The Social Network

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Postby Damien » Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:38 pm

The Original BJ wrote:The public is not interested in Facebook?

Not in its back story, or at least that's my hunch. 60 Minutes was a top-rated TV show but that still couldn't get people into a movie about behind-the-scenes machinations at the show.
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Postby The Original BJ » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:49 pm

The public is not interested in Facebook?

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Postby Damien » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:43 pm

Maybe it's just me, but I have a feeling The Social Network might end up like The Insider -- a film the critics are crazy about but the public stays away from because its not at all interested in the subject matter.

As for me, I have very little interest in anything written by the playwright of A Few Good Men.
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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:20 pm

Variety.

Seriously: what was the last American movie to get a response like this? Brokeback Mountain? Schindler's List?


The Social Network

Mark Zuckerberg - Jesse Eisenberg
Eduardo Saverin - Andrew Garfield
Sean Parker - Justin Timberlake
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss - Armie Hammer
Divya Narendra - Max Minghella


By JUSTIN CHANG

A very modern story inspires a classic study in ego, greed and the slippery nature of American enterprise in "The Social Network," David Fincher's penetrating account of the accidental founding of Facebook. Moving like a speedboat across two hours of near-nonstop talk, scribe Aaron Sorkin's blow-by-blow deconstruction of how Harvard computer whiz Mark Zuckerberg (and friends) stumbled on a multibillion-dollar phenomenon continues Fincher's fascinating transition from genre filmmaker extraordinaire to indelible chronicler of our times. Savvy moviegoers will need no persuading, but critical enthusiasm and sustained media attention should upgrade "Network" to major-player status among the year's fall releases.
To those who initially scoffed at the notion of anyone, much less the director of "Seven" and "Fight Club," making an interesting film about the Internet's most ubiquitous social-networking site, Fincher has delivered a terrifically entertaining rejoinder; Sony can rely on strong word of mouth to stimulate general interest in what will likely be referred to, for better or worse, as "the Facebook movie." After "Zodiac" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," two big-canvas pictures with unusually cerebral themes for mainstream studio fare, it's great to see the director engaging the zeitgeist in a film that offers the old-school satisfactions of whip-smart dialogue, meaty characterizations and an unflagging sense of momentum.

Fincher's style here is not far from the procedural rigor of "Zodiac," yet the film's cynical sensibility and mile-a-minute line delivery also recall the verbally dexterous comedies of Howard Hawks and Paddy Chayefsky. Ben Mezrich's source text, "The Accidental Billionaires," offered a loosely reported version of the events that commenced at Harvard in fall 2003, and Sorkin adapts it with a similarly free hand, streamlining the material for clarity and effect while penning most of the dialogue from scratch.

Sorkin's most significant adjustment is to provide Zuckerberg with a fictional girlfriend and, thus, a very human motive for the actions that eventually spawned Facebook. The five-minute opening sequence, a brilliantly sustained volley of insults between Mark (Jesse Eisenberg) and Elaine (Rooney Mara) that ends with the former getting dumped, establishes the film's style. It also introduces Mark -- an awkward, borderline-antisocial genius, unable to keep a lid on his every petty insecurity and scathing insight -- and places him at the center of a drama that slyly shifts perspectives and sympathies as it progresses.

Lashing out at his ex, Mark hacks into Harvard's photo archives and pulls a server-crashing stunt that lands him in hot water with university administrators. It also captures the attention of twin jocks Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer, with a body-double assist by Josh Pence) and their friend Divya (Max Minghella), who ask Mark to program the student-networking site they're developing.

But Mark has another idea -- or, perhaps, an improvement on their idea. He secretly turns around and launches a conceptually similar site, initially known as "the Facebook," partnering with best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), a popular, good-looking business student with all the financial and social capital Mark lacks. The site becomes a Harvard sensation and turns Mark and Eduardo into overnight celebrities; just as quickly, it catches the eye of slick Web entrepreneur and Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

In no time, an up-to-the-minute success story has morphed into an all-too-familiar saga of mistrust, betrayal, retaliation and litigation. Sorkin uses the legal proceedings to frame the action, filling the viewer in on the two lawsuits filed against Zuckerberg in the wake of Facebook's stratospheric impact (more than 500 million users worldwide). As the film moves between these taut court scenes and the events described in testimony (editors Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter's cross-cutting here is super-sharp), it etches a riveting portrait of the forces at work -- outsider vs. establishment, content vs. advertising, the desire to create vs. the urge to sabotage, to name a few.

