Categories
Interesting

From UNIX to Facebook

What connects Jurassic Park and The Social Network?

Actor Joseph Mazzello played the young boy in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster and Dustin Moskovitz in David Fincher’s 2010 drama.

But for computer geeks, what this really shows is how we have come from UNIX:

…to status updates on Facebook:

> Jurassic Park and The Social Network at the IMDb
> UNIX and Facebook at Wikipedia

Categories
News

Sean Parker on The Social Network

Sean Parker has given a revealing interview where he gives his views on The Social Network and his tensions with the filmmakers.

In the film, which charts the founding of Facebook, Parker (Justin Timberlake) becomes an important adviser to founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) before being let go after an incident at a party.

Zuckerberg has already disputed aspects of the film but in an interview with Slate, Parker not only reveals his feelings but discloses how Sony showed him an early cut of the film.

“Sony screened the film for me and a couple of friends, which was nice of them, given that they knew I’d hate it. My friends were up in arms at the end. They were screaming and one of them got drunk and started yelling at the woman from Sony, ‘He’s going to sue you! He’s going to sue you!’ and I’m like, ‘Shut the f**k up! Be quiet please. Let’s be dignified here.”

He then talks about director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin:

“I’m watching it and thinking this is really interesting. This character is definitely not me. It is a plot device created by Aaron Sorkin to tell the story that Aaron Sorkin wants to tell. At the same time I’m looking at David Fincher’s work [the film’s director] and saying this is brilliant and this guy has an obsessive devotion to accuracy.”

It seems there were tensions with Sorkin:

“My interactions with Sorkin were agonisingly weird. He is by far the weirdest person I have ever met. I had dinner with him and a few hours before I got an e-mail from his assistant saying, ‘Sean, this does not need to be a long conversation. Aaron is only going to use it to win your trust.’ ” He laughs loudly. “I went, ‘What? What is this guy thinking?'”

[The dinner turned out to be] “like the most phony, stilted conversation … It was as if he had scripted our conversation and when I deviated from the script, he came back to it.” I am laughing too much to eat as Parker builds up to his story’s punchline. “He was also twitching through the entire meal. Like uncontrollably twitching. Shaking in fact … I don’t think he won my trust.”

In addition he also gave an interview at the DLD conference in Germany with author Paulo Coelho where he talked about how his character was portrayed in the film:

> Review of The Social Network
> Mark Zuckerberg’s opinions on The Social Network
> /Film on the truth of The Social Network
> More on Sean Parker and Facebook at Wikipedia

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Behind The Scenes Interesting

Creating the Winklevoss Twins in The Social Network

One of the most impressive elements of The Social Network was the visual effects that allowed one actor to play twins.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss were the twin brothers who claimed that Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) stole their idea for Facebook.

However, director David Fincher had a problem when he couldn’t find a pair of twins that matched the real world Harvard rowers.

So, a solution was hatched where a combination of visual effects and another fill-in actor (Josh Pence) was used to create the illusion.

A visual effects team from Lola (a company that specialises in human face and body manipulation) essentially painted a digital version of Hammer’s face on to Pence’s.

This video shows how they did it:

> Detailed explanation of the process at FX Guide
> Buy The Social Network on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon UK

Categories
Awards Season video

BAFTA Backstage Interviews

BAFTA have posted a series of backstage interviews from last nights awards, including backstage chats with Colin Firth, Tom Hooper, David Seidler, Aaron Sorkin and Sir Christopher Lee.

N.B. The sound in some of these clips isn’t exactly awards worthy as Edith Bowman’s microphone doesn’t appear to be working properly.

Just click on the following links:

> Full list of BAFTA Nominations
> BAFTA

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 14th February 2011

DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

The Social Network (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): The story of the creation of Facebook and the subsequent legal battles between founders Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield) and Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

Directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin, it is one of the outsatanding films of the past year and comes with an array of in-depth features. [Read the full review here]

The Illusionist (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment): Director Sylvian Chomet’s latest animated film is based on an unproduced script by Jacques Tati and is about a struggling magician in 1950s Scotland who meets a young woman convinced he is a real magician.

Superbly crafted, it features some wonderful visuals, including a gorgeous period recreation of Edinburgh. With hardly any dialogue it plays like a silent movie and the elegiac tone is incredibly moving. (Sadly there is no Blu-ray release in the UK just yet).

> Buy The Illusionist on DVD from Amazon UK
> IMDb entry

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

DVD & Blu-ray: The Social Network

One of the best films of 2010 gets a solid array of features including an excellent making of documentary.

