1990, NR, 60 min. Directed by Mariann Trench. Starring William Gibson, Timothy Leary, Vernon Reid, Jaron Lanier.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 8, 1994
Cyberjoke is a more apt title for this inane, dated, and ultimately boring exploration of the cyberpunk world. Director Trench seems to think cobbling together talking head interviews with such cyber-celebrities as William Gibson, Dr. Timothy Leary, Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid (!), and VPL founder Jaron Lanier and then layering them over a series of quotes from Gibson's Neuromancer and filling in the background with annoying computer animation makes for some sort of brilliant statement about the future. Not even. Instead, it makes you yawn a lot and check your watch every five minutes or so, puzzling over why you even bothered to log off the Net to come see this mess. Apart from rehashing the entire plot of Neuromancer, Trench lets the loquacious Gibson run off at the mouth for more time than necessary, as he drifts in and out of Bruce Sterling mode (oddly, the two authors' vocal inflections and mannerisms are nearly identical; make of that what you will) and offers up sound bites that anyone with even a passing interest in cyberpunk has heard a thousand times before. Vernon Reid is here for no apparent reason except to wax rhapsodic on the divine “neatness” of it all, and Timothy Leary is the same old slightly incomprehensible computer guru he's been for the last decade. If you think you're going to learn much of anything from Trench's documentary, think again. It's all style -- access TV-style, at that -- with precious little new to say. “Information wants to be free,” Gibson is fond of saying, but Cyberpunk, apparently, wants to be forgotten.