September 25th, 2011

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The Social Network

FINALLY, I get to talk about one of my top three films of last year - The Social Network. I saw it again on the big screen at The Scoop on Thursday and so, with the film fresh in my mind, I can finally write about it.

First up, although the film ostensibly tells the story of the founders of Facebook, focusing on the creation and development of Facebook, this film is NOT about Facebook. Being a passionate Facebook refusenik myself, if the film was about Facebook, it would not hold my attention for longer than the opening titles.

So what is the film about? For me, the film is about friendship, loyalty, betrayal and the pursuit of power and money. It is also about the closeted world of Harvard, and how important it is to be accepted and endorsed by your peers there. These are all themes that I am interested in and can relate to.

The first thing I just HAVE to mention is the writing and the screenplay. It is outstanding. I love the fast, sharp, witty and cutting dialogue, dialogue that assumes its audience is intelligent. I love the fact you get straight into the story and you are gripped the whole way through. The plot has power and packs a real punch.

Jesse Eisenberg is simply outstanding as Mark Zuckerberg. In my humble opinion, he (or James Franco for 127 hours) should have got the Oscar, not Colin Firth. He totally inhabits the character and soul of this version of Mark Zuckerberg. He plays him as highly/super intelligent, who wants more than anything to get into and be accepted by the top Harvard clubs, with a sharp and biting sarcastic tongue, a conflicted individual, torn between wanting to be a true friend, drawn to the bright blinding light that is Sean Parker, and yet fighting and trying hard to win all of the numerous lawsuits against him.

I simply love Justin Timberlake playing Sean Parker in this film. He has a magnetic screen presence in this film, you are drawn to him, as Mark is, like a moth to a flame. He is charismatic and charming, the bad boy who has the world at his feet. A risk taker, and therefore exciting.

Photo credit:

As I have talked about how brilliant both Jesse and Justin are in this film, it is only fair that I mention the third male lead in the film, who makes up the trio of male leads, Andrew Garfield. He is also outstanding as Eduardo Saverin, the one true and loyal friend that Mark has who ultimately feels that Mark has betrayed him, both as a friend and as a business partner.

Something I noticed on this viewing of the film, which I did not when I first saw it, was that Mark was blogging on Livejournal. Yes one of us could be the next Mark Zuckerberg (or maybe not!).

Ultimately, at the close of the film, being a billionaire does not bring Mark Zuckerberg happiness. He wants his ex-girlfriend - Erica Albright - back, but she dumped him because of the type of person he was, and is unlikely to ever take him back. Money does not buy happiness in this world, let alone the next!

I am championing this film and saying that if you have not yet seen it, now is the time to do so. It is available on Amazon here:

In case you won't believe me, I am linking to reviews that I wholehartedly concur with and that do the best job in terms of selling the film - the Evening Standard and the Observer:
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Praise to the Lord, the Almighty - Joachim Neander, 1650–1680

As I am going to the evening service at All Souls and I want to put something inspiring and stirring up now, I have decided to run with my School Hymn!

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation;
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation;
Come ye who hear,
Brothers and sisters draw near,
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth:
Hast thou not seen
All that is needful hath been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work, and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee:
Ponder anew
All the Almighty can do,
He who with love doth befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath come now with praises before Him!
Let the amen
Sound from His people again:
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

- Joachim Neander, 1650–1680
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Shakespeare's Globe, London

Finally, rather belatedly, The Umbrella Organisation welcomes Shakespeare's Globe!

I LOVE the Globe! I have been a Friend of Shakespeare's Globe for many many years, ever since my first visit there. It opened to the public in 1997 so my first visit, I think, would have been sometime in the late 1990s. The Globe is a very special theatre.


The Globe is the nearest reconstruction to a theatre as it was in Shakespeare's day. The RSC claim to have that - that is simply not true! The theatre which is nearest to the theatre in Shakespeare's day, based on the best available and most painstaking research, is the Globe.

You can have the best seats in the House for £5. These are the standing tickets in the Yard. They are closest to the action, you can follow the action around the stage, and this section has by far and away the most interaction with the actors on the stage.

More than any other theatre I have ever been to, either in the UK or abroad, the Globe has the most interaction between the actors on stage and the audience. This is something it proactively cultivates and celebrates. As one of the actors at the Globe said yesterday at a Meet the Cast session I attended, the audience are PART of the show - you can see them, you can see their faces, this is different to any other London theatre. The interaction between the audience and the players makes the Globe special, it gives the place a real buzz and an energy that you simply do not get at other theatres.

The Globe attracts a very diverse audience. Young and old; Londoners and tourists; UK and international; all races, faiths and nationalities; theatre buffs and people who are just trying the theatre experience out for the first time. This gives the theatre an energy and a vibe that does not occur elsewhere.

Finally, it is an open air theatre (it has no roof) which means that there is a very special feeling as night falls during a performance. You go from perfect light, to near dark, where the lighting takes over. To have the sky and the stars there above you also makes it feel special and unique.

To summarise it in a nutshell, I think the atmosphere at the Globe is markedly different from any other London theatre, and this is down to its audience and the players, the way they intreact with the audience. If you have never been there I would recommend a trip there as soon as possible!

Shakespeare's Globe are here:

Unfortunately, due to my idiocy, I am promoting the Globe at a time when it is just about to close for the winter - its current Season (2011) finishes next week. However, you can look forward to the next Season now.

Whilst the next Season brochure is not yet out, what the Globe are going to be doing between late April and early June, as part of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012, is innovative and ground-breaking.

Lifted from the Globe flyer:

Beginning on Shakespeare's birthday, 23 April 2012, the Globe will host a kaleidoscope of 37 international theatre companies, from some of the most respected to some of the newest, to present every one of Shakespeare's plays in a different language over six weeks.

Building on a long tradition of international Shakespeare productions in London, the project will celebrate the vast array of ethnic communities and languages that make up the city's vibrant multi-cultural landscape.

Tickets go on sale in October 2011.

To find out more follow the link:

If you cannot wait until the Spring, what is open all year round is the Globe exhibition and theatre tour which I highly highly highly recommend!

The Globe exhibition is the world's largest and most comprehensive exhibition devoted to Shakespeare and the London in which he lived and worked.

Theatre tours
The Globe theatre is a faithful reconstruction of the open air playhouse first built in 1599, where Shakespeare worked and for which he wrote many of his greatest plays. Throughout the year, a tour of the theatre is included in a visit to the Globe Exhibition.

To find out more about the Exhibition and the tour follow the link:

Whilst you are at the Globe, I recommend a visit to the Shop, which is great for books, posters, postcards, and Shakespeare fun memorabilia, all at decent prices. The Shop is here:

Get on down to the Globe this week!

That is more than enough for now, but I am going to stay with the Globe as later this week I will be running a feature on their planned Indoor Jacobean Theatre.