24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Social Network

'Devil's Double': When one actor takes on two roles in the same film

July 27, 2011 |  4:51 pm

Dd
Actor Dominic Cooper plays two roles in the new movie “The Devil’s Double”: Uday Hussein, the sadistic playboy son of Saddam Hussein, and Latif Yahia, whose resemblance to Uday landed him the unwanted job of his body double. Besides double vision, the movie may inspire a sense of déjà vu in viewers — after all, making an actor do double duty is a time-honored Hollywood tradition.

Often, the roles are twins: Hayley Mills played separated twins of divorced parents in Disney’s 1961 film “The Parent Trap,” while Margot Kidder took it to a whole new level as a woman shadowed by her psychotic former conjoined twin in Brian De Palma’s 1973 thriller “Sisters.” Jean-Claude Van Damme played twins who were separated when their parents died in 1991’s “Double Impact.” Jeremy Irons played twin gynecologists in 1988’s “Dead Ringers,” and thanks to digital face-replacement technology, Armie Hammer was able to portray the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler, in last year’s “The Social Network.”

Later this year, moviegoers will get to see Adam Sandler play twins — a male and female set — in “Jack and Jill.” Check out our double vision gallery to see more.

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— Mark Olsen

Photo: Dominic Cooper stars as Uday Hussein (left) and Latif Yahia (right) in the movie  "The Devil's Double."  Credit: Lionsgate


'Easy A' director Will Gluck in talks to adapt Ben Mezrich's new book 'Sex on the Moon'

March 23, 2011 |  3:35 pm

EasyA

EXCLUSIVE: Writer-director Will Gluck is currently putting finishing touches on his upcoming summer comedy "Friends with Benefits," a romantic comedy pairing Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as pals who attempt to add a new dimension to their relationship due out July 22. But he's already looking beyond that film to a new feature -- Gluck is in talks with Sony Pictures and its team from "The Social Network" to develop and direct author Ben Mezrich's new book "Sex on the Moon," according to sources close to the film who declined to be identified.

The project would cement a burgeoning relationship between the studio and Gluck, who was behind 2010's $8-million comedy "Easy A" starring Emma Stone that became a $74-million worldwide hit; Sony is also releasing "Friends With Benefits."

"Sex on the Moon" would be a bit of a departure for Gluck, who began his career in television. The project tracks the wild escapades of 25-year-old NASA intern Thad Roberts, who in an effort to impress a girl orchestrated a plan to steal lunar rocks from the Johnson Space Center and sell them on the Internet. Mezrich, who wrote "The Accidental Billionaires," the book Aaron Sorkin adapted for the Academy Award-nominated film "The Social Network," will debut "Sex on the Moon" on July 12.

The studio purchased the rights to the project earlier this year and will collaborate with the producers behind "The Social Network": Scott Rudin, Michael DeLuca, Dana Brunetti and executive producer Kevin Spacey.

To read more on Roberts adventures before to the debut of Mezrich's book, check out the Los Angeles Times' story from 2004 that chronicled his escapades.

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: "Easy A." Credit: Sony


'The Social Network' to 'Spider-Man': Does Andrew Garfield always play the victim?

January 26, 2011 |  3:48 pm

andrew garfield never let me go andrew garfield spider-man andrew garfield the social network
Poor Andrew Garfield.

No, we're not talking about his being shut out of the Oscar nominations for supporting actor for his role in "The Social Network," nor his losing out to Christian Bale at the Golden Globes. Rather, Garfield seems to be the go-to star for casting agents wanting beaten, broken underdogs cast out by a cruel societal, political or social pecking order -- not to mention that his stage credits include the male half of the famous star-crossed lovers in "Romeo & Juliet."

Andrew-garfield-social-network So when photos of new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield hit the, um, Web, adjectives like "tortured" or "damaged" were quick to surface. As 24 Frames' Steve Zeitchik pointed out, "It's dicey to read too much into one image, but there's something unmistakably shoegazing about the image -- perhaps because he actually seems to be gazing at his shoes -- and even a little anti-heroic."

