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I just want to get this out there right away and put the cards on the
table so to speak: When I first heard about it, I had very little faith
in this project. I was stupefied, confused by the thought of what
attracted all this talent to this seemingly trivial story to begin
with? Why would David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin possibly be interested
in the story of the founding of Facebook? Surely they could have found
something more important, more meaningful to apply their efforts to.
After seeing the film, though, I realized that, of course, Fincher and
Sorkin knew what they were doing all along. And furthermore that
labeling this as "The Facebook movie" is really an insult to what
Sorkin and Fincher were trying to and have succeeded in achieving with
First and foremost, I have to take a step back and admire this film as a technical achievement. Despite seeming to be a departure for Fincher in terms of content and subject matter which it is and then again isn't the film is very clearly and undeniably a Fincher film. Re-teaming with his Fight Club director of photography Jeff Cronenweth, Fincher manages to create and capture that really unique look all of his films have. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous once again, Fincher proves that he is probably getting the best results in digital photography out of any other director working in that medium, and this film, shot on the RED One camera, looks absolutely beautiful, from the framing to the camera movement to the lighting and on to the look and the feel of the depth of field the RED captures.
Sorkin's script is also an impeccable achievement and showcases, once again just what a genius this man really is. From a structural standpoint it employs a very effective use of a framing device the Zuckerberg lawsuit depositions, which introduce the various characters and lead into "flashbacks" of the events being discussed. It really lends the film a Rashomon air and intensifies the mystery behind the Zuckerberg character and what exactly transpired in the creation of this phenomenon, Facebook. Sorkin also demonstrates an acute awareness of character construction, and manages to create a loathsome protagonist we hate and are frustrated by but yet we still end up sympathizing with. Most of all, though, it's a showcase of Sorkin's impeccable writing style and knack for writing dialogue with a very unique sound and rhythm. I saw Fincher refer to it as "Sorkinese" in an interview, and this is a really good description it is certainly very unique to Sorkin and the scripts he has written, and it is also certainly a completely unique language one which normal people in our real world do not speak, but that just sounds great on screen. The rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue remains one of the highlights of the film for me, and the script is certainly a shoo-in for Oscar consideration.
The film is also a rare showcase of pure acting prowess, and features a very interesting and eclectic cast of young actors stepping out of their comfort zones and delivering some truly phenomenal work. The casting of the film is quite a departure for Fincher, who has enough clout to gather the biggest names working in the business. Instead, he opted to go for a cast of relative unknowns or up-and-comers, and really make stars out of them. First and foremost to be mentioned is Jesse Eisenberg, an actor I have personally been a fan of since The Squid and the Whale in 2005 and one whose work I have continued to enjoy since then. However, no matter how good he was in those previous films, none of his previous performances compare to his amazing achievement on this film. Stripping away his signature goofiness and neurosis, Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg as a cold, calculated and determined genius who knows what he wants, is very confident and forward-looking and will stop at nothing to get it. His counter in the film is Saverin, played brilliantly by Andrew Garfield, a name we will be hearing a lot more of of in the next few years: Saverin is a far more sympathetic character, more warm and inviting these traits only increase the impact of the tragedy of Zuckerberg's betrayal of their friendship.
Many pundits and commentators have designated this to be the "film that defines our generation", and truly a "product of its time" in the most literal sense of the word. However, I'm not sure I like this designation, especially since once you watch the film, you very quickly realize that this isn't a story about the founding of Facebook; it's really a story of friendship, ambition and betrayal, a character study of this fascinating individual whose actions in the film happen to depict the invention of an online social networking site that gets out of hand and puts all of his relationships, especially that with his best friend and business partner, in jeopardy. All of the themes mentioned above are universal and can be applied to a number of fantastic films and works of fiction over the centuries, and that, I think, is the greatest achievement of the film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am a big of David Fincher's work, when I realized he was going to
make a film about the creation of Facebook, I was really excited. I
came in the movie with huge expectations, and hopeful that it would
turn out great. I have to say, I was impressed, my expectations were
not only met, but they were blown away. The Social Network easily
rivals Fincher's previous works like "Fight Club" or "Se7en".
Aesthetically the film is very beautiful, its very "Fincher". It has a very perversely attractive appeal, a glimmering awfulness, as it was lit from within. David Fincher deserves an Oscar for Best Director, he is extremely underrated by the Academy. Hopefully this film will finally bring Fincher in a new light.
