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JulyDiaz

Episode 173 - Virtuosity: LIVE!

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Sarah Silverman (I Love You, America) and Taran Killam (Killing Gunter, SNL) joins Paul and Jason to discuss the 1995 science fiction film Virtuosity starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Recorded live from Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles, they talk about cocoons, sexy chess, Little Kaley Cuoco, and the inappropriate end credits.

 

 

 

Check out new HDTGM merch over at https://www.teepublic.com/user/howdidthisgetmade

Where to Find Jason, June & Paul:

Paul’s new comedy Drive Share is available on Go90. Paul can be seen on Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, Opening Night, and Veep. You can see June and Paul on NTSF:SD:SUV:: on HULU. June stars in Grace and Frankie on Netflix, as well as Lady Dynamite alongside with Jason.

 

Jason can be seen in The House, The Lego Batman Movie, How to Be Single, Sleeping with Other People, and is still indeed in The Dictator.

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Once again, filmic proof that using "Stayin' Alive" in any film (outside of the original,) will surely make your principle character look like a fucking douche-nozzle...

 

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When Sarah Silverman said she watched it on youtube, I followed her lead. I do not regret that. That's my hot take about this movie. Someone get me on the Pod'.

 

A few random thoughts, tho:

Why couldn't Barker have been an AI with a DNA algorithm of all the best heroes and law enforcement? Barker's victory was not a triumph of man over technology since a) Sid had to actively help him out on more than occasion so he could save the day, and b} Barker already had the cyber arm that was instrumental to saving the daughter. Instead make them both AI (and super-powered) and contrast Barker's programming against Sid's rebellion in a Dark-Knight-esque Law-versus-Chaos battle of wills. As a bonus, we could've avoided the pointless dead family storyline in favor of a different pointless "what measure is a man?" storyline!

 

I appreciated Russell Crowe ass and his commitment to baring it all for no artistic payoff. In fact, I appreciated his commitment to giving it his all for no artistic payoff. Seriously, I will start ALL THE FIGHTS and say that Russell Crowe's one-liners were giving me what Nic Cage thinks he is giving me. COME AT ME, INTERNET!

 

(But seriously, I would've gleefully accepted Cage in this movie; in a perfect world he would play both Barker AND Sid. You know I'm right.)

 

What was with the music motif that Sid is obsessed with for the first half of the movie and then completely forgets about? Why not make him The Music Man and he records the screams of his victims and leaves them as clues for the cops or was that too real?

 

At the very least, why couldn't Denzel keep the dreads and beard, which made him look super hot?

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This movie invokes the classic trope of pulling the hero who is no longer doing their job back in because the decision makers are desperate and the hero is the only person who can save the day. But has that decision ever been reached so quickly before? Isn't it like 1 hour after Sid 6.7 emerges from the cocoon that they are passing a pardon across the table to Denzel? Every single cop on the force should feel slighted they didn't even give them a chance to catch Sid. They all got jumped in line by convicted murderer Denzel. The flimsy excuse being that Denzel did the best against Sid in VR. But they are testing that VR system on prisoners and he happens to be a prisoner who was a cop. Maybe an active duty beat cop in the VR would have taken Sid down in no time.

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To build on Jason's point, I loved how Kelly Lynch (as a psychologist) ends up doing WAY more than what her qualifications would justify:

  • At one point she flashes what you could assume is a badge and demands that all phone lines be cut in the building. But as you can see in the provided screenshot, all that she flashes is a business card and again.... she is just a psychologist w/ no authority.
  • After mere seconds of examining the dead asian woman who was shot on the train, she immediately deduces that it was Sid who shot her from behind vs. Denzel. She is not a forensic pathologist.
  • Upon finding her daughter and seeing there's a bomb in play, she immediately suggests to Denzel to try and "get to the main operating system to reset the internal clock." How or why would she ever know how to do that?!

 

r3uH6tN.jpg

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Are we expected to believe that a disgraced cop, who is found guilty of murdering two innocent bystanders, would be the recipient of a state-of-the-art arm transplant?!

 

I would be pissed to hear my tax dollars were spent replacing a convicted murder's arm with one that can defuse bombs.

