Tag: Internet


The Circle

May 3rd, 2017 — 5:30am

**

The Circle – sp

We see on news programs accusations that politicians sometimes are not very honest. There are reports that there are deals being done behind everyone’s back which are not in the best interest of the constituents who elected them. So imagine if it were possible for a politician to decide to “go transparent” where he or she would wear a special camera 24 hours a day that would record just about everything that went on in his or her life (with some very personal exceptions) which would be accessible to everyone on the Internet who wanted to view it. In fact, imagine where other people could decide to “go transparent” and have every part of their life available to anyone who wanted to see it. Imagine also a corporation which cared so much for its employees that it would offer them world class medical care, not only to all of its employees but to their entire families including their parents. What if everyone was interconnected on the Internet so that a wanted criminal could be quickly tracked down once the details of this person with a picture were put out on the Internet. In fact, any persons’ whereabouts could be tracked down within ten minutes because everyone was so interconnected.

These possibilities and all the implications of them were part of the storyline of the novel The Circle  by Dave Eggers which was brought to the screen by James Ponsoldt who co-wrote the screen play with Mr. Eggers. Mr. Ponsoldt also directed the film and was one of the major producers. He enticed Tom Hanks, two-time Oscar winner to play Eamon Bailey who was one of the founders and leaders of this company. As usual, Mr. Hanks is very believable and somewhat reminiscent of Steve Jobs. Patton Oswalt plays another co-founder Tom Stenton who appeared a little bit more sinister.

The story revolves around Mae Holland (Emma Watson), a young woman who was thrilled to get a job at the Circle (think Google and/or Apple squared in the mathematical sense). We see her evolve from being very excited about getting a great entry job (called a guppy, remember new born teeny tropical fish) to developing into a sophisticated perhaps brainwashed worker who herself wants to go transparent. There are also meaningful supportive roles by Glenne Headly and Bill Paxton who play her parents.

We previously had read the book and liked it very much. As is often the case in such a situation, it is difficult for the movie to live up to an outstanding bpok. We tended to feel that the film was quite disjointed and superficial. The characters were not very well-developed as compared to in the book. Subplots, probably by necessity, were left out. The film served the purpose of providing a cautionary tale as did acclaimed film and book “1984” and telling us what may be in store for us in the future.

If you read the book, the film probably is not worth seeing. If you haven’t read the book, we highly recommend that it be your first choice instead of the movie. (2017)

1 comment » | 2 Stars, Drama

Audrie & Daisy

August 23rd, 2016 — 8:19pm

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 9.40.05 AM***

Audrie & Daisy-sp

Every high school student and probably many preteens and their parents/grandparents and close family members should see this documentary film. The husband and wife filmmaking team of Bonnie Cohen and Jon Shenk mainly focuses on the lives of three teenage girls and their families who lived in different parts of the country but had similar experiences. This involves teenagers sending naked pictures through the internet, alcohol, parties, rape, and subsequent humiliations. In the case of one girl there was a fatal outcome. Part of the film is seen through the eyes of two of the boys who carried out the attacks on one girl who was 14 years old at the time and apparently unconscious from drinking.

It would appear that neither the parents of teenagers coming of age nor the teachers, school system, or even the criminal justice system seem adequately prepared to deal with this emerging tragic social phenomenon. It is being fueled by a changing Internet which is best understood by the young people of today some of whom end up hurt and damaged by it. Not only does the Internet provide readily available pornography but it also becomes a vehicle for girls responding to requests from boys for nude pictures of themselves, as a badge of popularity. The result and changes in sexual standards are enhanced by readily available alcohol and marijuana. This film shows caring parents who may have thought they were sophisticated about sexual issues in their children but found out that they were basically clueless.

The majority of people who were experiencing some of the tragic sexual consequences demonstrated in this film would understandably be reluctant to publicly describe their plight. Therefore it is a great accomplishment for the filmmakers that they were able to find some brave young women and their families who were willing to speak up and are motivated to action in order to prevent similar tragedies for others. We also meet the very thoughtful brother of one of the rape victims who not only reflected on how he felt but also what he is motivated to do to address this problem.

