Rapid-Fire Q&A With Ex Machina Director Alex Garland

Screenshot from Channel 4 Video

Screenshot from Channel 4 Video

As a screenwriter, Alex Garland has achieved his greatest success working alongside director Danny Boyle in such notable sci-fi works as The Beach, 28 Days Later, and Sunshine. For his directorial feature debut, the 45-year-old native of London chose to make another one of his scripts, the complex and riveting sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, which has earned him high-praise and fawning early reviews. The film concerns a half-mad billionaire tech genius (played by Oscar Isaac), who brings one of his star programmer employees (Domhnall Gleeson) out to his massive, remote laboratory somewhere in the Pacific NW in order to test his latest creation: a stunning, robotic AI (Alicia Vikander), as beautiful as she is intelligent. As the trio spend time with one another it becomes clear the tension between the creator and his invention is far more serious — and dangerous — than either lets on at first.

In town to promote the film, the director generously held forth about his body of work, the first film he ever adored, and his fixation with Formula 1 cars.

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5 Best New Movies on Amazon Prime

We’re still a good two weeks and change away from The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the official start of the summer blockbuster season, if you can believe that. You might therefore want to take a deep breath and watch some solid programming in the comfort of your own home before we all descend into the cinematic chaos of the summer time. Here are our picks for some the best recently added films you can watch on Amazon Prime right now.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

David Lean’s timeless epic about a young British intelligence officer, who is assigned to the Sahara desert in order to gather intel on the Turks in WWI, is actually intended for the big screen—and we mean BIG, it was famously shot in 70mm—but is still a marvel even watching it on your flatscreen. It made a star out of Peter O’Toole and his piercing eyes, while establishing benchmarks for Alec Guiness and Anthony Quinn. In a field of would-be spectacles of the era, each claiming to be the biggest and best ever made (see: Cleopatra, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments), Lawrence towers above the pack.

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5 Best New Movies on Netflix Instant Streaming

Here are some of our picks for the best and most interesting offerings from Netflix streaming this month.

The Babadook (2014)
Last year’s critical darling (and one much-appreciated by Ticket) is many things: an unconventional spook story, an examination of suppressed parental grief and rage, and an art-house treatment of the standard boogey-man myth. But mostly, Jennifer Kent’s film is straight-up scary as hell. Served best at night, long after the kid(s) have been put safely to bed.

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8 Netflix Hacks to Improve Your Instant-Viewing Experience

"We totally  just hacked the shit out of this, and it's amazing!"

“We totally just hacked the shit out of this, and it’s amazing!”

Last week, the good folks at theweek.com gave us a smorgasbord of what they called Netflix hacks to help improve your overall Netflix experience. While we technically wouldn’t call any of these “hacks” exactly, they do work as enhancers, broadening and strengthening your experience on the site. Here’s what they came up with:

1. Netflix Internacional: Perhaps you are a cultured, multi-cultural sort who would enjoy shows and movies from other countries not being shown in the States. This here browser extension, Hola, should have your bases covered. Essentially, it fools Netflix into thinking you’re based in another country, allowing you access to shows and films otherwise unavailable to you. As it’s technically not exactly on the up-and-up (and apparently Netflix doesn’t give this practice any kind of smiley face emoji), you are assuming a bit of a risk, but it’s your call to make.

2. Netflix Personalized: This is one for heavy users who would like more control over their Netflix experience. Brought to us by Lifehacker, the Chrome extension Flix Plus gives you all sorts of say on how the site runs for you: Check the IMDB/Rotten Tomatoes score, rate things by half-star (for extra precision), hide potential spoilers, and, most importantly, it allows you to filter recommendations so you don’t keep getting the same damn ones over and over.

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5 Movies to Watch if You Love It Follows

The lo-fi indie horror genre has gotten a tremendous boost from the festival circuit over the last couple years. In 2014, we had the spooky, unleashed id of Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, which premiered at Sundance a year ago; now we have David Robert Mitchell’s psycho-sexual predatory nightmare It Follows to savor after commanding runs at TIFF, Sundance, and Cannes (and the upcoming The Witch from this year’s Sundance lineup).