The Social Network begins with Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) getting dumped by a girl (Rooney Mara) which prompts him to hack in to the campus computer network as revenge, whilst blogging about his reasons for doing so.

This brings him to the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (played by Armie Hammer) and Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), who approach him with the idea of a social network site, but Zuckerberg opts to create his own version with the help of his friend Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield).

Originally called TheFacebook it is an instant success at Harvard and campuses across the US, which leads Zuckerberg to California where entrepreneur and Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) helps him approach investors.

The narrative is intercut with flashforwards to various legal depositions, in which characters explain the conflicts which would later arise, with the Winklevoss twins and Narenda claiming Zuckerberg stole their idea, whilst Severin (who initially bankrolled the site) falls out with Zuckerberg over Parker’s influence.

Aaron Sorkin’s sculpted rat-a-tat dialogue provides a mixture of humour, pathos and insight in presenting what Facebook did to the founders, as well as the overall ironies for them and the wider culture that embraced it.

David Fincher might also seem a counter-intuitive choice, but aside from directing with his customary skill and taste, he manages to ramp up the drama by keeping things simple and focused. Compared to his previous work it moves quickly and the editing and structure all ground the information in a tight and engrossing package.

The director’s customary dark visual palette is on display again, but the balanced compositions from cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth nicely dovetail the crispness of the digital images, which were shot on the Red One digital camera.

Building on the visual look of the film, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide a wonderfully discordant score which not only complements the action but feels like a groundbreaking use of music in a mainstream film.

The performances are excellent across the board: Eisenberg hits the right notes as a brilliant and surprisingly sympathetic anti-hero, Garfield depicts the dry wit and regret of the forgotten man in Facebook’s creation; Armie Hammer (with the help of SFX wizardy) is terrific in the dual role of the ‘Winklevii’ and Justin Timberlake is surprisingly strong as the rebellious entrepreneur Sean Parker.

Like Fincher’s Zodiac (2007)  is a densely constructed film that plays very well on repeated viewings.

For some it will be the cautionary parable of a website which connected over 500 million virtual friends which also broke up the actual friends that created it.

For others Mark Zuckerberg could become like Gordon Gekko, an unlikely figure of inspiration to a generation who use technology to change old assumptions and beliefs.

With its mix of potent ideas and impeccable craft, it is a likely Oscar contender and deserves the recognition and kudos, as it paints a fascinating picture of age old tensions at the heart of new technology.

Sony have done an excellent job with the Blu-ray and the audio and visual transfer is outstanding.

The extra features in the 2-disc special edition are extensive and provide a lot of insight into the filmmaking process.

Disc One

  • Director’s Audio Commentary: Director David Fincher discusses the tone, casting process, the performances, adapting the film from the source materials, mixing drama and realism, visual effects and more.
  • Writer and Cast Audio Commentary: Aaron Sorkin and the main cast – Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, and Josh Pence – discuss working with Fincher, what it was like on set, the score and give their take on the events depicted in the story.
  • BD-Live.

Disc Two

  • How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Facebook? (1080p, 1:32:43): This four-part documentary, split in to sections called Commencement, Boston, Los Angeles, and The Lot, mixes a lot of on-set footage with cast and crew interviews, covering the the pre-production and shooting in some depth.
  • Jeff Cronenweth and David Fincher on the Visuals (1080p, 7:48): The DOP and director discuss how the visual look of the film and the challenges of shooting digitally.
  • Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter, and Ren Klyce on Post (1080p, 17:24): Fascinating look at how the 268 hours of footage were edited down to the final cut, exploring the editing and sound design.
  • Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and David Fincher on the Score (1080p, 18:55): Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross discuss how they came up with the film’s groundbreaking score.
  • In the Hall of the Mountain King: Music Exploration (1080p): An early, discarded version of the music for  the Henley Regatta sequence compared with what we seen in the final film.
  • Swarmatron (1080p, 4:28): Trent Reznor describes an instrument that featured heavily in the film’s score.
  • Ruby Skye VIP Room: Multi-Angle Scene Breakdown (1080p): An interactive feature in which allows you to watch the Ruby Skye nightclub sequence from four different perspectives: rehearsal, interviews, tech scout and principal photography.

> Buy The Social Network on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon UK
Official site
The Social Network at the IMDb
Find out more about Facebook at Wikipedia

Categories
Awards Season News

Tom Hooper wins the DGA award

Tom Hooper was the surprise winner of the DGA award last night for The King’s Speech.

Although David Fincher was favoured by many Oscar pundits after The Social Network dominated the season so far, Hooper won the union’s prize for outstanding achievement in feature film at last night’s ceremony in Hollywood.

