Saturday, October 30, 2010

BURIED: The Film Babble Blog Review

BURIED (Dir. Rodrigo Cortés, 2010)

After cool retro Saul Bass-style opening titles a pitch black screen greets us. We hear heavy breathing and thudding. Finally Ryan Reynolds lights a zippo lighter and we're right there with him - trapped in a wooden coffin buried underground.

Reynolds panics, sweats profusely, claws at the wall, etc. A cell phone at his feet rings. He retrieves it with some difficulty to find that its an Arabic language model. Reynolds calls every number he can think of mostly getting answering machines before getting somebody on the phone from the Hostage Working Group in Iraq voiced by Robert Patterson.

That's right - Reynolds is a non-military working stiff truck driver buried alive in a war-torn Iraq in 2006.

Reynolds is told on the cellphone by a man (José Luis García Pérez) who denies being a terrorist that he has until 9:00 PM (just a few hours) to get his embassy to pay $5 million dollars for his release.

There are some abstract shots through the darkness surrounding our protagonist but the bulk of the entire film takes place inside the coffin.

We never see any other face but Reynolds but there are few recognizable voices on the other end of the phone besides Patterson including Samantha Mathis and Stephen Tobolowsky.

It would be tempting to joke that Reynolds couldn't act his way out of a sealed coffin because years ago I would've loved seeing Van Wilder get buried alive, but his performance is truly excellent here.

It's a convincing and emotional tour de force that kept me riveted from start to finish. It's also admirable that he chose this project as a welcome change of pace from rom coms like THE PROPOSAL and action tripe like WOLVERINE that has been dominating his career.

As chilling a scenario as could be imagined, BURIED is a grueling unpleasant experience in a lot of respects but its such a vital and gripping minimalist nightmare of a movie that it really shouldn't be ignored. It's the right time of the year for a fright and here director Cortés's Hitchcockian thrust really delivers.

"Buried" is now playing at the Colony Theater in North Raleigh. Consult the theater's website for show-times.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

A New Documentary Asks WHO Is HARRY NILSSON?


The long silly title of this film obviously pokes fun at the fact that these days not many people are likely to know who Harry Nilsson was.

But if you are a fan of the Beatles, the Monkees, or Monty Python you are likely to have at least a tiny inkling of the late semi-legendary singer songwriter.

Also you may know his Grammy winning cover of Fred Neil's “Everybody’s Talking” (the theme song for MIDNIGHT COWBOY) or his hit singles “Without You” and “Coconut.”

Nilsson’s soundtrack for Robert Altman’s POPEYE (1980) may also be familiar.

This fascinating and fast paced documentary tells Nilsson’s story extremely well taking us from his impoverished beginnings through flirtations with fame and sadly concluding with his despondent later years when his voice was shot and his stock at an all time low.

It was a career doomed by drinking and drugs as well as his being terrified to sing his songs live.

A roster of famous friends including Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees, the Smothers Brothers, Robin Williams, Yoko Ono, Terry Gilliam and many others appear in interview segments to praise Nilsson as well as bury him with their frank depictions of the unruly talent.
But it’s the music that makes the movie roll. We get a good sense of how Nilsson was a one man Beatles – a notion confirmed in the late ‘60s when a “White Album” era John Lennon named him as his favorite “group”, not “performer” mind you.

Hundreds of photographs and lots of juicy archival footage are hauntingly serenaded by Nilsson’s smooth croon and even in lip synched appearances on TV shows such as “Beat Club” Nilsson’s charisma shines through.

Nilsson’s rowdy friendship with ex-Beatle Ringo Starr is given a lot of weight - their projects SON OF DRACULA and the popular children's cartoon "The Point" are touched upon nicely.

With its conventional narrative WHO IS HARRY NILSSON doesn’t break any new musical bio doc ground, but with its wealth of great material, focused scope, and loving detail, that’s fine by me.

It’s a purposeful portrait of a jewel in the rough – a tortured artist with an affecting spirit even when he was scrapping the bottom of the barrel.

Sadly this film never made it theatrically to the Raleigh area. Fortunately it is now available on DVD and streaming on Netflix Instant.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

THE TILLMAN STORY: The Film Babble Blog Review

THE TILLMAN STORY (Dir. Amir Bar-Lev, 2010)

The square jawed intensity that one of this documentary’s participants describes of its subject Pat Tillman is seen in the very first shot after the opening credits.

