SECTION NINE
MOVIE REVIEW

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COLUMN SIXTY-ONE, JULY 1, 2001
(Copyright 2001 The Blacklisted Journalist)

AN ATTACK ON CATHOLICISM?
A SPIELBERG MASTERPIECE


http://community.webtv.net/musicbm/THEDEMOTHATGOTTHE

(COPYRIGHT 2001 Joe Viglione)

When I was a young boy in St. Agnes School, the nuns would post the "Condemned" movies on the bulletin board.  They would cut out the page from THE PILOT where the powers that be informed us how we would go to hell if we viewed the despicable films listed.  To my impressionable mind, people were condemned---how could a motion picture be treated as if it were Charles Manson or Timothy McVeigh?

When David---as Biblical a name as you can get---touches the Virgin Mary and the idol comes crashing down---Spielberg's message that even praying to an image for 2000 years is not going to make your wish come true.  But it does come true, and as the film quotes Shakespeare---there lies the rub.

The statue of the Virgin Mary is actually the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio in some submerged New York long after Planet Of The Apes has happened---and let us check off the films that have influenced this epic:

The X Men---Mutants Vs. Humanity: As the Mechas go for the bait---the spare parts from the Flesh Fairs, they face off against the enemy---humankind---right out of Marvel Comics and the recently released picture.

Star Trek The Next Generation: Jean Luc Picard gets both his identities in this flick.  Data wants to become human throughout the series, and David reiterates the sentiment .

Classic Star Trek: The Aliens are Close Encounters meets ET meets The Talosians from the Star Trek Pilot  "thousands of us are probing his mind, Magistrate..." indeed Poor David.  When he sees the trademark on his name, and the little boy in the box shaking like a Mexican jumping bean, the (R) trademark symbol next to his name, he realizes he is not the prostitute that Spielberg declares he is throughout the film---even going to great lengths to have Jude Law make it clear the parents who buy this boy toy for love are as shallow as the clients who purchase a mechanical hustler---no, he is even lower than a prostitute---he is a product sold on a grocery shelf!

At least a prostitute can go home and deal with the reality of it all. This is really love in a jar.

That the Creator, William Hurt (and maybe Spielberg wanted the name Hurt to be even more blunt) chooses the family of Monica and Henry Swinton, knowing---even counting on---the fact that they will reject the boy is the first abuse of this new life form; the actual rejection is the second.  The Sinton's real son, Martin---unexpectedly brought back to life--- could have had the perfect little brother, but his jealousy evokes Cain and Abel.

"Now Abel became a shepherd and kept flocks, while Cain tilled the soil.  Time passed and Cain brought some of the produce of the soil as an offering for Yahweh, while Abel for his part brought the first-born of his flock and some of their fat


The Blue Fairy
inspires David
to do the impossible


as well.  Yahweh looked with favor on Abel and his offering. But he did not look with favor on Cain and his offering and Cain was very angry and downcast."  And you know the rest of the story.

There was no need for Martin, dressed in his best Darth Vader attire and fitted with computer legs as the half-man/half-machine resurrected by Cryogenics (manufacturer of robots) trying to tease David that Martin is organic and thus he is real.  But that doesn't stop David from holding on to his brother for dear life when the neighborhood kids put a knife to the robo-boy...KEEP ME SAFE is the theme, and when the human family lets him down, David seeks out The Blue Fairy.  This is also the product of malice; Martin, with evil in his heart, demands that his mother read Pinocchio to the two kids, and it is robo-boy David's belief in Pinocchio's Blue Fairy that inspires David to do the impossible.  William Hurt also uses David's belief in the Blue Fairy to trap David again.

Hurt loves his creation. The robot boy is an extension of himself but, like Dr. Frankenstein, he fails to impart any of himself to the creature. Thus he can be cold and detached. His office full of pictures of the creation with himself are not part of David's memory banks, even if David experienced this interaction with his maker prior to Monica imprinting her essence on his programming with the words that serve as the combination to unlock the love of this new life form.

