"Flesh Fair"

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rick++

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Jun 29, 2001, 5:02:23 PM6/29/01
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The Flesh Fair is a long scene in the middle of Spielberg's new A.I. movie
where envious humans abuse robots for entertainment. Usually this results
in the painful descrustion of the mecha. Some go meekly, not having a drive
to oppose humans, while others depart in a noble way- you feel for them.

This makes you wonder whether "alternative intelligences" have personal rights
to reasonably safe existance and happiness. Humankind has only recently
granted this right to its own weaker members- children, spouses, disabled,
and starting to think about animals and other life.

JRStern

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Jul 1, 2001, 7:45:00 PM7/1/01
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On 29 Jun 2001 14:02:23 -0700, ric...@hotmail.com (rick++) wrote:
>The Flesh Fair is a long scene in the middle of Spielberg's new A.I. movie
>where envious humans abuse robots for entertainment.

Envious?

Entertainment?

For me the scene, and the movie overall, basically sucked. Was a nice
kicker where they stoned the master of ceremonies, but the context was
too vague, the story logic weak to nonexistent, bunch of magical
reality crap, poorly done.

http://www.laweekly.com/ink/01/32/film-dargis.shtml

J.


Stephen Harris

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Jul 2, 2001, 3:39:54 AM7/2/01
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JRStern <JRS...@gte.net> wrote in message
news:3b3fb666...@news.gte.net...
I thought the movie was quite special and is better than 2001
but not quite the classic as ET. The reviewer you mentioned
is one of those effete pretentious wannabes who denigrate
the work of their betters to shine a bit of spotlight on themselves.
His stick is to write a cleverly worded criticism as his only
avenue of creativity. He calls AI muddled?? and extols
Blade Runner which was a movie you had to read the book
first or see the movie twice to understand but it was good.
The plot of AI was perhaps too easy to follow, not muddled.

My impression that the critic(Dargis) did not see the movie
but read a review of it written by some artsy grad student
since the factual basis of the review is fatally flawed. Or
perhaps not, it may have just been beyond his comprehension.

"more or less regulated to the toy heap" (Dargis)

Now is this very subtle irony or is "relegated" outside his
working vocabulary? Is he pretending to mimic the flaw
he attributes to Spielberg??

"The joke is that they're{the parents} as generic as the unimprinted
robots - except that Spielberg doesn't seem to be in on the joke."

Speilberg isn't the illiterati joke,
Stephen

PS Why write "they're" instead of they are? It weakens emphasis,
though not incorrect. I guess it depends upon your frame of mind.


JRStern

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Jul 2, 2001, 10:02:26 AM7/2/01
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On Mon, 02 Jul 2001 07:39:54 GMT, "Stephen Harris"
<stephen....@worldnet.att.net> wrote:
>> http://www.laweekly.com/ink/01/32/film-dargis.shtml

>>
>I thought the movie was quite special and is better than 2001
>but not quite the classic as ET.

Oh come on now, the bots are so poorly conceived.

I'll wait for Minsky's review. <g>

Sigh. I can't understand it when anybody likes any Spielberg movie.
I mean, yes they're pretty, and yes he is expert at jerking your
emotions around, but they bludgeon you from the git-go and generally
have plot holes big enough to fly Rodan thru.

>The reviewer you mentioned
>is one of those effete pretentious wannabes who denigrate
>the work of their betters to shine a bit of spotlight on themselves.

You generating this from an auto-response program?

>His stick is to write a cleverly worded criticism as his only

Stick? (sic)

> He calls AI muddled??

He's being polite.

>and extols
>Blade Runner which was a movie you had to read the book
>first or see the movie twice to understand but it was good.

It's called subtlety. If the movie didn't grab you by the nads, you
ain't got any. Take another view of it sometime, it gets better w
age, esp compared to some recent stuff.

>The plot of AI was perhaps too easy to follow, not muddled.

No, the movie is AT BEST a big ink blot, if they'd replaced David with
a cute puppy (and they pretty much did, with Teddy), would have made
not the least difference.

>"more or less regulated to the toy heap" (Dargis)
>
>Now is this very subtle irony or is "relegated" outside his
>working vocabulary? Is he pretending to mimic the flaw
>he attributes to Spielberg??

Glass houses, dude.

