on February 22, 2011
A movie about Facebook? Come on.....
But, yes it's good. Not a terribly good story on its own (boy invents thing, gets sued by his friends, who claim to have also invented thing), but hugely elevated by the writing of Sorkin and the direction of Fincher.
It's always sort of problematic when Sorkin writes characters who are NOT sympathetic. I found this with Charlie Wilson's war. I didn't really like Wilson or the Julia Roberts' character. Still made for a good movie, but you didn't root for them the way you rooted for the pure-hearted characters in his three TV series.
Same with this thing. The Facebook founder is an acknowledged genius and an acknowledged a**hole (he's told so in the first 5 mins, by his girlfriend). It's his best friend, who ultimately gets ditched, that you eventually sort of cheer for. But even he is just the incompetent partner, who gets fired (and probably deservedly so) and then successfully sues for a giant settlement, which he probably did not deserve.
Anyway, it's slick. And it's some sort of accomplishment for Sorkin to make me believe that Facebook really was revolutionary. Doesn't make me want to use it (or Sorkin either, who cancelled his page upon completion of the screenplay). But it's an acknowledgement of a societal shift. Facebook was initially meant as a way to help Harvard students meet girls, basically. The genius of it is that where it was initially hard to find out anything about girls you wanted to date (this was the case when I was in university anyway), Facebook actually got them to post everything about themselves for the world to see. The lightbulb moment comes when a friend asks Zuckerburg if a girl in his class is single, and Zuckerburg realises that's THE thing users will really want to know. In an age where privacy laws are becoming stronger, Facebook flaunts that, by getting people to willingly waive any rights to privacy at all. Yes, it's stupid, but it has changed society.
They parallel the Facebook thing with Napster. Shawn Parker, the Napster founder (and supposed free-speech advocate) plays a key role in Facebook too. Whether you like Napster or not, it changed the music industry. Having Justin Timberlake, a musician, play the Napster founder is actually a pretty ironic move. But he plays him as an anarchist and a jerk. Revenge? Either way it works.
All in all, it's a movie about smart people made by smart people. And it's a smart movie.
>>> Foreword: Facebook is a phenomenon. Love it or revile it, it has changed social relationship negotiation in the computerized nations and it is here to stay. It is the product of technical genius and shrewd opportunism. As much as it "gets people together", thereby achieving its expressed mandate, there are several issues of Privacy, Third Party Surveillance, Dishonesty, Lack of Transparency and even Addiction that make talk of it heated and contentious. The following is a review of the film "The Social Network", by David Fincher, and as such, it discusses the ideas that the story directly expresses and clearly implies. It is not a personal judgement of Mark Zuckerberg nor an assessment of people who use the site. There ARE issues with Facebook. "The Social Network" is a film about the creation story of the site and the people involved and so it covers those issues. When voting, please remember that this is about the film and not whether you love Facebook or not. Enjoy ... >>>
Without a doubt, this is one very intense, very well-made and extremely provocative movie.
"The Social Network" is a complex story, a multi-faceted morality tale, a philosophical dialectic on many issues and a dead-on embodiment of the current zeitgeist, or, spirit of the time. David Fincher's extraordinary direction takes what, simply put, is the story of an extremely socially crippled computer nerd's rise to billionaire status and makes it an edge-of-your-seat, gripping and emotionally involving film. Turn off your phone, don't answer the door, you don't want to miss a second of this.
This film moves fast, very fast, like Mark Zuckerberg's speech, as rivetingly and perfectly realized by Jesse Eisenberg. You can't blink for a second or let your mind wander or you'll miss key elements of development in this amazing, but in reality, timeless, story of SUCCESS. Right from the opening scene, where Zuckerberg's personality is established AND the motivation for the WHOLE THING is presented, you are sucked right into this film like an opened airlock. A genius freshman at Harvard in 2003, jilted by his girlfriend, seeks to avenge her rejection by humiliating her on the internet. Then he seeks, by extension, to humiliate all women by proposing to place pictures of girls next to farm animals. Fortunately he doesn't follow through with this. But he does however create a site called Facematch on which he posts pics of college girls and asking viewers to "rate" which one is more attractive. His autistic, adolescent psychodrama appeals to the lowest common denominator and his online postings become extraordinarily popular. He and his friends then hack the Harvard mainframe and cull pictures and information from many of the sororities on campus, posting names and pictures of people for everyone to see ... everyone. Before you know it, it becomes a network for college kids to "check each other out". They crash the Harvard server with unprecedented activity and attract the attention of two prestigious twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss ( both of whom are played by Armie Hammer ), who are ALSO looking to create a "dating site" exclusive to Harvard. Zuckerberg is invited to join them. Ostensibly and only in the first moment, he does. Then he takes an idea from them and runs with it. And thus ....... Facebook is born.
