By Anna

This week I’m taking a break from Ebert’s Great Films to look at what could very well make his Great Movies III: The Town and The Social Network.

Ben Affleck is great at watching other movies. His directing always shows hints of Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood and in The Town it’s no different, but there’s also a bit of Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption) and Peter Yates (The Friends of Eddie Coyle). And paying attention to successful styles while adding a touch of your own is sure sign of a good film.

The Town is about falling in love with the wrong person, class war, loyalty and guilt.

Although robbing banks and killing cops isn’t justifiable, or shouldn’t be, it’s the only way James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) knows how to cope with what he’s been given in life. “If we get jammed up, I’m holding court on the street.” Knowing full well the system has screwed him his whole life.

And that’s what The Town does well: Uses the emotional scenes to not only develop characters, but build suspense by bringing the inevitable action to the front.

The audience never knows if Affleck’s even going to make it to the next scene.

I don’t know if the folks of Charlestown find their situation as powerful as its depicted, but the opening quotes about the neighborhood of Boston that’s notorious for bank robbers sure sets the mood.

Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) scoffs at the FBI agent who grew up in Charlestown then turned on them all, knowing full well the other option is criminal. His false sense of loyalty is powerful—be loyal to a system that kills people or loyal to your friends who kill one another?

Affleck’s certainly the best and worst parts of the film. His directing sense makes him one of the best directors of the decade, but his acting consistently falls short. Nevertheless, it’s suspenseful and terrifying.

The Social Network

From the first fast-talking bar scene, where Facebook co-creator Mark Zuckerberg gets dumped, to the final scene where he’s sitting by his computer hitting refresh waiting for the girl who dumped him to respond to his friend request, you can’t look away.

It’s the self-destructing determination and ambition of Zuckerberg that makes him an unintentional asshole. He’s brilliant yet lonely.

The film flows between the creation of Facebook at Harvard in 2003 and the two lawsuits brought against Zuckerberg as a result of his creation.

The Social Network is genius: from tilt-shifting-esque camera work, the rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack to Andrew Garfield, who plays Zuckerberg’s best friend and co-creator, and the clever and astonishing Justin Timberlake (as Napster creator Sean Parker).

It’s going to be the best movie of the year and one of the best films of all time because it’s got a steady chronological rhythm that provokes feelings in the viewer like all the greats. A feeling I had when I first opened a Bethel University Facebook account in 2006—excitement. To be a part of something no one else could be is special and powerful, the same feeling Zuckerberg wanted.

Sadly, all the original coolness and exclusivity of The Facebook turned to capitalism. But the ease and accessibility of the social network is still there and still vital for our generation.

Though many people will tell you that Facebook has destroyed human interaction, resorting to living on our profiles as projections of who we want to be, it didn’t start with Facebook. Throughout all of American history, and well before that, humans have lived in the façade of trying to be someone they’re not in order to make friends—it’s every middle schooler’s struggle.

“Wearing the face that she keeps in the jar by the door.” (Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles)

There is no going back to a time before social networks. More and more people will be “drunk and angry and stupid and blogging,” about what pisses them off. It’s where we fight our wars, government and each other.

Just as The Facebook was a “Once in a generation holy shit idea” so this one of a kind film gives its viewers a holy shit kind of feeling about the idealism of a generation.

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