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The Social Network (2010)

October 15, 2010

9/10 Friend Requests

If you told me a year ago that “the Facebook movie” would turn out to be one of the major Oscar contenders of 2010, I’d probably tell you to go outside and lay off the FarmVille. Shows how much I know.

The Social Network is the semi-true-but-probably-not story of Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard computer whiz who got dumped by his girlfriend, drank and blogged his sorrows away, became a minor campus celebrity as a result and then blew the roof right off the bitch shortly thereafter when he invented Facebook with the help of his close circle of friends, the guy who created Napster, and a handful of people who claimed that he stole the idea from them.

When I first heard that this movie was actually being made, I couldn’t have been the only who immediately thought out loud, “You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kidding me.” Because for all intents and purposes, this probably shouldn’t be a good movie, this should be a Hollywood cash cow that probably shouldn’t have the best script I’ve heard all year, and this probably shouldn’t have David-effing-Fincher and Trent-effing-Reznor attached to it in any way, shape or form. But here we are, in a scenario that the Mayans couldn’t have even called, and I am done complaining, folks, because it is so damn good to be proven wrong.

So this is some relatively new territory for David Fincher. The closest thing on his resume might be Zodiac, and that’s still something else entirely. No Project Mayhems here, no John Does, no Ellen Ripleys, no gross-ass freakshow babies, just talking heads spewing geekspeak for two hours straight in modern-day America, yet somehow it still feels like Fincher. Just crazy the way he can make a Harvard dorm room after dark look eerily similar to Lou’s bloody, wet basement and all the charming fixer-uppers on good ol’ Paper Street. The guy knows how to work lighting better than anyone else out there right now and even when the story moves to sunny California, he still does his thing and does it well. Just painstakingly pieced together and brilliantly executed throughout, not that that’s anything new for the guy.

But when you’ve got a movie like this that’s pure dialogue where all the action takes place in front of a keyboard, you’re screwed six ways from Sunday without a good script. With that being said, Aaron Sorkin is probably the biggest reason this movie doesn’t come close to boring. The plot moves along at a mile-a-second pace, everyone talks like The West Wing cast after a week-long speed bender, some of the one-liners he whips out were some of the funniest things I’ve heard all year in or out of a theater and I just could not wipe the smile off my face. I didn’t know what to expect going into this considering it’s a weird task to create a story about real people and real events that you know aren’t true, but the direction he takes it in works wonders. It really is something else to stumble upon a script that makes me want to write and to find someone who really knows how to use his voice. Seems to be an increasingly rare discovery these days.

And rounding out this holy trinity is one of my personal idols. A week or so before I saw this, my friend told me that “it has the best score since There Will Be Blood.” It took me a second to process that statement since Jonny Greenwood deserves a Grammy, an Emmy, a Pulitzer, a Nobel Peace Prize and an jumbo-sized Oscar with the words “Sorry, we were idiots – The Academy” on it for his work on that movie, but then my friend reminded me that this was scored by Trent Reznor, and as soon as I heard that, I was on the level. Even if you weren’t like me and didn’t have a major teen angst phase in High School that more or less boiled down to worshipping The Downward Spiral and The Fragile like every other album I owned was a burned copy of Raffi’s Greatest Hits, Reznor has been one of God’s gifts to music for a while now, one of the few outrageously creative individuals who will help you realize what a joke the music industry is these days. But this isn’t his kind of movie either, the dude doesn’t like Facebook, he doesn’t like Zuckerberg, and it’s a damn far cry from the music video for “Closer”. Luckily, he and Fincher go way back, somehow he got on board for this, and as weird as it may sound to have the guy who single-handedly put Industrial music on the map as the maestro, it’s exactly what the movie needed. Bizarre in theory, seemless in execution. Just stunning.

Also love how the movie opens with “Ball and Biscuit” (the best song of the past decade). I like to think Trent had something to do with that.

