Archive | February 22, 2011

Best Picture Nominee Four

The Social Network

I’m always cautious when I get around to seeing a movie after it has received a lot of hype. Though we were late in seeing The Social Network, it did not disappoint.

There has been a lot of talk about Director David Fincher’s ability to make the seemingly boring (coding at a computer, a business deal, a court case) into something more exciting, but I think the strongest parts of this film are the writing by one of my favorites, Aaron Sorkin, and the acting by Jesse Eisenberg.

Mr. Eisenberg impresses by moving out from the shadow of supporting actor/son roles to shine as a leading man to portray Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook. Without Mr. Eisenberg this would be just another courtroom drama. To me, trying to understand Mark Zuckerberg—his motivations, his decisions, his desires—is the most fascinating part of this film. 

Who knew that the birth of Facebook was a tragedy of Shakespearean or even Greek proportions? Oh, the back stabbing! Oh, the ambition! Much like a Shakespearean story the plot is actually quite simple: jilted lover’s fury fuels wildly successful new project but ambition ensures that he will kick out every rung behind him on his ladder to success.

If you like (or at least respect the idea of) Facebook then it follows that you might want to like its co-founder. The beauty of this story is that you kinda hate the guy even if you admire what he was able to create. This tension is present from the very first scene, one of my now all-time favorite opening scenes (see clip below). Usually we shoot for the little guy—the kid who wasn’t a legacy and didn’t have a trust fund—but in this instance I find myself sympathizing with those same over-privileged boys who, in this version of the Facebook story, are the chumps who are used and spit out by Zuckerberg. Well done David Fincher!

“Dating you is like dating a StairMaster.”

For anyone who has ever dated someone from Harvard (I’m not naming any names) you might be familiar with the condescending wit and class consciousness on display in this clip. Beyond the surface, though, this conversation epitomizes the entire social networking culture. The back and forth of this dialogue is like instant messaging on dial-up—two parallel conversations are happening, words pass like ships in the night, and then suddenly the two strings of dialogue come into alignment.

There is so much left unsaid, too much reading between the lines, and for me this encapsulates the worst of what the internet has to offer: hollow communication. But, inherent in this is the magnetic push and the pull of digital communication. It makes us closer while simultaneously distances us from one another. We are able to find old friends, keep in touch with people around the world, but none of it means anything if we can’t also thrive in face-to-face interactions.

I believe The Social Network is the first film to tap into this zeitgeist—not just the phenomenon of Facebook itself but of how we have changed as a culture as a result of it. {Don’t forget to share this on Facebook!}

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