Ryan Phillips (Milo) is a software programmer who along with his very geeky friends dream of doing something on their own – being young and idealistic, they believe in everything open-source and a belief that knowledge is for all humankind and should of course be free
All that changes when Milo is given a personal offer by a CEO of a company which for all practical reasons is Microsoft by another name. Tim Robbins as Gary Winston not only looks eerily like Bill Gates but also walks and talks like him and pretty much espouses the similar principles. Milo sees dollar signs all over the sky and chooses the practical route to life.
This is about 15 mins of the movie…
As I said, the movie started well. Which is about 15 mins…
The next hour and a half or so of the movie descends into an almost half-baked thriller, when Milo realizes that Gary has a secret side to him, which includes stealing data by acting as eye in the sky and even acting as a mafia boss in ordering executions. Finally Milo wins the battle by making a video (which by the way was really terrible) and making it public and making Gary’s most expensive investment open-source.
The movie’s foundation is different – being technical, so the hero is more of the brainy hero rather than the brawny hero. But at the end of it, the movie makes a complete hash of it. The plot, the premise, the strategies, the final coup all seem semi-finished. The story seems to grip and then slips away the very next instant….
And the thinly veiled attack on Microsoft and its market policies makes it worse because it seems at times like the mouthpiece of the open-source movement, which, in my opinion is given a disservice by the makers of this movie…
A movie that can be seen if you have absolutely nothing else to do…
A delightful movie about spin doctors and how they can be shaping our reality right as we breathe. And it is so funny and mind boggling that you fear that its true!!!For isn’t truth stranger than movies?
This movie is a cult-classic. And you soon see why…
The first lines of this movie sets the tone for what you realize is going to be quite a different movie – Why does a dog wag its tail? Because a dog is smarter than its tail. What if the tail is smarter than the dog? It would be the tail wagging the dog!!!
The American president’s re-election campaign has run into serious trouble with a sexual misconduct allegation that is just about to burst the dam. So what would you do? You would call the spin doctors of course. And what would they do? Obviously create a world-shaking crisis that would over-shadow everything else and induce a panic-stricken population to rally behind its hero president (if you create it, you can defuse it – especially if its a fake event)
And the man behind the creation of the event – Robert De Niro. Who better to portray a man who is amoralistic and who does his spin doctoring as an everyday job. But since this is a truly magnificent event, who would he employ? Hollywood of course!!! in the shape of Dustin Hoffman. Its a world of people untroubled by the ethical dilemma of any sorts – the only worry is of logistics. Truth and justice are words that would be met with quizzical stares by people here – people who run our world of policies and information.
So a war is manufactured and sleeper cells in news agencies are activated and modern information democracy does what it does best – create a blinkered dictatorship of news.
Problems arise and are solved and with each solution, you begin to gain more insight into how the world might really be working!!!
Its funny but not hilarious. Its funny in a very terrifying sort of way, a combination of words that can be understood only when you are through watching the movie. And the feeling only grows towards the end…
But there are these moments when you realize that the movie makers are really telling a stark truth couched in a satire. You see shades of the American administration strategies over the years (The Bush years especially are pre-empted by this movie). And then something that was the coup-de-tat for me – the two spinners (De Niro and Hoffman) talking about arranging the Nobel Peace Prize for the President. I did a literal double take. Well, Obama’s advisors sure see the movies!!!!
A movie like few other. A movie that needs to be seen to be believed.
One thing is for sure. You will not be unaffected by this one.
If a writer reaches his apogee with a book that creates unimaginable fame for him, he or she is perhaps compelled to forever write in the same vein, in the same style unless he is bold or iconoclastic enough to change direction. Some like Rowling can manage it, both because she was writing a series and also because she had the courage to finish off something that has already made her the modern Enid Blyton (and much more than that).
However for some like Dan Brown, who ploughed magnificently into the need for people to believe in mysteries and controversies with his ‘Da Vinci code’, the end of the road may have already been a few years back. Telling the same story by a different name may seem an easy way to continue sales but the lack of freshness may well trigger the literary equivalent of diminishing marginal utility. Which is something I felt strongly with his latest book “The Last symbol”
After you finish the book, you realize that the author still has a very potent touch when it comes to marrying action on the pages with deep mysteries and conspiracies that the characters are trying to solve before the time runs out. Which is what made Da Vinci code so engrossingly addictive. This book too is a furious page turner right from the first page.
But we soon run into problems. You get a powerful sense of Déjà-vu. The same sense of Langdon rushing headlong into a conspiracy that only he can decipher before everything goes awry. There is an intelligent good looking woman neck deep into everything who he has to accompany and occasionally save, (you wonder what happened to the other two!!!). There is a powerful secret organization (in this case the Freemasons) whose secret is about to be unveiled for the better or worse. And there are clues strewn around (in this case in Washington DC) that Langdon has to put together, while being on the run from, well, virtually everyone!!! and there is the villain, some twisted, misunderstood, self mutilating outcaste who believes in miracles – rings a bell anyone?
