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Robot Stories Movie 111

Posted by michael
from the cowboyneal's-love-is-real-but-he-is-not dept.
Ant writes "One line synopsis -- Winner of over 23 awards, 'Robot Stories' is science fiction from the heart, four stories in which utterly human characters struggle to connect in a world of robot babies, robot toys, android office workers, and digital immortality." There are a few reviews available.
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Robot Stories Movie

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  • by derphilipp (745164) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:02AM (#8268713) Homepage
    What about a movie we all can enjoy:
    All my circuits - the movie !
  • SF29! (Score:2, Informative)

    by MisterTut (663350) *
    I'll be watching this movie in 2 days at the 29th annual Boston Sci-Fi Movie Marathon! Can't wait!
  • by azzy (86427) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:04AM (#8268738) Journal
    Looks like more than 1 line of synopsis to me. Maybe I need a larger monitor?
    • Or a smaller font. A much smaller font...

      ---
    • by dark-br (473115) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:20AM (#8268843) Homepage
      The disparity between ambition and aptitude has doomed more than one indie, as a veritable graveyard of worthy half-hour films padded to interminable feature length attests. What a pleasure, then, that writer-director Greg Pak gives each episode in his four-part Robot Stories precisely the running time needed to explore its ideas, and not a moment more. Pak, in fact, is savvy and sensitive enough to hold something back in each tale--an audience-grabbing technique even the similarly themed, overdeveloped-in-every-sense A.I. couldn't manage.

      As the title says, Pak uses an ostensible sci-fi motif to link his four pieces. What truly binds them, however, is a subtle exploration of the tension between the human and the synthetic, and the sometimes fuzzy distinction between the two. The film also has a distinguishable arc, beginning with an exceedingly nontraditional "birth" and closing with a triumphant death. "My Robot Baby" follows a yuppified couple keen on adopting a child as they take a test run with a mechanical, C-3PO-meets-Furby stand-in. After attempting a disastrous caregiving work-around, Marcia (Tamlyn Tomita), whose own tumultuous childhood is glimpsed in a brief prologue, discovers a nascent nurturing streak beneath her chilly exterior.

      The most effective and least science-fictiony of the bunch, "The Robot Fixer," is a poignant, minutely observed study of loss and acceptance. A mother (Wai Ching Ho) stands watch over her comatose son, and with the help of her daughter (Cindy Cheung) and the young man's boyhood toy-robot collection (of which she has no recollection), discerns the scope of the emotional wedge she's driven between herself and her children. The final installments, "Machine Love," a Twilight Zone-esque lark concerning the dawning need for intimacy experienced by an android corporate lackey (played by Pak himself), and "Clay," an edgier look at machine love that slyly asks whether eternal life via a vast computer-network "heaven" would be all that heavenly, are slighter but just as well crafted.

      For all the melodrama lurking at the edges of Robot Stories, Pak never resorts to preachiness or pathos. He's an uncannily assured visual storyteller, and his crew--particularly cinematographer Peter Olsen and editor Stephanie Sterne--matches his creative fervor. The result is a quietly impassioned, genuinely stirring indie rarity. As a character in "The Robot Fixer" puts it, "A little care goes a long way."

      Source: VillageVoice [villagevoice.com]
    • heres how you do it... get a monitor which comfortably manages 2048x1536 (eg electron22blue), set internet fonts to "smallest" and... lo and behold, it manages (just) to get onto a single line...
  • by sapped (208174) <mstore1 AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:05AM (#8268741)
    Independent movie producers like this with their limited movie release schedules must hit Netflix style distributers early.

    Much as I would like to see these movies, I am not willing to fly to some other city just to watch a movie.

    I hope they make it to Netflix or something similar so that I can support them then.
    • by Rico_za (702279) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:36AM (#8268960)
      I just visited the website and thought: "I really want to see this!". Then I clicked on the link for show times and checked when it will show in London. 31st of January. DOH! My next thought was: "Maybe I can get this on Kazaa? Naah, probably not, and I'd rather pay to support the movie." Now what are my options?

      Why don't movies like this have some kind of digital distribution serviec yet? Surely if it's as good as it looks it will make more money than the setup and maintenance costs for such a system. Hell, if some-one payed me enough I'd quit my job and set it up for them (it would take me a while to figure out how, but I'm sure I'll figure it out).
      • by tsa (15680) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:50AM (#8269068) Homepage
        Download it and then try to find a legal copy. That's what I often do... In my opinion, if they don't want you to download it, the least they can do is make it possible for you to buy it without having to order it in the 'States or some other faraway place.
      • The problem is, the "big" festivals will disqualify you if your flick is not a premiere.

