Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: Disconnect

If I had to define Disconnect in a sentence, it would be that it seems like a Lifetime Channel Original Movie made by talented people. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, the plots aren’t really the bad part about Lifetime Movies, it’s just an observation. In fact, the plot is well executed enough that the movie turns out pretty damned great…which really just makes how bade Lifetime Movies are all the more unforgiveable.

The plot is actually a three part plot, with each plot only connected by a main character from one plot playing a supporting role in another. One story is devoted to a pair of trouble making teens pretending to be a girl over Facebook in order to trick another one. The next is devoted to a married couple, under strain after their son died, having their identity stolen. And the third is about an enterprising reporter who interviews a young man who works as a webcam ‘model.’

You might notice that all three of those stories are tied into computers and the internet. Well yes, that the point, the title refers to the disconnect over the internet (naturally) and it really hammers that point home, repeatedly. It’s always a risk when doing a movie with such an obvious point to make, to come across as preachy and condescending (indeed, that’s what sunk the well made Crash in my eyes) but Disconnect never feels overly preachy and speaking as someone who spends most of his time on the internet I never felt like I was being attacked.

The writing is pretty solid across the board, with most of the characters feeling fully formed, even if some of the dialogue can occasionally stray into being a tiny bit too on the nose. The film plays the crossover of characters from one story to another sparingly and even seems to play with audience expectations a little bit, as it occasionally seems to be building toward a large climax with all three stories colliding that never happens.

On the acting end, there’s not much to say, other than how extremely weird it was to see Jason Bateman doing dramatic work (and really good dramatic work no less) in what is revealed to be the focal point of his story. Paula Patton is really solid in the lead in her story. And the weird standout is Frank Grillo in a comparatively minor role, one that feels more for his clients than his child, but one that he excels in.

If I had to identify any flaws (aside from the fact that their attempts to characterize Haley Ramm’s character fall mostly flat, because they wait till late in the second act to start) it’d be that the movie feels slightly shorter than I think it should. It also has occasionally awkward act structures, mostly brought on by the way the three stories interact; IE one is in the 2nd act, one is in the 3rd, you get the idea. And while this is merely a personal feeling than an actual complaint, it looks for a moment like the ending is going someplace much darker then it wound going, which is a bit of a disappointment.

Disconnect is a movie of it’s moment, a moment where a Wired Editor can have his information easily stolen and a famous football player can be convinced his girlfriend died of cancer despite having never existed. Whether it’ll hold up and stay relevant once this moment has passed is a question for the future, but in this moment it’s a well made and highly engaging movie and probably one of the better things in wide release right now. Recommended.

Elessar is a 23 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he hoped that the movie would end with a ‘On the next Arrested Development…’

Friday, April 26, 2013

Director Retrospective: Tim Burton Part 4

The final leg of Burton’s career is where things begin to fall apart, which is odd because it has easily the biggest hit of his career and one of his most critically acclaimed ones too. But, over the course of the decade, he’d been gathering criticism and it wasn’t until 2010 that it finally all came crashing down on him, at least for me. But it began with…

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Director's Retrospective: Tim Burton Part 3

Terribly sorry this took so long, life was determined to interfere.
Anyway, the 90s were weird, and not entirely kind, to Burton. He put out some of his best known and well liked movies in this time, yes, but he had 3 hits to 2 flops, not the world’s best ratio. But all was not lost for America’s favorite goth, he was about to enter the new millennium and get an unprecedented (for him) string of hits.

If only the quality of his movies remained so high.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

On Roger Ebert

Today, Roger Ebert died.

That is a difficult sentence for me to write, not just because Ebert was a man I greatly admired (the first person to pass on in a long time that I was a capital F Fan of at the time of their death) but also because Ebert long ago passed from being a mere man, and into being an American Institution. He was a staple of movie criticism in a way that no one else was, other than perhaps his longtime partner Gene Siskel. I didn’t always agree with him, but you’ll never find someone you agree with 100 percent of the time. But I always read him, I always respected his opinion and I always found his thinking and journalism skills without peer.

In a way it seems oddly fitting that yesterday he announced that he was going into retirement with a ‘leave of presence,’ essentially announcing his retirement, because it feels like his work ended with him. He taught millions of people to love film and experience it in new ways. He was the first film critic I ever read or watched regularly and the one I read the most.

And as odd as this sounds, it felt like he’d always be there. Rest in Peace Roger. We’ll miss you.