The laser fast trajectory to success then sees itself played out with all the requisite human drama, tragedy, stupidity, betrayal, indulgence and corruption that usually fuels it. Zuckerman's genius is never in question and his cognitive powers make him an extremely difficult person to win an argument with. So as many times as he is challenged by his one and only friend, Eduardo Saverin ( Andrew Garfield ), the original CFO of Facebook, he intellectually steamrolls over him and absolutely everyone in his path. He relies on Saverin for his business acumen AND his considerable bank account but keeps him in the dark when there is trouble in their dealings. This kind of genius creates magnificent things but also leaves a picaresque trail of emotional and psychological carnage in its wake. This is the essence of the story of "The Social Network".
Toward the centre of the film, as the stakes start to get very high, Zuckerberg is approached by Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, the original, online, music file-sharing site that gutted, then revolutionized the then corpulent music industry. He is slick, glib, amoral, corrupt and highly questionable in his sexual ethics. At a bar in California, he wines and dines Zuckerberg, telling the young wiz kid the tragic story of the creation of "Victoria's Secret" and how it's originator committed suicide. That kind of tragic loss of an opportunity is not what he sees for Zuckerberg and convinces him to go as far as he can no matter what. Parker ( smoothly and convincingly played by Justin Timberlake ) sums the film up by saying "This is our time!" Meaning it was both the time to act and that the kind of opportunity to rise to the online generation's need to be part of a 'social network' has come, that Facebook embodies our time. "We used to live in houses, now we can live online!", trumpets Parker. The final disconnect from reality and real relationships is achieved. An entire generation that predicates itself on accessibility, utter transparency and prestige was ripe fodder for the creation of something like Facebook. That the same generation relies entirely on electronic media, cell phones, smart phones, blackberries etc, for it's "communication" and social interaction is an irony too great to miss. This then raises the chicken and egg question, did this generation 'create' Facebook or did Facebook create the generation?
Parker dazzles the younger Zuckerberg with his fast talk and California high life and influences his final steps to corporate magnitude. That Zuckerberg follows this advice by intellectually listening to Parker and making shocking moves with clear human travesties is a clear sign that while genius may be admirable, if it isn't tempered with loyality, integrity, principal and conscience it is indeed a devilish thing. Once he is brought to court by BOTH the Winkelvoss twins AND Eduardo Saverin, and the litigation proceeds, bits and pieces of information and allusions come out that hints that Zuckerberg may well have deliberately waylaid his two major partners, Eduardo Saverin and Sean Parker by planting unfortunately damning information that would be their undoing. That is never made explicit, but it is there, rather conspicuously, between the lines. This is not to say outright that Mark Zuckerberg was a devil, for all accounts he is a decent guy. But as shown in this film, he was an odd kid, who was socially inept, quite lonely and isolated, with formidable mental powers that he was powerless to rein in. Mix in feelings of awkwardness, isolation, a dash of apparent Asperger's syndrome, some considerable adolescent revenge fantasizing and difficulty with girls and you get a recipe for some remarkable but possibly, questionable activities.
The ethics of Facebook are still being debated. That the company has never once ASSURED the privacy of it's members, indeed it NEVER DID, right from the very early days of it's inception, makes it a hot topic of debate. Yet Facebook is one of the greatest success stories of all time, making Zuckerberg the current youngest billionaire on the planet. It's success testifies to the fact that it addresses a 'need'. That our culture "NEEDS" such a thing, or if opportunism has once again 'created' a need where one never existed before, perhaps reveals that our society is one with some psychological holes and fundamental disconnects. That people, out of a need to feel that they belong to something, that they are part of something exclusive ( how can 500 million members be exclusive? ), willingly submit their lives to absolute transparency is, I think, a marker of the emotional destitution of our time.
"The Social Network" raises all these points eloquently and seamlessly works them into a story line that is gripping and involving from start to finish. It is a movie of the highest quality in every way and one that anyone interested in the spirit of our time should watch. The direction is scintillating and as gripping as any action flick. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's score is fantastic and perfectly wedded to the narratrive. The acting is sublime and fully committed. At it's core "The Social Network" is a morality tale about unquestioned human emotions directing formidable intellectual and creative abilities to act out the actually very simple psychodrama within. Many of the great 'creators' were driven by devils, devils within their hearts. Mark Zuckerberg was a painfully lonely, autistic, socially awkard genius who wanted to belong. So he created the world's largest exclusive club. I wonder how lonely he is now.
GREAT, GREAT film.