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  Open Windows Lapped Up Laptop
Year: 2014
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Stars: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell, Michelle Jenner, Julián Villagrán, Carlos Areces, Raúl Cimas, Miguel Niguera, Nacho Vigalondo, Richard Diment, Eugenio Mira, Nancy Yao, Luis Sanchez-Cañete
Genre: Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: There is an event held in Austin where a group of invited fans have been brought along to a hotel conference room to watch a preview of the latest in a horror franchise called Dark Sky, which they are all very excited about, especially since the director and stars will be there in person. That includes starlet Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey) who bats away questions with acerbic disdain, all the while keeping up a front of personal charm, but one fan who could have a legitimate grudge against her is Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) who won a contest to have dinner with her. Nick runs a website devoted to the actress and has been watching the event on his laptop in his hotel room, but then he gets a troubling call...

All the more troubling for the viewer when it sets in motion a plot that starts off intriguing, grows ever more nutty, then ends up fumbling the final act with a twist that shoves the entire premise into the realm of science fiction. Sci-fi not so much of the twenty-first century, more the material the nineteen-nineties threw up, no, not virtual reality, more the idea that one man with the right skills and determination could take over the planet using a computer. Naturally, that wasn't new to the nineties, as ever since the public, and more importantly the scriptwriters, become aware of the technology the results were fictional machines that could essentially perform incredible feats of magic.

By the point Open Windows (a title which seems to be a pun on Microsoft's most famous product) was released, most of the potential audience would be well aware of what their computers were capable of, be they PCs, Macs, tablets, phones or whatever you used, therefore the temptation to take down movies such as this was too much to resist. The entire story was played out on various screens, mostly Nick's laptop where he is initially contacted by an apparent insider who had something to do with organising his meeting with the star Jill. All we hear of him is Neil Maskell's rough voice, intended to be menacing as he reveals himself to be "Chord", the villain of the piece who will be manipulating Nick into various subversive acts.

Quite what would have happened if Nick had greeted the news that the dinner was off by closing the laptop and going to bed in a state of resignation wasn't supposed to cross the viewer's mind, and there was a good reason for that... well, not so much a good reason, but it was definitely a reason. Anyway, our hero decides to press on and take Chord's advice that he could get his own back on Jill by spying on her with the multitude of cameras the baddie has access to and can pop up on Nick's screen, all in the hope that she will take her clothes off or do something sexual at some point. You may think Nick can't be much of a fan if he has no respect for his favourite celebrity's privacy, though at some stage there was an indication director Nacho Vigalondo was making an observation on celebrity culture.

So basically we are not satisfied until we have seen celebrities in their most private moments, or at least nude which is the next "best" thing, and sure enough there is a scene later on when Nick gets to persuade Jill to take her clothes off, which given the role is taken by a real life porn star you could watch getting up to all sorts of demeaning business should that be what you were into, again hints there was some purpose to all of this. Yet as it progressed, it quickly became clear Vigalondo hadn't really thought it through, with such sequences as Nick getting into a car chase while still on that bloody laptop straining credibility to the limits (where's it getting its WiFi signal from, for a start?). But if you thought this amazing technology was perhaps a tad too amazing, that was nothing to what they came up with for a final flourish, as the internet is invaded by Jill's predicament and a criminal mastermind is revealed to be behind the whole thing, though his Doctor Mabuse-like motives are nebulous to say the least. Many found the ending confusing, most will be too busy rolling their eyes. Music by Jorge Magaz.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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