The Circle Recap

Jamie

Mae is a recent grad not living up to her potential. But when she gets a job at the biggest, coolest, best company in the world, The Circle, she knows she’s going places. It soon becomes clear that the company is not exactly what it seems. So can Mae stop the founders before it’s too late? Find out in… The Circle.

How?! Mae is wasting her time answering phones at a company in her hometown before she finally decides to cash in on some powerful college connections to get an interview at The Circle, a big tech company that combines your real and online self into one entity. Impressed with her drive for reaching maximum potential, the company starts her in customer service. She soon becomes disillusioned when the company’s founder, Ty, shows her some top secret and immensely troubling developments in the company at the same time that her best friend from home is dealing with online harassment as a result of the company. Venting her frustration she steals a kayak for a midnight trip only to capsize and be rescued by one of the company’s very obviously ridiculous surveillance technologies. Following the incident and at the behest of the company’s other two founders, Eamon and Tom, Mae becomes the leading proponent of these ridiculous and satire-like technologies and shoots up the corporate ladder. While showing off the newest and most over-the-top ridiculous stupid serveillance technology she inadvertently gets her best friend killed. Clearly she can’t still be a proponent of the company right? Wrong! Instead she comes the immensely dumb conclusion that the only thing that would have saved her friend was EVEN MORE SURVEILLANCE. So she returns to the company, tricks Eamon and Tom to agree to be tracked everywhere, releases all their top secret emails, and takes over the company which requires that everything everyone does should be public. Because that’s the only rational conclusion, right? RIGHT?!!!! My god. Big Question: Is this serious or a satire? The completely awful ludicrous plot would suggest a satire. Everything else points to them being serious… which is insane.

Why?! This is actually a little confounding. Obviously most of the people in the film are craven capitalists who are out only to make money at all costs. Mae on the other hand is our main character and it seems like the film wants us to like her… except everything she does is either because she a) genuinely believes that constant surveillance of private citizens is necessary for the good of the world or b) she is also just a craven capitalist climbing the ladder. I really would have preferred option b. Would have been actually kinda refreshing to finish the film and realize she was the same as the bad guys. But instead they tried to dress her crazy ideas up as something good when they are terrible. Just terrible.

Who?! Somehow this film had one of the best random cameos of the year as we were treated to a full Beck concert as a demonstration of just how rad and cool The Circle was as a place to work. Seems like an odd thing for Beck to agree to except that he was releasing an album at the time and sang on of the singles.

What?! There was a very funny product placement in the middle of this film. When Mae first meets Ty he is awkwardly standing off to the side of a big party. Mae is also feeling awkward and laments the lack of alcohol only for Ty to pull out his secret stash of Cupcake wine. Nothing goes better with the surveillance state than a smooth glass of Cupcake wine.

Where?! San Fran, where else. Seriously, where else would you possibly set a film about a huge, monopolistic tech company that is veering into dangerous surveillance territory? This has to be an A. Can’t be anywhere else.

When?! Pretty obviously takes place over a long period of time as she works at The Circle for several months before making her dramatic rise up the corporate ladder. They don’t even go to the trouble of saying something like “Mom and Dad, I’d love to come home for TGivs, but I have too much work to do.” Missed opportunity. F.

I hated this film. I hated watching it, but I also hated the joke of a premise. It seemed like they were going for some kind of “information wants to be free” message, but for whatever reason put behind a seriously messed-up pro-surveillance plot. You keep waiting for the main character (presumably who we are supposed to identify with and root for) to turn against the company and bring it crumbling down. Instead they have her succeed in taking over the company only to turn around and RAMP UP the egregious surveillance. We even get a happy little ending where she smiles lovingly at a drone camera to tell the world how happy she is to be tracked at all times by cameras. Cooooooooool. The only good things to point to is Tom Hanks and John Boyega who are both good at acting. Everything else sucks. As for Buford’s Beach Bunnies, somehow that film had more brains than The Circle. There was even some shockingly nuanced discussions between the main characters about trauma and how they were trying to deal with abuse in their past. If it wasn’t a gross, low-production, semi-porno I daresay I’d almost recommend it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I think when they made this book/film they thought they were taking a bit of creative license to exaggerate the Googles and Facebooks of the world. Now … at least Facebook seems maybe rather close? Too bad the movie kind of sucks. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The craziest thing, in retrospect, from the preview is that they ended up completely changing the ending to the film because audiences hated Emma Watson’s character so much. The ending to the book is basically that her character completely buys into The Circle and ends up betraying the original founder (Ty) in order to bring about the world domination by The Circle (or whatever, it is something like that). Ultimately they decided to soften this a bit which is nuts … we’ll get to that in the bad section. What were my expectations? Basically The Space Between Us. So some interesting ideas, some decent acting from the older stars, but kind of boring, rote, nonsense. That is what I expected … I had low expectations.

