Films on Computers

See Also:  Films on Video Games

Triumph of the Nerds

Documentary 1996 NR 165 minutes. This is an in-depth look examining the rise of Silicon Valley giants from nerd-dom to success, providing an impressive history of personal computing by Robert X. Cringely. All three one-hour sections (“Impressing Their Friends,” “Riding the Bear” and “Great Artists Steal”) invite viewers into the lives of movers and shakers such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Apple’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. See Full Review

Pirates of Silicon Valley

Docudrama 1999 NR 97 minutes. Based on a book by Paul Frieberger, this dramatization examines the tangled webs of tech giants Apple and Microsoft. Follow the entwined destinies of Apple’s hip founder, Steve Jobs (Noah Wyle), and Microsoft’s geeky genius, Bill Gates (Anthony Michael Hall), as they make history. The story is narrated from the point of view of fellow tech pioneers Steve Ballmer (John Di Maggio) and Steve Wozniak (Joey Slotnick).

iSteve

Parody 2013 NR 1hr 18m. Justin Long stars in this Funny or Die parody as Apple Inc. icon Steve Jobs, the free-thinking visionary who ushered in a computing revolution. This movie is not exactly a biopic since it is absurdly inaccurate in parts; it’s not exactly a comedy since it is surprisingly dramatic in parts; and it’s not exactly a spoof since it doesn’t really follow the typical spoof formula. It’s a combination of all three of these which makes for a refreshingly different kind of movie, and it does hit on some truth. Surprisingly insightful movie, distorting some of the facts just to cover the major episodes in Apple and Microsoft development. Justin Long (the guy from the PC vs. Mac commercials) does a great job as Steve Jobs. Be ready for a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously though. In general, the more you know about Apple and Steve Jobs the more you’ll enjoy this movie. If you know the details of Steve Jobs/Bill Gates rivalry, you will appreciate it even more. If you don’t know the real story, if you don’t know all about Jobs, Woz and Gates, perhaps you should first watch Triumph of the Nerds for the real story to better appreciate this parody.

Bill Gates: Sultan of Software

Documentary 1998 NR 50 minutes. One of the richest people in the world, software giant Bill Gates made it cool to be a nerd. The Harvard dropout played a key role in advancing personal computer and network technology, leading to an ever-evolving high-tech world. Through interviews with friends and associates (including Microsoft co-founder Steve Ballmer), this biography explores Gates’s formative years, his early software development days and the creation of Microsoft.

Steve Jobs: Visionary Genius

Documentary 2012 NR 54m.  Inventor, innovator, iconoclast; Steve Jobs was all of these and more. Celebrities and leaders in the world of business talk candidly about the seismic impact that this 21st Century icon had on the way we live.

Steve Jobs: One Last Thing

Documentary 2011 TV-PG 55m. Legendary businessman and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs changed the way Americans live, think and work before his death in 2011.

Welcome to Macintosh

Documentary 2008 NR 87 minutes. Written and directed by filmmakers Robert Baca and Josh Rizzo, this entertaining documentary delves into the world of Apple Inc., the groundbreaking company responsible for, among other things, the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone. With interviews from a variety of industry insiders, Baca and Rizzo chronicle the history of the Steve Jobs/Steve Wozniak-founded corporation and track the meteoric growth of the Mac phenomenon.

Jobs

Docudrama 2013 PG-13 2hr 7m. Ashton Kutcher delivers a tour de force performance as Apple founder Steve Jobs in this biopic that spans three decades of the entrepreneur’s life.

Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 12m. In a television interview filmed in 1995, Steve Jobs talks frankly about his early life, competition with Microsoft and his vision for the future.

Something Ventured

Documentary 2011 NR 85 minutes. This engrossing documentary traces the genesis of some of the world’s most revolutionary companies, such as Apple, Intel and Genentech, and how their investors’ visionary practices transformed the way the modern world communicates and does business.

Silicon Valley

Documentary American Experience 2013 TV-PG 1hr 22m. Meet the trailblazers who transformed California’s Santa Clara Valley into a hub of innovation in this profile of the birthplace of modern technology.

Robotic Boston

Documentary Bloomberg Brink series 2013 NR 20m. In Boston, iRobot founders and staff have gone on to help make the city a center of robotics innovation with dozens of top robotics startups. For instance, meet Baxter, a manufacturing robot intended to work with humans rather than replacing them.

Out of Print (2013)

Documentary 55 minutes 2013. Out of Print draws us into the topsy-turvy world of the written word, illuminating the turbulent journey of the book through the digital revolution. Writers, publishers, readers, all in flux. Booksellers closing shop. Librarians and teachers seeking new roles. Ray Bradbury, Scott Turow, parents, students, educators, scientists — all highlight how this revolution is changing everything about the printed word — and changing us. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon as an online bookstore, places us in the middle of the debate. People tell us they read snippets all day long, yet one of five Americans no longer reads a single book, in any format, in an entire year.

Print the Legend

Documentary 2014 NR 99 minutes.  The next technological revolution is already here: meet the players in the race to deliver the first viable 3D printer to the consumer.  Poised to become the most transformative technology since the personal computer, 3D printing is inspiring a generation of inventors, engineers, and entrepreneurs to gamble fortunes in a quest to revolutionize the world. This award-winning documentary tracks startups MakerBot and Formlabs as they compete to bring a radically disruptive product to the PC market first, without “selling out” and losing their anarchic open-source hacker spirit.  But this film illuminates a few late-comer neophytes instead of talking about the true pioneers of this industry over the past 30 years that actually developed these critical technologies (the stories about Hull and Crump and the countless others that actually spent their careers building this industry).  There was nothing in this movie about the original innovation, the technology, the process, or the current real applications of 3D printing.  However, this is the best documentary I’ve ever seen on entrepreneurship and startup companies.

