Sunday, October 31, 2010

Must See Hotties on Outsourced

I am a superficial person. I have made no secret of watching movies, television shows or listening to certain artists just because of an attractive male. Usually, I'm on the ball with the latest hotties, but I've let you down, dear readers. Last Thursday night, I had NBC on in the background while I was online and Outsourced, the network's newest addition to the Must See TV lineup, came on. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw the two hotties among the show's cast:

The first is Ben Rappaport as Todd, the American boss sent to India to run his company's new call center. The second is Sacha Dhawan as Manmeet, Todd's employee and possible "bromantic" partner. Todd is supposed to be in a quasi love triangle with another Australian expatriate and an Indian co-worker, but, of course, I kept hoping for Todd and Manmeet to get together. And it's not as if I was pulling this out of thin air. In one episode, Todd invited Manmeet out to a nice restaurant for a hearty American meal. In another more telling moment, Todd and Manmeet found themselves trapped in the break room closet together trying to avoid an annoying co-worker. Sure, they were talking about chicks the whole time, but I know one day true love will rule the day.

Outsourced may have its fair share of hot guys, but the show is actually quite funny. I had heard criticisms of the show being a tad racist but I think that's outrageous. Outsourced is a classic "fish out of water" story, with one person taken from their usual surroundings and thrust into a totally different environment. The humor is born from the fact that Indian culture is totally unfamiliar to Todd and that his coworkers don't understand Americans' sense of humor. It's not breaking any new ground, but it's a sweet show with great, hilariously real characters and humor born from these characters' interactions. Hot guys and funny jokes--what more could you ask for from a show?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dear Abby, Why is This Mom So Creepy?

I have been reading Dear Abby for years. Every day in my sociology class during senior year of high school, I would skip past the front page news and the sports section and read whatever craziness Abby and her opinion-seekers were willing to dish out. I still read it everyday, online now, but today's column had a letter so batshit crazy, I had to share it with everyone:

DEAR ABBY: I have been keeping a journal for my son since he was born 22 years ago. I have never missed a single day. I write about him regardless of whether I see him or not. Sometimes I'll jot down a verse I remembered, or something happening in his world or an item of newsworthy information. I have also written my thoughts about his life and decisions.

My dilemma is when I should give these writings to him. I don't want to keep them indefinitely because they are meant for him. He is married and has a son on the way. My inclination is to give him the writings of his life on the occasion of his son's birth. He has no idea I've been doing this, so it will be a complete surprise. I'd appreciate your input. -- BLOCKED WRITER IN OKLAHOMA

No, I am not making this shit up. This is real and needs to be addressed. First of all, this woman (I'm assuming this is a woman because only a mother would do something as ridiculous as this) clearly only had one child, never had a career outside of the home and had a housekeeper to do all the housework because who the Christ else has the fucking time to sit down and write their thoughts about their son's life every fucking day for 22 years. Between working, shuttling me and my brother around and watching Dr. Phil, my mother certainly didn't have the time to do this. There wasn't one day where she was like, "Wow, I am super exhausted. I don't think I have the energy to sit down and write about my son and how important he is to me today."? Seriously? This lady needs to get a life, especially if she's still writing about him presumably after he's moved out of the house.

Secondly, is anyone else more than a little creeped out by this? If my mother ever handed over a box full of journals she has secretly kept about my life, describing in full detail every decision I have ever made with my life and her opinions on those decisions, I would be like "Crazymamadidwut?" Listen, I love my mama, but sifting through 15 volumes about my mundane life or of news articles and people that remind her of me (although, according to my mother, any kid with glasses and asthma reminds me of her) would freak me out. The whole idea is just insane. Couldn't she have bought her son an expensive gift to show her love like a normal person would?

Finally, what about the last line of the first paragraph where she mentions that she has been critiquing her son's life choices? That makes this whole idea even worse. Unless she's one of the 1% of people on this planet who is completely incapable of speaking bad about someone, I imagine there are going to be some negative thoughts included. I imagine I'm not alone in saying that I would never want to read multiple criticisms of every important decision I've made in my life. I hope that if I was making a large enough mistake, my mother would come to me and say, "Hey, maybe you need to rethink this..." instead of writing it down in a journal so that I can read about it 10 years later.