It’s a video close-up of Tillman for some sort of promotional football spot for his team, the Arizona Cardinals.

In it Tillman takes direction from a voice off camera and he is clearly uncomfortable yet performs the task with confidence.

As narrator Josh Brolin tells us, Tillman left a multimillion-dollar football contract to join the military in 2002. He was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. This was covered up by higher ups who wove a complex web of distortion of the real circumstances.

Tillman’s family, including his youngest brother Richard who was on the same tour of duty, weren’t satisfied with what they were being told. A wealth of documents and other soldier’s recollections painted a far different picture.

Through the media Tillman became a symbol of the Bush administration’s bogus Iraq war narrative as details of his character were trotted out for their own ends. He was a Noam Chomsky reading, all religion tolerating atheist, All American sports star, so, of course, he was an image to be manipulated into a tool of propaganda.

The man’s mother Mary “Danni” Tillman, dives into investigating her son’s death, calling every single person involved and trying to decipher 3,000 pages of redacted documents with the help of Stan Goff, an ex-military man turned activist blogger.

“The Tillman Story” is as incredibly moving as it is angering in its exploration of a massive spin operation. In its use of archival footage, photographs, and interviews there’s not a wasted moment in its masterful construction.
When evidence suggests that the tragic event was the result of not “the fog of war” but what Tillman’s mother calls “the lust of war” – Tillman’s fellow soldiers’ gun crazy thirst for combat – the film has us firmly in its grip and doesn’t let go.

Director Bar-Lev, whose previous doc MY KID COULD PAINT THAT was also a winner, shifts from development to development in a highly engaging manner. The obligatory ominous background music never intrudes in a Michael Moore manner, and the film never indulges in anything but the facts.
And the facts as presented are overwhelming.

The governmental gaps in the facts not only disrespect Tillman, his family, and the public record, they insult the entire system for which he lost his life.

THE TILLMAN STORY is by far one of the best, if not the best, documentaries of the year. As unpleasant and sickening as the story it tells often is, its power comes from the courage and strength of the family left behind, which no doubt will touch and inspire many movie goers.

That is if the masses that normally ignore modern war documentaries actually give it a chance.

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Friday, October 22, 2010



Another year, another Woody Allen movie. Another one set in London, but hey! No Scarlett Johansson – so that’s saying something.

This ensemble comedy with Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, and Josh Brolin as the principles reminds me of Juliette Lewis in Allen’s 1992 dramedy HUSBANDS AND WIVES telling her professor (played by Allen) her impressions of his long gestating novel:

“You make suffering so funny. All the lost souls running around.”

There’s plenty of lost souls, but suffering though isn’t so funny here – it’s not even that affecting.

To break it down – we start with Gemma Jones as the estranged wife of Hopkins visiting a fortune teller (Pauline Collins) for advice about how to move on. She’s despondent and in need of drink which could define every character on display.

Jones’ daughter, Watts, is in a frustrating marriage to Brolin who is struggling with writing a new novel. Brolin pines for a woman (Frieda Pinto from "Slumdog Millionaire") he sees through his flat’s adjacent window.

Watts, meanwhile pines for her new boss (Antonio Banderas) at the art gallery where she just got a new job as an assistant.

In one of the most clichéd premises of a mid life crises I’ve ever seen Hopkins introduces his new fiancée (Lucy Punch) to Watts and Brolin over dinner and the extremely unnecessary narrator (Zak Orth) tells us that he’s not telling the whole truth about her.

Punch is a ditzy call girl who Hopkins woos into matrimony with promises of minks and money you see and so, of course, it’s a doomed relationship.

Meanwhile Brolin, jealous of a friend’s manuscript, goes to the dark side after finding out that his friend is dead after an automobile accident. He steals the book and his publisher loves it, but the catch is that is that his friend isn’t dead – he’s in a coma and doctors say there’s a chance he could recover at any time.

Brolin courts Pinto causing her to call off her engagement while Watts finds out her boss is seeing somebody else on the side from his wife and Hopkins is cuck-holded by Punch who also runs up quite a tab on his dime.

Jones, with the help of Collins, seeks spiritual comfort as well as companionship, but might find both in the form of, no, not a tall dark stranger, a short fat one portrayed by Roger Ashton-Griffiths who owns an occult bookshop and pines for his deceased wife.

