Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

True Grit

Posted by sean On February - 11 - 2011

He may be half-blind and drunk, but the Dude still has perfect aim.

I’m not a fan of Westerns. Growing up, I often caught bits and pieces of films and shows set in the Old West whenever my dad was watching them, and never did I develop any interest. Hot, barren deserts and rough-riding cowboys held little of my short attention span as a child when juxtaposed with my DVD collection of action, sci-fi, and fantasy. As I got older, I avoided Westerns at all costs, even when I developed a passion for learning about film. The slow, boring impression instilled in me kept me from ever wanting to see classics like Sergio Leone’s films and any others crafted in the same gritty vein, and even to this day, I can count with one hand how many Westerns I’ve seen in their entirety. Yet because of this limited contact with the Western genre, True Grit surprised me so much. As a fan of the last collaboration between Jeff Bridges and the Coen’s in The Big Lebowski and an appreciator of the brothers’ crisp, gritty cinematic style in their darker films like No Country for Old Men, I decided to give True Grit a chance. What I witnessed was a film that not only anyone and everyone should see, especially Western-naysayers, but one that also defies the contemporary notion that remakes are crap riding on the name of a superior predecessor.

The Coen brothers took a big risk in remaking what is considered to be a Western classic that gave John Wayne his only Oscar. The film follows fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) in a blood hunt for her father’s killer, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), and after purchasing the services of U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), they trek into the wilderness with Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) tagging along. The moment they enter the wild, the Coen brothers make it clear that the frontier is not some light-hearted place of adventure. Taking the “Unforgiven” approach, they dismantle whatever ideas you have of the West by turning it into a cold-hearted terrain that will never acknowledge your existence should you be unfortunate enough to perish out there. The best example of this is when Cogburn doesn’t bother seeking help for an injured man because there isn’t any.

Good and evil is another concept that the Coens place in the gray area. Cogburn isn’t some admirable, legendary lawman; he’s worn out, drunk, and just as eager to shoot somebody as the outlaws he’s put down. Not even the law is as concrete as Mattie believes. Despite her obsessive vendetta, she clings onto the principle of law and fairness as though she’s hanging off a ledge, and yet she rarely lets herself appear vulnerable to how cruel the world can be. On the other hand, the criminals aren’t completely sadistic and cutthroat. Chaney behaves like a child without guidance, and when something doesn’t go his way, he lashes out in the only way he knows how. Yes, he is bad, but it’s a small trait like this that allows the audience to connect a little, maybe even sympathize, with the so-called “villains.”

This reality of the genre is made even more profound by the cinematography, done by Roger Deakins (The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men). Each shot captures the coldness of the frontier with a sense of beauty and gloom thanks to the real locations that allow the actors to anchor themselves in. As for the performances, Jeff Bridges shines in the role that John Wayne called his own. He recites his dialogue with a gruff mumble that, while is sometimes hard to understand, carries how tattered and bitter he is. Matt Damon is decent as Leboeuf, a lawman who can’t help but show off his title, whether by his shiny badge or his loud spurs. He’s a bit animated at times when he’s debating with Mattie or Cogburn, but he balances that out with some humility, especially after surviving a run in with a few outlaws. However, it’s newcomer Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie who stands out the most. With the film telling her story and not Cogburn’s, Steinfeld seizes every chance she gets to dominate the screen as a girl with a strength and temperament beyond her years. She floors everyone she encounters with her stature and delivers her dialogue so sharply that you feel that Aaron Sorkin might have written her.

True Grit is more than just a great Western; it’s a great film. All of the pieces that went into it, from the thematic elements to the performances, worked perfectly together. In honor of Rooster Cogburn’s favorite drink, True Grit is a bottle of hard whiskey. It’s dark and unapologetic, but even if it’s not your cup of tea, you won’t regret the journey it takes you on.


The Town

Posted by sean On December - 20 - 2010

Ben Affleck and Jon Hamm have a lovely conversation about the Red Sox in an interrogation room.