 

And when Denzel rips a random wire out of his arm, why is it that he still has full capabilities of that arm? Did he find the “appendix" of all wires where if it's removed, nothing will go haywire? And how did he even know that he had a wire in his arm that would work for this situation? Was he give the blueprints?

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A couple of you read my mind about some stuff, but just to add to it:

This movie invokes the classic trope of pulling the hero who is no longer doing their job back in because the decision makers are desperate and the hero is the only person who can save the day. But has that decision ever been reached so quickly before? Isn't it like 1 hour after Sid 6.7 emerges from the cocoon that they are passing a pardon across the table to Denzel? Every single cop on the force should feel slighted they didn't even give them a chance to catch Sid. They all got jumped in line by convicted murderer Denzel. The flimsy excuse being that Denzel did the best against Sid in VR. But they are testing that VR system on prisoners and he happens to be a prisoner who was a cop. Maybe an active duty beat cop in the VR would have taken Sid down in no time.

It didn't even occur to them to send regular cops until the very end, when they were so in the way that they had to pull back! Maybe they know how incompetent their police force is, because they went straight for the bionic killer cop. It literally cuts from video of Sid killing Horny Programmer Guy to "here's a full pardon." Ridiculous.

 

But then, part of the deal is that they will track him for the rest of his life? That's hardly a full pardon. One might argue that a life lived under constant surveillance is quite exactly like prison.

 

Are we expected to believe that a disgraced cop, who is found guilty of murdering two innocent bystanders, would be the recipient of a state-of-the-art arm transplant?!

 

I would be pissed to hear my tax dollars were spent replacing a convicted murder's arm with one that can defuse bombs.

YES! Why would they bother?! Maybe just because they knew that they'd be pitting him against white supremacists every once and a while and just wanted to make it fair? Meanwhile, if you know that you have a bionic left arm, why would you ever throw a right-handed punch?

 

Only thing I can figure is, this movie is part of a world that uses inmates as test subjects in exchange for reduced sentences, so maybe this was an experimental surgery he volunteered for, because he's also the only one in the entire movie with a bionic anything.

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At one point Jason asks if the crystals inside the programs' cartridges was their souls. It reminded me of my favorite Pulp Fiction theory -- that "what's in the briefcase" is Marcellus Wallace's soul, and part of the evidence is that Wallace is wearing a bandaid on the back of his head, roughly where his pineal gland is. To wit:

band-aid.jpg

 

The pineal gland was believed by Descartes and others to be where the soul resided in the brain. And when Barker removes Sid's crystal at the end of the movie, he pulls it from the back of his head in roughly the same spot.

 

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So yeah. Souls. This movie is levels-upon-levels.

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I laughed and enjoyed when Sara Silverman did a callback to her show's Pilot Episode...

 

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I'm really torn on Russel Crowe after this. The description of him demanding he perform oral sex on an actress despite being told not to disgusts me. But then I hear he demanded that Staying Alive music cue and I think, "Well, maybe he's a genius."

 

Also, this is really a nitpicky pet peeve. IBM, IBS and ATM are not technically acronyms. Acronyms are on abbreviations that form a pronounceable word. Scuba and laser are acronyms.

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I can NOT believe Jason didn't mention the gratuitous boobs shot at the weird ass UFC fight! While Denzel is stalking Sid in the ring he passes by a lot of the audience - at which point the camera pans in front of this woman who is standing in front of Denzel and she's just completely topless. Her head isn't even in the shot it's just a random ass blurry shot of breasts while Denzel tries to get a shot at Sid. It's completely unnecessary and bonkers and I would have thought Jason would have made it his mission to point this out lol.

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I can NOT believe Jason didn't mention the gratuitous boobs shot at the weird ass UFC fight! While Denzel is stalking Sid in the ring he passes by a lot of the audience - at which point the camera pans in front of this woman who is standing in front of Denzel and she's just completely topless. Her head isn't even in the shot it's just a random ass blurry shotof breasts while Denzel tries to get a shot at Sid. It's completely unnecessary and bonkers and I would have thought Jason would have made it his mission to point this out lol.