But Washington is not Paris and the secret of the Freemasons does not exactly set your pulses racing as a secret about Jesus might. And a story twice told loses it zing. You feel you are watching a cover version of a book after some time. You know that something is going to be revealed at the end and its going to end happily. And well, it does…and though a good amount of research has gone into the book but the symbology jigsaw puzzle is not that exciting anymore as it was in Da Vinci.
Another problem is that I found the book to be exceedingly preachy. You begin to feel that you are being told to believe than make up your own mind. The vision of noble founding fathers of America building the nation in the image of a utopian society, seeing themselves as helping humans attain god-like status by spreading knowledge begins to really jar on on you after a while. I mean hey, they kept slaves in the backyard and committed a few merry genocides on the way. If they were really following Masonic principles (Atom bomb dropping, Harry Truman was a mason, no less), the world would have had a few hours of quiet sleep today. The preaching becomes screechingly preachy towards the end when the characters talk of universal consciousness and Bible being a repository of deep knowledge (instead of being a political book). You almost feel you are in some New Age healing centre where you pay a small fortune to sit in groups to chant (and go back to the punishing work grind the next day!!)…
A book to read if you have nothing else to do and if you are immune to preachy writing that stops making too much real sense after a while. If you enjoyed Da Vinci code, give this a miss. It would be too painful to see an author trying to make money by piggybank on his fame by churning out a Xerox copy…
Its truly a surprise that this is not more well known. Its one of the most exciting movie that I have seen – thought-provoking, good storyline, good narrative, great scenes, some superb action sequences. It might have been made in 1977 but what it portrays is even more relevant today than it was then.
The movie is about a mission to Mars sent by NASA, except that the crew does not actually go very far from the surface of the earth. In fact they are put in a movie-studio in a military base – as actors. And the whole Mars landing is faked. The reason for the plot and how its carried is captured well. However, a chink in the planning shows up in the form of a suspicious employee and he chances to be friends with an incorrigible reporter. Thus begins an investigation which the powerful ‘they’ try to thwart by any means necessary. A chain reaction starts which quickly becomes life-threatening.
The movie quickly moves into action mode near the last quarter when it becomes a horror story for the three astronauts. The flight and the chase (and capture) scenes are truly well done considering the cinematography technology available at that time. The story is well paced with the best bit saved for the last half hour. The story itself is taut and moves quickly.
Though compared to modern standards, it looks a bit unpolished but that is only when we compare it technologically. In terms of a story which is relevant and in terms of the kernel of truth that it puts out in the form of a fictional story, its bang in the league of ‘Wag the Dog’. Both in term of the bold concept as in the tautness of the script where you will find dark humour and grimness in equal measure.
The basic premise is this – Can a government pull of a huge hoax like this? The answer is in the movie itself – Yes. With the technology available even then and with a few clever manipulation by movie technicians, even the Moon landing could have been faked!!! In fact I found the reference to this movie from the Fox documentary on the fake moon landing theory. I must say, I was a believer after I saw the documentary. This movie just made it seem much more plausible.
A keeper for sure. And a movie that really ought to be much more well known.
The unbelievers (calling them conspiracy theorists would be tainting them unnecessarily – especially when they could be very well true!!!) come up with come damning points. The believers refute these points hotly and the unbelievers counter-point. Its an intense back and forth that rivets you.
This documentary which was shown in 2001 on Fox Networks, is however biased towards the unbelievers, a fact that you realize when you look up the issue on the internet. A documentary which is biased has a serious flaw. Having conceded that point, it does build up a convincing case for side that believes that the moon landing took place in a studio on earth. The evidence is many sided (scientific, visual, sudden and strange deaths) and they all just make you stop and think.
When one has read about set-ups that governments have manufactured around the world, many documented (and many naturally undocumented, which then become conspiracy theories) which leads me to believe, at any rate, that a hoax like this can be carried out if a powerful government is hell-bent on it. “Wag the Dog” and “Capricorn One” are just two movies which show how easily it can be done. Knowing all this and knowing that US Government needed to take a huge psychological leap forward to beat the Soviets (and also to distract from the Vietnam War), we suddenly have both the motives and the means and the capabilities (if a superpower cant pull this off, who can?)
It makes for a compelling story. And when you look at the internet forums and look at the other side of the argument, I realized that even with all the refutations made by the other side, some questions were not answered satisfactorily. Why didnt the Soviets do it? They were far ahead in terms of technology. Why are none of the astronauts allowed to live a public life? Sudden inexplicable deaths of a large number of astronauts in the period of the moon landing. When you think of these and other things, you realize that there is truly no smoke without fire. Somebody is not telling the whole truth.
Which is why I too believe in being an unbeliever. However I am open to a clear refutation. But then that’s the beauty of conspiracy theories – they refuse to go away. They tend to excite our imagination, our sense of mystery and that is something we like to have. I guess, if they prove that we actually landed on moon, I would be a pretty disappointed believer!!!