Can you think of a movie with a good super-computer? From Hal through to Skynet through that computer that turned Richard Pryor into a robot in Superman III, super-computers equal bad news in movies. Luddite Hollywood doesn’t seem to trust advanced technology. Never mind the irony that most of the most memorable moments in modern blockbusters are made of ones and zeroes; on-screen, super-computers are not our friends. In the new techno-thriller Eagle Eye, yet another sleek, malign thinking machine is added to the villains’ roster. Was it always this way? Did ancient audiences boo the abacus whenever it appeared on-stage?
There aren’t many scenes of violence involving cellos in the movies. Scenes of violence tend to involve more obvious weapons. That’s why so few of them ring true for us. I remember reading an interview with Robert Towne where he talked about wanting to include a scene in a movie where a man fended off an intruder with a rocking chair. No-one let him, of course. But I liked the idea of using a rocking chair as a weapon. It felt real because it was unexpected. The cello scene in Rocket Science has the same feel. It sums up something: how bizarre life is. A 15-year old boy throws a cello at a girl’s house because she broke his heart. He wants to get even. If the boy had thrown a brick it wouldn’t have the same impact.