Feldman @ the flicksPeter Feldman
Peter Feldman: The man behind the Facebook phenomenon, Mark Zuckerberg, comes under the microscope in a brilliant production, “The Social Network.”
The Social Network
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
Director: David Fincher
Facebook has become a phenomenon of this era. It connects you with people through the Internet and boasts something like 500 million subscribers in over 200 countries. Very few people do not know of its existence, but few know anything about Mark Zuckerberg, the young Harvard genius who is the face behind it all.
David Fincher’s brilliant production, “The Social Network,” goes behind the scenes and provides us with a wickedly engrossing tale of how one obsessive Harvard undergrad and computer programming wizard ignited a social revolution. In the process, he also landed in hot water with the authorities and with a group of people who said he stole their idea. They were so incensed with him that they sued.
Fincher, working from Aaron Sorkin’s wryly observant screenplay, constructs a racy narrative that holds you in its grip from the moment you meet Mark Zuckerberg (a superb Jesse Eisenberg) in 2003 sitting at his computer heatedly working on a new idea.
In a fury of blogging and programming, what began in his dorm room soon became a global social network and a revolution in communication. Today he is the youngest billionaire in history, but is he a happy chappie?
The entrepreneur’s phenomenal success has led to both personal and legal complications, a facet of the film that is dealt with in great detail. Told in present time and flashbacks, the production vigorously explores business ethics, class distinctions and the arguments about intellectual property. It is a mesmerising portrait of the man and also the many people around him who were part of the Facebook saga for better or worse.
The young cast are outstanding. Pop heart-throb Justin Timberlake, almost unrecognisable as American hot-shot entrepreneur Sean Parker, shows a more commanding side as an actor. Parker had the financial connections and knew all about style and presence and how to woo an attractive girl. While Jesse Eisenberg is a striking presence throughout, with his rapid-fire vocal delivery and serious mien, keep your eye on Andrew Garfield. He is the genuine soul of the film, playing the role of Eduardo Saverin, who co-founded Facebook but had to fight so hard for recognition after the big guns were brought into play.
People have compared “The Social Network” to “Citizen Kane” in its portrayal of an individual who is able to change society by bending emerging technology to his will. I can easily see why.
Cast: Omid Djalili, Richard Schiff, Archie Panjab, Igal Naor, Mina Anwar, Amit Shah, Soraya Radford, Miranda Hart, Matt Lucas
Director: Josh Appignanesi
“Infidel” is a black comedy geared to mine humour from the thorny cultural and racial divide that is Muslim-Jewish relations. It could have been a sharp and satirical study, but its corrosive tones simply end up leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
Josh Appignanesi’s film is written by comedian David Baddiel and it grinds along with a narrative that revolves repeatedly around sit-com-type silliness. It also proffers radically offensive material which is certainly going to rub up the more religious elements the wrong way.
Granted, there are moments when the film offers some uniquely funny perspectives on religious fervour, intolerance and prejudice, but, overall, it’s not an overwhelming success.
The rotund Omid Djalili, a popular British stand-up comedian, plays Mahmud Nasir, a character who may not be the most observant Muslim in England, but deep down he is a true believer. His life is turned upside down when he learns he was adopted. But, the most scandalous of all, is that his birth mother was Jewish and his given name was Solly Shimshillewitz.
As the full impact hits home, Mahmud must now face an identity crisis of epic proportion, walking a tight rope between discovering his Jewish roots and still trying to remain a devout Muslim, situations which can only lead to a series of religious miscalculations.
A bearded Richard Schiff plays Lennie, Mahmud’s curmudgeonly Jewish neighbour, who reluctantly volunteers to give his Muslim brother some quick lessons in how to become a member of his tribe, resulting in farcical scenes where Mahmud learns the correct inflection of "oy" and how to shrug one's shoulders with the proper degree of Semitic resignation.
To further complicate Mahmud’s life, his gangly son implores his father to pretend to be a strictly observant Muslim for the sake of his fiancee's father, a fundamentalist Muslim cleric.
“Infidel” tries hard to bring all these elements together – but in the end it’s far too ungainly a film for comfort.
The Girl Who Played With Fire
Cast: Noomi Repace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Sofia Kedarp
This is the second movie in Stieg Larsson’s Millenneum Trilogy and once again features the two key characters from “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Repace) is a wanted woman. Two people, a researcher and a Millennium journalist about to expose the truth about the sex trade in Sweden, are brutally murdered, and Salander’s prints are on the weapon. Her history of unpredictable and vengeful behaviour makes her an official danger to society – but no-one can find her anywhere.
Meanwhile, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), editor-in-chief of Millennium, will not believe what he hears on the news. Knowing Salander to be fierce when fearful, he is desperate to get to her before she is cornered and alone. As he fits the pieces of the puzzle together, he comes up against some hardened criminals, including the chainsaw-wielding ‘blond giant’ – a fearsomely huge thug who can feel no pain.
Digging deeper, Blomkvist also unearths some heart-wrenching facts about Salander’s past life. Committed to psychiatric care aged 12, declared legally incompetent at 18, this is a truly messed-up young woman who is the product of an unjust and corrupt system. Yet Lisbeth is more avenging angel than helpless victim – descending on those who have hurt her.
People who have read the book say huge segments and motivational threads have been removed from the film in order to condense the story and save time. But it renders the production difficult to follow.
Cast: Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Odette Yustman, Kristin Chenoweth, Victor Garber, Betty White
Director: Andy Fickman
Successful PR pro Marni (Kristen Bell) heads home for her older brother's (Jimmy Wolk) wedding and discovers that he's marrying her high school arch nemesis (Odette Yustman), who's conveniently forgotten their problematic past. Then the bride's jet-setting aunt (Sigourney Weaver) bursts in and Marni's not-so-jet-setting mom (Jamie Lee Curtis) comes face to face with her own high school rival. The claws come out and old wounds are opened in this comedy that proves that not all rivalries are forever.
Peter Feldman has been a journalist and arts critic for over 45 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He is active in the freelance field and his work over the past 10 years has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He writes regularly for Artslink.co.za, The Citizen, South African Jewish Report, The Sunday Independent and is a contributor to "Eat Out" Magazine. He also contributes movie reviews to Chai fm Radio and has worked on TV in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. After retiring from The Star in April, 1999, Feldman joined the PR and events management company, Dlamini Weil Communications, where he currently works as an entertainment and media consultant.