        They haven't really figured out what to do with self-distribution yet; my movie is distributed via CustomFlix [customflix.com] (which is like CafePress for DVD's), and most of the festivals we've submitted to are cool with that, but some aren't. Also, if you're looking for a distribution deal, it's almost for certain a no-go if you have copies of your film floating around for general viewing already.

      • I just noticed the indie flick Nothing So Strange [nothingsostrange.com] yesterday. Besides the obvious Geek appeal (cmon! it's about the investigation and coverup of the assassination of Bill Gates in 1999. Seriously.) the distributors chose to release to the theatres, DVD, and also to allow a hi-res and lo-res quicktime download over the net via bitpass.

        Anybody out there use bitpass? I was going to buy the small version ($3) but saw I'd have to create a bitpass account and I didn't do it. Plus, while it doesn't say, I'm a
      • That really bugs me too. I don't have much money at the moment, but I'd be more than happy to spend it on a movie with quality writing and ideas. I've had to think that way too many times with movies like these. I want to buy it, I'm sure they'd love to get my money, but there's no way to do it. Even more annoying, the second choice to just get the thing off p2p has never worked for me either. You can find comercial stinkers like house of the dead represented over and over again, but anything indi or indi'i
  • Wow (Score:2, Informative)

    by bigattichouse (527527)
    Just saw this on memepool last night... I feel all ahead of the curve and stuff.
    • Trust me, beating Slashdot to the punch isn't being far ahead of the curve. This is the weblog that posts two year old case-mods as news.
    • Memepool used to be like a full month and a half ahead of the curve. Look at how they were the first ones to find Animutations and they had the best coverage of 'all your base' before it was big.

      Now you're lucky if they even UPDATE twice a week. They used to have more links in a single day then they now have in an entire week. I don't know what happened with that site.
    • by Zixia (534893)
      Just saw this on memepool last night... I feel all ahead of the curve and stuff.

      Pshaw! I saw 'Robot Stories' at the 3rd Sci-fi Film Festival in London at the end of January. That's being ahead of the curve, my boy!
  • Coming to Europe? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cozziewozzie (344246) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:06AM (#8268749)
    Any idea when this will start showing on the other side of the pond?

    The stories look very interesting, a move away from soldier-fighting-eliminator machines and back towards Asimov's humane robots. I'd certainly like to see it.
  • Johnny 5 (Score:4, Funny)

    by DrugCheese (266151) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:06AM (#8268750)
    This is old, they've already done this with the classic movie Short Circuit and pushed the boundries of a robot living in our society with the ever popular Short Circuit 2
  • Finally, a live version of Robot Carnival [purpleplanetmedia.com]. Well, maybe not quite...
  • True story (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:17AM (#8268834)
    utterly human characters struggle to connect in a world of robot babies, robot toys, android office workers

    Yep, I had the same feelings when I worked at Toys'r'Us...

  • by Xthlc (20317) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:22AM (#8268861)
    From the ad copy, this film is selling itself hard to the indie theater crowd who normally look down their noses at science fiction.

    I like the quote on the front page:
    "... Following in the footsteps of Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling and Philip K. Dick rather than George Lucas, Pak returns to the tradition of intelligent, humanistic sci-fi and reminds us of the value of good genre fiction."
    Translation: "If, during the wine and cheese portion of the dinner party, Kaitlyn and Rog look at you askance when you mention you went to see a movie called 'Robot Stories' down at the Brattle House Theatre last weekend, here are some literary / retropopcult names you can drop to reassure them of your continued hipness. Don't forget to contrast them with George Lucas, chief purveyor of the kind of mass-culture pablum they show on the SciFi channel, which you are so obviously and hiply above"

