Thursday 17 Apr

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Documentary · We Live in Public

We Live in Public

The Internet-driven documentary ‘We Live in Public’ focuses on a man who was ahead of his time ... and possibly out of his mind.

Rod Lott February 21st, 2011

We Live in Public
6 p.m. Wednesday
City Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing, 951-0000


Josh Harris is “the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of.” That’s true, despite the sheer amount of press he received in all his ventures, both online and off. That says a lot about how fleeting fame can be when tied to the Web, and the 2009 documentary “We Live in Public” — showing Wednesday at City Arts Center — explores the degrees and dangers of that visibility.

Harris’ rise and fall was so quick, that if charted, they might look like an A. As director Ondi Timoner (“Dig!”) notes, he was among the first to provide hard numbers on Internet statistics and trends early on, making him his initial fortune. He made his second by founding, a trailblazer in ’net programming.

But what he did after that gives “Public” its power. Believing the world was moving toward a time where people would give up privacy online, he commissioned an “art project” in which 100 volunteers were sequestered underneath New York City. They wore matching uniforms, lived in pods, and were subject to intense interrogation and under the watchful eye of cameras for everything they did. Yes, everything.

With food, drink and drugs provided gratis, the experiment began as quite the party. Before the month was up, however, it had turned into “Lord of the Flies.” Some of Timoner’s footage is deeply disturbing, as the humans began turning into animals, and everyone is too numbed to notice or do anything about it. (Hey, who thought including a gun range was a good idea?)

After the cops shut that down, Harris went on to do the same thing on a much smaller scale: just him and his girlfriend, Tanya, in their apartment, with dozens of motion-sensor cameras capturing their every move. Yes, every — there was even one installed inside the toilet. Again, it’s all fun until someone gets hurt, and that person is Tanya, when he suffers a breakdown and lashes out at her physically.

“Public” is one of those documentaries that succeeds because of Timoner’s unfettered access to her subject, over the course of a decade. Harris makes for a remarkable focus — part prophet, part madman, as troubled as he is intelligent. The film is fascinating, although too upsetting to be entertaining. You won’t want to avert your eyes, but you’ll never want to see it again. And some of it sticks with you so strongly, you may never need to. —Rod Lott

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