Action thrillers are not a staple in my movie-going diet. Nonetheless, I like the ones Liam Neeson stars in , and The Commuter fits his murder conspiracy/ abduction genre.
Insurance salesman Michael
MacCauley (Liam Neeson’s character) is a 60-year-old ex-cop turned insurance
salesman who commutes to midtown Manhattan every day, familiar with almost all
of the other passengers.
On the train home, Michael meets a mysterious woman named Joanna (the always-excellent Vera Farmiga), who claims to be a psychologist researching distinct classifications of personality types. Joanna makes a proposal: a hypothetical situation to do “one little thing”– to locate “Prynne,” the alias of an unknown passenger, who doesn’t belong and has stolen something. No one will get hurt. And Michael will receive $100,000 as payment.
This happens to be the very
day when Michael has been unceremoniously terminated from his job.
So Michael agrees, only to
be unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy that carries life and death consequences.
The Commuter is a
crowd-pleaser for viewers who want an action-packed drama that will appeal to
adults in the family–especially to those who like testosterone-driven action
and impossible leaps and bounds across
train cars, simulating Tom Cruise in some of his Mission Impossible scenes
and Denzel Washington’s besieged character in The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3. Entertaining without too much violence. The
Commuter held this viewer’s attention until the very surprising
Available on Netflix (DVD) and Amazon Prime. There is little bloodshed but quite a few choreographed
fights, both one-on-one physical combat and ammunition firing.
The Netflix Original Always Be My Maybe gives us a reason for watching rom-coms again. A modern riff on “When Harry Met Sally.”
Set in San Francisco, Always Be My Maybe is a story of childhood sweethearts
who go their separate ways only to meet up fifteen years later. Sasha
Tran (Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park) were best friends who, as
teenagers, had sex for the first time
and then stopped talking to each other. Marcus is now a dorky musician still living at home with
his widowed dad, and working in his
dad’s business. Sasha is a renowned chef
with successful restaurants on both the East and West Coasts. Sasha’s manager-friend calls an
airconditioning service to install a system in their rented mansion and voilá–there
Sasha’s “non-denominational pan-Asian fusion”
restaurant “Saintly Fare”, soon to open in San Francisco, caters to
the high-end beautiful people. When the
new menus are ready, she tells her assistant to print them on rice paper:
“White people eat that shit up,” she says half- jokingly. And Always Be My Maybe is rich with biting, laugh-out loud dialogue
of a similar vein.
And –will wonders never
cease–Sasha is a successful woman pursuing a career without subordinating her
professional aspirations to her
relationships with men. Yet, as is the
standard in rom-com stories, Sasha does not realize her heart still beats
faster for Marcus.
Sasha is enjoying her
friends and her success. She still has fondness
for Marcus’s dad and the memories of her childhood with Marcus. She’s vulnerable, but no-nonsense,
determined, and motivated to continue
her successful trajectory in building a restaurant empire.
And then enters Keanu
Reeves, Marcus’s competition for Sasha, and his worst nightmare. In a delicious parody, Keanu Reeves plays
himself as a celebrity who knows he is charming and a babe-magnet. This is
a wild comedic turn for him–bringing back his over-the-top performance
in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” from over thirty years ago.
writing kicks into high gear here, with self-mocking wit that avoids
the “saggy middle” of many narratives, but particularly of rom-coms. Always Be My Maybe holds on to its central question–can
best friends become lovers? And at times
answers in whispers, uncomfortably close
to bruising the hearts of both Sasha and
Marcus. Authenticity isn’t sacrificed for a laugh.
characters besides Keanu Reeves add to the extraordinary humor and one-line
zingers. There is Brandon
Choi, a highly successful restaurateur, more focused on the Silicon Valley zeal
of an entrepreneur than on his fiancée. There’s Marcus’s girlfriend
Jenny, an Asian American hippie with dreadlocks.
Always Be My Maybe is
simultaneously uproarious and touchingly real. There is no “maybe”
about it. This rom-com is just too good
In this gripping 2010 Academy Award nominated HBO documentary, Which Way Home opens with something large and bulbous floating down the Rio Grande. The viewer soon learns it is a corpse, perhaps that of a child, and an observer comments matter-of-factly that this happens multiple times a day.
