The Post: A film review

unnamedI saw The Post last night at a packed theatre near Boston.  I don’t go to the cinema for a picture show very often given my schedule, but when I do, I try to be as selective as possible. I really couldn’t pass up a film about the Washington Post and the Pentagon Papers.  I’m old enough to remember the Vietnam War and nightly news coverage.  And like most of the other baby boomers in the audience, I have fond memories of reading the newspaper.  In my hometown, there were two major newspapers; one delivered in the morning and the other in the evening; my family subscribed to both.  As a youth, I was even a paperboy for a few years with my own route in the neighborhood where I lived. I delivered the newspaper on my bicycle and in a convertible MG midget when I was old enough to drive.  I remember there always being someone reading the newspaper in the house and there being pages strewn on the couch and coffee table as kind of permanent fixtures.

The film plot was fairly straightforward.  The New York Times had just published a series of articles from a leaked classified study commissioned by the U.S. government on the U.S. role in Indochina from World War II to the late ’60s. I believe Bob McNamara was its principal author.  Stunningly, the study concluded that the chances of winning the Vietnam War were next to nothing. Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the document to the Times happened to be a friend of a Post employee played by Bob Odenkirk, of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad fame.  He obtained the documents from Ellsberg after the Times had been hit with a court injunction on national security grounds to stop publishing the leaks from the study.  The Post, then owned by Cathyrn Graham, played by Meryl Streep, had to decide whether to publish portions of the papers they had obtained from Ellsberg, during this injunction period knowing it would be in violation of the law.  I won’t tell you whether they did or not – you’ll have to see the film to find out, but I will say there was a lot of drama around what to do, complicated by the fact that the Washington Post was in the process of becoming a publically traded entity, to try to become a nationally viable newspaper.

The acting was serviceable in all respects; even understated.  No character dominated the action or stood out as the star.  Meryl Streep probably captured Cathyrn Graham exactly as she was, somewhat overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking over a newspaper that had been in her husband’s family for years, but courageous particularly in the face of the male-dominated newspaper business. Though she was depicted as more of a socialite, by the end of the movie, she had evolved into a significant feminist influence. Tom Hanks, who played the editor Ben Bradlee, was an important force and one who Graham clearly trusted.  Their on-screen chemistry was not magical, but appropriate for an editor-owner relationship.

My quibble with the film was the shots of protests and other street scenes.  I did not get the feeling of the ’70s which seemed inauthentic and staged.  The hippies were too clean.  The smokers looked like they had not yet learned how to smoke.  The cars were not representative of what one might have seen on the streets at that time – like the hippies, too clean; straight out of central casting.

What makes the film compelling is not the acting or the cinematography but the subject matter.  Just as then, freedom of speech is under assault by an authoritarian President who is not fit for office.  Trump’s endless attacks on the press are concerning.  He has been trying to bring down the press because he believes it provides too many checks on his power.  He fears reporters and authors, not to mention the special prosecutor, have gotten too close to exposing his misdeeds and possible crimes during the campaign and as President.  He lashes out with the phrase “fake news” anytime something is published about him that he doesn’t like.  He has repeatedly called reporters awful people; he has called the Times the “failing” New York Times even though it is thriving; he just threatened lawsuits against an author and publisher for an unflattering book about himself and his presidency.  And his threat to strengthen libel laws is clearly an attempt to silence his critics.  His dictatorial style cannot be tolerated, and our free press must continue to call him out and not be intimidated.  He may have bullied his way into the presidency, but now he must function within a constitutional democracy with checks and balances. The Supreme Court upheld the power of the first amendment, ruling in favor of the press publishing the Pentagon Papers which ultimately led to the end of the Vietnam War and the Nixon presidency.  Trump, are you listening?

Jason Bourne Again


Jason Bourne still doesn’t know who he is, but he knows more about himself than he did at the conclusion of the last film.  Unfortunately, the fifth film didn’t quite live up to the first three.  I don’t include the fourth film because Damon wasn’t in it and I didn’t see it.

As you probably know, Damon plays Jason Bourne, AKA David Webb, who was a CIA operative gone rogue after failing to successfully carry out an earlier mission.  In the last film, Pamela Landy, a covert operations specialist tasked with capturing Bourne ended up exposing corrupt agency leadership and operations that had seriously gone afoul of the law.  In Jason Bourne, the new film, Heather Lee, played by Alicia Vikander, assumes the role of bringing in Bourne after a CIA computer hack exposes his whereabouts. The hack introduces an old character, former CIA agent Nicki Parsons, who had gone rogue to help Bourne elude captors in a previous film.  In her reprised role as a hacker, she wants to obtain and leak the special operations files that include a new endeavor even more disturbing than Treadstone.  However, the leak is thwarted and the rest of the movie plot focuses on the pursuit of Bourne.

