The Social Network

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Postby Sabin » Mon Oct 04, 2010 1:26 pm

(MovieWes @ Oct. 04 2010,11:29)
So my question is, what does The Social Network have going for it that those other films didn't? Most, if not all, of those films were critically acclaimed and (although I either hadn't been born yet or was not old enough to witness their immediate cultural impact) popular with audiences. It seems like this film is the frontrunner, but historically it looks like Academy voters in general have had trouble embracing films geared towards youths.

They also had different competition. It's too early in the year to know specifically what The Social Network will be down-to-the-wire up against, but nobody is calling this a watershed year for films. At this time in 1999, The Green Mile was the prohibitive front-runner; and when that faded, it received renewed interest, but, unless I'm mistaken, nobody was talking about American Beauty as an Oscar juggernaut until December. Dead Poets Society was a smash-hit but unless I'm mistaken it wasn't taken any kind of seriously as an Oscar front-runner and achieved some kind of populist spot. Same thing with Breaking Away.

The difference between The Graduate and The Social Network is the difference between a message and a marketing campaign. The Social Network is already being taken to task for not having any central metaphor. That certainly was never the case with The Graduate.

The reason it's so hard to find a proper, fitting analogy for a movie that is clearly questing after Oscars this early is that you have to take not just the marketing campaign, the quality of the film, the ingredients in the film, but also the field itself which has yet to fully present itself although we can make a fair guestimation as to what will and won't register. I'm still waiting to hear from some movie getting a last minute release that we haven't heard from. Barring that, what The Social Network has going for it is the kind of residual industry respect that grows upon reflection when a dearth of viable options occurs. Like No Country for Old Men, which was handicapped by the ending until more time went by and voters seemingly forgot about their reservations lest they vote for Juno.
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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:16 pm

Major American director coming off a recent major set of Oscar nominations? David Fincher could play the biggest role in its success.
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Postby MovieWes » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:29 am

In my estimation, The Social Network is the strongest piece of American filmmaking since at least There Will Be Blood in 2007. Will the Academy go for it? It's hard to say, but I think probably so. A nomination is assured at the very least. I think that the major factor going against it is that it is such a youth-oriented movie, I have difficulty imagining some of the older voters getting enthusiastic about it. When was the last time a movie like this was a major contender for Best Picture? American Beauty featured a major subplot involving teens, but I think that there is little doubt that the focus of the movie was a man going through a mid-life crisis, something that some of the older voters I'm sure can relate to. Dead Poets Society was a Best Picture nominee, but it only ended up winning Best Original Screenplay. Same thing goes for Breaking Away. The Graduate, a film considered by many to be one of the greatest American films of all-time, didn't capture the big prize, although Mike Nichols did win Best Director. Rebel Without a Cause, quite possibly the most generational defining movie of its time, wasn't even nominated for Best Picture.

So my question is, what does The Social Network have going for it that those other films didn't? Most, if not all, of those films were critically acclaimed and (although I either hadn't been born yet or was not old enough to witness their immediate cultural impact) popular with audiences. It seems like this film is the frontrunner, but historically it looks like Academy voters in general have had trouble embracing films geared towards youths.




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Postby Eric » Sat Oct 02, 2010 11:57 am

I think both Reznor and Jeff Cronenweth are likely to be this film's most notable, high-profile snubees, based on how insular and back-scratching both the musicians' and cinematographers' branches seem to still be.

Also, Garfield probably has the best shot of anyone in the cast to get a nod, not just because he's having a great year (with this and Never Let Me Go, plus the first installment of the Red Riding trilogy), but also because he's the only consistently sympathetic character in the entire movie.

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Postby rain Bard » Sat Oct 02, 2010 11:24 am

Trent Reznor will be this year's Johnny Greenwood.

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Postby flipp525 » Sat Oct 02, 2010 7:38 am

The performances in this film are all pretty great, from the leads to minor characters.