Director Rebecca Cammisa follows the struggles of a handful of young, unaccompanied Central American children (all of them boys except for one nine-year-old girl) who are determined to jump the border to a new home in the United States. Riding on the top of freight trains nicknamed “The Beast”, these young migrants experience the exhausting, dangerous migration from small villages in Honduras and Guatemala. Facing an almost unimaginably treacherous trip of thousands of miles before even reaching the U.S. border, these children sometimes die, survive with amputated limbs, or suffer from predators (including the police). At first the children seem clueless, thinking the journey will be an adventure with a materially fabulous life like the ones pictured on television and in the movies. For those who are orphans or running away, possible adoption at the end of the arduous train ride is their dream. Their parents don’t know what their children will face either, often paying thousands of dollars to smugglers who promise safety at the end of the road. This is in the year 2005.
We learn that child
migrants have many reasons for wanting to get to the United States, some
involving helping their families by sending money home, some trying to reunite
with parents they haven’t seen for years, and one trying to save his mother
from an abusive stepfather.
Which Way Home is overwhelming: seeing children (and adults) in such grave need, forced to accept life-threatening choices. The viewer follows small children into a hostile, lawless frontier. Sadly, the youngsters have a romantic dream to travel with the expectation that they will succeed.
There’s a scene in which an adult has met two nine-year-olds, Olga and Freddie. And he asks: What do you want to be when you grow up? They both say “we want to be a doctors.” And he responds that anything they want to do they can do. And, to me, that was perhaps the most tragic line in the entire film. The reality is clear. What they want to do is unlikely to ever happen.
As the US continues to fight over building a wall along the Mexican border, Which Way Home shows the personal cost of immigration through the eyes of these young children who courageously face harrowing circumstances beyond their control.
Stories of hope and courage,
disappointment and betrayal, render these children less invisible–if only we
will see. This film is absolutely
heartbreaking. Are they alive? Did they
cross into the US?
The Hate U Give is an adaptation of Angie Thomas’s bestseller by the same name (released in February 2017). Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old gifted student, has to adeptly maneuver between two worlds — her poor, mostly black neighborhood and a wealthy, mostly white prep school. Facing pressure from all sides, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what’s right.
Beautiful newcomer, Amandla Stenberg, is perfectly cast as the wounded, courageous high
school student who attends an elite white private school because her mother
Lisa (a superb Regina Hall) insists she has a bright future, one that most of
their neighborhood’s teen residents will not have.
Shedding her hoodie, swallowing any aggression that might make her seem “ghetto,” and eradicating black slang, Starr endures her white peers, including boyfriend Chris (“Riverdale” star K J Apa) and friend Kayleigh (Sabrina Carpenter) who have appropriated what they think is “cool” from black youth. Painful tolerance is evident on Starr’s face. “If you don’t see my blackness, you don’t see me,” Starr tells Chris in response to his clueless-white-boy pride in “not seeing color.” Yet Starr also has to straddle differing opinions of her blackness and suspicions about her elitist classmates.
Starr’s life is carefully compartmentalized. Yet it seems she can only truly relax around her loving family. In a deeply moving and unforgettable scene, Maverick, her father (sympathetically played by Russell Hornsby), is sitting at the dining room table giving his elementary school-age son a lesson on how to survive a traffic stop by a white cop. Maverick insists that his young son copy how he should place his hands on the dashboard, head down, avoiding eye contact. The little boy has no comprehension why his father’s doing this.
After a raucous and typical teenage party
where Starr reconnects with her childhood playmate and crush Khalil (Algee
Smith), the story becomes tragic. Starr will become the only witness, at first reluctantly, to a night
The Hate U Give offers a fascinating portrayal of the inspiration and moral courage of youth, especially black youth, who struggle to understand and survive the racism and brutality they encounter from infancy. Solidarity against the enemy should not have to mean harboring and hating the enemy within. The lessons to be learned from TheHate U Give and the power of understanding the self-destructive force of hate are nuanced, not dogmatic.
The Hate U Give deserves wide circulation. Enraging, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply moving, none of the young people should ever have been asked to make these impossible choices. Although the ending is rather weak, the true ending IMHO is when Starr finds her voice. The Hate U Give’s impact lies in using film to demand concrete social change.
Note: Available on Netflix as a DVD and soon available on HBO.
