Cinema documents eras.

How much do you enjoy watching old movies just to see how the world once looked? Though not all movies should accurately depict ever-changing reality, some surely should, right?

Which is why I’ve been nonplussed by cinematic depictions of modernity’s go-to visual conversations: FaceTime and Zoom. Thus far, we’ve been treated mostly to the glossiest versions of technological banter — unblemished image, no awkward extra beats between responses, no audio dropouts, no lagging, etc.

Which makes sense! Cinema can streamline and stylize clunky truth for the sake of seamlessly fluid entertainment.

But Steven Soderbergh ain’t about that life.

As a perennial observer of contemporary existence, he uses a scene in Magic Mike’s Last Dance to demonstrate how Zoom-gabbing truly operates. Midway through the picture, the titular magician-dancer video-chats familiar faces from the franchise — getting the band back together?! nope — to seek their advice on his current dilemma. Instead of full-screening this powwow, the camera points at a laptop, showcasing how their discussion is beset by all of the technical glitches just mentioned: blotchy image, awkward pauses between comments, nonstop lagging, and we miss various words, impeding our engagement and comprehension.

Which is the idea! Sody understands how these contraptions fundamentally alter human communication.

And capturing that would seem to be within the purview of art, am I correct or am I correct?

P.S. Metaphorically, this Zoom sequence can represent how Mike is disconnected from his usual circle…yet still connected to his past ways, which is the very premise of this installment!

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