I loved Armie Hammer's confident turn as the wronged Winklevoss twins (they get some of the best lines, too). Jesse Eisenberg nails the delicate mix of awkward, vengeful and ambitious no better than in the opening scene when his face subtly registers a perceived slight from his girlfriend concerning the way he socially ranks among Harvard students. The character of Mark Zuckerberg is almost a Jay Gatsby-esque anti-hero and Eisenberg never lets him stray too far into the dark and unknowable. Rooney Mara is pitch-perfect as the "face" that launched facebook, doing big things with a small, but pivotal role.

However, it's Andrew Garfield who gives the real standout performance. His portrayal of Eduardo Saverin is very good; he's one of several reasons The Social Network soars. His big betrayal scene in the Palo Alto office towards the end of the film is simply beguiling. I wouldn't rule out a supporting nod for him.

He also plays a sympathetic role in this fall's Never Let Me Go which should add points in his favor when Academy members are in front of their ballots at the end of the year.




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Postby Sabin » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:58 pm

Nah.

I mean, they could be. But I doubt it. My early predictions are Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. Jesse Eisenberg should win and he most likely will be nominated, although I could definitely see voters confusing him with his character. The supporting actors will cancel each other out. The high end is Best Picture, Director, Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, and Film Editing for six with Sound Mixing as the wild card for seven and Original Score as the true wild card for eight. The low end will be Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Film Editing nominations for four. It's not an Academy film. Then again, neither was No Country for Old Men but it certainly became one. I expect the film to be a pretty solid hit with the film critics though.
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Postby Reza » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:50 pm

So is the Academy going to be as enthusiastic like Sabin and award this film best picture, director, screenplay, cinematography, editing and score? Will Jesse also win or will they throw that crumb to Colin Firth?

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Postby Sabin » Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:37 pm

One more thing about The Social Network...

I don't want to undersell this movie. The opening scene with Jesse Eisenberg getting dumped is a masterwork. He then runs from the bar back to his dorm, with the film's score (a mixture of NIN and Chip Rock) slowly dawning. It feels like an ominous Fuck You to university anthems. Then he gets to work on Face-Smash and crashes the server. For these twenty minutes or so, The Social Network dwarfs most movies this year. And it does so as a harbinger of sad things to come. It's impossible to watch this film without thinking about poor Tyler Clementi whose privacy was so grossly invaded. Or truly anyone who becomes victimized by a subculture that has felt liberation through the arrogance of disconnect that facebook and its ilk have spawned. And while Asher Brown and Seth Walsh may not be facebook-specific casualties, it certainly does feel like watching The Social Network is akin to watching one act of immaturity has germinated a planetary-scale phenomenon.

In these early scenes of The Social Network, it feels as though we are watching the dark morning of the new century. So that The Social Network abandons its generation-specific panorama is a little frustrating. When David Fincher is not directing feature-length commercials like Benjamin Button, he makes dark harbingers and for a while The Social Network ranks among hist best.
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Postby Sabin » Fri Oct 01, 2010 6:41 pm

One of the The Social Network's failings is its indifference towards the effect of facebook. This is a biopic, roughly one part slick procedural and one part character study of anti-social behavior of Greenberg proportions. The closest parallel that it draws to facebook is in approximating the sensation of becoming a part of it. It starts off relentlessly addictive, and it continues onward although eventually one gets the impression that it's not really going anywhere. It isn't. Perhaps the story itself just isn't that interesting. But the conviction with which it is told is tremendous. The Social Network is incredibly entertaining, and the crowd I was with ate it up. As did I. But, again, like facebook, it's something that you can spend a lot of time utterly immersed in, and then once removed you stop and ask where all that time went.

This is one of the great productions of the year. The cross-cutting. The Jeff Cronenweth cinematography. The best score of the year, bar none. The dialogue is incredibly witty. The performances are pretty much across the board great. It's an immense production that satisfies as a crowd-pleaser, but the shortcomings of the narrative itself kind of keep it from being the watershed that it needs to be. It's as though the film itself doesn't quite know what to do with Mark Zuckerberg. Jesse Eisenberg delivers a performance that's almost too brazenly awesome. The first half of the narrative sets its tempo to his mind's racing eye, be it in the dorm, a lawsuit, or another lawsuit. By the final third, he is on the sidelines watching what he has done, but the film only halfway succeeds as a generational panorama. Perhaps everyone involved was far too pleased with the introduction of Sean Parker and the life fantastic to really question whether or not it was still furthering the story that it needed to. But it's a fine piece of entertainment.
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Postby jack » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:50 pm

Not a review, but more a feature on the film, with the thoughts of those who know the real-life Zuckerberg, Saverin and Parker.