For a quick refresher on Garfield's tortured on-screen past, click on the gallery at left. But fair warning: Spoilers await those not initiated with our new friendly neighborhood crime-fighter's resume.

-- Whitney Friedlander

Photos from left: Andrew Garfield in "Never Let Me Go," credit: Alex Bailey / Fox Searchlight; "Spider-Man," credit: John Schwartzman / Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. via Getty Images; and "The Social Network," credit: Merrick Morton / Columbia Tristar


'The Social Network' team links up for new movie

January 18, 2011 |  1:47 pm

Social
EXCLUSIVE: "The Social Network" has become one of the biggest hits of this film season. Now some of the key people behind it are coming together for a new movie.

Ben Mezrich, the writer on whose nonfiction book the movie is based, is teaming up with "Network" producers for a new film called "Sex on the Moon."

The project is based on a book proposal by Mezrich,  who wrote "The Accidental Billionaires," on which Aaron Sorkin based his script for "The Social Network" and who previously penned the book that became the Kevin Spacey hit film "21."

Sony, which released both "The Social Network" and "21," has optioned the rights to Mezrich's proposal and will collaborate on "Sex on the Moon" with "Social Network" producers Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti as well as executive producer Spacey.

The new film tells the story of Thad Roberts, a once-promising young scientist working for NASA who back in 2004 hatched a crazy plan to steal highly prized moon rocks from his bosses at the Johnson Space Center and sell them on the Internet. The motivation: wanting to impress his girlfriend (i.e., "giving her the moon").

Freelance writer Michael Goldstein tracked Roberts' crazy exploits for the Los Angeles Times back in 2004.

"Today it is still difficult to figure out what Roberts — by all accounts a bright young man — was thinking when he conceived the scheme that would destroy his dreams," Goldstein wrote. "Or what would make him think that he could get away with it. Or how he could talk two other NASA hopefuls into going along."

— Nicole Sperling

 Photo: 'The Social Network.' Credit: Sony Pictures.


L.A. Times roundtable with Young Hollywood stars Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg

November 4, 2010 |  3:53 pm

Carey andrewYou've seen them in some of the year's most acclaimed films: future "Spider-Man" Andrew Garfield, Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan and Mark Zuckerberg doppelganger Jesse Eisenberg.

So how do they handle the challenges of global stardom — all  while in their 20s? That's one of the questions that three of Young Hollywood's brightest talents will address in a conversation hosted by Los Angeles Times entertainment writer Amy Kaufman.

Garfield, 27, and Mulligan, 25, recently starred in "Never Let Me Go,” a film based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s beloved science fiction novel about a group of schoolchildren relegated to a sad fate. Garfield also appeared on screen this fall with Eisenberg, 27, in "The Social Network," which revolves around the controversial origins of Facebook.

Jesse The actors will discuss the art of acting, life behind the scenes and the approaching awards season during a roundtable at 7 p.m. Friday at the American Cinematheque Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. The evening is in partnership with AFI Fest. Tickets are free, but you must RSVP. Click here for more information and to reserve your seats.

Do you have a question for Mulligan, Garfield or Eisenberg? Submit it in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. Kaufman will select some to ask during the roundtable. We will be videotaping the conversation, so check back for clips from the event on 24 Frames next week.

Photos: (From top) Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan at a September screening of "Never Let Me Go," Jesse Eisenberg attends the Rome Film Festival this week. Credits: Evan Agostini /Associated Press, Tiziana Fabi /AFP Photo.


'The Social Network,' a timely publicity moment for anti-Zuckerbergians

October 8, 2010 |  5:06 am

  Zuck

It's rare to see a movie interact in real time with news events. But "The Social Network" is the gift that keeps on giving, at least for the business world and the reporters who cover it.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the Harvard twins who allege that Mark Zuckerberg defrauded them by taking their idea for a social-networking site and then running off and creating his own, are making some noise in the wake of the film's release.