We could find some faults with the continuity of the storyline and the abrupt changes and locations. We would have also liked to have seen a better examination of the legal issues which are an important part of the story. However there is enough in this documentary film to be a “game changer” in this crucial issue concerning the destructive use of the Internet in our country. Netflix is now onboard with this film and should greatly facilitate its distribution. It opens up September 23rd in Los Angeles and New York. It should also be available soon for home screen viewing. We also understand that there is a roll-out plan for schools to use it with backup educational material. (2016)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary

Presenting Princess Shaw

May 4th, 2016 — 1:20am

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.07.58 AM***

Presenting Princess Shaw-sp

The appeal of this documentary film is that it introduced the viewer to a phenomenon that many of us did not fully appreciate is happening on the Internet. Samantha Montgomery is a black woman probably in her late 20’s or early 30’s who works as an aide in a nursing home in New Orleans. We learned later in the film that she had an unhappy childhood and that she was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend despite her protests to her mother. As she got older, she had few emotional supports and became one of many people who reported her daily life activities on the internet. She also likes to make up songs and sing her latest creations acapella. She had aspirations to become recognized as a singer and would sing at open microphone nights in local clubs, frequently with just a few patrons in the audience. One time she went to an audition with hundreds of other aspiring singers to try out for the famous TV show “The Voice” but never made it to the stage to be seen by the judges.

Film director Ido Haar and film producer Liran Atzmor had the idea to do a documentary film about the phenomena of people singing their own songs on the internet. They contacted Ms. Montgomery who used the stage name on the internet as Princess Shaw, as one of many who might be the subject of their film. However, the film producers apparently learned something very interesting that Princess Shaw did not know and made the documentary duo decide to focus only on her.

Unbeknownst to Princess Shaw an Israeli music producer by the name of Ophir Kutiel who is known as Kutiman was downloading her singing on Youtube and was inviting Youtube musicians around the world to arrange various musical accompaniments to the singing that Princess Shaw was putting out on her Youtube channel. Through skillful editing, Kutiman used the talents of several musicians who never knew each other or sat in the same room to put together a terrific arrangement of Princess Shaw singing a haunting song titled Give It Up. The documentary filmmaker, who was following her around with one hand held camera was able to capture the tearful surprise and emotion when she first heard the professional arrangement with the various musicians from around the world. Soon this song had over one million hits on the internet. Princess Shaw was then invited to come to Israel to meet Kutiman and appear in a concert in a very large venue. She now has a record contract and travels around the United States promoting this documentary film where we met her in a screening of this movie which opens in Los Angeles and other major cities at the end of May.

So there you have it, a unique story of our modern times. The documentary film is an amalgam of Youtube clips and handheld videos as the main subject was attentively followed around in her various activities. It was an interesting idea for a documentary film and we are glad that we saw it. For a sample of Kutiman’s production of Princess Shaw singing Give it Up on YouTube with musicians from around the world that now has over 2 ½ million hits, click here (2016).

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary

GIrl On the Edge

May 29th, 2015 — 6:04am

****Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 10.51.41 PM

Girl on the Edge-sp

This is an independent film based on Director Jay Silverman’s real life experience with his daughter. It is very well done with an excellent screen play by Joey Curtis with the help of Jay Silverman and writer Joe Gamache. There is an outstanding acting job by Taylor Spreitler. Although over 18 years old, she did get into the shoes of the 14-year-old main character that she played. Likewise, Gil Bellows was superb as the father ,who once he woke up to what was happening to his daughter, became appropriately angry and frustrated. Amy Price-Francis did a very believable job as the stepmother. Kudos are also given to the late Elizabeth Pena for her sensitive performance as one of the staff people at the rehabilitation center who understood the role that horses could play in therapy for young people. Peter Coyote could not have been better as the understanding empathic director of the rehabilitation program to which the young girl was sent.

This movie really presents us with two aspects of what this 14-year-old girl had to face. The first is that we could see what could happen to a young girl who begins to experiment with alcohol, perhaps with drugs and sex, and gets slipped a date rape drug where she doesn’t remember what happened to her. That is until she sees naked pictures of herself on the Internet and the terrible consequences in her life after such widespread exposure.

The other part of the story is about what a treatment program away from her loving family might be like. In this case, it was with a sensitive caring staff as well as interaction with other girls in the treatment program. It showed how horticulture therapy (teaching the young people to appreciate the value of growing plants and food) could be therapeutic as well as learning to interact with horses. The scenes of the equine therapy were quite moving. Watching the horse that the girl connected with, as it mirrored her actions, was quite amazing.