From the BBC:
Is the Facebook movie the truth about Mark Zuckerberg?
by Finlo Rohrer


The Social Network movie portrays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as a socially-awkward, insecure, devious, ego-maniac, but is it the truth? And if not, is that a problem?

Film-makers have always played fast and loose with history.

From war films to grand swords-and-sandals epics, screenwriters have put words in the mouths of historical characters that may or may not have belonged there.

Most of us accept the idea that a scene in the life of a Napoleon or Henry VIII is necessarily fictionalised. But then there's The Social Network.

This tale of the founding of Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg and friends at Harvard University in 2004 is very recent history indeed. And it's tendentious, to say the least.

In it, Mark Zuckerberg - played by Jesse Eisenberg - is not a very nice person.

The film starts with him being dumped by his girlfriend as she lists his faults.

He then goes on a journey where he displays arrogance, contempt, and lashings of social envy on his way to becoming a billionaire.

But while the movie, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, is already earning plaudits from film critics, technology writers who've had dealings with Zuckerberg have been lining up to pick holes in it.

Blogger Jeff Jarvis, author of BuzzMachine and the upcoming book Public Parts, for which he interviewed Zuckerberg, believes Sorkin has made too much of the story up.

"That's what the internet is accused of doing, making stuff up, not caring about the facts," he says.

The film is only "40% true", says David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World.

"Zuckerberg is unbelievably confident and secure. And he is not snide and sarcastic in a cruel way, the way Zuckerberg is played in the movie," he says.

"A lot of the factual incidents are accurate, but many are distorted and the overall impression is false."

A key plank of the movie is that a major motivation for Zuckerberg in building Facebook was a break-up and the desire to impress the girl in question and achieve social acceptance. That's false, says Kirkpatrick.

"It is a fairly important point that he had a girlfriend during the whole time the movie is showing. The movie is presenting a sex-obsessed, desperate-for-the-attention-of-a-woman guy.

"But his motivations were to try and come up with a new way to share information on the internet."

And the idea that Zuckerberg would deliberately betray a friend is dismissed by Karel Baloun, author of Inside Facebook. Baloun spent a year between May 2005 and May 2006 as a senior engineer at Facebook, working closely with Zuckerberg for much of the time.

"It is fiction," says Baloun. "He really wanted it to be good for everybody. He wanted our hard work in Facebook to be rewarding."

The image of Zuckerberg as a socially inept nerd is overstated, his defenders say.

"He is socially awkward," says Baloun. "I'm amazed he has managed to be a CEO - he has had great coaching. When he sets his mind to improve himself he does."

Jarvis says Zuckerberg once was a deer in headlights but has improved.

"Sorkin goes as far as to make it a syndrome. [Zuckerberg] has that stare. But when I've sat down with him in person he can be entertaining."

Zuckerberg isn't the only one to get it in the neck in the film.

Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster, whose 6% stake in Facebook has left him a billionaire, is played by Justin Timberlake as a latter day Iago, constantly plotting and scheming.

Having worked with him, Baloun says the idea of Parker as a Mephistophelean mastermind is ridiculous.

"He is easy to vilify because he is all over the place. [But] he is a visionary… kind of crazy."

There is also a less than flattering picture of Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the students who tried to get Zuckerberg to work on their website the HarvardConnection and who went on to row in the Olympics.

The only person portrayed in a constantly positive light is Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg's friend and co-founder of Facebook.

Saverin, who co-operated with Ben Mezrich on The Accidental Billionaires, the book on which The Social Network is based, comes off as an almost angelic figure in the film, a moral compass in the maelstrom.