The nominees were David Fincher (The Social Network), Christopher Nolan (Inception), Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and David O. Russell (The Fighter), a line-up which was mirrored in the Oscar nominations, aside from Nolan who missed out there as the Coen Brothers (True Girt) were favoured by the Academy.

The DGA is a key award as only six times in 62 years has the winner not gone on to claim Best Director at the Oscars, with the most recent exception being 2003, when DGA winner Rob Marshall (Chicago) lost out to Roman Polanski (The Pianist).

With a just a month until the Oscars on February 27th, some are now predicting that The King’s Speech is now the favourite to beat The Social Network.

After the film about King George and his speech therapist won at the Producers Guild of America last weekend, it looked like the tide could be turning against Fincher’s film which had dominated the awards season so far.

But it looks like The King’s Speech will now be entering the final stretch as the favourite, although why does a gut feeling tell me that it’s not totally over for The Social Network?

> DGA awards
> Awards season analysis at In Contention, Awards Daily and Hollywood Elsewhere

Categories
Lists music Soundtracks

The Best Film Music of 2010

My favourite film music of the year included albums by Trent Reznor, Hans Zimmer and Daft Punk, whilst tracks by various artists including Zack Hemsey and Grizzly Bear also stood out.

BEST SOUNDTRACKS

Tron Legacy (EMI): The sequel to Tron was a mixed bag (great visuals, mediocre script) but the score by Daft Punk was unbeliveably epic, fusing their trademark electronica with an orchestra. [Amazon / YouTube]

Inception (Reprise): Hans Zimmer’s score for Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi blockbuster mixed electronic elements, strings and the guitar of Johnny Marr to brilliant effect. [Amazon / YouTube]

The Social Network (Pid): Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross gave David Fincher’s film about the origins of Facebook a dazzling electronic flavour, at turns pulsating and atmospheric. [Official site / Amazon / YouTube]

The Kids Are Alright (Lakeshore Records): A traditional, but shrewdly assembled collection of traditional and modern songs (featuring the likes of MGMT and David Bowie) which fitted the themes of Lisa Colodenko’s film perfectly. [Amazon / YouTube / The Playlist]

Greenberg (Parlophone): A solid collection of songs from James Murphy alongside tracks by The Steve Miller Band, Duran Duran, Nite Jewel and Galaxie 500. [Amazon / YouTube]

127 Hours (Polydor): Danny Boyle films usually have a memorable soundtrack and this is no exception, featuring music from A.R. Rahman and tracks by various artists including Free Blood, Bill Withers and Sigur Ros. [Amazon / YouTube]

Black Swan (Sony): For Darren Aronofsky’s reworking of Swan Lake, Clint Mansell reworked elements of Tchaikovsky’s original music to spectacular effect. [Amazon / YouTube]

N.B. The soundtracks for Somewhere and Blue Valentine would have easily made the list if they were available to purchase in the UK.

PLAYLIST

The following tracks are not all directly from soundtracks, but may also have featured on trailers and TV spots for various films.

You can download most of these tracks as a Spotify playlist here or just click on the relevant links to listen to them.

If you have any pieces of film related music you want to share, leave a comment below.

> The Best Films of 2010
> The Best DVD & Blu-ray releases of 2010

Categories
Cinema Reviews Thoughts

The Way Back

An epic escape from a Russian gulag during World War II forms the backdrop for Peter Weir’s first film in seven years.

Loosely based on Slavomir Rawicz’s book “The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom” (more of which later), The Way Back begins with an soldier named Janusz (Jim Sturgess) being sent to a remote Siberian prison camp on trumped up charges of spying.

After enlisting the help of inmates to escape, including an ex-pat American (Ed Harris) and a tough gang member (Colin Farrell), the group venture on a massive trek across Asia where they meet an orphan (Saoirse Ronan), struggle to survive and attempt to reach the safety of India.

Weir shoots everything with convincing detail: the prison camp is believably hellish and the landscapes form a frequently stunning backdrop as the prisoners venture across sub-zero Russia, the Gobi Desert and the Himalayas on their way to India.

Visually, the film feels grittier than one might expect, with D.P. Russell Boyd appearing to use a lot of natural light and the splendour of the landscapes are frequently intercut with shots of blisters and the physical cost of the journey.

The performances all round are solid: Sturgess and Harris stand out as the two lynchpins of the group; Farrell is charmingly gruff; Ronan has presence and depth and Mark Strong is believably seductive as a prison camp veteran with his own agenda.

As a narrative experience, the initial tension of the prison break quickly becomes a fight for survival as the group struggle to eat, stay warm and avoid all manner of hardships involving the harsh landscape.

