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Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
Ambitious but moving
I will admit this movie is too long and overly ambitious, but when it finally gets down to business at the end it is deeply moving. David, the Mech who insists on becoming a real boy, emerges as a precious find for his futuristic Mech brethren and the only link to the long-gone human past. Another element I found compelling was the melting of the polar ice caps-- a definite possibility for the not-too-distant future. Small atoll nations in the South Pacific are already going under.
At first I was leery of what Spielberg might do to this story, with his penchant for sappy sentimentality, but I found it fascinating to see him grapple with such complex material. The story, and the ghost of Stanley Kubrick, brings darkness and restraint to what could have been a simplistic special-effects fest. Spielberg is a little like David-- he has to make his way through a world that is strange to him. This is a compellingly flawed film, which is why I recommend it.
Another Country (1984)
A Lovely Film
I saw this movie again the other day and am impressed at how well it has held up. Though it's a little hard to follow the arcane hierarchies of 1930s British public school life, that is precisely the point-- these people are suffocating in the meaningless rituals of their class. Rupert Everett and Colin Firth give outstanding performances as the openly gay and communist members of their school, and the unfolding of the relationship between Everett and Cary Elwes is some of the most romantic footage I've ever seen. Though very few of us live in such a stratified social climate these days, we would do well to understand the webs of hierarchy and ritual that bind us all in one way or another.