Summing Up Donald Trump’s First 100 Days In A Trump-Like Tweet

WASHINGTON ― Given President Donald Trump’s incessant Twitter usage, HuffPost asked guests at comedian Samantha Bee’s “Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner” on Saturday to sum up the president’s first 100 days in a Trump-style tweet.

“You have to tweet from the toilet, obviously,” Bee said. “Whatever it is, it feels like it came from someone sitting on the toilet and shrieking an idea to an assistant nearby.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper theorized about Trump’s preferred tweet formula before thinking about his answer.

“Declarative statement. Declarative statement. Adjective,” he said.

Actress and comedian Retta, star of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” put it simply: “Hot. Mess.”

Watch everyone’s responses in the video above.

Video by Will Tooke, Mike Caravella, and JM Rieger.

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Samantha Bee On Trump’s First 100 Days: ‘My Jaw Has Been On The Floor 300 Times’

WASHINGTON ― Comedian Samantha Bee roasted President Donald Trump Saturday at her “Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” a star-studded alternative to the actual dinner taking place the same night in Washington.

Saturday was also Trump’s 100th day as president. In an interview with HuffPost before her event, the host of TBS’ “Full Frontal” said she didn’t know where to begin when trying to describe what has shocked her the most about Trump’s first 100 days in office.

“I’ve been shocked every day,” Bee said. “I didn’t know I had it in me. Are you kidding? My jaw has been on the floor 300 times in the first 100 days.”

Bee also found humor in Trump’s recent attacks against her native Canada.

“That’s exciting for Canada,” she said. “It warmed my heart.”

Watch Bee’s interview with HuffPost in the video above.

Video by Will Tooke, Mike Caravella and JM Rieger.

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Inside Samantha Bee’s ‘Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner’

WASHINGTON ― Until its taping on Saturday, comedian Samantha Bee’s “Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” billed as a response to the storied Washington tradition, remained a mystery.

The show’s producers kept details about the special event under wraps, only revealing that they aimed to honor journalism and that proceeds would go to the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

After President Donald Trump announced that he would not attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, suggesting that it would be a more muted affair this year, Bee’s event became rumored as “the hottest ticket in town,” adding even more intrigue and speculation.

“You can’t compare the two events, really, because we’re filming a television show, and they really are having a dinner,” Bee told HuffPost before the show’s taping, while crew members milled around, wearing shirts saying “FREE PRESS.” “I mean, we’re having a dinner too, but it’s not the same type of event. You know, the purpose of our event is to celebrate freedom of the press, primarily.”

“We’re all here, partially because Samantha’s a brilliant insightful comedian, but also because we’re in support of a free press, and that’s an important thing to continue having a conversation about in a really regular way,” Ana Gasteyer, actress and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member, told HuffPost.

But at times, the event, airing as a special episode of Bee’s TBS show “Full Frontal” on Saturday night, simultaneous to the real White House Correspondents’ Dinner, could easily be mistaken for the dinner itself.

The show successfully delivered in both honoring journalism and roasting the president — whom Bee called the “geriatric orangutan” — in a variety of onstage and pre-taped segments.

Like the actual dinner, the scene outside of Bee’s taping was a strange confluence of the politics and entertainment worlds, with reporters from news outlets like the Associated Press, CNN and NBC conducting interviews next to video crews from “Access Hollywood” and “Extra.”

Inside DAR Constitution Hall, comedians hobnobbed with journalists at banquet tables, while waiters handed out cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Bee and the “Full Frontal” cast sought to highlight media outlets of all stripes, during the show. Some have been targets of the Trump administration, from the “failing New York Times,” to the “failing ‘what the fuck is ProPublica, it sounds Mexican,’” Bee joked.

But the show also noted the Weather Channel’s coverage of climate change and local newspapers and TV stations, including a shoutout to the Storm Lake Times, the twice-weekly Iowa community newspaper that won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

“We hope we’ve made you proud by taking your amazing reporting and adding our dick jokes,” cast member Allana Harkin said.

A slideshow of “great moments for the press and the presidency” throughout history kept audience members entertained between the onstage segments.

Like the actual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Bee’s show also ripped the media, primarily cable news. But it sought to distinguish the networks’ journalism from entertainment, like in a segment mocking CNN head Jeff Zucker for characterizing his approach to political coverage as sports in a recent New York Times magazine interview.

