The Social Network
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David Fincher’s The Social Network is the stunning tale of a new breed of cultural insurgent: a punk genius who sparked a revolution and changed the face of human interaction for a generation, and perhaps forever. Shot through with emotional brutality and unexpected humor, this superbly crafted film chronicles the formation of Facebook and the battles over ownership that followed upon the website’s unfathomable success. With a complex, incisive screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and a brilliant cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake, The Social Network bears witness to the birth of an idea that rewove the fabric of society even as it unraveled the friendship of its creators.
They all laughed at college nerd Mark Zuckerberg, whose idea for a social-networking site made him a billionaire. And they all laughed at the idea of a Facebook movie--except writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher, merely two of the more extravagantly talented filmmakers around. Sorkin and Fincher's breathless picture, The Social Network, is a fast and witty creation myth about how Facebook grew from Zuckerberg's insecure geek-at-Harvard days into a phenomenon with 500 million users. Sorkin frames the movie around two lawsuits aimed at the lofty but brilliant Zuckerberg (deftly played by Adventureland's Jesse Eisenberg): a claim that he stole the idea from Ivy League classmates, and a suit by his original, now slighted, business partner (Andrew Garfield). The movie follows a familiar rise-and-fall pattern, with temptation in the form of a sunny California Beelzebub (an expert Justin Timberlake as former Napster founder Sean Parker) and an increasingly tangled legal mess. Emphasizing the legal morass gives Sorkin and Fincher a chance to explore how unsocial this social-networking business can be, although the irony seems a little facile. More damagingly, the film steers away from the prickly figure of Zuckerberg in the latter stages--and yet Zuckerberg presents the most intriguing personality in the movie, even if the movie takes pains to make us understand his shortcomings. Fincher's command of pacing and his eye for the clean spaces of Aughts-era America are bracing, and he can't resist the technical trickery involved in turning actor Armie Hammer into privileged Harvard twins (Hammer is letter-perfect). Even with its flaws, The Social Network is a galloping piece of entertainment, a smart ride with smart people… who sometimes do dumb things. --Robert Horton
Audio Commentary with Writer Aaron Sorkin & The Cast
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For better and worse this movie represents America. The ability to create, free enterprise, the internet, without having a dollar to your name, you can use these things to make yourself a millionaire. But we all know, being a millionaire isn't cool anymore. What is also inherently American is to take someone else's idea and improve upon it, with or without their consent. Though what follows, will likely be a lawsuit, another American tradition.
From a filmmaking standpoint the story was told incredibly well by one of the greatest screenwriters of his generation, Aaron Sorkin, using the legal proceedings as the wraparound for the plot from start to finish was a clever device that intrigued and enlightened without being a distraction. The score by first time screen musician (and long time Nine Inch Nails member) Trent Reznor and his tandem composer Atticus Ross was probably the best thing to happen to this film. Without the score it isn't the same movie, it provides a somber tone that gives the movie it's unsettling feel.
You could make the point that the movie also embodied another American ideal, greed. Although Zuckerberg didn't seem to care much about money (in the film and apparently in real life) the corporate greed of the lawyers during the takeover, as well that of the way Sean Parker was portrayed seemed to leave a heavy footprint.
But in the end Rashida Jones' character was right. Paying everyone who was rightfully owed a piece of the pie was nothing more than a speeding ticket. At the time of writing this Mark Zuckerberg has a net worth of $49.7 Billion (making him the eighth richest person in the world), and no amount that was given away could even be remotely considered as significant to that sum.
"You have part of my attention - you have the minimum amount."
The film opens with a lengthy scene of dialogue between Mark and his girlfriend. What's so unique about it is that you have to listen closely because the scene is jumbled with the chatter of a murmuring pub. And you can hear the background noise louder than you would like to have it or have been used to hearing it in other films. It's almost like we're right there with them, listening in. It's hard to hear comfortably at parts but I find that decision enthralling. Director David Fincher is trying to tell us something here, he's trying to prepare his audience. He's telling them to listen up and pay attention because this movie demands it. He uses this same tool later on in the film at a night club where Mark is being taken under the wing of a character with questionable motives. Fincher says once again, listen closely. This is a scene that demands concentration. Read between the lines, Mark is. Why aren't you?