Ben Affleck fooled us all. For the past decade, we’ve all made fun of his career choices after his critical success on Good Will Hunting, but he was just biding his time and learning how to craft a great film. With his second directorial outing after Gone Baby Gone, Affleck delivers a strong heist film in The Town, taking familiar tropes from the genre and injecting them with a heavy dose of adrenaline and carrying them out with amazing performances.

Affleck, pulling double-duty behind and in front of the camera, plays Doug MacRay, the leader of a band of thieves from Charlestown, an area in Boston riddled with poverty and armed robberies. He decides to turn his life around after falling for a bank manager, Claire Keesey, (Rebecca Hall) who he and his disguised crew took hostage during a job and then released. When his crew suspects that Claire can identify them to the FBI, Affleck keeps you drawn in not just with the action but also the quieter moments. Driven by the question of whether or not Claire will learn the truth, MacRay befriends her to assess the situation but finds himself caught up with her vulnerability and innocence. The tension thickens in one scene when the two have lunch and MacRay’s trigger-happy friend (played by Jeremy Renner) shows up. You feel MacRay’s anxiety increase due to his friend’s volatile nature and his tattoo that Claire could recognize from the crime. In other parts, Affleck uses what he inherited from the directors he’s worked with to craft gripping scenes like shootouts and car chases through the labyrinth alleys of Boston. Films like Takers or the Bourne movies use choppy editing and the shaky cam to the point of creating blurs, but Affleck keeps the camera tight on the action without distorting the image with epileptic shaking to look more intense.

In front of the camera, Affleck pulls off a great portrayal as MacRay, a character conflicted with loyalties and personal issues. Even though he’s a criminal, his charm and rough upbringing allow you to understand his situation. Rebecca Hall carries a naive disposition as Claire while being deeply traumatized by her hostage experience, delivering both very well. Her own personality mixed with Affleck’s feels genuine and you honestly want things to work out for them. Backing up Affleck as his best friend, Jeremy Renner plays James Coughlin, matching the level of talent he displayed in The Hurt Locker. He’s dangerous, unpredictable, and always itching to pull the trigger on someone, and you’re never at ease when he’s onscreen even when he’s unarmed. Breathing down the their necks is FBI agent Adam Frawley, played by Jon Hamm, who brings much of his Don Draper persona with a no-bullshit prowess in hunting down the thieves. With the law backing him up, Hamm is just as ruthless and unswerving as the criminals by using underhanded tactics in his pursuit. He’s not a corrupt cop, but when juxtaposed with Affleck’s Doug, Hamm’s character is not someone you empathize with because of his lack of depth. In fact, nothing is given to Hamm, leaving him as more of a force of justice than a complex character audiences can connect with.

In our rating of One Bourbon, one liquor, and one beer, The Town is an ice cold lager with a shot of whiskey for its amazing cast and action, and as Affleck’s second time in the director’s chair, it shows that he knows what goes into a film and can make it a gripping experience.

- Sean

Psychic (초능력자)

Posted by sean On December - 11 - 2010

“We should never have met,” Cho-in tells a bloodied Gyu-nam after putting him through hell.

Picture yourself with the power to control people just by looking at them. Now picture yourself meeting the only person you can’t control and going bat-shit insane over it. Choneung-Ryukja (Psychic, or sometimes as Haunters) is a Korean film about a battle between two men that delivers a psychological thrill-ride that eventually wanes by trying too hard to be an action movie.

The film focuses on Cho-in, who has the ability to control people with his gaze, and Gyu-Nam, an honest man who’s the foil to Cho-in’s world of control. Gyu-nam is the obvious protagonist while the former is the antagonist, but what the film does is paint each character with shades of gray. Cho-in is introduced as a child suffering from a prosthetic leg and an abusive father, and after his mother tries to kill him to spare him from his “curse,” he lives on his own, surviving off money he steals from small shops. This opens with a sympathetic view of his character that quickly gets overwhelmed by his willingness to kill anyone who gets in his way. This leads to his confrontation and subsequent fight with Gyu-nam when he tries to rob the pawn shop he works in, resulting in the death of his boss. What follows is a cat-and-mouse chase between the two as Gyu-nam seeks revenge, but as noble as his intentions are, the film constantly questions whether or not he should continue his pursuit. As one of his friends says in the film, it’s “[not so much] about fighting the man but the world the man controls,” and the more he fights it, the more people get hurt. Cho-in repeatedly blames the lives he takes on Gyu-nam, and as the movie progresses, there comes a point where you feel that there’s a bit of truth in his claims.

