?”

I recently nominated this film to be my favorite from 2015 as part of the Opinion Battles series run by Darren over at Movie Reviews 101.

Note: this review will contain some spoilers.

ex-machinaThe Film

I went to see EX MACHINA on a whim. I was at the theater with no real plans for what I wanted to see, and in the lobby was a card for a film that, as far as I could tell, featured an android with a pretty face. Around the body of Alicia Vikander were a number of quotes from reviews praising the film while almost warning against its content. Needless to say I was hooked, intrigued, and ultimately blown away.

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The Gold(smith) Standard


In the coming weeks, I will be taking a look at each of the scores to the films in the Star Trek franchise. Here, I will talk a bit about the first film, which really set the template for what Trek film music would sound like for more than 35 years.

In 1979, Star Trek, a TV show that had been on the air only for three short seasons yet drew a fan base unequaled for its time through syndication, was reborn as a feature film. While the music written for the series by Alexander Courage, Gerald Fried, Fred Steiner, and others had often been memorable but not what I would call “cinematic.” To bring Trek to the big screen would require the skills of one of the biggest names in film music: Jerry Goldsmith.

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A Surprise from Drew

Note: for some reason, WordPress decided to “eat” about half of my original post (serves me right for trying to edit on my phone). I’ve tried to reconstruct my original post as best as I can.

Well this just made my day! Drew over at Drew’s Movie Reviews decided to include me in his nominees for the Mystery Blogger Award. Thanks, Drew! Though if I’m being honest, it feels a little like getting nominated for Best House on the Block when all you have is a bit of framing up. Nonetheless, I really appreciate it, and if it brings just one person over to this little project of mine, that’s wonderful. And if you haven’t checked out Drew’s website, what are you waiting for?

Here are the basic rules for the award:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

The Mystery Blogger Award was created by Okoto Enigma. You can find out more information about it here.

Three things about me

  1. In a former life, I was a neuroscience researcher. While I still work in that field in a way, I’m not doing actual research anymore. On the flip side, I have absolutely no film study training nor really any music training aside from a few semesters of music theory. I’m really just an enthusiastic amateur.
  2. While I like to think of myself as a nerd when it comes to books/tv/movies, I have never read any of the Harry Potter novels, and I’ve only seen the first three movies. It’s not something I’ve actively avoided, I just never went out of my way to seek them out (obviously).
  3. The first CD I ever owned was Michael Kamen’s score to ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES. I’m just going to let that one sit here…

Drew’s questions for me

What is your favorite place you have visited? I’m not as well-traveled as I would like, but I had the chance to spend two weeks in Barcelona, Spain back in 2009, and I would love to go back. The city offers pretty much every experience you could want, from beachfront to very old to extremely modern. Plus the food is amazing. Sitting outside at 9 pm with tapas, wine, and just relaxing? Sign me up.

What would you do if you had a time machine and didn’t have to worry about the ill effects of time travel? I’ve always been interested by how people really lived during different eras. I would love to be able to see that in person, particularly if I was protected against disease and straight up being killed at certain points in history. Second, and this is the film buff in me talking, I would LOVE to be able to go back and check out all the classic films as they were originally shown in theater. I mean, getting to see BEN HUR in Camera 65? Definitely!

What was your favorite film released last year? This is a tough one, because for a few reasons, I didn’t get out to see many films the past year (to the point where if I did do a “top 10” list, it would have to include the INDEPENDENCE DAY sequel). I’m going to have to take the easy way out and say ROGUE ONE, simply because it exceeded my expectations going in, and I had a great time watching it despite its flaws.

Why did you start blogging? I’ve always enjoyed talking about my interests, and with the advent of social media and the like, it’s been great to find and get to know people who share those interests. This was just another way to connect with like-minded people and hopefully talk about our mutual interests.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose? It will come to no surprise to anyone who has talked to me for more than 10 minutes or follows me on Twitter that I’m a huge Star Trek fan. The world of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in particular speaks to me as a great place to live. Yes, there’s the weekly brush with death, but that’s really for TV purposes 🙂 As a former bench scientist especially, a world where money isn’t a thing and people are free to pursue their interests and are only limited by what effort THEY put into their lives (and yes, some Federation politics) seems like a great place to be.

My Nominees

My nominees are

Becky (Film Music Central)
Darren (Movie Reviews 101)
emmakwall (explains it all)
Kira (Film and TV 101)

My Five Questions

  1. What is one piece of advice on blogging that you would tell yourself from back when you started writing?
  2. What is the most disappointing film/TV experience you’ve had?
  3. If you were to start another blog on a topic completely unrelated to the one you do now, what would it be and why?
  4. If you could trade places with a fictional character from any universe/property, who would it be?
  5. What is your favorite movie/tv show that most people have never heard of?

My Favorite Posts

Since I’m really just getting started, I will link to the post that started everything: my discussion of the music from ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY. Also, since one of my own nominees for this award, Darren, invited me to participate in his Opinion Battles series, I’ve decided to post short reviews of the films I choose. The first of those reviews is for one of my all-time favorite films, THE FRENCH CONNECTION.

That about wraps it up. Thanks again to Drew for the nomination! If you’d like to answer either the questions I answered or the ones I posed to my nominees, please feel free to put your responses in the comments below.

Opinion Battles: Favorite Oscar-winning Performance from an Actor in Leading or Supporting Role

Originally posted on Movie Reviews 101


Opinion Battles Year 3 Round 2 Favourite Oscar Winning Performance from an Actor in Leading or Supporting Role The Oscars are around the corner and we all know that people either love or hate the Oscars committee decisions. We have had the best or the best winning Oscars but today we are looking at what […]

via Opinion Battles Year 3 Round 2 Favourite Oscar Winning Performance from an Actor in Leading or Supporting Role — Movie Reviews 101

Brief Review – THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)

The subject of this week’s Opinion Battles poll is “Favourite Best/Supporting Actor Winning Performance” and, while it was a tough decision, I chose Gene Hackman for his Oscar-winning turn as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle in THE FRENCH CONNECTION.

The Film

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1971, THE FRENCH CONNECTION is nothing short of a masterpiece. Based on a true story involving the largest heroin seizure (at that time), the film starred Hackman, Roy Scheider as Doyle’s partner Buddy “Cloudy” Russo, and Fernando Rey as the French drug lord Alain Charnier and was directed by William Friedkin.

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Talking Stars Podcast #35 – Rogue One: a Star Wars Story

The folks over at the Talking Stars Podcast invited me to join them in a discussion of Rogue One. Have a listen, and be sure to check out the rest of their podcasts and the websites of the rest of the group too:

Opinion Battles: Favo(u)rite Nicolas Cage Role

Opinion Battles Year Three Round One Favourite Nicolas Cage Role Nicolas Cage has had one of the most fascinating careers in Hollywood today with one Oscar win to his name. his career started in 1981 has seen him take the strange roles, the brilliant roles, become the action hero of the 90s before tackling those […]

via Opinion Battles Year Three Round One Favourite Nicolas Cage Role — Movie Reviews 101