Let's talk about the star of the film, Jesse Eisenberg as Mark, for he is going to be the reason why this film will never be forgotten. Eisenberg was outstanding here, laying down the best performance in film since the '70s. Naturalistic and contained, it was an absolutely beautiful portrayal. It harked back to Al Pacino's Michael Corleone from The Godfather Part Two, it was that impressive. What Eisenberg was able to do with Mark was something very precise. He made the character a complex one. One that was guarded, calculated, methodical, and incredibly lonely. A character that can be very cold and sad and unforgivably oblivious.
The idea proposed by Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is an interesting one, that the creator of a website designed to connect people around the world to all of their friends is not only socially off-putting but is so selfish and vengeful that he has no friends of his own. He has no support system. Eisenberg makes Mark out to be a loveless, wounded, and perpetually hurt person with quiet anger and resentment. The most perplexing aspect of Mark's character is that he is opaque and protective, resentful but there is a dying desire there as well. A want not of fortune but of impulse. I don't think Mark wants to be so cold. Then again, sometimes I think that's exactly how we wants to be perceived. He never really seems to honestly enjoy his successes. He never acts like he wants the money. He never really seems to want much more other than to be seen as someone stronger than he is. He wants to be different. Eisenberg communicates things along the lines of self-punishment and hatred with Mark. It's in his face and the quiver and shake of his voice. It's all in how a person so precise can be so uncomfortable in his own skin.
Eisenberg is a very responsive actor and the key to his performance is in his reactions. The little ticks that he does or the facial stretches that are both surprising and full of pathos. Eisenberg did something extraordinary in The Social Network. Truth be told, this was an unsurmountable performance, mammoth in poignancy and tragedy. What Eisenberg was able to communicate with his portrayal of Mark is something for the history books. If this film will be remembered for anything, I hope that it will be because of him. Such a complex delivery! I love that The Social Network is not really a film about Facebook but a complex, intimate, and puzzling character study of the touching from a distance variety. His performance is made of composites, all of which equally compounding and involved. Eisenberg's intricate approach, along with the occasional trip of haywire, is only augmented by Mark's impenetrable and inaccessible frozen heart.
Or is it even frozen? Maybe he's a kid who has a whole lot of heart but doesn't know how to use it. He had forgotten how a long time ago. Now he just is. But does he want to be? Does he yearn? In a performance that touches upon both the easily readable and the abstruse, Eisenberg molds a legendary character. A pillar of the actor's cinema. A startlingly perfect performance from an actor who has obviously mastered the craft. He got lost in Mark. I'm sure of it. This role had so many layers and it only gets more astonishing the more of them you peel back. Eisenberg was stunning here. A truly perfect and touching performance. Like I said, one of the best performances I have ever seen.
What is this film trying to say about my generation? Honestly, I don't really care much about that aspect of it. With the exception of the actors in participation, the rest of the filmmakers were older men who are most likely out of touch. I mean, my generation is inherently out of touch by nature so how could Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher know any better? This is not to say that Sorkin's script isn't great or that Fincher's vision wasn't coherent, fluid, and interesting to watch. I'm only saying that this film may not be the generation defining film in terms of territory and material, but it is generation defining in terms of acting and character. Eisenberg towers over his contemporaries. I've been waiting for an actor like him to come around for a very long time to kind of show the way for the others. I also hope that this film brings the character study back into popular demand. It's been a few years now since The Social Network was released and films just aren't seeming to catch on. It was a special kind of film and I guess we're not headed toward a new renaissance but at least it existed. A reminder of what the medium can accomplish. It focused on and examined a character who was not only a complicated one but one that shared a great likeness to it's coeval and modern audience. In the idea that Mark as a character is representative of my generation's cold resolve, the film is truly generation defining. It might not be the film my generation claimed but it's the one it deserved. It may not be an exact interpretation of my generation but it makes for a damn good silhouette of it.
One of my all-time favorite films.