But does a biopic like The Social Network have any obligation to stick to reality?

"Hollywood and film-makers in general when they are doing biopics have a duty to the truth," says Dennis Bingham, author of Whose Lives Are They Anyway?: The Biopic as Contemporary Film Genre. "There are films that go over the line and distort the truth."

For the subjects, there is a danger that the fictional character can take over, says Bingham.

"The film in the public memory does supplant the real person."

One such an example is Patton. George C Scott's portrayal of General George S Patton as an irascible egotist, prone to bullying, won an Oscar and created an iconic character.

Patton, of course, wasn't around to set the record straight, whereas Zuckerberg is. Some commentators have suggested the billionaire's recent $100m educational donation on the Oprah show may have been the start of a PR makeover.

Bill Gates' image is now dominated as much by his charitable work as anything else. Nobody thinks of him the way he appeared in the film Pirates of Silicon Valley.

"Anthony Michael Hall played Gates as a little brat, which was how most people saw him at that time," says Bingham.

Perhaps the strangest thing about The Social Network is that it has got nothing to do with Facebook as a phenomenon.

As Sorkin, a noted internet sceptic, has confessed in New York magazine he could just as easily have made a movie about the making of toasters.

"He holds Zuckerberg, Facebook and the internet in contempt," says Jarvis.

Those looking for a rumination on social networking and our journey towards a more connected world will have to keep looking.

"Neither Fincher or Sorkin seem that interested in Facebook," says Kirkpatrick. "They use the growth and the money as background phenomena. They don't begin to understand it's social political and zeitgeist role."

Instead, it's the story of a personal struggle of someone who was brilliant, Kirkpatrick insists.

"For all of his geekiness he had a far better understanding of the social dynamics of college and elsewhere than most people."

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Postby MovieWes » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:44 am

Roger Ebert's 4-star rave...

The Social Network

BY ROGER EBERT / September 29, 2010

"The Social Network" is about a young man who possessed an uncanny ability to look into a system of unlimited possibilities and sense a winning move. His name is Mark Zuckerberg, he created Facebook, he became a billionaire in his early 20s, and he reminds me of the chess prodigy Bobby Fischer. There may be a touch of Asperger's syndrome in both: They possess genius but are tone-deaf in social situations. Example: It is inefficient to seek romance by using strict logic to demonstrate your intellectual arrogance.

David Fincher's film has the rare quality of being not only as smart as its brilliant hero, but in the same way. It is cocksure, impatient, cold, exciting and instinctively perceptive.

It hurtles through two hours of spellbinding dialogue. It makes an untellable story clear and fascinating. It is said to be impossible to make a movie about a writer, because how can you show him only writing? It must also be impossible to make a movie about a computer programmer, because what is programming but writing in a language few people in the audience know? Yet Fincher and his writer, Aaron Sorkin, are able to explain the Facebook phenomenon in terms we can immediately understand, which is the reason 500 million of us have signed up.

To conceive of Facebook, Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) needed to know almost nothing about relationships or human nature (and apparently he didn't). What he needed was the ability to intuit a way to involve the human race in the Kevin Bacon Game. Remember that Kevin Bacon himself need not know more than a fraction of the people linking through him. Same on Facebook. I probably know 40 of my Facebook friends well, 100 glancingly, 200 by reputation. All the others are friends of friends. I can't remember the last time I received a Friend Request from anyone I didn't share at least one "Mutual Friend" with.

For the presence of Facebook, we possibly have to thank a woman named Erica (Rooney Mara). "The Social Network" begins with Erica's date with Zuckerberg. He nervously sips a beer and speed-talks through an aggressive interrogation. It's an exercise in sadistic conversational gamesmanship. Erica gets fed up, calls him an asshole and walks out.

Erica (a fictional character) is right, but at that moment she puts Zuckerberg in business. He goes home, has more beers and starts hacking into the "facebooks" of Harvard dorms to collect the head shots of campus women. He programs a page where they can be rated for their beauty. This is sexist and illegal, and proves so popular, it crashes the campus servers. After it's fertilized by a mundane website called "The Harvard Connection," Zuckerberg grows it into Facebook.

