Tag Archives: Films

Alan Turing – The Creator

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On Saturday I went to the UK premiere of “The Creator”. An Abandon Normal Devices preview commissioned by the Cornerhouse and Creative England, coinciding with Alan Turing’s 100th anniversary and the Olympic Torch’s visit to Manchester.

“The Creator” explores the legendary myth behind Turing using CGI to take us into his mind and last days. We see him lay on a therapy couch playing out an imagined conversation with his Jungian psychiatrist just before his death. The film plays out the myth of Turing spinning on the tragic fairytale end, blurring together the tides of history and myth. Al and Al the creators of “The Creator” explore the extreme contrast between arriving from a point of rational mathematics, to the heightened sense of the world and otherness Turing experienced during his time lived in Manchester. Here the narrative shows the computers as sophisticated “thinking machines” who want to discover their originator, juxtaposed against their originator’s mind that has been warped with suicidal thoughts through his arrest and conviction for being gay. The film was fitting in helping me reflect on what I know about Turing, what a fascinating figure he was and the injustice of his end in life.

I didn’t know of Turing till I was healthily into double figures, in fact the first time I think I’d heard of him was when I walked through Sackville Gardens in Manchester and saw his statue sat on the bench. I learnt that Turing is often hailed as the father of modern computing and that he was chemically castrated for being gay. I became morbidly fascinated by the fact that he took his own life through eating an apple laced with cyanide, because of the obvious Snow White connotations and on a more personal note because I knew someone who was collecting the seeds from apples because of the cyanide they contain to try and kill cancer. The story of Alan Turing is such an intriguing mythologised tale that my quest to know more about him and his work will definitely continue and undoubtedly it will do for a much wider audience with the centenary and also the rumours that Leonardo Dicaprio is set to play him in a new biopic!

Turing was only 41 years old when he died, born in 1912 he worked as a code breaker during World War II. It was in 1948 he came to Manchester to work in the Maths department at the University. Here he created what we know as the “Turing test”, a test for measuring how intelligent a machine is. Turing’s idea was that a computer could be said to “think” if a human could not tell it apart from another human being through conversation. It was in 1952 that Turing was investigated by the police for his relationship with another man, he was faced with the choice between a prison sentence or oestrogen injections that would cause him to become impotent and grow breasts. Turing was left unable to work and found dead in 1954 with a half eaten apple by his bedside table. The cause of Turing’s death was cyanide poisoning and the conclusion was that he had taken his own life through eating an apple laced with cyanide , though the apple was never tested.

Now 58 years on, Turing’s death has been called into question again by Turing expert Prof Jack Copeland. The myth of Turing’s life and death will continue to be surrounded in uncertainty and speculation, because of the fascinating mind that carried out extraordinary creations.


The Social Network

Wednesday evening was my once every six month trip to the Savoy Cinema in Heaton Moor, to see the semi new Fincher movie The Social Network, aka the creation of The Facebook and how it dropped the The.

The screenplay was adapted by Aaron Sorkin, of A Few Good Men and The West Wing from the book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal

 Ben Mezrich’s book was released in 2009 as nonfiction, working with Mark Zuckerberg’s co-founder Eduardo Saverin as his main consultant.

The Social Network, is a slick film in true Fincher style and extremely well cast.  Zuckerberg’s screen portrayal by Jesse Essenberg definitely would get the hotter rating score, if we were playing the facemash game, where apparently it all sparked.  Judging by the film’s portrayal of Zuckerberg, this could possibly be enough to top him off on another billionaire rant.

 

Jesse Essenberg/Mark Zuckerberg
When Justin Timberlake, aka Sean Parker founder of Napster, comes on the scene for their business meeting, they consume uptions of Appletinis and sushi deluxe, this made me sickeningly awe encompassed into this lush way of living and wanting the lavish without the consequence.  Consequentially, it made the sucker in me sympathize with the characters, it doesn’t take much.  The scene where Zuckerberg looks from the outside in, onto a blasted party where no one really gives a damn, made me feel the ache that he probably never has, this is where money perhaps fills the void, or more accurately not looking introspectively or caring to.
 

The film is based on the lawsuits that ensue after Facebook gets its real face, with the input of Sean Parker and the onslaught of Saverin the original businessman, things turn sour.  As the money and the network grows, so to do the drugs, the drinking, the lack of reality and the underbelly of an altogether different world.  However, their lives were different from the start, with the fraternity nerds of Harvard that subscribe to brawn, brains and dollar bills, holding marketplace value over any feelings for true beauty. 

The film is a great watch and extremely well cast.  It looks amazing and apparently was all shot digitally.  The stylised look of the film coupled with the fitting score of Trent Reznor makes it a great ride through the gritty relationships of the now 26-year-old who is worth $6.9 billion.  It’s a story worth telling and really well done, even if it doesn’t truly match the man behind the face. 

It’s hard to distinguish what is and what isn’t based on truth, but it seems from looking about on the web that there are loose threads that point us somewhere along the lines of what went on.  My favourite scene being about Saverin who was put in the paper for chicken cannibalism, after carrying a chicken around with him as one of those stupid initiations into Harvard’s Pheonix club.  Even though there is no truth behind this, the thought of him being stitched up because he fed the chicken some chicken had me chuckling away in the furry seats of the Savoy. 

Eduardo Saverin: Don’t fish eat other fish? The marlins and the trouts!

The blog that Mark Zuckerberg wrote about his angry split with his girlfriend before the launch of facemash (what went on to become  facebook) is actually the transcript of Zuckerberg’s former live journal blog. Though Zuckerberg said

“The whole framing of the movie is I’m with this girl (who doesn’t exist in real life) … who dumps me … which has happened in real life, a lot. . . And basically the framing is that the whole reason for making Facebook is because I wanted to get girls, or wanted to get into clubs.”

 Whether it’s real or not ceases to matter as it is too confusing and the importance comes back to what the film’s portrayal leaves you with.  The feelings that grabbed my perspective was that yep it’s a bit sickening, and yep it’s way over the top rich, but has the film’s Zuckerberg got what he wanted and what we subscribe to?  the answer seems a likely yes.

Great film and was surprised to see an older more well-rounded, not physically, but actorily wise Justin Timberlake.

Zuckerberg apparently has seen the film and said that everything was fictionalised apart from his wardrobe, which was spot on, and in truth Zuckerberg’s wardrobe was the only redeeming quality for the “asshole” he is shown on-screen to be.

 Mark Zuckerberg: A guy who makes a nice chair doesn’t owe money to everyone who has ever built a chair.

Mark Zuckerberg: I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try – but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing.
[pauses]
Mark Zuckerberg: Did I adequately answer your condescending question?

 

  


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