This means that it lacks conventional tension, but there is a certain pleasure in the gruelling sprawl of the story as they keep moving across a bewildering variety of landscapes and adverse weather conditions on their 4,000-mile trek.

Sequences that particularly stand out are the initial prison break in a blizzard, a lake infested with mosquitoes, a harsh desert which drives them to the brink and the latter stages which involve some famous Asian landmarks.

For the most part it is absorbing and features well drawn characters, even though it occasionally suffers from the problem of mixing English and native dialogue, which in the modern era diminishes the overall authenticity of the film.

The film hinges on the central character’s desire to get back home (hence the title) to see his wife, which we see in a recurring vision, and it is hard not to be moved by the climactic depiction of the personal set against the historical.

But although The Way Back is an undeniably powerful experience, there is a problem at the very heart of the adaptation which directly relates to the original book that inspired it.

Although Rawicz’s account was acclaimed for a number of years, in 2006 the BBC discovered records that essentially debunked his version of events, even though there is evidence to suggest that the journey may have been undertaken by other people.

Peter Weir was fully aware of the controversy surrounding the book when he made the film, hence certain key changes, and overall it demonstrates the taste, tact and intelligence that has informed his career.

But given the extraordinary nature of the journey there is something dispiriting about finding out the truth about Rawicz, even if the actual trek may have been done by someone else.

It remains a powerful and handsomely constructed piece of cinema but also suffers from the shady origins of its source material.

> Official site
> The Way Back at the IMDb
> BBC News story on the controversy surrounding the book and its road to the screen

Categories
Cinema Lists

The Best Films of 2010

As usual these are my favourite films of the year in alphabetical order (just click on each title for more information).

THE BEST FILMS OF 2010

Animal Kingdom (Dir. David Michôd): The outstanding debut feature from director David Michôd is a riveting depiction of a Melbourne crime family headed by a sinister matriarch.

Another Year (Dir. Mike Leigh): A moving, bitter-sweet drama about relationships, filled with great acting, is arguably the peak of Mike Leigh’s career.

Biutiful (Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu): Searing exploration of life and death in a modern European city, featuring a tremendous central performance from Javier Bardem.

Black Swan (Dir. Darren Aronofsky): Swan Lake is retold with glorious intensity, channelling Polanski and Cronenberg whilst giving Natalie Portman the role of a lifetime.

Carlos (Dir. Olivier Assayas): Scintillating and immersive depiction of a 1970s terrorist with a tremendous performance by Edgar Ramirez.

Enter the Void (Dir. Gaspar Noé): Technically dazzling depiction of a dead drug dealer that also features what is possibly the greatest opening title sequence of all time.

Exit Through The Gift Shop (Dir. Banksy): An ingenious and hilarious hall of mirrors which is brilliantly executed and so much more than a ‘Banksy documentary’.

Inception (Dir. Christopher Nolan): The ingenious puzzles of Christopher Nolan’s early films were given the scale of his blockbusters in this hugely ambitious sci-fi actioner.

Inside Job (Dir. Charles Ferguson): Devastating documentary about the financial crisis which plays like a heist movie, only this time it is the banks robbing the people.

Tabloid (Dir. Errol Morris): The media feeding frenzy surrounding a bizarre 1970s sex scandal provided Errol Morris with the raw material for one of the most entertaining documentaries in years.

The Fighter (Dir. David O’Russell): A boxing story which follows a familiar path but remains energetic, inspirational and funny, with Christian Bale on career-best form.

The Kids Are Alright (Dir. Lisa Cholodenko): A perfectly pitched comedy-drama that explores modern family life with genuine heart and humour.

The King’s Speech (Dir. Tom Hooper): Wonderfully crafted period drama with two brilliant lead performances and a moving story filled with hilarious one liners.

The Social Network (Dir. David Fincher): The inside story of Facebook is a riveting tale of ambition and betrayal, which sees Fincher, Sorkin and a young cast firing on all cylinders.

Toy Story 3 (Dir. Lee Unkrich): The ground breaking animated series gets a worthy final chapter whilst maintaining Pixar’s impeccable standards of story and animation.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

127 Hours (Dir. Danny Boyle)
Blue Valentine (Dir. Derek Cianfrance)
Catfish (Dir. Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost)
Four Lions (Dir. Chris Morris)
Let Me In (Dir. Matt Reeves)
Restrepo (Dir. Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger)
Somewhere (Dir. Sofia Coppola)
The American (Dir. Anton Corbijn)
The Ghost Writer (Dir. Roman Polanski)
The Illusionist (Dir. Sylvain Chomet)
Winter’s Bone (Dir. Debra Granik)

> Find out more about the films of 2010 at Wikipedia
> End of year lists at Metacritic
> The Best DVD and Blu-ray Releases of 2010

Categories
Posters

The Wikileaks Network

David Fincher recently completed a film about Facebook (The Social Network) and is currently in Sweden shooting a conspiracy thriller (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo).

