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Gone Baby Gone

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"Gone Baby Gone" is a 2007 film directed by Ben Affleck. Besides the stars shown in the picture (Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris), I recognized Titus Welliver who stars in the Bosch detective series.

The film centers around a kidnapped 4-year-old girl in the Dorchester section of Boston. Private investigator Casey Affleck and his girlfriend partner Michelle Monaghan are hired by the missing child's aunt to augment the police investigation. The language is rough and this is a tough area of town. The mother of the missing girl is a drug addict and there is more to the kidnapping than first appears. Without giving away the plot, the ending of the film poses the question to the viewer as to whether the right choice was made. The cast is very strong and the film well acted.

Artificial Intelligence

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The number of TV shows dealing with AI has exploded in recent times. WestWorld season 2 has just finished and HUM∀NS season 3 is still running. There is also a 2017 National Geographic six-part series titled “Year Million” which offers informed speculation about what mankind’s future holds. 

It’s little wonder the idea has caught our interest. We see driverless cars on the roads and computers beating champion human players at Jeopardy, a show which requires the ability to interpret language and draw inferences. Google’s AI can make appointments for you and even converse naturally with the human on the other side of the call. Google AI making reservations.

How soon will it be before we are unable to tell if who is standing in front of us is human or an AI creation? And what then? That’s what these shows explore.

In HUM∀NS, set in Britain, the self-aware “synths” (short for "synthetics" as they’re called) are struggling for equal rights. There are obvious parallels to such human …

Anon (2018)

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"Anon" is a 2018 science fiction thriller with an interesting premise made all the more relevant with recent privacy concerns. In the future as imagined in the film, society has traded privacy for security. By law everyone automatically records everything they see and hear and these recordings are available to the government. Solving crimes thus becomes routine and detectives enforce the law requiring the recordings as well as any other crimes. However there are people who are skilled enough to hack the system and, for a cash fee, will splice a client's real memories with artificial ones, including anyone else who saw the event. And there are some people who seem able to stay off the grid entirely. I thought it was well done. You can read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anon_(film)

The Chalet (2017)

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"The Chalet" is a six episode 2017 French murder mystery set in the French Alps produced by Netflix. The dialog is in French with English subtitles. The premise is a group of childhood friends reunite in a remote village for a wedding. A landslide destroys the only road in and out, trapping everyone there. Soon people start being killed in a manner that reminded me slightly of the famous Agatha Christie mystery "And Then There Were None." But the story here flips back and forth between events in the present (2017) and 20 years earlier in 1997. As the story unfolds the reasons for the killings slowly emerges. A reclusive genius mathematician living in the village who apparently won the Fields Medal also plays a part. I thought the series was very well acted and the scenery is beautiful. The suspense builds from episode to episode as more people fall victim and the story from the past builds. You can read more about it here: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8168678/

The Invasion (2007)

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"The Invasion" is a 2007 science fiction film starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, based on the 1955 novel by Jack Finney titled "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". This film is actually the fourth movie based on the novel, other versions appearing in 1956, 1978 and 1993. The basic premise is an alien microbe infects humans and takes over their consciousness while they sleep, resulting in a person without feeling or emotions. Though many critics disliked this version of the story, I enjoyed it for the fast pace, nail biting action sequences, quality of the two lead actors, and more modern scientific interpretation (DNA wasn't known in 1955). To me the most significant aspect of the story is the loss of identity and the fact people you deal with may not in fact be the people you think they are. This theme is similar to two of my favorite films "The Thing" (the 1982 and 2011 versions; not the version from the 1950's which deviates completely from…

"Suits" TV Series

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"Suits" is a TV series available on Amazon Prime. The first season aired in 2011 and seven seasons are available. An eighth season has been announced though with some cast changes. The series involves a fictitious New York law firm that hires only Harvard Law School graduates. Each episode concerns a new case (particularly in the first season), though some plots carry over from episode to episode. The series is well done and well acted. One of the noteworthy aspects is that one of the stars is Meghan Markle (blue dress in the picture), who will become a member of the British Royal Family upon her marriage to Prince Harry in May 2018. The cases are interesting and well acted. Much of the drama concerns the relationship between the very skilled senior partner (played by Gabriel Macht) and his junior associate (played by Patrick Adams). If you like to see lawyers maneuvering and outsmarting each other, you may enjoy the show. I enjoyed some of the legal battles and some office…

Big Little Lies

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"Big Little Lies" is an HBO TV series that first aired in 2017. It's available on Amazon now as well. I would say it is primarily a women focused series. The first season has 7 episodes and the cast includes some mega stars: Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley. It also includes Laura Dern, who I remembered best from "Jurassic Park". A second season is in the works that will include Meryl Streep. The series has won 8 Emmy awards.

The story is set in Monterey California and focuses on the lives of the three leading women and their relationships with their children, neighbors, and the men in their lives. The series is a bit rough in parts with plenty of foul language and some troubling scenes of abuse. The story begins with the police called to the scene of an open air party where someone has been killed. The rest of the show consists of flashbacks to everything that happened prior to then, interspersed with brief police interviews of neighbors.…