“CNN employs some of the best journalists out there. Please, Jeff, use their journalistic skills,” Bee said, with several CNN journalists in the audience, including Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

Bee left no stone unturned in her jabs at Fox News, riffing on the twin downfalls of former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and host Bill O’Reilly, as well as Trump’s penchant of live-tweeting the network and praising its slanted coverage of him.

Mocking cable news’ penchant for overdramatic, wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s speeches and appearances, Bee teased a “special guest” throughout the show, with on-screen chyrons like “BREAKING: SPECIAL GUEST’S PLANE IS ON THE TARMAC” and live shots of an empty presidential lectern.

That “special guest” did turn out to be a president, sort of: Will Ferrell reprising his celebrated George W. Bush impression, roasting Trump and honoring journalists.

“It’s like being on the Titanic,” Ferrell as Bush said of Trump, joking that journalists “are playing the violin while the ship goes down.”

The parallels between Bee’s event and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner were brought full circle in the show’s concluding segment, which imagined an “alternative timeline” with Hillary Clinton as president and Bee as the featured comedian at Clinton’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Like during Bee’s show, the president and his first 100 days in office were not entirely the focus but loomed large, dominating the conversation among guests on the “purple carpet” before the taping. 

“I think the inability of people who know better to convince the president to stop saying things that are just patently false has been a surprise,” CNN’s Jake Tapper told HuffPost. “Because at some point, one would think somebody around him, whether it’s Jared [Kushner] or [Steve] Bannon or whomever, would say: ‘37 percent of the public thinks you’re honest and trustworthy, and that’s a really low number. You can rebuild that, and people are willing to give you another a shot…let’s stick to facts.’ Because I think there’s a lot of leeway the public gives the president, but for whatever reason, they have not been able to do that, and he has not been able to listen.”

Alternatively, “The Daily Show” co-creator and reproductive rights activist Lizz Winstead took aim at Trump’s ability to convince people to “give him a chance.”

“He can not execute things because they are inexecutable,” she said. “And he fooled people into thinking the inexecutable is executable. And so, with this whole ‘let’s give him a chance!’ it’s like, ‘Oh, people, there’s no chance.’

When asked to grade Trump’s first 100 days in office, Winstead struck a more comic tone.

“Expired meat? Is that a grade?” 

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Here Are Some Of The Best Signs From The People’s Climate March

Demonstrators gathered in Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world on Saturday for the 2017 People’s Climate March, a rally to demand political action to fight climate change.

This year’s march takes on increased significance, as it occurs on the 100th day in office of President Donald Trump. Trump has derided climate change as a “hoax” and “bullshit” and vowed to roll back regulations for the fossil fuel industries. He’s also said he would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a global pact to cooperate to cut greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impact of climate change. His advisers are reportedly still debating about whether the U.S. should pull out.

As people who care about the planet’s future prepared to march on Saturday, many carried funny, creative or just plain beautiful signs to amplify their voices. Here are some of our favorites.

From Bend, Oregon! #climatemarch

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Let's march #peoplesclimatemarch #climatechangeisreal #climatemarch2017 #resist

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We're off to D.C. for the People's #ClimateMarch to stand up for our planet and its people!

A post shared by Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) on

Time to people's #climatemarch !!! Because there's no planet B

A post shared by Delia (@deliabrigitte) on

Ready for #climatemarch

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#actonclimate #peoplesclimatemovement #climatemarch #climatemarchme

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The ‘Happiest Moment’ Of Quentin Tarantino’s Life Came During ‘Reservoir Dogs’

As one of America’ star directors, Quentin Tarantino has become a larger-than-life personality. He seems relentlessly cocksure today, but there was once a time when Tarantino had to prove to himself that he was capable of this whole filmmaking thing.

Given how trying it can be to forge a movie career, Tarantino had a relatively auspicious start. His first project, “Reservoir Dogs,” made him an instant up-and-comer amid the 1990s’ independent-film boom. Celebrating the crime thriller’s 25th anniversary, Tarantino reunited with Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen and Tim Roth on Friday night for a screening and panel discussion at the Tribeca Film Festival. There, he spoke of his signature memory from the film, which doubles as the “happiest moment” of his life.

It came at the end of a two-week rehearsal period, during which the actors bonded in Los Angeles. Keitel hosted a cast dinner at the house he was renting in Malibu. Tarantino was staying with his mother in Glendale, about 40 miles away. That night, perched around Keitel’s table, he realized the dream he’d maintained since his Tennessee days as a teenage video-store clerk had real potential. Thanks to the “Reservoir Dogs” cast’s harmony, Tarantino’s career was born.

