Continued from part 1… This is the second half of the movies which I (and most will concur) think best capture geek culture. Let me remind you again: these are movies which either are about geeks, computers, technology, or hacking, or which will evoke the “geek spirit”, and not just movies which geeks temporarily like. Yes, for instance, I loved Serenity too, but it is just science fiction/adventure which a lot of geeks like while not having anything to do with geeks.
#6.Hannibal – What, the sequel to “Silence of the Lambs”??? Yes, but it squeaks in here without being remotely about geeks because when I rant that Hollywood should portray computers realistically, this movie is an example of doing it right. Notice that real people use real desktop computers and cell phones all the way through, using their real capabilities. Even more sophisticated devices like wireless headsets, caller ID, and tazers are used realistically. For instance, inspector Rinaldo Pazzi uses a web browser to look up Hannibal Lecter’s profile on the FBI most-wanted list. With a real computer showing a real web page!!! He doesn’t have to jam cables into his head and fly into a virtual reality space with raster graphics whizzing around mixed with scrolling green text. The computer doesn’t talk to him, nor does he have to “hack” anything. The soundtrack doesn’t turn into a pukey cyberpunk-era techno music-fest. He didn’t float into the air or have sex with a robot or put on funny gloves to wave his arms around and conduct images to appear on a transparent screen that circles the room or get chased by virtual reality personifications of a virus wearing black suits and Ray-Bans. Nobody calls him a “cybergeek” afterwards. How on Earth this was allowed to slip through, I have no idea.
#7.The Conversation – Isn’t it amazing that a movie which was made before computers became common, showing technology current for the era (but outdated now) has simultaneously gotten a following in both the geek and science fiction communities? This is because this movie is about a professional hacker, made before the concept of a hacker existed. Gene Hackman works in audio surveillance, and tapes a conversation which he uncovers and clears up to reveal more of throughout the movie. He becomes obsessed with it, and with the possible plot it uncovers. Surveillance equipment is all over the place – they even show a convention where booth attendants demonstrate the latest gizmos. Just like a modern “Black Hat” security convention!
#8.WarGames – This should be one movie I don’t have to explain. The quintessential geek movie, done when computers were just coming into the home, and it even draws its themes from real concerns going on at the time. While it drops credibility in some aspects (My computer still doesn’t talk to me! After all I’ve done for it!), it is so embraced by the geek community that I wouldn’t dare to diss it.
#9.Ocean’s Eleven – Or, “Hackers take Las Vegas”. OK, so it’s not too realistic (that business with the “pulse” bomb was introduced to make the plot deliberately impossible to duplicate, at the request of the casino industry), but it qualifies. Barely. Computers and technology are mostly portrayed realistically throughout, real-life vulnerabilities such as security-badge swiping and security-camera jacking are explored. It’s also just too gosh-darned fun!
#10.Apollo 13 – Most geeks are engineers, of one description or another. And what do engineers do? They solve problems. This dramatization of the real-life events is hailed as one of the most realistic science movies ever done; real people are in a panic to solve real problems in real time, using whatever they’ve got to fix up creative “MacGyver” solutions along the way. Any tech project team which has had to stay overtime to correct a huge problem, living on caffeine and nerves with their brains on overdrive, will identify with characters in this movie.
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