Abby had a response for this woman that, although it wasn't exactly what I would have told her, offers a smidgen of good advice if you look carefully:

DEAR BLOCKED WRITER: What an amazing gift those journals will be. However, allow me to caution you against giving them to your son when his child is born. There will be a lot going on at that time, and you do not want to distract from that momentous occasion. My advice is to wait until his next milestone birthday and present them to him when he's 25. And because you enjoy journaling, consider starting one about your own life then.

I'm not surprised that Abby praises her because she's loves sentimental bullshit like this and is about as morally progressive as pilgrim on the Mayflower. I like that she told her to wait a bit to give him the journals because who will have time to read all that shit with a brand new baby. That last line, though, is the real kicker. She's basically telling her to stop with the creepy journals about her son and start chronicling her own life. She clearly has the discipline to do it and, in all honesty, I know I would be far more interested in hearing about my mother's life from her own thoughts than about my own life, which I've already lived, through the perspective of my mother. So, all in all, Abby gets it right in the very end. That's pretty much par for the course with Dear Abby and why I still find myself reading her.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Joe Will Be the Princess

A friend of mine showed me this clip of Joe McElderry singing Taylor Swift's 'Love Story' on the X Factor live tour. As I've become a bit of a McElderry fanboy in the past couple weeks, I immediately loved this. He is just so freaking adorable. The only thing I'm sad about is that this was performed before he came out so the lyrics are changed so that he sounds like he loves the vagina. What I would have given for Joe to sing the lyric, "You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess." Oh well, it doesn't really matter; Joe will always be our princess.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Short Rants on Never Let Me Go

Dave's review of this film was spot-on, but I had a few assorted thoughts I wanted to add. I read the original novel earlier this year and was not a fan. I felt the novel's theme of what it means to be human poorly developed, the cyclical narration maddening and the build-up to the big "reveal" a complete disappointment. I went into the movie with considerably lowered expectations, but, as Dave said so well, the novel and the film are totally different beasts, each with their own unique problems. Mark Romanek's film starts off on the wrong foot with some of the most horrid, ineffectual child actors I've seen since, possibly, The Blind Side. There's a scene where Young Carey Mulligan and Young Andrew Garfield are out walking around the grounds of Halisham, the provincial school the main characters attend. The director obviously told them to walk around naturally but, much in the same way when someone tells you not to think about sex and, even if you weren't thinking of that before, that's all you can think of now, the kids walk around in the least natural way possible. The kids are so self-conscious throughout, realizing that this is "serious," "important" cinema and acting accordingly. At one point, Young Keira Knightley has such a maliciously evil look on her face, you'd think she's just biding her time until someone decides to revive The Children's Hour. As the film wears on and the kids grow up to their adult versions, Never Let Me Go pretty much abandons most of the original novel's main themes to, in the manner of a 1930's MGM adaptation of an important novel, pursue a complicated love triangle between the three leads. The decision isn't a deal breaker as it's reasonably well done and the final scene is quite touching, but it's hardly the film I should be watching when there are far more interesting themes and ideas that are briefly touched upon but never explored. What I feel both the novel and the film completely miss the mark on is the whole nature vs. nurture debate. These characters have lived under a rigid structure all of their life and have been taught to fear breaking the rules. But the whole point of the story is to prove that these people are people with souls, so why is there no one who ever decided to rebel against the system and live their own life? Every one of these people accept their fate with nary a shrug since they have been taught that their whole life and I understand this. But these people all have their own personalities and no matter the rigidness of their upbringing, there is bound to be someone who breaks the rules. This may not be what the author or filmmaker have wanted to discuss, but I feel like it needed to be brought up to make some sense out of underdeveloped themes. C+

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Someone Needs to Skin the American Version of Skins

I apologize if you're already sick of me ranting about this on my Twitter, but I need to just get all my feelings out once and for all about the impending American version of the break-out British TV show Skins. The first preview for the show, which is set to debut on MTV in January, premiered yesterday after the Jersey Shore finale and really got my blood a-boiling. I would post it here but I really don't want my precious blog to be soiled by that filth. So, if you need to satisfy your curiosity, take a second and look for it yourself.

