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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Social Network

'Social Network' star: Facebook is upset because movie hits 'too close to home' [UPDATED]

September 13, 2010 | 12:02 pm

It's no secret that the executives at Facebook are not too pleased about the upcoming release of David Fincher's "The Social Network." The company has for months distanced itself from the highly anticipated film, which explores the roots of the Web site and depicts founder Mark Zuckerberg as an ambitious but perhaps double-dealing entrepreneur.

Questions about the story — based on Ben Mezrich's 2009 book, "Accidental Billionaires" — and its accuracy continue to surface. But the fact that Facebook is so worried about the movie is revealing, believes Brenda Song, the actress who plays co-founder Eduardo Saverin's girlfriend.

"Well, all I can say is, if the people are upset about it, I think we're doing something right. Because maybe we're hitting a little too close to home," Song told us at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night.

Song gushed about the experience of working on an Oscar-contending film. Up to now, she's mostly been recognized as a Disney Channel star who has appeared on "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" and its spinoff, "The Suite Life on Deck."

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New York Film Festival complete lineup

August 16, 2010 |  1:31 pm

Clint Clint Eastwood's latest directorial effort, "Hereafter," a picture starring Matt Damon about three people whose lives are uniquely affected by death, has been chosen as the closing night movie at the upcoming New York Film Festival.

The festival, which kicks off Sept. 24 with David Fincher's "The Social Network," will feature 28 films and runs through Oct. 10.

As my colleague Steven Zeitchik noted when it was announced that the movie about Facebook would open the fall festival, the event has a reputation for screening "highbrow, twee movies," such as "The Queen" and "The Class" in years past. 

The 48th annual festival seems to follow in that vein. Julie Taymor's adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" serves as the festival's centerpiece, while "Film Socialisme" will mark Jean-Luc Godard's 27th appearance at the New York festival. There are also a number of international selections, including Thailand's "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives," which won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and France's "Carlos," a film about 1970s terrorist Carlos the Jackal, which is an astounding five hours long.

The festival's complete lineup follows after the jump.

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Rooney Mara will be 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'

August 16, 2010 | 11:12 am

DSC9803_r After months of speculation over one of the most buzzed about casting choices in recent history, Sony has announced that actress Rooney Mara will play Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's English-language version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Mara, whose most notable credit so far is "A Nightmare on Elm Street," has already worked with Fincher on this fall's "The Social Network."

The 24-year-old had been rumored to be in running for the part, up against other relative newcomers such as French actress Léa Seydoux and Australian actresses Sarah Snook and Sophie Lowe.

Mara will star opposite Daniel Craig in three films adapted from author Stieg Larsson's "The Millennium Trilogy," which also include "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest." Shooting commences in September in Sweden, Sony announced Monday. The first film will be released in December 2011.

As my colleague Steven Zeitchik noted recently, the leading role in the trilogy is a challenging part. “Salander is a raven-haired beauty who's at once fierce and vulnerable,” he wrote, “someone who betrays some serious emotional damage but who also can be the tough girl when it counts.”

It’s difficult to judge how Mara may fare in the role. Most of the reviews for the “Elm Street” reboot earlier this year were left largely without mention of her. But take what you will from this April assessment by Robert Abele in the Times, which said of Mara and her young male costar, Kyle Gallner: “[they were] cast out of the Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson school of pasty, glum adolescence.”

-- Amy Kaufman

[For the record, 5:49 p.m.: A previous version of this post gave the title of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" as "The Nightmare on Elm Street."]


Photo: Rooney Mara. Credit: Merrick Morton.


The Lisbeth Salander actress: The girl with the impossible task

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'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' a hit for Niels Arden Oplev

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Preview review: With powerful trailer, 'The Social Network' becomes a fall front-runner (in July)

July 15, 2010 |  1:17 pm

Socialnetwork Who knew Facebook could be so deep?

After releasing two teaser trailers for David Fincher's "The Social Network," Sony has finally given us a full preview for the Aaron Sorkin-penned movie, out in October. And judging by the trailer, there's nothing light about the movie, which takes a dark, dramatic look at the website's roots.

The film is based on Ben Mezrich's 2009 book, "Accidental Billionaires." Among other things, the book details a lawsuit between founder Mark Zuckerberg and former classmates Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who claimed they were the ones who came up with the idea for the site. Of course, we know how the real-life saga ended — the twin brothers reportedly received a $65-million settlement from Facebook.