Fincher's direction is a model of coherence and discipline, relying on the traditional virtues of camera placement and editing to tell the story, and never resorting to any of the stylistic gimmicks the subject matter would seem to invite; Facebook itself is shown fleetingly, a decision consistent with the film's suspicious attitude toward the whole enterprise. Helmer proves more attentive to nuances of Ivy League culture, in which students must reconcile the pressure to fit in with the drive to get ahead, as well as the irony of the socially inept Mark ("This guy doesn't have three friends to rub together," someone notes) somehow masterminding the world's biggest online gathering.

More than anything else, "The Social Network" is a feast of great talk -- scintillating propositions, withering put-downs, improbably witty comebacks -- and as such, it doesn't always know when to quit. The script can feel overdetermined at times, with a tendency to put too fine a point on its ideas; even the bit players are fluent in the hyper-articulate syntax and rippling cadences of Sorkin-speak. But the film is rescued from archness by the humanity of its principals, whom Fincher refuses to exalt or demonize.

Timberlake makes Sean every inch the brazen opportunist, but his ne'er-do-well grin is positively infectious; Garfield movingly lends the film a strong moral counterweight as the sensible superego to Mark's raging id. As the Winklevoss brothers, Hammer projects rich-boy entitlement without resorting to preening caricature.

Still, it's Eisenberg's picture. The young actor's nebbishy persona found a consummate vessel in the role of Mark, and his bone-dry sarcasm lends almost every moment a tetchy, unpredictable comic energy. A shifty-eyed creep whose motives can't be reduced to a simple yearning for fame and fortune, Mark may be an "asshole," as he's called throughout, but as Eisenberg beautifully displays in his rare tongue-tied moments, he's not entirely without conscience.

While Mara more than holds her own opposite Eisenberg, the female roles are essentially supportive; Rashida Jones is fine as a member of Mark's legal team, while Brenda Song brings sex appeal but little plausibility to the part of Eduardo's unstable groupie-turned-girlfriend.

Action moves from the dorm rooms, lecture halls and exclusive clubs of Harvard to the corporate offices of Palo Alto, Calif., and d.p. Jeff Cronenweth (using the Red camera) lenses the often drab settings in dim, autumnal tones. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' music often feels imperceptibly linked to ambient noises on the soundtrack; elsewhere, it seems to race along as though on a current of pure electricity. Sound mix is superb, especially in a key nightclub scene in which Timberlake's and Eisenberg's voices can be clearly heard over the throbbing din as young coeds dance behind them.

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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:15 pm

Hollywood Reporter.

If any dissent is coming, it's taking its time emerging. (Though we can probably count on Armond White)


The Social Network -- Film Review
By Kirk Honeycutt, September 21, 2010 01:04 ET
Bottom Line: A mesmerizing, bewildering and infuriating protagonist makes this movie about Facebook's creation a must-see.

"The Social Network" has as its protagonist a character drawn in a Shakespearean mode, a high-achieving individual who carries within him the seeds of his own destruction. This would, of course, be young Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), the man behind the social-network phenomenon Facebook.

As the movie makes abundantly clear, the facts behind its founding are in dispute but, without a doubt, Zuckerberg did create Facebook. Yet far from celebrating this feat, the movie examines how a man who cares little about money became the world's youngest billionaire yet lost his one true friend.

At least that's what the movie says happened. The film, written by Aaron Sorkin, is based on Ben Mezrich's book "The Accidental Billionaires" and Sorkin's own research yet neither writer, predictably, was able to talk to Zuckerberg to get his point of view. So it is as a fictional construct -- based on ample public sources, however -- that "Mark Zuckerberg" achieves its Shakespearean dimension. He gains the whole world but loses his most meaningful asset because of a fatal flaw on view in the very first scene.

"Social" has the potential to be that rarity -- a film that gains critical laurels and award mentions yet also does killer boxoffice. Certainly, Sorkin, the film's director, David Fincher, and its heavyweight producers have crafted a smart, insightful film that satisfies both camps. The hook is the film's of-the-moment topic but the payoff is its hero. Or antihero or villain or whatever.

The very first scene? Harvard undergrad Mark and his girlfriend, Erica (Rooney Mara), are trying to have a dinner date at a noisy Cambridge brew pub. Or at least she's trying. He's talking a mile a minute with every syllable screaming egocentricity and dripping with sarcasm and defensive insecurity. She can't even change the topic. Indeed, she can't even tell what the topic is.