Think about it: computer hackersSweden and intrigue.

Maybe his next film should be about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange? 🙂

> The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) at the IMDb
> More on the recent leaking of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks at Wikipedia

Categories
Lists News

Sight and Sound’s Top Films of 2010

Sight and Sound have selected their best films of 2010 and it has been topped by The Social Network.

They asked 85 critics from across the globe to select their five favourite films of the past year and the titles that appeared the most were then selected for this list which will appear in their January 2011 issue.

(Note that the list can be a little out of sync with US and foreign release dates).

The final selection has already reached the magazine subscribers, although it won’t be on the Sight and Sound website until December 7th.

Here is the list in full (with some ties):

1. The Social Network (Dir. David Fincher, USA)

2. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand)

3. Another Year (Dir. Mike Leigh, UK)

4. Carlos (Dir. Olivier Assayas, France/Germany)

5. The Arbor (Dir. Clio Barnard, UK)

=6. I Am Love (Dir. Luca Guadagnino, Italy)
=6. Winter’s Bone (Dir. Debra Granik, USA)

=8. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Dir. Andrei Ujică, Romania)
=8. Film Socialisme (Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, France/Switzerland)
=8. Nostalgia for the Light (Dir. Patricio Guzmán, France/Germany/Chile)
=8. Poetry (Dir. Lee Chang-dong, South Korea)
=8. A Prophet (Dir. Jacques Audiard, France)

=13. Certified Copy (Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, France/Iran/Italy)
=13. Meek’s Cutoff (Dir. Kelly Reichardt, USA)

=15. Dogtooth (Dir. Giorgos Lanthimos, Greece)
=15. Enter the Void (Dir. Gaspar Noé, France/Germany/Italy)
=15. Mysteries of Lisbon (Dir. Raúl Ruiz, Portugal/Brazil/France)
=15. Of Gods and Men (Dir. Xavier Beauvois, France)

=19. Aurora (Dir. Cristi Puiu, Romania/Switzerland/Germany/France)
=19. Exit Through the Gift Shop (Dir. Banksy, UK/USA)
=19. Four Times (Dir. Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy/Switzerland/Germany)
=19. The Ghost Writer (Dir. Roman Polanski, France/Germany/United Kingdom)
=19. Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow (Dir. Sophie Fiennes, UK/France/Netherlands)

> Sight and Sound (follow them on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook)
> MUBi and InContention on this year’s list
> Wikipedia on 2010 in film

Categories
Behind The Scenes Interesting

The Sounds of The Social Network

Soundworks have released a video showing how the sounds for The Social Network were created.

Ren Kylce (Sound Re-recording Mixer and Supervisor Sound Editor) along with Michael Semanick (Sound Re-Recording Mixer) discuss various aspects of the audio soundscape they created for David Fincher’s film, including:

  • The importance of dialogue
  • How they captured ambient sounds from Harvard and Silicon Valley
  • The volume of Ruby Skye club sequence
  • How sound helps signify shifts in time
  • Working with Trent Reznor an Atticus Ross to incorporate the electronic score into the film.

“The Social Network” Sound for Film Profile from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

> Read our review of The Social Network
> How the Henley Regatta sequence was filmed

Categories
News

Mark Zuckerberg on The Social Network

Mark Zuckerberg recently spoke to a group of budding entrepreneurs at Stanford University where he gave his opinions on The Social Network.

Although he initially said that he wouldn’t see the film, he relented and then booked out an entire cinema for the whole of Facebook to see it on the opening day of release.

So what did he think of Hollywood’s version of himself and the company he founded?

He was impressed with the costume department:

It is interesting what stuff they focused on getting right. Every single shirt or fleece in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I actually own.

But he was not happy with the opening sequence and the ‘framing’ of the story:

The whole framing of the movie, the way that it starts is that I’m with this girl who doesn’t exist in real life, who dumps me – which has happned in real life a lot.

And basically they frame it as if though the whole reason I invented Facebook and building something was that I wanted to get girls or get into to some social institution. The reality for people who know me is that I’ve been dating the same girl since before I started Facebook.

But I think its just such a big disconnect I think from the way people who make movies think about what we do in Silicon Valley, building stuff. They just can’t wrap their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things.