“We’re sitting there and we’re having a great time, and I really realized that, gosh, a lot of the pressure was off my shoulders cinematically,” Tarantino said. “These guys were so perfect in their parts, they were so vibing with each other, they so understood the material. By rehearsing two weeks, they knew the material. I was like, ‘Fuck, if I just keep this movie in focus, I’ve got a movie.’ Anything else I bring to it will just be frosting, but the cake is here — it’s these guys. I watched it at dinner that night. It was a really nice thing for Harvey to do. But I remember that night getting in my car and just taking that drive all the way from Malibu to Glendale, just on [Sunset Boulevard], never getting off Sunset, all the little, windy roads. And that was the happiest time of my life. That was the happiest moment of my life. This thing that I had thought about for so long — not just ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ just making movies in general — this might just work out.”

Of course, things did work out, despite projector problems and a power outage during the first “Reservoir Dogs” screening at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival. Tarantino saw it as a mark of achievement that people walked out during the scene were Mr. Blonde tortures the kidnapped police officer. The number of exits during a single screening peaked at 33, according to his count. Even Wes Craven walked out at Spain’s horror-focused Sitges Film Festival. “The guy who did ‘Last House on the Left’ walked out of my movie,” Tarantino roared. “I guess it was too tough for him.”

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If You’re Looking For A Good Time, Just Watch Tom Hanks & Bruce Springsteen Talk About Life

The excitement in the room was contagious as fans filled the Beacon Theatre in New York City on Friday evening to watch legendary actor Tom Hanks interview legendary singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen for Tribeca Talks: Storytellers

The crowd, made up of mostly middle-aged men and women, sipped on some cold beers and took photos of the empty stage, capturing the seats in which Tom and Bruce would soon to be sitting. A few minutes before showtime, former first daughter Malia Obama, alongside a friend, found her seat in the orchestra section. Then, Hanks’ wife, Rita Wilson, and Springsteen’s wife and bandmate, Patti Scialfa, walked in together with people screaming, “Patti! Woo, Patti!” She waved to the crowd as she found her seat while Wilson and Gayle King stopped to say hello and check in on Malia.

Showtime was fast approaching. 

And, soon enough, Hanks and Springsteen were introduced to stage and the crowd went wild. “BRUUUUUCCCEEE,” fans chanted, as they do at every one of his shows. Of course, Hanks made a joke about how he doesn’t understand why we “boo” The Boss, before leaping into a discussion on director Jonathan Demme and his recent death to cancer

“The strongest union of our two names is from the motion picture ‘Philadelphia,’ Hanks, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his role in the Demme-directed 1993 film about a man with AIDS, said. “God bless Jonathan Demme. We just lost him.”

Springsteen also won an Academy Award for the movie for his work on the song “Streets of Philadelphia.”

“I had some lyrics and, eventually, I just came up with that tiny little beat and the track. I figured it wasn’t what [Demme] wanted, [but] I sent it to him anyway. He sent me that opening piece of film where the camera moves slowly through Philly and I said, ‘What do you think?’ And he says, ‘Great.’ And that was it,” Springsteen explained. “Took about two days.” 

Hanks chimed in, “If you ever want to have a great moment in a motion picture, walk out the door and make sure they put on a Bruce Springsteen song.” The audience cheered yet again. 

Throughout the conversation, Hanks would weave in Springsteen lyrics ― like “My machine, she’s a dud / out stuck in the mud” ― and then request the crowd play a game of “call and response” to finish the phrase ― like “Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.” Let’s just say true, hardcore Springsteeners were in the building.

Hanks spent the next 50 minutes or so chatting with Springsteen about a lot of what was mentioned in his recent memoir ― everything from his humble beginnings to meeting with Clive Davis and the success of the “cinematic” “Born to Run.” But what really struck a chord was Springsteen’s take on living your life and not letting it pass you by. 

We make our own little worlds. They can change the way you approach your own life, but they can’t give you a life.
Bruce Springsteen to Tom Hanks

“All artists at some point believe they can live within their art. What you learn, either quickly or painfully and slowly — what you learn is it’s just your job,” he said. “You get outside of those things in music. We make our own little worlds. They can change the way you approach your own life, but they can’t give you a life. That took me a long time to learn that lesson. Thanks Patti,” he added of his wife, “It was a tremendous struggle to me.”

Springsteen spoke about making his “own little worlds” within his music, explaining that writing lyrics is all about storytelling. 