All caught up now? Good, let's get started.

My biggest complaint with Skins--Yankee Style, as it shall now be referred to, is that it's an exact carbon copy of the original show. Not only have they taken all of the original characters and simply changed some of their names, but they also copied the pilot episode, from the story to the dialogue and right down to the exact same camera angles (it's like Gus Van Sant's Psycho but without the "experimental" excuse). It's 2010, not 1985. You simply can't take a show from across the pond and only exchange the actors for the American version anymore. And you especially cannot do it when the original British show has been as widely available and watched in the U.S. as the original Skins has. The arrogance that the creators of Skins--Yankee Style have is astounding.

For anyone who has seen the original Skins, you are fully aware that the show graphically depicts teenagers swearing up a storm engaged in sex, drug use and a host of other inappropriate activities, many of which you simply can't show on American television. But that's what made the show great; it pushed the boundaries far beyond what something like Gossip Girl, by far the raciest teen show on American network TV, could even dream of doing. By bringing the show to America, there's no way it can get away with half of the shit the original did. And watching a sanitized Skins is worse than not watching Skins at all.

I really wish MTV luck in trying to peddle this shitty excuse for a TV show to viewers who somehow haven't heard of this amazing show. Even if their show is a hit, it will never be as good as the British original because it won't have the amazing ensemble of the first two seasons. Good luck trying to find actors as individually astounding as Nicholas Hoult, Hannah Murray or Kaya Scodelario (Christ, how horrible is the Effy episode going to be?) or a cast with as amazing chemistry as April Pearson, Joseph Dempsie, Mitch Hewer, Larissa Wilson, etc. had with each other. There are so many insurmountable obstacles toward the American version of Skins that I simply have no idea how on Earth it will work.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Lifetime has recently been airing re-runs of The New Adventures of Old Christine, the now-canceled sitcom starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, so I've been watching all of these wonderful episodes over again and realizing just how much I love this show. The cast is uniformly great, but the real star is Julia as the frazzled mom Christine Campbell. When Old Christine started, she was the typical overworked mom, juggling work, motherhood, an ex-husband and a romantic life. It was all well and good, but it was nothing we hadn't seen before. As the show wore on, however, Christine became, how should I put this, more pathetic by the episode. She became a "part-time alcoholic," she couldn't commit to do anything, she depended on those around her for everything, her love life became increasingly awkward. But just when you would think she was too crazy to believable, you realized that she was utterly relatable. I would watch every week, failing at life, and realize, "Oh my God, I am SO going to be her when I grow up." And Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a godsend in the role because she was never afraid to amplify the crazy. Just like Christine, she has no shame and it worked so well in bringing the character to life.

I didn't hear until about an hour before airtime that Louis-Dreyfus was guest starring on this past week's live episode of 30 Rock. Needless to say, I was very excited by this news. I had no idea what role she would play, but just the thought of Christine Campbell and Liz Lemon, the two biggest losers on television, together on the same show made my head spin. Could I possibly handle all the middle-aged desperation about to be thrown my way? There was only one way to find out.

So, when the episode started and it was revealed that Julia was playing Liz Lemon during a couple random flashbacks (when it would have been impossible for Tina Fey to do so in the live show format), my heart skipped a beat. And her performance was every bit as amazing as you would think it would be. I laughed my ass off on Thursday and then spent the next morning watching Julia over and over again. After her years on The New Adventures of Old Christine, Julia Louis-Dreyfus completely understands how to play Liz Lemon's coarseness for laughs. Check it out for yourself:

Liz Lemon's first flashback:

Liz Lemon's second flashback:

Liz Lemon's second flashback (West Coast):