    Not that there's anything WRONG with that. The more exposure scifi gets in different subdivisions of pop culture, the better. We need more people to start thinking seriously and honestly about our future, given how rapidly it seems to be approaching.
    • yea, and where the F*** was Asimov on that list?
    • Pak introduces Sci-Fi to whole new audience: Women. Sci-Fi chick-flicks. Maybe I'm just a guy, but I don't see a future in this sub-genere.
    • They probably need to, though, since most mainstream reviewers of SF books or movies feel compelled to say something like "bucking the trend of the stories that focus on ray-guns and rocket ships" every single time. You'd think eventually they'd pick up on the fact that all of the SF they've reviewed "bucks" that so-called "trend"
  • Normally... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Killjoy_NL (719667) <slashdot.remco@palli@nl> on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:25AM (#8268879)
    Normally you see the complete opposite story.
    A robot trying to live/adapt to a human environment.
    Bicentenial man (probably spelled that wrong)
    Data (from Star Trek TNG)
    Short Circuit (who doesn't know this one)
    Countless Anime series and movies (Chobits is my favourite, GO BUY IT)

    The only series/movie that comes to mind is the (Ani-)Matrix, but that one doesn't really fit the bill either.
  • by MouseR (3264)
    Forget THAT.

    I'm waiting for this! [irobotnow.com]

    Pure Asimov... gawwhh... next best thing to a Caves of Steel movie.
  • The Problem (Score:5, Funny)

    by clickety6 (141178) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:30AM (#8268918)
    utterly human characters struggle to connect

    Incompatible sockets no doubt...
    • Hahahahah! Hilarious!

      Just another note about the film --- it's far better than its art-house PR blurbs (such as the above) make it out to be. That's the one thing about festivals --- everyone tries to be artier-than-thou. I overheard a guy at one festival describe his film as "a triumph of the human spirit" to a local news crew ... AND HE WASN'T JOKING. Please, people of Robot Stories (and all budding artists), just let the movie stand on its own. Don't try to impress us with your poetic description o

  • Robots rule (Score:4, Funny)

    by superpulpsicle (533373) on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:45AM (#8269020)
    I'll worry about my feelings after I can buy a robot to do all my house work.
  • great film (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13, 2004 @10:55AM (#8269142)
    I've seen this four times (that what I get for being a film festival projectionist). It's by far the most original film that I've seen in the last year, and it should appeal to lots of different crowds (sci-fi, art house, etc.). It even makes a good date movie.

    Anyone in NYC (or DC, or Boston, or Chicago, or LA, or any of the other cities where it is opening today or soon) should make a point of going to see it. Support quality film efforts like this. It's even independently distributed (no MPAA here!).
  • the breakthroughs required for these scenarios have recently been transmitted down to earth from mars..

    these film shorts are actually produced by the marketing department in association with the US Govt agency assigned to 'break the news' to the general populace..

    it's an attempt to guage the reaction of the 'man on the street' to next months social upheaval.

  • I am disappointed, I thought the movie would be about one of my favorite webcomics, Neil G.'s Robot Stories [robotstories.com]. Start reading here at page 1 [robotstories.com].
    PS should you get into the story, just remember: Keren is mine -- I saw her first! ;-)
  • Robot Babes? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Halloween Jack (182035) on Friday February 13, 2004 @11:13AM (#8269334) Homepage
    Oh, that was robot babies. Never mind. I say, bring on the robot babes! [sorayama.net] (possibly NSFW)
  • Off topic, but Greg Pak looks just like William Ragsdale from Fright Night. Especially the picture on the blog link...

    http://www.robotstories.net/blog/index.html

    Maybe it's just the wide eyed unbelieving stare.
  • Not that I think that would necessarily work as a film, but I've spent too much time trying to figure out how it could be done.
  • They call it "Robot Stories" and invoke Sterling and Bradbury and not Asimov? It *can't* be *good*!!!
  • 7 thumbs up! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trippcook (529339) on Friday February 13, 2004 @12:13PM (#8270034)
    I saw this movie at the 2003 Slamdance [slamdance.com] festival (while helping an old high school buddy promote a documentary he'd made [onsixmilepond.com]), and I can say it's great. The 4 vignettes are a touch uneven, but all are good. He cast the movie primarily with Asian folk, and it kind of makes you think about how rare it is to see Asians in popular entertainment that aren't just cast to play an "Asian" style character, if that makes sense. Plus, there are robots GALORE, and who doesn't like that?

    I spoke with the director about the way some webcomics and other online media outlets were giving away content to make $$$. For instance, I bought the Small Stories book, even though I'd already read Same Difference for free online. I thought giving away one of the vignettes from the website would be a do-able notion (especially with advance promtion somewhere like /., followed with a Bit Torrent to ease his bandwidth bills), which could then fuel direct DVD sales of some kind.

