05/06/2015 02:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Bye, Bye, Starbucks! Hello,'Café Glass'


If you thought Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville presented a bleak future, see Wen Ren's 2025 and weep. In his nine-minute short, "Café Glass," which the 25-year-old directed, shot, wrote, edited, and co-produced, what lies ahead for espresso imbibers at their local internet coffee shop might just become extremely mentally debilitating.

Zayn (an affable Devin Goodsell), our newly single hero, lives in a post-Google-Glass world where "wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD)" is the norm. Your eyewear, in fact, has now computerized every aspect of your life, to the point where you can focus in on a possible love interest sipping a S'mores Frappuccino and find out how compatible you two are... or not... without even chatting or texting or flirtatiously smiling.


Just imagine living in this eternal Facebook dystopia where Mark Zuckerberg has replaced the Holy Trinity. A domain where a snap of the fingers generates a virtual keyboard. A punch in the air and you've ordered a sweet potato latte. And sitting at a table with your two pals is like being at a mime convention where everyone is hyperactively acting out a different tale or emulating Helen Keller on speed.

Zayn, who after minutes of cataloguing all the females about him, without interest or lacking success, becomes intrigued by Caprica (a beguiling Bridgett Lynn Luevanos), the Café Glass's waitress, who is apparently his opposite in every manner according to his glasses. The duo only has a love for outer space in common. Is that enough? Hey, wait! She seems interested, too.

Then horror of horrors, the internet becomes inoperative. If you thought getting off heroin or stopping mid-binge during House of Cards were onerous tasks, try living your life as folks did in those primordial, pre-iPhone centuries. This shortcut to hell throws the patrons into chaos, and Zayn suddenly must woo as did his great, great grandfather.

"I don't normally do face-to-face... I know it's kind of taboo... Do you believe in offline dating?"

Caprica responds with a "I don't even have wearables."

Does this mean the two will go for an old-fashioned walk, or will cyberspace's take on fire and brimstone wreck this fledgling love?

Thanks to the intense care with which Ren's creative team expanded the capabilities of a low budget, "Café Glass" is quite an entertaining treat, brimming with both visual wit and more than a few verbal bon mots. Much praise must substantially go to VFX supervisor Artim Miroshin who bombards the screen with unrelenting drone attacks of net social bedlam. All of which reminds one of Confucius, who once advised, "Study the past, if you would divine the future." This little short instead studies the future and divines the present.


Writer/director/producer/editor Ren Wen interacts with Devin Goodsell and other cast members.

("Café Glass," which unspooled at the recent Tribeca Film Festival, will continue to do the fest circuit before being released online.)