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Weekend Movie Club: "Ex Machina"

Per the Weekend [Whatever] Club conversation, we have a candidate for a film discussion group -- and, by request, we're going to start with "Ex Machina." (Check out the trailer.)


Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 12:00 p.m. ET


Join Zoom Meeting (Additional details on joining can be found in my comments below..)


Can't make it? Don't wanna join a call? No problem -- we still want you to join the club! As I start the call on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 12:00 p.m. ET, I'll leave a comment here -- letting everyone know that they can also discuss the film in this thread. I only ask that you refrain from starting that conversation before the call. I'd like to kick everything off at once!

DISCLAIMER: "Ex Machina" carries an MPAA R rating in the United States. Some members might find it offensive. So please check out the trailer (link at the beginning), read a little bit about why it earned that rating, and decide for yourself whether it's your taste. If it doesn't interest you, please feel free to suggest other movies below or in the original Weekend [Whatever] Club thread. Always happy for suggestions!

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  • Feb 12, 2020 at 11:58 PM

    OK, I'm in. Jerry, I suspect you and I are in the same time zone (maybe Gregory Misiorek too?) - so I'd like to avoid 12AM - 8AM on any day. :-)

    • Feb 13, 2020 at 12:10 AM

      Yep, East Coast here. Audrey is West Coast. So is Matt, I think. Not sure about Gregory Misiorek. We'll wait to see what he says -- and whether we have anyone outside of the U.S. who wants to join!

      • Feb 13, 2020 at 04:05 PM

        Yes, I'm west coast. Saturday is probably a better day for me than Sunday, though in a pinch I can make either work. Not Saturday evening, however -- dinner plans!

      • Feb 13, 2020 at 04:06 PM

        And, I actually have some time this weekend to watch the film again, to refresh my memory! It's been a while, after all.

        • Feb 13, 2020 at 04:17 PM

          I put the film on reserve in the library. Oddly enough, they have a copy of the movie -- but not of the book we'll be reading for the other meeting. I had to buy the book online and I'm hoping it will show up soon.

          How early is too early for you, Matt Fraser? I was thinking maybe noon ET on Saturday the 22nd -- which would be 9:00 a.m. your time. That way, we're accommodating Susan Keohan, but also allowing people from Europe/APJ to join...if they don't mind giving up an hour of their Saturday evening.

          Let me know and I can go ahead and set up meeting.


  • Feb 13, 2020 at 05:49 PM

    I am in. but I would join if it is on 22nd as the weekend is Friday & Saturday for me :( and ET 12 noon is fine, it will be 9 PM. And I've to rewatch that movie this weekend, I don't remembe anything :D :D

    • Feb 13, 2020 at 11:36 PM

      Yep, it's looking like the 22nd at noon ET. Should nail down the details very soon!

      • Feb 14, 2020 at 05:47 PM

        Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to participate over any of the next few weekends; we're getting ready to renovate our house and are scrambling to pack up everything before we have to be out on March 1. I will, however, try to squeeze in watching the movie and will try to join the online discussion during the week after your live session.

  • Feb 17, 2020 at 07:06 PM


    Susan Keohan Matt Fraser Mahesh Kumar Palavalli

    Here are the details for joining the call:

    Jerry Janda is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

    Topic: Weekend Movie Club: "Ex Machina"

    Time: Feb 22, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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  • Feb 21, 2020 at 07:09 PM

    Reminder: Join us tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. ET for the first-ever meeting of the Weekend Movie Club! We'll be discussing "Ex Machina." Can't join the call? Then please feel free to comment in this thread, sharing your thoughts about the film.

  • Feb 22, 2020 at 06:12 PM

    Thanks again, Jerry, for putting this together! Great discussion with you, Greg, and Mahesh, and I look forward to seeing what comes up in the comments here.

    • Feb 24, 2020 at 05:06 AM

      It was a good discussion Matt. I was thinking about what you said about Ava & Kyoko not knowing what actually death means for a human.. It kinda makes sense as eva could have killed Nathan when he entered her room(to tear her drawings) by any means e.g., with some sharp object from her body(full metal) and she can target the weak parts like eyes and with precision as she can easily understand and guess the movements of a human or she can use that electricity(that reversing induction something) to electrocute him. (not sure if that electricity is enough though)

      even kyoko would have killed him in many instances as she has access to the knife.

      But at the end of the movie why kyoko has knife, it means they knew about death.. too much confusion thinking about this :-/ or a plot hole?

      • Feb 24, 2020 at 06:48 PM

        Good point about Kyoko already having the knife in hand in the hallway. She uses it regularly, of course, as she is the cook, but why would she have carried it with her out of the kitchen?

        • Feb 26, 2020 at 04:53 AM

          True, probably she was in the kitchen preparing something and when the doors got unlocked, she directly went inside? (kyoka used to look at that monitor from behind nathan many times, maybe she got curious and went directly when the doors got unlocked)

          Or maybe Ava was already communicating with her from sometime back :P, I doubt if this is a possibility as ava could have already asked her to kill nathan.

