by Brad Nelson 11/16/17
This is a documentary of Apple employees in their big new spaceship headquarters. Or a bird’s eye view of Facebook culture. Or a look at Google’s creepy campus culture. Or it is an unwritten short story by George Orwell. The worst case scenario is that you see nothing out of the ordinary.
The Circle stars Emma Watson as Mae (the newly-hired employee of a hi-tech company) and Tom Hanks as the company CEO. If you’ve ever watched the HBO comedy series, Silicon Valley — which spoofs all this stuff — you’re already familiar with the material.
This movie receives a very low 5.3 rating at IMDB.com. Ratings there are notorious unreliable in the first place. But I will state that this movie is watchable. And surely a point in the rating is lost because of the mediocre performance of Emma Watson. But I don’t think that’s entirely what the low rating is about.
It probably hurts to see your lifestyle mocked for the vapid and increasingly dangerous lifestyle that it is. I would wager that half the yutes watching this movie don’t know what all the fuss is about. I’m sure they think everything said in this movie (such as “secrets are lies”) is perfectly reasonable.
In fact, we do know that most of the things (ridiculous to a conservative’s ears) that are said in this movie is standard fare on a college campus. The only question is not if, but how widespread these views have become.
The Circle takes a look at what could well be the inevitable outcome of a dumbed-down culture of politically progressive sheep who regularly believe entirely stupid things and who seem set to be a moral force for rubbing out individual rights in search of their utopia wherein all human beings are perfectible.
The mechanics of the movie itself are rough. Emma Watson is, frankly, horrible as the lead sheep. And the story itself is needlessly one-dimensional. There are other aspects of its own story it could have explored, such as the history and further views of the hi-tech company’s founder, Ty, played with all the charisma of a pet rock by John Boyega. He still hangs around, but is he in or is he out? He gives some appearances that he doesn’t necessarily “baahh” like the rest of them.
But Tom Hanks is good as the Steve-Jobs-like hi-tech guru who can say the most vapid things and receive boisterous cheers from his minions. His role is relatively small, but he’s good when he’s on screen.
You really should watch this with a friend. I watched it with my two brothers today and we were laughing out loud through the entire thing and making comments as to the distinct relevancy of all the issues raised. And we all agree that the brain-dead phone zombies might not be aware enough of the bizarreness of their lifestyles and ideas to be offended, although I’m sure many were, thus the strangely low rating at IMDB.com which typically gives 9-1/2 points to the latest comic-book-movie garbage.
The ending of this is somewhat clever, but again it seems to leave so many of the other possibilities untouched. And if you laugh inappropriately at some of the scenes that are likely supposed to generate at least a little pathos then you are in no danger of joining the sheep. (Yes, I laughed when the car went over the cliff.)
But there is a danger that we make a parody of ourselves as we bash the idiot cell phone zombies, Apple cult members, Google “nice” Nazis, et al. We are, after all, doing it online. That said, it’s hard not to have a sense of dread seeing how vapid many young people have become and how easily they are manipulated. Frankly, Harvey Weinstein must have had an exceptionally easy time of it. And now I see at least partly why. Hanks and his cohort come off as the Harvey Weinsteins of hi-tech, although, again, there is so little depth to this movie. It would have been interesting to learn what their real intentions were. Maybe a sequel is in the works.
Because the subject matter is so relevant, it’s worthy watching, if only for a laugh. But this could have and should have been so much better.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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