In theory, there are more possible moves on a chess board than molecules in the universe. Chessmasters cannot possibly calculate all of them, but using intuition, they can "see" a way through this near-infinity to a winning move. Nobody was ever better at chess than Bobby Fischer. Likewise, programming languages and techniques are widely known, but it was Zuckerberg who intuited how he could link them with a networking site. The genius of Facebook requires not psychological insight but its method of combining ego with interaction. Zuckerberg wanted to get revenge on all the women at Harvard. To do that, he involved them in a matrix that is still growing.

It's said there are child prodigies in only three areas: math, music and chess. These non-verbal areas require little maturity or knowledge of human nature, but a quick ability to perceive patterns, logical rules and linkages. I suspect computer programming may be a fourth area.

Zuckerberg may have had the insight that created Facebook, but he didn't do it alone in a room, and the movie gets a narration by cutting between depositions for lawsuits. Along the way, we get insights into the pecking order at Harvard, a campus where ability joins wealth and family as success factors. We meet the twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer), rich kids who believe Zuckerberg stole their "Harvard Connection" in making Facebook. We meet Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), Zuckerberg's roommate and best (only) friend, who was made CFO of the company, lent it the money that it needed to get started and was frozen out. And most memorably we meet Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the founder of two legendary web startups, Napster and Plaxo.

It is the mercurial Parker, just out of work but basked in fame and past success, who grabbed Zuckerberg by the ears and pulled him into the big time. He explained why Facebook needed to move to Silicon Valley. Why more money would come from venture capitalists than Eduardo would ever raise with his hat-in-hand visits to wealthy New Yorkers. And he tried, not successfully, to introduce Zuckerberg into the fast lane: big offices, wild parties, women, the availability of booze and cocaine.

Zuckerberg was not seduced by his lifestyle. He was uninterested in money, stayed in modest houses, didn't fall into drugs. A subtext the movie never comments on is the omnipresence of attractive Asian women. Most of them are smart Harvard undergrads, two of them (allied with Sean) are Victoria's Secret models, one (Christy, played by Brenda Song) is Eduardo's girlfriend. Zuckerberg himself doesn't have much of a social life onscreen, misses parties, would rather work. He has such tunnel vision he doesn't even register when Sean redrafts the financial arrangements to write himself in and Eduardo out.

The testimony in the depositions makes it clear there is a case to be made against Zuckerberg, many of them sins of omission. It's left to the final crawl to explain how they turned out. The point is to show an interaction of undergraduate chaos, enormous amounts of money and manic energy.

In an age when movie dialogue is dumbed and slowed down to suit slow-wits in the audience, the dialogue here has the velocity and snap of screwball comedy. Eisenberg, who has specialized in playing nice or clueless, is a heat-seeking missile in search of his own goals. Timberlake pulls off the tricky assignment of playing Sean Parker as both a hot shot and someone who engages Zuckerberg as an intellectual equal. Andrew Garfield evokes an honest friend who is not the right man to be CFO of the company that took off without him, but deserves sympathy.

"The Social Network" is a great film not because of its dazzling style or visual cleverness, but because it is splendidly well-made. Despite the baffling complications of computer programming, web strategy and big finance, Aaron Sorkin's screenplay makes it all clear, and we don't follow the story so much as get dragged along behind it. I saw it with an audience that seemed wrapped up in an unusual way: It was very, very interested.
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Postby OscarGuy » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:11 am

Something tells me I just need to unmercifully bash popular films to try and bring viewers to my site...gah.
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Postby rain Bard » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:06 am

Sonic Youth wrote:There are already 197 comments under his Rotten Tomatoes submission. Guy's a phenom.

Update: 2295 comments.

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Postby Mister Tee » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:10 am

dws1982 wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:(Though he evidently had to stretch to be the contrarian, as even he gives it 3 stars)

The star rating is actually the rating that readers gave the article. White doesn't, as far as I know, assign star ratings or letter grades.

Ah -- my mistake. Shows you I'm only familiar with his work by relentless word of mouth.


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