2001: A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Artifical Intelligence, in my opinion, is a classic movie. A visual masterpiece from Steven Spielberg, this movie is set in the near future, in which the manufacturing of robots occurs; but these aren’t any type of robots, but advanced, realistic, life-like robots (named mechas), which have been programmed to be as human as possible. However, although many types were manufactured, they still lacked some of the main elements that truly make a human, human, with one in particular – emotion. However, a further advanced prototype robot was created, called David (Haley Joel Osment) – a robot, created in the image of a young child, which has the ability to have emotions, in particular, the emotion of love towards his mother, Monica (Frances O’Connor), who adopted him as a substitute for her child who is in cryostasis due to having an incurable disease.

Problems begin to arise within the family, as a cure had been created for the child in stasis, meaning that he is able to return back home, and as a result, both David, and his now step-brother, Martin, feel obliged to compete for their mother’s love. Through this, Martin tricks David into doing several things which would make him appear unsafe to have as a ‘son’, and so Monica decides to return David back to the factory at which he was created, to be destroyed. However, a permanent imprint from Monica was put into David as she decided to permanently keep him, and being destroyed would be the only way to remove this imprinting. But David shows such genuine emotion towards her, even calling her mommy, to the extent that she cannot bear to have him destroyed, and so she drives him out to the woods and leaves him there. All the while, David, producing child-like emotions, becomes scared and worried, wondering why he has been abandoned by his mother, before wandering further into the woods.

David remembers a book his mother once read him before bed, the story of Pinocchio, and how the Blue Fairy granted wooden Pinocchio the wish of becoming a real boy. David, wanting nothing but the unconditional love of his mother, goes in search of the Blue Fairy, along the way, meeting countless different types of mechas, who have human appearances. He realises they are all discarded robots, and are being captured for recycling. Luckily, with the help of a few friendly and caring robots, including a robot programmed to please women – Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) manage to help. Joe decides to tag along with David, leading him to Rouge City, where Joe is convinced he will find the Blue Fairy.

The movie continues through a visually stunning, emotion-provoking futuristic journey, before David finds the Blue Fairy, only to be told it isn’t real by Professor Allen Hobby (William Hurt) – the man in charge of the company, Cybertronics, who created young David. David, in an attempt to escape from pursuers, travels underwater in an Amphibicopter, to an underwater city, which is in fact Coney Island. He becomes stuck in some rubble, but in the distance, sees a statue of a Blue Fairy. Two thousand years pass, and David is still there, staring at the fairy, before he is suddenly found and taken out of the water by an Alien species. This species has the ability to bring people back, but they need a DNA sample. David reveals he has a strand of hair from Monica, which he cut off her head (one of the things Martin made him to do try to get him into trouble).

His mother is brought back, and as David wished, he has been granted the wish by the mysterious yet graceful species, to become a real boy. However, the downside is that such resurrected people, as his mother, can only be brought back for a day. David finally lives a life in the day of a human, with his mother Monica, having the best day he has ever witnessed, laying with his mother at the end of the night, as she “falls asleep”…

This movie is perhaps one of the most realistically advanced movies I have ever seen. Throughout the movie, you can tell how much effort has been put into it, not only through the amazing special effects that have been used, providing brilliant visuals, but through the simple, yet brilliant storyline, adapted from the story of Pinocchio, ironically, being brought to life, in this beautifully crafted movie. There isn’t a lot of dialogue in this movie in comparison to most other movies, but such an amount is not required. The majority of this movie is heavily carried forward through its beautiful visuals, emotions, and its storyline, which even provokes emotions in the audience, as do the mysteriously eerie, yet brilliant futuristic representations.

However, the acting in this movie, especially on Osment’s part, is brilliant. How he manages to appear as an actual robot who has emotions, and being able to present these emotions in such a clear and strong manner, is spectacular. Throughout the whole movie, you actually feel as if he is a robot, determined to become a human. Ironic, that he has determination, something a human would have.