Brilliant. Not only do I want Julia Louis-Dreyfus to play Liz Lemon in all of her flashbacks, but I also want her to play me in my flashbacks. That would be epic.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Something 'Bout Archie

David Archuleta is a total square. I don't mean this as an insult--I'm sure even he would gladly admit it--but rather as an admission of a generally accepted fact. Archie is an old soul who is about as hip as my grandmother with her two artificial hips. But we love him anyways because, if nothing else, he is completely true to himself. His latest album, The Other Side of Down, doesn't break any new ground musically, but it is compulsively listenable. I seriously have not been able to press stop since I got it last Tuesday, and I think the reason for this is because of Archie's self-awareness. The songs are simple and straight-forward--you won't find the bells and whistles of the latest RedOne jam here--just like he is. There are no vocal gymnastics, no excess in any aspect of the production; it's just Archie singing with that gorgeously pure voice of his. I know that this album won't be for most people and that some crazy folks aren't smitten by the sweet-as-honey Archie, but sometimes all I need are some simple pop tunes about stomping roses or riding an elevator (probably the first time that's ever been used in a pop song without a hint of sexual innuendo) and Archie fills that void. Sometimes it's hip to be square.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I read Richard Greenberg's Tony Award-winning play Take Me Out on a whim two summers ago and immediately fell in love with it. The play, which deals with the aftermath of Darren Lemming, a star baseball player, publicly coming out of the closet, is one of the most refreshing "coming out" stories I have ever read. Instead of focusing solely on Darren's search for Who He Is while struggling with his sexuality, Take Me Out dares to present both a gay character who not only has come to grips with his sexuality but who does not see his sexuality as a way of defining him and a plot that, in addition to charting how Darren's announcement effects the periphery characters in profound ways, explores other themes such as racism and baseball as a larger metaphor. Needless to say, Take Me Out made an enormous impression on me, so when I heard that my school's (Western Michigan University, represent!) theatre department was going to perform the play, I knew I just had to see it.

Yes, I'm not going to lie: the fact that the play features full-frontal nudity AND guys in baseball uniforms was also a huge draw for me. It was how I convinced my friend to see it with me and we both appreciated the gratuitous display of the male anatomy. But, as sweet of a treat that all was, the real reason for me to go was the chance to see it performed live. There's something about seeing a play acted out that can give a whole new meaning to the written word. Little things that stuck out, good or bad, or just did not even register, can be given a whole new meaning when performed. For me, the biggest eye opener was the character of Mason, Darren's gay business manager. Mason is Darren's only connection to the gay community, albeit it is a limited one since Mason considers himself an outcast from the gay community. What struck me most about Mason in the flesh was just how funny he is. For some reason, I never read all the pauses, stutters and backtracking Greenberg wrote for Mason as funny. He is for sure the comic relief, but I did not realize how much of a showstopper this character could be until this performance. I must give credit to the actor who portrayed him, Max Rasmussen, because he obviously put in a lot of work to make Mason come alive without sounding forced. And I really appreciate the delicate balance he took with making the character more effeminate but never once going so far as to turn him into a horrible stereotype. We laughed at his overexpressiveness and the unique way he expresses his newfound love of baseball, but the laughs were never in a cheap, "look at the funny flamer" way. A hard act to balance, but the actor did fine work doing it.