The actors did an amazing job, they should all be recognized for their work in this movie. Jesse Eisenberg did an amazing job playing Mark Zuckerberg. Hopefully he will not be known as the next Michael Cera anymore. With this film, he established himself as a serious actor and he will have a bright future ahead of him. Andrew Garfield also did an amazing job as the co-founder of Facebook and the best friend of Zuckerberg. He deserves an Oscar nom and I hope we'll be seeing more of him in the future. The rest of the cast did a fine job and also hoping seeing them in the future.
I recommend this movie to everyone, it deals with betrayal and greed. The movie definitely deserves an Academy award for Best Picture. It is extremely revalent for our times and many years to come. I consider this movie is a fine piece of modern filmmaking and probably will be considered as a classic in the future. So if you're not doing anything tonight, you should spent an evening in theaters to watch The Social Network.
Maybe I'm too old. No, not maybe, I am. I saw this characters as aliens of sorts. I know they represent today's landscape, brrrrr. The film as a film is one of the best of David Fincher but the universe it explores gave the chills. A world approaching its end, fast. The youth of the characters made it even more sinister. I couldn't detect their soul or any evidence of its existence. In a way they represent the worst of the previous generations. Roman Emperors or Wall Street. Profit is the name of the game and the ideas come out of boredom of longings to get laid. Love and friendship, loyalty and/or honor as obsolete as good manners. Jesse Eisenberg is chillingly perfect as the humanoid that started it all - or did he? - Justin Timberlake keeps surprising me. Good, very good and Andrew Garfield, the most recognizable of the characters is a victim of sorts and he'll be destroyed no matter how much money he gets. How I wish this was merely a science-fiction film.
I went into this film with little or no hope. By the time the movie was
over, with the Beatles' "Baby, You're A Rich Man" playing over the end
credits, I had a huge smile on my face. I literally cannot wait to
watch this again during it's wide release.
The lighting and camera work here is beautiful, every scene and sequence is a joy to watch. If Fincher hasn't already proved himself time and time again with his great films, this one might be the one to seal the deal for him. One sequence in the middle of the film features a boring rowboat race. Fincher sets up the photography so beautifully, that it feels like you're watching a painting come to life.
All the performances are excellent. Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg as a fast-paced, nerdy, kind of jerk-ish attitude, and Andrew Garfield is his best friend, Eduardo, who at the beginning didn't mean much to me, but I found myself rooting for him by the end. Justin Timberlake is easily the weakest one of the three, but he still does a decent job.
And oh, man the soundtrack. Trent Reznor deserves some kind of recognition for this. It is amazing. A lot of people say the movie sounds boring. They cite "The invention of facebook" as an uninteresting topic. I say don't believe that talk, and check out this interesting, funny, thrill ride by Fincher and co.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is something wrong with this film like it was put though a filter
of some type to remove any real humanity, unless that is the point. I'm
not a psychiatrist but Mark Zuckerberg as portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg
in the film seems to suffer from some kind of emotional agnosia. . .and
so does the film.
I was looking forward to this film and I had fun watching it, but as I thought about it afterwards, all I could remember were the squandered opportunities the film had to actually tell a moving story about friendship and loyalty that got wrecked by a cool business venture that became much too successful way too quickly.
Both Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher have both said The Social Network is not really about the "Facebook saga" with Sorkin even being so bold as to claim the basic story goes all the way back to the Greek dramatists. He has a point, so what do you think, would Aristophanes have been a MAC man or a PC user?
Truly, you won't find a better emotional core to build a drama around than the relationship between best friends Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). That bromance is the heart of The Social Network and the film kept getting close to this emotional territory but then it would crash like an overloaded network and flit to other characters not important to the main story.
For example, the machinations of the Winklevoss twins are comic relief elevated to main story arc status. The self-righteous anger they feel and the lengths they go to seek revenge play like Margaret Dumont fighting with Groucho Marx.
It's very satisfying to see these overly entitled, great white hopes become dismayingly angry that things didn't go exactly the way they wanted them to for probably the first time in their lives. The Social Network develops a sharp edge to it in these scenes from their characters genuine feelings of an entitlement snatched away from them by a clearly undeserving cretin and the actors play it for all the high comedy they can.
But the main bromance is tested when the sexy, charming, persuasive entrepreneur Sean Parker (played to paranoid perfection by Justin Timberlake) comes in well over an hour into the film and starts finding ways to turn Facebook into a mega-money making operation all the while charming the pants off Mark Zuckerberg; much to Eduardo's sad eyed jealousy.
