directed by Alex Winter
by Angelo Muredda Who would have expected both Bill and Ted to become a pair of slick documentarians about media revolutions? Just last year there was the Keanu Reeves-produced Side by Side, and now, Alex Winter's Downloaded, an engaging if overly twee sort-of prequel to The Social Network about the formation and early death of Napster. Downloaded moves at a good clip, establishing early on both the company's miraculous birth over a bunch of IRC chats between nerdy cofounders Shawn Fanning and Shawn Parker (interviewed in a ridiculous penthouse suite that Facebook built) and the larger systemic changes in information-management that produced their baby, the first major decentralized file-sharing system. Winter gets utopian about the spirit of exchange that ensued when campus-dwellers started trading their Nirvana concerts and Sugar Ray singles in the late-Nineties, but you can forgive him for getting misty-eyed: It's easy in retrospect to forget just how easy and inevitable library consolidation through downloading became when Napster took off.