Review: Transcendence (dir. Wally Pfister, 2014)

Transcendence is, in theory, the sort of film I ought to like. It’s a science fiction film with big ideas about the increasingly blurry line between humanity and technology, and it addresses the question of whether some creations can ever outgrow or improve upon their creators. The film also has some fantastic production design. It’s a treat to look at.

But in execution, the film — the first to be written by Jack Paglen and the first to be directed by Wally Pfister, a cinematographer who has shot all but one of Christopher Nolan’s films — leaves a lot to be desired, almost as though the ideas at play were simply too big for the filmmakers to really get a handle on.

Most significantly, the film sets up a conflict but can’t decide whose side it’s on — which makes for a curiously subversive bit of entertainment but also leaves the story feeling quite muddled, especially in its final moments.

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A Christian indie: the most obscure Oscar nominee ever?

Perhaps the most surprising Oscar nomination announced this morning was for an obscure independent Christian film called Alone Yet Not Alone, which was nominated for its title song, sung in the film by Joni Eareckson Tada.

One of the reasons most people hadn’t heard of the film, which is set during the Seven Years’ War (or the French & Indian War, as it is known in the United States), is that it hasn’t actually had a proper release yet. According to Deadline, the film did have a week-long Oscar-qualifying run back in September, but according to the film’s website, it won’t actually play in most theatres until sometime in June!

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