Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ex Machina

Ava looks at parts of other AI machines.
I hestitated to watch a film that used what seemed to be a cliched, tired theme. A mad scientist creates a machine that turns nightmarish.

As it turns out, this movie was one of the better artificial intelligent films. Ava, the machine, is in the maze but so too is the viewer, as they are never sure what will happen.

After Caleb wins a prize, he's invited to visit a research facility in an isolated region. He is taken there by helicopter. 

He meets a stranger who says he has the opportunity to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the chance to take part in a Turing test and test an AI machine.

Caleb gives up free will and privacy, as his new employer spies on him constantly. His key card gives him limited access so certain areas are off limits to him. Caleb can, however, spy on the AI, Ava, by turning on the TV in his room.

The moment he meets the machine, Ava, is magical. Ava has that deer-in-the-headlights look as if she is perpetually scared, but her voice is flat and even confident. 

Will Ava, a machine, fall in love with him? She wasn't programmed to do that. Will he fall in love with her? Will they run off together, as the replicant and Rick Deckard do in Blade Runner?

Alex Garland, writer and director, has created a startling film that received, unfortunately, not enough attention. 

Ex Machina

Ava looks at parts of other AI machines.
I hestitated to watch a film that used what seemed to be a cliched, tired theme. A mad scientist creates a machine that turns nightmarish.

As it turns out, this movie was one of the better artificial intelligent films. Ava, the machine, is in the maze but so too is the viewer, as they are never sure what will happen.

After Caleb wins a prize, he's invited to visit a research facility in an isolated region. He is taken there by helicopter. 

He meets a stranger who says he has the opportunity to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the chance to take part in a Turing test and test an AI machine.

Caleb gives up free will and privacy, as his new employer spies on him constantly. His key card gives him limited access so certain areas are off limits to him. Caleb can, however, spy on the AI, Ava, by turning on the TV in his room.

The moment he meets the machine, Ava, is magical. Ava has that deer-in-the-headlights look as if she is perpetually scared, but her voice is flat and even confident. 

Will Ava, a machine, fall in love with him? She wasn't programmed to do that. Will he fall in love with her? Will they run off together, as the replicant and Rick Deckard do in Blade Runner?

Alex Garland, writer and director, has created a startling film that received, unfortunately, not enough attention. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

National Women's Business Week

National Business Women's Week is the 3rd week in October.

A great book to read for National Business Women's Week is In The Company of Women by Grace Bonney. 


Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Part 3)

Despite an impressive beginning, the novel ends on a more predictable note. 

Greed and the desire for revenge spur some of the Amsterdammers against the Brandts. The Brandt's secrets are exposed and even the miniaturist cannot prevent the ultimate outcome. 


Nella feels gratitude towards the miniaturist for opening doors while Cornelia has a more traditional view. Cornelia sees the miniaturist as a snoop and a witch.

With all that has happened, its surprising that Nella and Cornelia believe that Thea's life will be what she makes it.

Despite the ending, the novel is still richly imagined, bringing 17th century Amsterdam and all of its moral compunctions to life.

Part 2
Part 1 



The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Part 3)

Despite an impressive beginning, the novel ends on a more predictable note. 

Greed and the desire for revenge spur some of the Amsterdammers against the Brandts. The Brandt's secrets are exposed and even the miniaturist cannot prevent the ultimate outcome. 


Nella feels gratitude towards the miniaturist for opening doors while Cornelia has a more traditional view. Cornelia sees the miniaturist as a snoop and a witch.

With all that has happened, its surprising that Nella and Cornelia believe that Thea's life will be what she makes it.

Despite the ending, the novel is still richly imagined, bringing 17th century Amsterdam and all of its moral compunctions to life. 



The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Part 3)

Despite an impressive beginning, the novel ends on a more predictable note. 

Greed and the desire for revenge spur some of the Amsterdammers against the Brandts. The Brandt's secrets are exposed and even the miniaturist cannot prevent the ultimate outcome. 


Nella feels gratitude towards the miniaturist for opening doors while Cornelia has a more traditional view. Cornelia sees the miniaturist as a snoop and a witch.

With all that has happened, its surprising that Nella and Cornelia believe that Thea's life will be what she makes it.

Despite the ending, the novel is still richly imagined, bringing 17th century Amsterdam and all of its moral compunctions to life. 



Thursday, October 20, 2016

Miniaturist by Jessie Burton part 2

Interestingly enough, the sister-in-law in The Miniaturist acts as the requisite mean stepmother. She wears black, forbids sugar, and excesses of any kind, yet she harbors a dark secret. 

 Nella has been invited into a sumptuous world--the house of a wealthy Dutch tradesman. In exchange, though, she must keep the family's secrets, something which makes Nella uncomfortable. 

Johannes has freed the slave Otto and educated him. There is good in Johannes, yet he has married Nella under false pretenses. 

Nella is childlike and powerless in the marriage which explains why she is drawn to the miniaturist's guidance and mesmerizing control.   

Go to Part 1 for the first part of the review. Part 1

Miniaturist by Jessie Burton part 2

Interestingly enough, the sister-in-law in The Miniaturist acts as the requisite mean stepmother. She wears black, forbids sugar, and excesses of any kind, yet she harbors a dark secret. 