The same tired themes of spirituality verses common sense are trotted out – it’s a treatise on whatever works to get one through life – like say in Allen’s last film “Whatever Works” – and the emptiness that the characters try to overcome weighs down the film in a wretched way.

Still, Brolin’s dilemma is compelling stuff even if it doesn’t come to a satisfying resolution (or any resolution really).

YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER is a close to middling film with one juicy story thread (Brolin’s literary nightmare) amid warmed over Woody Allen thematic material that he has done to death.

Somebody not so fluent with the Woodman’s work may get more out of it, but would such a person really be interested in seeing it?

Brolin’s scenerio made me think that’s there’s still enough there for Allen to keep making movies, but maybe not so often as a film a year like his current record.

That’s not gonna happen however. Allen has another project already in the works (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS) so maybe I should be thankful at this late date that at least some shred of quality still remains.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

RED: The Film Babble Blog Review

RED (Dir. Robert Schwentke, 2010)

Sometimes it seems like every other movie opening this year at the multiplex is a comic throwback to ‘80s action movies or based on a graphic novel I wasn’t aware of before.

To its credit RED is both. But that’s the only credit I’ll give this unfunny overblown mess though.

RED is titled after the stamp on agent Frank Moses' (Bruce Willis) file, meaning "retired, extremely dangerous."

Willis leads a mundane life as a former Black Ops CIA agent who tears up his retirement checks just so he can continue to call customer service representative Mary Louise Parker because he has a crush on her.

Before you know it Willis is on the run from government assassins and he abducts Parker for the ride. She goes along with it in her typical jaded Weeds fashion, but the unbelievable and incredibly contrived nature of her role never convinces for a second.

Parker’s life before was boring and now she’s caught up in a world of espionage – I get it, but it’s such a cringing cliché with a capital C.
He re-unites his old crew – the all star cast of Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Ernest Borgnine and John Malkovich – to fight the attackers and it’s one shoot-em-up after another.

The film is solidly staged but it’s a joyless affair with really poorly written dialogue and a distinct lack of laughs.

At this point in Willis’s career it’s surprising he would be attracted to this boring by-the-numbers material.

Willis just sleep walks (sometimes in slow motion) through a barely interesting plot handled with a hodgepodge of styles and clashing tones. The narrative involves a cover-up of Guatemalan slayings orchestrated by the Vice President (Julian McMahon).

There’s some seriousness in the seams but it’s overshadowed by cloying silliness. It’s also off-putting that the film has an unbearable sense of self satisfaction.

Malkovich as a jacked up explosives expert appears to be having fun with his role, but with such lame one-liners (none of which I can remember or else I’d quote one) that feeling is far from contagious.

Freeman, who is 73, plays an 80 year old ex-agent – a role that requires no heavy lifting, just his patented homespun delivery. Borgnine is 93 and like Malkovich he’s seems to be having a good time. Maybe he’s just happy to be anywhere these days.

Then there’s Dame Helen Mirren in a white evening gown firing a machine gun. That’s supposed to be a hilarious image, but it creaks like everything else in this misguided movie.

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget Richard Dreyfuss, still channeling Dick Cheney from W, as a bad guy who is also saddled with lines that fall flat. “I did it for the money” Dreyfuss revealed in a recent interview. 
It sure shows.
I saw somebody on a message board refer to this film as THE EXPENDABLES but with people who can actually act.” I can go with that because just like that Sylvester Stallone all star vehicle, this is ultimately a lame package.

RED, which I think should stand for Really Excruciating Drivel, is a waste every way you can cut it.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

NEVER LET ME GO: The Film Babble Blog Review

NEVER LET ME GO (Dir. Mark Romanek, 2010)

The set-up for this film based on the best selling book by Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro: a trio of young students (Keira Knightly, Carrey Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield) growing up in a English boarding school discover they are clones grown for the sole purpose of organ donation.

The school is called Hailsham and in ominous gray tones we find these youngsters – at first played by Ella Purnel, Izzy Meikle-Small, and Charlie Rowe – in a love triangle that lasts until their later teenage years.

Knightly and Garfield pair up while Mulligan is left out. Another couple in their new living quarters they are moved to after their school years called “The Cottages” tell the trio about a rumor that lovers might be granted a stay of execution for several years into their adulthood.

The story is told in flashback from the point of view of Mulligan who after “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” you’d think was all cried out.

