Friday, October 1, 2010

Movie Review: The Social Network

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Fade into a dimly lit bar and observe a man and a women having a discussion that is scattered and yet very pointed. Eventually one walks away from the other and the relationship is over. When a women gets wronged the phrase "Hell hath no fury like a women scorned" is oft quoted. When a man gets scorned, specifically brilliant computer programmer and Harvard University sophomore Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg), the seed is planted for a software product that eventually evolves into a technological and marketing achievement that is Facebook. At least this is what we are shown in the opening for The Social Network. Chances are pretty high if you are reading this or listening to the audio versions of the Movie Monkey reviews that you use Facebook.

On July 21, 2010 Facebook hit their 500 millionth "friend". In October 2003, Facemash, the predecessor to Facebook was created in mere hours after Zuckerberg was scorned. (again, the movie version) The site is an instant success with over 22,000 hits in just a few hours. Eager to get their own social networking site going the Winklevoss twins Cameron and Tyler along with their friend Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) contact Zuckerberg to code for their idea. Zuckerberg spins off their idea and with funding from his roommate Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield who is to be the new Spiderman) launch on February 4, 2004.

Normally I mention the name of the actor or actress after the character's name is mentioned in the review. I didn't do that for the twins. Armie Hammer played Cameron Winklevoss and Josh Pense played his brother Tyler. But wait! They're supposed to be identical twins, you can't play identical twins with two non related actors! These roles were pulled off uniquely with the use of special effects. There were two bodies, but Armie's head was digitally imposed on Pense's body. Pretty cool stuff. I didn't catch it until I was doing some research for this review.

The timeline is laid out as we get to be flies on the wall in two separate depositions. Zuckerberg is being sued on one hand by the twins and Narendra for theft of what they claim was their idea and on the other hand by Saverin who was supposed to be his best friend and the CFO who has a substantial share of the company. The depositions reveal the time lines, players, interactions, the highs and the lows as this dorm room start up became the huge 800 pound gorilla on the Internet that everyone wanted a piece of including Sean Parker (Justin Timerlake,) the man responsible for Napster.

Facebook is a tech geeks dream. Taking the idea out of your head, start working on it in humble surroundings (I mean really, how humble is a Harvard student's room) to eventually transform it into a global phenomenon in just a few years. Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg with this cold calm steeliness about himself but with a duplicity of "I know what I want", but "I don't know where exactly this is going to go" at the same time. With Timerberlake there is the irony of playing the man who forever changed the way that we consume and pay for music while himself being directly affected by what Parker did to the music industry.

The movie shines with the dialogue, pacing, editing and acting. At one particular point there was the use of tilt shift video which has been used in a number of viral videos and so much so that even Disney used it for some of their internet promotions. Tilt shift is when the movie frames are processed in such a way that the items as real as they are appear to be toy models. For me, it was the first time that I've seen it used in a movie. Coupled with the particular musical selection it gives a rather out of body like experience. Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing and Charlie Wilson's War fame was the screenplay writer based off of Ben Mezrich's book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal.

The two hours for the movie was well spent and rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language. I mean really, can you talk about a college experience without touching on those topics? This movie is worthy of a movie theater viewing but if you can't make it out to see it on the big screen, make an effort to rent it when it becomes available.

The Movie Monkey

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