November 2013

* frozen

"In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate."
(Isaac Asimov)

Artificial Intelligence | by Roger Ebert

"What responsibility does a human have to a robot that genuinely loves?" the film asks.

The answer is: none. Because the robot does not genuinely love. It genuinely only seems to love. We are expert at projecting human emotions into non-human subjects, from animals to clouds to computer games, but the emotions reside only in our minds.

"A.I." evades its responsibility to deal rigorously with this trait and goes for an ending that wants us to cry, but had me asking questions just when I should have been finding answers.

Do our human feelings for him make him human? Stanley Kubrick worked on this material for 15 years, before passing it on to Spielberg, who has not solved it, either. It involves man's relationship to those tools that so closely mirror our own desires that we confuse them with flesh and blood; consider that Charles Lindbergh's autobiography We is about himself and an airplane. When we lose a toy, the pain is ours, not the toy's, and by following an abandoned robot boy rather than the parents who threw him away, Spielberg misses the real story.

"There's no substitute for your own child!" sobs Monica, and Henry tries to placate her: "I'll take him back." Cold, but realistic, David is only a product. Yet he has an advanced chip that allows him to learn, adapt and "love," when Monica permanently "imprints" him. In some of the film's most intriguing passages, Spielberg explores the paradoxes that result, as David wins their love and yet is never--quite--a real boy.

He doesn't sleep, but he observes bedtime.

"A.I." is audacious, technically masterful, challenging, sometimes moving, ceaselessly watchable. What holds it back from greatness is a failure to really engage the ideas that it introduces. The movie's conclusion is too facile and sentimental, given what has gone before. It has mastered the artificial, but not the intelligence.



"I never learned anything at all in school and didn't read a book for pleasure until I was 19 years old."

"It's crazy how you can get yourself in a mess sometimes and not even be able to think about it with any sense and yet not be able to think about anything else."

"The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes."

"You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it's really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas."

"There are few things more fundamentally encouraging and stimulating than seeing someone else die."

"You're an idealist, and I pity you as I would the village idiot."

"It's a mistake to confuse pity with love."

"The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle."



"All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives."

"You have many years ahead of you to create the dreams that we can't even imagine dreaming. You have done more for the collective unconscious of this planet than you will ever know."

"I never felt comfortable with myself, because I was never part of the majority. I always felt awkward and shy and on the outside of the momentum of my friends' lives."

"A lot of the films I've made probably could have worked just as well 50 years ago, and that's just because I have a lot of old-fashion values."

"I dream for a living. Once a month the sky falls on my head, I come to, and I see another movie I want to make."

"I've discovered I've got this preoccupation with ordinary people pursued by large forces."

"Social media has taken over in America to such an extreme that to get my own kids to look back a week in their history is a miracle, let alone 100 years."