Movies? Are you kidding me? I don’t have the time.
Look, I know your startup is going to disrupt (insert whatever industry) and for you, failure is not an option. You’re behind schedule, you have investors breathing down your neck, and so on. I know.
I also know for a fact that you can’t hit any of those milestones in the hospital. Or the psyche ward, which is where you’ll likely end up if you don’t relax and smell the free WiFi. So, step away from the project for a while. Relax.
Luckily, I have just the solution. Techie movies. These are movies every self respecting tech enthusiast should have seen. They also get bonus points for giving the semblance of working/researching. Think of it as a recommended playlist.
1. The Book of Eli
Synopsis: A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.
Why you should see it: It’s easy to get caught up in how advanced our world is, you forget there was a time we had no WiFi, or laptops, or phones. Book of Eli shows us a future in which every technological convenience we currently take for granted is gone. It also has Denzel Washington, an actor who turns every movie he’s in to gold. Cautiously threading the spoiler line, the movie has a thunderbolt twist at the end that lots of folks are yet to figure out.
Techie Fact: The headphones used by Denzel Washington in the movie are Beats by Dr. Dre. I know what you’re thinking. End of the world and the guy managed to save headphones, right? But when you consider how much those things cost, who can blame him?
If you liked this, you’ll also like: The Road, Children of Men.
Synopsis: In a dystopian future 35 years after water wars have torn the world apart, East African survivors of the ecological devastation remain locked away in contained communities, but a young woman in possession of a germinating seed struggles against the governing council to bring the plant to Earth’s ruined surface.
Why you should watch it: The only African movie on this list. It’s a full fledged science fiction movie and it’s quite good. Scratch that, it kicks ass. Written and directed by Kenyan Wanuri Kahiu, this movie is pure bliss. Is it the sets, location, or costumes? Is it the tightly woven story that balances magic and technology in genre bending ways? This is a short movie – 23 minutes. I’m still waiting on the feature length movie any time she’s ready. Oh, and it also won ‘Best Short Film’ at the Cannes Independent Film Festival.
Techie Fact: The entire movie was made with grant money and contains no dialogue throughout the movie(depicting the potential for technology to deteriorate genuine interpersonal relations).
3. The Social Network
Synopsis: The story of Facebook; how one arrogant youngster mistakenly created what eventually became the world’s biggest social networking website.
Why you should watch it: First of all, there’s no “reasonable” reason you shouldn’t have seen this. This was directed by David Fincher, and written by Aaron Sorkin. In movie circles, Sorkin is a legend (or a douche, depending on who’s talking about him), and Fincher is a god. Secondly, the way the Facebook story is told takes a lot of creative liberty with the facts of the actual story it is based on, and the movie is better for it. Thirdly, knowing that some of what you’re seeing actually happened gives hope to every struggling young entrepreneur out there. Lastly, did I mention it’s directed by Fincher?
Techie Facts: When the movie came out, the poster read: “You can’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Today, there are about 1.3 billion monthly users on Facebook. Also, in the scene where Mark Zuckerberg creates facemash.com, everything in that scene really happened — from the impulsive decision to create the site, to the code used, to the traffic it received. You can even hear the actor describe a “Perl script”. Cue, geek out moment!
4. Minority Report
Synopsis: John Anderton, a detective in the year 2054. Anderton works for “Precrime,” a special unit of the police department that arrests murderers before they have committed the actual crime. The “tech” behind the predictions is near flawless so when Anderton discovers that he has been identified as the future killer of a man he’s never met, he is forced to become a fugitive as he tries to uncover who the victim-to-be is.
Why you should see it: Rarely does a movie with an adapted screenplay beat its source material, so Minority Report is a unique type of movie. Couple that with the fact that its portrayal of what was then fictional tech is now common place today – facial recognition software, personalized advertising, and gesture-based user interfaces, and you have arguably the best movie on this list. Bonus points for being directed by Stephen Spielberg and being a very enjoyable movie.
Techie fact: Minority Report’s amazingly prescient predictions weren’t just random guesses about what the future may look like. Director Steven Spielberg consulted with industrial designers, futurists, and advertising people, to try to visualize what the future world would look like.
5. Eagle Eye
Synopsis: Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan are two strangers thrown together by a mysterious phone call from a woman they have never met. Threatening their lives and family, she pushes them both into a series of increasingly dangerous situations, using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move.
Why you should see it: Meet ARIIA, the “mysterious woman’s voice” over the phone. ARIIA is a psychotic A.I. and like all A.I. before her, her reasons for going on a killing streak are logical in a twisted way. If being a techie was a cult, this would be the movie used at the induction ceremony. Eagle eye is wish fulfilment for every tech enthusiast out there. Sure, it’s also a doomsday pamphlet for anti-AI pundits and will probably scare your pants off everytime you hear “the Internet of things.” But if you can get past that, you have a superb tech thriller. The scene where the AI uses every passenger’s phone on the subway to track Shia still gives me goosebumps!
Techie Fact: ARIIA may or may not be based on a “black” program through the National Security Agency which is believed to be a large computer program that monitors and records phone calls by listening in for keywords related to terrorism and the like.
6. Back to the Future 2
Synopsis: In a role that would endear him to the hearts of many, Michael J. Fox plays Marty McFly, an easy going, rocker type teenager. Using his friend Doc Brown’s time machine, he must visit the future (2015), and also the past (1955) to prevent disastrous changes to his current timeline 1985… without interfering with the events of Part 1. Trust me, it’s not as brain-melting as it sounds.
Why you should watch it: This was the movie that made me fall in love with science. Still can’t believe it’s been 26 years since this came out. Now, I’ve heard a lot of people say, “I hate time travel movies. I rarely understand them.” Well, that’s because you didn’t watch this movie when it came out on VHS. This is the simplest, funniest, and most coherent time travel movie ever made. Yep, I said it. For the record, you should see all three movies in the trilogy. 20 times, at least.
Techie fact: Back to the Future 2 came out 1989. And the future it depicted was 2015. While we’re still awaiting fully functional hoverboards, Nike has apparently promised self-lacing shoes, according to The Verge. The other accurate prediction by the movie is consumer eyewear with smart HUDs which we have in the likes of Oculus Rift, and the now placid Google Glass. You can see the movie’s prediction of what a family dinner would look like in 2015. Hint: it’s not too far from what we have today.
If there’s anything on this list you’re yet to see, rectify ASAP. Think we left anything out? Head over to the Radar and add them.