At this moment, The Social Network could become an ancient Greek drama in more ways than one.
But it doesn't. Instead, we just get more back and forth cutting between depositions and lawyer meetings, which are interesting and could have provided clues into the characters, but don't. These scenes were the biggest missed opportunities in the film.
Another squandered moment, why can't we see the scene where Zuckerberg goes into an investment banker's office in his bathrobe and slippers to deliver a Sean Parker bird-flip? Will Zuckerberg realize that making good on revenge for others is totally unsatisfying? And why was the tough talking Parker too big a wuss not to do it himself?
If the scene isn't going to advance the plot or inform about the characters, why have it?
Witnessing Parkers pathetic attempt at a put down of Andrew Garfield by offering him a check for $19,000 and then totally being made a fool of showed exactly what kind of man Saverin was and what kind of useless blow-hard Parker was.
As a secondary theme, the idea that money can ruin almost anything good like friendship, loyalty or love, even here, The Social Network does not convince. It seems that it was the fact that Facebook made tons of money that this story even has an ending that did not end in suicide or death. If Sorkin or Fincher sees anything ironic or even noteworthy in this, they sure don't indicate it in the film.
Remember, people would even have excused a horrible sociopathic bully like Alex DeLage in A Clockwork Orange if he had only made a billion dollars for someone.
As it is right now, The Social Network feels way too long and there is no emotional payoff. I didn't feel a sense of relief or fun or even sadness when the end credit titles listed what happened to the various characters.
The Social Network had glibness and a flow that only indicated a surface look at the deeper themes, but nothing else.
Fincher generally likes to make fast moving films because he seems to fear depth. He probably disagrees with the saying that "still waters run deep" and thinks that still waters are the ones that turn stagnant.
Well David, that's true, but stagnant water can still be deep water, and shallow water is never anything else.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Social Network is contrived, artificial and overlong, but it didn't
have to be. There were the makings of a really absorbing movie, using
the very timeless themes of betrayal and greed; however, those
opportunities were repeatedly squandered. The dialogue was
characteristic of Sorkin, with the actors continually speaking over
each other, spouting bon mots that rang hollow because they had no time
to register. When a simple statement with a few words would suffice and
be much more powerful, Sorkin stuffed in multiple sentences that
rendered the scene lifeless. Sometimes silence is the most powerful
indicator of feeling.
The most glaring problem is the absolute implausibility of one of the central motifs of the story, which is Zuckerberg's obsession with final clubs. The references are hilariously outdated and irrelevant, coming from right out of the 60s. Does anyone really believe that Zuckerberg would screw his co-founder out of his share of the company because of resentment over the fact that Eduardo was chosen for one of the clubs? Whatever happened to plain and simple greed? Surely there was a more interesting and more credible way to explain why the partnership went sour. The filmmakers should have found it.
It has been well publicized that the film is largely fictional; most of the machinations described in the film never happened or didn't happen as portrayed. Both the director and screenwriter have admitted that they don't know much about Facebook or see the point of it. Sorkin himself also said that he was willing to sacrifice the truth for a good story. That isn't necessarily a problem; if the storytelling is solid, the stretching of facts can be overlooked. In this case, the plot is overwrought and not believable, making the glaring plot holes and lack of veracity prominent.
A few more quibbles: the soundtrack was incredibly intrusive, the portrayal of all the women in the film was shameful and sexist, and the vision of life at Harvard was inauthentic. I thought the main actors did a fair job with the material they were given, especially Jesse Eisenberg, who managed to give Zuckerberg more than one dimension. But the movie could have been so much more, which makes the final result really depressing.
...and that's "The Social Network".
It joins the ranks of his best, and just like many of his his previous works, has been reviled before it was properly understood.
For months before it came out, it was the laughing stock of people who were off-put by the idea of a "movie about Facebook" (even though it's easy to look and see that it's about the founding of Facebook and the people behind it), just like "Fight Club" is dismissed as a violent film about people fighting, or that "Se7en" is just a serial killer movie.
Not to get sidetracked, though.
"The Social Network" is filmmaking and storytelling of a high order, that shows the grand irony of a socially inept Harvard student named Mark Zuckerberg who ended up creating one of the largest social phenomena of the twenty-first century (and love Facebook or hate it, it most certainly is that). The story works as an engaging, fascinating character study; at the beginning of the story, Mark is a socially maladjusted reject, and even after several million 'friends' and a few billion dollars later, he remains pretty much the same.
