Wednesday, July 01, 2015

"Advantageous": In the future, looks will mean everything, even to the point of body swapping

Advantageous” (2015), by Jennifer Phang, is a somewhat groundbreaking science-fiction film, quieter and less “obvious” (and maybe less commercial) than something like “Ex Machina”).  The film went right from Sundance to Netflix instant play, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see some theatrical runs under the “Sundance Selects” label.  Too bad we don’t have the West End Cinema in DC now.
In a dystopian city (in 2041), built up from New York with CGI, rich people live off rentier wealth, and few people have jobs, and somehow the poor people are kept mollified or drugged.  Gwen (Jacqueline Kim), at 40, still has a good job as a PR person for a cosmetics company, but recently she has been “red-flagged”.  Essentially, she no longer looks young enough to be effective in her job.  She fears she will not be able to see her daughter Jules (Samantha Kim) enough advantages to make it, despite her gifts and advantages. This all echoes David Callahan’s 2004 book “The Cheating Culture”.  There’s talk of going to work as an egg donor, as more women have become infertile (and there is a suggestion that population demographics, with rich people not having enough kids, has become a problem). 
Soon she is confronted by a radical idea:  she can have her soul transplanted to a younger body. Now this is a bit more radical than doing cosmetic surgery (which a recent issue of “Time” suggested everybody will be expected to do soon), or even getting wigs or toupees to cover up imperfection. I was once prodded to do that.  I’ve even fielded the idea, that if I am attracted to someone, could I stay “loyal” if something “happens” or even if “he” changes his mind (like what if he is trans-gender after all?)  That could make a screenplay.
Yet, what happens here is more like some ideas in my novel “Angel’s Brother”.  That’s too much to explain right here, but I’ll give a couple of links.  See where I discuss “the second function” at this first link  describing it, and how the “144,000 angels” idea works here (written earlier). 
I’ll also give a couple quotes from my book:
From Chapter 21:

The middle aged character Randy, at a ritual initiation, ponders “Bill”:
I see myself, making up a gratuitous example about the area of a triangle as an integral.  I point out my own error from the seat.  I am teacher and student, at the same time.  But only for a little while.  Only for demonstration, for proof of concept.

I read Bill’s screenplay, “The Sub”.  I wondered if his only purpose was to tempt me into making a pass at Bill, to seduce him, to prove the point.  I become him.  I become an elder with all my youth.

And then I become Bill, for real, for a little while. But Bill doesn’t really want to become me.  He wants to live in a Sal or a Matt.

From Chapter 27:
“Sal” has learned that he is an angel that will host many personalities who will occasionally live for an hour or so in his body, while he gets to know all of them.  Bill keeps more independence.

In a half hour or so, Randy would get this part of the conversation transmitted. 

“I actually experience a little of the people I infect,” Sal said. “I can reconstruct Randy’s own night to remember. He would marry, have kids, and carry the same cravings you did.  Because he was strong, like me, he could do it all.  You couldn’t.  But the infection worked better for you than anyone else.  Look, your biological disguise got you out again. And not just ‘For the first time’. But it will go away.  This body snatch doesn’t last, it still melts like snow that doesn’t stick.”

“You and Matt…”

“We’re the heroes. We’re the only two angels that go on forever.  The virus brings the Y chromosome stuff to the fertilization.  It must have happened for Christ.  As we all know, in mammals, virgin births could produce only females, unless there was a vector virus like this one. We wouldn’t need weddings anymore.  We would just want them for fun”

My book has the concept of identity transference through a bizarre virus. But my DADT screenplay does not;  the best possibility is a kind of telepathy.  There is always a question, "what would it be like" to experience being someone else.  In this movie, Gwen finally "succeeds"; her "2.0" instantiation is played by a Freya Adams. 
Back to the review now! (or “Back to the Bay!”)
Here’s another great discussion of the film by Arthur Chu.  And Vox Media’s site “The Verge” even weighs in on the film here.  This one gets a lot of attention.
The official Facebook site is here. The film can also be watched for $3.99 on Amazon Instant. 

It looks like the Lipstick Building (Madoff) shows up in my first picture above. 

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