And this cast is flat-out stellar, too. I’m gonna be keeping my eye out for Andrew Garfield from here on out (don’t think I’ll be able to avoid him now that he’s our new Spider-Man), he’s fantastic as Zuckerberg’s best friend/CFO, Eduardo Saverin, and my only real gripe with the movie as a whole is that the pacing noticeably drops when he’s not around. And that Just Timberlake lights up the screen as Zuckerberg’s eventual right-hand man, Sean Parker; homey’s come a long way since his frosted curls in *N Sync, more power to ‘im. But I am now fully onboard the Jesse Eisenberg bandwagon, I am on and I ain’t getting off. The kid’s got some serious presence and does a great, great job of turning Mark into this complex, strangely likable, asshole computer nerd who talks as fast as he types and just wants to be liked despite the front he puts on. I doubt that Zuckerberg is at all similar to Eisenberg’s portrayal of him, but as a movie character, you can’t take your eyes of him, and while a lot of credit goes to the lines that Sorkin gives him, Eisenberg just rocks it.

But it’s kind of weird writing about Fincher, Sorkin and Reznor on individual fronts. They all bring their A-game like only they can, but the fact that every scene in this movie feels like they were all actively working together to make the best final product instead of doing their own thing and hoping for the best is really what makes it all work so perfectly. As much as I loved the way Fincher continually cuts back and forth mid-sentence between Zuckerberg’s rise to “infamy” and the eventual depositions he gives after being sued twice over, I equally love the way Sorkin structured it that way. And as captivating as some of these montages are that take something as theoretically boring as watching someone build a website and make it seem like we’re watching a Freshman in flip-flops hack into The Pentagon from his Dell laptop, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as invigorating or awe-inducing without Reznor’s score backing it all up. You watch this movie and there’s no way to ignore what a meeting of the minds this is in every. single. way.

God, I really don’t know how this came together like it did, some kind of voodoo witchcraft must be to blame, but these guys captured goddamn Thor in a bottle and I don’t know why I ever doubted this project to begin with. I can’t remember the last time I thoroughly gushed over a movie like this, but what can I say, credit’s due where credit’s earned.

If you take it as a movie instead of gospel, The Social Network is out of freakin’ sight. It’s a bit strange that this was made now while Zuckerberg is still alive, while Facebook continues to grow and since the only people who know the real story are the only ones who won’t or can’t tell it. Then again, now, in a world where Facebook is still the online equivalent of crack cocaine and everyone and their mother is a junkie, it’s in many ways the perfect time to tell this story. It won’t stop you from updating your status or commenting on your friends latest lolcat picture any time soon, but it will make you take a long hard look at who really belongs on your “Friends” list.

That lolcat kid doesn’t need to know your relationship status anyway.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 27, 2011 2:57 am

    I found this site by searching for “The Social Network rubbish”, so I might as well be upfront with my opinion on the matter. I was kind of hoping to find someone else who also thinks this movie is as overrated as I do, but I guess I was out of luck. I really must be missing something, as everyone, and I mean everyone keeps banging on about how amazing, ground-breaking and seminal this movie is and in my mind it’s just not. The characters are completely unlikeable for a start – something that is normally a prerequisite in any decent film. When I point this out I am told “yeah but it’s based on a true story”, and although the premise might be, the facts are wildly different from reality. For example, the film which hired Eduardo Saverin as a consultant stated that his shares were reduced to a measly 0.3% (This seemed to be the main plot of the film and we are meant to feel sorry for him) or something silly and in reality he owns 5% worth $2.5billion, not exactly short change by any means.

    Additionally I can’t stand Justin Timberlake. To use an Americanism, what a douche bag. He just added even more pretence to an already up-its-own-arse movie and at the end of watching it I was glad it had finished, as well as rather disgusted. For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, the basic idea is this:

    > Bunch of rich kids invent facebook. (You can tell they are going to invent it because they keep mentioning the words Face and Book a lot when looking at photos of women)
    > Rich kids get even richer
    > Rich kids bitch and fight over money
    > End credits

    What’s so amazing about that? What exactly makes this the tour de force everyone keeps saying it is? My rating would be 4/10 – it was ok, but on the whole pretty dull. I say this as someone interested in the web and someone that develops Facebook applications for a living. I really wanted to like this film but it just sucked.

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