But no, there’s plenty here to make her all misty eyed. Especially when things takes tragic turns. The icy cold Charlotte Rampling as Hailsham’s headmistress has harsh answers to the kid’s questions – ignore the trailers if you don’t want spoilers about that.

It’s an affecting and haunting film in many respects. Romanek’s imagery is bleak but purposeful and the performances hit the right unrestrained notes.
Garfield, who can also be seen at a theater near you in THE SOCIAL NETWORK and will be a household name in the next few years as the new Spiderman, uses his angsty shakiness to his advantage while Knightly overcomes her previous performances’ emptiness nicely.

It’s Mulligans movie however, and she owns it. Her refined acting matched with the stirring score by Rachel Portman elevates the movie’s emotional core.
The sci-fi elements of the screenplay are at a minimum so it’s easy to buy this poignant premise and savor the sad soulfulness on display.

NEVER LET ME GO may be too somber and strained for some folks, but it got under the skin of this reviewer.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

JACK GOES BOATING: The Film Babble Blog Review

JACK GOES BOATING (Dir. Philip Seymour Hoffman, 2010)

Like the films of many first time directors, Philip Seymour Hoffman's debut is a filmed play. The play being Bob Glaudini's off Broadway 2007 production of the same name.

Hoffman reprises his role as Jack with John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega also reprising their stage roles.

Amy Ryan (The Wire, The Office, GONE BABY GONE) replaces Beth Cole in the part of Hoffman's love interest.

The story is as spare as can be - Hoffman is a reclusive reggae loving limousine driving New Yorker whose married friends (Ortiz and Rubin-Vega) want to set him up on a date with Ryan - a just as reclusive employee at a local funeral home.

Hoffman and Ryan plan to go on a boating trip when it gets warmer.
In the meantime, they agree to an "official date before the boating date" in which Jack will cook dinner for the 2 couples.

It's an odd rambling evening with confessional speeches mixed with drugs and a lot of awkwardness.

This film really takes its time and it can be a bit trying, but its emotional messiness never feels phony. Hoffman puts in some of his finest acting and gets nuanced and nervy performances out of his co-stars.

In the end JACK GOES BOATING is the small unimposing work of a professional actor yet amateur director.

Hoffman makes a number of interesting visual choices that show he was paying attention when he worked with some of the greatest film makers of the last 20 years - Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Lee, the Coen Brothers, Sydney Lumet, et al.

Although it defines the phrase "promising debut", I bet with more ambitious material Hoffman will make a more substantial mark than with this likable, though lackluster lark.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY: The Film Babble Blog Review

IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY (Dirs. Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, 2010)

After a couple of extremely promising dramas (HALF NELSON and SUGAR), the writing/directing duo of Boden and Fleck now give us the comic story of a suicidal teenager (Keir Gilchrist) who checks into an adult psychiatric ward.
This is because the juvenile ward is undergoing renovations, but really so he can bond with comedian Zach Galifianakis as a friendly patient with family problems.

Gilchrist hates his situation and wants out immediately but has to stay for a five day evaluation. It helps that he’s attracted to the 16 year old emotionally disturbed Emma Roberts.

Gilchrist and Roberts fall into a round-the-clock flirtation, meeting each other for art classes in which Gilchrist’s confidence is boasted when he impresses everyone with his art which the film animates.

The confused kid also impresses with his musical ability via one of the most embarrassing and unnecessary musical numbers of recent memory: a rock video sequence set to the Queen/David Bowie song “Under Pressure” complete with glam costuming, strobe lighting, and backup singer nurses that aren’t in the rest of the movie.

That’s the problem with this film – all the gimmickry. What could have been an earnest depiction of dealing with depression is yet another Wes Anderson style retread. It has all the clichés you’d expect such as a virgin lead fumbling through the advice of quirky characters that are supposed to be seriously messed up but actually are just slightly screwy.

Galifianakis is one of the best standups out there (check out “Live at the Purple Onion” if you haven’t) and also a strong supporting actor (see HBO’s Bored To Death), but this is a lazily written role. Galifianakis has a few effective moments, such as acting out a tantrum in a key scene, but try is he might this weak material never elevates above “After School Special” territory.
It’s like making a sitcom out of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEXT or GIRL INTERRUPTED. The result is to trivialize mental illness for the sake of an anything-for-a-laugh mentality.