The battle against Cho-in’s power also creates some great tension. Whenever Gyu-nam takes a step forward in defeating the psychic, he’s suddenly hurled three steps back either through the disbelief of the police or through the risking of another life, but this match isn’t completely one-sided. The further they push each other, the harder Cho-in forces the world to do his bidding at the cost of his self-control. The more people he manipulates, the less mentally stable he becomes as he starts robbing large banks with security cameras and killing law enforcements. This back-and-forth exchange should keep you on the edge during the entire movie, but where the film falters is in maintaining its stance as a thriller. Instead, the suspense breaks in a few parts in the first two acts through the goofiness of Gyu-nam’s foreign friends, but while that serves as forgivable comic-relief, it’s the final act that conflicts with what the film set out to be. It switches from psychological to action-based in a shoot-out and a chase between a luxury car and a rusty van suped-up with NOS. The final confrontation afterwards returns to the mindgames, but the out-of-place epilogue nearly cuts its foundation off at its knees by forcing it into a whole different genre altogether.

So far, there are no plans to release this abroad, but hopefully that will change down the road. Psychic has a great concept with a good execution that’s undermined by how indecisive the film ends up being. In our three liquor rating of One Bourbon, one liquor, and one beer, Psychic is a glass of rice liquor watered-down by the lack of direction in the third act and a poor ending.


127 Hours

Posted by ron On December - 8 - 2010

James Franco literally found himself between a rock and a hard place in 127 Hours

Modern Society predicates itself with life on the go. If you live by the philosophy of work hard, play hard then you understand this drive that human beings feel compelled to push the upper limits of existential existence through their physical, mental, social and/or creative outlets. Within rock climbers and great outdoorsman, weekends engage upon a carefree lifestyle that is beholden to none. It is a life that is enjoyed by an elite class of people who aren’t rich or poor but tThe enjoyment comes from the immediate gratification of accomplishing something that requires mental fortitude and ego of surpassing their own limitations.

However, what happens when anyone hits a wall in the quest for improvement? Human beings universally begin to re-examine their whole life and scrutinize every facet of every choice ever made because no one likes being stuck in one place for a long time. Aron Ralston’s story of 127 Hours begun when he got his arm caught in between a rock and a hard place. The events priors were formalities. The examination of his entire life transformed a physical test of endurance into a delirious metaphysical journey of consequences that epitomized the beauty and power of Danny Boyle’s filmmaking. The linear components of the story didn’t leave an impression but the places Ralston’s mind traveled when his body was helplessly stuck.

Driven by the raw charisma and acting ability of James Franco, he is as convincing as a reckless young, seemingly invincible man who would be beholden to none. Franco drove this film, as it was a one-man show for the most part. While the film doesn’t delve too deeply into Aron’s relationship with his family but he questions his decision to leave a girl in his life. As his dreams merge together and grow more abstract, his emotions are laid bare as his body begins to waste away in the desert. Abstraction never took control of the story as the video camera, water supply, and other elements were used to remind the audience that time continued to tick on.

The film was relentless in reminding the audience that Aron was alone in a vast area. It emphasized that there is no hope of being saved by someone else. The rock that pinned Aron’s arm didn’t have as much character as the shark in JAWS or any other force of nature but it was just as potent a trap that had been waiting since time began to trap him.

Boyle did not hesitate to graphically describe every thing Bryan had to do in order to free himself. It’s beyond a test that most mortal men can pass. By the end of Aron’s ordeal, it’s a release and the audience felt that rush of being free again. Once again, Boyle’s ability to put the audience in a very disturbing situation and have to come out on the other end in order to move forward is unparalleled among today’s directors.

