Cullen Hoback’s punchy documentary “Terms And Conditions May Apply,” sadly, will never, ever again be less than timely, but it will become dated, more rudimentary, less knowing about the death of privacy and the primacy of data in modern commerce and life in America and across the world. Showing a week after Facebook introduced yet another info-aggregating, link-providing, data-sucking attribute to its clattering software called “Graph Search,” his inclusive, playful approach is hardly less frightening than Facebook’s self-celebration of a new way to “discover fun connections between people, places and things.” And ads. And stalkers. Hoback’s well aware of how the data-mining needs of billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg coincide with the secret, shadow laws enacted after the PATRIOT Act; my largest impatience with “TACMA” is that history has passed its already-frightening research as Bradley Manning’s court-martial comes to an end, and revelations about our government’s levels of spying in the wake of Edward Snowden’s world tour emerge by the day via newspapers like the Washington Post and the Guardian. Hoback’s film is distressing, disturbing and so far behind tomorrow’s curve. Still, there’s much to appreciate, such as one Michael Moore-like moment when the filmmakers approach Mr. Zuckerberg outside his home. 79m. (Ray Pride)
“Terms and Conditions May Apply” plays Siskel Saturday and Tuesday.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.