Through Darren's coming out, Mason (and many other members of the gay community) starts watching baseball as a sort of tribute or a thank you to their new hero for his "bravery" in coming out. Baseball comes to mean something else to Mason by the end of the play, but, in general, Darren thinks this is bullshit and Greenberg makes a fascinating point which really struck me the more I thought about it. Why do we, as the gay community, try so hard to find a political message for a new celebrity's coming out when, in all reality, their actions may have absolutely nothing to do with advancing the "gay cause." At one point, Darren is considering leaving baseball when the return of a racist, homophobic teammate reveals that his team isn't as supportive as he thought. Mason implores him not to, citing his importance to the gays. "Fuck the gay community" is Darren's reply. He did not come out to benefit the gay community nor does he want to be seen as some sort of martyr; he came out for himself and no one else. I think this is a particularly powerful statement and an especially timely one as a new celebrity seems to come out every month or so. Immediately, I thought of Joe McElderry and his recent coming out. As I have admitted before, I never thought much of him until his announcement, as foolish and anti-progressive that is. But it is obvious that Joe did not come out for any other reason than for himself. If by coming out he helps someone in the process, that's great, but he does not want to be a figurehead for the gay community. Like Darren, Joe's announcement gave him something he would not have otherwise: freedom. And this freedom has done wonders for Joe--look at how happy he is in his music video or when performing live now that he can be himself without any repercussions. The joy is infectious, as evidenced by the fact that I tweet "WE LOVE YOU JOE" at least every other day. For Darren, however, this freedom comes with a price. One of the biggest surprises about Take Me Out is that Darren does not expect any backlash from his coming out. He has spent his whole life being untouchable, a monolith of talent who knew no boundaries to his gifts. Over the course of the play, though, Darren is revealed to be more human than either he or anyone else every thought they would. This surprises and scares him because he has never lost control of his life like this ever before. A situation like this should never occur in real life, but it does, and Take Me Out does a fabulous job exploring it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Boy With the Bee-Stung Lips

Sebastian Sauve is an up-and-coming model. He's obviously very attractive, as most male models are, but he has one distinguishing asset: those lips. Unlike another certain female movie star who is world-famous for her plump lips, Sauve's don't look misshapen and like they were injected with expired cottage cheese. His lips are big and beautiful and oh-so-kissable. Whoever said bigger isn't always better was obviously a moron because Sebastian Sauve's deliciously enormous lips are way better than any mere mortal's. I just really hope Sauve keeps on exploiting this gift of his; he could totally build a great career on it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Two Videos That Make Me LOL

The first video is a skit from this past week's Saturday Night Live parodying Miley Cyrus. Seems like an easy target, but new cast member Vanessa Bayer's impression was absolutely spot on and hilarious. The voice may not be exact, but she gets the feeling for the Miley cadence while nailing the mannerisms (I'm particularly impressed by how she captured the way Miley's mouth is open as far as possible when she speaks). And the bit when Miley shows a clip from her new film pretty much sums up Miley as a dramatic actress. The best thing about this sketch, however, is how it skewers everything that is infuriating to fans like me about Miley and her persona. There's a bit where on this fake talk show, Miley is interviewing Johnny Depp and they talk about his work. Depp talks about how he likes to explore darker characters to which Miley replies, nonchalantly, "Yeah, me too!" For someone who is about as edgy as a Susan Boyle concert, Miley sure likes to think that she is so much darker than her persona actually is. Remember that horrible bit in her memoir where
she thinks she does Method acting on Hannah Montana? I'm mean, gurrrrrl please (oops, I'm getting ahead of myself). Stop acting like you're this really intuitive and mysterious actress when your darkest role has been in a Nicholas Sparks movie. Then, in the opening monologue, Miley delivers this joke that she thinks is the funniest shit on the planet but is really nothing more than a mildly interesting statistic about French people. I don't watch Hannah Montana on a regular basis, but I've caught a few episodes and this represents how I feel about Miley as a comedienne. The bitch ain't funny, plain and simple. She says lines with odd annunciation and emphasis in the wrong spots and tries to pratfall like she's Buster Keaton (who I'm sure she thinks she channels everyday in her work) but it mostly looks like she's trying too hard. I love Miley now (as a pop star), but this sketch was brilliant for calling her out on her shit.

This is a clip from Fantasia's VH1 reality show first brought to my attention by sexy man Joel McHale of The Soup. Fantasia was recently accused of having an affair with a married man, so she defends herself to her aunt by denying that their relationship went any further than being friends. Unfortunately, Fantasia's aunt doesn't believe her for a second and let's her know with a hilarious "Gurrrrrrl please." The way she says it makes me laugh EVERY TIME, I swear to God. I have a feeling this will become the new
"And by record, I mean VAGINA."

