A hard-working lawyer, attached to his cell phone, can’t find the time to communicate with his family. A couple is drawn into a dangerous situation when their secrets are exposed online. A widowed ex-cop struggles to raise a mischievous son who cyber-bullies a classmate. An ambitious journalist sees a career-making story in a teen that performs on an adult-only site. They are strangers, neighbors and colleagues and their stories collide in this riveting dramatic thriller about ordinary people struggling to connect in today’s wired world.(Imdb)
6 March 2013
Hollywood, however, has been slow to understand just how evil the internet is. Sure, Untraceable and Feardotcom both depicted nightmarish situations where people could watch murders take place online. And there was The Lawnmower Man, which warned us of the very real possibility that the internet could turn everyone into insane pyrokinetic virtual reality geniuses who will destroy the world despite looking like something from the Dire Straits Money for Nothing video. But they hardly captured the full horror of which the internet is really capable.
But finally there is Disconnect, a new thriller starring Jason Bateman. Will Disconnect finally reflect the pure undiluted malice of modern technology? Let’s pick through its trailer and find out exactly how the internet has ruined our lives:
1) Finally, a film about how maddening it is to be Facebook friends with someone who doesn’t use apostrophes properly. This is already literally as evil as the internet gets, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Disconnect trailer manages to top it.
2) I needn’t have worried, because Disconnect also shines a light on the vile way that the internet has made everyone pretend that they like boring Icelandic music that they would never actually listen to by choice in real life. I didn’t realise that I hated the internet this much until now. Thanks, Disconnect!
3) Even worse, Disconnect is the first film to speak the truth about how everyone with internet access – even politicians – now spend most of their lives ogling strangers with terrible interior design instincts online.
4) Jason Bateman knows how evil the internet is. That’s why he’s spent so much time grimly staring at his laptop that he’s let an entirely ill-advised beard seep across his face. Would Jason Bateman have grown a beard if it wasn’t for the internet? Almost certainly not.
5) The internet has also made us share the least flattering photos of ourselves; photos that reveal to the entire world what unapologetic idiots our friends are. Usually this sort of picture would lay quietly in an album for decades until your horrified children stumble across it after you die. But Disconnect knows how much worse things are now. Disconnect knows the truth.
6) What’s more, Disconnect knows that everyone with internet access – even vicars and your mum – has been goaded into taking semi-nude photographs of themselves in a mirror with the word “SLAVE” written in lipstick across their thigh and posting them on the internet. But thanks to Disconnect, perhaps we can begin to realise that taking semi-nude photographs of yourself in a mirror with the word “SLAVE” written in lipstick across your thigh and posting them on the internet might be a bad thing.
7) Oh, and you know that stranger with the terrible wallpaper who you saw online that time? You will definitely have an affair with him. Disconnect knows that everyone who ever speaks to anyone else in any context on the internet will definitely end up having middling sexual intercourse on a sofa. Thank you, Disconnect, for being right about everything.
8) And Disconnect knows that if you have the internet, you will definitely end up buying a gun on the black market, storing it in your glovebox and then using it to shoot someone who your wife was talking to online, because he either had sex with her or stole her identity or whatever. You’re using the internet now. It’s only a matter of time before you do this exact thing yourself.
9) Finally, Disconnect will teach you that, immediately after watching the Disconnect trailer online, you’ll realise that Disconnect is actually a hopeless, panicky, multi-stranded, worst-case scenario Crash rip-off, but with the internet instead of racism. And then you’ll run away from it in the rain or something. Look, go and watch a cat video. It has to be better than this.
April 11, 2013
The jittery characters who scuttle through the three stories that make up “Disconnect” are struggling to make their way through today’s treacherous cyberwilderness. Some are predators, others prey. Naïve travelers who venture into territory taken over by upstart tribes of technological outlaws risk being ambushed, fleeced and humiliated. Law enforcement is often helpless to catch up with tricksters adept at staying ahead of the game.
How the movie, directed by Henry-Alex Rubin (the documentary“Murderball”) from a screenplay by Andrew Stern, will be received probably depends on the age and digital sophistication of the viewer. Those proficient with Facebook, Twitter, Skype, webcams and smartphones may find“Disconnect” too obvious and blithely dismiss its alarmist attitude as fuddy-duddy. And moviegoers weary of the schematic everything-is-connected school of films like “Crash,” “Babel” and “Short Cuts” may blanch at the recycling of the convention, even though this film’s theme is connectivity and its discontents.
But those struggling to keep up with changing technology may shudder at the portrayal of cruelty unleashed by bullies and thieves who blithely hide behind disguises, dig up personal information with a few keystrokes and destroy people.
The juiciest of the stories involves Nina (Andrea Riseborough), an attractive, ambitious television reporter for a local station in a New York suburb. Her investigation of chat sites involving underage teenagers is widely praised but then backfires after her journalistic coup comes to the attention of the F.B.I., and she is pressed to reveal her source.
