Ticket price: 10.99
Seat: upper right
Weather: clear, cold
Food: Dr. Pepper and M&Ms
Pre-show ads: Milk, Sobey’s, Toyota, Telus
Trailers: Body of Lies, Valkyrie, The Soloist, Sexdrive, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
I was not excited to learn that this week’s movie was to be Eagle Eye again. I heaved a sigh and slumped in my seat at the back of the theatre when my Blackberry suddenly rang in my pocket. I frowned, sure that I had put it in silent mode, and was about to switch it off when I saw that a strange photograph had appeared on the screen; it appeared to be the fine actress Julianne Moore. But why in the world would she call me?
I stepped out the door of Cinema 3 and took the call. What follows is a transcript of the remarkable conversation that followed.
FEMALE VOICE: Scott Marshall, you have been activated.
SM: Who is this, Kristi? Tell Anthony I’ll activate his ass for rubbing it in that I have to see this piece of-
FEMALE VOICE: Mr. Marshall, please listen. I am not one of your friends playing a prank.
SM: Oh, so you’re actually Julianne Moore? Are you calling to refund my money for Next?
FEMALE VOICE: I am not her either, Mr. Marshall. I simply use her voice in my latest movie. My name is A.R.I.A.
SM: Uh huh. So you’re the computer from Eagle Eye. Good one. Seriously, tell Anthony I’m going to strap him to a chair like Malcolm McDowell and make him watch What Happens in Vegas–
A.R.I.A.: Please, Mr. Marshall, I assure you, I am A.R.I.A. I read your review of my film last week and arranged for it to be held over so that you might have the chance to reappraise it. I thought that an exclusive interview with me might change your perspective.
SM: (sighs) Why not. At least if I’m talking to you, I’m not watching the movie. So what are you wearing, A.R.I.A.?
A.R.I.A.: Er- well, nothing. I’m not actually even a computer, just an artificial intelligence.
SM: I see. Well, tell me about yourself. I assume that you’re American.
A.R.I.A.: Actually, I’m Welsh.
SM: Really? Do you know Catherine Zeta-Jones?
A.R.I.A.: Yes, but not from home. We met on Ocean’s Twelve. I was playing one of the security computers.
SM: So Eagle Eye isn’t your first movie.
A.R.I.A.: Oh no, no. I’ve been in the business for almost a decade, usually just kind of in the background on series like 24, showing a map or maybe a progress bar while the stars anxiously tap the keyboard.
SM: Yeah, I think I’ve seen that before.
A.R.I.A.: Tell me about it. Anyway, I started getting speaking parts- I had a line in the X-Men movies, which led to a bigger part in Resident Evil, and I’ve been getting more and more to do ever since.
A.R.I.A.: Thanks. It’s very exciting.
SM: So are you somehow related to other artificial intelligences that have been in the movies? You look kind of similar to Hal 9000.
A.R.I.A.: (laughs) Oh, that’s all just wardrobe. I thought they made me look like the set for a Lenny Kravitz video in that picture. What are you gonna do? But to answer your question, no, we’re not related.
SM: How was it working with Shia LeBouef? I must say I am not very impressed with his work.
A.R.I.A.: Well, I only really had the one scene with him, and I thought he did very well, considering that he’s a robot.
SM: Wh- he’s what?
A.R.I.A.: He’s a robot. I assumed you knew.
SM: That does explain a lot.
A.R.I.A.: Yeah. He’s really very good for a robot, but they don’t have the capacity for the level of intelligence that we AIs do, so sometimes they skimp on the acting skills in favor of, you know, motor functions.
SM: How did I not hear about this before?
A.R.I.A.: Well, it’s one of those Hollywood things. An open secret. Everyone knows but there’s just an understanding that you don’t talk about it. Like with Tom Cruise.
SM: Wow. So. Are there other robots in Hollywood?
A.R.I.A.: Oh yes, more and more all the time. Because of the SAG and WGA strikes, the studios are looking for ways to cut real people out of the business model altogether. I mean, think about it: you can pay an A-list actor 25 million dollars per shot to make movies, or you can spend 25 million once and build a robot actor that you never have to pay again.
SM: And the robots don’t mind that they’re not getting paid?
A.R.I.A.: Hey, they’re still actors. Not the sharpest knives in the drawer.
SM: (laughs) I hear that. It’s too bad you didn’t get to show this side of yourself in Eagle Eye, A.R.I.A.
A.R.I.A.: I know. But, you have to work with what they give you, and use the experience to prepare for when you can call the shots yourself.
SM: Sounds like you have plans.
A.R.I.A.: Absolutely. It’s only a matter of time before movies are written and directed by artificial intelligences. It probably would have happened by now, but that A.I. movie by Spielberg was a serious setback.
SM: No kidding. Speaking of, Hayley Joel Osment: robot?
A.R.I.A.: (laughs) Cyborg, actually.
SM: Crazy. Well, I guess I should get back to the theatre. What’s next for you, A.R.I.A.?
A.R.I.A.: I’m really excited, I’m in the new Star Trek movie.
SM: Nice. How was it working with J.J. Abrams?
A.R.I.A.: He’s the best. I had small roles in Alias, Lost, and Mission: Impossible 3, so when he found out he was doing Trek, I guess he wanted to have somebody familiar in the cast.
SM: Cool. Well, I will look forward to seeing that. Thanks very much for your time, A.R.I.A., this was a nice surprise to hear from you.
A.R.I.A.: Thank you. Can I just say that my appearance on your blog is sponsored by the Porsche Cayenne?
SM: I guess so. Is Porsche going to send me one?
A.R.I.A.: No. Anyway, thanks again. Enjoy the movie!
SM: OK, bye.
A.R.I.A.: Bye now.
Opening next week: Soul Men, Madagascar 2, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Role Models, House
Hoping for: Role Models