The main thing about this movie, though, is its representations of emotions, upon which it focuses on massively. It not only addresses the philosophy of emotions, connecting it to a sentient being, but also delves into these emotions, opening them up, and immersing you into them, through the movie and great acting.  Throughout the whole movie, it provokes your emotions, making you feel the suitable emotions that are being focused on in each given scene of the movie. It reflects our emotions as humans, through a being that isn’t actually human, in such a way that it makes you think about emotions, and what is actually is to be human. The idea of a robot feeling emotions digs even deeper into other topics of debate, including those of God and religion, and the value of life, and not just human life.

This is one of the most defining movies I have seen. One which definitely keeps you feeling a range of emotions throughout the movie, and thinking afterwards. A fantastic production, with a great cast, allowing a range of emotions to be provoked throughout – something a great movie should be able to do.

By Manpreet Singh


2000: Memento

Cover of "Memento"

Cover of Memento

Memento, is another brilliant movie from a brilliant director, Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight), along with help from his brother, Jonathan Nolan. Memento, focuses on the character, Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), who has short-term memory loss due to an incident in his life, therefore failing to produce new memories (anterograde amnesia). Through the use of notes written down and tattooed on his body,  he goes through his day-to-day life, in search of the person who raped and murdered his wife.

Another well-thought and cleverly directed piece of film from Nolan, this movie occurs in different segments, with the first scene of the movie being the last scene of the story; and from here, it works its way backwards to the beginning of the story, piecing together the events that lead up to its preceding part of the story. And all the while through this, there are numerous scenes shown in black and white, which are in fact in chronological order, showing events soon after Leonard’s injury, as opposed to the rest of the movie. As you keep watching, you soon realise that the coloured scenes and the black & white scenes alternate, and soon enough clash half-way through the movie, bringing both storylines together as one. An incredibly clever way of depicting a story, which I imagine must have been quite difficult to correctly put together.

The first scene of the movie (the last scene of the story) shows Leonard having killed Teddy Gammell (Joe Pantoliano). As the story goes on, it shows Leonard acquainting with a woman, Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss). All the time, Leonard uses the application of taking photographs of the people whom he meets, leaving little notes with these photos, within the 2-3 minute timeframe that he has before the new memory disappears from his knowledge of existence.

As the movie goes on, the events continue to unfold, and as we get closer and closer to the first scene of the story (the final scene of the movie) we learn what is actually going on. For those of you who have scene the movie, you will know that at the end, it turns out that Leonard had in fact found the killer of his wife, whom he had killed over a year ago; and all the mean while, it was in fact he who killed his wife, with an insulin overdose (which he confused with the story of a made up patient with whom he believed he was involved with, who suffered from a unique and severe case of anterograde amnesia, Sammy Jankis). Leonard had somewhat created another reality to ignore this fact, and due to his amnesia, forgets the true events and everyday, beginning the same cycle, looking for the ‘killer of his wife’. Although, there are numerous suggestions for the ending as to why he leads the life he does every day of his life. It would seem that he realises this at the end, but as a result of his condition, fails to remember it.

Memento is perhaps one of the most complexly made movies I have ever seen; and for that, I love it. It requires you to stay alert throughout, having to think about what is going on. As one scene finishes, you see its preceding scene, which overlaps with the scene you have just watched, allowing you to realise the scenes are linked, concurrently, somewhat resembling the memory of an amnesiac, being confusing and having memories missing, thus making little sense. This is another movie that really makes you think once you’ve watched it, with it questioning reality and what you believe to be real.

It allows us to live the life of someone experiencing anterograde amnesia, but with an amazing twist to their life, which in effect, really makes you think about the weirdly wonderful, yet sometimes unfortunate, way in which the human mind works, whilst at the same time leaving the audience thinking about what is real and what isn’t. The story also leaves a lot of areas open for debate. This movie very much concerns the idea of creating another life, to deny the facts of a true life that was lived to be able to cope with living. And although similar to other movies, this movie manages to do this in a very unique and intriguing manner, which I loved. With great performances and a brilliantly designed storyline, it’s just another classic from Christopher Nolan.

By Manpreet Singh

1999: The Matrix

The Matrix - Screenshot of the famous GLMatrix...

