Film Review: The Social Network (so yeah…they mean Facebook)

Just a fad? A waste of time? For people with no real lives? Facebook may fall victim to the generation gap but there’s no denying its popularity.

Over 500 million people actively use the site, spending 700 billion minutes of their time every month updating statuses, poking people and checking out pictures.

The company is currently valued at $25 billion, making CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg the youngest billionaire of all time.

But The Social Network’s story begins well before all that in 2003, at a bar at Harvard University with poor socially awkward Mark (Jesse Eisenberg) being dumped by his Girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) for being elitist about his academic future.

Sure enough, Mark doesn’t react too well to this and goes on the computer-geek version of a alcohol binge, creating a site called facemash.com which compares girls on the university campus, blogging all the while.

It’s not all megabytes and C++ coding though, and as Mark, with his business partner/best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), evolves their company from a lose connection of college students to the most popular social networking site in history the strain begins to show.

Mark and Eduardo soon don’t see eye to eye over the business, with Eduardo pushing to make money from their success while Mark insists: “We don’t even know what this is yet, all we know is that it’s cool.”

Whether the film is a true reflection of what really happened between the pair through those ground-breaking years, only seven years ago, is unlikely, but there is a keen sense of teenage-awareness with director David Fincher, helmsman of Seven, Fight Club and Zodiac, to keep the film entertaining as well as tense.

Zuckerberg wasn’t involved with the film and in fact only Saverin is loosely connected with the book which originated the film, The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.

Nonetheless the events did happen, and a few unexpected names pop up in the opening credits such as Kevin Spacey as Executive Producer and Trent Reznor, the founder of industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails, on music duty alongside Atticus Ross, who appeared in Reznor’s post-Nails side project How to Destroy Angels.

The supporting cast has a few surprising additions, none more so than former pop sensation Justin Timberlake, who plays Sean Parker, a renegade entrepreneur who co-founded original music sharing site Napster back in 1999. Parker becomes a wedge between Mark and Eduardo and Timberlake manages to be convincing as the washed-up party boy – strange that.

Social media is undoubtedly a phenomenon, and Facebook is at the centre of it, like MySpace before it it changed everything about how people interact on the internet, and it continues to be important today, seven years on, after a lot of similar sites have long since declined, including MySpace itself.

As for the film the story is engaging because of the friendship between the characters, and anyone who has grown up with the rise of the internet will relate to it’s integration with the cyberculture which has evolved in the 21st century, as well as typical teenagery moments.

For those who don’t know Facebook and don’t want to know it won’t offer much, but to see what goes into something that has become more than ‘just a fad’ it is much more rewarding.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

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Smartphones: App-tacular Ubrain for Android and iPhone

Some people’s lives are ruled by music – I am one such sufferer – and with Spotify and Last.fm around you would have thought we had enough music-related apps about, but, of course, you were wrong.

The idea behind Ubrain – other than having a name that sounds like a type of yo-yo – is that it creates sound to control you. The most blatant brain-washing idea (no pun intended…) since Simon Cowell’s plan to put on a 24 hour X-Factor marathon is achieved through binaural waves.

If you don’t know what they are then don’t worry, though you are a little behind the times since they discovered them back in 1839, but the science is that binaural beats are based on broadcasting 2 different frequencies, one in each ear, resulting in a median 3rd beat. This 3rd beat becomes an attraction to your brain and encourages cerebral activity to stick to this virtual beat and carry the brain to this frequency.

Basically, it convinces your brain it is happy if you are feeling a bit down by combining sounds, and although the effect is only temporary, it could be enough to give you a bit of confidence before you take that final exam, or wake you up in time to get to work.

Apparently it does have genuine scientific basis, according to clinical psychologist Brigitte Forgeot, who said: “I’m looking forward to its release, and hope it will turn out to be a product which can be adapted for use in therapeutic treatments. Being able to combine music you enjoy with binaural sound waves is a very definite plus, which leaves room for a lot of creative freedom and different uses of this process.”

There’s also endorsement from Grammy nominated DJ Paul van Dyk: “That music effects your mood is something we all know – that binaural beats can boost these effects and increase your energy level, help to focus, or calm you down to relax was something I experienced using the Ubrain App.” Check out more here:

The app is now available on Android market and for iPod, iPad and iPhone on iTunes, but before you part with £3.49 check out these fancy YouTube videos:

The power of Ubrain

How it all works….

James Michael Parry

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