UPDATE: We’re re-posting a slightly re-edited May review of the documentary Catfish as it’s beginning to play in sold out screenings across the country in the upcoming weeks, so it seemed about right.
The scariest movie you’ll see this year has nothing to do with paranormal activites, exorcisms gone haywire, viral zombies, lovelorn vampires or sweet-talking serial killers. But it has everything to do with Facebook. Ah, Facebook. Betty White made fun of it on Saturday Night Live, calling it a “waste of time,” even though Facebook is kinda responsible for jumpstarting her post-Golden Girls career. Facebook is a little creepy, yet most of us still log on, post photos, give up personal information, and write on each other’s “walls” for the entire world to see. I’ve thought about “deactivating” (such an appropriate word for it), but I don’t wanna. Not yet. It’s entertaining. It’s free. And yes, it’s… a wee bit addictive.
Catfish is a documentary about the twisted, dark, odd power of sites like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Catfish feels so hyper-real, you may find yourself wondering if it’s not actually a pseudo-documentary, made to look true. I happen to think it’s all too real. It’s too odd not to be. You know the Andy Warhol saying, the one about fifteen minutes of fame? I would love to know what Warhol would have thought of Facebook. In a way, he predicted it. Wouldn’t it be amazing to know what his Facebook profile would have looked like? Catfish in many ways is about that desire so many people have for that brief moment of recognition. The need to be seen, heard, loved, acknowledged. Most of the time, that need is pretty harmless. Sometimes, though, that need comes from the darkest depths of a person’s psyche. Haven’t you ever gotten a “friend request” from someone you’ve never met, but you have a friend in common so you think, what the hell, and click “accept”? Seems like an OK decision to make. But you’ve just let some totally unknown person into your weird little electronic world.
Hit the Jump to continue reading the Elf’s review of the ever-creepy Catfish…
That person may actually know your friend. Or maybe your friend is as gullible as you, and they hit “accept” too, having no clue who this stranger really is. Think about it. That’s bordering on horror-movie creepy! Yet we do it all the time. Until we wise up.
Catfish screened at Sundance this year and had the snowy, bone-cold ski town buzzing. Universal picked up this little no-budget movie and it’ll be in theaters this month. I got to see a secret, hush-hush, downtown basement screening in the spring, and let me tell you, this is some scary stuff! It’s also really touching, in a mind-bending sort of way.
Here’s another thing about Catfish. It’s really difficult to review, because I happen to think it’s one of those films that’s best experienced with an unbiased, open mind. I would recommend walking into the theater knowing just the bare minimum about the film – that’s how I experienced it, and it haunted me for days after seeing it. No joke. It brings up questions about our society that we rarely take the time to really peer into. Probably because we’re too busy posting photos on Facebook, or Tweeting, or Flickring or Tumbling or whatever.
Ondi Timoner’s documentary that premiered at Sundance 2009, We Live Public, looks at similar topics and has a similar appeal. I am dying for some savvy art house theater owner to show a double feature – Catfish and We Live Public. Talk about leaving a theater freaked out! Timoner’s film looks at internet pioneer Josh Harris and his experiment in having a group of strangers live together, without a shred of privacy, and have their every waking (and non waking) moment filmed. It’s a Lord of the Flies type scenario, and it’s fascinating. Same with Catfish.
And since the Catfish/We Live in Public double feature is merely a dream and not a reality quite yet, you might want to rent Timoner’s film and check it out right before you go out and see Catfish.
We Live In Public trailer…
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