“Basically, you tell a story to save your life,” he said. “When I was very young, I felt like I was drowning. You are not living. A writer tells a story to save his life. Three minutes of bliss and compressed living, that’s why you can get so excited in such a short period of time. It was that life or death hunger. That is what I wanted my characters to be about. Life awaits you, but taking it is a rough and tumble business.”

As for Hanks’ interpretation of all this, the actor put it simply when describing what Bruce, and his concerts, mean to his fans. 

“We will follow you into hell, sir.”

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Women In The U.S. Don’t Live In A Dystopian Hellscape. Yet.

You’d have to be fairly clueless about the current political moment not to feel a shiver of recognition watching “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the new dystopian drama on Hulu.

Based on Margaret Atwood’s bestselling novel, the show debuted Wednesday after weeks of politically fueled anticipation. The timing is apt. The action takes place in Gilead, a fictional future America that has been taken over by a fundamentalist group of men who systematically strip away women’s rights.

That description might remind viewers of President Donald Trump’s first Monday in office when, surrounded by other men, he signed off on the global gag rule ― an anti-abortion order that restricts women’s reproductive rights around the world. Or, perhaps it also brings to mind Vice President Mike Pence, who chooses not to socialize alone with women who are not his wife.

Even Trump fanatics saw the connection, calling the show anti-Trump propaganda.

But there’s plenty of reason to believe American women are not headed toward the extreme fate faced by their fictional counterparts, whose highest purpose is to serve their husbands and bear children ― and if they can’t do the latter, so-called handmaids are forced to serve as surrogates.

That’s not us. The resistance in the U.S. is very much alive and well. And in the first 100 days of the Trump administration, it’s been remarkably effective. Indeed, just last week ― under pressure from activists energized by the election ― Fox News was forced to oust longtime star news host Bill O’Reilly, who was under fire for sexually harassing women.

Other executives at the network seem to be headed for the chopping block, as well. It’s a sign that even at one of the most conservative, pro-Trump companies in the country, women are finally being heard.

Paradoxically, O’Reilly’s ouster seemed to be made possible by Trump’s election. Putting a man in office who’d been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women didn’t scare anyone into silence ― it sparked a massive wave of outrage, energy and activism.

So much so that Trump’s first nominee for labor secretary, Andy Puzder, was forced to withdraw his name from consideration after decades-old domestic violence allegations resurfaced.

The day after the inauguration, millions of women took to the streets in dozens of major cities around the world wearing pink pussy hats and decrying the patriarchy. The marches were largely peaceful.

There’s more: The first shot at Obamacare repeal ― which would have left so many women without health care ― didn’t work. His anti-immigration orders have been stopped by the courts, with the help of a huge number of female immigration lawyers, as New York magazine noted.

Emily’s List, the nonprofit progressive group that helps women run for office, says it has seen an “unprecedented” level in interest since November.

What is happening now in the United States is actually real progress for women. 

It’s easy to forget that up until the 1990s, it was still legal for a husband to rape his wife. Until the 1970s, a woman accusing someone of raping her wasn’t considered a reliable witness in court (a situation eerily recalled in a terrible courtroom scene in a later episode of the Hulu show). And we haven’t even noted how women’s rights are curtailed around the world. 

Of course, there’s no doubt that putting a misogynist in the Oval Office is an enormous setback. There’s not a single woman in Trump’s inner circle, aside from his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and a spokeswoman, Kellyanne Conway, who’s been recently silenced. Only 23 percent of his White House staff is female.

But he’s hardly alone. There are only 21 women who run Fortune 500 companies out of 500. Congress is 81 percent male

Despite progress, women in the U.S. still have a frighteningly long way to go. 

The overwhelming majority of married women in this country still take their husband’s names, some without questioning why. And only recently, a Republican state representative from Oklahoma referred to women as “hosts” for fetuses.

More troubling? A majority of white women voters went for Trump, an echo of “Handmaid’s Tale,” too. In the book, elite white women ― the wives of the new political leaders ― seem to be true believers in the new world. Internalized sexism is a modern-day plague.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” came out in 1985, a perfect comment for those times, when Reagan-era conservatives were working feverishly to restore “traditional” values, i.e., restricting women’s reproductive rights, demonizing single mothers (particularly ones of color) and generally making it harder for women to choose to work outside the home. The Hulu show got the green light before Trump’s candidacy turned real.

Atwood, for her part, based the book on real historical examples.

“One of my rules was that I would not put any events into the book that had not already happened in what James Joyce called the nightmare of history,” Atwood explained in the New York Times this year. She explains that she’s grounded the book and its setting in 17th century puritanical American values (remember those witch trials).