The outstanding acting, style and direction, as well as the great script armed to the teeth with sharp dialogue is what people are likely to miss by dismissing it as a mere 'Facebook movie'.
Even if it were just a "movie about Facebook", why is such subject matter off-limits? Things that have become a large part of our culture shouldn't be reflected in our art? Or, is it because of that? That technology is such a scary thing and needs to be dismissed? The indisputable fact is that everything that's going on with social networking and the world of the Internet is incorporated into the ideas of a certain corner of history, this one, which will be remembered as such, and "The Social Network" may very well be remembered as a film to define that era.
So please, this is one of the films to see this year. Don't get hung up on the idea that it's just a silly "Facebook movie", or else you'll be missing out on an excellent picture.
This is a film which simply shouldn't work, but it does -
magnificently. A story centred on a teenager who becomes the world's
youngest billionaire, a web site that reaches a million users in two
years, and a cast of real life characters with names like Zuckerberg
and Winklevoss just shouldn't be possible. A convoluted tale of raw
conflict on the origins of a new type of web site should not lend
itself to an expensive movie as opposed to a television documentary. It
succeeds because it is not about the technology but about creativity
and conflict and about friendship and betrayal. It succeeds because of
a magical combination of accomplished direction, scintillating dialogue
and superb acting.
The direction comes from David Fincher who has had variable success, all the way from "Alien 3" to Se7en", but here he is right on form with a flashy, but tightly structured, presentation that never fails to command your attention and interest. The all-important, sparkling script is courtesy of Aaron Sorkin who gave us "The West Wing" - the best television series ever - and yet apparently does not do social networking.
At the heart of the movie is a brilliant, Oscar-worthy performance from Jesse Eisenberg as the 19 year old Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, the genius behind "The Facebook" (the social network), the unsympathetic anti-hero of the adventure, a borderline sociopath variously described by women characters as "an asshole" and someone "just trying so hard to be" one. Andrew Garfield is excellent as Zuckerberg's Harvard roommate and co-founder of the site Eduardo Savarin; thanks to the wonders of CGI, Arnie Hammer manages to be terrific as both the twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss; while singer Justin Timberlake is a revelation as the Napster founder Sean Parker. This is a testosterone-charged fable with room for women only in minor support roles - ironic in that getting girls was the impetus for the Facebook project.
The film opens in 2003 with a breathlessly wordy encounter and closes in 2009 with a poignantly wordless scene. In between, the story zips along at the frenetic pace characterised by the business itself. Adapted from Ben Mezrich's book "The Accidental Millionaires", the framework for the fascinating narrative is not one but two courtroom dramas or, to be more accurate, pre-trial hearings (both resulted in out-of-court settlements which tells you a lot). Clearly you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Social Network is a very disheartening experience for me as an
artist. If this artificially constructed multimillion dollar
advertisement for drug use, misogyny, greed, narcissism, nihilism,
genetic slavery and adolescent predatory behavior is what is to be
considered excellence in filmic storytelling then creating a work of
actual social and/or artistic worth will be a serious uphill battle.
I enjoyed Risky Business despite its cynical "at the core of all enterprise is sexual desire" theme. It was sophomoric, but it had a touch of artistic sophistication and intellect. This new millennial update is stale, sleazy, colorless and so obviously contrived that it has no sense of reality beyond its stylistic pretensions. Its like a sociopathic vision of social behavior. For every attempt at objectivity the end translation for the audience is hyperbole and smug distance.
By the end of The Social Network's first act, its snide manner simply had me yawning in anticipation of yet another tritely structured 'in your face' remark from the so-called "asshole" who is our (anti?)hero. Was the actor purposely directed into the countenance of some spoiled deity who has to tolerate the ignorant mice that are his fans, accusers and fellow kind? Or is he just supposed to be a caricature dissolving into the ether even as he reflects bleak truths onto the contours of opposing perspectives? At one point our hero mentions that it is raining as if the statement profoundly dispels any and all significance beyond his own observations, and then he proceeds to demonstrate that his attention is sacrosanct by hushing everyone into amazed silence with the power of mere articulation. And wouldn't it be cool to be a cocky billionaire who has the random wit of a seasoned screenplay writer and who lives in a fantasy world where eyes roll in wonder at his every pontification. A world where pathological confidence almost always accrues the appropriate level of silent reaction. This is just geek fantasy for those who dream of challenging the forces that be but will never have expensive propaganda machinery to back them up...oh wait.
