Thursday, April 11, 2013

In DISCONNECT Andrew Stern/Henry Alex Rubin connect with the way we live now

The kind of movie that the Oscar-winning Crash might have been (had it been a good film and not so bang-your-head obvious), DISCONNECT is one of those people-are-connected movies in which the connections are made relatively intelligently and believably, while the behavior of the people involved stays centered and on-course, even as events escalate enormously and precipitously. Writer Andrew Stern and director Henry Alex Rubin get a lot of things right in their telling of these interconnected tales -- both the little details (mistakes in typing while texting) and the larger picture (how a TV news story blossoms into a career-changing thing for the reporter/newscaster, even as it threatens the life of its subject).

The filmmakers (that's director Rubin, shown at right) also manage to hit dead center three major problems society is having to deal with currently, due to the rise in the use and importance of the internet -- online porn and sex for sale, bullying in school via photos and information that can reach a huge audience almost instantly, and identity theft and credit-card/bank-account heists via emails and surreptitiously embedded malware -- together with other problems that have been around for a good long time: parent-child lack of communication and how ambition can color and upend our sense of right and wrong.

The four stories that intertwine barely or forcefully include those of a family of four played by Jason Bateman (above, center) and Hope Davis (above, left--who's a brunette!) as the parents and Jonah Bobo and Haley Ramm (above, right) as their kids; ex-Marine (Alexander Skarsgård, below, left), his wife (Paula Patton, below, right) and her internet pal (Michael Nyqvist);

and ex-policeman dad (a particularly good performance from Frank Grillo) and his technically-savvy but initially empathy-challenged son (Colin Ford); and that TV reporter and the very young man she connects with online who is selling sex. In the role of the newscas-ter/journalist, British actress Andrea Riseborough (below, left, and just seen a week or so back in Welcome to the Punch) does a terrific job, not just of convincing us that she works on American TV but also that she would cut corners morally and journalistically to get this particular story that involves the gorgeous and hunky young man played by Max Thieriot (below, right).

Make no mistake, Disconnnect is a melodrama. But melodrama done well is no mean feat, and Stern and Rubin manage to avoid excess, even though they do go right up to that point but always stop short of toppling into the abyss. Their fine ensemble cast is a big help here. These actors make you feel their pain (and there'a a lot of that -- psychically, emotionally and finally physically) but they're also smart enough to let you feel their humor and enjoyment of the moment, as well. (Intuitive actors always know it can't always be sturm und drang.)

In a sweet touch during the end credits, we see that the film has a dedication to the late Andrew Sarris, a fine and sorely missed film lover and critic, who I would like to think would have appreciated the very good things about this new film. Disconnect -- from LD Entertainment and running 115 minutes -- opens Friday, April 12, in New York City at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square and the Regal Union Square Stadium 14, and in the L.A. area at the AMC Century City 15. And maybe elsewhere, too -- now or eventually -- thought I cannot find any listing of nationwide playdates on any web site....

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