Sorry to bother you [2018]

“I just really need a job”


Wow it has been a really long time since I’ve been on my science fiction shit, watching and posting to my site. I’ve been recuperating from surgery but I’m much better now so let’s get back to it, eh!?

I watched this film months ago some time in my recovery so my memory is sketchy, but loosely, the film (directed by Boots RIley) follows Cassius Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield) and there are some other big names in the film as well like Danny Glover, Patton Oswalt, David Cross and more. From the offset, Cassius is struggling. He lives in his Uncle’s garage with his girlfriend. He gets a job as a telemarketer for a large corporation called RegalView – largely it seems to impress his girlfriend –  which progressively presents itself to be quite a morally corrupt company. The aim of the job is to call random people and sell shit and Cassius finds that he is not successful until he puts on his “white” voice at which point he starts to excel in the company. Meanwhile, his colleagues form a union to strike unfair working conditions at the company but Cassius sells out to get a higher paid position in the “elite” team. While working there he discovers that the company are selling military arms through cheap labour, that employees sign up for lifetime contracts and are living in conditions that could be likened to prison. Then, after being invited to the CEO’s house party, he makes an even more sordid discovery that he finds hard to ignore…

Didn’t want to give too much away, but I really enjoyed this film. 

On the face of it, it was a dark comedy but the deeper I went into the film, the more fantastical it became weaving themes around inequality throughout. From the start with Cassius’s living conditions which are ridiculous but totally normalised, to the working conditions that RegalView put their staff through, the clear tiered hierarchy between normal people and the “elite”… And there’s this moment at the house party where Cassius, who is a Black man, is made to rap to his fellow colleagues and on being asked to do that, he imploringly looks to the other Person Of Colour in the room, as if to say ‘is this for real’ who gives this blank look in response… it’s so sinister and illustrates this obvious hierarchy of power between white people and POC even among the “elite” tier in the company. It’s also a pretty typical racist microaggression in real life… Instead of getting to know Cassius, they’ve made assumptions about him based on his colour as if he belongs to a monoculture… It would be like approaching an Asian person and asking them to do some karate moves or to make sushi for you… 

I would be curious to know if someone who was racially all white (not mixed like myself or not a POC) picked up on the same tensions that I felt throughout; it felt like it was building for a long time to the point that the ending was a bit like a kick in the stomach. But then it also felt like despite hearing throughout the film through snippets of news and so on that something strange was happening at the company, the inequalities seemed so much like normal life that the ending really came out of leftfield. Damn I really wish I had written this post as soon as I had seen the film because my memory is a little hazy right now. I’ve read some other reviews of the film where people thought it was messy. If I was to be super critical I would say I didn’t really rate the girlfriend sub-plot in the film. Her character felt like just a device to illustrate how down-on-his-luck Cassius was and a yard stick to show us how morally deficient Cassius had become, but that was also pretty clear through the way he treated the union so I’m not sure that her plot really added anything. Though I love Tessa Thompson. She’s a total babe and an excellent actress. Let me know what you thought about it yourself in the comments. Would love to hear what people thought!

CN: sexual assault

One thing to note was that I found out afterwards that the actor who played the CEO, Armie Hammer, had allegedly sexually assaulted a number of women IRL which I of course believe. In retrospect, his inclusion in the film soured it for me (and has soured a number of other films Armie has been in which I loved like the beautiful ‘call me by your name’) but it’s not often you have films with such diversity, with such an unusual story. I’m just glad the film seems to have had a great critical response despite that. 

So, all in all, original story. Surprising, yet so familiar it could be set in the near future. Loved Lakeith’s performance as well as the performances of the peripheral characters. Really enjoyed it. Check it out on Netflix. 

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I am Human [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“What does it mean to be human? To me it means we can become anything we want…”


This documentary film, directed by Elena Gaby and Taryn Southern, explores the technological advancements of the world’s first cyborgs: Bill, Anne and Stephen

The film opens on Bill who became tetraplegic (unable to move his arms and legs) after a tragic accident. The film shows him currently living in an assisted facility and he explains that he just wants “to move from this point to that point” by himself.

Anne suffers from Parkinsons disease which affects the nerve cells making it very difficult to move about or do anything that requires fine motor skills. We also meet her husband who explains that Anne used to be an artist and hospital volunteer and that this disease has been detrimental to her life. She says “the biggest thing for me was that I would become useless…. a burden in the world” and that symptoms like not being able to smile made it impossible for her to connect with people, that it made her exhausted both physically and mentally.

Stephen has a vision impairment where all he sees is white, and he relies heavily on his sister for emotional and physical help.

We also meet a team of amazing scientists/engineers at a neuroscience organisation focused on “addressing a broken brain”. We see that the technology, which centres around using electrodes to stimulate the brain, hopes to solve some of our biggest problems with regards to diseases that inflict a lot of people. The life-changing impacts this technology has will affect millions of people; it was so cool to see what they’re doing around turning our brain impulses with its 100 billion neurons into digital code which could be manipulated to make those who can’t walk, walk again, those who can’t see, see again. It looks like the tech is in early days and is very experimental – and to some it may seem a bit Frankenstein (“for some people it’s a Sci-Fi step too far”) – but just imagine what we can do if we master our own brains!