After one insult too many, it's easier for Erica to break up with Mark. So the flaw is most ironic -- the guy who will revolutionize the way people communicate can't communicate himself. He is virtually blind to anyone else's perspective.

Pissed off, Mark jogs home to get drunk, hit his computer and, to take his mind off Erica, accidentally invents Facebook. Okay, it's not Facebook; it's Facemash, a stupid idea that only a genius computer hacker/scientist would dream up in which he hacks into Harvard's computer system, downloads all photos from the "facebooks" of the university's houses and asks students to vote on which girls are the hottest.

The contest goes viral, crashes Harvard's computer system, earns Mark a reprimand from authorities but attracts the attention of Harvard twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence with the help of special effects). These are wealthy and privileged scholar-athletes trying to develop an inner-campus website to create a place for students to meet, greet and perhaps score dates.

They approach the anarchist-hacker, who is intrigued by their idea but prefers to go to his best friend and fellow Jew, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), to finance a social network that contains elements of the Winklevosses' idea but transforms it into what we now know as Facebook.

Then the rest of the movie, in an inspired move by Sorkin, takes place at legal depositions. Because a few years later, Facebook is a billion-dollar miracle and lawsuits are flying everywhere: The twins and their Indian-American partner Divya Narendra (Max Minghella, who doesn't look or act Indian), and Eduardo, who has been frozen out of Facebook thanks to the Svengali-like efforts of Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), are all suing Mark.

As everyone recollects his version of events, the film flashes back to these developments. You understand no one's testimony is reliable but Sorkin tries to sort out the possible scenario that lands everyone in this legal soup.

The story thus becomes a tale of power, fame, betrayal, revenge and responsibility. Under Fincher's astute direction the characters fairly pop out at you. Even in a one-scene performance, famed Harvard president Larry Summers (Douglas Urbanski) startles the viewer with his abrupt impatience and sterling wit as he dismisses the twins' heavy-handed attempt to enlist the school in their cause.

Fincher also places events in milieus that ring true. His portrait of campus life among America's elite is pitch-perfect, every bit as much as the drug-and-party excesses of Silicon Valley and the war rooms of corporate attorneys.

There have been complaints from early screenings that no one is very likable in this movie. You'll get no argument here but that's beside the point. "Mark Zuckerberg" is thoroughly unlikable but he is an original. Ask yourself: How many truly original characters show up in American movies?

Mark exists in his own world. He dresses like he just rolled out of bed and doesn't relate to people half as well as he does to computers, algorithms and user databases. He finds people, at best, helpful to his creations or, at worst, annoying. He cannot speak civilly to anyone yet has the verbal skills to hone in on sore points with his acquaintances. His oral jousting with the deposing attorneys is brilliantly rendered in dialogue Sorkin presumably lifted from transcripts.

About the only character that comes off well is Garfield's Eduardo. The guy seems to care genuinely about his ex-friend and is bitterly unhappy about his treatment by Mark. Everyone else is borderline manic, such as Eduardo's sweet-and-sour girlfriend, played by a Brenda Song.

The production is the best studios can offer with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' hypnotically repetitive score, Jeff Cronenweth's fluid, sparkling cinematography and Donald Graham Burt's pinpoint-accurate production design all major pluses. There's no flaw here.

So the film comes down to a mesmerizing portrait of a man who in any other age would perhaps be deemed nuts or useless, but in the Internet age has this mental agility to transform an idea into an empire. Yet he still cannot rule his own life to the point he doesn't lose what's important to him.

At least that's what the movie says.

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:13 am

Todd McCarthy's review.

I can't remember the last American movie to get raves this extravagant.


“This is our time!,” Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker exults to Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg by way of welcoming the Harvard Facebook creator to Silicon Valley, and the same thing can be said by everyone who had anything to do with “The Social Network;” David Fincher can make five more masterpieces, Aaron Sorkin can win an Oscar, Tony and 20 more Emmys; Timberlake, Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Mara Rooney can all be big stars for the next half-century, but it will rarely be as sweet as this, a film where not only does everything come together in a way that the whole is even bigger than the sum of its brilliant parts, but where the result so resonantly reflects the time in which it was made.

