STREAMING REVIEWS: Reboot justified & mapping the digital world

If ever you had second thoughts about Erik Matti resurrecting his 2013 On The Job and, creating a sequel, then transitioning everything into an HBO series - throw those second thoughts away, it’s a glorious success. And there’s an interesting Limited Series about the early Digital Age.

On The Job: The Missing 8 (HBO Go) - Director Erik Matti certainly had the right thing in mind when he restored originally cut scenes of his On The Job of 2013, and putting them as the first two episodes of his OTJ Limited Series on HBO Go. And then he cut up the sequel that was successfully shown at the Venice Film Festival, and has them as Episodes 3-6. It’s now a grand, sprawling saga that moves in a breathtaking manner from the city to the LGU’s in the provinces, while bringing home the harsh, but necessary, truth about how politics is played, abused, and misused here in our country. The series is inspired by true events - the first film was about convicts released from jail to act as hit squads, then returning to jail after the ‘jobs’, to this sequel that’s inspired by the Maguindanao Massacre, and focuses on the role and dearth of responsible journalism today.

John Arcilla as Sisoy is the central character of The Missing 8 sequel, and it’s easy to say he richly deserves the Best Actor recognition at Venice. He first meet him as the host of a morning talk show that’s firmly in the camp of La Paz Mayor Eusebio (Dante Rivero). Sisoy is also the partner of Arnel (Christopher de Leon) at the local newspaper, and there’s been a rift between them since the kingpin, bullying Mayor has been hitting the tabloid, and urging local businessmen to boycott the paper. The arc that Arcilla has to portray, one of fence-sitter, or outright turning a blind eye to the atrocities and abuses of the Eusebio camp, to crusader and thorn in the side, is wonderful to watch. Yes, there are drastic events that move him to this arc, but it’s admirable to watch how Arcilla makes us feel every step. Ultimately, the sequel is about journalism and media and the sad state it’s in here - and the prevalence of gangster elements in the political, judicial, social, and penal aspects of our nation.

The Billion Dollar Code (Netflix Germany) - Here’s an enlightening 4-episode Limited Series that comes from Germany and offers us more insights into how this Digital World we live in evolved. Google Earth, or TerraVision? Which one would be the household name most everyone who owns a digital device would be familiar with? Silly question, right? But here’s the story of the two German nerds, an artist and a hacker, who got financing from Deutsche Telekom, and created the TerraVision algorithm - which they claim, predated Google, who used tech that was already patented. It’s an interesting premise based on true events, as the two Germans did sue Google for infringement of their patented algorithm. And no prize for guessing who won that legal tussle.

Thankfully, the story is compressed into four episodes, without all that much stretching. And its an interesting perspective of this techie world. Usually, we get it from the perspective of the big winner, the success story, like The Social Network, and the messy rise of Mark Zuckerberg. We’ve had films on Steve Jobs’ life, and TV series based in Silicon Valley. So here’s one from the point of view of the sorry losers. As the story progressed, it wasn’t lost on me that in 1993, if these two German dreamers were based in Silicon Valley, they’d have probably got the financial backing they needed, and we’d all be thinking TerraVision whenever we’re groping for the term Google Earth. This should also be interesting for those in the legal profession, as it talks about intellectual property rights.