Since I’ve had a slow work week, I’ve been consuming several things on the big and small screen., and over the next couple of days I’ll share my thoughts about them on this blog.
First is “The Social Network,” which proves yet again that Aaron Sorkin is our best contemporary screenwriter. He uses words in a way we haven’t seen since David Mamet was at his peak over a decade ago. The speeches he crafted for the characters in this movie (particularly Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg) are crisp, clever, and smart, in the same way as those he devised for “Sports Night,” “The West Wing,” “The American President,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” and “A Few Good Men.”
In interviews Sorkin has done to promote the movie, he has said he wanted to offer different perspectives on events, a la “Rashomon.” But instead of giving us disparate views, he gave us visualizations of legal depositions and he-said-she-said disputes. It’s an effective way of telling the story, and the characters vividly drawn, but it’s no “Rashomon.”
Still, it’s a pleasure to hear his wit and pacing in the dialogue, and director David Fincher gets the look right — right down to the coding that Zuckerberg and his fellow Harvard computer geniuses are obsessed with night and day.
The second movie I’m recommending is “The Town,” a tour de force by Ben Affleck, who stars, directs, and developed the story of a group of bank robbers from the Charlestown area of Boston. Affleck smartly leaves the goofy stuff behind and plays it straight as the leader of a quartet of tough guys who take direction from Pete Postlethwaite and stay one step ahead of the FBI, whose lead investigator is played by Jon Hamm.
While Affleck gets good performances from everyone, he could have worked a little more with Hamm on his Boston accent. At times, Hamm is heavy on the blue-collor Boston-ese, pronouncing “Star Market” as “Stah Mahket,” but too often he loses the accent entirely. He’s not bad in the role, but he should have had a consistent voice.
The scene-stealer in “The Town” is Jeremy Renner, who got a lot of attention last year for “The Hurt Locker.” Renner’s character is the best friend of Affleck’s character who has a volatile temper and a chip on his shoulder from nine years in prison. He’s all rough edges, the kind of guy who’d stick a knife in you just for bumping into him accidentally. That volatility makes him both an asset and a liability during the bank robberies, and helps kick-start the plot.
All in all, a very solid piece of entertainment.
Third on my content consumption list is “Boardwalk Empire.” When it debuted on HBO, I thought it would be another of those shows I had to watch every episode of. I’m a big Steve Buscemi fan, and with Martin Scorcese’s involvement, they had me from the boardwalk on. But they’ve lost me after just a few weeks by getting bogged down in too many stories I didn’t care about. It’s tough to keep me interested in a period piece, but the tales of corruption and power in the prohibition era should have been enough to do it.
They weren’t, so I’m done with the series.