The geeky call to arms elicited some wildly enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Aaron Sorkin might disagree with this version of events as Zuckerberg did blog about a girl named Jessica Alona whilst he created the FaceMash (the hacking prank which led to TheFacebook) and this was incorporated into the film.

Below is the transcript which Sorkin based the scene on:

Mark Zuckerberg’s Online Diary

However, Sorkin changed Alona’s name to ‘Erica Albright’ (the character played by Rooney Mara) and has explained that he did this for a reason:

“There was nothing in the movie that was invented for the sake of making it sensational. There was nothing in the movie that was Hollywood-ized. There are a couple cases where when it didn’t matter at all, I conflated two characters. There are three cases where I changed a character’s name. One of those characters we never actually see; it’s an off-screen character. In the other two cases it’s just there was no need to embarrass this person more. You have the exact same movie and the exact same truth if you don’t do that. So don’t do that.”

So, whilst there almost certainly was a Jessica Alona, she remains an enigma and has never gone public or given an interview.

As for Zuckerberg’s claim that he was dating his current girlfriend before Facebook even started, that has been hotly disputed.

You can watch the full Stanford interview with Zuckerberg here:

Mark Zuckerberg at Startup School from Wade Roush on Vimeo.

> My review of The Social Network
> More on Facebook at Wikipedia
> /Film on the truth of The Social Network
> Business Insider on the leaked transcripts that revealed more about the early years at Facebook

Categories
Cinema

UK Cinema Releases: Friday 15th October 2010

NATIONAL RELEASES

The Social Network (Sony Pictures): David Fincher’s latest film is an absorbing drama about the battles amongst the founders of social networking website Facebook.

It begins with Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) getting dumped by a girl (Rooney Mara) which prompts him to hack in to the campus computer network as revenge, whilst blogging about his reasons for doing so.

This brings him to the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (played by Armie Hammer) and Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), who approach him with the idea of a social network site, but Zuckerberg opts to create his own version with the help of his friend Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield).

Originally called TheFacebook it is an instant success at Harvard and campuses across the US, which leads Zuckerberg to California where entrepreneur and Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) helps him approach investors.

The narrative is intercut with flashforwards to various legal depositions, in which characters explain the conflicts which would later arise, with the Winklevoss twins and Narenda claiming Zuckerberg stole their idea, whilst Severin (who initially bankrolled the site) falls out with Zuckerberg over Parker’s influence.

This might not initially sound like the most exciting or dynamic material for a film, but with an A-list roster of talent behind the camera – director Fincher, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and producer Scott Rudin – the end result is a stimulating tale of human relationships gone wrong and a wonderfully crafted production.

It has already got rave reviews in the US and a wave of Oscar buzz, which is richly deserved as it is one of the best films to come out this year. Sony will be hoping there is enough buzz and anticipation to fend off competition from Despicable Me but this is likely to draw audiences over the coming weeks. [Nationwide / 12A]

*Read my full review here*

Despicable Me (Universal): An animated film about a supervillain named Gru (Steve Carell) who tries to use three orphans girls as pawns for a grand scheme, only to find that their innocence changes him.

Featuring the voices of Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, and Miranda Cosgrove it was a big success in the US earlier this summer, scoring solid reviews in the process and marks the first CGI feature produced by Universal. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / Scotland from October 11th]

Vampires Suck (20th Century Fox): A parody of the Twilight series from the people who brought us comedies such as Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and Disaster Movie.

The critical revulsion that greeted this film in the US will likely be repeated over here. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / 12A]

ALSO OUT

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow (Artificial Eye): A documentary about artist Anselm Kiefer’s studio in Barjac in France, where he bought a derelict silk factory and transformed it into an existing artistic centre. Directed by Sophie Fiennes. [Cine Lumiere, Gate & selected Key Cities / U]

Aakrosh (Eros): Action-thriller film directed by Priyadarshan and starring Ajay Devgn, Akshaye Khanna, Bipasha Basu, Paresh Rawal and Reema Sen. [Cineworlds Feltham, Ilford, Shaftesbury Ave., Wood Green & Key Cities]

Knock Out (Eros): A Bollywood film – that may or may not be a remake of Phone Booth – directed by Mani Shankar, and stars Sanjay Dutt, Irfan Khan and Kangna Ranaut. [Cineworlds Feltham, Greenwich 02, Ilford, Wood Green & Key Cities]

> UK DVD and Blu-ray picks for this week including The Exorcist and The Evil Dead
> Get local cinema showtimes for your area via Google Movies

Categories
Cinema Reviews

The Social Network

David Fincher’s latest film is an absorbing drama about the battles amongst the founders of social networking website Facebook.