The story of the virtually accidental birth of Facebook and the subsequent (and continuing) squabbling over the identity of its actual parents, “The Social Network” is a knock-out—on a first viewing, it seems almost indecently smart, funny and sexy. The second time around, with the witty intelligence of Aaron Sorkin’s script and the electrifying verve of David Fincher’s direction no longer a surprise, half the time I sat there marveling at the similarities of the story, themes and structure to “Citizen Kane.”

I advance this idea reluctantly, as nothing will cause a film appear overrated like comparing it in any way to the perennial greatest movie ever made in Hollywood. But after getting home from my second look at “The Social Network,” I noticed an interview in which Fincher himself describes it as “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of John Hughes movies,” which jokily undercuts his own film’s importance in an appealing way.

Stylistically and in feel, the films have nothing in common; whereas “Kane” is grandiose, the most filling six-course cinematic meal you could want, “Network” is fleet, like great tapas. Also making an enormous difference is the fact that the arc of “Kane” encompasses a man’s entire life, while the new film is the story of the start of something. And, of course, Orson Welles was not only obliged to fictionalize the name of his leading character but also to deny it was based on William Randolph Hearst, whereas it never occurred to Sorkin and Fincher to call Mark Zuckerberg anything other than Mark Zuckerberg, even though their portrait of their subject is no more friendly than is Welles’s and Herman Mankiewicz’s of Hearst…err, Kane.

Some of the places where “Kane” and “Network” intersect: Both are about titans of a communications empire and both are told in part through the remembrances of those who knew them, “Kane” through direct old-age interviews with old cronies, “Network” through legal hearings triggered by multiple lawsuits by alienated former associates. The subjects of the two films become insanely rich at a very young age, get into trouble at elite schools and never graduate, spurn the establishment and the ordinary rules of the game, and can’t hold a woman (although this seems not to be the case with the real Zuckerberg as, on the evidence of a current New Yorker profile, he’s now living with a woman he became involved with while still at Harvard). However, this construct by Sorkin enables the writer to create a Rosebud ending for “Network.” And, fundamentally, both Kane and Zuckerberg are men (or characters) with whom friendship may be a one-way street, as Jed Leland and now Eduardo Saverin discover to their peril.

Fundamentally, then, both films center on difficult, unruly men whose lives fascinate because of the extraordinary things they did but also because of the callous ways they treated those closest to them. They are monsters, after a fashion, but always compelling.

But enough of “Kane” and on to the rare pleasures afforded by “The Social Network,” key elements of which lie in the unlikely pairing of Sorkin and Fincher. An avowed internet hater and Facebook know-nothing coming into the project, Sorkin immersed himself in the personalities and background and came up with a “Rashomon”-style approach to tell the story in which no particular person, or version, is right or wrong. He also wrote a script so long (more than 160 pages) and dialogue-heavy that, using the normal estimate of one page per minute of screen time, would have resulted in a movie of over two-and-a-half hours.

As always a master of visual precision, of controlling precisely what he wants to show in a given shot and scene, Fincher must have had all his actors mainlining caffeine, so quickly (and naturally) do they rattle off their dialogue at a pace Howard Hawks would have admired; he gets the whole story told in precisely two hours.

Rarely has a movie provided such a strong hook as the opening scene here, a barroom date in which a lovely young student (played by Mara, who has the lead in Fincher’s version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) upbraids the insulting Zuckerberg thusly: “You’re going to go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because you’re a nerd. That’s not true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole.” Well, he’ll show her, which he does in a marathon session in which he hacks into the sites of all the Harvard houses to collect student pictures, the result of which is Facemash, in which girls are rated for their hotness.

Harvard doesn’t care for this too much but others do, notably the Winklevoss twins (Hammer, doing remarkable double-duty), WASP gods who recruit the genius Jew to build a networking site they’ve conceived, The Harvard Connection. But while he’s supposedly working on this, Zuckerberg, with the help of $1000 invested by his similarly geeky but better looking friend Eduardo (Garfield), develops the “friends” site he calls thefacebook, which becomes an instant hit in 2004 and soon spreads to other college campuses. Then in blasts Sean Parker (Timberlake), the ex-Napster whiz, to entice Zuckerberg to Palo Alto and inspire him to think really, really big.

The intermittent legal scenes, which are impeccably directed and not overplayed for seething resentment and condescension on both sides, place the moments of youthful invention in the shadow of subsequent fallings-out and recrimination. Every success has its price—in Zuckerberg’s case, it’s being considered an idea thief and scoundrel—but the failure of vision and tenacity on the part of the “losers” (each of whom collected into the tens of millions in settlements) looms just as large.