Could the protagonist be even slightly incorrect in his philosophies? The editing says no. Every punctuation says that our hero is a Zen carved guru who can penetrate any artifice that attempts to snare him, even as he is using the same tactics in order to justify his every action. The film clearly wants this character to be seen as an ambassador of truth (As if any film that willingly treats its female characters as eye candy, drug addled leeches or disturbed shrews has any perspective on truth ). Even the two scenes where he is intellectually bested by his girlfriend seem to exist only to placate the view that the character is not an intellectual psychopath, but a sympathetic "geek".
In the final act of this film some 'wisdom' is offered to our hero by a legal associate; he should treat his responsibility for those he has betrayed and disrespected as though they were representatives of traffic court groveling for the cost of a ticket. "Your not an asshole" she confides in him, " your just trying so hard to be". What sense does this make? Psychologically? Socially? Grammatically? Morally? Yeah, dude, just give the little guys some crumbs and then you can muse on how your really just a victim after all. How romantic, the young billionaire is just a lonely guy looking for a girlfriend. Cue The Beatles.
If nothing else I would say that The Social Network does a great job of demonstrating just how sad, lonely and artificial the human animal can become when roaming around in the belly of the beast that is modern technology. Sometimes I think nothing is digesting in here but the inevitable regurgitation of human banality. Somebody give me a bong hit and a shot of whiskey (or a billion dollars) so I can feel on top of the world for just a moment before I flitter out of existence altogether. Is this the great truth of our species? Are we at our most lucid admitting to emotional centers we find both ugly and arousing while embracing the cold nothingness that surrounds our world as the only true reality? And if this film actually does represent the truth of our species then why are we even pretending to care about anything?
The traits and ambitions shown in The Social Network are not admirable or enviable. They are symptoms of social disease. Though I am sure that this is a perspective most alien to the film's producers. As opposed to being wowed by a sweeping camera shot in some real or constructed simulation of a techno bar, I was wondering how many staving children could be fed, and for how many years, with the cost of a scene representing nothing but hollow ambition. I feel sick for even posting this rant with the knowledge that many of those who facilitate this medium are of a psychology most adverse to any sense of social health or honesty. Maybe I am ultimately just one of the diseased. If so, I wish we had less disingenuous commercial representation.
And now some final thoughts:
F**k the philosophy of this film. F**k its narrow view of existence, and most especially f**k its arrogant dishonesty. Enjoy me, sheep, it seems to say. Watch the rich flaunt themselves and think you are watching good entertainment, think you are watching serious art. Think that you are watching a summery of self. Christ, even think you are watching the very reflection of human Truth. Just don't go thinking that all of the juice in the body eclectic is anything but bitter self-distraction in the endless vacuum of space. And if this realization makes you want to do another bump of coke, then rock on. Your still f***ing peasants as far as John Lennon can see.
Let's start with the script. It's great. Written by soon-to-be-best-
adapted-screenplay-nominee/winner Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network's
writing is intelligent and demanding on multiple levels: most
obviously, the story is cleverly structured across dual lawsuits, but
there's an equal amount of sophistication to Sorkin's character
work--Zuckerberg is never quite capable of maintaining a dialog,
Eduardo always stops just short of explicating his emotions.
Those two characters are wonderfully played by inevitable acting award nominees Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield--Eisenberg owns the brisk pace of the film while Garfield brings most of the humanity--who anchor a terrific ensemble--SAG best ensemble, perhaps? The film's score is a perfectly atmospheric concoction of electronica from edgy dark horse best original score nominees Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and it's all united under the name and vision of David Fincher, who did not win an Oscar for Fight Club or Zodiac or Benjamin Button.
All of this is to say two things: this is a really great movie from a phenomenal creative team, and also there are times when the film feels somewhat calculated for accolades--never in the repugnantly safe, crowd- pleasing, middle-brow Benjamin Button sense, but in the sweetly transparent sense of a kid who did all his chores and is suggesting that he might deserve a cookie.
You know what? Give David Fincher a cookie. The Social Network is thoroughly intelligent and engaging as a modern biopic and as an examination of evolving cultural currency, and it's also one of my favorite films this year. -TK 10/1/10
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