Rants on The Social Network

Truth plays an important role in David Fincher’s The Social Network. Did Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), founder of Facebook, steal the original idea for the site from Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss, two all-American rower twins, and their best friend, Divya Narendra? Did Mark maliciously drive his best friend and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) out of the business through an underhanded business transaction? Was Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), guiding hand to Mark after the initial success of the project, the one to convince him to dump Eduardo? The Social Network raises all of these questions and, thankfully, the film refuses to answer them as well. There are plenty of reasons why Fincher, writer Aaron Sorkin and company are unforthcoming with what exactly went down between these characters but perhaps the biggest is also the simplest: no one knows the truth. The lack of what constitutes “the truth” in The Social Network really sets off the film’s detractors, who are angry that the filmmakers did not get certain facts correct or that certain characters do not resemble their real life counterparts. To complain about this, however, is to completely miss the point of the movie. Fincher and Sorkin are not interested in perfectly recreating history like this was some Oscar bait biopic about an artist with a physical handicap; they relish the moments of ambiguity, the way the story of the founding of Facebook does not have a clear trajectory. As one character says about deposition testimony, 85% of the memories are greatly exaggerated while the other 15% are complete bullshit. One cannot expect a typical biopic when you’re dealing with a story that is all about exaggerated memories and unclear motivations spurned on by unhealed emotional wounds.

The character most affected by this ambiguity is, of course, Mark. Fincher and Sorkin have a blast playing with his role in the behind-the-scenes shenanigans. He starts off quite obviously as the villain of the piece, where scathing attack after scathing attack are hurled at Mark with reckless abandon from each of the characters. Whether in the flashback scenes at Harvard or in the present day deposition scenes, where we realize that the Winklevoss twins, Divya and Eduardo are all suing Mark, smug, superior and self-satisfied when delivering his testimony, for their rightful part of the company, The Social Network wants to position Mark as the bad guy, no ifs, ands or buts. As the film progresses, though, and more and more of the supporting characters’ motives are revealed, Mark’s villain status becomes murkier. Were the Winklevii, as Mark snarkily calls them at one point, and Divya in the right for suing Mark, or were they actually jealous of the fact that he had found a way to make an extremely successful, highly-functioning social networking site and, for the first time, “things didn’t go according to plan”? Did Mark in fact steal the program, or was his chair analogy—just because you invent a chair does not mean that you can claim copyright to every chair afterwards—on point? And was the motivation for kicking Eduardo out of the company revenge-based as Eduardo suggests after discovering the bad news? Was Mark, who Eduardo had previously admitted did not care about money, even involved in the whole affair? The answer is not so clear anymore and leads to a far more interesting film than one with a pat resolution or more decisive black/white reading of the characters would have been.

Even without the duality and consistent flip-flopping of these dilemmas, the Mark Zuckerberg character is an enigma through and through. Even the ones closest to him are unable to read his moods or predict what his reaction to any particular situation will be. When we first meet Eduardo, he is coming to the aid of Mark after hearing that his girlfriend had just broken up with him. Eduardo invites Mark to share his sorrow, practically begs for it in fact, but Mark, who had worked through his feelings through blogging and creating a website that ranks the hotness of the girls of Harvard, looks at him as if he does not understand why he would need to do that. He has quickly moved on to the next thing and has no need to reflect on that experience again. As if Mark’s not enough of a cipher on his own, The Social Network presents him in Citizen Kane-like fashion where each of the characters around him remembers him in a different and distinct way. In the opening scene, Mark is in the middle of a His Girl Friday-style rapid-fire conversation with his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) about everything from taking the SATs in China to getting into one of Harvard’s prestigious Final Clubs. Mark is animated, jumping around from one topic to the next so quickly that Erica is always three questions behind. He is perhaps more animated here than he is with any other character in the film, although it is more likely a symptom of nervousness than because he is truly involved with the conversation. Mark is also always on the defensive, looking for ways to attack Erica first before she can hurt him, which prompts her to say as she dumps him, “But you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a tech geek. I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole."