Oh there's Arnold's SIXTH DAY in this with helicopter scenes as well as SIXTH SENSE.  However, Haley Joel Osment, who plays robo-boy, is no McCauley Culkin one-hit wonder. Osment's acting is brilliant and totally believable; he is both human and machine, and for him to be able to be so believable in two major films shows a depth both Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney would have to envy. This is real Judy Garland stuff, just keep the kid off the drugs.  There's Terminator here, but no Matrix. There's lots of Wizard of Oz, lots of it, but no Dracula. When the mother, Monica, gets her first glimpse of David, the scene is a combination of Boris Karloff's The Mummy (Beware the beat of the padded feet), The Thing From Another World, or even ET---a little ET obscured by clouds.  ("Henry, what have you done?") Uncle Henry, Aunty Emm, and, like Tommy Lee Jones in Double Jeopardy  (talk about Double Jeopardy, Osment goes into the drink twice, not once!), Jude Law comes in mid-film. This becomes The Talented Mr. Ripley meets Sixth Sense---and the two actors deny typecasting with these marvelous performances.

But it is the Gladiator scenes in the Coliseum where Gigolo Joe and young David have to fight The Wicked Witch.  In total film paradox, Spielberg has a Christian type evangelist feeding the Mechas (almost an hybrid of Messiah and Christ) to the lions.  The Mechas resemble the Christians here, but in what seems an even more of a blatant attack on Catholicism,  Spielberg, in essence, is saying that the Catholic Church preys on its own.

And he's right.  It's just that---it is supposed to be politically incorrect to make that kind of a statement unless you yourself are an ex-Catholic and know first-hand the hypocrisy of a religion which refuses to adhere to the policies and ideas that Jesus set forth.  But Spielberg is Spielberg, he can do this and get away with it, and the Catholic Church probably will not condemn this because it is a "Family Film," so a movie like PRIEST gets roasted while A.I. will be able to infiltrate impressionable minds. Don't you love it?

Exodus 2:3 "When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him; coating it with bitumen and pitch, she put the child inside and laid it among the reeds at the river's edge.  His sister stood some distance away to see what would happen to him."

Well, the Darlene (R) doll never got to follow David when his "mother," Monica, rejected him and deposited him in the forest where the Tin Woodsman (Gigolo Joe) and Toto (Teddy Bear) would find not the Emerald City but the lusty red city, Rouge. There's even a Mary Poppins type, a marvelous Clara Bellar as a machine who truly loves the little lad and who smiles at him as acid is poured over her.

Like The Wizard Of Oz, this film might take years for people to appreciate its depth and its beauty.  Possibly, everyone is still caught up in classics like ET and Close Encounters and Dr. Strangelove (or how about James Bond and Dr. No, I mean Dr. Know). But what the filmmaker is saying here is what Jim Morrison said: "You cannot petition the Lord with Prayer." Then he turns around and says you can.

The moral of the story? Can machines can love better than people?  Read Ray Kurzweil's THE SPIRITUAL AGE OF MACHINES, and understand that Spielberg's nicking of riffs from The Twilight Zone to Babes In Toyland is a true message with hidden meanings.  That man is incapable of caring about anyone but himself.  Like Dr. Frankenstein stroking his ego by playing God, William Hurt portrays a genius stroking his pocket book.  Both had less than noble reasons for bringing life to the unliving and both failed to clean up the toxic waste after opening Pandora's Box.

Director Stanley Kubrik started making this sci-fi fantasy but died before he could complete it and left to his friend, Steven Spielberg, to complete it, but the film is seamless.  You can't tell where Kubrik left off and Spielberg began.

Gotta hand it to Spielberg. Subtle he is not.  As a story teller, Spielberg is a marvelous story re-teller.  And the film is marvelously well photographed. My opinion is that A.I. is an incredible motion picture on many levels, and that few people will really get it until reading my review.  ##

                                                                                           

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