One of the problems with the film was Vikander in the role of Heather Lee.  She came off as being an ambitious Millenial without any clear ethical standards.  She may have turned on the CIA, but it appeared she played her cards close to the vest.  It is not obvious whether she was trying to help Bourne or simply further her own career, though she did do him a solid (saved his life) by taking out the assassination happy CIA Director played by the elder Tommy Lee Jones.  While this would appear to be evidence that she was on Bourne’s side, in the end, she told another operative that she would bring Bourne in our have him taken down, which Bourne had cleverly recorded and used as justification for not turning himself in and working with the CIA, that Heather Lee had claimed was now free of all the corrupt agents and assets.  I’m not saying Vikander isn’t a good actress, but I am saying that I did not like the ambivalence of her character.  It was as if she too were a rogue agent who like Bourne had lost her memory.  The expression on her face throughout was one of stoicism and regret.

Like Heather Lee, Jason Bourne is as stoic as ever owing to his amnesia but continues to piece together more about his life as he obtains information little by little.  And while it might be easy to sympathize with the Jason Bourne character, one cannot overlook the fact that he is a trained assassin and has killed countless people, most in self-defense, and seems to have no regrets.  He also doesn’t seem to care about the ethics or lack of them of the various covert operations of which he had been associated and the evil ones that he now knows are in the works.  His modus operandi is self-preservation, not freedom, ethics, or patriotism.  And as such, it seems that Heather Lee and Jason Bourne are cut from the same cloth and are equally sketchy but more likable the rest of the CIA characters in the film.

Every Bourne flick has a memorable car chase and this latest film was no exception except that the action was not nearly as dramatic or suspenseful as the first three films.  Ok, the armored car driven by a rogue asset rolling over and smashing into cars was cool, but the black Dodge Challenger that Bourne appropriates can barely be seen in the night shots.  And besides, I’d rather have seen him in another Mini or a Smart Car or a Las Vegas police cruiser.  The chase scenes are more like futuristic computer animations with quick scene shifts and odd camera angles that obscure the clarity of the action.  Also, the action takes place in several cities – London, Athens, DC, Berlin, Las Vegas and Reykjavik, but I did not feel the sense of place as in previous films.  There are several shots of buildings and streets that only gave me the vague impression of place.  The filmmakers did the best job with Las Vegas, showing the skyline, and taking the moviegoer along on the car chase scenes through the strip.

The film was just ok.  It is not going to win any awards or get the ravest of reviews, but it is worth going to see on the big screen.  And yes, the film ends where a 6th version could easily and logically begin.  Jason Bourne lives to be bourne again.

Best of 2012


Here’s a random list that came to mind over morning coffee.  I know I’ve left some stuff out, but it also occurred to me that I need to do several lists.  This one is mostly devoted to entertainment.  I plan to post a couple of political ones too, maybe a best and worst.  I might even do a top news items one too, though it’s sometimes difficult to separate news from politics.

Best Film:  Argo (reviewed here) and then probably Lincoln, but I didn’t see it.

Best Actor:  Alan Arkin in Argo

Best Indie Film:  Beasts of the Southern Wild.  See my review here.

Best Jazz Album:  Unity BandPat Metheny

Best Rock Album:  Clockwork Angels – Rush This one got them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is their best work in their 35+ year career.

Best Musical DVD: Orchestrion – Pat Metheny.  Fascinating.  I saw him perform this in concert in 2010, reviewed here.  My words did not do it justice, but do yourself a favor and buy the DVD.

Best Classical Album:  HarmonielehreShort Ride in a Fast Machine – John Adams

Best Book:  Drift – Rachel Maddow

Best Weekend Talk Show:  Up With Chris Hayes

Best TV Show: Top Gear UK

Best Concert: Yes – Boston (the only one I saw all year)

Best Wine: Santa Cristina Toscana IGT 2010.  Sublime wime and nicely priced.

Best Commercial:  Wax Vac with best actor going to the guy who stabs his ear with a Q-Tip and yells OUch.

