A blog about movies and filmmaking.

Can’t Make Billions Of Dollars Without Making A Few Enemies

In drama on October 1, 2010 at 3:11 am

THE SOCIAL NETWORK is a fantastic movie full of reprehensible characters and actions that makes me want to delete my Facebook account – found here. David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin create a fantastic and beautifully shot story about a young man that forsakes every relationship in his life because he wants to make websites that help connecting to people easier. Which makes it sound a lot more altruistic than he ever actually is. The cast is magnificent. The movie is also really funny. Which keeps it from being terrifying and depressing. (Wouldn’t it make you sad if your friend ditched you in order to make hundreds of millions of dollars, and that now, almost everyone in the world is associated with that person?)

Jesse Eisenberg uses his nerd powers for evil here, much like Michael Cera used his for hipster cool in SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. Which in both cases, works very well for seeing the actors expand on their normal repertoire, while not really acting much differently. But it’s amazing, just how unlikable Eisenberg is. He takes the aloofness that he normally exudes and just, seems like a dick. A brilliant dick, but still. A dick.

The story follow Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg), from the night that his girlfriend breaks up with him – because all he cares about are final clubs. Which I guess are clubs for people that got perfect scores on their SAT’s. (I don’t know, because I didn’t go to a good college, and I didn’t take the SAT’s.) Anyway, after getting dumped, he gets drunk, blogs about what a bitch she is and creates a website that allows people to compare every female at Harvard. This website, which he creates whilst drinking, blogging, and hacking into who knows how many sorority and clubs websites; causes the Harvard servers to crash. Which gets him in trouble and a job – with a couple of jocks that want to create a specialized social networking website for Harvard students. From there, things spin out of control, all because a girl had the nerve to break up with Zuckerberg.

The story of the creation of Facebook, in itself isn’t that interesting. What makes this movie good is how it juxtaposes the story of this time of youthful vigor and the eventual trials that occur, when everyone that comes into contact with Zuckerberg sues him. So, the other half of the movie is spent listening to depositions, full of witty repartee. Jumping back and forth to deliver the story; we go from a number of lame Harvard parties, Mark’s meeting the budding entrepreneurs that he actually sort of gets the idea for Facebook from, his meeting Sean Parker, the guy that created Napster (a site that was how people got music before iTunes was invented, and in the movie he’s played by Justin Timberlake.). To his becoming filthy rich, and losing all his friends.

The main thing I dislike about the movie, is how it glorifies these horrible people. They’re all self-serving, entitled rich kids that do what they want and feel like they’re better than everyone else. The story is basically one brat stealing another brat’s toy and becoming the youngest billionaire in the US. Boohoo, them. But, they’re so witty and engaging and say all the right things and I bet they all watched THE WEST WING. But, yeah, horrible people. (Especially since they probably only watched the last seasons, which weren’t as good.)

They shrug off people and relationships, all because they’re only looking to make more money – whether it’s through means of their own, or to impress daddy and get a piece of his fortune. Of course, I accept that this is how progress is made. Which sort of makes this movie a perfect double feature with THERE WILL BE BLOOD, as examples of how business is done and the problems it can cause. But without these few, we wouldn’t have the world we do, today. (I’m not sure if that’s a positive or a negative.) The ending of THE SOCIAL NETWORK is tries to give us a moment of the main character actually having a heart, and showing an emotion for someone else. But it just left me thinking, “yeah, good luck.”

Despite their despicable representations, the performances by all the actors here are great.  In the Tyler Durden/Gordon Gecko (see, it’s relevant because of the new WALL STREET 2 movie out now – which I still haven’t seen.) role of this movie is Timberlake. Who is the man that Zuckerberg hopes to be and pushes all of the right buttons to make Facebook what it is today – and throw away what it was originally. (Originally it was called, “The Facebook”.) He’s smarmy, brilliant – intelligence-wise – and just slightly insane. Which is nothing but catnip to a genius renegade like Zuckerberg. (Wasn’t that the phrase on the poster? Look at me buying the hype.) Timberlake has continually shown that he is just as good, or at least interesting, as an actor as he is pop star. (Yeah, I’ll admit it; I like some of his songs.)

