Lately it has been slim pickings at the multplex. I am very much looking forward to the Tribeca Film Festival, which starts today and goes through April 28. If the past is any indication, the festival will provide me with many interesting films about which to write. Meanwhile I was fortunate enough to see the new movie “Disconnect,” playing at the Regal Union Square Stadium 14 multiplex at 850 Broadway.
While I was glad to see “Disconnect,” I must take the Regal to task for having only one ticket window open for the 4:40 show, resulting in a long line. Isn’t it enough that adult tickets at that theatre are $14.00? Since it is unlikely that they are even paying their employees anything better than minimum wage, why can’t they have more than one window open? This sure does not sound very Regal to me. For shame.
I do not want to give away the story of “Disconnect.” As was the case with my critique of “The Place Beyond the Pines,” a few issues back, “Disconnect” is a film best seen fresh. I will point out though that the films of which “Disconnect” reminded me most are “Crash” (2004), “Babel” (2006) and “Traffic” (2000). These are all films that, like “Disconnect,” consist of separate stories, played by ensemble casts, related to a common theme. In this case the theme is mass media, social media in particular.
“Disconnect” also has an interesting connection to the documentary “Catfish” (2010), as one of its stories deals with a character who has an encounter with someone on facebook. The term “documentary” certainly applies here as “Disconnect” has been directed by documentary filmmaker Henry Alex Rubin. Rubin made the excellent documentary “Murderball” (2005). If you have not seen “Murderball” I highly recommend it. In “Disconnect,” Rubin brings a documentarian’s sensibility to his fearture film debut. Rubin’s direction, combined with a well written screenplay by Andrew Stern, has resulted in a film with characters that come across as quite genuine. I pity the man infront of me, on the slow moving Regal line, who was buying tickets to “GI Joe.”
“Disconnect” consists of three different stories, two of which have a character in common. One story concerns a young man working for a Fagin like character played by, of all people, designer Marc Jacobs. Jacobs plays a cyber pimp with a gang of teen-agers who prostitute themselves online for paying customers. Another aspect of the story deals with a couple coping with identity theft, while yet another story deals with cyber harrassment via false identity. TV news media also plays a part with a news reporter nicely played by Andrea Riseborough.
The very good ensemble cast also includes Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Jonah Bobo, Haley Ramm, Paula Patton, Alexander Skarsgard and Frank Grillo.
“Disconnect” is a unique and involving emsemble piece about mass media, social media in particular. It does get a bit melodramatic at points but, then again, what is wrong with a little melodrama, especially when this film is so much better than the multiplex junk currently out there?