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Monday, 27 December 2010

The New Socialism


Have you ever wondered what a collaboration between all your favourite creative people would look and sound like? To be honest I had not - it's such an improbable event, the chances of such a thing happening are so remote, that it's not even worth thinking about...

(Roll VT)

I am sitting in the superb Grosvenor Cinema in Glasgow's West End about to enjoy the latest offering from David Fincher, The Social Network. I knew that it was scripted by Aaron Sorkin - he of West Wing fame - either one is a strong recommendation on its own, but both together bodes very well indeed, I am anticipating eagerly. Trigger Street Productions - ah, an unexpected bonus, my favourite actor of the 90's Kevin Spacey (Glengarry Glen Ross (92), Swimming With Sharks (94), Se7en (95), Usual Suspects (95), LA Confidential (97), American Beauty (99) - an incomparable body of work in such a short period) has produced, truly a stamp of quality.

Even now a full house has not even entered my head, and then the opening bars of the soundtrack creep from the speakers as the camera tracks up the stairs, only the first handful of notes are required, it's only Trent Reznor who's written the soundtrack, prophet of an alternative generation and my touchstone for musical inspiration. Right from the opening lines you have to run to keep up. Sorkin's dialog is as snappy and intelligent as the West Wing or Studio 60 ever were, it's nasty, smug, angry when it needs to be, but always, always, very, very clever. Who do you pick to write a script about a 'computer genius'? A scriptwriting genius of course.

The central performances are all good, Jesse Eisenberg in particular as the anti-hero Zuckerberg, excellently portrays a detached and somewhat bemused persona that I would imagine most computer 'geniuses' have. The protagonists all have their faults and none of the characters elicited any sympathy from me. That's usually my cue to switch off, but The Social Network transcends the characters and the plot, which is largely irrelevant in the sense that we all know how the story ends (to this point at least). But the script holds everything together and I found it impossible to take my eyes off the screen. On paper this is a turkey, a movie about an Internet billionaire and the contractual and legal fog that surrounded his success? It could not be a better example of what true genius can deliver to the screen. As a child, like most children, I used to think that the actors did all the work, and I wondered who all the other people in the credits were - if ever there was a lesson in how wrong that childish view is it in the team that brought us The Social Network.

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