Cellphones. You most likely have one. Hell, there’s a good chance you’re reading this on one right now. Whether it be on an Apple or Android, the world is addicted to these little plastic demons, as everything from your uncle’s racist Facebook comments to the weirdest advertised mobile games is easily accessible with a six inch rectangle. But maybe some of you younger folk out there never experienced a time when the idea of sending an email on your phone was a life changing advancement. And we can thank Blackberry for that, the first device to feature calling, texting and emailing capabilities all in one tiny package. Blackberry was once the most dominant phone company in the world, and now the only owners of ones are the junk drawers at your parents’ house. But surely there’s a story of highs and lows, trust and deceit, and fast talking business moguls behind the fall of one of the most influential tech brands of the early 2000s.
Blackberry is the interpretation of the titular company’s rise and fall, taking what could have been a cut and dry biopic and turning it into a hilariously tense experience. A fairly average story is elevated by attention grabbing performances and guerilla-style cinematography that makes it feel like you’re experiencing the company’s success and downfall all in real time.
The film is directed by Matt Johnson, whose previous works carry this undeniable authenticity to them while also managing to be goofy as hell. His directing style feels very fast and loose, which gives this film the energy it needs to not be the total snoozefest the average biopic can be. His decision to shoot this in a documentary style without making it a centerpiece of the film does wonders for the film’s presentation. Without perhaps a single tripod in sight, scenes are shaky, imperfect, often peeking from behind corners or windows to really give it that fly on the wall feel. This style also does well to mimic the hectic and often stressful reality of a startup becoming a tech juggernaut. There’s a claustrophobic nature to a lot of the scenes, really managing to put you in the shoes of the characters in a way a conventionally shot film might not always be able to do. This, coupled with the fast-paced editing, makes the film a genuine nail-biter at times.
Of course the technicals wouldn’t be nearly as effective without a solid cast chewing up the scenery. Glenn Howerton’s Jim Balsillie is a commanding presence that you feel in every scene that he’s in. He’s always got that look in his eye like he’s ready to blow a gasket at any moment. Howeton does a great job at capturing both the serious and comedic aspects of this power-hungry shark who always believes he’s the smartest man in the room. Jay Baruchel also does a great job as the innovator with low self-esteem, Mike Lazaradis, encompassing a familiar but all too real downfall that comes when profits begin to overtake the desire to make the world a better place. Director Matt Johnson all plays a pretty pivotal role as Mike’s business partner Douglas Fregin, a geek whose pushes for comradery amongst his engineers is often looked down upon as slacking or too unserious for the business world. Overall the cast does a great job instilling believability into the story, supported by quite the witty script that may not be as poetic as the likes of The Social Network, but it still adds a decent amount of personality to allow a relatively predictable story to still be entertaining and even suspenseful.
Biopics are a dime a dozen, but every now and then someone manages to make one with enough thought and style that goes beyond just telling us the story we’ve never heard before, which turns out to be a lot like other stories we’ve already heard before. This was quite the surprise and is one of my favorite films I’ve seen this year, so definitely give it a watch, and maybe give second thought to that rectangle that’s in your hand right now.
Wow, a drink inspired by the movie Blackberry that has blackberries in it. I’m such a f*cking genius. But aside from that I wanted this cocktail to also reflect Blackberry’s Canadian origins, so for the Palmberry I decided to make a rich, dessert like cocktail that utilizes the slightly sweet and wheaty mash blend of Canadian whiskey, along with perhaps the biggest Canadian meme out there, maple syrup. These ingredients, paired with a little bit of chocolate liqueur, creates the taste of a slice of blackberry pie in your mouth, making for a great after-dinner drink. Maybe it won’t change the world like the Blackberry did, but hopefully it’ll change your night for the better.
- 2oz Canadian whiskey
- 1/2oz chocolate liqueur
- 10 blackberries
- 1/2oz maple syrup
- Float: Cream
- Top: Cinnamon
- Garnish: Blackberries
- Add ingredients to a shaker and shake with ice.
- Double strain into a chilled coup glass.
- Float a small amount of cream on top and give it a dusting of cinnamon.
- Garnish with a few skewered blackberries.