Friday, September 2, 2011

You are Here

Do you suffer under the tyranny of Twitter? Is your life story written in status updates? Are your thoughts search engine optimized? When you picture the future, do you imagine Mark Zuckerberg’s sneaker stomping on a human face—forever? If so, you may find comfort in You are Here, Daniel Cockburn’s playfully puzzling debut feature. Perhaps best described as a droll philosophical sketch comedy, the film is an imaginative, often clever reaction to our crippling dependency on information technologies. Under Cockburn’s laser eye, the high-tech world becomes fodder for low-tech surrealism: an archive that may or may not be alive, a call centre that acts like an analog version of FourSquare, a devious genius that tricks the world into only seeing through his eyes (any similarities to the filmmaker are purely coincidental, I’m sure). Of course, it would be easy for a film about technology to turn cold and inhuman, but Cockburn wisely leaves room for the pathos of characters like the Archivist—a sensitive performance by the late, great Tracy Wright—who discover their individuality and free will slowly sapped away by the very systems meant to help them. The film offers two clear alternatives. Borne aloft by technology, we will either crash into the ground in a mess of hubris and silicon, or be carried further and further away from ourselves by our own devices. The film bets its money on the beyond, and it is not, I believe, an optimistic outlook. When our brains become but fleshy outlets for the app store, this film may be fondly recalled as the manifesto of the human resistance.

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