>"The joke is that they're{the parents} as generic as the unimprinted
>robots - except that Spielberg doesn't seem to be in on the joke."

Oh, I suppose Spielberg knows, he just doesn't *care*. That, or he
simply doesn't dare tinker with a formula that pulls in hundreds of
millions of bucks per flick. Maybe he should put on fake glasses and
beard and try his hand at a real movie. Waitaminute, ... who is he,
really?

J.

Daryl McCullough

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Jul 2, 2001, 12:03:26 PM7/2/01
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JRS...@gte.net says...

>Sigh. I can't understand it when anybody likes any Spielberg movie.

I'm not a tremendous fan of any particular one of Spielberg's
movies, but I do admire Speilberg's efforts to continually
extend his reach. He certainly could have spent his days becoming
a billionaire by making action adventure movies like "Jaws",
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Jurassic Park", but he is a risk
taker. Considering "The Color Purple", "The Empire of the Sun",
"Schindler's List", "The Saving of Private Ryan" and now "AI",
Spielberg has certainly tackled his share of serious themes. If
he's not always successful, I consider his failures more
interesting than the successes of those directors who always
do the same thing over and over again.

--
Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

Stephen Harris

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Jul 2, 2001, 3:06:18 PM7/2/01
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JRStern <JRS...@gte.net> wrote in message
news:3b407d18...@news.gte.net...

> On Mon, 02 Jul 2001 07:39:54 GMT, "Stephen Harris"
> <stephen....@worldnet.att.net> wrote:
> >> http://www.laweekly.com/ink/01/32/film-dargis.shtml
> >>
> >I thought the movie was quite special and is better than 2001
> >but not quite the classic as ET.
>
> Oh come on now, the bots are so poorly conceived.
>
> I'll wait for Minsky's review. <g>
>
I thought the movie mentioned key issues that challenge AI
in terms the audience would understand particularly in the
opening scene lecture by the Doctor and at the end.

Most of the discussion about simulating human behavior
used to focus on intelligent behavior. The kind that was
achieved through "rational" concious thinking. Unconcious
or subconcious motivations(such as instincts) which were
by definition beyond our observation and so quite difficult
to categorize and associate with programmed routines.
Our behavior is produced by a meld of both(or more) of
these foundations of the mind. And I don't think an audience
would come away with an inkling that the original title for
Bladerunner was "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"!

Dreams were why Freud and Jung conjured the unconcious
in the first place; from where did dreams arise? Dreams
have been considered more difficult to capture than humor
which the Doctor talks about toward the end in Manhatten.
I think the Doctor's dialogue describing AI was technically
unblemished and made understandable to an audience.
Did you find any flaws in that skinny of the movie?
I think the movie was reviewed by an expert for accuracy.
This review comes from a person without AI background:

- David Germain, AP Movie Writer

``A.I. Artificial Intelligence'' - A joint venture between
Steven Spielberg and the late Stanley Kubrick, ``A.I.'' is
a welcome jolt of ideas and images. Set in a future when
robots have taken on many tasks, ``A.I.'' follows the journey
of David (Haley Joel Osment), a robot boy programmed to
love. Rejected by his ``Mommy'' (Frances O'Connor),
David does the Pinocchio thing, trying to become a real boy,
a quest aided by a jaunty sex robot (Jude Law). ``A.I.'' melds
Spielberg's hopeful humanism with the harsher sensibilities
of Kubrick, who had been developing the project for years.
The film provokes, vexes, subverts and prompts endless
introspection for days afterward. Many viewers will feel
uncertain about what they've seen and how they should feel.
{SH: That uncertainty does not mean the movie is muddled.}
The real certainty is that ``A.I.'' is the most intriguing movie
to come out of Hollywood in a long while. PG-13 for some
sexual content and violent images. 146 min.

Dargis:
"To judge from his torturously muddled film, a hybrid of
towering reach, walloping emotional sadism and spasms
of kitsch, a clash of titans, of aesthetics and of world-views
*that distills the best and worst of Kubrick and Spielberg*
both, the answer seems to be yes."

Germain:
"``A.I.'' melds Spielberg's hopeful humanism with the
harsher sensibilities of Kubrick, " {compared to Dargis}:

I find a difference in these two points of view of Kubrick
and Spielberg. To me, Dargis is cynical, jaded, morbid and
suffers from existential ennui approaching terminal illness.
His humanity is encrusted within an artificial persona.