Bear Grylls can eat his heart out. This was a story about the ultimate sacrifice to survive but also about moving forward. The bottom line is, its better to be scarred and moving forward in life than staying in one place and looking back.

In my three liquor rating scale of One Bourbon, One Scotch, and one beer I rated 127 Hours a fine Scotch with a nasty kick but a lingering memory of strength having persevered the unconquerable.



Posted by sean On October - 22 - 2010

Matt Damon has a lot on his mind in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter

What happens to us when we die?  That may not be something we all think about, but it’s apparently on Clint Eastwood’s mind.  Hereafter follows three characters affected by death in a Crash-like narrative, but it fails to pull at any emotional strings with arcs that were too lifeless even for a movie about death.

Eastwood’s direction provides some interesting cinematography with the world filtered through a gloomy window for much of the film, but beyond that, his skill as a director falters.  Each of the three storylines never progress smoothly as they intercut with each other like puzzle pieces that don’t fit, but this is also at the fault of Peter Morgan, writer of The Queen, Frost/Nixon.  He didn’t write characters that the audience could invest in for two hours, and Eastwood didn’t do anything to fix this.

The film spends so much time trying to explain the afterlife and ground it in reality that the emotional connection it strived for is completely lost.  Instead of debating the existence of an afterlife, the film beats the audience over the head with the certainty of heaven.  One scene even has a doctor saying her medical records “prove” there’s an afterlife.  How, the film never goes into, but it repeatedly tries to argue this when there’s no argument to make.

Surrounding this is a look into the tainted lives of people after their brief encounters with death and filling these roles are some of the stalest performances in a drama.  Cécile De France wanders around France like a hollow stick figure as Marie LeLay, a woman who has a near-death experience during a tsunami.  As a tough political journalist, she’s quick to abandon her job in search of answers to her experience and does so in the most passive manner possible.   Matt Damon, in a monotone role, plays George Lonegan, a psychic who refuses to speak to the dead for others.  He repeatedly insists his ability is a curse and wants a normal life away from it, but he never shows any fear and anger when he does do it.  Damon never feels present in his scenes, and every time he says “it’s not a gift, it’s a curse,” you want to call “bullshit.”  Frankie and George McLaren play twin brothers with one getting hit by a car and the other ending up in foster care.  The surviving twin tries to cope, and he does so by stalking the streets of London like a zombie searching for psychics to feed his need for closure.  McLaren sheds the occasionally tear or two, but he rarely shows any capacity of human emotion even when he’s standing over his brother’s body.  Makes you wonder if Eastwood casted him and his brother just because they’re twins.

Eastwood’s take on the afterlife leaves you neither convinced, intrigued, nor caring.  You can suspend disbelief in the supernatural, but you still have to live with the flat acting from the leads.  The film leaves such a bland aftertaste and crushes your heart only because Eastwood, Morgan, and some of the actors are capable of so much more, and it’s a damn shame to see them sell themselves short.

In our three liquor rating of One Bourbon, one liquor, and one beer the Hereafter rated a flat Beer.


The Devil’s Backbone

Posted by ron On October - 15 - 2010

Cronos, Mimic, Blade II, Hellboy, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army highlights a healthy body of work by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. A master storyteller who mixes bizarre visual language with desperate characters caught in a maelstrom of danger. It’s this fragile emotional sense of loss conveyed by these isolated characters at their most vulnerable moments that gives Del Toro’s films meaning and transcends all language barriers.

Much like its successor Pan’s Labyrinth, the characters were swept up in the middle of the Spanish Civil War in The Devil’s Backbone. A naïve boy named Carlos was given sanctuary in an orphanage haunted by a dark secret. Like Carlos, the audience was isolated from what was going on in the orphanage. What appeared to be an institution with good intentions harbored something evil. A giant defused bomb served as an ominous metaphor that was symbolic of the infidelity, murder, and hidden treasure subplots. More than just a poltergeist, this Spanish film had a lot of rich subtext to its story. It was as much a coming of age story as it was a horror film.

