Photo credit: IMDb
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, SPEC showed an early screening of Danny Boyle's new movie, Steve Jobs, at the Cinemark, formerly known as The Rave (R.I.P.). I couldn't watch the movie before my deadline for this article, but let me be a troll for a minute: Aaron Sorkin, the guy who wrote Steve Jobs, is not good at what he does. Sorkin does one thing which I always find annoying: All of works are the story of A Good (White) Man Just Trying To Do Decent Things. The West Wing (which is not a good television show, sorry), The Social Network (look at how complicated Mark Zuckerberg is!), and especially The Newsroom (everybody listen to Sensible White Man Jeff Daniels preach about politics) are all the same thing in different contexts, and Steve Jobs will probably be more of the same. Anyway, here are five actually good movies about the internet and technology that you should watch instead of Steve Jobs.
Matthew Broderick plays David Lightman, a computer nerd who hacks into a government supercomputer and accidentally starts a war game simulation. The problem is that the government thinks the simulation is an actual attack by the Soviets. The plot is really engaging and has an important moral at the end, even if it's very heavy–handed. Make sure to watch the incredibly underrated Ally Sheedy play Jennifer Mack, who does a tremendous amount with a very poorly written damsel–in–distress female part.
We all know what The Matrix is. It's a bit of pop philosophy, a bit of Plato's Cave, a bit of literature and a heaping dose of existential sci–fi doom and gloom. Also, some martial arts. I once heard this movie described as the kind of thing that you could think about for the rest of your life and still not fully understand it, which is probably true. But that's also why you enjoy a movie like this.
Here's another trollish opinion: Her was actually the best movie of 2013. In a comeback role, Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, who falls in love with the operating system on his phone, Samantha. There's a lot going on here, touching on today's sentiment of dependence on phones and detachment from real human connections. This is all emphasized by climactic scenes in which Twombly discusses his divorce with his ex–wife, played by a phenomenal Rooney Mara, and discusses the future of his relationship with Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johannson. Really take in Johannson's performance–she's just voice acting here, and she's damn good at it.
I am an absolute sucker for Nora Ephron, and this is her third best film (behind When Harry Met Sally... and Julie & Julia, obviously), but the only one with a heavy tech aspect. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan play Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly, who enter an AOL chatroom (remember those?) and begin a flirtatious anonymous relationship despite being real–life business rivals. Dave Chappelle and Jean Stapleton are along to play sidekicks, which is always fun. The whole thing is perfectly predictable and very pleasant (and the opposite of Her, if that's more your speed).
Director Miranda July is a darling of the indie–intellectual scene, and this is probably her best movie. As fair warning, this is a hard movie to understand the first time, but it's interesting to think about. There isn't a plot so much as three different subplots: one about the fledgling relationship between cab driver Christine (July) and Richard (John Hawkes); one about a chatroom run by Peter (Miles Thompson) and Robby (Brandon Ratcliff), 6– and 14–year–old boys; and one about Heather (Natasha Slayton) and Rebecca (Najarra Townsend), two teenagers who develop an oddly sexual relationship with their neighbor Andrew (Brad William Henke). It's bizarre and a little bit surreal and all comes together in the end with an interesting commentary on internet culture.