They asked an interesting question in the docu: “Are we about to change what it fundamentality means to be human, and if so, are we okay with that?” I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes us human, during this film festival, and it’s not possible to attribute it to one thing. In “Mirror Human” earlier in the week, one of the subjects said that once you had a name you were human, and this docu suggests it’s our ailments that make us human, but it’s cannot be a single element. We’re too complicated for that to be the case. I wonder who we could be if we didn’t have to worry about health implications. Perhaps we would be free to be our truest, most evolved selves if we were free from health inequalities?

The docu also touched on the ethical questions that arise where this technology is concerned, particularly with corporations like Google and others vying for personal data… It warned of the “unchecked power” that they hold and asked us as the audience to really think about what we want for this technology in the future, because it belongs to all of us. With so much science fiction around the subject of implants (Black Mirror et al) and the potential corruption that comes with it, these are questions that require global, intelligent discussion. It concerns me that it would be targeted by any Elon Musk type personality who stands to gain financially from a patent like that which should be used for the good of humankind. Greed should not even factor into decisions of this magnitude. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I frickin love Google. I have Google everything, but do I want them in my brain as well? Hell no.

In conclusion, it was amazing to see these technological advances, the massive health benefits given to the subjects we met earlier and to consider the theoretical implications. I’m really excited to see how this technology develops in the future. Thanks so much to the directors for making this because it’s an absolute gem of a film.

You can watch ‘I am Human’ here. But you’ll need to purchase a film or festival pass.

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Mirror Human [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“Please remember me…”


There is a LOT going on in this film and I feel like I didn’t do it justice watching it (my concentration wasn’t 100% in it), so I think I need to re-watch this.

This film follows three different interlocking stories around genetically modified replicas/androids called Transcendants. Their lives are tragically short and it explores their complicated stories. From the offset we find out that the world is quite barren and that these androids have been created with excellent genes for a variety of reasons, but at some point they become unacceptable to human society and the Mirror project (which is what they are called) is suspended.

There’s this evident sense of otherness for the Transcendants compared to humans. At one point someone says that they are “the epitome of the human condition”, that they are “not like us” and they are not capable of loving in the way that humans do. However, we see very quickly that they definitely are, for instance through Xiao-Sun (the Boxer) and Tien’s relationship which is so endearing. The interesting thing about Xiao-Sun as well is that as the android, he is totally being used by the system/the man as a form of entertainment for the masses. You see him being physically beaten for others’ financial gain and it’s obvious from this that Transcendants are considered the lowest of the low. Like they’re disposable.

The film explores what it is to be human. There’s one part of the film where one of the androids says “once you have a name, you can call yourself human” (the androids are assigned numbers) and that sentence really made me think is that the only thing that sets us apart? Perhaps it’s the self awareness of our identities? I was reading recently about why we can’t remember the first years of our lives (don’t ask me why, I just was!) and that our earliest memories don’t start to form until approximately three onwards. I believe it’s the New Zealand Maori who have the earliest record of childhood memories which is something like from 2.5 years old onwards, and that’s simply because their culture places importance on indigenous and family history. There’s this theory in all of this that our memories only form when we have the language to do so, that memories are connected to language and not feelings/emotions and so when I heard them say the sentence about humanity and your name, it reminded me of that theory. Because having a name is more than about identity, it’s about connection to memories and history and kin and collectivity. This is the rabbit hole I went down having watched this film…

Liang (who calls himself the delivery driver) and his best friend Jay who is an android have a great dynamic which I enjoyed. Jay says that he has perfect genes yet he cannot beat Liang in a race, and Liang says that fear of death is what pushes him to drive faster. I feel like this is something that you see in sports people a lot. In order to compete at the highest level, to run your fastest, swim your farthest and so on, you have to feel like you are putting everything of yourself into it. Like you are pushing your body to the absolute limit so that idea definitely resonated. Perhaps androids aren’t capable of doing that, or perhaps it’s that the Transcendants sole desire is to live so why would they push that far (to the point of imminent death)? Also, such a cute little Star Wars reference (BB8) through the little robot friend of Liang’s.

I enjoyed the soundtrack which was lead by very elegant piano bits and it swung between very whimsical and then super determined sounding.

There was one bit of the film which I didn’t quite understand, which was that at parts people were wearing breathing masks. When the Boxer died, they all turned to face the camera with these masks on and it was acknowledged that he was no longer alive. I might have missed that but I wasn’t sure what the ecological reason was behind that. Who were the people with the masks? Was the earth unlivable, or was it a specific area? And there was an unspeaking, smiling girl with pigtails handing out masks. Was she a Transcendant? What I got from that was that she was, and that her purpose was to sit in an area that would be harmful to breathe if you were human, but because she’s like this disposable android her job is to do just that and hand out masks. I might totally have my wires crossed about that though… I really wish that there was a Q&A for this film because I would have liked to question this.

So all in all, this film definitely gave me some things to think about but I’m not sure how I feel about the film. Nice soundtrack. I liked the concept. I found it a little too complicated for a single watching, so I’ll definitely need to watch it again. I liked the dynamics between the characters and I know I will be thinking about this film for a long while. Really polished film, seemed like it had high production values and I really felt the tragic nature of the android’s lives. If you have any thoughts, would love to hear from you readers!

Check out Mirror Human here. To watch it, you’ll need to buy a film or festival pass.

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