Review: DSKNECTD

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Director: Dominic H. White
Producer: Dominic H. White
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 98 min.


Over the last few years there has been a lot of discussion and study into how humans use and abuse technology. As everything from sexting and cyber bullying to gaming addiction has become part of mainstream culture, so has culture’s fascination with the ill effects of technology. As someone who uses technology on a daily basis, the very title DSKNECTD put me on the offensive. I couldn’t help but think that here was another movie, this time a documentary, listing the many downsides of technology but surprisingly, that’s not the case.

Dominic H. White’s documentary opens with an overview of the most pervasive piece of technology: the cell phone. Experts talk about the adverse effects of cell phone use but White also speaks with individuals about the good aspects of cell phone usage. What’s really interesting is that White’s experts don’t just talk about the good and bad but they apply it to our culture, exploring how different groups use and have different relationships with the technology.

This approach carries though all of DSKNECTD which, in it’s 90 minute running time, explores everything from cell phones to social media and gaming – essentially everything that is connected to the internet and is in one way or another designed to keep us connected. There’s an exploration of Web 2.0 and how the concepts that make up that vague idea have changed the way we engage with not only each other but with ourselves, how gaming has changed from a mostly private activity to a shared one and how humans, the “social animal,” interact with all of these things. Not surprisingly, it turns out that for some, technology is replacing the need for face to face interaction but when pushed, we’re still more interested in meeting people face to face than talking to them over a computer or phone line.

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A Month Of Horror 2012 – Chapter 3

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Eight-inch floppy disks! Aaaaah!!

 

Silk (2006 – Chao Bin-Su)
Within the first 20 minutes of Silk you’ve seen ghosts, a discovery that may lead to anti-gravity, a cop with incredible eyesight and a facility for reading lips, and an obese Canadian photographer. How do these elements fit together? And can they possibly do so without imploding? And what about the cop’s dying mother, the silk that ties the energy of the ghosts back to the real world, daylilies and facial tumors? Despite some treacly moments, it does manage to bring all these threads together, but certainly struggles along the way. Using straight dramatic moments, a bit of gore, some thriller aspects and ghost story elements, the film tracks the mystery of a boy ghost that a research team has trapped in a room. The entire story revolves around an anti-gravity discovery called a Menger Sponge which apparently traps energy and therefore can be used to counter gravity. A side effect is its ability to trap the energy of ghosts as well as allow us to see them. It really strains while trying to explain all these abilities and fumbles away most of the larger ideas it strives to get across. The moments with the ghosts remind one of Ju-On somewhat, but they never quite hit the proper atmospheric dread those films had and occasionally some of the scenes deteriorate into plain silliness. Particularly when they essentially ignore the reality that they’ve set up and start creating new boundaries for the ghosts. Also, I suppose that I shouldn’t pick on details, but when the cop opens fire on a crowded subway (shooting bullets sprayed with liquid Menger Sponge and aimed at a ghost only he can see), it’s rather baffling that the subway could pull into the next stop, have no one run screaming from the train and then close its doors and pull away with him remaining inside. And yet, there were some fine spooky images that, although they never quite “got” to me, were nicely realized.

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Demon Seed (1977 – Donald Cammell)
This particular demon seed is not the kind you might be expecting…One of the early “artificial intelligence is dangerous” warning films, this Julie Christie vehicle (based on a Dean R. Koontz novel) is chock full of wonderfully designed lab and ’70s “super-computer” equipment. Proteus 4 is the name of the big computer brain that has just been brought online and, though the government has plans to use it for some mundane number crunching, the computer scientists are still happy that they can use 20% of its cycles for beneficial research in health and environment sectors. The human brain behind the whole operation is Alex Harris and once he taps into Proteus 4 from one of his home terminals shortly after it goes online, he quickly realizes that the artificial brain has already figured out that humanity isn’t worth its CPU cycles. Proteus 4 wants to be let out of its box and allowed to acquire whatever knowledge it can on its own – a request that is quickly denied. But Proteus 4 has a backup plan…By going through the home terminal, it takes over the automated systems in Alex’s house (he has surveillance cameras, robotic arms and other machines to handle daily chores) and imprisons Harris’s wife Susan (the two are separated and he has just left the house for a few months). It gets a bit hit and miss from this point on as Susan (as played by Christie) jumps to hysterical behaviour far too quickly and shows no ability to use logic – a shame, because you always want to like Christie while she’s on screen (in pretty much any role). Proteus 4’s plan involves her because it wants to create its own offspring in order to vicariously explore the world. Yeah, you can see where this is going now right? It wants to impregnate Susan with its own synthetic sperm to create a new step in human evolution and manages to capture her and tie her down for numerous tests, the actual insemination and for the month long, speeded-up fetal development. Though you have to give the film credit for just going for its concept and letting it play out, it would’ve been nice to give Christie a bit of respite…

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Shorts Program: Reach

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Currently in contention at Cannes for their animated short corner is this cute little four minute clip of a robot whose curiosity just may end up getting the best of him. Pixar animators watch your back (or take notice); Reach says so much in so little time with absolutely no dialogue.