It Follows revolves around a simple yet terrifying idea: One night a young woman has sex with a relative stranger in his car and in the process, like a form of particularly virulent VD, a horrific phantom gets transmitted to her from her apologetic partner. This phantom can take any form—a friend, a family member, a complete stranger—and it moves very slowly and deliberately, but there is no escaping it. Once attached, it will track you down and kill you most gruesomely, unless you can pass it on by having sex with someone else. The phantom goes in order, so as long as enough other people end up between you and it, you can survive.

Very often if you see one film you really enjoy, you can find other films that echo some of the things you really loved about the original. Here, we round up five movies you should dig if you like It Follows.

It Follows opens March 27th at the PFS at the Roxy Theater (2023 Sansom Street).

Piers Marchant is a film critic and writer based in Philly. Find more confounding amusements and diversions at his blog, Sweet Smell of Success, or read his further 142-character rants and ravings at @kafkaesque83.

New Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell Comedy Gets Awkward Premiere at SXSW

get hard movie kevin hart

As reported by Amy Kaufman in the L.A. Times, Kevin Hart’s newest comedy, Get Hard, co-starring Will Farrell, made its world-premiere Monday night at Austin’s Paramount Theater for SXSW. Despite the goodwill the actors built up before the screening (both were on stage, making yuk-yuks with the crowd), the reaction to the film, which posits Farrell as a rich, white dude busted for a bunch of financial crimes and sentenced to hard time. He hires Hart’s character—whom he naturally assumes has spent time in the joint—to prepare him for his oncoming ordeal.

Apparently, even though it got major laughs throughout the screening, the post-screening Q&A with first-time director Etan Cohen started to go seriously downhill after one patron called the film “offensive.”

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Bradley Cooper’s 5 Best Performances

It might seem as if he just sprang out of the kiln with 2009’s The Hangover, but Jenkintown’s Bradley Cooper has actually been a professional actor since 1999. Now, with his thoroughly convincing turn as Chris Kyle in American Sniper—officially the highest-grossing film released in 2014—Mr. Cooper is finally coming in to the rarefied air of some of our most celebrated male actors. That isn’t to say that everything he’s made has been gold (ahem, Serena), in fact, it’s really only in recent years that he’s been allowed to showcase his considerable talents in serious films. Regardless, here are our picks for his five best performances to date, and where you might be able to see them, in chronological order.

5 Best New Movies On Netflix Instant Streaming

Still trying to figure out whether you’ll need to wear hiking boots, snow shoes, or Wellingtons before venturing outside? Weather is for suckers! Stay inside and fire up the TV for some home entertainment instead. Here are some of our picks for the best and most interesting offerings from Netflix streaming this month.

Finding Neverland (2004)
Before he became a weird, self-conscious parody of himself, Johnny Depp was a spry, sublimely talented actor who would seek out roles that were genuinely interesting to him. Playing Scottish author J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, was just such an opportunity. The film posits Barrie’s first meeting the Davies family, four children and a stunning widow (played by Kate Winslet), whom he would go on to befriend. Later, of course, he would be inspired by them to write his seminal children’s novel about a group of kids who don’t want to have to grow up. The performances are rich and nuanced and Marc Forster’s direction is steady and sound. It might not be a homerun, but it’s a solid base hit.

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5 Best Movies to Stream Right Now On Amazon Prime

With a multitude of streaming options at your fingertips, the most difficult decision becomes what you should watch first. Here are our picks for the best stuff you can check out on Amazon Prime right now.

Bottle Rocket (1996)

Back before Wes Anderson became known for his twee, adorable cinema as identifiable in its branding as West Elm or Cadillac, he was a fresh-faced kid out of Texas who made a short with his college buddy Owen Wilson that caught the eye of James Caan, who helped get his first feature financed. The result is this proto-Anderson delight: Wilson, playing alongside brothers Luke and Andrew, is the unforgettable Dignan, a sweet-minded innocent with big, caper-film inspired dreams of planning elaborate bank heists and utilizing the big con. Luke is an old friend recently released from mental institution, whose friendship to Dignan requires him to play along with his misguided schemes. Funny and incessantly charming, you can see many of the hallmarks of what would come to be Anderson’s signature style, but slightly less sure of themselves: An auspicious and thoroughly entertaining debut.

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