As a brilliant storyteller, Del Toro slowly but surely mixed all the ingredients to a steady boil. At a very young age, Carlos was left in the care of strangers. He was forced to adjust to his new existence. As the new kid on the block, he had to earn his place amongst the other orphans. His interactions with the other characters revealed pieces to the puzzle. What happened to the previous occupant of bed #12? As Carlos delved deeper into the mystery of Santi, it became clear the threat within the Orphanage exceeded the dangers that it was supposed to shelter him from.

The Devil’s Backbone didn’t rely on jump scares but the uncomfortable feeling of being alone and vulnerable. The film was a play on what we don’t understand and what we would rather believe. It didn’t have to rely on the look of the apparition itself because the suspense was generated with care. The horror was in knowing something awful was going to happen but not knowing exactly when. It’s this off balance feeling of terror where the film’s effectiveness was instrumental.

When the story concluded, every character paid the consequences for their involvement as the overlapping storylines drew to a close. No evil was left unpunished and some things cannot be left behind.

In my three liquor grading scale of One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, the Devil’s Backbone rated as a very rich dark beer during the fall as the October nights grow closer towards Halloween.



Posted by ron On October - 2 - 2010

Monster chasing is definitely not recommended in the Lonely Planet guide.

If modern journalism has taught us anything, reckless professionals will foolishly do anything for a buck to get a story that will piss people off. Like an episode of storm chasers, Monsters followed a photojournalist and his employer’s daughter across a quarantined part of Mexico. What they discovered was something to behold in awe for 10 minutes but it was not enough to maintain an interest in nearly two hours of insubstantial dialogue. In a film entitled, Monsters the audience would be led to believe there are creatures to see in this movie. Instead, this film resembled a zoo ride that passed by an empty cage covered with beautiful shrubbery.

The film began by teasing the audience with severely damaged skyscrapers within a Central American city. Contrary to the residents in District 9, the citizens seem comfortable with enormous ten-story squid like creatures roaming around killing citizens, damaging property, and redirecting traffic on a daily basis. That might seem far fetched even for a extraterrestrial force of nature but even more ridiculous was a journalist paid $50,000 to take a photograph of children victimized by the beasts. Considering the exchange rate, wouldn’t a billionaire news mogul pay 5,000 Mexicans $5 each to get snap shots of such a giant monster? Never mind, any global satellite using google maps might get you a photograph for free. Well this misallocation of finances might be one reason why the newspaper business is in such financial distress.

Without the finances to center the movie around the monsters, the movie quickly became a travel ad for the beautiful Mexican countryside. Our brave photojournalist has an ex-wife and kid. His boss’s single daughter was a winner from the genetic lottery of super models. Every encounter with the Mexican people who are stuck within this quarantined area was a positive experience. Even hired armed mercenaries seemed nonchalant protecting a couple of gringos from a threat that could easily wipe them all off the planet.

Naturally, our main characters reached the US-Mexico border alive. Apparently, the US government can’t seem to erect walls big enough to keep gigantic Illegal aliens outside of the country. The viewer saw the only American looters vs none in Mexico. By the time the money shot for the close encounter arrived, the film ceased to have any interest at all. It seemed even more implausible that the characters romantically bonded through this extremely dangerous experience of monster chasing throughout Mexico.

Stingy CGI, stale characters, and a wimper of an ending forced me to rate Monsters a warm flat beer in my never ending homage to George Thorogood’s One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.


Night of the Living Dead

Posted by ron On October - 2 - 2010

Duane Jones played the last man with a brain, literally.

After more than 40 years and thousands of movie reviews later, Night of the Living Dead continues to inspire and recycle horror fans from one generation to the next. So much has been written about this 1968 classic, any movie critic would be severely challenged to say anything that hasn’t been said before. However, this isn’t a review to challenge movie critics but rather to compliment its enjoyment for fans and critics alike. 