This is apparent in the casting. Every other role is a recognizable actor or actress that do little but walk on for the purpose of familiarity. For example there’s Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show as a doctor, Gilchrist’s parents are played by comedian Jim Gaffigan and Gilmore Girls mom Lauren Graham, Jeremy Davies (Lost) is in a nothing role as a hospital attendant, and Violas Davis (DOUBT) as a stern but, of course, fair doctor.

IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY is too cutesy and clunky to hold much water. When Gilchrist and Roberts run laughing down the corridors of the hospital with a pop song (courtesy of The Broken Social Scene) pumping on the soundtrack it made my heart sink.

The notion that real despair is curable by way of a puppy love fling and bumper sticker wisdom is anything but uplifting. In fact it’s more depressing than anything anyone faces in this empty and immensely forgettable film.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

HEARTBREAKER: The Film Babble Blog Review

HEARTBREAKER (Dir. Pascal Chaumeil, 2010)

“My name is Alex Lippi – I break up couples for a living.”

So says the dapper Romain Duris at the beginning of this French high concept rom com. The high concept being that Duris, his sister (Julie Ferrier), and her husband (François Damiens) run a business designed to break up relationships.
We are given a tour of their methods which involve monitoring their targets through surveillance with Duris working his charms on them in a montage in which we see the master manipulator using the same lines and pushing the right buttons to make women of all kinds swoon.

In documentary fashion, his assistants explain that it never goes further than a kiss. Duris leaves the women, he describes as “unhappy without knowing it”, and they thank him for “opening their eyes.”

After that juicy set-up, Duris and Co. are hired by a wealthy powerful businessman (Jacques Franz) to break up the wedding of his daughter (Vanessa Paradis) to her affluent fiancé (Andrew Lincoln).

The catch is that the technically savvy yet still stumbling team only have 10 days to do so before the couple’s wedding.

Most of the film’s action takes place in a hotel in Monocco with Duris acting as bodyguard to Paradis. She dislikes him at first – which is a obligatory element of rom coms of course – but over time they develop the also obligatory will-they/won’t they chemistry.

Duris works on his “Dirty Dancing” moves (because that’s her favorite movie), has Wham! ready to play from a fake radio signal on command (because that’s her favorite music), and he eats Roquefort for breakfast (because that’s her favorite…oh, you get the idea).

With a soundtrack full of sprightly pop songs (most English language actually) the film has a hip snazzy pulse to it, but the predictable conventions make the whole package go from cute to cringe worthy in the second half.

There are enough chuckles if not full out laughs and the spirit is likable, but there is too much hit-somebody-on-the-head slapstick and the climatic rush to stop the wedding finale is such a cliché at this point that it reeks of narrative laziness.

The cast is not without charm though the beautiful Paradis seems far from committed to her character and her scenes with Duris do not have the required heat needed to tug on the audience’s heartstrings.

Like Duris does, the fair and only slightly funny HEARTBREAKER overestimates its charm throughout. It’s a piece of cinematic cheese that I’m sure some audiences will eat up, but I believe many moviegoers will find that such a tasty premise deserved way better.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Blu Ray/DVD Review: (UNTITLED)

UNTITLED (Dir. Jonathan Parker, 2009)

Watching one of my favorite movies recently - Richard Linklater's DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993) - I remembered thinking back in the day that amongst its cast of attractive newcomers (which included Matthew McConaughey and Parker Posey) that the acerbic Adam Goldberg was going to break big.

I was way wrong about that, but Goldberg has honed his sardonic persona nicely over the course of a respectable career in indie films as well as many roles on television.

As the pretentious pianist Adrian Jacobs in Jonathan Parker's film (UNTITLED), Goldberg shows like in Julie Delphy's 2 DAYS IN PARIS that he's more than capable of carrying a movie and giving it a discernable viewpoint.

The viewpoint here is about the world of modern art in New York City. Goldberg performs with a small group of musicians his particular brand of "sound art". It is cacophony made out of clanging metal buckets, violently banging the piano keys, and intermittent primal screaming. The group's "music" makes small audiences even smaller when performed live.
Goldberg works his worry lines harder than usual while arguing: “Is the market place the measure of value in our culture? That would mean the death of all thought!”