In this combination of black comedy and Nordic noir, we are treated to a series of scenes involving gangster mobs, drug trade, a father’s revenge, kidnapping, and snow plows. In Order of Disappearance is part “Fargo” and part other Coen brothers’ comedic treatment of snow country. The main character, Nils (the Scandinavian acting legend Stellan Skarsgard), is a Norwegian government employee, a snow plower, who has recently been awarded a Citizen of the Year Award. When his only son is murdered for being at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong friend, Nils seeks revenge. Winning a blood feud isn’t easy, especially in a welfare state with organized crime expertly hidden beneath the radar. But Nils has something going for him: his spotless reputation as a devoted civil servant, heavy machinery that can plow through more than snow, and the strategic and tactical skills required for plotting against a mob.
In Order of Disappearance involves, as the title suggests, a morbid body count. Nils soon turns ruthless, laser-focused avenging
drug lord and “godfather ”
to a cutthroat Norwegian drug syndicate, is a borderline psychotic. Nonetheless, and somewhat incongruously, there
are some bizarre, comic scenes with Greven’s child who is bullied at school.
Beautifully filmed, In Order of Disappearance
brilliantly evokes the white cold and brutal conditions of a Norwegian winter. With a sense of isolation and desolation of
soul in a white-out, there is nothing visible except blood and mayhem.
This irresistibly nasty little film combines snowplowing roads for commuters, with contemplating suicide, and dumping corpses over water falls. Skarsgard brings a stoic detachment to the revenge he he is determined to see to the end–served cold. Just as you will never look at a table saw chopping wood in the same way after seeing the movie “Fargo”, you’ll never watch a snowplow with the usual disinterest again.
Well worth seeing.
Order of Disappearance” is available to stream on Netflix and was remade
as “Cold Pursuit” starring Liam Neeson earler this year.
The art of critically-acclaimed Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, now commands the highest price for any female artist alive today. As an art-world superstar, Kusama has attracted millions of museum-goers worldwide who wait for hours for the chance to take selfies to post on Instagram in one of her mirrored Infinity Rooms. Yet little is known of this nonagenarian artist obsessed with dots and the film Kusama-Infinityreveals much about the artist. She committed herself to a mental hospital in the 1970s, out of fear that she might commit suicide. Her long arduous road to success was painful and took decades to reach.
Infinity follows a young and beautiful Kusama whose tortuous path not
only reveals the artist’s persistence, resilience, and confidence but also her understanding
of women’s rights, sexual freedom, and
gay rights in the US. She symbolically performed
the first gay marriage in the US, in
Central Park, long before most Americans
were cognizant of the cultural revolution about to take over the mainstream
Endlessly courageous, Kusama aggressively promoted her work in the male-dominated artworld of New York City, only a decade after the end of the Second World War. Despite staggering odds, this petite, unassuming Japanese woman, speaking faltering English, was determined to exhibit her art as she wanted, not as the gatekeepers of the artworld demanded.
Infinity suggests that Yayoi Kusama’s mental illness may have stemmed
from a traumatic childhood. Both her parents
wanted her to have a traditional Japanese marriage, with an upper class
lifestyle. Instead, the young artist
escaped to New York City. While Kusama was waiting for recognition, she had an
intimate but nonsexual relationship with the famous artist, Joseph Cornell. Under the mentorship of Georgia
O’Keefe, Kusama had her first important gallery show. Frank Stella became an avid collector of her
work as well as a supporter.
Andy Warhol and Claes
Oldenburg, among others, “borrowed heavily”from Kusama’s work which
was still relatively obscure while these male artists became sensations. This repeated pattern, with white male
artists being recognized for work that seemed influenced by her own
innovations, understandably upset Kusama. The theft of her ideas may have been
a catalyst for her depression and decision to return to Japan in the late 70s.
as Kusama reached her late sixties, her art became fully acknowledged and skyrocketed
in value. The 1993 Venice Biennale exemplified the art world’s recognition.
Infinity should have broad appeal as this film is also a condemnation of the patronizing art overseers and their
impact as gatekeepers of what art
becomes internationally recognized.
Note:Kusama–Infinity is available on Netflix DVD. “Velvet Buzzsaw” (see my February 12, 2019 review), a dramatization of a fictionalized and futuristic artworld is a fascinating metaphor for what Yayoi Kusama experienced over half a century ago.
