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Ex Machina/Baskets/”Scully is not a pivotal character”

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Here’s a little pop culture round-up for your reading pleasure:

Ex Machina: It takes skill to make a movie that is almost entirely comprised of two people having  conversations and not have it be ponderous and boring. So I think it’s safe to say that that Ex Machina‘s director, Alex Garland, is quite skilled. I think the film’s strength is its creepy, claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s an atmosphere that so pervades every second of the film, it’s almost as if it’s a fifth character. (There are only 5 characters in Ex, and there are rarely more than two people in any given scene, which–again– makes the film feel intimate to the point of claustrophobic.) If you haven’t seen it yet, the film is about an uber-rich search engine creator, who is–oh yeah–on the side creating robots that are apparently sentient. Ex may be about how we treat sentient robot life. (Is it ethical to keep robots who long to be human and captive, not just physically captive but captive to our whims?) But that’s all just background noise for me. What really stuck with me were the film’s gorgeous sets, near-perfect pacing and smothering, creepy atmosphere. I do have one complaint, however: it makes the prospect of enjoying extraordinary lifelike sex robots look pretty goddamn dicey, so I’m going to assume Alex Garland is on Team Feminist Bonerkill and ding him for that. Also, all the ‘bots had small breasts, which I’m fairly sure is unconstitutional. Another ding for Garland. But, still, if you can overlook these gross oversights, “Ex Machina” is a lovely film well worth your time.

Baskets: Continuing in the tradition of Louie and The Comedians (now cancelled), FX is offering up another quiet comedy, Louie C.K.-produced, Baskets. It stars Zach Galifanakis as man who–for reasons not revealed–desperately wants to be a clown. To that end he attends a clown college in France, despite the fact that he doesn’t speak a word of French. This works precisely as well as you might imagine, so he ends up moving back to his hometown, with his jerky, green card-seeking girlfriend in tow. Back in Bakersfield we meet his mother, twin brother and the woman who–as the insurance agent handling the case of his wrecked scooter–squires him around town while he tries to get his life together. Yes, as I mentioned, it’s quiet. It’s also absurd, surreal and hilarious. I’m not quite sure why but this scene actually had me yelling at the television (in confused delight):

It could be that Baskets just happens to scratch a very particular comedy itch I have. Or it could just be a great show. One thing is for sure: I will never not pronounce the word “clown” “cloon.”

Gillian Anderson: Recently I learned that Mulder “was a more pivotal character than Scully.” This twitter thread where mensplain away the disparity in Anderson’s and Duchovny’s salaries is a thing of  perfect, ethereal beauty.

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