With the brand of visceral cruelty that modern horror films seem to favor, it’s hard to believe that in 1968 teenagers were disturbed by the violence in Night of the Living Dead. Even by today’s standards of a PG-13 rating, the method by which the violence in this film was shot seemed amateurish except for the fact that any female character slapped by a man would eventually have papers served by the end credits. Yet, this film still has some revolutionary elements today. 

Some 40+ years later horror films still haven’t really warmed up to an African American lead or minority protagonists in general. Duane Jones played such a straight arrow that any man could relate to him. As Ben he finds himself in a situation that he doesn’t understand. Ben knew he had to keep his wits about him in order to survive. Audiences who rooted for him against the overwhelming odds, felt the ending was an agitating cruel twist of fate. Jones commanded the big screen when he described the gruesome sight of body parts torn apart as he drove a truck through a crowd of zombies. At that point, the film transcended racial differences because any audience can relate to the physical and psychological struggle. Never mind Jack Johnson’s coined phrase, “the great white hope.” Ben was the America’s last hope for sanity in an insane world plagued by zombies.

Night of the Living Dead never relied solely on jump scares. The slow drawn out build of suspense was its bread and butter. Any audience was aware of what was coming because a majority of the shots placed the unaware victim in the foreground with the infectious zombie horde slowly advancing into overwhelming numbers. The pacing was so drawn out that today it might require some patience and restraint not to scream out “run goddam it”. Still the film had a design where every encounter with the undead had a subtle, calculated build up that almost caught one slightly off guard. A few zombies might not seem formidable but a claustrophobic climax with a relentless horde presented a different effect. 

Romero’s ground breaking film might never have the same theatre value with ticket prices far from the 1968 prices. However, the orchestra soundtrack will always continue to delight anyone hosting friends in their home with entertainment centres and cozy couches. Night of the Living Dead will always be the perfect conversation starter for all ages of horror fans alike because its the beginning of many good things to come.

In my homage to George Thorogood’s one bourbon, one Scotch, and one beer I rate Night of the Living Dead as a cozy bourbon on a cool autumn October evening with friends. 


Never Let Me Go

Posted by ron On October - 1 - 2010

Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Kiera Knightly caught in a love triangle that none have much time to contemplate the meaning of emotions.

With no parents or idea whom she’s modeled after, Kathy H played by the wonderfully talented Carey Mulligan knew nothing of herself or the world around her besides what she’s taught to act and think at Hailsham, a regimented boarding school for special children. She had roughly 31 years to become self aware and process all the things humans take for granted before she would be harvested like cattle.

Never Let Me Go was a rarity in film. It’s pure science fiction. There were no plot twists to blindside you. No expensive CGI or elaborate action sequences. Instead the film challenged the audience with how much of it was grounded in reality.

If you had a very brief life span without the ability to reproduce, how would you go about it without anyone teaching you? Hailsham students wouldn’t have much time to comprehend or to even experience love. Therefore true love becomes a very rare and sacred for the children of Hailsham. The direction and acting was effective in differentiating sex from love. Sex is something to experience and enjoy in the moment. Love is something you can never forget or let go. The viewer understood the importance of love through Kathy’s memories. The audience understood her first memory of Tommy, the importance of his gift to her, and her stunning awareness beyond her years. Tommy played by Andrew Garfield had a rare gift. His art carried a edge of vulnerable rage that even he couldn’t explain. How could he? He had no parents to explain his gifts but Kathy innately understood him. To complete this love triangle, Kathy had a rival and a best friend in Ruth played by Kiera Knightly. Love can be also painful as Ruth picked up on Kathy’s interest and went out of her way to keep the two apart. They remain apart during much of their young adult life. The naive interplay between the characters didn’t come off as contrived but delicate. Truth is, no matter how much time one has on the planet, you can never forget the one you love. Love is the connection between our soul and our physical existence. It stays with you till your last second of life and that is what is profound about the distance covered in Never Let Me Go.

The cinematography captured the sense of time in the film. When the trio are children, every scene took place in the Spring and Summer. As adults, the Fall and the Winter harvest foreshadowed that their life spans were growing shorter and shorter.