Goldberg's brother (Eion Bailey) is a painter who has had success selling his work to hotel chains through a gallery run by Marley Shelton. Shelton is the only one who seems to appreciate Goldberg's compositions and arranges for them to play at one of her exhibitions.

So you just know that Shelton and Goldberg are going to get together and Bailey is both going to feel left out of Shelton’s heart and her gallery.
There is more going on than that in this film, but it’s thwarted by misguided characters such as Zak Orth as a computer millionaire art collector who only exists in the film to be ridiculed. Likewise a minimalist "thumbtack" artist (Ptolemy Slocum) who Bailey resents because he gets a show at Shelton's gallery and is treated like a genius.

Much more effective is the brash Vinnie Jones as a over-hyped visual artist who chews and spits out all the scenery around him. There is also a subtle turns by Lucy Punch billed only as "The Clarinet."

Still there is a lot of worth to the discussion about modern art and commerciality this film provokes. There are considerable comparisons to be made with the work of Terry Zwigoff (Think GHOST WORLD not the contrived ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL).

Another rewrite could've sharpened its attack, but (UNTITLED) has enough bite in it to be recommended. Goldberg may not be sneering his way to the bank, but with fine vehicles like this he's definitely building a wealth of indie cred.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

THE SOCIAL NETWORK: The Film Babble Blog Review

(Dir. David Fincher, 2010)

This is the film that asks - is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a computer nerd visionary or just an arrogant a--hole that ripped off his friends?

A bit of both appears to be the answer - but THE SOCIAL NETWORK, courtesy of Aaron Sorkn’s screenplay as realized by David Fincher, is far from a smear job on the world’s youngest billionaire.

Jesse Eisenberg, at his most coldly focused, plays Zuckerberg who we meet in a darkly lit Harvard college tavern in 2003 having an intense and intimidating conversation with his girlfriend (Rooney Mara).

It’s a back and forth that runs rings around your head, so much so that Mara takes the opportunity to break up with Eisenberg. He sulks back to his dorm room and blogs that she’s a bitch and that he needs a new project to get his mind off of her.

Drinking beer after beer, Eisenberg throws out errant ideas to his best friend (Andrew Garfield) before he settles on creating a site called “Facemash” – a Hot Or Not-like site featuring pictures he hacked from campus computer databases.

Eisenberg finds that in addition to making his fellow female students very angry, it gets him noticed.

He’s approached by a couple of preppy crew rowing twin brothers (Josh Pence and Arnie Hammer) and their business partner (Max Minghella ) who want him to help them build a new social networking site called HarvardConnection.

“I’m in.” says Eisenberg and the film cuts to his deposition 3 years later where under oath he states that he doesn’t recall saying that.

You see, he’s being sued by the brothers for intellectual property theft in Federal court at the same time he’s being sued by Garfield over ownership of Facebook.

We bounce between flashbacks and testimony exchanges that detail Eisenberg devising the famous Facebook format while dodging email requests from the brothers.

When the site goes public Eisenberg and Garfield attract many followers, groupies and the attention of Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

Timberlake seduces Eisenberg with his schmoozy charm, but not Garfield. Ties get even more tangled when Eisenberg rents a house in Silicon Valley which appears to be a nonstop party central despite the “wired in” employees working 24/7.

It’s easy to get caught up in the flow of this film. Sorkin’s dialogue is sharp, Fincher’s craft is on the scale of his best work (that includes FIGHT CLUB, SE7EN, and ZODIAC), and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth’s swift camerawork frames it all with a minimum of flashy tricks.

The cast is pitch perfect. It’s Eisenberg’s best work to date, Garfield’s worrywart tone clashes correctly, and Timberlake predictably steals every scene he’s in.

Also Rashida Jones (Parks And Recreation), Bryan Barter, and the convincing brother duo of Pence/Hammer all chime in with sublime supporting roles.

There’s plenty on the internet about what’s accurate and what isn’t in this film, but the movie on its own is a storytelling gem.

You can see the point of view of the allegedly wronged parties and feel sympathy for the character of Zuckerberg even as he works overtime to hide his emotions.

Fincher, Sorkin and Co. obviously want us to see the irony in an anti-social guy who screws over the few friends he has in order to build one of the biggest and most profitable social internet websites in history.

A piece of supreme entertainment, THE SOCIAL NETWORK does indeed accomplish that task with relish. The only thing it’s missing is a big “Like” button for me to click at the end.

More later...