 Nella has been invited into a sumptuous world--the house of a wealthy Dutch tradesman. In exchange, though, she must keep the family's secrets, something which makes Nella uncomfortable. 

Johannes has freed the slave Otto and educated him. There is good in Johannes, yet he has married Nella under false pretenses. 

Nella is childlike and powerless in the marriage which explains why she is drawn to the miniaturist's guidance and mesmerizing control.   


Part 1

Miniaturist by Jessie Burton part 2

Interestingly enough, the sister-in-law in The Miniaturist acts as the requisite mean stepmother. She wears black, forbids sugar, and excesses of any kind, yet she harbors a dark secret. 

 Nella has been invited into a sumptuous world--the house of a wealthy Dutch tradesman. In exchange, though, she must keep the family's secrets, something which makes Nella uncomfortable. 

Johannes has freed the slave Otto and educated him. There is good in Johannes, yet he has married Nella under false pretenses. 

Nella is childlike and powerless in the marriage which explains why she is drawn to the miniaturist's guidance and mesmerizing control.   


Part 1

Monday, October 17, 2016

"Conversation With My Father," by Grace Paley

A woman and her 86-year-old father argue about short stories, life, and tragedy. She had always let him have the last word because of his health issues but this time she doesn't back down. 

This is one of my favorite stories because it's a story about storytelling--two people arguing about the right way to tell a story. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton


In this 2014 novel, Jessie Burton captures the life of a Dutch wife during the seventeenth century. Petronella has just married and feels belittled by her husband who ignores her.  In keeping with the times, its an arranged marriage.

Burton records the many ways someone can make someone else feel insignificant. Marin and Cornelia, the housekeeper, know how to make Petronella feel invisible. 

Her husband, Johannes, buys her a dress that is way too big and give her a wedding gift that bewilders her, a cabinet-house. The cabinet-house mirrors the rooms that she and him inhabit. Jessie Burton writes about it:

 "The accuracy of the cabinet is eerie, as if the real house has been shrunk, its body sliced in two and its organs revealed. The nine rooms, from the working kitchen, the salon, up to the loft where the peat and firewood are stored away from damp, are perfect replicas."


Go to Part 2 for the second part of the review

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

There are many ways someone can someone else feel insignificant. Marin and Cornelia, the housekeeper, know how to make Petronella feel invisible. 

Her husband, whom she barely knows, also belittles her. He buys her a dress that is way too big and give her a gift that bewilders her, a cabinet-house. The cabinet-house the rooms that she and him inhabit. Jessie Burton writes about it:

 "The accuracy of the cabinet is eerie, as if the real house has been shrunk, its body sliced in two and its organs revealed. The nine rooms, from the working kitchen, the salon, up to the loft where the peat and firewood are stored away from damp, are perfect replicas."

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

There are many ways someone can someone else feel insignificant. Marin and Cornelia, the housekeeper, know how to make Petronella feel invisible. 

Her husband, whom she barely knows, also belittles her. He buys her a dress that is way too big and give her a gift that bewilders her, a cabinet-house. The cabinet-house the rooms that she and him inhabit. Jessie Burton writes about it:

 "The accuracy of the cabinet is eerie, as if the real house has been shrunk, its body sliced in two and its organs revealed. The nine rooms, from the working kitchen, the salon, up to the loft where the peat and firewood are stored away from damp, are perfect replicas."

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

There are several things to love about this novel. I love a book where literature is lauded. The Count's life is saved on account of a poem he wrote, which some thought had a revolutionary message.

Count Alexander Rostov nevertheless finds himself under house arrest in his favorite hotel, The Metropol. He has become in the eyes of the state a "non-person" for the sole crime of having been born a Count.

He loses his grand rooms and is forced to take rooms in the attic where the wait staff live. The Count still considers himself the luckiest man in all of Russia. He is able to keep his desk and its secret stash of gold coins.

No matter how well-educated and well-informed the Count may think he is, life and the people who populate it, never fail to surprise him.

The Count forms, for instance, forms an unexpected friendship with a handyman and he has a love affair with a woman, an actress, who is nothing like she seems.
 
The Count's odd friendship with Nina, a precocious eleven-year-old and daughter of a party leader, results in her sending him Sofia. This girl becomes his adopted daughter, his world, and his greatest accomplishment.

All of these scenes are ironic and comic rather than lugubrious such as the time that Nina goes off to work for a collective farm. Count Alexander knows that "life" will find her.
 
While the novel moves at the pace of an art film, there are wonderful comic moments. This is especially true with the Count's conflict with a waiter-turned-manager that he calls "the Bishop."
 
With sly humor, Towles traces the subtle and not-so-subtle shifts in Russia's changing political landscape.
 

Monday, October 3, 2016

"Ghosts couldn't hurt you directly. They couldn't push you off a cliff, but the could lead you off one, if you were stupid enough to follow..." Razorhurst, Justine Larbalestier. 
"Ghosts couldn't hurt you directly. They couldn't push you off a cliff, but the could lead you off one, if you were stupid enough to follow..." Razorhurst, Justine Larbalestier.