Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the family dramedy “Paper Year” and the doc noir “The Cleaners.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the return of marauding dinos in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the family dramedy “Paper Year” and the doc noir “The Cleaners.”
Nothing is forever, not even the internet. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube posts frequently disappear but where do they go and who makes the decision to wipe them from your feed? A new documentary, “The Cleaners” from German filmmakers Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block, reveals the people who decide if your post is too violent, too pornographic or even too political.
Call them “content moderators” or “digital scavengers” whatever you like, they are the folks who scrub your favourite sites of objectionable material. But what, exactly, qualifies as objectionable? Riesewieck and Block introduce us to a handful of scrubbers, most compellingly, the ones outsourced to the Philippines. We meet anonymous censors—their job contracts don’t allow them to share their names or the company they work for—like a devout Catholic woman who says she is keeping the Internet safe by eliminating “sin” and a man who recalls watching multiple beheadings. All spend their days looking at disturbing images and hitting either “ignore” or “delete” in response. Although nameless we learn of the mental toll of the job. Suicide, nightmares psychological problems are common.
We learn something about how they make the decisions of what we can and cannot see, but with every click of a mouse even more questions arise. Do they have too much power, sitting anonymously behind a computer screen 7000 miles from Silicon Valley? It is an almost unspeakably complex situation. Does deleting terrorist videos silence the terrorists or those who want to use those images to shine a light on atrocities being committed around the world? Who should be allowed to decide what is credible journalism and what is propaganda? Should social media companies co-operate with countries to ban material that is critical of their governments? How regulated do social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube need to be?
“The Cleaners” is a slick film with a film noir feel. It suits the exploration of the dark side of the cyberspace but ultimately the doc doesn’t shine much of a light on its subject. Stylish though it is, the film flits from topic to topic with the swiftness of fibre optic broadband. It covers too much ground, raising questions that are never answered. To be fair the subject of Internet censorship is relatively new and rife with legal and moral complexity.
At the very least this entertaining but unexacting documentary should inspire conversation about the control large, unaccountable corporations have over the flow of information into our homes.
As you might imagine the story of a socially inept computer nerd who created the world’s most popular social networking website isn’t chock-a-block with action. Occasionally cursors fly across computer screens and fingers tap out code on keyboards, but that is about the limit of the action. But that’s OK when the dialogue is as entertaining and well delivered as it is in “The Social Network.”
Adapted from Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book “The Accidental Billionaires,” the movie is the story of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) the genius computer programmer behind facebook. Bookended by the legal case (or more rightly put, cases) filed against Zuckerberg by an unsocial network of jilted business partners, including co-founder Eduardo Saverin (future Spider-Man portrayer Andrew Garfield) and a pair of well connected twins who claim the original idea was theirs, “The Social Network” charts the rise and, well rise of facebook from its humble beginnings in a dorm room at Harvard to its current evaluation of $25 billion.
The opening scene of the movie sets the tone for the rest of the film. Zuckerberg and his soon-to-be-ex girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) engage in a long, awkward conversation that reveals his disconnect from regular society. He’s the smartest guy in the room, but has a chip on his shoulder and an attitude. Their exchange, beautifully written by former “West Wing” screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, displays the kind of verbal fireworks that propels the movie.
Sorkin and director David Fincher have done a great job of taking a complicated story with loads of computer jargon and making it accessible. They treat the audience and the story respectfully by not dumbing down the details but unlike Oliver Stone’s recent attempt to explain the financial meltdown in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” the drama of the story is allowed to take center stage, not the mechanics of the lawsuits or the computerese.
At the center of it All is Jesse Eisenberg, a young actor who, in the past, was often written off as the poor man’s Michael Cera. No more. This is a daring performance that shows Zuckerberg’s detachment while not turning him into a nerdy stereotype.
Also nicely cast are Andrew Garfield as Savein and Rooney Mara, who will soon be seen in the lead of the American remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” but the biggest surprise may be Justin Timberlake. His film career has been a bit spotty to date, but playing Napster co-creator Sean Parker with equal parts charisma and smarm suggests that when properly cast he can shine.
Mark Zuckerberg is a polarizing figure but love him or hate him, his story has made one the best films of the year.