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Here are some reviews that I wrote for the website CinemaHipster.com. Check them out!



Ex Machina: The Closest Thing to an AI Reality

Ex Machina is a film about a coder named Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) who wins his companyís lottery to spend a week with company founder, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), on his secluded mountain estate. Whilst there, Nathan shows Caleb his newest project, an artificial intelligence (AI), and he asks Caleb to participate in the human component of a Turing test over the next couple days to see if he can distinguish between machine and human. However, what ensues is a constant stream of twists and turns that keeps you guessing about whom Caleb should trust.

Ex Machina is a really cool thought experiment that satiated my inner nerd, giving me a great deal of new things to think about. It was suspenseful, intense, and fascinating to ponder the implications of creating a true AI and interacting with it. What I love so much about this movie is that it slowly unravels itself to you kind of like a murder mystery. The entire film is shot from Calebís point of view, and as he is learning and observing new things around him, so are we. This format makes the movie play out in a very tense and exciting way, keeping you engaged and guessing throughout its duration.

The acting of Ex Machina is also another bright spot in the film, which is actually very important because there were so few characters. Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac are both great, and they work well together to establish a friendly yet tense relationship, further adding to the suspense. However, the real star of the show is Alicia Vikander, who plays the AI, Eva. Even though Vikander has only been in a couple of small English-speaking supporting roles (as she hails from Sweden), she plays her role flawlessly and it was a joy to watch her bring to life (or power up?) her character. This movie would not have been by any means believable if the acting for Eva wasnít on point, and in that regard it did not disappoint.

In terms of the negatives, I canít say all that much. The only thing that did bother me was the pacing of the movie. While Ex Machina does a fantastic job of building tension and suspense, there are times where the movie feels pretty slow. Moreover, I thought that, while the beginning and middle of the film were slow, the moviemakers couldíve lengthened out the last act (and final plot twist) because it felt too rushed. But even then, these issues are pretty nitpicky, and it doesnít affect how the film plays out all that much. Overall Ex Machina is a real trip, and I would recommend watching it especially if you are interested in the concept of AIís.

Story: 75%
Visuals: 85%
Acting: 85%
Meaningfulness: 80%
Enjoyment: 85%
Watch Urgency: 70%

Overall: 81.7%
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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: A Unique, Meaningful, and Enjoyable Spin on a Threadbare Genre

A little while ago, I was lucky enough to screen Me and Earl and the Dying Girl a couple of months before its widespread release in theaters. It was my first pre-release film ever, and I was really excited to be watching it. Even with sky-high expectations, I came out of the theater satisfied and deeply moved, and overall this movie was a great watch. It was fresh, funny, emotional, and meaningful, finding a great blend between the light and the heavy.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, based on the best-selling book by Jesse Andrew, is about a high school senior named Greg (Thomas Mann) who befriends a classmate named Rachel (Olivia Cooke), recently diagnosed with leukemia. Although their relationship originally starts out as forced and contrived, they slowly grow to enjoy each otherís company and to start developing a meaningful friendship. But as their friendship grows, so does Rachelís cancer, and in the end, what began as a funny and genuine relationship becomes stressed and increasingly bleak. To find out what happens, make sure to watch this movie in theaters on June 12th as it will not disappoint.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, takes a genuine, unique, and offbeat twist on a threadbare cancer genre, which makes the story extremely unpredictable (in the best of ways) and enjoyable to watch. By abandoning the flowery, romantic young adult themes popular in a lot of movies today, this film is able to delve deeper into more meaningful questions, such as what it means to make honest friendships and to fight or to support a fighter of cancer. While the movie dives head first into large and emotionally heavy content such as illness and doomed friendships, it still manages to keep a light and comedic air throughout the majority of its duration, making it fun to watch. The slightly cynical humor made the tougher emotional segments a lot easier to stomach, striking a good balance between the light and heavy.

I was also pleasantly surprised with the acting and I thought that the roles were well cast. In particular, I thought that the actor, RJ Cyler who plays the role of Gregís best friend, Earl, is a real bright spot in the film as he unexpectedly steals the show. All in all, this movie was a real joy for me to watch and while it was more niche in its humor and carried a lot of indie film vibes (in terms of story, pacing, and cinematography), Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is very much deserving of every accolade that it won at Sundance.

Story: 80%
Visuals: 75%
Acting: 80%
Meaningfulness: 95%
Enjoyment: 80%
Watch Urgency: 80%

Overall: 82.5%



The Imitation Game: Cumberbatch Shines in a Movie That Was Enjoyable Yet Unpolished

The Imitation Game is a biopic that follows the story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his journey to decode Nazi communications during WWII. Not choosing to exclusively focus on one aspect of his story, this movie follows Turingís entire life, from his accomplishments during the war to his own personal obstacles later on. In the process of doing so it brings to life a story that has been seldom depicted on screen. What follows is a 2-hour drama that is somewhat entertaining yet rough around the edges.

While there were many great moments and lots of potential to keep the audience interested, The Imitation Game ultimately falters at keeping a cohesive story, making it feel a bit sporadic and unpolished. The movie lacked the mental wit and clever plot twists that I expected from a movie about Alan Turing and code breaking, making it feel somewhat stale. There were some notably entertaining lines and funny moments, but as a whole, I felt more uninterested than I should have been. In terms of the emotional effect of the film, there were many attempts to make the audience connect with the characters, but in the end, I felt as if the story tried to do too much. There were a couple of moments that didnít make much emotional sense to me, which left me questioning instead of sympathizing.

Ultimately however, the emotion was carried 100% by the actors, and luckily, the ones that mattered (Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightly) brought their A games. Cumberbatch is no stranger to the casually condescending genius role, and while it wasnít new for him, I found no problem with his choice to stick to what heís good at, because as a result, he put on a great performance. Kiera Knightly matches Cumberbatchís energy and also does a good job at helping to bring this ambitious and entertaining movie to life. All that being said, I found the movie, as a whole, enjoyable, and while it was not perfect, the acting made up for a great majority of its shortcomings.

Story: 60%
Visuals: 70%
Acting: 95%
Meaningfulness: 80%
Enjoyment: 85%
Watch Urgency: 60%

Overall: 75%