It begins with Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) getting dumped by a girl (Rooney Mara) which prompts him to hack in to the campus computer network as revenge, whilst blogging about his reasons for doing so.

This brings him to the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (played by Armie Hammer) and Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), who approach him with the idea of a social network site, but Zuckerberg opts to create his own version with the help of his friend Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield).

Originally called TheFacebook it is an instant success at Harvard and campuses across the US, which leads Zuckerberg to California where entrepreneur and Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) helps him approach investors.

The narrative is intercut with flashforwards to various legal depositions, in which characters explain the conflicts which would later arise, with the Winklevoss twins and Narenda claiming Zuckerberg stole their idea, whilst Severin (who initially bankrolled the site) falls out with Zuckerberg over Parker’s influence.

This might not initially sound like the most exciting or dynamic material for a film, but with an A-list roster of talent behind the camera – director Fincher, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and producer Scott Rudin – the end result is a stimulating tale of human relationships gone wrong.

It is also a very interior film, with much of the action taking place inside dorm rooms and legal offices, but Sorkin’s script does an excellent job at rattling through the events and digging out some juicy drama.

His sculpted rat-a-tat dialogue provides a mixture of humour, pathos and insight in presenting what Facebook did to the founders, plus the overall ironies for them and the wider culture that embraced it.

Whilst he has expressed doubts about the web and new technology, Sorkin is perfectly suited to this material.

As a more traditional writer, he mines the old fashioned themes of envy, jealousy and ambition inherent in the story, but from a distance which allows him to probe the social cost of relationships online.

David Fincher might also seem a counter-intuitive choice, but aside from directing with his customary skill and taste, he manages to ramp up the drama by keeping things simple and focused.

Compared to his previous work it moves quickly and the editing and structure all ground the information in a tight and engrossing package.

Fincher’s customary dark visual palette is on display again, but the balanced compositions from cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth nicely dovetail the crispness of the digital images (which were shot on the Red One digital camera).

Building on the visual look of the film, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide a wonderfully discordant score.

Their compelling soundscape of samples and beats gives the film a distant and offset mood, which may or may not be a reflection of Zuckerberg’s personality.

In a film filled with fine performances, Jesse Eisenberg is the stand out with a focused and at times mesmerising portrait of Zuckerberg as an awkward, brilliant and driven individual.

It might not be as accurate as some have claimed but it captures the restless energy and intelligence that drove Facebook in its messy early years and kept it from being sold off (and ruined) too soon.

Garfield paints a convincing picture of a wronged friend unable to keep up with events, whilst Timberlake is charming as the one person who appreciates Zuckerberg’s idea of how big Facebook can actually be.

The Winklevoss twins – or “Winklevii” as Zuckerberg dismisses them at one point – are actually played by one actor, a feat achieved with considerable technical aplomb by both Armie Hammer and Fincher’s visual effects team.

Representing old school privilege, they also feature in a perfectly executed scene when they try to convince the then Harvard president Lawrence Summers (Douglas Urbanski) that Zuckerberg has stolen the site from them.

The dialogue, acting and direction frequently paint a telling clash between the traditional world unable to comprehend the new paradigm represented by upstarts in Silicon Valley.

Whatever the veracity of the sources used to inspire the film, and Ben Mezrich’s book on which it was based has been criticised, it is structured so that the audience can draw their own conclusions from the various perspectives offered by the Winklevoss twins, Severin and Zuckerberg.

Who comes out best will clearly be a debating point for audiences, but the portrait of Zuckerberg as a social outsider driven by something other than just money is not as unflattering as one might think.

A lot of the debate surrounding the film is the portrayal of Zuckerberg himself.

Although it paints a picture of an intense and potentially haunted individual, you can also see him as an irreverent visionary battling against negativity to build something millions of people use.

There are thematic parallels to Citizen Kane: a young wunderkind creates an empire, has huge ambitions, women issues, breaks up with a friend and collaborator, is left seemingly alone despite creating over millions of virtual connections for other people. (For Rosebud, substitute an ex-girlfriend).

In a sense The Social Network is the cinematic equivalent of a Facebook profile: it uses selected facts to present a portrait of an individual; features potentially embarrassing information; and harvests personal data that will be seen all around the world.

For tech journalists a little too concerned with the details, let’s remember this is a representation of the facts and not a definitive statement.

But like Facebook, it has been assembled with considerable technical skill and may strike a deep chord with audiences hungry to find out more about an online phenomenon so embedded in contemporary life.

How future viewers will judge it is hard to predict, but I suspect two very different perspectives could emerge.