  • Feb 22, 2020 at 06:28 PM

    Many thanks to Matt Fraser, Mahesh Kumar Palavalli, and Gregory Misiorek for joining me for the first-ever Weekend Movie Club! We spoke for over an hour about "Ex Machina," and there were plenty of interesting observations that gave me lots to think about.

    I'd also like to thank Sudip Ghosh for joining for part of the call. (I hope we didn't spoil the film for you -- and I hope you'll give the film a watch and comment here about it.)

    Also, big thanks to Susan Keohan for joining near the beginning. I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to chat, but I'm glad you watched the film. Please share your impressions here -- as I'd love to know what you thought of the film!

    In fact...let's keep the film conversation about "Ex Machina" going in this thread. Please leave your comments about the film...and let me know what other movies you'd like to discuss during a future Weekend Movie Club meeting. Some possibilities include "Alien," "Ad Astra," and "Parasite" -- but we're open to watching (and talking about) anything!

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    • Feb 23, 2020 at 07:28 AM

      That was a good discussion we had there and ended up with different perspectives and most importantly questions :D

      AdAstra sounds interesting, will watch it by next weekend. Alien sounds very cool, with the newly released prometheus & covanat, I bet 1 hour will not be enough to discuss :P

      • Feb 23, 2020 at 03:37 PM

        Thanks for joining, Mahesh. I know it was late for you! And thanks for bringing up "Her." I watched it shortly after our call and I really enjoyed it. :)

        • Feb 24, 2020 at 04:54 AM

          :) . But 9PM is not very late, it is okay for the next time as well. actually i came from the gym and joined the call directly :D

          Her was a nice movie, I watched it only once though. But it has the idea of AI replicating itself in internet and stuff (If i remember correctly).

          • Feb 24, 2020 at 06:50 PM

            9pm for you, 9am for me, seems like a decent compromise!

            I still haven't seen Her, but Ad Astra I have seen recently, and of course all the "official" Alien films. Prometheus in particular seems to have engendered strong reactions from fans, either in favor or not.

  • Feb 25, 2020 at 09:06 PM

    I was finally able to finish watching Ex Machina last night (had to watch in installments due to limited time). I found it really intriguing.

    Ava being both naive and manipulative at once was fascinating for me to try to think through. White gaps in the software?

    I see you raised the question of whether Ava and Kyoko understood the concept of death, since they didn't attempt it earlier, but then did so after Caleb came into the picture. How did they know it was necessary to kill Nathan and not just somehow disable him or overpower him together and lock him away?

    I couldn't figure out why the other robots in the closets were not "alive"; were those all earlier models that Nathan "killed" by deactivating them and erasing their memories?

    Also, did you in your discussion talk about the movie title at all? I was wondering about the "deus" missing from the title, and my mind has been circulating around the whole meaning of "deus ex machina" itself and how that does or doesn't apply here.

    From Google:

    deus ex machina /ˌdāəs ˌeks ˈmäkənə,ˌdāəs ˌeks ˈmäakənə/

    1. an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel.

    In any case, I'm glad I watched it!

    • Feb 27, 2020 at 04:02 PM

      Regarding the "earlier models" hanging in the closet that don't appear alive -- and yet which obviously still have power available, based upon the mechanical things we see happening when Ava starts disconnecting arms from them -- I think the clue is something Nathan says earlier to Caleb, about his plans for the "next" generation after Ava. Nathan says that he will download everything from Ava's brain, reintegrate it with software updates (not the actual terminology he uses, but this is what I think he meant), and then re-upload it (implying that he will reuse the same body this time, though clearly he has in the past produced newer bodies as well, not just newer brains or software models), but the process would necessarily wipe out all of her memories, in essence wiping out her personality and causing her to start over from scratch. I can't recall now, did he say something like reformatting? Anyway, if he has done this "reformat" on the older models, to download their learned experiences to integrated into newer models, but didn't "restart" them (or re-upload the programming) due to having a newer physical model (new hardware), then yes, I expect they would just "hang there," turned on but without any particular will or motivation, as they have no "self" at that point.

      We did discuss the title a little bit, but I think mostly around pronunciation of "Machina." I had it wrong, in my mind I was pronouncing it with a soft "ch," much like "machine"... "maSHEEna"... but Gregory Misiorek corrected me with the (Latin? Greek?) pronunciation from the origin you mention, Audrey, "Deus ex machina," or "MAkina." However, yes, we did go into the definition you highlight ( Jerry Janda especially), about contrived plot devices, but also the literal translation, "ghost in the machine" ("ghost in the shell"?), i.e. "soul" as it relates to consciousness, sense of self, and whether such a thing exists at all. If we have a soul, and we "transfer" our consciousness into a new body, does our soul transfer as well? If we -- in the new body -- feel like we are the same person, with all the same memories, same personality, same hopes and desires and motivations, and indistinguishable to our friends from our original self, then are we not still the same person? Or did that person die with the original body, and this new body is just a simulacrum? A "machina" without any "deus"?