Image via Wikipedia

It was a tough choice to select the Monumental Movie of 1999, what with there being so many brilliant movies from this year. However, I made the decision to go with The Wachowski Brothers’ classic, The Matrix. Although to many, it may just be seen as another action-packed gun-fest, this is not the case at all. The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, focuses around a computer hacker, Neo, who soon learns that the life he has seemingly been living all along, isn’t what he thought it was, and in fact, was all an artificial life, in which his mind had been trapped within. Morpheus, awakes Neo to this realisation, right after one of many famous scenes from this movie – the choice between the red pill, and the blue pill; whether he wakes up to the bleak reality that is, or to stay in his fake world that isn’t real – The Matrix.

Neo soon comes to witness the reality that is, a dark world, overtaken by The Machines, who are artificially breeding humans as an energy source for their sentient, yet mechanical existence. A small human rebellion that remains hidden on Earth, living in the city of Zion, are all that’s left, in the war between humans and machines. Neo, along with the rest of the team, must go back in to the Matrix, in order to destroy The Agents, a set of incredibly powerful computer programs, with the primary objective of destroying Neo and the remainder of the human race.

This movie is full of classic scenes. In fact, almost every scene of this movie is a classic, but a few of the ones which stand out a little more than the rest include the bank vault shoot-out. This is one of the scenes that revolutionised the action genre – shooting the crap out of the bad guys, whilst in slow-motion, doing crazy flips and cartwheels and shit. Proof that this movie appeals to our adrenanline-filled, gun-toting manic side, as well as our sc-fi nerdy sides. The scene where Neo is waiting to speak to the Oracle (the now deceased, Gloria Foster), where he has a conversation with one of the other ‘potentials’, a young child, is probably the most defining scene of the movie. The young, gifted child makes Neo realise that anything is possible, with the line ‘there is no spoon.’, which indicates that in the Matrix, nothing exists, but his mind, and so he must change only himself.

The movie ends with Neo and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) fist-fighting to the death. Smith appears to have won, but Neo, having finally learnt the true nature of what the Matrix really is, rises up, and destroys Smith, combining himself with Smith, becoming more powerful than ever imagined. The war isn’t over yet, but now the Humans have a better chance than ever in the war to reclaim the Earth that once was theirs.

Now, although this may sound similar to movies such as The Terminator, what with Humans vs Machines and what not, and that it just seems like another action-packed movie, there really is so much more to it. Although movies such as Fight Club question our sanity, and movies such as American Beauty tackle the dramatic and life-defining aspects of life, The Matrix, questions life, and our existence. Yes, it has a science-fiction basis to it, but it opens our minds up and allows us to think ‘outside the box’ in such a way, which many other movies have not managed to do. The Matrix, revolutionised movies; it was the first of its kind. The classic line, “There is no spoon.” signifies this aspect, focusing on the idea of what is and isn’t real, and that with the brilliant capacity of our minds, anything is possible. It is one of those amazing movies that inspire us, as humans, to strive to be more than just ordinary, and to realise that we have the potential to be whoever we want to be. This movie has the power that so many movies do not hold, to make us evaluate our ideas on what we perceive to be real, and what reality is.  This is definitely a complex movie, but one that you need to watch.

By Manpreet Singh

1998: Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan

Image via Wikipedia

Saving Private Ryan, easily one of the most well-crafted war movies of all time, is set after the Normandy landings in 1944. During the bloody battle on the shore, two brothers are killed. Shortly after, news arrives that a third brother has been killed in action in New Guinea. However, one brother still remains, who is behind enemy lines. It’s up to Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his men to save Private James Ryan (Matt Damon), sparing Ryan’s mother from the torture of having to mourn the death of all four of her sons.

Right from the start, this movie is just a classic, with the opening 10-15 minutes showing the battle on the shores of Normandy, displaying the brutality and cold-blooded murder associated with war to an impressively realistic degree. Miller leads his men forward, to secure the beachhead, whilst all around him soldiers are being slaughtered and killed in a split-second. Even right from the start, whilst they’re on the boats heading towards the shores, the great acting shows realistic reactions and emotions that occur in soldiers before running straight into battle.

Miller, along with his team, head straight into the enemy territory, risking their lives to save Private Ryan. All the way through, they face death at every corner, persevering even through the toughest of times. The movie ends with Miller and co. finding Private Ryan, although it seems he is right in the middle of heavy enemy territory. After an epic and tense battle scene, the movie ends with Miller laying on the floor, talking to Private Ryan, telling him to “Earn this. Earn it.”. The movie then skips forward more than 50 years, showing Ryan reading a speech at a graveyard, standing next to the grave of Captain Miller.

