I was kind of intrigued to see the new movie Argylle. I enjoyed some of the director Matthew Vaughn’s earlier movies. Stardust was great and X-men: First Class was gold for comic book nerds.
The trailer for Argylle looked kind of fun depicting an author whose spy thrillers kept coming true, to the point she found herself in the middle of her own spy thriller. Apparently there was a whole conspiracy theory about the identity of the writer of the book upon which this movie is based. The novel Argylle is credited to Elly Conway which is also the name of the protagonist in Argylle.
A lot of people thought because Bryce Dallas Howard modelled her portrayal of Elly Conway on Taylor Swift, that perhaps that was a clue the music megastar wrote Argylle.
I doubt it. Ms. Swift doesn’t seem the type to keep anything a secret.
But as I watched Argylle, and one predictable twist followed another, I realized why they probably kept the identity of its author secret. I believe this was the first big budget movie written by Artificial Intelligence.
I have no proof for this outrageous accusation. Rather I just have this personal anecdote.
A friend recently told me writing using only your imagination, research, and experience was for the birds. In several seconds he had ChatGPT create the outline for a sitcom based on a shared inside joke. “Write a synopsis of a few friends that are roommates, their apartment is called Loser Central,” he typed. In less than a millisecond, four characters and a template for a season of episodes were cranked out of the cloud. I was stunned as I read through the synopsis. While it wasn’t brilliant, Loser Central was a show I could clearly imagine being on the air.
The Writer’s Guild recently went on strike against AI replacing human writers for our beloved movies and TV shows. But the strike ending agreement doesn’t prevent writers from using AI. Just as professional athletes will use performance enhancing drugs to have the edge, so will writers take advantage of this technology. While the side effects of steroids are easy to spot including acne and mood changes, so I believe will ChatGPT enhanced scripts be easy to distinguish with their soulless derivation from previously released movies.
Again, I have no proof Argylle was conceived in such a fashion. But as it drudged along and stole elements from The Bourne Identity and threatened an upcoming prequel, it felt less and less like a movie birthed by a human mind, and more like a compilation of hundreds of hackneyed movies that came before it. That is something I would never accuse Taylor Swift of doing.
The Teacher’s Lounge
I seem to follow a template with these reviews myself. If I had ChatGPT write a movie review post a la David Rolland, it would trash a Hollywood blockbuster and then chase it by recommending a lesser known foreign flick.
In this tradition I’ll now post a few words praising The Teacher’s Lounge, an Academy Award nominee for best foreign movie.
The Teacher’s Lounge is not your typical feel good, uplifting public school flick we’re used to. While the German school’s facilities where the movie is set are much tidier than what you’d see in America, the entire cast of characters is rotten to the core from the fascist faculty to the entitled parents to the troublemaking kids.
Everyone that is, but our protagonist, Carla Nowak, a young teacher who is idealistic to a fault. Carla doesn’t like the Gestapo tactics the school is taking toward her students after there have been reports of theft. So she leaves her wallet in the teacher’s lounge in the view of the camera on her laptop. When she returns her money is gone. After reviewing the recording she thinks she has caught the culprit. But there are consequences to this meddling. The parents, and then the students, followed by the faculty all turn on her. The tension ratchets all the way until the far too abrupt ending.
It’s not a perfect movie, but it is a worthwhile one. The finale isn’t clever enough, to not provide resolution for the audience, but The Teacher’s Lounge does offer qualities that I don’t believe ChatGPT can offer just yet like offbeat ideas, social commentary, and most importantly, a dose of humanity.