My colleague Steven Zeitchik has said the movie is going to be a "hot-button film this fall," a possible award contender that "will get tongues wagging about the rigors and ethics of social media." It's evident from this trailer that that's certainly the direction the marketing campaign is headed. The trailer opens with a montage of images Facebook users have posted on the site. At first, the pictures are lighthearted — college kids out drinking, teens hanging out in parking lots. But things slowly get more serious — a woman is shown with an IV in her arm, a baby is born.

Accompanied by Scala & Kolacny Brothers' version of Radiohead's "Creep," the effect is somewhat chilling, and at first we were taken aback by it. We don't generally think of Facebook, which so many of us use to post funny YouTube videos or share Happy Birthday messages, as much more than a fun distraction from work (um, we've heard).

We also get to see more of the newly anointed Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield, who plays Eduardo Saverin, one of Zuckerberg's early partners, and he seems right at home as a nervous, smart Harvard student. And Jesse Eisenberg is convincing as (and shares an eerie resemblance with) the real-life Zuckerberg. The only actor who looks like he might be mildly out of place is Justin Timberlake. He plays Sean Parker, the president of Facebook who mentors Zuckerberg and Saverin, but his portrayal of a money-hungry businessman feels unnatural. 

Even though the approach here seems a little self-serious, ultimately, it's effective. It's clear from some of the dialogue that the movie has something to say about social media, the slippery nature of online identity and the perils of youthful ambition. Says Zuckerberg in the movie: "I need to do something substantial in order to get the attention of the [Harvard final] clubs. ... because they're exclusive, and fun, and they lead to a better life.”

Given Eisenberg's portrayal of him, the movie may not do wonders for Zuckerberg’s own life. But it may enhance ours. "The Social Network" looks entertaining and smart – which in contemporary Hollywood is a rare status.

— Amy Kaufman


[UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed to the cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” to Vega Choir rather than Scala & Kolacny Brothers.]

Photo: The poster for "The Social Network." Credit: Columbia Pictures.


'The Social Network's' provocative new teaser trailer

'The Social Network' keeps teasing us with great trailers

'The Social Network' as this fall's 'Hurt Locker'?

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'The Social Network' as this fall's 'Hurt Locker'?

July 8, 2010 |  4:12 pm

It's probably too early to start handicapping fall awards movies, but probably not too early to predict that Sony's Aaron Sorkin-penned, David Fincher-directed "The Social Network" -- informally known as The Facebook Movie -- is going to be a hot-button film this fall.

Not just an awards contender, like Fincher's previous "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," but the kind of movie that migrates to the news pages and gets people talking about film outside its fictional context, the way "The Hurt Locker," "Frost/Nixon" and "Syriana" did for their respective topics. Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow got commentators going about the rigors and ethics of war; this will get tongues wagging about the rigors and ethics of social media.

ZuckerThe first tangible sign of its cred came today, when the New York Film Festival took the unusual step of announcing the picture as its opening-night movie. The New York Film Festival almost always chooses highbrow, twee movies to kick off its fall festivities ("The Queen" and "The Class," among some recent examples), and although this selection may say something about the availability of distribution-ready art-house films, it also speaks volumes about how both a sober-minded festival jury and Sony view this picture.

In conjunction with the NYFF world-premiere announcement, there's also a new Social Network teaser trailer, which you can see here (no embed code yet). The spot audaciously uses nothing but messages typed into a faux Facebook page, though from the way the tone and sound ratchets up throughout the spot, you'd think Iran disarmament was at stake.

This anointing comes as the movie begins to make waves because of its depiction of former Harvard students and Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin and the early days of the site. As this is a movie about the founding of that company, you might think that Sony would want to market it on the immensely popular social-networking site, but on the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital blog, Kara Swisher writes that there won't be any Facebook movie ads on Facebook itself.

The reason, the post explains from both the Sony and Facebook points-of-view, is that Facebook policy requires approval of all ads that reference its brand, and Sony didn't want to cop to those conditions.

Of course, the talk about Facebook policy elides the more commonsensical point that, since it's likely that the film is not hugely complimentary to Zuckerberg and Saverin -- at the very least, the book on which it's based, Ben Mezrich's "The Accidental Billionaires," was the subject of some pretty strident criticism from the players it spotlighted -- it would give Facebook pause about taking an ad, policy or no policy. And besides, why would a movie that seeks to tell a hard-hitting story of Facebook want to look complicit with the site even if said site did want to accept its ads?

Guess Sony will have to settle for cable-news chatter, print stories, blog posts and tweets. There will be plenty of that.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Mark Zuckerberg at Sun Valley, Idaho, this week. Credit: Nati Harnik / Associated Press


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Rumor: Google building social networking site to compete with Facebook

Privacy groups urge Facebook to make more changes

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