One of Atwood’s favorite signs at the Toronto women’s march read “I can’t believe I’m still holding this fucking sign,” the 77-year-old author told The New Yorker.

When asked whether her book is a prediction for our future, Atwood offers hope and a warning.

“No, it isn’t a prediction, because predicting the future isn’t really possible: There are too many variables and unforeseen possibilities,” she writes.  “Let’s say it’s an antiprediction: If this future can be described in detail, maybe it won’t happen. But such wishful thinking cannot be depended on either.”

Progress does not happen in a straight line. Setbacks are inevitable. What’s critical is what comes next.  

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Organizer Of Fyre Festival Fiasco Considers Throwing Another One Next Year

By now, you’ve probably heard the of Fyre Festival.

It was billed as a multi-weekend luxury musical festival, thrown by Ja Rule on a private island in the Bahamas. It would be sprawling with models in bikinis and social media elite. Ticket packages reportedly cost anywhere between $1,200 to up to $250,000. Yachts would somehow be involved.

The festival didn’t turn out that way. Ticket holders were met with a desolate, unorganized mess. Tents were half-made, catering served sliced bread and cheese, and headlining talent Blink 182 dropped out last minute. Guests who didn’t immediately head for the airport to escape were stranded in what some called “a disaster tent city.”

Some claimed the U.S. Embassy had to help get people home.

Now, Billy McFarland, the 25-year-old head of Fyre Fest, said he’s considering trying again next year ― to which we can’t help but wonder: This has got to be a joke, right?

In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone, McFarland, who had previously launched a sketchy credit card company aimed at millennials, attempted to explain his festival’s rise and demise. He started with the history of his bromance with Ja Rule.

“Together, we became friends and business partners,” McFarland said in the article, which was published on Friday, roughly when hundreds of people were probably scrolling through the sarcastic memes and bleak photos posted with the #FyreFestival hashtag.

Lolz ok I'm done #fyrefestival

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“We were a little ambitious,” McFarland continued. He explained that the undeveloped island had no water or sewage. By the time guests arrived, he said, a storm had ruined tents and water pipes, causing check-in delays. Then, he added, they decided to pull the plug on the event and offer refunds to guests.

“We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves,” McFarland admitted. “Next year, we will definitely start earlier. The reality is, we weren’t experienced enough to keep up.” 

McFarland even offered a tentative date for the Fyre Fest re-do: May 2018.

“Next year, we will definitely start earlier.”
Billy McFarland, on the disastrous Fyre Fest.

It’s not clear why McFarland and Ja Rule think the festival-going public will trust them again. But, for what it’s worth, McFarland seems committed to his future, hypothetical event. He even offered to donate a portion of each ticket ― $1.50 ― to the Bahamian Red Cross.

“The one change we will make is we will not try to do it ourselves,” McFarland said. “We will make sure there is infrastructure in place to support us.”

Ja Rule, for his part, apologized for the failed event and wrote on Instagram: “this is NOT MY FAULT.”

Read McFarland’s full interview with Rolling Stone here.

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Watch The Emotional Moment This Dreamer Is Surprised With A Full Scholarship

Yesica Calderon received a life-changing surprise this week.

The undocumented immigrant and senior at East Boston High School may have a 4.8 GPA, but her immigration status made it difficult for her to fulfill her dream of going to college.

That all changed when Calderon unexpectedly received a full four-year scholarship to Regis College on Tuesday. A teacher had asked her to go to a study space in the library designated for student athletes, but when Calderon opened the door she found teachers, family, classmates, her coach and the media waiting to give her the good news.

A NowThis video posted Thursday shows the moment Calderon entered the room and her emotional reaction after being given the scholarship, which was made possible thanks to both Regis College and the non-profit Boston Scholar Athletes.

“Some nights I would cry, not knowing what I would do with my future,” she told the room.

Many other schools had given Calderon very little financial aid and the high school student could not apply for government loans due to her immigration status.

“If it wasn’t for this scholarship I probably would not have been able to afford college at all,” she said, according to the Boston Globe. 

This fall Calderon is expected to join the Regis class of 2021 as a freshman, and she says she plans to study to become a social worker. 

Phillip Brangiaforte, headmaster of East Boston High School, told ABC News it was Scholar Athletes’ idea to plan the ceremony to present Calderon with the scholarship.

