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film

MEMORY OF THE FUTURE

Michael Almereyda, Marjorie Prime, 2017, 2K video, color, sound, 98 minutes. From left: Tess (Geena Davis), Walter (Jon Hamm), and Marjorie (Lois Smith).

THERE HAVE LONG BEEN many ways of staging apparitions. One well-tried method is to present a troubled or slightly miscued conversation and then have a character tell the audience that one of the first talkers was a ghost. This is what happens in Jordan Harrison’s play, on which Michael Almereyda’s subtle and elusive film Marjorie Prime is based. Well, the phantasm in question is not a ghost in the old-fashioned sense. He is a stylish hologram, the visual representation of a computer program that stores memories and has astonishing learning capacities. It can also “look stuff up,” we are later told. It’s not a robot, it’s a Google-oriented AI simulation. When it makes mistakes, it’s a little too correct, too formal, not fallible or messy enough. It says, “I’ll remember that now,” instead of making a mental note and saying something human and irrelevant. It’s very quick. It says,

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