“The Social Network” is about so many things—the primacy of an idea, the things that define a generation, ambition and drive fomented by rejection and anger, the limitations of orthodoxy versus unbridled imagination, simultaneous creative and destructive impulses, the fluidity of what’s considered an outsider and insider, rebel and establishment—that it provides almost an unlimited number of things to think about, while also providing a viewing experience of continual stimulation. Everything about it is rich.

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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:10 pm

In case anyone missed it, Wells and Tapley were among the bloggers free to write about the film today, and both were pretty much over the moon about it. A core best picture competition appears to be forming.

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Postby Okri » Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:46 pm

This film is as good as any to try it with, being about the ultimate youth phenomenon of the last decade.

That, and Fincher's such a profligate spender that no other approach is likely to be a money-earner.

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:04 pm

There's something interesting going on with the marketing of this film. They seem to be trying to make it that rare bird: the critics' movie that's also openly commercial.

Positioning it as the opener of the NY Film Festival says Prestige...as does letting Film Comment get the jump on all the critics.

But next word came from Peter Travers -- the Quote Whore's Quote Whore. And now, today, a batch of bloggers have been given clearance to release "reactions" -- which amount to 3/4 reviews -- even while the remaining name critics are embargoed. The result? The bloggers (always Fincher's most devoted fan base) mostly love it, stirring up online interest. This, of course, could lead to critical backlash -- as it arguably did with Inception. But I don't notice Inception paying a price at the box office.

And this seems to be the point. Social Network, despite no name stars and a "serious" subject, is not going the usual prestige route -- 7 screens week one, 45 week two, slowly out to the 1000 mark. Far as as I can tell, it's opening wide like it was Transformers 3. It doesn't seem to want to settle for a $30-40 million dollar gross and the lasting respect of critics. It's saying, my movie's just as much part of the mainstream as anyone else's.

If this approach succeeds, it encourages other films to jump past the indie/mainstream divide. If it falls short...it'll be a while before anyone tries this again.




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Postby Okri » Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:22 am

Crying uncle now. Looking forward to it.

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Postby MovieWes » Sat Aug 21, 2010 2:07 pm

The misanthropic soul at the heart of The Social Network, David Fincher’s 21st-century moral tale

By Scott Foundas

It was E.M. Forster, of course, who scripted that immortal, oft-abbreviated imperative: “Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.” But had Forster lived to see the advent of something like the Internet, would he have been so quick to admonish the life bestial or monastic? As I write this, I am not nor have I ever been a member of those ubiquitous online communities known as Facebook and Twitter, which have separately and together transformed millions of us into the stars of our own reality shows, complete with “friends” and “followers” tuned into our every banal thought or change of mood, and where human popularity is tabulated in numbers as readily as the weekly box-office returns. In my Luddite way, I harbor a healthy suspicion for any technology whose adopters seem more its slaves than its masters. Above all, I cling foolhardily to the belief that the more time-honored methods of human interaction maintain a slight edge over the electronic ones. Indeed, though we may now live in public, we seem to see rather less of one another.

On the other hand, half a billion people can’t be wrong—or, rather, they can, but good luck convincing them of it. A scant seven years into its existence, Facebook is already an inevitability, a cultural axiom. Among other things, it is said to have played a role in rallying America’s youth for the 2008 election (even if some of those youths were actually the fictitious avatars of middle-aged men and women seeking a little masked-ball escapism, or something more sinister). Nor is its reach limited to these shores: recently, Facebook was banned in Pakistan for supposed trespasses against Islam, which is no small achievement for a website that traces its origins back to an Ivy League social misfit’s drunken act of revenge against a girl who spurned him. Like so many historic achievements in arts, letters, and commerce, Facebook was born of a romantic rejection.

This is very rich material for a movie on such timeless subjects as power and privilege, and such intrinsically 21st-century ones as the migration of society itself from the real to the virtual sphere—and David Fincher’s The Social Network is big and brash and brilliant enough to encompass them all. It is nominally the story of the founding of Facebook, yes, and how something that began among friends quickly descended into acrimony and litigation once billions of dollars were at stake. But just as All the President’s Men—a seminal film for Fincher and a huge influence on his Zodiac—was less interested by the Watergate case than by its zeitgeist-altering ripples, so too is The Social Network devoted to larger patterns of meaning. It is a movie that sees how any social microcosm, if viewed from the proper angle, is no different from another—thus the seemingly hermetic codes of Harvard University become the foundation for a global online community that is itself but a reflection of the all-encompassing high-school cafeteria from which we can never escape. And it owes something to The Great Gatsby, too, in its portrait of a self-made outsider marking his territory in the WASP jungle.

