The Reel Deal: The Social Network

Remember when Gordon Gekko applauded 80’s excess in Oliver Stone’s classic, Wall Street, by concluding that “Greed is good?” It was the age of insider trading, junk bonds, deposit brokerage, and one nasty savings and loan disaster. More importantly, it was a time when fantastical riches could be achieved by successfully predicting the ups and downs of the stock market.

Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"

Today’s billionaires, however, don’t necessarily need to be greedy businessmen, stock brokers, or hedge fund managers. In fact, many are tech savvy whiz kids full of innovation and curiosity. They are Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, Jack Dorsey and the gang at Twitter, and most prominently, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.  

Recently, Forbes reported that Zuckerberg was America’s 35th wealthiest person, surpassing other Silicon Valley giants like Apple’s Steve Jobs, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and even discount broker, Charles Schwab. Not too shabby for a college dropout?

With over 500 million users, Facebook has become the most used social network in the world, allowing individuals to build profiles, play games, network and connect with friends, schoolmates, and business associates, and share personal thoughts, photos, and all sorts of activities online. With such clout and marketing potential, it should come as no surprise that Hollywood would seek to capitalize on such a phenomenon.

What is surprising, however, is the direction Hollywood chose to take the concept. It’s not a thriller or mystery a la The Net or War Games. Or an internet love story like You’ve Got Mail. No, Columbia Pictures decided to go the route of Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999), a nifty made-for-TV movie which details the rise of the home computer, the influence of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, their rivalry, and the formation of Apple and Microsoft. 

Directed by David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and based on Ben Mezrichâ’s The Accidental Billionaires, The Social Network focuses almost exclusively on Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), the founding of Facebook (2004), and the tumultuous events that followed. From the college days to the hot-or-not beta version called Facemash to the claim by fellow Harvard classmates, the Winklevoss twins, that Zuckerberg stole their idea. The film is an engaging and somewhat unflattering portrait of young ambition, betrayal, and in many ways, revenge. 

Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield

Right now, it’s getting a lot of “Likes” online. And it will be interesting to see how well The Social Network performs in its nationwide debut, October 1st. If successful, there may be a line of other projects ready to make their way to the celluloid. Could you imagine Trading MySpaces or Top Google?

In a bit of irony, Oliver Stone’s sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, opens this weekend just before The Social Network. A fitting exchange, considering today’s financial and technological climate. Times when Gordon Gekko would not be out of line to pronounce, “Geek is good.”

-Mark Sells, “The Reel Deal”

This Week’s Picks:

  • Never Let Me Go – In the same philosophical vane as Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep comes a fascinating story of three children created in a laboratory, without parents, and raised for the sole purpose of being organ donors to other human beings. Can these donors/children pursue happiness? Can they fall in love? Do they dare to dream? Based on the exquisite novel by Kazu Ishiguro (who also wrote Remains of the Day), Never Let Me Go is a poignant, reflective look at what it means to be human without political banter or science fiction convention. Beautifully directed by Mark Romanek, the film includes a pitch perfect cast – Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield.

 Jack Goes Boating – Philip Seymour Hoffman has done it all, portraying heroes, villains, outcasts, deviants, and social misfits. Along the way, he’s earned two Tony nominations for Broadway performances in “True West” and “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” Academy Award nominations for Doubt and Charlie Wilson’s War, and a Best Actor Oscar for Capote. Now, Hoffman turns to directing. And to no surprise, uses an Off-Broadway play for inspiration; namely, Robert Glaudini’s four character drama about two working class New York City couples moving in opposite directions. At times, a little stagey and familiar, Hoffman and the gang supplement the script with enough experience and credibility to keep things fresh and interesting. A memorable debut.

Film Event on the Radar:

  • Nowhere Boy with the Quarrymen – September 28th at the Boulder Theater. In 1956, a British rock n’ roll band was formed by John Lennon and several of his Quarry Bank High School mates. The band was called The Quarrymen and eventually added Paul McCartney and George Harrison to the mix before evolving into The Beatles. This is their story. The story of adolescence, friendship, big dreams, and rock n’ roll. A can’t miss event, the film presentation will be followed by a Q&A and a live concert by the original members of The Quarrymen!

IMPORTANT NOTE: A portion of the proceeds will go to those affected by the Fourmile Canyon Fire.

For tickets to Nowhere Boy, visit The Denver Film Society:

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