Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"I was drunk and angry and stupid...and blogging" The Social Network

I often wonder when people review films, professional or amateurish, whether it often depends on how their day went or if they go into the film with a particular mindset. With those that know me, I am a consistent hype-machine with a bullhorn strapped to one side of my mouth and a funnel strapped to the other. Showing that while I consistently feed on particular news sources and reviews and other things, I am still saying how 'awesome' or 'fantastic' or 'ground-breaking' the film is before my eyes have even wandered into a cinema. So to preface most of my reviews I'll probably give you a feeling of how good a mood I was in before I saw it, also remember all opinions are subjective and the internet is nothing more than a series of tubes.

The Social Network, based on the book The Accidental Billionaires, gives us an insight into the lives of the creators, lawyers and 'friends' surrounding the owners of today's biggest site, besides Google and XXXsluts.com*. The film opens on Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, Rodger Dodger), at a bar with his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend (Rooney Mara) discussing the importance of getting into clubs at Harvard University, after breaking up with him, Zuckerberg posts several blog entries about her and how he creates a small website, by hacking multiple image accounts on the Harvard servers, called 'Facemash.com', in which people rate who is a better looking female undergrad.
Aaron Sorkin, who wrote A Few Good Men and created The West Wing, has such an efficiency in dialogue when it comes to portraying Zuckerberg and the entire motive for him, even in these opening scenes, as a socially anxious, fast-talking, arrogant nerd who just wishes to prove his efficiency and importance. As a viewer, we get a feel and look for his character right off the bat and a perfect trigger for the ringing gun-shot for the rest of the film.
After Zuckerberg is brought to a Harvard Tribunal regarding the website, we get glimpses of the multiple other court cases that Facebook has started. The trials themselves actually do give a sense of duality and distance between what is happening (the creation of Facebook) and the aftermath and showing how pieces of Zuckerberg's personality and possible social anxiety/disorder have caused him more trouble than he is truly worth, especially to Harvard Jocks, The Winklevoss Twins, Cameron and Tyler (both played by Armie Hammer) and business partner, Divya Nerandra (Max Minghella). His social and physical distance analyses the creation of Facebook behind their backs as a constant reminder of the distance we also place when we use Facebook as a 'communication tool'. That the abscence of being is not worth a relationship, nor worth any significant business opportunity.
As the film continues, we meet the rest of the gang, Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield (our new Spiderman) and Napster creater Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake. Both do an incredible job at providing this perfect insight into Zuckerberg's mind as two polar opposites for both what Zuckerberg could have been. Parker's 'possible' drug taking, narcissicism, paranoia and irreverent dick-ish behaviour showing Zuckerberg's style of what looks like he might be just looking out for himself, and Saverin's caring, business associate, hard-working, woman fearing persona, bring several important and crucial dramatic and thematic elements to the story, when Zuckerberg is 'just coding' or 'too busy'. Without knowing this was a 'true' story, one could be mistaken for thinking Fincher was pulling another Fight Club on us.
David Fincher's consistent record in the past decade for making incredible films, barely falters here with seeing the usual Fincher techniques with a few new colour saturations and actually making coding an excitable, interesting and fun looking prospect, almost had me second-guessing dropping out of computer science. Fincher is able to make the Harvard world look menacing and with the help of the score by Nine Inch Nails himself, Trent Reznor, and english composer and collaborator, Atticus Ross.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score is remarkable from the simple piano melodies which haunt the opening titles to the orchestral glitch tones of the English Regetta (the rowing race) showing the straining Winklevoss Twins, ultimate acceptance and  possible motives for bringing Zuckerberg doing for being 'just second'
If you're wondering why I've used possible so many times is because like any true story film, I take it with a grain of salt and whilst I haven't read 'The Accidental Billionaires' or know Zuckerberg, Severin, Winklevoss or Parker personally, we don't know what really happened. Other than a few unflattering emails, blogposts and source code, we have no real testimony to go on, in fact, the using of the digital elements are usually the only evidence any of the 'villians' have in the story, the importance and permanence of social media shows the dangers themselves of a life online. Sorkin's script and the acting constantly paints a morally ambiguous picture of all the characters (except maybe Sean Parker) and an ending, which I personally thought came too soon and made me want more of the film (I hear a Blu-Ray buy), that sums up (like the opening) the life and melancholy of one man and his disconnection from society.
Whilst I find numerical and grading judgements pointless for regarding films because you're not me and no matter what arbitrary figure I give this you would still regard seeing this film based upon your own personal opinion, preference and taste, but I would give this a must-see. I thought all the reviews out there were barely listenable hype based around 'college-experience' and 'education elitism' (these are Harvard kids), but ultimately, the film is accessible to anyone who has heard about Facebook, wants to know more about Facebook or who has just read about what the internet is.


The Social Network is a brilliant, witty, poignant and enjoyable film that I cannot suggest more so than any other film this year, except maybe for Scott Pilgrim.

*I did not think this was a real site.
So what'd you think? Leave a talky-back.

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