A&E » Film

The future primitive



Like it or not, the future is here.

We've got 1984-style government surveillance on our Jetsons-style video phones and those "little seashell radios" from Fahrenheit 451 are actually called earbuds. And apparently Lexus is building a hoverboard.

It's not all fun and games, though. We've also got Mad Max-style drought and Tank Girl-esque corporate corruption, which alongside a ballooning world population should make for a Soylent Green-style famine.

Fear not though, the Brave New World anti-depressants will keep us sane docile while Minority Report-style personalized advertising inundates our increasingly digital lives with distractions tailored to what we think we need to evolve.

Our stereos, lights, dishwashers and fridges are already communication on their own Internet of Things (IOT), so how much longer till the machines just take over? Terminator Genisys opens this week at the Village 8 with Arnold Schwarzenegger back in his most iconic role, but the result looks more than a little recycled.

This is the fifth film in the Terminator franchise and most real fans will agree they probably should have quit after T2. Regardless, this one is yet another time-travel loop plot framed as a sort of franchise reboot in which Sarah Connor is a young girl raised by a very fatherly T-800, so by the time the story as we know it begins ("come with me if you want to live!"), the roles of saviour/savee are flipped.

Cue the explosions, chases and rehashed one-liners, but there are also some weird and not-good sitcom relationship moments amidst poor casting, and a script that may have been written by an omnibot with an REO Speedwagon tape stuck in it. Arnold looks like he is having a good time but judging by the rest of Terminator Genisys, the machines have already won.

The worst machine of them all is the Internet: not because it's inherently evil, but because too many of us are. The Internet is like giving a chainsaw to a toddler then wondering why he/she cut off a limb — and the real depravity of human cyber-connectivity is most notable in the shady realms of online porn.

Don't kid yourself about the fun of Facebook chats or the world-at-your-fingertips convenience of Amazon or Netflix. Porn rules the Internet, it always has. Research quoted by the U.S. Department of Justice show porn websites get more monthly visitors than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. And "teen" is the most popular search term.

Hot Girls Wanted is a documentary shining light into the increasingly popular world of amateur porn. The flick follows a few of the thousands of 18-year-old girls who run away from home and move to porn hubs like Miami to make $500-800/day doing the kinds of things that would make any parent shiver ("forced oral" is even worse than it sounds).

The porn debate has been going on forever and even though this film takes a pretty alarmist approach and paints a picture of depravity that probably glosses over some of the nuances of the situation, it is pretty clear that the amateur porn industry is not built on love and caring and retirement plans.

Even if the barely legal girls see it as empowerment, it looks like exploitation to me. The industry chews up young girls in a matter of months and spits them out with not much more cash than they started with. And there are always new ones waiting. This one is available on Netflix and is a good way to scare you away from having kids.

On the other end of the spectrum, Magic Mike XXL also opens this week. The male-stripper sequel sees retired legend Mike (Channing Tatum) return to the stage with the old crew for one last big score, or whatever. The plot is a bit secondary for most of this flick's target audience and who cares about conflict when there are buff dudes grinding up against stuff?

In one sense, though, this film is groundbreaking despite all the flesh and innuendo. It's anti-porn because this movie is based on the concept that women's desires and pleasure matter, too. The strippers in Magic Mike XXL consider themselves almost like faith healers — they want the women to feel important. And that is sadly rare in films these days, porn or otherwise.

The Download of the Week is Advantageous, an independent sci-fi from director Jennifer Phang, available on Netflix. Set in a near future riddled with economic uncertainty, mechanized workforces and the occasional rebel terror attack, this film is the tonal opposite of the new Terminator — no spectacle, all substance.

Jacqueline Kim stars as a single working mom forced to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to pay for her daughter's education, and thus a shot at cracking into the ever-shrinking elite class. It's a character piece — slow and moody, no guns — that won't hit with most audiences. But as anyone who's has to look for a job lately can attest, this future looks a little too familiar for comfort. "We have too many choices," one character explains. "But we're making the same ones over and over again. The wrong ones."