Adapted by The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin from Ben Mezrich’s nonfiction best-seller The Accidental Billionaires, The Social Network was one of those “buzz” scripts that seemed to be on everyone’s lips in Hollywood for the past couple of years, and it’s easy to understand why. The writing is razor-sharp and rarely makes a wrong step, compressing a time-shifting, multi-character narrative into two lean hours, and, perhaps most impressively, digests its big ideas into the kind of rapid-fire yet plausible dialogue that sounds like what hyper computer geeks might actually say (or at least wish they did): Quentin Tarantino crossed with Bill Gates.

Consider the movie’s opening—a soon-to-be-classic breakup scene in which soon-to-be Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) verbally machine-guns his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) with a rant about the difficulty of distinguishing oneself “in a crowd of people who all got 1600 on their SATs.” From there it’s on to his conflicted feelings about that peculiar Harvard institution known as “final clubs,” elite secret societies that, sops to diversity notwithstanding, remain decidedly inhospitable to monomaniacal, borderline Asperger’s cases like Zuckerberg. As he holds forth, his face contorted into a tightly focused stare, looking through Erica rather than at her, she tries to keep up. “Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster,” she laments before delivering the delicious coup de grace: “Listen. You’re going to be successful and rich, but you’re going to go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because you’re a geek. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole.”

It was that rejection, or one like it—the details aren’t specified in Mezrich’s book—that led to an infamous late-night (and inebriated) programming session during which Zuckerberg created a crude comparison website allowing Harvard students to rank the relative desirability of the university’s female population based on photos hacked from the student directories (or “facebooks”) of various dorms. Soon, Zuckerberg’s prank went viral across the campus, making him a pariah to his female classmates, earning him academic probation, and bringing him to the attention of a trio of undergraduate entrepreneurs: the Indian-American Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) and the towering, blond and bronzed identical twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (both played by the disarming Armie Hammer, himself a scion of corporate blue bloods). In between their rigorous course loads and heavy training regimen for the Harvard crew team, the Winklevoss brothers had conceived of a dating website open only to those who possess a Harvard e-mail address (the rationale being, quite simply, “Girls want to go with guys who go to Harvard”) and needed someone to design it for them. And Zuckerberg, as he would surely regret doing later, accepted the assignment.

The rest of The Social Network runs along two parallel narrative tracks—one tracing Zuckerberg’s development of Facebook and the other detailing the lawsuits later filed against him by the Winklevosses and by former Facebook CFO Eduardo Saverin (the superb Andrew Garfield), the latter being the closest thing in the movie to a wholly sympathetic character. From a legal perspective, it’s a thorny case of he-said/he-said, though the movie is less concerned with assigning blame than with considering Zuckerberg’s precise degree of assholedom, or lack thereof. And this is where things really get interesting. It would be easy enough, of course, to vilify Zuckerberg as a greedy twerp who betrayed his friends (what few he had) and partners on his way to the top—we are, after all, talking about a 24-year-old billionaire who once carried business cards reading “I’m CEO . . . bitch.” It would be even easier, perhaps, to exalt him as a nonconformist deity, a Holden Caulfield of the information superhighway. But to the sure nervousness of the studio, and the potential discomfort of some viewers, Fincher and Sorkin chart a more treacherous course straight down the middle of Zuckerberg’s many contradictions, one in which there are no obvious winners or losers, good guys or bad—only a series of highly pressurized social (and genetic) forces.

“I’m six-foot-five, 220, and there’s two of me,” notes one of the Winklevoss brothers upon learning of Zuckerberg’s Facebook subterfuge, contemplating physical retaliation—and indeed, one of the movie’s great visual gags is the recurring image of these two Aryan gods seated across the deposition room from the pale, slight Zuckerberg in his signature hoodie and “fuck-you flip-flops.” Yet at the same time, it’s hard not to see plaintiff and defendants as opposite sides of the same ambitious coin: gifted young men driven to separate themselves from the herd, two by moving to the front of the pack and one by going upstream against the current. Time and again the point is made that Zuckerberg doesn’t lust after riches, having turned down lucrative offers from Microsoft and AOL while he was still in high school (to buy another software program he designed), but status is something else entirely. “They’re suing me because for the first time in their lives, things didn’t work out the way they were supposed to for them,” Zuckerberg notes at one point—oblivious to the fact that he’s making himself sound equally petty. This leads to another of the movie’s most revealing scenes, in which a young legal associate (Rashida Jones) schooled in the fine art of jury selection advises Mark to settle out of court rather than face a jury destined to judge him on such factors as “clothes, hair, speaking style” and, above all, “likeability.” “Myths need a devil,” she reminds, and Zuckerberg fits the bill. Whereas the “Winklevi”—well, they could probably get away with murder.