Mortality is a simple concept in life but what made this film so hard to digest was how hard it was to hold onto so many of the good things in life in such a short period of time. By the end, the viewer found him or herself bargaining for more time to get to know these characters. Was there an out? Why not Escape?

The answer simply put, these characters couldn’t escape what they were born to be from the start. They were never given any choice but love was the only thing they could aspire to have in their lives. They were encouraged or raised to be anything else. Its their naivety that made the audience uncomfortable to sit through the screening.

Heartbreaking, profound, and wonderfully executed, I rated Never Let Me Go as a well aged Scotch single malt in my never ending homage to George Thorogood’s One Bourbon, One scotch, and one beer.


The Social Network

Posted by ron On September - 29 - 2010

Within a Harvard dorm, two college friends will embark on a journey that will ultimately define their relationship and lead to a discovery worth billions.

How much equity is in popularity contests? Apparently, the answer is in the neighborhood of 15 billion. The Social Network was a snarky dialogue driven film allegedly based on the two principle co-founders of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. When Zuckerberg’s jealous rage and obsession with college fraternities got out of control, academic probation led to the creation of Facebook, a networking website that later established Zuckerberg as the world’s youngest billionaire. Unfortunately, his ascension wasn’t without a few casualties in friendship. Zuckerberg may have redefined networking but in the process alienated every one around him including his best friend, Eduardo Saverin.

Directed by David Fincher, the characters in the Social Network were reduced to personalities within one long internalized dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin. The seamless dialogue was delivered so that words flowed from one person to the next as if one character finished the other person’s thought. Jesse Eisenberg epitomized Zuckerberg’s one track mind and his propensity to act without fear of consequence. He was every bit as convincing as a hopelessly jaded Jewish kid whose explosive insecurities needlessly damaged his relationships. It was hard to empathize with Zuckerberg. He wanted to be sociable. He just wasn’t any good at it. Eisenberg was more than effective at making that point. Perhaps not every thing in life such as popularity can or should be rationalized. Andrew Garfield played the film’s protagonist, suave ambitious business oriented co-founder Eduardo Saverin. It’s extremely difficult to believe what really happened to Saverin and Zuckerberg’s friendship. Garfield depicted Saverin with naive loving nature for his friend, so much that it ultimately was his downfall. Can the viewer buy that he was this naive the entire time? Difficult to say. It was Saverin’s equation that served as Facebook’s search engine. Unlike Zuckerberg, Saverin believed in the idea of beating the odds in life with the terms placed upon them. He jumped into the monotonous games of sororities. Saverin also had something Zuckerberg desired, money. Enter the flamboyant and opportunistic Sean Parker played by Justin Timberlake. No stretch of the imagination, Timberlake played a rock star. He tipped the scales in the favor of leaving the East Coast with the powerful seductive financial strategy: get rich now. Only problem, hedge funds required Zuckerberg to do something very underhanded. The movie needed no visual aids for the ensuing blood bath of scathing insults. By the end of the settlement, neither Zuckerberg nor Saverin could look at each other after all the emotional damage they inflicted upon each other.

Director David Fincher’s direction, camerawork, and Trent Reznor’s incredible soundtrack encapsulated this fantastical story from the cold Harvard dorms to the warmth of the California sunshine that ultimately ended in the cold unfeeling glass room for the settlement. It was a seductive, powerful fairytale and yet, by the end the audience almost felt betrayed by an unfulfilled promise that left one wanting more. What was the real motivation behind Facebook? It’s up to you to decide.

In my never ending tribute to George Thorogood’s One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One beer I am giving the Social Network a very satisfying bourbon because the intelligent aggressive dialogue, the precision and execution by the actors, and the flawless direction to captivate this bizarre tale of one young man’s ride to billions.



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Thoughts on Cinema is dedicated to film reviews. An uncompromising opinion on the intellectual, artistic, and entertainment value to the consumer. With rising ticket prices, we dedicate ourselves to present to you content regarding what you should or should not be viewing. -Ronald H. Pollock Founder and Editor in Chief



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