With Eduardo, Mark is freer to be himself, to be lost in his own little world 90 percent of the time. Because Eduardo is accepting of this behavior and will not call him out on it, Mark can act this way. Eduardo knows to tiptoe around every sensitive subject and seems to understand Mark’s inability to offer praise and congratulations when something good happens to him (although you can tell that Eduardo wishes just once Mark would surprise him). For example, when Eduardo comes to tell Mark that he made the second cut to get into one of the Final Clubs, he approaches the conversation methodically. Instead of openly admitting, “Hey, I made the second cut!” Eduardo tosses the information out with a self-effacing tone, as in “I don’t know how in the hell I got in. It must have been a clerical error rather than because they truly want me to be a part of their club.” Later on in the film, Mark also loses his temper at Eduardo when he, in a fit of anger when Mark was allowing Sean to set up investment meetings behind his back, freezes the account that Mark was using to finance the company. Andrew Garfield is perfectly cast in the role of Eduardo, for he proved in Boy A that he is at his best juggling 14 emotions at once. With Mark as his screen partner in a good majority of his scenes, Garfield is really put to the test since he needs to work on three different levels of caution just talking to him in a normal conversation. And when he’s speaking with Mark in the aforementioned scene, not only is he dealing with that while trying to explain his position, he also has his crazy girlfriend, who has just burst through the door uninvited, in the other room, lighting the present he just bought her on fire. With so much going on, it is no doubt that it is Garfield’s best scene of the film.

When Sean Parker enters the life of Mark, he is immediately accepted as a sort of god. Sean thumbed his nose at the music industry and earned a reputation for not playing ball with the bigwigs in Silicon Valley. Mark highly respects him for this and treats everything that he says like scripture. During their initial meeting in a sushi restaurant in New York, Sean regales Mark, Eduardo and Eduardo’s girlfriend with tales from the days of Napster and his spectacular fall from his second start-up company. Eduardo thinks he is full of shit and finds him to be slightly paranoid, but Mark is captivated by him and finds Eduardo’s reservations unfounded. As the film wears on, Sean becomes the devil on Mark’s shoulder and, in a way, could be seen as the catalyst that ultimately drives apart Mark and Eduardo. One way of looking at the situation is that Sean seduces Mark with the good life and everything that could come to him if he ignored Eduardo’s “lame” advice and waited just a bit. There’s a scene that takes place in a club (with sound design that reminded me of the club scene in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, oddly enough) in which Sean, surrounded by Victoria’s Secret models and ultra expensive alcohol, tells the story of the founder of Victoria’s Secret who sold the company for $4 million only to have it valued two years later at somewhere close to $500 million. His message is clear: bide your time and the rewards will be larger.

With a character as complex as Mark Zuckerberg, it might appear strange that Jesse Eisenberg, best known for being an awkward smartass in the shadow of Michael Cera, was cast in the role. But in The Social Network, Eisenberg is really able to push the boundaries of his persona to the breaking point. The deep furrow that takes residency on his face throughout the film becomes a part of Mark’s enigma; his face becomes an unreadable mask and you have no idea how the outside world is affecting him. But, then again, there is no outside world to Mark besides Facebook. He becomes so focused on it that even the relationships he once maintained, as flimsy or difficult as they were for him, get pushed to the background. Thankfully, though, Eisenberg does not completely rely on this blank mask to do all the work. There are flashes in several important scenes where you see the guard come down and find a vulnerable human being. In the opening scene again, Erica at one point says something quite rude (albeit totally on point and appropriate) to him and he visibly winces for the briefest amount of time. It’s a crack in the façade, but it proves that Eisenberg is still fully aware within each moment of the film. For a character that was so thinly characterized and completely obtuse in the source material, The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, Eisenberg does a hell of a job at finding ways to integrate his own persona (the funniest bit of the entire movie is when he checks the math of one of the lawyers: “One second…yes, $19,000 is what I got, too.”) into the uneasiness and impenetrability of Mark. In a film filled with unsolved mysteries, Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg is the biggest question mark of them all. A-