DISCONNECT (2013)

April 14, 2013

disconnect1 Greetings again from the darkness. It’s an impressive cast. The director, Henry Alex Rubin, gave us the excellent documentary Murderball.  Unfortunately the material here is mostly obvious and cliché-filled with no real message, other than our dependency on technology is leading us to be less “connected” to those real life people we live with. Is there anyone who doesn’t know this … other than the characters in this movie?

I’m calling this movie “Crash on the World Wide Web”. Crash was the 2006 Oscar winner for Best Picture. It had multiple story lines andworked extremely hard to appear very important, just like this one does. Disconnect shows us the Boyd’s – a family comprised of a workaholic lawyer dad (Jason Bateman always on the blackberry), a teenage daughter (Haley Ramm), a teenage loner son, and a mom (Hope Davis) who has no close bond with any of them. The boy (played by Jonah Bobo from Crazy Stupid Love) is cyber-bullied by two cruel boys (Colin Ford from a We Bought a disconnect3Zoo, and Aviad Bernstein).

We also meet a married couple played by Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard. They learn they are the victims of identity theft and the source could be her online support chat room (grieving the loss of their young son) or his online gambling problem. They hire a cyber-crime expert (Frank Grillo) to help them track down the alleged perpetrator (Michael Nyqvist). This expert also happens to be the father of Colin Ford’s character – the cyber-bully from story 1.

disconnect4Finally we see an ambitious local TV reporter (Andrea Riceborough) who stumbles onto an online sex chat room featuring young stud Max Thieriot. As the trust builds between these two, we know disaster is fast approaching.

The two father-son relationships take a turn after both fathers “invade” the privacy of the boys’ online accounts. What they learn is painful and enlightening. The real point or message of the stories seem to be that technology is killing real communication and human interaction. This is the disconnect that is occurring while online connections are thriving. Did we really need a movie to tell us this?

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you are somehow oblivious to the inherent dangers of online communication OR if you are unaware that teenagers can be cruel and loneliness is open to all ages OR you want to see why I prefer Jason Bateman in dramatic roles rather than comedies

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you have been the victim of identity theft or cyber-bullying … no need to re-live that pain

watch the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqCcQOlDM4o


SKATELAND

May 29, 2011

 Greetings again from the darkness. I am a sucker for coming-of-age stories based in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s. So all it took was seeing the trailer once for me to catch up with first time director Anthony Burns’ film set in 1983 in a small east Texas town. No matter that I spent almost no time in a skating rink growing up. The basic time and place was enough to lure me in.

Pet Peeve Alert: I have stated this many times, but I can never understand why directors feel the need to cast twenty-somethings as high schoolers. Immediately I am on the defensive. That’s not to say that Shiloh Fernandez, Ashley Greene and Haley Ramm aren’t fine actors, because they certainly are. They just aren’t believable as 17 or 18 year olds. Same with Heath Freeman (the film’s co-writer). As Brent, he is cast as the older guy who still parties with the high schoolers when on break from his time as a dirt bike racer. Mr. Freeman is talented, but looks to be pushing 40 years old! Remember Matthew McConaughey in Richard Linklater‘s excellent Dazed and Confused? At least he didn’t look 15 years older than the other kids. There are elements of that film, as well as Almost Famous and American Graffiti, present here. Unfortunately, Skateland never comes close to the detail or emotional strength of any of those three films.

For the first hour, I kept holding out hope that the film would find itself and really present something new and special. It has the look of important commentary; however, it just leaves us holding an empty bag.

Certainly all the pieces are here … wannabe writer, inspirational sister, broken family, rich and poor friends, cool and uncool students, hangers-on, local thugs, etc. Even Skateland itself has a real look and feel. For whatever reason, these pieces never jell … they just lay there expecting us to assemble a meaningful, completed puzzle.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you attended high school in a small town in the early 1980’s OR skating rinks hold a special place in your heart

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you have the chance to watch American Graffiti instead