Best electronic gadget: Kindle Paperwhite e-reader.  I plan to review it later, but will say that it meets my expectations, which are admittedly low and I’ve managed to nearly read one free book on the thing: Nostromo by Joseph Conrad.  The Paperwhite lovingly keeps track of my reading speed and tells me how long it will take me to finish a book and how much of it I’ve read.  I’m 91% through Nostromo and have 38 minutes to go.  But the book is a slow slog and I’ll be happy when I’m done.  I like Conrad, but don’t recommend Nostromo.  I’ve downloaded lots of other free classics including Moby Dick, which may take me 8 years to read and thankfully the battery charge is said to last 8 years…or maybe its 8 weeks, I forget.  I accidentally purchased The Complete Sherlock Holmes for $2.99 after downloading a free version earlierI had this coupon from Amazon for a free download from a selection of books including the aforementioned Sir Authur Conan Doyle masterpiece illustrated, but I somehow botched the instructions and wound up buying it instead.  Now I have two Complete Works.  I have tons of other books on my wish list but I can’t bring myself to knowingly buy a book when there are so many classics for free that I want to reread, or have never read.  One thing is sure, with my Paperwhite, I’ll be reading more in the coming year and that’s a good thing.


Skyfall Asleep Review

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I went with some of the nuclear family (thank you LPA) to see the latest James Bond movie Freefall, no, Skyfall, wait is that two words? Actually, I think it’s a proper noun in the movie, the name of a ranch or something on the Isle of Skye (I might have made this up) where Bond supposedly grew up, nothing to do with falling.  Or maybe to do with it, falling asleep that is, as one in our viewing party did.  Now the movie wasn’t boring.  I liked it ok, but it didn’t have quite the cool factor that I’ve come to expect in Bond films.  There weren’t many nifty gadgets except for the old sports mota (as the Brits say) with the machine gun headlights.  I mean my black and white e-reader would have been as impressive as any technogadget from the flick.  Star Trek gadgets from the original series would have been an improvement.  And the screenplay was just too serious.  Not campy enough for my taste.  And where was all the wry British humour?  No where, that’s where.

Daniel Craig is a good James Bond, but no Sean Connery or Roger Moore.  He could have been their stunt double in this one.  You know who he reminds me of – an older version of Matt Damon from the Bourne series, which, incidentally, I thought were much better movies than the three Bond films Daniel Craig starred in.  But there is something likeable about him.  He’s like the Rocky character who gets repeatedly knocked down but keeps getting up only because he’s suffered one too many head blows and doesn’t have the good sense to stay down.

Javier Bardem’s character, the rogue agent and villain in the movie should get the nod for best actor in the film, and even so, I found him oddly inauthentic.  And here’s why – he looked too much like F. Murray Abraham who played Amadeus Mozart in the film Amadeus.  Every time he appeared I said to myself, “I need more popcorn and hey, it’s Mozart”.  Bardem’s character also vaguely resembles Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes and from time to time I forgot I was in a James Bond film.

I only saw the movie a few days ago, but I’ve already fogotten a lot about it and that’s more of an indictment on my memory than the flick, so I’ll just say this:   it wasn’t the best of the lot – my favorite, by the way was the one with all the skiing, wait a a bunch of them had skiing – maybe it was the one On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, anyway, the other thing I remember about FreeFall was that I ran out of a lightly buttered and heavily salted popcorn right after the movie previews and was left with 92 ounces (for just 25 cents more) of diet Pepsi to sip on for the rest of the movie.  I was a little annoyed that I hadn’t ordered the matching tub.  A medium popcorn in a bag; what was I thinking?

The End.

Argo Review

You couldn’t make up this stuff.  Well, maybe Kurt Vonnegut could, but seriously folks, a low budget science fiction movie as cover for a CIA rescue plan in revolutionary Iran? No way.  Way!  It happened and Ben Affleck tells the story as actor and director brilliantly in his latest film, Argo!  And what a story.

Just to set it up, and don’t worry, I won’t tell you everything, Islamic militants storm the U.S. embassy (sound familiar) in Tehran in 1979.   Many Americans are held hostage, while 6 American staff workers manage to escape to the Canadian ambassador’s residence. Argo is the story of their rescue attempt.

So just how does one rescue 6 Americans who are in hiding from revolutionaries in Iran whose capture would mean certain torture and possible execution? Easy.  Send in a CIA agent posing as a Canadian filmmaker to smuggle them out as his production crew.  But does it work?  You’ll have to see the flick to find out.