The rowing brothers, played by Armie Hammer in the film, in 2008 received an estimated $65 million in stock from Facebook to drop their case. But they're reopening the case in part because of the publicity associated with the film.

There's no new legal action revealed in this Bloomberg appearance from Thursday. The reopening of the case alluded to is a reference to what we began hearing about in the spring -- namely, that the Winklevoss brothers are revisiting the case because of the alleged overvaluation of Facebook stock in the settlement payout. (The twins say that because the stock was overvalued and Facebook knew it, the company is guilty of securities fraud and the twins are owed more money, possibly as much as $35 million.) 

But the media appearance, like others of its kind, is an attempt to add a little heat on a man who's already under the Klieg lights. It may indeed be a smart strategy -- if Zuckerberg is donating $100 million to a school system to burnish his image, he might agree to fork over some more to make the Winklevoss brothers go away.

"What Mark did to us was pretty treacherous," Cameron Winklevoss tells Bloomberg's Margaret Brennan. "The reason why we're here today and the reason this is not a closed matter [is that] Facebook and namely Mark Zuckerberg ... have failed to make resolution despite many good-faith efforts on our parts."

No doubt some will say that the brothers are simply taking advantage of an anti-Zuckerberg wave. But whatever you believe, the claims they're making, and the attention they're getting in making them, form the latest notable turn in this art-parallels-life experiment. It shows what happens when a movie takes on real-life events with real-life egos and money.

The Winklevoss twins in this segment reference a New Yorker article that revealed that Facebook suppressed documents they say they had a right to review -- documents that go to their core claim that Zuckerberg took their idea. And it's of course unlikely the New Yorker article and many others would have been written if there weren't a big movie on the way. 

In essence, this is exactly what Facebook was worried about -- that the movie would shine a light on the very things on which it hoped it had flipped the off switch years ago. (In a statement to Bloomberg, Facebook said just that: "We've considered the Winklevoss dispute closed for years.")

It's still an open question what kind of legs all of these Facebook-related stories will have -- we'll know a lot more about the movie's cultural staying power from the "Social Network" box office this weekend. But even if the film went away tomorrow, there's already a juicy turn in Hollywood taking its cues from facts in making a movie, and then the facts changing because of that movie.

--Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Mark Zuckerberg. Credit: Getty Images

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Did the facts behind 'The Social Network' hurt it at the box office?

October 4, 2010 |  9:30 am

Social
Like Jon Stewart vs. Bill O'Reilly, or Mark Sanchez vs.Ryan Fitzpatrick, stacking up a true story against a fictional one isn't exactly a fair fight.

True tales hold an innate advantage. Tell audiences you're depicting an event that at least roughly parallels how it really happened, and it changes everything. Ordinary dramas are turbocharged into extraordinary ones. Flaws and pockmarks that would be called out in a fictional narrative are papered over and forgiven. For most of us, the idea that a movie's events played out that way in real life allows a shaky premise to be let off the hook; if it all really happened, we think, how can we hold a movie responsible for contrivances or leaps?

And true stories allow us to be more impressed by a film's texture and performances, which may be why five of the past six best actor Oscar winners were playing real people, or at least characters inspired by real people.

That principle should have helped "The Social Network" exceed all expectations this weekend.

As anyone within smelling distance of a television or Web site has learned  over the past few weeks, the David Fincher movie isn't just about a few ambitious young people taking on the world and each other -- it's a part of our recent past that, details about technical accuracy aside, has in turn helped shape our faraway future.

Wherever you looked, you couldn't escape the movie's truth, or at least its truthiness. Writer Aaron Sorkin went on talk shows to discuss the competing vantage points he merged to tell the story.  There was the daily saga of whether Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would himself see the movie (he was spotted in a Seattle screening! he rented out a theater for Facebook employees!), that seemed to underline, eerily and in real time, the same narcissism he displayed on the screen.

