At the Movies: The Social Network, Let Me In

The social networking website Facebook has 500 million friends. It’s founder had one friend, whom he ultimately betrayed.

“The Social Network” is the story of Mark Zuckerberg, or at least the Hollywood version of the story as relayed by director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Like most movie biographies it’s probably 20 percent fact and 80 percent fiction.

What should not be in dispute is that this is a quality piece of filmmaking. “The Social Network” boasts smart dialogue, a number of first-rate performances and offers a fascinating look at a moment in modern history.

Based on the book  “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich, the story opens in 2003 in a college bar where socially awkward computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is having a rapid-fire conversation with his girlfriend (Rooney Mara). Fed up with his condescension and cluelessness, she breaks up with him.

Mark returns to his dorm room,  insults her on his blog, then proceeds to set up a website allowing his fellow Harvard classmates to vote on how hot the women on campus are in one-on-one showdowns. In the process he breaks into several of Harvard’s online security networks and within hours has shut down the entire university computer system.

The stunt gets him suspended but also draws the attention of fellow students Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) and brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (Josh Pence and Armie Hammer). The trio need Mark’s computer skills to set up a social networking site for the university.

Mark agrees to help them but instead hooks up with his best friend — and only friend — Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) with a plan to create their own social networking site: The Facebook. Mark would own 70 percent and have creative control while Eduardo would own 30 percent and be responsible for the financial end.

Facebook becomes a huge success, eventually drawing the interest of Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake). Sean and Mark have similar visions of Facebook’s future and Sean manages to drive a wedge between Mark and Eduardo.

The story of “The Social Network” is framed by scenes of lawyers taking depositions for two different lawsuits against Mark — one filed by the Winklevoss brothers and the other filed by Eduardo. Fincher masterfully weaves the tale from Harvard dorm rooms to legal conference rooms to Facebook’s eclectic offices in California.

The film doesn’t present Mark Zuckerberg as a complete villain — that role goes to Sean Parker — while Eduardo Saverin is presented in the most sympathetic light. The actors in all three roles deliver impressive work.

Did it work for me? If “The Social Network” was a Facebook posting, I would press the “Like” button.

Let Me In

I think I speak for everyone when I say: I’m sick and tired of vampires.

Vampires on television. Vampires in the movies. Vampires in the bookstore. Vampires are even fighting the X-Men and the Avengers in my comic books. It’s not exposure to the sun that vampires need to worry about; it’s overexposure in the media.

So I was less than enthusiastic about seeing “Let Me In,” the latest vampire flick hoping to take a bite out of your Halloween entertainment dollar. Well, believe me when I say this: If you only see one vampire movie this year, make it “Let Me In.”

An American remake of the Swedish film “Let the Right One In,” the movie stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen, a lonely 12-year-old living in an apartment complex with his mother. Owen has no friends and is the frequent target of the class bully. As a result, Owen spends lots of time sitting alone in the common area of the complex, which is perpetually covered in snow.

One night he is joined there by Abby (Chloe Moretz), a quiet young girl who doesn’t mind walking around barefoot in the snow. Abby recently moved in next door with an older man who appears to be her father (Richard Jenkins).

Abby warns Owen that they can never be friends, so naturally that’s exactly what happens. But Owen’s difficult life is about to get more complicated once he discovers that his new friend is a blood-sucking creature of the night.

“Let Me In” is one of those rare horror movies that comes along every once in a while to remind me that not all horror movies suck. It has the appropriate atmosphere; it has characters you grow to care about; it takes its time and methodically lays out its story; it doesn’t leave you with unanswered questions or gaping plot holes; it’s not bloody for bloody’s sake.

And the horror is cleverly handled. Director Matt Reeves knows when to hit you with sudden violence and gore and when to leave it to your imagination.

Did it work for me? Yes. It’s comforting to know that vampires can still be scary and not just all glittery and love-lorn.

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