It was our anniversary a few weeks ago. Not a major one, just an in-between one. So I bought Mrs Chrisparkle everything you needed for a night in. A box of chocolates, a bottle of champagne, a bottle of Saint-Emilion (sheep as lamb syndrome) and a DVD. I say “DVD”, but in fact it was our first ever blu-ray purchase, as our new “Sound Bar” (so trendy) is also a blu-ray player. “You’ll notice such a difference”, said the salesman.
Well the chocolates were eaten in pretty short order, so I thought I’d better buy another box. That too got consumed rapido, and the Saint-Emilion went the way of all flesh last Sunday. But that left the champagne (really nice) and the DVD. I bought “The Social Network” because a) we’d heard of it; b) I use Facebook a lot; c) it was up for a number of Oscars; d) it was in the blu-ray charts; and e) it was the only film in the charts that wasn’t either violent or for kiddywinks. Ergo, The Social Network was the recipient of my purchasing power.
It was pretty early on in the proceedings that we both agreed we really didn’t care one iota what happened to any of the characters. Mrs Chrisparkle was prepared to bale out about twenty minutes in, I urged caution in the hope that it might improve. It didn’t really, but we did stay to the bitter end.
Did you ever see Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus”? One of the criticisms of the older generation of the young upstart Mozart was that his music had “too many notes”. Well here is a film that has too many words. Far too many. From the start to the finish you are subject to a verbal assault that bombards the senses and leaves you drained. I have no doubt that Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg is an accurate depiction of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome or Narcissistic Personality Disorder or whatever it is that he has, but I found the constant pounding of the words out of his mouth intensely tiring.
It’s certainly a clever cinematic trick that one actor (Armie Hammer) played both the Winklevoss twins. In fact I didn’t realise it until I came to research this blog post. Presumably that’s why it won the Oscar for Best Film Editing. Well I can’t argue with that. The scene where the twins were complaining to the President (was that his title?) of Harvard was probably the most entertaining of the whole film. As usual, I hadn’t seen any of these actors before. I didn’t think any particular role was performed in a knock-out excellent way.
The big problem though for us was that there was no feeling of suspense at all in the film – we knew about the court case over the “ownership” of Facebook, so we knew where it was all heading; most of the characters were either unpleasant or one-dimensional so there was no identifying with anyone; and the script struck me as remarkably unwitty – perhaps I’m too old to laugh at rowers with their pants down or a guy being accompanied by a chicken. The whole effect was to make me want to use Twitter more.
So I’m reading the reviews on the front of the dvd box: “Masterpiece” (The Times); “An American Landmark” (Rolling Stone); “One of the truly defining films of its era” (Radio Times); “Inspiring” (Daily Mail); “Smart, exciting and thought-provoking” (The Sunday Times) and I wonder which film’s screening they actually attended. Remind me to take no notice of these organs’ arts reviews in future.
And how was the blu-ray aspect? It was fine. I guess I was expecting something more though. I didn’t think it made that much of a difference. Still, the champagne was nice.