1999; Not Rated; 102 Minutes
A documentary featuring Justin Hall, Harold Rheingold, Jaime
Levy, Julie Petersen, Carl Steadman, Marjorie Silver, Denise
Tenorio and Doug Block portraying themselves
Produced by Doug
Block, Jane Weiner and Esther Robinson; Directed and
screenwritten by Doug Block
by DAVID KEYES
either part of the steamroller or you're part of the road."
Magazine, opening comments of "Home Page"
the subjects of Doug Block's documentary "Home Page," I
am one of those people relentlessly obsessed with that phenomenon
called the World Wide Web. This online community has so
overwhelmed the technological scene that it has spawned
a dominant virtual society, filled with communities to reside
in, places to explore, and people to meet, among other things.
Needless to say, those who allow themselves to be associated
with this marvel are hopelessly addicted--eventually, people
will entertain the thoughts of having their own residence
in this limitless dimension.
a little guidance, they might actually pursue those aspirations.
This is what people refer to "having a home page"--a location
on the Internet devoted to the personal life of its creator,
or of the people who live around them. People who surf the
'net are freely and abundantly given details of the most
intimate secrets: sexual fantasies, encounters, personal
habits, etc. The odd question that sticks in the mind to
those who have no relationship with the online industry
is, "why would people do such private things?" Of course,
if you're one of those whose fascination with the Web extends
for hours, you should already know the answer.
ways, that's what "Home Page" is about: a filmmaker who
sets out to film a diary on his daughter is sidetracked
by the newest technological sensation, and sets out to pursue
some answers. What is the web? Why are people participating
in its growth? How big is it? Why are people fearless to
share revealing secrets with total strangers? These answers
aren't too hard, but for a person such as Doug Block, who
knows nothing about the online community, the journey for
those answers is an intriguing one.
the movie is eccentric and fresh all at the same time. On
the positive side, it represents a comprehensive journey;
one in which a clueless individual sets his mind to new
ideas, and grasps their complexities with the help of experienced
web authors. But the material is based on events from 1996,
and since then, the 'net has evolved into something that
no one could have comprehended three years before. Is the
movie like a lesson in history, or is it trying to push
facts on us that we probably already know? The experience
deals with routine circumstances, and they might have worked
better in a documentary three years ago when the Internet
was still in early development.
blame certainly doesn't rest on the individuals who are
revealed on camera. Block, who curiosity about the Internet
almost leaves him stunned, invites us in on a compelling
tour of the lives of those whom he has visited online. The
prospect of posting detailed private information on human
lives through the Internet is bizarre enough--meeting the
people who actually participate in these events feels uncomfortable.
There comes a point when we feel like we are invading private
space, as the people who show us what goes into the making
of a home page have other extreme details that they do not
share with the online community.
such person is a warped, punk rocker-like computer expert
named Justin Hall. With hair that stands almost two feet
tall, and a physique that may cause many women to question
his enormous sexual popularity, this is a man of repugnant
behavior and immaturity--he relishes in the notion that
people who visit his little space online will know all the
details of his private sex life, currently going on at the
center of a college campus. But that's not all--he even
goes so far as to post nude photos of himself on the Internet
(and the movie gives us proof with a grainy but clear image
of his revealed anatomy). These certain piggish actions
only justify a blatant characteristic found in most Web
denizens; if people can, or try to, get away with things,
they usually feel more comfortable doing them over a modem
than getting up close and personal.
Page" is a strong, stirring work of genius, and yet it isn't
a great movie. There are certain subjects, twists, and individuals
in the picture who endure typical Internet and social misadventures.
While the people are interesting and well-characterized
by the director, they seldom earn the sympathy from the
audience they deserve. This is because of the situations
they become involved in are common, lack certain details,
and are not very unique. Sure, the film is based on fact,
but that is no excuse when dealing with documentaries. Unless
some of the material has the means to completely interest
a viewer, it does not always work.
course, I could list all the other faults with the movie,
such as the fact that it is too long to suit the documentation,
but they are irrelevant to the core audience. Undoubtedly,
generated interest will come from those who, too, are looking
for an answer to their curiosity about the Web, such as
this avid filmmaker. Therefore, "Home Page" should be accepted
on that level; those who are already familiar with this
wonderful community might very well dismiss the film because
of its ordinary examination on things we already have tremendous
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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