The other standout in the movie is Andrew Garfield, who is really the only character that is mildly likable. I’d almost argue that he’s the real protagonist of the story. As he’s the character who seems to go through the most changes, has the biggest – if not only – arc, and is actually sympathetic. Even if his character was the weaker link of the group behind Facebook, and if it had been left to him; we probably wouldn’t care at all about it, right now. Which only expands on the greatness of Garfield, who was also great in NEVER LET ME GO, and now I’m kind of looking forward to seeing him as SPIDER-MAN. (Though he does seem a bit tall.) He has a magnificent scene, towards the end, where his character is screwed over by Zuckerberg and Parker, and his confrontation with them both is probably the best moment of the story. It shows all the characters for who they are, and even reveals the bad-ass brewing inside Garfield. (Again, Spider-Man.)

The other major roles are Armie Hammer, as the Winklevoss twins (I was sad to learn that they weren’t actual twins – but also knowing Fincher, I wasn’t that surprised), the two crew rowers that initially hire Zuckerberg to create their website. He’s perfect as the two guys that are both intelligent and show many facets of their personalities. A particularly great line is them talking about beating Zuckerberg up, and one of them says, “I’m six-foot four, two hundred twenty pound and an olympic athlete. And there’s two of me.”  There are a couple of other great moments with the twins too. Their partner is played by Max Minghella (ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL), and he seems like the real brains of the trio (duo?). He’s the one that wants to sue and go after Zuckerberg from the start, but the other two (one?) demure, choosing instead to send “cease and desist” letters and speak to Harvard’s President, thinking that it’s the dignified, Harvard way.

In the roles of the lawyers – of which there are many – are mainly John Getz (THE FLY, DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD) and Rashida Jones (THE OFFICE), as Zuckerberg’s counsel. They’re both great – actually now that I think about it, it’s the lawyers in this movie that are the actual likable people. And how often does that happen? Getz gets some fun, witty moments. Jones gets bring it all home for Zuckerberg, where she explains how all of his problems stem from that single night of getting dumped.

The other – possibly the most – amazing thing about the movie is Trent Reznor’s score. Though it seems a little overdone for this movie, which is mostly just people sitting at computers or in conference rooms. But, the very Nine Inch Nails sounding (duh!) music, helps lend a lot of edge to the movie. And is worth buying on it’s own.

Lastly, there’s David Fincher. The man I’ve spoken the least about and really was the main draw for me to see a movie about the creation of Facebook. The movie has a very Fincher-esque look. It’s stylish and reserved – with only a couple of noticeably fanciful shots that the director likes to use. The one stand-out scene though, is during the crew race at Henley Royal. (Which I only know of, because of it’s use as a trivia question in THE DA VINCI CODE. How’s that for a random reference?) It’s shot in a way that everything looks like it’s a miniature, and the people are just digitally added. Making the scene even more fascinating is the great remix of “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” by Trent Reznor. It’s very striking.

Overall, THE SOCIAL NETWORK is a great movie. It’s full of deplorable people, acts of selfish, self-aggrandizement/delusion. Ethical gray-zones, and I disagree with most of the character’s actions with every fiber of my being. It’s the subject matter and the characters involved that makes this the only movie of Fincher’s that I don’t immediately feel the need to own. But, I probably will, and yes, that even includes ALIEN 3. It is a risky move for Fincher – who will seemingly be returning to genre fare with his remake of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. And I’d say he’s a total success.

Sorkin’s script, is amazing and is the thing that really shines. I can’t imagine that any of these nerds, jocks and old people are half as cool as they’re played here. But it’s the script that makes this movie watchable. It’s funny, it’s imminently engaging, and will make everyone who complained about there being a “Facebook movie” eat crow. Which, I guess leaves me saying that this movie is a must see. But I don’t know that it’s the masterpiece that a lot are talking it up to be. But, but, I guess, and especially looking at the length of this review; it’s a movie that will certainly leave people thinking and discussing it.

Great trailer too.

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