Smartest Machine on Earth

Documentary Nova 2011. Nova investigates the world of artificial intelligence and profiles the computer that could be the “Smartest Machine on Earth.” Known as “Watson,” this IBM supercomputer is so advanced it’s pursuing the first-of-its-kind challenge competing against “Jeopardy!” champions to prove its uncanny ability to mimic the human thought process.

LIFE 2.0

Documentary 2010 NR 1hr 39m. Computer users across the globe log onto the virtual world of Second Life. But some users’ lives are dramatically consumed by this alternate reality. See Full Review

The Pixar Story

Documentary 2007 G.  Go behind the scenes at Pixar Animation Studios with this Emmy-nominated documentary tracing the creation and history of the groundbreaking company and featuring interviews with founders Ed Catmull, John Lasseter and Steve Jobs. Assembling rare Pixar footage and conversations with animators, producers, directors and voice actors, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks takes viewers on a fascinating tour of the outfit that forever changed Hollywood animation and eventually succeeded in producing the first computer animated feature film, Toy Story.

Toy Story

Computer Animation 1995 G 81 minutes.  The first computer animated feature film was Toy Story, produced by Pixar. Cowboy-toy Woody feels threatened when overblown space ranger Buzz Lightyear arrives with a suitcase full of bells and whistles. But both dolls are lost when the family moves — and finding their way home is only half the adventure.

Inside: Pixar

Documentary 2013 NR 19m. Bloomberg television takes you behind closed doors at Disney’s Pixar animation studios to see how this powerhouse makes movie magic. FYI: all the Bloomberg televisions/Inside “documentaries” are basically infomercials for whatever company is being featured. That is all.

Hacking Democracy

Documentary 2006 TV-PG 81 minutes. With electronic voting machines tabulating more than 80 percent of the ballots cast in America, Seattle grandmother Bev Harris set out to determine the obvious: Do they work? Based on the evidence presented here, the answer is “not really.” The picture that emerges as Harris unearths a treasure trove of info about mishandled votes and the inner workings of the machines is that they’re not only fallible but also highly vulnerable to hacking. This is a must-see documentary, especially for those still doubtful about whether elections in this country can be tampered with. The answer is yes, yes, yes!!! Kudos to Bev Harris who has dedicated years to exposing the corruption surrounding electronic voting.

Big Brother, Big Business

Documentary CNBC Originals 2006 TV-PG 89 minutes. Award-winning correspondent David Faber examines big business and rapid advance of technology that allows companies to monitor our every move and record our most private personal information.

Revolution OS

Documentary 2002 NR 86 minutes. For the past two decades, a group of computer hackers, neocommunists and entrepreneurs has been gradually undermining Microsoft’s monopoly and fundamentally changing the way software is developed and owned — a revolution that resulted in the Linux operating system and the Open Source movement. This fascinating documentary explores the OS movement’s origins and depicts the grassroots nature of Linux and OS as they march into the mainstream.

You Are in the Computer

Documentary Frontline 1985. Investigates computerized information systems and the issues of privacy they raise. You go to rent an apartment and are turned down without any obvious reason. Then you find out your name is in a computer file of undesirable tenants and every other landlord in the city has access to the information.

Codebreaker
(Codebreaker: The Story of Alan Turing)

Docudrama 2014 NR 1hr 21m. This biopic follows the life of World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, who fell victim to Britain’s harsh laws at the time concerning homosexuality. While the film does consider Turing’s work breaking the Enigma code at Bletchley Park during WWII and his role as one of the fathers of the electronic computer and his application of mathematics to biology, the focus of the film is on his punishment by the British government in the early 1950s as a homosexual. What isn’t really explored at length is whether this was due to genuine fears about his being a security risk during the height of the Cold War, or because he violated the moral code of a Christian society. Well worth watching.

SCI-FI COMPUTERS

2001: A Space Odyssey

Sci-Fi 1968 G 148 minutes. Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi classic probes the mysteries of space and human destiny. While investigating the appearance of mysterious monoliths throughout the universe, astronauts David and Frank battle their ship’s intelligent computer, HAL-9000.

2010: The Year We Make Contact

Sci-Fi 1984 PG 116 minutes. In this stunning sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, ex-NASA chief Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider) helms a U.S.-Soviet mission of scientists (including John Lithgow and Helen Mirren) trying to rendezvous with the abandoned Discovery spacecraft to reactivate the homicidal HAL 9000 computer and learn the truth. Set with Earth on the verge of nuclear war, this tense epic from director Peter Hyams earned five Oscar nods.

Alphaville

Sci-Fi 1965 UR 99 minutes. Directed by cinematic legend Jean-Luc Godard, this mesmerizing sci-fi noir centers on secret agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) and his mission to destroy Alpha 60, the sentient computer that controls Alphaville by destroying freedom of thought or individuality. Brilliantly realized and crafted, Godard’s 1965 film helped to lay the foundation for future sci-fi classics such as Blade Runner, The Terminator and The Matrix. Think of Alpha 66 as the voice of Political Correctness. “Don’t think your own thoughts, think what WE say is right”. The voice of the individual vs. the voice of those is power is always a valid theme, no matter how strange the story seems. This film is worth a rent – (isn’t that one of the beauty of rentals – to experiment?) one never knows to whom it will apppeal. I look for movies with that are different. I hate predictable, made by committee, unimaginative junk. The theme is not so original here: Man vs computer, etc. I heard that Godard wanted to call this “Tarzan vs IBM”. But the way that the story is told is so unusual. I loved the poetry and the world that was created is very interesting. Obviously there will be many people who will hate it.

See Also:  Films on Video Games

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