LO AND BEHOLD: REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD (WERNER HERZOG)

Monks in Chicago in a scene from Werner Herzog's Lo and Behold {PHOTO: MAGNOLIA PICTURES}

Monks in Chicago in a scene from Werner Herzog's Lo and Behold {PHOTO: MAGNOLIA PICTURES}

Werner Herzog’s new documentary Lo and Behold may lack the formal ingenuity of something like Encounters at the End of the World or Cave of Forgotten Dreams, nor does it possess the emotional intimacy of Grizzly Man or Into the Abyss, but nevertheless it remains a quintessential Herzog work: ripe with the director’s eccentricities that elevates the mundane into poetry. This film, about the UCLA origins of the Internet and the culture that spawned from its dissemination, is composed as a series of vignettes.  Individually the 10-part narratives, from the Internet’s origins to its cultural impact to its future possibilities, are fascinating and marked by Herzog’s brand of peculiarities. But as a whole, there’s something jarring about Herzog’s explorations, where the specifics of his journeys take him from liability issues related to self-driving cars to Internet addictions to the capacity for AI to love. Nevertheless, Herzog documentaries subsist on their interview subjects and Lo and Behold presents a plethora of eminently bizarre and profoundly intelligent men and women who share the wealth of their experience, with Herzog at times tossing a left field question that shakes up the interview in complicated ways. Like so many of his films, I’m fairly certain only Herzog, whose skill of as a documentarian is in capacity to interact with his subjects in bluntly existential terms, could’ve made something this remotely compelling. Perhaps a disservice to its subject (I was more interested in Herzog’s quizzical retorts as I was his interviewees information), Lo and Behold remains surprisingly playful in the face of grand existential dread. 

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