      • Feb 29, 2020 at 05:47 PM

        Hi Matt,

        while i cannot match your movie critic aptitude with my enjoyment of books and movies as i rarely re-watch or reread anything, i do appreciate your attention to details. Both 'Deus ex machina' and 'Per aspera ad astra' are Latin and necessarily pronounced differently by different native speakers. as many other cultural and scientific artifacts they were first Greek and then became Roman or Latin or at least this is what i have 'learned in school'. Many good books and movies use that background and those references are everywhere in the modern and now future world. it's much easier these days with wikipedia and google search standing at the ready to find out or confirm these and other connotations and associations. in my mind, if i remember when and how i watched a movie and can recall some of the plot many years after seeing it, that makes it a good movie to me.

        looking forward to the next installment of the 'movie weekend'.

        thx, greg

    • Mar 04, 2020 at 01:28 PM

      Sorry you couldn't join us, Audrey, but I'm glad you enjoyed the film!

      As Matt and Greg noted, regarding the title, we did discuss the its pronunciation...and its origins. From what I remember of my English class as a Freshman in high school (!!!), in Greek theater, the device would literally be to lower a god onto the stage to save the day. In modern history, I think the most glaring example can be found in Stephen King's "The Stand." (That and others here -- if you don't mind spoilers:

      We did touch upon the title in another indirect way (as I think about it) -- because, as you pointed out the "deus" wasn't in the title, and we did talk about Nathan's god complex. Perhaps the exclusion of "deus" from the title was the film's way of winking at the audience to let us know that Nathan really did have an overinflated opinion of himself. :)

      Or maybe it's up to us as viewers to fill in the blank. A big part of the film is leaving us to decide whether Ava is human. So is it humans from machines? Or...maybe we're wrong (and egotistical) to set the high bar at "humans," and Ava has the potential to become more. As Nathan observes (and I'm paraphrasing): AI beings might look back on us one day as we regard our own prehistoric which case the machines do, in a sense, achieve godhood themselves -- becoming superior to their own creators.

  • Mar 16, 2020 at 12:38 PM

    So I'm thinking that it's time to schedule our next Weekend Movie Club.

    Based on conversation here (and during the call), I'm leaning toward "Alien." But I'm still open to suggestions. Please make recommendations and comment!

    I'll give everyone a couple days to chime in, then schedule something for March 28.



    • Mar 16, 2020 at 06:20 PM

      I am thinking about "Cabin in the Woods", it's a mix of horror, comedy & SCIFI. Also good with Alien as well, I still remember being afraid to look at some scenes when I was young :D :D

  • Mar 16, 2020 at 04:17 PM

    As a small contribution to this discussion: Anyone who has seen Ex Machina could perhaps also been interested in "I Am Mother.". Especially when you are a mother or father, the first half hour can cause strong emotions.

    • Mar 16, 2020 at 06:06 PM

      I saw it on netflix, it is a good one. Even the ending is also emotional if you think from AI's perspective ;) There are very interesting theories about it though.

  • Mar 19, 2020 at 06:55 PM

    One question -- why in any of this sort of movies, the robots we create are always stronger than humans ?
    Is it just to allow them a fighting chance during their eventual revolt ?


    • Mar 21, 2020 at 03:41 PM

      Definitely wasn't the case in "Ex Machina." I think it depends on the film. And I think in some of the better examples in the genre, we don't build the killer robots, but rather we design the AIs that build the robots that revolt against humanity (think "The Terminator," "The Matrix"). So maybe to look at your observation from a different angle: Why (in these films) do we create AIs that have the capacity to think they're superior to us, a conclusion that leads to them overthrowing us? Viewed through that lens, maybe it's time to take another look at Ava. Nathan may think he's a god, but his creation may be the one that achieves deity status...

      • Mar 23, 2020 at 11:11 AM

        If I remember correctly she was very strong in Ex machina.....
        As to why AI we built feel they need to kill us ? Its simple -- people who write those algorithms in the first place are horrible parents :), and are lead by managers who can't plan more than 2 weeks in advance and are driven by profit margins.
        Its same with jedi's, whose utter incompetence turned a bright young boy into a horrible nightmare. ;)

    • Jun 16, 2020 at 10:40 AM

      Perhaps this has to do with Robocop? A law enforcer needs to be powerful/strong. At least they had a lesson learned back then: Don't use an AI if you want to release the robot on (innocent/not to harm) humans.

  • Jun 12, 2020 at 01:49 PM

    Jerry Janda - I finished this one too after our last catch up:) Thank you! When i read the comments here, it's too much to wonder about this movie but yeah great to see colleagues/friends discussing various aspects of the flick!

    • Jun 15, 2020 at 08:03 PM

      I'm glad you watched it. We're still looking for suggestions for our next meeting, so if you have something you'd like to discuss, please let me know.


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