Thursday, May 30, 2013

Computer Unfriendly

There are some movie titles that are godsends to film critics.   When a negative review is baked into the title, it's often too easy to resist.  For instance, take the new film "Disconnect."  If you want to trash the picture, it's a slam dunk.


"Does this include the projector plug?"

"Whatever you say, Mr. Film Producer."

Of course, the easy plan can come undone when the movie itself is quite good.  And that's just what "Disconnect" is.  A smart and intelligent film that stays with you for a long while afterward.  And makes you think about how you spend your time in 2013.  

You go see the film and come home to access the internet to see other reviews.  You might tap into to review the cast list.  You might check Moviefone to see where else it is playing so you can recommend it to friends.

And, as you go about all those routine reactions, you realize what the movie was telling you all along.

What's it about, you may ask?

Well, as Madge the Manicurist used to say on all those Palmolive TV commercials....."you're soaking in it."


You're reading here what I had to say about "Disconnect" and that's exactly what the film is warning you about.   Our excessive and obsessive use of the internet.

In our collective worlds, we are all living almost comfortably in the land of Information Overload.  We need to know every single detail of everything that we touch, sense, eat, or feel.  We frequently don't leave our homes to go shopping.  It is done not at a Macy's cashier counter, but on Macy'  We don't go out to a movie.  We wait so we can watch it on a computer screen.  We don't go to a party or a social gathering.  No, it's easier to talk to somebody on-line.

And this reliance will increase at a geometric pace until, two generations from now, children will no longer know how to communicate with each other in person.

That's what "Disconnect" brilliantly tackles.  Our seemingly undying need to live on our computers.

"Disconnect" is one of those movies that falls into the now-classic film format, asking you to follow five or six different plot lines what you just know will come together in some fashion in the last reel.  Indeed, that device is now becoming quite routine and overused.  But, here it still works.  Mainly because computers have managed to keep all of our own plot lines isolated and separate.  And the characters in these stories are truly that.  Married to their flat screens and little else.

One of the few "big names" in "Disconnect" is Jason Bateman, playing the isolated dad in a family so dysfunctional that it makes his "Arrested Development" TV clan look like the Waltons.  His son is being pranked on Facebook by a couple of classmates and the boy's reaction to the joke is to attempt suicide.

Meanwhile, one of the prankster kids takes to the computer because his father, a single dad, has no time for him.  He's too busy acting as a computer fraud detective.  And his clients just happen to be...

A young couple dealing with the loss of their infant son to SIDS.  Young Dad gambles on-line.   Young Mom, not getting comfort from her husband, takes to a grief counseling website.  Suddenly, their life savings are mysteriously wiped out.  On-line, of course.  And who doesn't relate to this story?  Haven't we all had our bank accounts hacked at least twice?

Naturally, any movie about internet use would not be complete without the requisite porn/sex story.  A TV reporter does research on such a site and winds up in a "relationship" with a young teen hustler who does his best "work" via Skype.  Director Henry Alex Rubin refrains from giving us Korean porn specialists, but he does tap into a world that is seedy, repulsive, and amazingly poignant.

As you expect, most of these folks live in the same suburban community that I recognized from location shooting to be all around my second home of Yonkers, New York.  I recognized many spots familiar to me, including one scene in a motel that was shot in the old Carvel Inn where I once worked.  On a personal level, this enabled the film to touch even more deeply.  

I couldn't wait to get home and e-mail all my Yonkers friends about it.  Then I stopped myself.  Maybe I should call them on the phone and tell them.  

Or just let them know in this blog piece, which, of course, you are reading right now.

As "Disconnect" intelligently lets us know, there is no escape for any of us.

Go see it.   Not streamed on a computer.  Please put your shoes on.  Go down to the garage.  Get into your car.  Drive to the local multiplex.  And see it in a theater.

That's how life should be experienced.


Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch so just a salad.

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