Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Circle [2017]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (R. Abele) review (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

The Circle [2017] (directed and screenplay cowritten by James Ponsoldt and Dave Eggers [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb] based the latter's novel [GR] [WCat] [Amzn]) is an IMHO pretty thought provoking teen / young adult oriented cautionary tale about a Google-like internet company that's piercing / shedding ALL boundaries.

Yes, 20-something "every Millennial" Mae (played by Emma Watson) along with most Viewers found it cool to have, thanks to well-connected friend Annie (played by Karen Gillan), scored a job with said Google-like Silicon Valley giant named "The Circle" led by an Apple-founder Steve Jobs' like "charismatic visionary" named Bailey (played with magnificent high-tech witchery by Tom Hanks).  Indeed, with a MS-suffering dad (played by Bill Patxon) and a company that "cares" it could have seemed to May and her family like a lifesaver.  'Cept and there's ALWAYS a 'Cept ... what a creepy outfit "The Circle" turned out to be ...

A few weeks into working at said Circle a couple of nice / polite HR people come by Mae's cubicle to say: "We couldn't help but notice that you were off campus for 46 hours this past weekend.  We were just wondering ... why?"

"BECAUSE I HAVE A LIFE / A FAMILY / LOVED ONES ..." could have / should have been her answer.  And to some extent, that's the answer she gives, but ... she also gives in: The Circle's campus, Readers should note is ... pretty Cool.  It has pretty much EVERYTHING that a twenty-something could want, 'cept (that word again ...) PAST FAMILY / FRIENDS.

In other words, "The Circle" is a Totalitarian Cult and an expanding / pretty Evangelical one at that.

The rest of the film becomes a near constant interrogation of Viewers: What would YOU do?  When would YOU finally say ENOUGH?  (But even if you said ENOUGH ... WHERE would you "run to"?)

As such, The Circle presents that "Titanium Gulag" of the future, where one comes to have difficulty in distinguishing "The Shining City on a Hill" with a REALLY BRIGHTLY LIT ... PRISON.

Yes, Mae _kinda_ gets back at her (perhaps) "oppressors" but "kinda" is the operative word.  It isn't convincing.

With everybody's identities / privacy so thoroughly compromised in this near-future Dystopia by such "Circle innovations" as "SEEchange" (tiny disposable web-connected battery operated webcams that ANY USER could DROP ANYWHERE so that ANYONE, ANYWHERE, COULD SEE EVERYTHING GOING ON ANYWHERE) and "TruSELF" (a "secure" onestop "identity profile" that the Circle would provide, WITH THE PROVISO that ... well, one could be FOLLOWED online by ANYBODY, ANYTIME for ANY REASON), who cares ultimately that Mae is (perhaps) able to put her Bosses under the same scrutiny as she (and all the other "little people") are?

A lot of the younger reviewers (above) sigh "so what?"

Yes, perhaps here I am happy that I'm middle aged.  This is simply NOT the way we should be heading.  We should have a right to be able _to hide_ (to breathe...) occasionally.  Let our Confessions be to God (or to a Priest in a Confessional), not to ANYBODY, ANYWHERE, WATCHING US FOR ANY REASON ...


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