This darkly suspenseful tale of two privileged families is based upon the Dutch author Herman Koch’s bestselling 2013 novel. The families struggle to make the most consequential decision of their lives, all over the course of dinner at an exclusive Manhattan restaurant. Upper class privilege and sibling rivalry are at the heart of The Dinner, a psychologically astute family saga.
high school history teacher, Paul (Steven Coogan), and his wife Claire (Laura
Linney) reluctantly have dinner with Paul’s elder brother, Stan (Richard Gere),
a prominent politician running for governor, and his second wife Babette
We slowly become aware that a savage and heinous family
trauma has occurred. As silver globes
are pretentiously lifted to reveal dinner courses, a family secret will soon be
revealed. The setting underscores the absurdities of deeply unhappy, entitled lives, hiding
underneath the shimmering surface beauty of elegance. Appearances are deceiving. Paul despises the pretentiousness of
the restaurant, as much as he does his
brother’s success. Neither brother wants to be at this dinner.
Reminiscent of Edward Albee’s
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf” or Tennessee Williams’ “Glass
Menagerie”, The Dinner ominously guides the viewer to witness the desperate
tenacity a parent will resort to in order to secure their child’s future or the
dissolution of a marriage, sometimes both.
Is no act too reprehensible? What if collateral damage is unavoidable?
Dinner just ends, as if in mid-sentence. I
personally loved this. Some reviewers and
audience members absolutely hated this. Questions of morality and justice remain
beware: There really is no one to root for or like. But the four characters are
equally riveting and their moral dilemmas persuasive.
And this is what makes The Dinner so
compelling. It is a dissection of family
obligation and where it ends. As Stan,
the gubernatorial candidate responds, “family is always
It will not be for the viewer
who seeks the cozy, the redemptive or the uplifting. If you are such a viewer, do
not see this dark, noir, nihilistic film.
The specter of no moral compass is hinted at throughout.
This is a different review
because of The Dinner’s not
insignificant flaws. The Dinner does not become a
spellbinder until way into the second half of the film. The first languorous forty-five minutes are
almost too painful to watch, except for essential snippets of the family’s
As difficult a task as this may sound, persevere even though the irrelevance of most of the first half of this movie may wear you out. When The Dinner does finally reach its climax, the movie crackles, incendiary and explosive. All four actors give extraordinary, unsettling, and unforgettable performances. More cohesion and restraint in editing would have made The Dinner truly exceptional.
Dawn Wall was last year’s SXSW Audience Award documentary winner. Free climber Tommy Caldwell and his climbing partner, Kevin Jorgeson, attempt to scale the unscalable 3000 ft. Dawn Wall, a vertical granite face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
Dawn Wall is much more than a documentary about climbing,
however. There is the horrific incident
in Krzygistan, the years of gaining experience climbing the other faces of El
Capitan, and the friendship with two female climbing partners, both of whom he
had married. After an accident, Caldwell resolved not to stop his free climbing
but persevered, often blurring the boundary between commitment and obsession.
All can appreciate Dawn Wall,
even if you don’t have a clue about
climbing. This is an engrossing documentary that is, first and foremost, about
the friendship between Caldwell and Jorgeson. Kevin Jorgeson was inexperienced
as a free climber but expert at “bouldering”, a type of free climbing
at 50-100 feet. Together the two
climbers spend more than six years meticulously mapping
and practicing their route. Their resilience and courage are beyond astonishing
as the two climbers make history.
Wall is about the indefatigable human spirit, and
the ability to overcome and accomplish the impossible. The power of friendship
and supportive brotherly love in the face of adversity is beautifully crafted. While
Caldwell’s obsessive nature is apparent in almost every frame of this movie, he
avoids narcissism in the turning point of their climb.
is where Dawn Wall transfixes the viewer. I felt like I was literally
hanging on the side of the mountain with both climbers as they slept in a
portaledger tent suspended in mid-air and laughed about what they ate and how
they adapted to toilet needs as they climbed for weeks. This isn’t really a sports film.
magic is in this amazing journey between kindred spirits. The fact that there
are two humans in a partnership without jealousy or competitive pettiness
outstrips other movies about supra-human feats and endurance such as “Man
on a Wire” and “Free Solo”.
The need for human companionship and sharing in the victory makes Dawn
Wall more compelling. Adversity
and setbacks drive their personal
challenges but their friendship triumphs
over all. Dawn Wall is full of
heart and soul, for everyone who has experienced hard climbs, slipping and
losing our grip, and then pushing through.
