Archives for posts with tag: Patton Oswalt

Circle

Feminist diversity cheerleader and global elitist Emma Watson stars in the near-future technological cautionary tale The Circle as Mae Holland, who goes to work for a Google- or Facebook- or Microsoft-like tech giant headed by the deceptively down-to-earth Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) and finds it an altogether more sinister affair than the mere professional advancement she had expected. The film is more satire than suspense, its nightmare scenario of a progressive social media company assuming the de facto function of government being too close to today’s reality to do much to shock the audience. Watson is, as always, pleasantly watchable, and colorful little character parts are nicely drawn by the supporting cast, which includes Karen Gillan, Bill Paxton, Glenne Headly, and an understated Patton Oswalt.

Three out of five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Circle is:

3. AltMedia-skeptical. After a character dies onscreen, an anonymous social media poster claims that the death was faked – a critique of the trend for alienated and insular internet-dwellers to assume the use of crisis actors in any significant event.

2. Luddite! People behave better when they are being watched, the Circle determines, and “Secrets are lies” becomes its mantra. In addition to its Orwellian scenario, the movie is critical of people’s reliance on social media for interacting with their fellow humans. In one scene, Mae suggests to her old friend Mercer (Ellar Coltrane) that he should text her later to arrange a time when they can meet. He points out that they could just do that now, while they are face to face, which puzzles her. “I’ve never been touched by someone who loves me,” an anonymous commenter confesses, illuminating the alienation and cost in terms of real-life social capital that the internet represents for some users. A social media clusterfuck later leads to one character’s demise. Qualifying the criticism, however, director James Ponsoldt claims in one of the Blu-ray features that the megacorporation at least “means well”.

1.Anti-White. Mae (of course!) finds herself drawn to a hyper-intelligent black computer genius named Ty Lafitte (John Boyega), who (of course!) is the actual inventor of the innovation that has made the Circle so powerful. Perhaps unintentionally, however, the filmmakers’ attempt to create a seamlessly multiracial milieu contributes to the movie’s sense of claustrophobia and paranoia, with annoyingly intrusive Circle zealots Smith Cho and Amir Talai being noteworthy in this regard. In addition, there appears to be a reference to much of the anti-white power elite’s antinatalism when one character observes that, “No one at the Circle has kids.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

This film, which examines human behavior in the face of impending extinction, has an intriguing first half hour, particularly as it surveys society’s general response: rampant promiscuity, orgies, drug use, and rioting. Some moments are so shocking and uncompromising that I wish these could be salvaged as part of a better film yet to be made on the same subject.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is less interesting as it abandons the apocalyptic tableau and focuses on the individual concerns of effeminized, self-pitying wimp and non-leading man Steve Carell, whose cheating wife has abandoned him at the news that humanity is doomed, and his new friend, annoying neighbor Keira Knightley. Specifically, the movie goes into an irrevocably accelerating nosedive from the pointless moment the pair drops in to visit Knightley’s black survivalist ex-boyfriend.

As for the cast, Carell is fun to watch when the material is good, but I’ve learned that I have only a limited tolerance for Knightley’s endless cutesy facial posing. Patton Oswalt appears briefly as a character named Roache and delivers some embarrassingly obscene dialogue, and Martin Sheen wastes a few minutes of what remains of his life as Carell’s estranged father.

Ultimately too self-consciously quirky, uneventful, and self-important, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is at best a high-potential but squandered opportunity. Carell’s dying world and his interactions with friends and with Knightley hold out the promise of something new and unique in cinema – apocalyptic films tending to be uniformly grim or action-oriented, whereas this could have been an apocalyptic romantic black comedy – but it ends up feeling more like 30 minutes of serious thought and 60 minutes of mopey, superficial navel-gazing and disposable tongue-in-cheek humor and sentimentality. Just an average 3 of 5 stars.

My advice: see the imperfect and frustrating but conversation-sparking film The Rapture (1991) instead.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is:

3. (Arguably) anti-Occupier, as Knightley’s lazy, arrogantly jobless live-in boyfriend fits the bill and cops out when things get scary, and because riots and looting come across as realistically frightening.

2. Pro-miscegenation, from the standpoint that any publicity is good publicity (accounts for half-star deduction; they really need to start putting this stuff in the trailer as a service to moviegoers)

1. Pro-slut/anti-marriage (though some hope may be held out for unconventional, new age unions)

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