I thought it was a nice touch to have humanity make a moral
judgment vindicating the little boy's reality of what it means
to be human by having the crowd stone the ringmaster, even
though I am not a partisan of judging a book by its cover.


A shade too maudlin,
Stephen


JRStern

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Jul 2, 2001, 6:08:43 PM7/2/01
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Probably the best 30 seconds of the movie, but with no serious
connection to the rest.

Asimov's rules would have made hash out of the whole thing. Any scifi
movie that ignores that, is surreal and impressionistic ... and no, I
don't think it was done that way on purpose.

J.

Ken Cope

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Jul 6, 2001, 2:11:19 PM7/6/01
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>Asimov's rules would have made hash out of the whole thing. Any scifi
>movie that ignores that, is surreal and impressionistic ... and no, I
>don't think it was done that way on purpose.
>
>J.

I'll take my surrealism and impressionism where I can find it. We agree
that some critical portions of the movie were not done on purpose. Kubrick
knew it was a film for Spielberg to make, if not something for Spielberg
to necessarily understand.

This is my review, written yesterday for a computer animators mailing list
to which some of the film's animators also contribute (and before I checked
this newsgroup).

Artificial Intelligence (better than none at all, but just barely)

A.I. showcases technologies critical to the evolution of the subject
matter (even a robot with a face projected like Madame Leota's from
the Haunted Mansion); metal, plastic, and pixel automata sometimes
act more real than the human actors whom they either upstage, or
augment, shape shifting seamlessly. The robots, the puppets, the
holograms and synthetic characters add a degree of recursion to
what would otherwise be only a ham-fisted fable. There are so many
disturbing ideas and premises in A.I., while the stunning detail and
craftsmanship are so unimpeachable that everything naturally supports
a dense visual feast, actors and automatons merging in a hopeful tragedy
unfolding, from which one can't look away. No doubt many will prefer
to pass on this one, ironically in light of the film's genesis as an
effort by Kubrick to make a sci-fi blockbuster to match the success
of Star Wars and ET.

So what if you hate nearly all of the characters, the script, the plot,
the narration (patching plotholes with Frank J. Tipler crackpot physics),
the thesis, the moral, the ending[s], the robots too easily mistakeable
for ETs, the human race, Pinocchio, the creepiness, the weepiness, Stanley
Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, and you plan to wait for a third director's cut
before buying the DVD; there's still enough in the film to think and talk
about for days (though I'll try to avoid getting stuck in an infinite loop
ranting about the evolution of sentient machines here). Even though parts
of the film feel like a tour of a few circles of hell with no Virgil in
sight, I'd say the film is worth the effort and indulgence necessary to
hang in there, all the way to the dedication at the end of the credits.

[Spoilers ahead, though the one in the previous paragraph will help
if you plan to see it, or saw it and made a natural assumption.]

The questions that had me squirming like little Alex undergoing
Ludovico treatment are as follows: why was Gepetto such an asshole?
From Altered States to A.I., is Bill Hurt doomed to play the genius
without a personal clue? Is this the product liability lawsuit from
hell? Let's make a potentially immortal sentient being, incapable of
truly learning, lest it stop being a child (there's a trick) and make
him imprint on a human, as ephemeral as mayflies, without preparing
the SKU (they'll sell like hotcakes!) for the trauma of inevitable
separation! Are Asimov's Laws of Robotics too difficult to implement
in the real world, or were the film-makers trying to avoid resemblances
to Bicentennial Man? Would an engineer who made it possible for a robot
to self-destruct via spinach keep his job, or was he the yuppie scum
who brought David home to replace little Martin (there's a charmer)
in the first place? And when his little surprise solution doesn't work
as planned, who gets stuck with the job of paying for his mistake but
the little wifey? Where is it written in stone that robots only become
human by the expedience of becoming mortal? Indicting humans for the
selfishness of what they want machines to do for them did rather seem
to be most of the point of the film. I'm with Tex Avery's Cat Who Hated
People, they're no darned good. I'm rooting for the robots, even more
so after watching this film.