 

I think you answered your own question...He probably feels that if they aren’t perfectly shot, why bother. ;)

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I can NOT believe Jason didn't mention the gratuitous boobs shot at the weird ass UFC fight! While Denzel is stalking Sid in the ring he passes by a lot of the audience - at which point the camera pans in front of this woman who is standing in front of Denzel and she's just completely topless. Her head isn't even in the shot it's just a random ass blurry shot of breasts while Denzel tries to get a shot at Sid. It's completely unnecessary and bonkers and I would have thought Jason would have made it his mission to point this out lol.

 

I figured Jason or somebody else would've pointed out how the programmers say that Sheila 3.2 has the ability to detect "any degree of detectable tumescence" in the people watching.

 

First, that's the movie's best line. Second, how, exactly, does she detect this? Can the programs actually see into the room that the monitors are in, or are there some kind of scanners placed throughout the room that is designed to detect half-mast boners?

 

Third, and most importantly, why, when Sheila realizes that Sid's programmer is uninterested in engaging her, does she say, "why don't you just kill me then?" Is this a fantasy -- the woman who would rather die than not inspire boners?

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I think Virtuosity is going to experience a second life in the coming years. It will be referenced in a lot of legal briefs as we humans are debating whether A.I.'s are protected under the law. I cannot wait for Russell Crowe to be a star witness in these trials.

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I absolutely loved this movie as an 18 year old in 1995. But I also loved Escape from LA...in 1996. What I'm saying is that I had really, really shitty taste in movies. As I said in the mini-ep thread, I also unashamedly love Ford Fairlane and Hudson Hawke. So anything I'm about to say should be suspect. I also LOVED S.I.D. 6.7's suit. A 1995 EvRobert would have killed for this suit. I also remember freaking out in 1995 paying over a $100 for my first real suit (Double breasted taupe)

 

This may seem like an anal C&O but isn't S.I.D. 6.7 (which is the correct way to type it) isn't a robot or a computer program, he's an A.I. (that is an artificial intelligence). He's constantly learning.

 

I feel dirty now.

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I would like to see anyone from Castle as a guest on HDTGM.

 

I'm surprised Fillion hasn't done it yet TBH

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Lindsey versus Denzel - Robot arm versus robot arm: Who wins?!?

 

"Why was six afraid of seven? Because six is racist against prime numbers. Sad, really."

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Another C&O (I feel special! I never have corrections and omissions) Taran and Jason say at the beginning that this was Crowe's first film in the United States, which it isn't. His first movie, is another movie I love, from earlier in 1995, Sam Rami's The Quick and The Dead. I'm not sure which one he filmed first, but TQ&TD was released in February of 95 (I know this because I believe I went and saw it around my birthday which is in the middle of February) and Virtuosity was released in late May or early June (a week after Sandra Bullock's The Net. I saw both around their opening weekends).

 

It's actually interesting to compare Crowe's two 95 performances. He is much more subdued in TQ&TD, probably because Rami was a much more experienced director. Kelly Lynch, in her (IMO weird) 2012 interview with the AV club where she talks about her career, says something to the effect that when there is no captain of the ship, actors can tend to take over. She's talking about Denzel in that situation while praising Crowe for going kind of off the rails. Rami was out to prove himself I think and probably kept a tighter reign on the actors.

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One more C&O, again according to Kelly Lynch's 2012 AV Club interview, it was originally written for Mel Gibson then Denzel came on. I do remember Denzel interviews at the time re: his son. My memory (and this may be faulty, I'll concede) is that Denzel said his son wanted him to do an action movie, not this movie specifically.

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There is one throw away line in this movie which I thought was the stupidest thing ever. After SID 6.7 murders the guy at the electronics shop he starts to watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship on the TV. The announcer says "there are still a few seats left here at the Olympic auditorium for those of you that want to see the Ultimate Fighting Championship in person." A live sporting event is telling the fans to stop watching it, drive down while missing a large portion of the event, and watch the end live because they have open seats. Unless you are literally 5 minutes away, how is this a good idea for anybody? Do they offer discount prices for coming to see the last half live? One would argue you are watching it on TV because you already couldn't afford to see it live, live to far away to go see it live, or don't care that much about it to go see it live. Who are they trying to target?

 

Now I hear your argument "that line is only in there so SID 6.7 knows where to go." I agree but couldn't they have also said "the crowd at the Olympic auditorium are on their feet" or something similar which is a common colour commentary thing to say and not asking people to come on down and join halfway through?

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