    Bottom line, if this comes by you, see it! I can't believe a movie like this has been making the festival rounds for so long and has not been picked up by a cable outlet or some type of distributor. Heck, if SciFi [scifi.com] has money to waste on some of its crap-tacular originals [scifi.com], I'm sure it has the money to buy up something this small-scale. Maybe a grass-roots geek agitation could help this deserving flick out!

    • Do you mean Asian as we Brits would understand the term, i.e. middle-eastern, or do you mean what we would call Oriental?

      Anyway, yes, it sounds like a great movie. I'll look out for it. (Just on the off-chance it ever hits these shores...)

      • My Filipino friend told me once that it's proper (at least in the US) to use "Asian" for people and "Oriental" for inanimate objects; in your usage, I meant "Oriental."
  • by Elonka (710689) on Friday February 13, 2004 @12:46PM (#8270415) Homepage Journal
    ... last November.

    First off, it was excellent. I also had a chance to meet the film-maker, Greg Pak, and was very impressed. He's a geek who's going out and making movies about geek things, but telling them in ways that everyone, both geeks and non-geeks, can understand.

    If you're looking for a high-tech special effects thriller that's heavy on hardware, you may not enjoy Pak's stuff. But if you're looking for some moving stories that really nail some of the emotional truths about people and the way they connect with each other, I can't recommend this movie enough.

    I think one of my favorite stories was the one about the mother whose son was gravely ill in the hospital, and she copes with his illness by lovingly restoring each one of his childhood robot toys (and yes, they're real toys -- the director understands!)

    Pak already had somewhat of a name for himself by making a few quirky shorts which are already on the internet [gregpak.com]. And I'm pleased to see that he's turned that notoriety into a feature-length film. And I definitely look forward to seeing more stuff from him in the future! He deserves all the support we can give him.

    Elonka :)

  • Space Ghost: The race war had begun. Machines were building robot babies to replace other babies. Everyone knows what happened next. The End.
  • by UncleBiggims (526644) on Friday February 13, 2004 @12:54PM (#8270484)
    But I don't want anyone thinking I'm a Robosexual.

    Are you Corn Fed? [ebay.com]
  • This film was the opening night feature at the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival last November.

    http://www.reelasian.com

    I saw it then and thoroughly enjoyed it. Whilst there is a sci-fi element to this film it's not a typical sci-fi movie at all, which was refreshing (and I'm a sci-fi fan). The stories are really all about people, not the robots themselves. Rather than relying on sensationalistic special effects (there are none) this movie plays on our emotions, and does so very effectively.

    With this mo
  • Unit 3000-21 is warming
    Makes a humming sound
    When its circuits duplicate emotions
    And a sense of coldness detaches
    As it tries to comfort your sadness

    One more robot learns to be
    Something more than a machine
    When it tries the way it does
    Makes it seem like it can love

    Cause it's hard to say what's real
    When you know the way you feel
    Is it wrong to think it's love
    When it tries the way it does

    Feeling a synthetic kind of love
    Dreaming a sympathetic wish
    As the lights blink faster and brighter
  • I saw this in the 2003 Wisconsin Film Festival [wifilmfest.org]. The writer/director, Greg Pak, was present for a Q&A afterward. The stories are superficially about robots. By that I mean it's not hard sci-fi, but primarily about people in a sci-fi context. The characters are interesting and much more significant than the plot.

    I enjoyed the film. The middle two stories are the best, I think. If you have the opportunity to see it at a film fest where Pak may be present, I recommend that. He is an interesting spea
  • Just saw "Robot Stories" in New York City. Like four really solid episodes of the Twilight Zone, all delicately interwoven. Really good first feature. Go see it this weekend and it's run will get extended!
  • I saw this at the SXSW film festival in Austin last year. I thought it was very good. I took a friend with me who wasn't very interested in robots and she enjoyed it also. As some of the other reviews stated it did stretch the imagination on how humans and robots might interact with each other in the distant/not to distant future with some comic, some serious issues being addressed. Overall, it was pretty good.
  • For people in the Washington DC area Robot Stories is showing at the AFI Silver Theater (http://silver.afi.com) from 2/20/04 to 2/26/04
  • For those of you who want to see the movie but don't live near a city where it is being released, don't despair. Much of the marketing for Robot Stories is being done at the grass-roots level. In other words, if it's not being shown near you, it's time to try to figure out how to get it shown near you. Is there a local art house that might show it? Talk to the manager there, and let the Robot Stories team know so they can help. They're releasing the film themselves, which is a huge undertaking. Normall

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