Ben Affleck assembled an excellent cast for the film.  Alan Arkin deserves serious Oscar attention for his portrayal of a cranky, semi-retired movie producer. John Goodman plays the role of a likeable, and obscure B film make up artist.  Ben Affleck cast himself in the starring role as Tony Mendez, the CIA agent who cooked up the improbably ridiculous and brilliant rescue plan.  Bryan Cranston (Hal, from Malcolm in the Middle) plays Affleck’s CIA colleague.  The 6 embassy staff workers are all played by lesser known actors who certainly looked the part, and you’ll know what I mean at the end of the movie.  And do stay for all the credits; you will be rewarded for doing so.

For a suspenseful action thriller that had me holding my breath with a cupped hand over my mouth, the characters were surprisingly well-developed.  Each actor played his or her part as if playing the main character, as Affleck believes they should, adding depth and personality to their roles, something much easier to do in print than on film.

On the random observation front:

  • The extra large size of the eyeglasses the embassy workers wore annoyed me.  What was with that late 70’s to early 80’s style where the rims practically covered the entire face? I felt Affleck mocked the style just a little, or at least I hope he did.
  • Folks sure smoked up a storm in 1979, in offices and even on airliners.   How did any of us survive?
  • Argo was a science fiction script that was never actually made into a movie.  We get bits and pieces of the plot and it is so outrageously fantastical that it might have actually worked better as a comedy.  And you know what it reminded me of?  This:  Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout.  And if you know Kurt Vonnegut, you know Kilgore Trout.

Go see Argo.  It might not win an Oscar, but it should.  And I’ll say this – it may the best film I see all year; maybe the best you see too.  Cheers!

Beasts of the Southern Wild A Masterpiece

Jared Bowen, an arts and theater critic for Boston’s NPR Affiliate WGBH, highly recommended the film, Beasts of the Southern Wild.  Largely based on his review, I decided to go to the cinema to see it.  I’m not much of a moviegoer.  I might see two films a year.  Last year, I only saw The King’s Speech and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Beasts was the first movie I have seen this year, and wow, what a film.

I went with my daughter who is home from college for the summer.  She too had heard about it and wanted to go.  But here’s a warning:  it might not be the best father-daughter movie and you’ll know what I mean after you see it.  But then again it might be a great father-daughter movie.  The main characters are two first time actors – 6 year old Hushpuppy and her father Wink, who live on a tiny environmentally vulnerable island south of New Orleans they call the Bathtub that is nearly washed away by a Katrina like hurricane.  Hushpuppy, who sees her late mother in everything, including a lighthouse beacon, constructs her own fantasy world to cope with the devastation and poverty all around her reminiscent of Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

Hushpuppy creates the beasts by making a connection between a family hog and a rural myth the medicine lady told about prehistoric wild boars called aurochs trapped in the ice age who will take over the earth when the ice melts.  There is clearly a climate change metaphor at work here.  She tells the children in the community that they have to be strong to survive and learn how to take care of the weak and sweet people who need help.  Wink, the alcoholic father with a terminal medical condition also tries to toughen up his daughter and teach her survival skills. He shows her how to  catch a catfish in the swamp with one hand and whack it dead with the other and how to rip open a crab shell with her bare hands to get at the meat.

The film is a raw glimpse of rural swamp life that watches like a fictionalized post Katrina documentary with touches of magical realism.  There are no dramatic special effects, even though the aurochs come to life.  The acting is soulful and honest as if the characters are playing themselves.  Quvenshane Wallis, the 6 year old Hushpuppy, gives a performance that rivals Tatum O’Neil at the age of 10 in Paper MoonBeasts is not a fraudulent feel good Disney fantasy.  There’s no glossing over unpleasant aspects of life, no sanitized romanticized imagining of swamp life.  The lines, “don’t cry” are guaranteed to generate audience tears.  Though raw and dark, the film is uplifting and illustrates the value of love, self-reliance and community.

HBO Game Change Good But Fell Short

I had high expectations for HBO’s Game Change after seeing an interview with Julianne Moore on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I have to say I enjoyed the docudrama, but it lacked believability.  Now Julianne Moore looked and sounded like Sarah Palin, even eerily so, and much more so than Tina Fey.  And Ed Harris could easily be mistaken for McCain.  He had all the mannerisms and the crotchetiness down. Woody Harrelson nailed Steve Schmidt who I have seen a number of times on MSNBC in his role as a political analyst. However, as convincingly as the principles played their roles, there was something missing or flat about the production; it may have been the shallowness of the script or the sloppy mix of real and obviously fake footage.  I can’t put my finger on any one aspect. Having watched it all unfold during the 2008 campaign:  Palin’s introductory speech, the debates, the two interviews, McCain’s defense of Obama, and all the drama in between as captured by the media, the events are still fresh in my memory.  In short, the remake of reality in Game Change fell short.