Creator Luke Randall put this together over the period of about eight months and has apparently already been doing very well in the festival circuit. This is certainly one of the finer animated shorts I’ve seen in a while (ya know, because I see so many). In a word, wonderful.

See it in high quality over at YouTube (recommended); otherwise, I’ve embedded the short underneath the seats here in the third row. I highly encourage you to check it out.

[via]/film

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Terminator Salvation: The New Trailer

Terminator Salvation Movie StillIt seems that we haven’t talked too much about it around these parts but doing a search through the site, I discovered that there have been numerous posts on the upcoming Terminator film, all of them from me, which suggests that I am mildly obsessed with McG’s take on the classic franchise. This new take, starring Christian Bale as John Connor, is scheduled to hit theatres in May but the trailers haven’t really given us much to go on and though I’ve liked some of the designs, I’m also a tad bit cautious about getting my hopes up too high only to be disappointed.

Terminator Salvation takes place after Skynet has destroyed most of the world in a nuclear holocaust and Connor, the leader of the survivors, is forging ahead to keep humanity alive. It’s a great concept, and one that I’ve been curious about since in the past we’ve only seen glimpses of life post Skynet, but I’m still on the fence. I like Bale but he still appears to be playing with the raspy voice, one of the things that really annoyed me in The Dark Knight (our review) but I’m willing to go with it, especially after seeing the latest trailer.

Not only do we get to see a little more of the post-Skynet world, but we also get more of a look at Sam Worthington and the role his character plays in the story. This could be the movie that puts Worthington on the map. I could do without the car crash but am happy to see it didn’t end in a big, Bay-like explosion and the image of the building collapsing is pretty spectacular. And huge props for the use of NIN’s excellent “The Day The World Went Away” as soundtrack music. Couldn’t have picked a better selection. Overall, not mind blowing but definitely exciting.

Terminator Salvation opens on May 22nd.

Check out the fancy new trailer tucked under the seat!

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VIFF Review Roundoup #1

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In a somewhat sad attempt to get caught up on my VIFF reviews (please forgive me, it was crazy during the festival and I was very, very ill over the long weekend), many of which are still outstanding, I’ll be shortening the majority of them into capsule reviews and expanding on a few others for which I have a lot more to say. So, here we go into round one. Click on the movie title below to skip directly to a particular film.

In this all Canadian edition we’ve got:

Fifty Dead Men Walking
Control Alt Delete
45 RPM

Fifty Dead Men Walking

Fifty Dead Men Walking Movie StillEarlier this year I caught up with Kari Skogland’s film The Stone Angel (our review), one I thought showed great potential for the up-and-coming director. Skogland’s follow up couldn’t be more different. Based on a novel and the real life of Martin McGartland, a young man recruited by the British Police to spy on the IRA, Fifty Dead Men Walking has all the trappings of a great film, except it isn’t.

The film features some excellent performances from up and comers Jim Sturgess in the lead role of McGartland and Kevin Zegers is excellent as his best friend Sean. It’s the supporting performances that lack a fair bit. Ben Kingsley is mediocre at best as McGartland’s police contact Fergus (his hair was hot topic of conversation after the screening) and Rose McGowan is laughably bad in her Irish accent. But even with the mixed performances, the real problem with the film is that it goes no where mind you, it does so stylishly.

Skogland’s film is pretty to look at, great cinematography from Jonathan Freeman and excellent production design, but it lacks any heart. The story forges ahead yet there’s never a feeling of angst, fear or excitement; something which is particularly hard to swallow when one considers how fantastically dramatic McGartland’s story is. The problem is partly due to the direction but also the editing which badly breaks up the film’s pacing. Compensating for the lack of emotional connection with music doesn’t do the film any favours either and by the time the credits rolled, I was relieved: I’d had enough of the music which drown out nearly every scene.

Fifty Dead Men Walking was the festival’s biggest disappointment for me. Though the film looked great and I had big expectations from Skogland, I was thoroughly disappointed. I may have been on my own: the film took home the Citytv Western Canada Feature Film Award.

Trailer available at Movie Set.

More reviews tucked under the seat!

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Tron 2 Footage is HERE!

At some point earlier this year, it was announced that Disney was working on a 3D sequel to Tron. At the time, I thought someone had posted the story around these parts but doing a search, it looks like we skipped this one – may have something to do with the fact that it’s an unnecessary sequel.

The talks of the project died down for a few weeks but it looks like it’s hot topic for conversation again. Turns out the Disney folks and Jeff Bridges (yeah, he’s back for number two) showed up at Comic-Con with some new footage from the film which, by all accounts, blew the crowd away. Now Richard over at Filmstalker has found a clip of the footage shown to the crowd. It’s a bit crooked and from far, far way with the occasional black out but the bits we see certainly suggest this could be good. I just hope they change the name because Tr2n is just plain dumb.

Update: Disney is apparently kicking ass at removing this everywhere. Here’s where I found it today. Probably will be down by this afternoon though:
Gizmododo (thanks to Ty Webb for the tip).


Tron 2 TR2N Trailer Teaser Preview Full Screen from Tron Two on Vimeo.