“We are all very happy for her,” Brangiaforte said. “She definitely deserves it, you know. Yesica is so smart and she’s such a great kid.” 

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‘The Circle’ Is A Messy Adaptation And A Feeble Addition To The Cyber-Panic Genre

The Circle” commits a terrible movie crime: It botches its own premise, coming up hollow and spineless. 

There’s no use trying to be more measured. The big-screen adaptation of Dave Eggers’ best-selling 2013 novel about a surveillance-happy internet corporation betrays stories that tackle techno-panic in our increasingly digital world. Eggers’ book is a pulpy page-turner that updates elements of 1984 and Brave New World, even if its execution isn’t as immersive or clever. In movie form, almost everything gets lost in translation. The tone isn’t alarming enough to be a thriller, nor is it witty enough to be a satire, offering no effective commentary about the breadth of our electronic footprints.

No movie should be required to preach a message, but what’s the point in depicting the ills of technology without offering a point of view? We’re talking about a genre that has always been rife with sociopolitical subtext. Think of “Minority Report,” the Philip K. Dick adaptation that asks complicated questions about free will by depicting a police state that uses technology to apprehend criminals. Take the arguable hallmark of science fiction, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and its layered story about a sentient computer that nearly robs astronauts’ ability to control their spacecraft. Even more aligned with “The Circle” are “WALL-E,” “Her” and the Season 3 opener of “Black Mirror,” three deft futuristic chronicles of tech’s effects on human communication. 

It’s especially a bummer because “The Circle” does operate on a timely, intriguing premise. But Eggers and James Ponsoldt’s screenplay is such a tonal and thematic mess that the entire endeavor becomes a waste. 

In it, Emma Watson plays Mae Holland, an office drone whose best friend gets her an interview at a hip internet company called The Circle. Virtuosic chieftain Eamon Bailey, a Steve Jobs type played by Tom Hanks, wants to make the digital sphere more connected ― devices linked, social media inescapable, everyone’s whereabouts publicly tracked at all times. Bailey’s motto is “Knowing is good, but knowing everything is better.” It’s a near-totalitarian nightmare, but you wouldn’t quite know that from the movie, which reduces descriptions of The Cicle’s intents to stiff monologues and exchanges characters for what might as well be cardboard cutouts. 

As Mae continues to work there, she becomes more and more of a convert. She joins the company’s prestigious upper ranks and watches her popularity rise in real time. That, in and of itself, is a huge concept. It invokes our addiction to social media’s instant gratification, as well as the obvious ways that enterprises like Google and Facebook are tracking our online data. But “The Circle” only poses questions ― it rarely answers them. The novel has access to characters’ interior lives. Without them, the movie is powerless. As Mae learns more about The Circle’s inner workings, the movie’s tone hardly aligns with the story’s implications. We never fully understand the Circle overlords’ motivations, and Watson’s plodding performance ensures we never fully understand Mae either.

Usually I think movies without redeeming values aren’t worth the word count. But this is different, not only because it’s an adaptation of a popular novel, but because Hollywood studios can only greenlight so many parables about our cyber destiny. That cinematic trend has its roots in the 1990s, when the internet seemed unknowable. “The Net” and “Hackers” jump-started the mini-genre in 1995, using enigmatic paranoia to fuel their narratives. Given how much more we know about the internet now, for “The Circle” to remain so toothless means Hollywood has wasted an opportunity to tell a relevant story. 

The movie’s third act finds Mae “going transparent,” which means she wears a miniature camera that turns her existence into an all-day live feed. Those who’ve read the book know this results in a character’s tragic death, an episode that rattles Mae and leaves her questioning The Circle’s conscience. In the film, her fallout is so ham-fisted and her retaliation is so broad that any inklings of a thesis statement are expunged. 

What went wrong in this adaptation? Hard to say, especially considering James Ponsoldt is known as a director to watch thanks to “The Spectacular Now” and “The End of the Tour.” He and the cast have given few interviews to promote the movie, and the marketing campaign has seemed relatively muted, even though “The Circle” is opening on more than 3,000 screens, a sum commonly reserved for blockbusters. The film’s highest-profile moment was its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on Wednesday, a whole two days before it opens theatrically. That’s not a sign of faith on a studio’s part. Maybe one day we’ll know why such a promising endeavor resulted in such a disastrous product. For now, carry on with your digital activities. “The Circle” might as well convince us there’s nothing to fret.

You can be highbrow. You can be lowbrow. But can you ever just be brow? Welcome to Middlebrow, a weekly examination of pop culture. Read more here.

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