Several observations are worth pointing out.  First, McCain was portrayed as a principled, likeable, moderate maverick war hero who had little to do with the GOP defeat.  The filmmakers seemed to place the blame squarely on everyone else:  on Palin, Schmidt, the vetting process, the Republican National Committee for not having raised enough money, and on the media. Second, McCain was portrayed as the only person with a moral compass. He resisted the temptation to go negative until it was too late, which I found, frankly, hard to believe of a seasoned politician. Campaign manager Schmidt came off as a ruthless operative.  In an unconvincingly emotional moment, the teary eyed, condescending speech writer (who I thought was actually going to burst out in laughter) confessed to Schmidt that she had not voted, that she couldn’t vote for Palin, she just couldn’t.  Behind the scenes, Palin seemed unglued, paranoid and deranged most of the time, and much more concerned about her reputation in Alaska and her family than the campaign.  I think the inner workings of the campaign were likely far more dynamic and the personalities infinitely more complex and interesting than portrayed on screen.

And finally Palin.  I’m not a Sarah Palin fan at all, but I think she would have played herself more convincingly, that is to say, I think she’s a better actress than Julianne Moore.  She is a natural entertainer with a flare for the dramatic, not unlike some talk show hosts on Fox, but less toxic than Beck who imploded, and Limbaugh who too has self-destructed.  Game Change captured some of Palin’s many faults as a candidate, but did not capture her charismatic nature.  While it fairly portrayed some of the events, I somehow think she got the short end of the stick.

Had Palin cooperated with the filmmakers, it might have been a different story.  And had she listened to McCain’s advice not to be lured by the radical right, the GOP might still be relevant and competitive today. I’m not saying she single handedly brought the party to its knees, but she has been a destructive voice in American political discourse and has helped to radicalize the GOP.  Turns out, stardom is intoxicating and a real game changer.

Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 2 not 2 Good

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the last of the flicks depicting the life and times of the fantasy world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and unfortunately one of the least appealing and weakest of the lot. Yes, it was true to the book. And yes, many of our favorite characters are back, but something just didn’t feel right. It may be the inherent weakness of the last book, a certain letdown that the thing must come to an end, and of course, how it ends. I won’t give away the plot, but if you are reading this review, I trust you’ve already read the book.

This is not to say I disliked the movie. It was pleasantly entertaining. It had a Disney-like feel good tone throughout. The audience even clapped at certain moments, for instance when Ron and Hermione kissed and when Bellatrix Lestrange is out dueled and finally killed. Come to think of it, there was  a lot of nerdyesque audience participation in the form of laughter, at very weak jokes, delivered awkwardly by the characters. I felt the humor to be out of place, and distracting, as were a few of the audience members. At one of the key moments when Harry is “killed”, somebody behind me was shaking a bag of popcorn.  I almost laughed. Another moviegoer dropped what sounded like a dumbbell, perhaps trying to add the special effects that were somewhat lackluster by the standards set in previous Harry Potter movies.

The major problem with the final HP installment was that it just wasn’t very interesting. It was really just about Harry, Ron and Hermione going around looking for and trying to destroy horcruxes. There was not much going on at Hogwarts, like it had been closed for the summer or for renovations.  There were no House competitions, no quidditch matches, and really not much mischief making either.  Harry and company even had to save a frightened and inept trio of dark arts idiots, Draco, Crabbe and Goyle.  The flick just didn’t feature enough dark elements to produce the suspense one associates with Harry Potter stories. Even Voldemort, and his pet snake nagini appeared tame and Snape, feeble and just plain lame. With all the feel good moments and the sappy happy ever after ending,  the thing should have been rated G.

Maybe the next generation of Harry Potter stories and movies will make the “final” installment a distant memory.

The King’s Worthy Speech

The King’s Speech is the best movie I’ve seen all year.  Ok, it’s the only film I’ve seen on the big screen this year and may be the last.  The truth is, I don’t much like going to the cinema anymore.  Paying a premium price to watch a flick on the big screen seems to me a dying form of entertainment with all the competition from movie channels, Netflix, Red Box and home theatre systems with Blu-Ray, HD and surround sound.  I’m surprised so many people continue to frequent the cineplexes of America given the bedbug infestations, skyrocketing prices at the box office and concessions and those terrifyingly loud movie previews that cannot be muted and shake the theater.  At home, I mute all commercials.