Nina suddenly faces the prospect of having to betray Kyle (Max Thieriot), a saucy teenage exhibitionist who calls her a puma (the step before a cougar) and coaxes visitors to his Web site for sexy paid chats. Kyle belongs to a stable of mostly runaway street kids who live in a house under the cold, watchful eye of Harvey (the fashion designer Marc Jacobs).
The saddest story of the three involves Rich and Lydia (Jason Bateman and Hope Davis), whose withdrawn, musically talented 15-year-old son, Ben (Jonah Bobo), is duped online. For sport, two high school classmates affecting a bogus female persona entice him to send an embarrassing picture of himself, which they gleefully pass around. Ben, mortified, hangs himself in his bedroom and winds up in a hospital, near death.
Rich, a big-shot lawyer who remains glued to his cellphone even during dinner, tries to track down the bullies and discovers the degree to which the Internet has become an almost impenetrable labyrinth. One of the two classmates, now conscience-stricken, visits Ben’s hospital room under an assumed name and meets Rich.
In the least compelling tale, Derek (Alexander Skarsgard), a former Marine, and his wife, Cindy (Paula Patton), are struggling to salvage their marriage after their baby’s death when they discover that their accounts have been cleaned out. Cindy’s credit card information may have been stolen while she was chatting online with a grief support group. Determined to find the thieves, Derek tracks down a suspect (Michael Nyqvist) who runs a dry-cleaning operation, but the scheme is much more complicated than he could have imagined.
The connections among the characters aren’t just digital. Rich is a higher-up at Nina’s TV station. The father of one of the school bullies (Frank Grillo) is a widowed former police investigator for a computer crimes unit.
The three stories converge melodramatically in the movie’s final minutes. The tightness with which the strands are drawn makes “Disconnect” unsettling to watch as its characters and vignettes jostle one another like riders in a jammed subway car. The film ominously conveys a world of too much information but too little communication, where people have become slaves to glowing hand-held devices that were designed to make life easier but have made it busier and more complicated.
It is useful to remember how television was once routinely blamed for devouring people’s attention and destroying communication. You don’t hear the term “boob tube” much anymore. I suspect that similar alarms raised about the dangers of texting will eventually subside. What really matters is that whether the platform is television or the Internet, our technology is only as good or evil as the uses we put it to.
TIFF 2012: DISCONNECT Review
Modern technology has radically changed the way we interact socially. Go stand in a line, and I guarantee at least a few people will have whipped out their smartphones and are happily ignoring the world around them. We don’t call anymore; we text as if that were the same as a discussion. As author, psychologist, and MIT professor Sherry Turkle recently noted in a New York Times editorial this past April, “we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.” Henry Alex Rubin‘s Disconnect ignores this contemporary issue, and sacrifices worthwhile social commentary for mere cautionary tales. Disconnect has all the dramatic weight of a driver’s education video, but then pads its thin plots with three loosely-connected narratives, two of which feature character actions so ludicrous that the movie becomes almost completely disconnected from reality.
Disconnect is three stories, with each plot a dire warning about this new-fangled Internet technology. One story is about a local TV reporter (Andrea Riseborough) and her relationship with a young man (Max Thieriot) who does sex-cam shows. Another follows a married couple (Alexander Skarsgard and Paula Patton) who have their identity stolen, and are plunged further into debt. The third tale revolves around two high school kids (Colin Ford and Aviad Bernstein) who pretend to be a teenage girl on Facebook so they can play a cruel prank on their shy classmate (Jonah Bobo).
Webcam sex shows, identity theft, and cyber-bullying: these are the defining issues of the Internet age according to Disconnect. The film initially does a solid job of showing how the Internet creates a false sense of intimacy, and causes us to ignore the real relationships in our lives. However, it then moves into bland, obvious set-ups that serve as warnings to the viewer. There’s not an ounce of subtlety in the picture. We’re not left to think about how the Internet age has affected society; we’re left thinking we should probably change our Internet passwords and talk to our kids about not friending people they haven’t met in real life.
After the film has finished warning the audience about things they’re already aware of, Disconnect still has 70 minutes left to burn, so each story is pulled even thinner as most of the characters behave incompetently. The married couple decides to personally hunt their identity thief because the police aren’t acting quickly enough. The reporter shatters professional boundaries, and develops feelings for her source. The only story with any trace of real humanity is when the bullied kid’s father (Jason Bateman) goes online to find out what happened to his son. It’s done in a heavy-handed fashion, but at least it has some semblance of honesty, especially due to the strong performances from Bateman and Ford who have to rely solely on facial expressions during their online chats.
Identity theft, cyber-bullying, and underage sex performers are all serious problems, but they’re not the defining issues of communication in the Internet age. Couples don’t have trouble talking to each other because identity theft exists. Parents don’t have trouble talking to their kids because cyber-bullying exists. (The third story is just weird; it has almost no connection to the other two stories, but I guess “3″ is a magic number) It’s amusingly ironic that Rubin wants to cite the Internet as a reason we’re disconnected from each other when his movie is disconnected from how the Internet fundamentally affects our relationships.