Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Circle disappoints, but asks compelling questions

Movie Title:  

Grade:  C

Rating:   PG-13

In a Nutshell: Everyone loves Tom Hanks, right?  And who doesn’t adore Hermione, also known as Emma Watson?  Surely, the loveable Patton Oswalt could make fans smile. It sounds like a recipe for an awesome movie, right?  

Unfortunately, it didn’t do that well at the box office and audiences are just saying, “Meh” as it heads out to Redbox and DVD.

It’s kind of an even higher tech version of a Big Brother thriller, but while the movie doesn’t fully develop the intriguing ideas it tackles, it’s a great opportunity to talk about privacy vs. transparency with others…even if you have to Tweet it.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Do you think you behave better now that you know you’re being watched?” – Bailey (Tom Hanks)
  • “I am a believer in the perfectability of human beings.  When we are our best selves, the possibilities are endless.  There isn’t a problem that we cannot solve.” - Bailey
  • “Without secrets, without the hording of knowledge and information, we can finally realize our potential.” – Bailey
  • ‘Knowledge is a basic human right.” – Mae
  • Privacy vs. protection

Things I liked:
  • SeeChange and the other tools The Circle company invents would be great ideas if they only tracked terrorists and human rights violators, but it would trample all over everyone else’s right to privacy.  It would be nice if politicians’ transactions were open and accountable though, right?  We simply can’t have it both ways.  Benjamin Franklin stated, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”  The subject matter is fascinating and could have been an extremely compelling movie if written a little better.
  • This movie might be a helpful reminder to the younger generation that loves to post Selfies and Tweet about what they ate for breakfast, that personal privacy is something to be protected.
  • I like both Bill Paxton and Glenne Headley, who play Mae’s parents.  Sadly, they both passed away the year the film was released (2017).
  • I’m not a huge Doctor Who fan, so I hadn’t seen Karen Gillan in anything before.  I love her cute Scottish accent and would like to see more of her.  Mae mentions her long legs, which was an Easter Egg shout-out for Doctor Who (2005): The Complete 5th Series (Blu-ray) fans who might remember when a character in that show described her as being “made of legs, the most legs on any living human.”

Things I didn’t like:
  • Emma Watson’s American accent goes in and out.  I adore her as an actress, but sometimes I couldn’t tell if her character, Mae, was drinking the Koolaid or repelled by the personal invasion her company was promoting.  Maybe the audience wasn’t supposed to know. Maybe it was intentional that we weren’t supposed to be able to read her emotions?
  • Group Think mentality can easily and quickly go awry.
  • I have not read the book The Circle by Dave Eggers, but I have heard that the ending in the movie is different than in the book.
  • John Boyega’s character, Ty, could have been explored more.  The events that followed Mercer (Ellar Coltrane) could have had even more impact if we had learned more about him too.
  • Not much humor.

Interesting lines:
  • “Knowing is good.  But knowing everything is better.” – Bailey
  • “Introspection or communication?” - Mae's job interviewer
  • “Needs of the society or needs of the individual?” – job interviewer
“It should be the same.” – Mae
  • “Greatest fear?” – job interviewer
“Unfulfilled potential.” – Mae
  • “Secrets are lies.  Secrets are what make lies possible.  We behave worse when we’re not accountable.” – Mae
  • “Fugitive of friendship…” Mae

Funny lines:
  • “I want to thank you already for this.  I love following strangers down dark corridors. This is the best.” - Mae

Tips for parents: 
  • Some profanity, including an F-bomb.
  • A scene with Mae’s parents in a “situation” in their bedroom, although clothing is on.
  • There is not very much action, so children will be bored.

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