Some of the best documentaries ask the simplest of questions. Co-writer and director, Tiffany Shlain starts her film “Connected: An Autobiography About Love, Death & Technology” with “what have I become?” when she finds herself hiding in a Manhattan bathroom stall, texting and emailing, like some technological junky. In asking that simple question, she is really asking what have all of us become in this Internet Age. And her answer is wildly optimistic and totally possible.
Shlain’s father, Leonard Shlain hypothesized in his book The Alphabet and the Goddess that the advent of writing over stimulated the left hemisphere of the brain, which he associates with the masculine, logic and reason at the expense of the right hemisphere, which governs the feminine, emotions and creativity and as a result we live in a male dominated culture. Tiffany Shlain takes that idea and builds on it to say, that many of the world’s problems are a byproduct of the left brain’s drive for efficiency, but the iconic nature of the internet is rebalancing power between the left and right hemispheres. Sure that has a lot to do with technology, but what does that have to do with love and death? Well everything when your father has been diagnosed with brain cancer and you are faced with an at-risk pregnancy. Part technology story, part memoir and totally personal for anyone who uses the internet, Ms. Shlain’s personal story connects with the technological story and together they transcend both the ration and the emotional.
“Connected” is an invigorating and inspired ride powered by animation, archival footage, home video and of course the internet. “Connected” is also sweeping, dense and a thoughtfully intimate film. It’s 85 minutes is jam packed with emotion, information, and ah ha moments. And in the last sweeping moment “Connected” shows us not what we have become, but what we have always been. Watch it more than once and see how “Connected: An Autobiography About Love, Death & Technology” is so full that it’s never the same film twice. Get connected at http://connectedthefilm.com/.
Cast: Tiffany Shlain (herself), Leonard Shlain (himself).
US Release Date: 21 January 2011 (Sundance). Directed by Tiffany Shlain. Written by Carlton Evans, Ken Goldberg, Sawyer Steele and Tiffany Shlain. Released by Paladin Films. Running time: 85 minutes; MPAA NR; genre: documentary; language: English.
Opening on September 16, 2011 at at Landmark’s Embarcadero Theatre in San Francisco, Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley and Cinemark Sequoia 2 in Marin.
Pamela Alexander-Beutler is the editor in chief of the ReelMATERIAL film journal. For more of Pamela’s movie reviews and interviews visit www.reelmaterial.com, take a look at her favorite trailers at ReelTRAILERS on YouTube and follower her on twitter @reel_material.