The Good – I think the journey Emma Watson goes through in the beginning is pretty interesting. The evisceration of the Silicon Valley unicorn was somewhat satisfying, even more so a few years after its initial release. I like Tom Hanks, and Patton Oswalt, and the acting in general actually. Boyega in particular does a pretty excellent job at portraying the introverted co-founder floating around on campus. There is everything here you’d want to construct a decent movie. It just isn’t really that good.

The Bad – The fact that Tom Hanks goes on stage and proposes a police state run by a corporation and half the auditorium isn’t like “wait wait wait … what?!”doesn’t feel true to form. At least, it feels like a good 50% of the engineering workforce would be just disgruntled (which I assume is the state of Facebook at the moment … I hope that is true at least). Emma Watson’s character is actually a dumb garbage person. Secrets are lies? Get the fuck out of here with that fascist bullshit. They don’t even bother presenting the other side of that important argument. The word “privacy” is only mentioned like once near the end! It is the entire argument against the “secrets are lies bullshit”! You have a right to privacy, I don’t think that many people disagree with that statement, but they can’t even be bothered to address that? The only thing that could have saved this film was the full heel turn at the end. I would have actually be genuinely impressed if they had gone through with it and had her stab Ty in the back and become an exec at the company. Pulling the punch at the end was a cop out.

The BMT – I certainly will throw it in the same bin as Transcendence and The Space Between Us. Movies with interesting ideas which either go nowhere, are sloppily done, or, in this case, pull their potentially powerful punch right at the end. I wouldn’t revisit it, nor would I recommend it to anyone. If anything it makes me want to read the book. Did it meet my expectations? By being The Space Between Us for BMT 2019? Sure. For being a bad movie that I would recommend to anyone in any capacity? No, it didn’t. But I didn’t mind watching it in the end. Some interesting ideas peppered in there.

Roast-radamus – I can’t remember a specific product placement … maybe a beer here and there? Since The Circle was so ubiquitous there wasn’t any real tech product placements. I think it has real Worst Twist (How?) potential though with Watson exposing the creators of The Circle and making it … I don’t even remember? Was the company good in the end or something? Small potential for Bad just for being sloppily made. That’s it though, pretty thin movie from a trope perspective.

StreetCreditReport.com – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised (2017 was a surprisingly strong year for bad movies it turns out, Flatliners, Bye Bye Man, Baywatch, Transformers 5, The Snowman, The Space Between Us, Rings, The Emoji Movie, Chips, Fifty Shades Darker, Geostorm, The Mummy, and those are only the ones we’ve watched for BMT. It did get a shout out on this online review. But that’s it. I think it is plausibly on a list for the worst “tech” related films. But it wouldn’t get number one, I would but Transcendence above it at the very least.

You Just Got Schooled – Nothing about the movie this week … mainly because Jamie and I started in on P&A Magazine’s 6th Puzzle Boat. Basically it is 100 or so puzzles … and you do them. We find it fun, wanna fight about it? Anyways, that’s why I didn’t watch some random Emma Watson movie to school you. Because I was schooling myself with puzzles.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Ah, I nearly forgot that I had to watch Buford’s Beach Bunnies starring Jim Hanks this week! To start with I literally texted Jamie in the first ten minutes and asked “So … can I just not watch this film?” But weirdly, as I watched the film I kind of took a shine to it. The director/writer is somewhat notable for making micro-budget films in the 80s and 90s. And unlike something like Roller Blade Seven (which was too weird to be anything but an “art film”), this was truly the work of a man who loved film. Combine that with what is, in reality, a very sensitive discussion about sexual trauma and weirdly the film is … kind of good. Well, right until the big reveal at the end where, very obviously, they couldn’t figure out how to end things so they yada-yada-hypnotize-crime-and-trial-yada-yada everything. But, all things considered, a lot better than it had any right to be. Would watch the middle again gladly, but maybe would skip the rest. B-.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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