Note: This YouTube behind-the-scenes clip is an added bonus for appreciating the heroic efforts the film crew undertook as well!
There’s a lot to like about producer/director Morgan Neville’s moving, 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?Neville (who also created 20 Feet from Stardom – see my August 19, 2018 review) interviews just about everyone who knew Fred Rogers– his wife and two sons, his longtime cast and crew on the pioneering PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968 to 2001). Some baby-boomers, their children and their grandchildren grew up on the soothing words of Mister Rogers:
So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day/Since we’re together we might as well say/Would you be mine?/Could you be mine?/Won’t you be my neighbor?”
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was pokey enough to be cringe-worthy for adults who wondered how their children could be spellbound by a nondescript, unassuming man in a cardigan, who changed his shoes while singing the same opening song for almost forty years.
Fred Rogers, a graduate of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in the mid-60’s, soon realized that television could be revolutionary and that children’s lives would be impacted by this new medium. Why not offer a show that deals with a child’s feelings–anger, fear, self-esteem, grief–to prepare them for their new world? Mister Rogers proved to be a master at eliciting children’s feelings, and recommending trusting grownups to listen. Daniel Striped Tiger–Mister Rogers’ alter ego in a furry puppet form– tackled the everyday emotional needs of pre-schoolers with respect, honesty, and thoughtfulness rarely seen on television then or now.
What the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? explores perhaps more clearly now than at the time the show was produced is just how revolutionary Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood actually was. Even through the tumultuous Sixties, subjects of political violence, racial discrimination, and the degrading messages children and adults frequently heard were never side-stepped or sugarcoated. Without preaching but with integrity and visual connection, Mister Rogers would show by example. Soaking his feet in a kiddie pool with his friend, the African American policeman, Officer Clemmons, demonstrated community in a time of segregated swimming pools.
When cellist Yo-Yo Ma describes first meeting Fred Rogers, he recalls that
Rogers put his face three inches from Ma’s while gently smiling at him. “He scared the hell out of me,” says
Ma. Rogers did the same thing when he
first met the gorilla Koko, who then held his hand and signed that she loved
Under Mr. Rogers’ seemingly
bland exterior was a true radical. Here was a white middle-aged man
inviting everyone to live in his
neighborhood, regardless of color. And
his cast reflected diversity not yet seen on most shows today.
hagiographical in scope, Neville does reveal one of Fred Rogers’ blind
spots. The actor who played Officer Clemmons had been to a gay
bar. Rogers soon informed him that if
there were any future visits to gay bars, he would be terminated out of fear of
losing corporate sponsors. The inclusion and fostering of community revealed in the
context of its time was still not
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? elevates this classic children’s show and its star to a standard we need to remind ourselves of and recommit to. The unspoken question is: What would Fred Rogers think of a culture congealed into a state of outrage, vulgarity and intolerance? How would we build a neighborhood and live together in an era of proposed wall-building?
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a realistic lens on how a child must make
sense of an emotionally complex and sometimes irrational world.
It’s this idea that
kindness is not a naive notion like believing in unicorns and rainbows. It’s
oxygen: It’s vital, and needs to be nurtured.
When you watch Won’t You Be My Neighbor?you don’t see a Republican or a Democrat. Mister Rogers speaks to the fundamental ways we should all speak to each other.
This long-awaited Finnish noir thriller’s second season continues
to feature the quirky and sullen detective Kari
Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen) and his partner, Lena Jaakola (Anu
Sinisalo), as they obsessively pursue a series of
grizzly murders similar to the first season of 2016 (see my July 23, 2017 review of Season 1) . The format of Bordertown Season 2 is similar to the first
season, namely five criminal
cases, each two episodes in length.
This dark and moody crime
series swept Finland’s top TV awards in its first season, winning Best Drama,
Best Actor and Best Actress and was the most-watched series in Finland’s
The two crimes which are the most gripping–“The Rite of
Spring” and “Bloodmaid”– are both bloody and dramatic with themes of infanticide and pedophilia (“The
Rite of Spring”) and predatory stalking (“Bloodmaid”). We burrow
into the wormhole of the criminal mind and its darkest, most sickening secrets
Season 2 is a mere shadow of the first season with a lesser quality of
writing and egregious plot holes. The
lead detective, Kari Sorjonen, is reduced to a caricature of his earlier self.