Lest I seem to suggest otherwise, I hasten to add that The Social Network is splendid entertainment from a master storyteller, packed with energetic incident and surprising performances (not least from Justin Timberlake as Napster founder Sean Parker, who’s like Zuckerberg’s flamboyant, West Coast id). It is a movie of people typing in front of computer screens and talking in rooms that is as suspenseful as any more obvious thriller. But this is also social commentary so perceptive that it may be regarded by future generations the way we now look to Gatsby for its acute distillation of Jazz Age decadence. There is, in all of Fincher’s work, an outsider’s restlessness that chafes at the intractable rules of “polite” society and naturally aligns itself with characters like the journalist refusing to abandon the case in Zodiac and Edward Norton’s modern-day Dr. Jekyll in Fight Club. (It is also, I would argue, what makes the undying-love mawkishness of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button seem particularly insincere.) So The Social Network offers a despairing snapshot of society at the dawn of the 21st century, so advanced, so “connected,” yet so closed and constrained by all the centuries-old prejudices and preconceptions about how our heroes and villains are supposed to look, sound, and act. For Mark Zuckerberg has arrived, and yet still seems unsettled and out of place (as anyone who witnessed his painfully awkward 60 Minutes interview two years back can attest). And now here is a movie made to remind us that nothing in this life can turn a Zuckerberg into a Winklevoss.
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby Mister Tee » Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:41 pm

Well, it's come to this: Peter Travers has preceded his always-early review with an even earlier Twitter:

"David Fincher’s Social Network is the 1st film I've given **** in 2010. It’s the movie of the year that also brilliantly defines the decade"

This follows a lengthy piece Scott Foundas wrote (see Jeff Wells' site for the text) also basically raving. This one might be for real.

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Postby MovieWes » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:36 pm

rolotomasi99 wrote:This trailer makes it seem like the Facebook "scandal" is as important as the Nuremberg trials. We shall see soon enough if this ridiculous little website and its ridiculous little inventor deserves such heavy treatment. I still think a lighter touch similar to TUCKER: THE MAN AND THE DREAM would have suited the story better.

What?!?!?! It doesn't make it look like it's as important as the Nuremberg trials. It's basically the story of how two friends created a website that brings people together and how the money and success they got from said venture ultimately drove them apart.
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby Okri » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:08 pm

rolotomasi99 wrote:Aaron Sorkin wrote CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR, which took a lighthearted-but-insightful look at the US involvement in the Russia-Afghan conflict. While I know some here disagree, I thought it was a great movie and really is a wonderful example of Sorkin's talents.

This trailer makes it seem like the Facebook "scandal" is as important as the Nuremberg trials. We shall see soon enough if this ridiculous little website and its ridiculous little inventor deserves such heavy treatment. I still think a lighter touch similar to TUCKER: THE MAN AND THE DREAM would have suited the story better.

And that's just it. You see insight in Charlie Wilson's War. I see nothing. It's just so basic, shallow and smug. But Sorkin is convinced he's shown you something profound. You saw this throughout The West Wing and in the two epsiodes of Studio 60. He was awesome with Sports Night, though.

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Postby rolotomasi99 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:24 am

Aaron Sorkin wrote CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR, which took a lighthearted-but-insightful look at the US involvement in the Russia-Afghan conflict. While I know some here disagree, I thought it was a great movie and really is a wonderful example of Sorkin's talents.

This trailer makes it seem like the Facebook "scandal" is as important as the Nuremberg trials. We shall see soon enough if this ridiculous little website and its ridiculous little inventor deserves such heavy treatment. I still think a lighter touch similar to TUCKER: THE MAN AND THE DREAM would have suited the story better.
"When it comes to the subject of torture, I trust a woman who was married to James Cameron for three years."
-- Amy Poehler in praise of Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow


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