Mini Reviews, Part 23 (MASTER, M3GAN, AI LOVE YOU)
(film reviews by Mark R. Leeper
and Evelyn C. Leeper)
Similar Words (letter of comment by Gary McGath)
THE WICKER MAN (letters of comment by Paul Dormer
and Scott Dorsey)
This Week's Reading ("The Philosophy Of Language")
(book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 23 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
Evelyn C. Leeper)
This is the twenty-third batch of mini-reviews, all films of the
MASTER (2022): MASTER is a surprisingly effective story with high
production values. We start out wondering, "Is this a ghost story?
A polemic? Or what?" The answer is gradually revealed, with some
surprising turns. While "Master" may make people initially think
of slavery, here it refers to the position in a fictional college
(Ancaster, "The College on the Hill") that is filled by one of the
three Black women who form the primary characters. (The three actresses--Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, and Amber Gray--give excellent performances.) And the Master in the film is discovered to be very
different from the Master in slavery. [-mrl/ecl]
Released theatrically 18 March 2022. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or
M3GAN (2023): M3GAN is about a robot in the form of a young girl
that's almost human. Mark was reminded of DEADLY FRIEND; I thought
of the "Twilight Zone" episode "Talking Tina". There's a nasty
high-tech boss, and some other additions, and this is clearly
science fiction rather than fantasy, but it really is nothing new.
Released theatrically on 6 January 2023; available on DVD. Rating:
+1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.
AI LOVE YOU (2022): AI LOVE YOU is a United States/Thai science
fiction film which predates the current A.I. craze by about a year.
It has elements of HER, but the basic premise is not that of a
robot imitating a human, but that of an AI somehow downloading
itself *into* a human. This film is set in a city where AI
controls all the buildings, and one AI falls in love with a human
and manages to download itself into a human AI tech so that he can
try to win her. Most of the humor is the AI trying to learn how to
be a human; one can see influences of Data from "Star Trek" (and
even Mr. Spock). Interesting more as showing a world in which AI
is ubiquitous and for the humor than as a look at a relationship
between a human and an AI.
(One should distinguish between a relationship between a human and
a disembodied AI, and one between a human and a robot or android
AI. HER is the former; EX MACHINA is the latter.) [-ecl]
Released streaming on Netflix 22 February 2022. Rating: low +2 (-4
to +4), or 7/10.
TOPIC: Similar Words (letter of comment by Gary McGath)
In response to John Hertz's comments on Vladimir Nabakov's comments
on the difference between a thing's cosmic significance, and its
comic significance being a single sibilant in the 05/12/23 issue of
the MT VOID, Gary McGath writes:
Much like the difference between the Italian words for winter
(inverno) and Hell (inferno). [-gmg]
The worst typo in English may be "now" for "not" (or vice versa),
though dropping a letter from "public" is right up there. [-ecl]
TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
I've been re-listening to John Searle's UCB course on the
philosophy of language, available through Open Culture.
Early on, Searle describes the five types of "illocutionary acts":
assertive (statements), directive (telling the listener to perform
an action), commissive (committing the speaker to an action),
expressive (expressing the mental state of the speaker), and
declaration (brining into existence the state of affairs to which
it refers). And for each of these Searle gave several examples of
common verbs or sentences in that category.
But Searle seems to have run afoul of Catholic theology at least
For example, for declaration, his examples included, "I now
pronounce you man and wife," "I declare this meeting adjourned,"
and "You're fired". But when Searle went to speak in Italy, he was
firmly warned *not* to use the first example, because serious
Catholics believe only God can marry people, and so saying "I now
pronounce you man and wife" has no effect. (Similarly, the Pope
does not make someone a saint; he merely recognizes a person's
sainthood, which is determined only by God.)
When Searle spoke at Notre Dame University, a listener asked which
category prayers fell into. Searle's first reaction was that they
were directives ("Give us this day our daily bread"). But the
listener was adamant that this was wrong; one couldn't direct God
to do anything ("Give us this day our daily bread ... or else").