And if the marketing campaign's invocation of memes from the site didn't remind us that this all was happening in more than a fictional world, the very fact that millions of us log in to Facebook every day accomplished the trick for us. (That Facebook's corporate representatives questioned the authenticity of the account only made the film seem all the more hard-hitting and, well, truthful.)

All this should have taken an already tantalizing story and compelled us to see it even more. Yet when the movie opened this weekend, that's not what happened. With $23 million in domestic box office, The film performed respectably. But it fell short of some predictions that had its opening-weekend total closer to $30 million. Instead, its $23 million was in line with other more fictional and farfetched dramas this fall, such as "The Town," which tallied $23.8 million in its first weekend, almost exactly the same box office figure as "The Social Network." The but-much-of-this-is-real factor seemed to have little favorable effect on the film.

There's no way to determine this precisely, of course, to test how "The Social Network" would have performed if there were no shades of real life in it -- if it were, say, just an older- and more male-skewing "Gossip Girl" with A-list film credentials.  What we do know is the movie played well on the coasts, where an awareness of the media is practically in the drinking water, and where the film almost certainly benefited from the publicity that came from its parallels to real-life events.

It didn't play as well elsewhere, which suggests that any benefits accrued from the movie telling a real-life tale might have been counteracted by the perception of the film as a story of a group of real-life rich Harvard kids fighting over credit.

In this way, it might have been better off it was about a site we didn't know as well, or one that didn't exist at all. Tell people that the events of most Hollywood movies happened that way in actuality and their eyes snap open. But remind them of a real-life company founded by elites, in an elite place, and you may not grab their attention in quite the same way. In fact, you just might push them away.

If the real-world echoes did have a mixed effect on the performance of "The Social Network," it contains a certain irony. Since the film's publicity campaign began, the filmmakers and the cast  have attempted mightily to explain that, even though some contested this version of events, it all well could have been true. This probably answered some journalists' questions. But when it comes to attracting moviegoers, sometimes, it seems, there may be truths worth avoiding.

--Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: The Social Network. Credit: Sony Pictures


'Social Network' has nearly 500 million reviewer friends, too

October 1, 2010 |  1:24 pm

Social
It’s about as rare as pitching a perfect game in baseball — a movie that draws nearly 100% raves. But "The Social Network" has come about as close as any movie this year to reaching the milestone.

The three leading film review aggregators — Rotten Tomatoes, Movie Review Intelligence and Metacritic — are, as of Friday, showing that director David Fincher’s fictionalized history of Facebook’s founding has drawn the best marks of any narrative feature this year, with respective scores of 98, 96 and 98.

According to Movie Review Intelligence, only five movies this year have received scores greater than 90: “Toy Story 3,” “Lebanon,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “Winter’s Bone” and “A Prophet" (and most of them were not as widely reviewed as "The Social Network," whose score thus suggests critical favor that's broad as well as deep). "The Social Network" is a barn-burner of a tale that unfolds at a splendid clip," writes Kennth Turan in The Times.

With such high scores, and a projected first-place opening in theaters this weekend,  the next question for the David Fincher film inevitably will be the movie's awards fate. "Social Network" stacks up well on this count too. Last year’s best picture winner, “The Hurt Locker,” had respective Rotten Tomato, Movie Review Intelligence and Metacritic scores of  97, 92 and 94, while the previous year's Oscar juggernaut, “Slumdog Millionaire,” rated average review scores of  94 and 86 from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic (Movie Review Intelligence didn’t launch until January 2009).

Of course, great notices don’t guarantee Academy Award success -- a year ago "An Education" and “Bright Star” were among the best-reviewed releases of the year, and neither won a single Oscar.

-- John Horn

twitter.com/JGHorn

Photo: Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network." Credit: Sony Pictures


Trent Reznor wants to get closer to movies

September 28, 2010 |  6:25 pm

Reznor
Trent Reznor, the dark mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails, has long aspired to score a feature film. So when he got a call last fall from director David Fincher -- who had used NIN music in "Seven" -– the rock star naturally assumed the assignment would lead to some scary places.