It was strange watching Clockwork Orange morphed with Pinocchio,
captured by Stromboli for a brutal carnival encounter, hooking up
with his pal Lampwick, their escape assisted by a furry Jiminy
Cricket to escape to an oracle on Pleasure Island. Scrubbing the
chance for apotheosis with 'the father' when little David decides
not to accept the fate of being a little silicon boy, he violently
encounters impostor SKUs and, after a quick close-up for a Kubrick
StareTM, he's off to meet Monstro, find the Blue Fairy and become
a real boy, in search of apotheosis with 'the mother' instead. To end
the film equating faith with a futile endless loop is not a viable moral
for an American audience, so of course the film can only end there with
an epilogue which, to my mind, is justified in that it bookends the Kubrick
cycle begun with the prologue to 2001. I've read a lot of notes advising
viewers to leave when it feels like it's over, but I'm afraid the final
ending is more appropriate than I wanted it to be Once you've started
telling Pinocchio, you're stuck until you finish it.

When Pinocchio last hit the theaters, I was dubbing the voice of Spock
on the radio to Classic Trek episodes on TV, in an hour long pirate
comedy simulcast from KIEV AM Glendale, once a week, for 26 weeks. The
actor playing the voice of the captain and I watched the Disney film,
and realized that in a short time, when Trek Lite took over for the last
13 weeks, Data's character would need an angle, so it was obvious we had
to play Data as the Captain's Log, Pinocchio, asking every female if she
was The Blue Fairy there to make him a real boy. Pinocchio is so obvious
for a story about a robot that I was surprised it wasn't Spielberg's
interpretation on top of the original Kubrick material.

It wasn't Spielberg, but Kubrick who first shoved a copy of Collodi's
book into the hands of Brian Aldiss about two decades ago (1). The author
of the 2000 word short story titled "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" talks
about wandering Castle Kubrick with The Master for years, in an introduction
to a collection that starts with the title story (2). When Aldiss adamantly
refused to consciously set out to re-tell a fairy tale, Kubrick had no more
use for him. After all, Kubrick had taken a short story by Arthur C. Clarke
titled "The Sentinel" and turned it into 2001. A.I. really was a Kubrick
film, told as only Spielberg would.

If you miss the ending (all right, call it the epilogue), you'll
miss an eery echo of the discovery of that giant parallelopiped
beneath the surface of the moon. Still, the narration and choices
for additional exposition piled up in dialogue were superflous;
at most, a couple of title cards, and simpler dialogue would have
sufficed. The last monologue from the robot, with it's cheapass
Tiplerian Trekno-babble coming off like rushed anime transliteration
(when robotic techno-wizardry was all the boy and the audience
wanted by then) could have much more simply set the stage for
the poignant close of the film.

As chronicled so cynically, humans seemed less vicious than
animals, but just barely. I wouldn't mourn the passing of such a
human race, so long as while it was alive it produced, not T2,
but the first steps towards the ancestors of a generation of truly
intelligent beings of silicon rather than carbon, connected, god-like
in their wisdom, skinny, sentient Sparkle Crest ETs. Even a little
mechanical boy's dreams should come true, via a sort of ultimate
Starbright Foundation of the future. Kubrick was right, the story
he crafted in pre-production was one only Spielberg and the team
assembled for the production could bring to the screen. Not a frame
detracted from keeping me focused on the ideas in the film. I'm
afraid its images will stick with me as long as images from some
of the best Science Fiction short stories will; as long as fragile
memories last.

Ken Cope

(1)
http://members.nbci.com/scifimovies/art_kub_1.html
(2)
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.01/ffsupertoys.html?topic=robots_ai&topic_set=newtechnology
(sorry about the line wrap)

JRStern

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Jul 6, 2001, 8:56:18 PM7/6/01
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On 6 Jul 2001 11:11:19 -0700, Ken Cope <pin...@ozcot.com> wrote:
>I'll take my surrealism and impressionism where I can find it.

Hmm.

> We agree
>that some critical portions of the movie were not done on purpose. Kubrick
>knew it was a film for Spielberg to make, if not something for Spielberg
>to necessarily understand.

<snicker>

>This is my review, written yesterday for a computer animators mailing list
>to which some of the film's animators also contribute (and before I checked
>this newsgroup).
>
>Artificial Intelligence (better than none at all, but just barely)

...

Very nice.

J.

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