Often distracting, odd, and gratuitously annoying, Sorjonen now possesses a
layer of over-the-top facial and body tics. Poking at his head, presumably to
demonstrate to the viewer that he is a brilliant criminal analyst, and even
stepping on documents to somehow inspire his investigative skills, this portrayal
of Sorjonen is fraught with cliche and formula.
I will wait until Season 3 to see if Bordertown continues to cover the
ground I loved in the first season, namely a complicated emotional family life
that propels Sorjonen to solve crimes in order to keep his family and community
safe. This season did not move the
needle forward with sufficient speed, sagging sometimes painfully, when tighter
structure of each crime would have made Session 2 taut and mesmerizing.
Nominated for ten Academy Awards including best picture, The Favourite is perhaps one of the best revenge thrillers of 2018. Reminiscent of Downton Abbey with its opulent settings and costumes, The Favourite is also an historical drama.
In the early 18th century court of Queen Anne, we see a mentally fragile and damaged queen (the sublime Olivia Colman), facing the usual suspects vying to seize the growing power of an emerging empire. The queen’s closest advisor and friend, Lady Sarah Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), governs the country behind the scenes through manipulating Anne’s vulnerabilities, infantilizing her, and enabling the Queen’s weakened health to worsen.
When Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, desolate and no longer considered aristocratic, Lady Sarah becomes indebted to her for assuaging the Queen’s episode of gout. Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots if she can become a trusted confidante of the queen. The plot thickens, as we see the two ladies-in-waiting wrestle for the queen’s attention and affection. Queen Anne seems to slip deeper into madness, while delighting in being fought over by Lady Sarah and Lady Abigail.
The Favourite is not only a thriller but a love triangle. Are Lady Sarah and Lady Abigail really in love with the Queen or simply ingratiating themselves in order to manipulate her for their own self interests? We’re never quite sure.
Colman, Weisz and Stone are fully in control in every scene, giving powerhouse performances. Their virtuoso acting is the engine that drives the subplots and unexpected twists and turns at Kensington Palace. (With subchapter titles like “I Dreamt I Stabbed You in the Eye”, the viewer is still left unprepared.) In the end, however, it is Colman who is unforgettable, whose eyes subtly water at hurtful comments, the gaze of one who hopes that no one notices the injury. Those eyes and the subtly of her acting, repeatedly holding this viewer’s undivided attention, are exceptional.
Through her mesmerizing performance as Queen Anne– broken, impulsive, lustful, needy and angry all at once, –Olivia Colman owns almost every iconic moment. All is communicated through her eyes. Few can rival that.
Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone give the performances of their lives too, with tantrums, furious raging, and sexual excesses. Uncomfortably intimate close-ups, with a wide range of emotions richly displayed, reveal their desperate loneliness and despair.
While the wicked schemes and betrayals make The Favourite a very strong contender for an Academy Award for best picture, the historical setting was puzzling at times. It is the early 18th century and England is at war with the French, but The Favourite does little to inform the audience that the war is known as Queen Anne’s War and foreshadows the Napoleonic Wars so this is a critical time for building an empire. The addition of a little historical context would have put the crowning touch on The Favourite.
Filmmaker Werner Herzog, in this tech-retrospective of the history of the internet and the convoluted relationship between humans and computers, examines the past, present and future of the internet. His easily recognizable gravelled-voice of the narrator is both ominous and puzzling.
Lo and Behold gives the viewer a spellbinding, lesser-known walk back in time through the birth of the computer and its subsequent impact on our daily lives. Some of the segments are dazzling glimpses of the brilliance of discovering this way of communication(with a few academic and boring bits of calculus), some are amusing (the increasing ubiquity of porn), and some are heartbreaking (cyber bullying, suicide, and grief). Anyone who spends a lot of time online will find plenty here to process and reflect on.
We see extremes: medical marvels saving lives or electromagnetic waves that debilitate. Each chapter introduces a different positive or negative dynamic of the internet.
At the end of Lo and Behold, after examining the intelligence of robots and their position in our lives (chapter: “Artificial Intelligence”), Herzog poses the question “Can the internet dream of itself?” This is a fascinating look at the pros and cons of our internet world–riveting and memorable!