In a post-film discussion with the movie director, Jay Silverman, most of the audience acknowledged that they had a close relative or friend who had experienced similar issues and problems to that of the main character of the film. While most people might not be able to afford the kind of rehabilitation treatment that this girl did have, the emotions engendered are universal. This movie has been winning various awards at film festivals throughout the country and internationally. We believe it is a worthwhile experience to see this movie in theaters as well as at home with family . It also should be shown in middle schools and high schools to young people and should be a stimulus for discussion with teachers, counselors, and parents. It probably won’t be available until later in the year but keep it on your list of movies to see. (2015)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

Trust

April 4th, 2011 — 10:56pm

*****

Trust- rm –  This is an important movie. It addresses a serious problem that every family with budding teenagers will have to face. We want our children to master the Internet and the unlimited horizons which it offers them in their education and future ability to navigate in this global world. We also don’t have any choice because this wonderful technology provides us instant communication with cell phones and the ability to stay in touch with family and friends. It also gives young people the ability and opportunity to meet and communicate with anyone and everyone. There are teen chats where teenagers can meet other teenagers anyplace in the world or in the next town. Of course teenagers, especially girls tend to develop crushes and infatuations and it is only natural that they might want to meet their computer/phone pal. What if it turns out that he isn’t really a teenager but a little or a lot older but still seems like a nice guy? This is the situation that a 14 year old from a very solid home with successful loving parents, a brother going away to college and a younger kid sister, found herself in. Teenage life being what it is, includes up pressures in one’s school and social life and a natural desire to be accepted, loved and to explore their new sexuality. This very relevant story written by Andy Billin and Robert Festing , produced and directed by David Schwimmer considers  the devastating consequences which befall this girl and  her parents. Liana Liberato captures the spirit of an enthusiastic teenager who just made the volleyball team but yet has the   uncertainty and vulnerability of so many girls who are trying to get hang of the complexities of socializing in their new school environment. Catherine Keener plays her impacted mom and  Clive Owen  is her dad originally from Great Britain and a successful  advertising  executive which is helping to create the tween market which he at one point ironically and sickenly realizes may be creating sexual interest in youngsters  the age of his daughter. He struggles with his own feelings of inadequacies as a father and rage at anyone who might threaten or hurt his daughter. You might expect this subject to best dealt with by a documentary which could provide statistics, interviews with therapists, police and FBI agents as well as some parents or victims. This movie had all of the above in the form of a fast moving drama which conveyed the emotional pain of everyone involved. Schwimmer, who actually is  on the board of directors of the Rape Foundation for the Rape Treatment Center of Santa Monica, with this film  may have ended up  protecting untold numbers of young girls  from being hurt because of knowledge and awareness gained by viewing this film.  In fact this is the ideal movie to be viewed by parents and teenagers together followed by a nice dinner or snack to provide the vehicle and a good discussion. (2011)

1 comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

We Live In Public

September 7th, 2010 — 1:49am

* * *
We Live In PublicWe Live In Public
– sp – This is documentary that followed the main character and his activities for about 25 years. Josh Harris as an awkward young man realized the potential of the Internet and became a multimillionaire before the dot com crash. He was also obsessed with how the coming generation would display themselves in public through the potential of the Internet. In the 1990s in New York he set up The Bunker which was an experimental underground living arrangement where people would live in an elaborated constructed set up with a multitude of video cameras which would allow them to view each other at will in every private and public aspect of their lives. Subsequently Mr. Harris offers his own living arrangement with his girl friend to be totally accessible to the Internet Documentary maker Ondi Timoner is given access to all this footage plus interviews with Mr. Harris, his family, friends and associates. What emerges is picture at man who may be a prophetic genius who has understood and predicted the social changes that the Internet with Facebook, My Space, You Tube and Twitter is now demonstrating. The film also shows the origins that made this man a troubled not very well liked individual who had great difficulty with relationships and perhaps led to his at times bizarre behavior which was never fully explained Also, people shown in the film were not exactly typical representations of that generation. For example just about all the people shown to be willing to live in the Bunker were identified as “Performance Artists” but yet the film seemed to be implying that was a new trend in this generation. Ms Timoner who wrote, directed, produced and edited this film had a clear vision of what she wanted to say about this man and his own vision of modern technology. We may need several years to see if she and he are correct. It is films such as this one that makes us realize that our rating system for the usual films we have screened may not be applicable for documentaries. The quality of the film was OK and it is possible that significance of the film may turn out to be very great.

Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary

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