The Net 

Thursday, May 11 2006

In the 1960s, The Whole Earth Catalogue was the mail-order bible for those looking to drop out, wherein one could find seminal articles on how to use a computer alongside practical information on building a log cabin. In The Net, German documentary filmmaker Lutz Dammbeck pursues the divergent paths of these two distinct editorial trends to trace a fascinating, far-flung chronicle of high technology and its discontents in the second half of the 20th century. On one side are a dozen scientists, artists and entrepreneurs — including John Brockman, David Gelernter, Heinz von Foerster and Whole Earth publisher Stewart Brand — who, whether from the hallowed halls of MIT or the back of Ken Kesey’s bus, championed the computer as a vehicle for personal and social revolution. On the other side stands the enigma of Ted Kaczynski, a Thoreau gone mad who haunts contemporary cybernetic culture the way Manson shadows the Summer of Love. In between, Dammbeck weaves a delirious, sometimes paranoid, web of sinister science, secret government projects and corporate mind control — a heady brew of conspiracy and kitsch served up as a dreamy alternate history to the narratives put forth by the PC’s more utopian boosters. More than one of Dammbeck’s interviews come to an abrupt end when Dammbeck suggests that maybe Kaczynski’s “manifesto” shouldn’t be entirely dismissed as the ravings of a madman. The Net is also something of a travelogue as Dammbeck segues from Manhattan skyscrapers to the San Francisco Bay to the woods of Montana, moving along a hidden network of power in pursuit of the ghost in the machine. Released by Other Cinema on DVD, The Net includes commentary from several of Dammbeck’s subjects, including Brockman and Brand.

—Paul Malcolm

Other recommended new releases: The 400 Blows (DVD), Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season One (DVD), Munich (VHS-DVD). Also released this week: VHS-DVD: Nanny McPhee, The New World.

Related Stories

  • Manhattan Recreates the Secret Project to Make an Atom Bomb

    Mad Men has captivated viewers in part because of its unique setting, 1950s and 60s Madison Avenue, and WGN's new hour-long drama Manhattan, which premieres on Sunday at 9 p.m., looks to be a similar vehicle for 1940s Los Alamos, New Mexico. Created by Sam Shaw, Manhattan tells the story of...
  • Bar 1200's cocktails

    The Sunset Marquis has stories to tell. Since it opened in 1963, it's been home to recluses, rebels and rockers, who have been drawn by its secluded location on Alta Loma Drive, a cut-off cul-de-sac that is a quick hop to the Sunset Strip. If you could be a fly...
  • Tunnel Bar Opens Upstairs From Tipple & Brine

    Apparently, Richard DiSisto is trying to revitalize downtown Sherman Oaks all by himself. After opening Tipple & Brine last month, he debuts a new watering hole upstairs from the oyster bar on Thursday, May 22. It's the second of four planned venues on the same block of Ventura Boulevard, the remainder of...
  • Bike-Crash Streets 6

    You're probably already aware that there's a hit-and-run epidemic in L.A., and that bicycling in a car-crazed capital like Los Angeles can be hazardous to your health. See also: Critical Mass Bike Ride Recognizes L.A. Hit-&-Run Victims But the nerds at the MIT Media Lab's Social Computing Group recently came up...
  • Shark Fishing Squeezed Out of Manhattan Beach

    The city of Manhattan Beach has made it nearly impossible to fish for sharks from its pier. The unanimous move by the City Council last night to restrict the kinds of gear and methods that a can be used by anglers was a direct reaction to the July 5 great...

DVD: Earthquake, The Facts of Life: The Complete First and Second Seasons, Grandma’s Boy: Unrated Special Edition, If Only, Life Goes On: The Complete First Season, The Mudge Boy, The Poseidon Adventure: Collector’s Edition, Rescue Me: The Complete Second Season, Rumor Has It, Surrender Dorothy, The Towering Inferno: Special Collector’s Edition, The Watchword Bible.

Related Content

Now Showing

  1. Wed 20
  2. Thu 21
  3. Fri 22
  4. Sat 23
  5. Sun 24
  6. Mon 25
  7. Tue 26

    Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

    Sponsored by Fandor

Box Office Report

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, concert and dining info & more!


  • 20 Neo-Noir Films You Have to See
    The Voice's J. Hoberman was more mixed than most on Sin City when he reviewed it in 2005, but his description of the film as "hyper-noir" helps explain why this week's release of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For has us thinking back on the neo-noir genre. Broadly speaking, neo-noir encompasses those films made outside of film noir's classic period -- the 1940s and '50s -- that nevertheless engage with the standard trappings of the genre. As with most generic labels, there isn't some universal yardstick that measures what constitutes a neo-noir film: Where the genre might begin in the '60s with films like Le Samourai and Point Blank for one person, another might argue that the genre didn't find its roots until 1974's Chinatown. Our list falls closer to the latter stance, mainly featuring works from the '80s, '90s, and 2000s. Though a number of the films mentioned here will no doubt be familiar to readers, it's our hope that we've also highlighted several titles that have been under-represented on lists of this nature. --Danny King

    See also:
    35 Music Documentaries Worth Seeing

    15 Documentaries That Help You Understand the World Right Now
  • Emmy-Nominated Costumes on Display
    On Saturday, the Television Academy and FIDM Museum and Galleries kicked off the Eighth Annual exhibition of "The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design" with an exclusive preview and reception party. 100 costumes are featured from over 20 shows representing the nominees of the 66th Emmy Awards. The free to the public exhibition is located downtown at FIDM and runs from today through Saturday, September 20th. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Cowabunga! 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    The COWABUNGA! - 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tribute show opened Friday night at Iam8bit. Guests donned their beloved turtle graphic tees, onesies and a couple April O'Neils were there to report on all the mean, green, fighting machine action. Artist included Jude Buffum, Tony Mora, Nan Lawson, leesasaur, Jim Rucc, Mitch Ansara, Guin Thompson, Stratman, Gabe Swarr, Joseph Harmon, Alex Solis, Allison Hoffman, Jose Emroca Flores, Jack Teagle and more. All photos by Shannon Cottrell.

Now Trending