‘BlackBerry’ Is A Film That Honestly Portrays Technological Dreams, At Last

It’s quaint, looking now, but in the decade before iPhones, Androids and Samsung Galaxies, BlackBerry was he smartphone It was dubbed the “CrackBerry,” due to the seemingly addictive grip the sleek contraption, with its satisfyingly clicky keyboard buttons, had on the market. Kim Kardashian was glued to hers. Barack Obama ran the free world from his own. And his famous secure messaging client helped international drug rings conduct business around the world.

Now, it is a relic. A also ran. Or, as a character says Blackberry, a new movie about the rise and fall of the early smartphone empire, is simply “what people used before the iPhone.” But as this fresh and thoughtful comedy makes clear, BlackBerry is more than just a sad cautionary tale. It is a story of how technological culture, as we know it today, took root, flourished, and died on the vine.

The film opens with a revealing title card: “The following fiction is inspired by real people and real events that took place in Waterloo, Ontario.” Matt Johnson, the film’s director and co-writer, shrugs it off as “a prefix designed by our lawyers.” But beyond granting artistic license, he also sets the film, squarely, in a sleepy town an hour and a half from Toronto.

Before the super-successful BlackBerry and its parent company, Research in Motion, revamped the region as an aspiring tech hub, Waterloo and its environs were best known for its lively farmers’ market culture and horse-drawn buggy Mennonites. .

That Blackberry captures is the period that interrupted that, a brief buttocksringa in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the future of technology and telecommunications seemed truly global. It was a period in which anywhere it could be the next Silicon Valley. In this sense, the incumbent device, which promised worldwide palm-of-hand connectivity, is literally a structuring device.

loosely based on the 2016 book lose signal, Blackberry seems at first glance like a relative, Social networkdrama in the style of the explosive rise of a company. Nebbian engineer Mike Lazaridis (This is the end‘s Jay Baruchel) teams up with Jim Balsillie (It’s always sunny in Philly‘s Glenn Howerton), a menacing MBA from Harvard. It is a marriage of mutual convenience, sustained by a more Faustian logic.

With Lazaridis’s ability to exploit existing wireless infrastructure and Balsillie’s mastery of boardroom politics, the pair cleverly invented and marketed the modern smartphone. In an amusing montage, Howerton’s Balsillie reconstitutes his sales force (“Dead-eyed fucking fools,” as he calls them) as actors, sending them out to fancy restaurants and private clubs to talk loudly on their BlackBerrys in an effort to for drawing attention to the device. “It’s not a cell phone,” he insists. “It’s a status symbol.”

Where Balsillie is eager to exploit the device’s appeal to a class of C-suite executive morons, and retroactive employment contracts, and playing cat-and-mouse with the SEC, and generally over-promising and under-delivering, Lazaridis he is more concerned with the nuts. -and-bolts to obsessively design a worthwhile product. His motto: “‘Good enough’ is the enemy of humanity.” For Baruchel (who, with great reluctance, gave up his own old BlackBerry just two years ago), the film is a parable warning about what happens “when you grow so big that you’re beholden to other teachers.”

If Balsillie (“ballsley, No ball-foolhe says angrily) is the corporate demon on Lazaridis’s shoulder, the best, or at least geekiest, angels of his nature are represented by his longtime friend and co-founder, Doug Fregin. As imagined (and interpreted) by Johnson, Doug is a hyperactive goofball with wide-rimmed glasses and a David Foster Wallace headband. He compares Wi-Fi signals to the Force in Star Warspays for business lunches with cash drawn from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Velcro wallet and uses “GlengarryGlen Ross” as a verb.

For Johnson, pop culture is something of a lingua franca. Her cult web series turned Viceland sitcom nirvanna the band the showis littered with references and extended homages: to the Criterion Collection, Nintendo’s Wii Shop Wednesday, the skating sequence set on a Prodigy rink in the 1995 film hackers. But more than a pop encyclopedia, Johnson is also a skilled researcher of nerdy pathology. In his debut feature, from 2013 the dirty onesHe plays an alienated high school student who gets revenge on his bullies by planning a school shooting, under the auspices of making a student film. about a school shooting. The “school shooting comedy” is a hard sell. But Johnson committed to the premise with enthusiasm, humor, and considerable intelligence, revealing how certain silly defense mechanisms (from pop culture obsession to irony) can escalate into outright psychopathy.

Disclaimer: All the content or information on this article is given for only educational purposes.


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