In the last few years, I’ve only been to the cinema a handful of times, and then mostly at the invitation of family members.  These are the movies I’ve seen in the last 2 years, some of which I’ve reviewed on this blog: SALT, The Secret in their Eyes, Sherlock Holmes, The Social NetworkStar Trek and Sweeney Todd. As you can see, I seem to favor flicks that begin with the letter S.

I’d rank The King’s Speech right up there as one of the best movies I’ve seen in years and certainly worthy of all the accolades it has received.  I hope it wins a few Oscars.  It has all the qualities I like in a movie:  a straight forward plot, superb acting, an all-star cast, a fantastic original screenplay by David Seidler with witty and intelligent dialogue and well-developed characters, among them David, the irresponsible socialite and heir to the throne of King George III, who relentlessly teases and bullies his younger brother Albert, the Duke of York.

The movie begins with the Duke of York, played by Colin Firth, known to the Royal family as Bertie, standing frozen in front of a microphone during a live radio broadcast at Wimbley Stadium. As we quickly surmise, Bertie, the man who would become King, has a debilitating stammer.  Despite numerous treatments, some bizarre like reading with a mouth full of marbles and smoking to relax the throat, the Duke continues to stutter.  In desperation, the Duke’s wife, the future Queen of England, played by Helena Bonham Carter, contacted a controversial speech therapist known for unorthodox methods.  The first meeting between the Duke and “Dr.” Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, ended abruptly after the Duke in disgust read Shakespeare into a vinyl recording machine.  He was forced to read loudly while listening to classical music on a set of headphones.   As a souvenir, Logue presented the recording to the Duke, who vowed never to return.  But return he did and for continued therapy on Logue’s terms, for example that he be allowed to address the Duke as Bertie, a term reserved only for members of the Royal family.  The movie focuses on the peculiar speech therapy sessions which often consisted of carefully orchestrated cursing,  dance steps and a song or two complemented by psychoanalysis to get to the root of the stammer.    In the process, the unlikely duo, divided by class, background (Logue is Australian) and purpose, become friends.

The acting is superb.  Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush deserve Oscar attention.  I agree with my daughter who thinks Jeffrey Rush should win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.  I’d also like to see Colin Firth get the nod for Best Actor and Helena Bonham Carter for Best Supporting Actress.

Whether the film is worthy of the Oscar for Best Picture is a question I can’t answer in good faith as I have not yet seen most of the films nominated, including two that I want to see most prior to the Academy Awards: Inception and True Grit.  I can say without hesitation, though, that The King’s Speech is better than The Social Network.

The Social Network

I finally got around to seeing The Social Network.  I don’t know how many people have seen the movie, but I would venture to guess far fewer than there are members of Facebook, once called The Facebook.  There were only about 20 movie goers in the theater on the Sunday evening I attended.  The truth of the matter is that The Social Network, the movie about the beginnings of Facebook, is just an ok flick.  Sure, it had good acting and smart dialogue. And I got a kick out of seeing Cambridge and Harvard Square on film because I’ve been there a million times but the movie might have been better as a documentary – even a mocumentary.  There were certainly some stereotypes of the Harvard community on exhibit from the nerdy socially inept beer drinking geeks, including the Facebook inventer, Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jessie Eisenberg, to the wealthy arrogant rowing twin fraternity brothers who may have made it to Harvard via privilege and legacy and not perfect SATs.  And the filmmaker takes a jab at the elitist secret Harvard “Final” clubs, not Finals clubs as Zuckerberg points out to his friend, Erica Albright, played by Rooney Mara, the girlfriend he lost; the one he never had, and the one for whom Facebook was launched. The same girl who tried to excuse herself from the date gone bad by saying that she needed to go study only to be told by Zuckerberg that she didn’t need to study because she goes to BU.  The same Mark Zuckerberg who is told by a young female lawyer that he is not an asshole, but just tries too hard to be one.

It’s odd to think of the origins of Facebook as a prank to get even for a rejection. In fact, that Facebook has any roots at all is a strange thought.  For me, Facebook has just always been around – kind of like TV and computers. That some Harvard geek invented or perhaps even “stole” it from some others at Harvard who had the idea first, but not the technical know how to create it is kind of a letdown.  It makes Facebook seem not so cool in the end.  And if you’ve seen the movie, you understand the reference to coolness. Maybe there was a time when Facebook was really cutting edge fresh and cool, but I think that time has long passed.

My favorite part of the movie came at the end when Zuckerberg friend requests Erica, the woman who started it all.  He just sits at the computer hitting refresh over and over again.