From start to end, this movie is outstanding. Filled with action, suspense, and highly emotional dramatical scenes, this movie is sheer brilliance throughout. And, although very sad at parts, which would make any person feel like crying, this movie really is a feel-good one, with the themes of perseverance and determination to reach your goals being emphasised. With the genius directing skills of Steven Spielberg behind this movie, all of these factors plus more, that make the movie, are only greatly amplified.

This movie really does represent war movies at their finest. A masterpiece of cinematic display, that will always be a classic.

By Manpreet Singh

1997: Titanic

Cover of "Titanic : Music from the Motion...

Cover of Titanic : Music from the Motion Picture

Titanic, once the highest-grossing movie of all time (until it was taken over by Avatar), is considered by many, to be the most successful movie ever to be made. At a whopping 194 minutes long, this movie epic depicts the unfortunate story of the greatest ship ever built, the RMS Titanic, which, during its voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City, hit a huge iceberg and sank, ending in the death of over 1500 passengers (1517 passengers, to be precise). Directed by the discernibly distinguished director, James Cameron, this movie classic stars one of the most brilliant and respected actors to appear in the movie industry, Leonardo DiCaprio, along with also highly renowned actress, Kate Winslet.

The story focuses around two passengers in particular, who meet on board the Titanic: Jack (DiCaprio) and Rose (Winslet) – two people from entirely different social backgrounds who fall in love during the journey to New York. As the movie goes on, their relationship develops further, starting from not knowing each other at all, to eventually being completely in love, wanting to spend the rest of their lives with each other. Unfortunately for them, though, the disastrous fate of the Titanic cuts this relationship short, with Jack and Rose eventually, being in each others arms in the ocean in the middle of the wreck, with nothing left to do, but hope to be rescued.

The movie then ends, with Jack dying, and Rose living a full, yet reminiscent life, telling back her story of how she met and fell in love with Jack, all whilst the most impressive ship ever built reaches its sad demise. The movie then ends with a scene showing Rose, being reunited with Jack once again, 84 long years later, in a somewhat dream-like sequence; possibly some sort of afterlife, being happy once again back in 1912, as Jack kisses her once again, like he did all those years ago..

Although this movie is quite accurate, it isn’t completely accurate in terms of matching the actual events at which the Titanic occurred, as it has been tailored to be more Hollywood-esque. But, of course, the added dramatic storylines, especially the relationship between Jack and Rose, make this movie an even more dramatically emotional rollercoaster, and this only drastically improves the quality and enjoyment of the movie, combined of course, with the primary storyline of the sinking of the Titanic. A brilliantly crafted movie, by a brilliant director; this movie is a great piece of work. It shows the lives of two young strangers, who become one through love, whilst going through a massive and historical, yet hugely unfortunate event, which cuts their destinies short. A compelling and emotional watch, this is one movie that everyone will enjoy.

By Manpreet Singh

1996: Trainspotting

Cover of "Trainspotting (Ws)"

Cover of Trainspotting (Ws)

Trainspotting, focuses around the character, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), who, whilst living in Edinburgh, becomes taken in by the drug scene, becoming addicted to heroin. The story portrays Renton’s life, and how he tries his best to escape the life of a drug addict, despite major influences affecting him for the worse, including his friends, and of course, drugs.

The movie begins, showing the day-to-day lives of Renton and his friends: Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller),  Tommy (Kevin McKidd), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). This movie is a great portrayal of drugs, and how they can ruin lives, adversely affecting  relationships with everyone around you, especially with family and friends. Together, Renton, and his friends, each with their own erratic and drug-dependent personalities, live their lives, finding money through any means necessary, so they can get another ‘hit’; except for Tommy, although he soon becomes a bit too curious about the enjoyable effects of heroin..

After realising that his friends and surroundings, along with the drugs, are destroying his life, Renton eventually, after failed attempts, gives up on heroin for good, and moves away, living in a new house, with a job. But his friends soon find their way back in to his life and eventually, begin dragging him down once again.

