Member (2001)

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Review by Sarah Sloboda

Teasing out nuances of the film medium with avante-garde explorations in visuals, sound, and editing techniques, David Brooks proves himself a flamboyant artist with Member. Brooks' directorial debut, starring Josh Hartnett, is an eye-opening, if not remotely disturbing, look at modernity, from a media-based cultural standpoint in 2001. Colors slash and dance frantically on the screen. Familiar phrases and commercial images flash randomly, and appear strange without their usual backdrop in popular magazines and TV ads. Hartnett's character spurts an emotionally charged monologue for the duration of the film, confessing that he doesn't know whether to feel angry with a world that wants him to conform, or beg it to love him. This narration, against insertions of visuals that had grown acceptable by a media-infused culture, casts powerful doubt over the motivating forces in modern life. The soundtrack integrates minimalist sound effects and music (via Philip Glass, amongst others) with popular and familiar songs, comparing and contrasting the widely known and accepted with the more abstract and uniquely expressive -- serving as a perfect reflection of the film's themes. Forthright in all regards, Member leaves a viewer stunned: at the realization that the little voice in the back of their mind criticizing popular culture just might be on to something.