⌾ Arbitrage | 6 Films


Normally, on Friday, I send out a newsletter titled Recommendations—a short list of things I hope will bring some surplus enjoyment to the people who read it.

I did not do that this week because it was a week filled with things that needed my time and attention. So, the newsletter is going out early on Saturday (it is 5:42 a.m. as I write these words).

Because of the change in schedule, I'm also changing the title from ⌾ Recommendations to ⌾ Arbitrage. (I posted about arbitrage on [S][J][P] a few days back.)

In this edition of ⌾ Arbitrage, I want to give you a list of films that I have continued to think about after I saw them. The list will be spoiler-free.

|1| WATCHING (Film)Ex Machina (2014) is the film that has freaked me out more than anything else I've seen. I think about it very often, almost anytime I read or hear something about how advanced AI is getting.

Here is the plot setup from the Wikipedia page:

Caleb Smith, a programmer at the search engine company Blue Book, wins an office contest for a one-week visit to the luxurious, isolated home of the CEO, Nathan Bateman. Nathan lives there with an unspeaking servant named Kyoko, who, according to Nathan, does not understand English. Nathan reveals that he has built a humanoid robot named Ava with artificial intelligence. Ava has already passed a simple Turing test, and Nathan wants Caleb to judge whether Ava is genuinely capable of thought and consciousness as well as whether he can relate to Ava despite knowing she is artificial.

You can watch the trailer here.

|2| WATCHING (Film) – Along the same lines, but in a way that was not scary in the way that Ex Machina was is the film After Yang (2021).

Plot setup from the Wikipedia page:

Jake and Kyra live with their adopted daughter, Mika, as well as Yang, a robotic teenage boy. Jake and Kyra bought Yang, a culture unit, as a way for Mika to connect with her Chinese heritage through sharing stories and facts. One day, following a family dance competition, Yang becomes unresponsive; however, he is no longer under warranty as he had been bought from defunct reseller Second Siblings, instead of his original manufacturer, Brothers & Sisters Incorporated. Jake, whose tea shop is struggling, seeks an affordable way to repair Yang.

This film got me thinking about how we will treat/interact with AI as a thing/object and got me to ponder if subjectivity could be possible for AI.

You can watch the trailer here.

|3| WATCHING (Film)—A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) is an Iranian vampire western.

Plot setup:

An Iranian Vampire Western shot in black and white and with a killer soundtrack, Bad City is a love story about two tortured souls in a desolate Iranian ghost town where a lonely vampire stalks the town's most depraved denizens.

The film shows how much can be done with just a little bit. It is fun, has a very good soundtrack, and nails the ending, which so many films don't.

You can watch the trailer here.

|4| WATCHING (Film)Personal Shopper (2016), which I wrote about here.

A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother, who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.

Add to this the personal shopper, played by Kristen Seward, who believes she can communicate with the dead as a medium. Her brother also had this "ability." When they were kids, the two of them made a deal, whichever one died first would try to communicate with the one who was still alive.

You can watch the trailer here.

|5| WATCHING (Film)C'mon C'mon (2021) is another great film shot in black and white.

Plot setup from the Wikipedia page:

Johnny is a single, middle-aged radio journalist who is currently working on a project that entails traveling the country with his producing partners to interview children and teenagers about their lives and thoughts about the future. While in Detroit, he calls his sister Viv, with whom he has not spoken since their mother's death from dementia a year earlier. They have a nice conversation, and Viv asks Johnny if he can come to Los Angeles and watch her nine-year-old son Jesse, as she has to travel to Oakland to help Paul, her estranged husband and Jesse's father who struggles with bipolar disorder, get settled there. Johnny agrees, and he and Jesse quickly forge a bond as they get to know each other and Johnny shows Jesse how to operate his audio equipment.

I've watched this three times. I love how simple and sweet it is.

You can watch the trailer here.

|6| WATCHING (Film) Drive My Car (2021)

A very short plot setup:

A renowned stage actor and director learns to cope with a big personal loss when he receives an offer to direct a production of Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima.

The film shows so much about how we retroactively construct meaning as we move through life.

You can watch the trailer here.

That's it for today. Till next time, make glorious mistakes.


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