He was right. Fincher was eager to use Reznor’s unsettling soundscapes for “The Social Network,” the Friday  release that is being met with mostly enthusiastic reviews. "In all honesty, when David mentioned it was a movie about the founding of Facebook, I was like, 'What the...,' " Reznor recalled with a chuckle. "I wondered how that could be interesting, but, knowing the level of excellence and integrity he brings to everything, I got the script from him. And then it became clear."

What Reznor saw was a vibrant tale of "the human condition and greed and entitlement." The film is now indeed moving to the center of the cultural conversation, and it’s doing so with the backbeat of Reznor’s music, which always demands attention but is especially intriguing in this new career context. Reznor worked with longtime collaborator Atticus Ross on the 19-track soundtrack, which was released in digital form Tuesday and will hit stores on CD, audio-only Blu-ray and vinyl in October.

Continue reading »

Facebook author Mezrich: Mark Zuckerberg should love 'The Social Network'

September 22, 2010 |  5:34 pm

  Zuck
Ben Mezrich, author of the Facebook-genesis tale "The Accidental Billionaires,"  is one of the main reasons "The Social Network" exists. The upcoming David Fincher movie germinated when Mezrich's tome was optioned in 2008 by producer Scott Rudin, and Mezrich and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin began meeting and poring over the story. (The movie centers on the web of relationships between co-founders Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin and other Harvard students, who alternately collaborate and battle over credit.)

“Billionaires” has generated controversy among critics who say that Mezrich uses fictional techniques in a nonfiction context, and relies heavily on the recollections of Saverin but not Zuckerberg, who wouldn’t cooperate. We had several conversations with Mezrich to discuss his relationships with the personalities in the book as well as with the film.

Among his more notable thoughts: Facebook's standing will actually be enhanced by the movie. And Zuckerberg -- who has said he won't see the movie but on Wednesday was reported to have been spotted at a Seattle screening -- comes out looking good, Mezrich believes, contrary to much of the consternation from the young mogul and much of the Facebook camp.

There's been some hay made of the fact that Zuckerberg wouldn't talk to you. How hard did you try and why do you think he turned you down?

I spent a year kind of trying to get Mark to talk to me. It was a little like "Waiting for Godot." There were a lot of the "maybes" before the "no." I think he didn’t want this to be an authorized story, and even though it wouldn’t have been done that way I think that’s what he was afraid of. It’s a little ironic. Facebook is all about opening boundaries, and yet I can’t get this guy to sit down and talk to me.

Why do you think Saverin decided to tell you his story?

I got an e-mail at 2 in the morning, completely random, in February 2008 from a kid whose best friend was Eduardo. It just basically said, “My best friend co-founded Facebook and nobody knows who he is.” He was angry. He felt betrayed. And then Eduardo met me and started telling me these stories about how he’d been screwed over. Then my book proposal leaked out on Gawker — and I don’t know exactly what the trigger was — but Eduardo called me and said, “You can never speak to me again.” It was six months of interviewing him, and then he cut off conversations. I heard he got a billion-dollar settlement from Facebook. A billion dollars is a lot of money. If someone offered me a billion dollars not to talk …

Did you think Zuckerberg would be as upset by the book — or the movie — as he has suggested he is in some of his public comments?

He does come off pretty well in the movie. It’s not negative at all. It's [simply the story of] an antihero and driven geek turned into a powerful figure.

So you think he might actually like the movie if he saw it?

I would love to hear what he actually thinks of it. I personally came out of there saying this is the best movie I’ve ever seen. My previous favorite movie was “Fight Club,” but I think this is even better. It was amazing to see. And I do think it's a very fair portrayal of the different points of view. It’s the true story of how Facebook originated. Facebook wants to keep calling it fiction, but there’s a lot of documentation. It may be the most documented movie ever made.

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