It’s always interesting to see how the TV schedules shift around over Christmas and the New Year. All of the ongoing series have finished before the break, and the new season starts in January. Over the period there is usually a mix of seasonal specials, or as we got last night on BBC1, an evening of movies.
First up was AI: Artificial Intelligence. The film has a very long history. Stanley Kubrick had been working on the film since buying the rights to a Brian Aldiss’s short story “Super Toys Last All Summer Long” in 1982. After Kubrick’s death the film then passed on to his friend Steven Spielberg who made the film, and it was released in 2001.
The plot, set in the future, follows a couple whose only child is seriously ill and has been cryogenically suspended. They are selected to test a new child robot, designed to be the perfect child. The problems start when the couples real child recovers, and ultimately they decide to get rid of the robot. The child robot, (and Brian Aldiss apparently really didn’t like this bit of additional plot) having heard the story of Pinocchio, tries to find the Blue Fairy to turn him into a real boy.
The film got particularly mixed reviews, and gets very strange by the third section, when the robot boy is reactivated in the far future when the human race has long since died, and the world is entirely populated by the robots they have left behind. This third section I found very reminiscent of the final section of 2001.
As a whole the film, as with a lot of good sci-fi throws up a lot of big ideas, but as a big budget crowd pleaser I can understand why it didn’t go down overly well. The other question that will always hang over the film is whether it would have been any different if Kubrick had finished the film.
The second film of the night was somewhat different. Serendipity is a romantic comedy, also released in 2001, starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale who meet when Christmas shopping for their respective partners in Bloomingdales. They spend the day together without revealing names, and then he puts his name and number on a $5 bill, and she puts her name and number in a book, and they decide to let fate take it’s course. Years later both are about to get married, but they are both still obsessed by their meeting years before.
The plot of the film is entirely predictable, you know where it is going pretty well right from the start, however what lifts it is the acting, especially from John Cusack. Whilst it quietly slipped by in 2001, to some extent the predictability and all round niceness made it a much more enjoyable movie than AI with all it’s big ideas and deep meaning!
It is worth mentioning that we didn’t watch the third movie of the night – Are You Being Served: The Movie which from the five minutes we saw before we switched it off was even more painful than the series. Beth’s comment on it was “I think this needs a laugh track…”, my thought is that it probably needs more than that…