The movie ends with one of the gang finding a huge amount of heroin for a surprising price, and instead of using it, they sell it, to try to make a fortune. However, things don’t turn out great, with Begbie,who, being the crazy person he is, ends up beating a man in a pub for accidentally bumping into him, whilst in the process, slicing Spud’s hand. Renton, from seeing this, along with many other events through his life, comes to realise that, apart from Spud, these people really aren’t his friends at all. Renton then ends up stealing the money, which seems fair enough, seeing as though he paid for the heroin in the first place due to Begbie pressuring him to do so. He then walks away with the money, and begins a normal life, like he once imagined.

The movie is full of classic scenes; particularly when Renton decides to go ‘cold turkey’, with a very interesting insight into what a heroin addict experiences when they instantly give up heroin, showing just how dependant an individual becomes on such a drug. Also, the scene in which Renton takes an overdose and almost dies, is a very capturing and emotional scene, combined with Lou Reed‘s song, ‘Perfect Day‘. The movie is full of scenes which draw you into the whole concept of a drug addict’s life, allowing you to almost experience the emotions and viewpoints attributed with, although seemingly enjoyable at first, an incredibly unfortunate lifestyle.

Trainspotting, has a dark and dingy outlook on life, through the eyes of an habitual drug user, turning to drugs to try to escape this dingy view on life, but soon realising that their addiction is in fact, making their lives worse than they could have imagined. There are many movies which delve into the lives of drug users, many of which often seem to be disappointing and inaccurate portrayals. However, Trainspotting, has a realistic and empathetic expression of it, and this is helped with the great acting from the cast, along with the directing skills of Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours). If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s definitely one to put on the ‘Movies to Watch Before you Die’ list.

By Manpreet Singh

1995: Toy Story

Toy Story

Image via Wikipedia

The Monumental Movie for 1995 is the classic, CGI comedy, Toy Story. The original, which began the brilliant trilogy, stars the voices of acting legend Tom Hanks as Woody, and Tim Allen as the voice of Buzz Lightyear – the two voices combined with the two characters we all know and love. This movie brings to life the imagination of every kid. It starts with a boy named Andy, who, like any other kid, loves his toys, ranging from toy cowboys to dinosaurs, playing with them everyday. However, when Andy isn’t around, his toys come to life. His favourite toy, Woody thinks he has life good, enjoying his life with Andy and his other toy friends; until a new toy arrives for Andy’s birthday…Buzz Lightyear. Everyone knows the classic line, “To infinity, and Beyond!!”.

Buzz Lightyear, fails to believe that he is a toy, and believes that he is a real life space cadet, and he soon takes over the role of Andy’s favourite toy. Woody, is now determined to get rid of Buzz, but during the process they both end up getting lost, and need to find their way back to Andy’s house before he realises that they have been missing. But unfortunately for them, they are in the worst place possible for a toy… Sid’s house. Sid Phillips, is a ruthless child, whose main hobby involves brutally murdering toys.

After having to survive in Sid’s house, through some although disastrous for them, hilarious for the audience, experiences, Buzz and Woody manage to begin forming a friendship, before realising they have to escape Sid’s house before they too, are killed. Fortunately, they manage to do this, whilst in the process, mentally scarring Sid for life… In the end, Buzz and Woody manage to make it back to safety, through a risky and daring escape, and in the nick of time, managing to land safely next to Andy in the car, which his mum is driving to their new home.

For many people, including myself, Toy Story was a huge part of their childhood. This movie brings to life the imagination of every kid; at one point or another, we all hoped that our toys would come to life, and this movie made it possible. With a load of humour, which people of all ages will enjoy, whether you’re 6, or 60, this movie delivers brilliantly. Even when watching it as an adult, it brings back that happy feeling of being a child, back when nothing mattered.

The CGI for its time was brilliant, and still is for today, being one of the first movies of its kind. A definite classic movie from Pixar, this is one that audiences will never get bored of, re-living their childhood every time they watch it. This movie even has a great theme song, which is also used in the latest and final installment of this trilogy, Toy Story 3, which, as soon as I hear, instantly reminds me of this film, bringing back childhood memories. I’m pretty sure everyone has seen this movie, but if you haven’t, it’s never too late to watch Toy Story…

By Manpreet Singh