For some it will be the cautionary parable of a website which connected over 500 million virtual friends which also broke up the actual friends that created it.

For others Mark Zuckerberg could become like Gordon Gekko, an unlikely figure of inspiration to a generation who use technology to change old assumptions and beliefs.

With its mix of potent ideas and impeccable craft, it is a likely Oscar contender and deserves the recognition and kudos, as it paints a fascinating picture of age old tensions at the heart of new technology.

The Social Network is out in the UK on Friday 15th October

> Official site
> The Social Network at the IMDb
> Find out more about Facebook at Wikipedia

Categories
Box Office News

The Social Network tops the US box office

The Social Network topped the US box office this weekend, grossing an estimated $23 million on around 3,800 screens at 2,771 locations.

Over the last week, the big question was whether the subject matter (the founding and conflicts over Facebook) could appeal to older males and females.

Exit polls indicated 53% of the audience was female and 55% were over 25.

With great reviews and a lot of media buzz, this was a decent opening but perhaps a more interesting indicator will be how it holds next week.

> Box Office Mojo with more analysis
> Deadline Hollywood Daily report on the US opening

Categories
Behind The Scenes

The Social Network in Henley and Windsor

Earlier this summer David Fincher was in the UK filming scenes at Henley and Windsor for The Social Network.

The film charts the origins of Facebook and the disputes that arose between founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his co-founder and friend Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield).

Another key strand of the plot involves the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer, who plays both) and their business partner Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) who claimed Zuckerberg stole their idea and made it his own.

In 2004, the two twins rowed in the Final of The Grand Challenge Cup at Henley and Fincher was at the Regatta last summer to recreate the race for the film.

Someone with a camera spotted the director filming across the Thames (he’s the one with the hat on).

If you look at this location on Google Maps you can see the view Fincher was aiming for, with the marquees on the other side.

(I can’t be the only one to notice the irony of the director of Fight Club shooting at a place that almost defines English privilege)

What’s interesting about the scene is that it uses some unusual camera techniques to depict the boat race.

In a recent interview with /Film, Fincher described the effect he was going for:

/Film: The tilt/shift isolated focus you employed in the boating sequence. It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen on the big screen before and would love to learn what inspired it.

Fincher: We could only shoot 3 races at the Henley Royal Regatta; We had to shoot 4 days of boat inserts in Eton. The only way to make the date for release was to make the backgrounds as soft as humanly possible. I decided it might be more “subjective” if the world around the races fell away in focus, leaving the rowers to move into and out of planes of focus to accentuate their piston-like effort.

In addition his friend and fellow director Mark Romanek snapped a photo of him on the river at Windsor back in July as they filmed the inserts near Eton.

Earlier in his career Romanek was a contemporary of Fincher at Propaganda Films where they both cut their teeth on music videos and commercials.

Romanek recently spoke about this time:

I guess I was in the right place at the right time along with a bunch of other guys. (…) It’s like there was this exciting sense. David Fincher the other day was saying it was like “Dogtown and Z-Boys.” It was just this moment, particularly at Propaganda and Satellite Films, where you really felt you were part of something going on in the zeitgeist.

And people were culturally, on a global scale, they were paying attention to what you were doing. So if you were making this thing, it would be serviced to 17 countries the next day.

Back then, it’s only 10 years ago or something, they didn’t really do movies day-and-date globally. And TV commercials were usually pretty regional. But music videos, if you made a music video, it went out to 22 countries the day you finished the master. That’s pretty heady stuff. And to young people, by and large, who are going to have an effect on the culture.

And it was very exciting because I had an office. Spike Jonze had an office next to me, and David Fincher was down the hall, and David Lynch was walking around, and Michel Gondry would come over from France to do a video. And we’d all be at the coffee shop at Propaganda talking shop. It was pretty f–king cool.”

Both directors now have films coming out: Fincher’s The Social Network is out in the UK on October 15th whilst Romanek’s Never Let Me Go is out on January 11th over here.

* UPDATE 11/10/10: Effects house A52 have put the Henley sequence online

> David Fincher at the IMDb
>More photos of the filming at Henley
> Find out more about Henley at Wikipedia

Categories
Trailers

Trailer: The Social Network

This is the first full length trailer for The Social Network, the upcoming film about the founding of Facebook.

Adapted from the 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding Of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich, it is directed by David Fincher and stars Jesse Eisenberg (as Mark Zuckerberg), Justin Timberlake (as Sean Parker) and Andrew Garfield (as Eduardo Saverin).

The film will be released in the US on October 1st and in the UK on October 15th.