Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weeks Too Late: The Facebook Movie (aka The Social Network)

The Social Network. Directed by David Fincher & Written by Aaron Sorkin.

Preconceptions: I enjoy David Fincher and I hardly think I'm alone in this. His Alien movie is my favourite of the franchise and I genuinely liked the Game (and I do think I might be alone in these statements). I forgive him Panic Room (an utterly tedious movie) and spelling seven with a numeral. Aaron Sorkin's painfully clever writing has interested me in more than one topic that I find unbelievably dull (maybe he should have written Panic Room). His idealistic, funny and educational show the West Wing got me substantially more absorbed in American politics than a good Canadian should be. And, lets not forget that Trent Reznor (always a favourite) did the score.

General Review: I was concerned that Fincher and Sorkin might not be a good fit. Watching Sorkin's other shows it felt like he had a pretty high level of control over how they looked and felt. Fincher also has a very distinct (and yellow filtered) style. I was wrong to be worried as the Facebook Movie was a beautiful blend of the strengths of both. It had the snappy writing that I've come to expect of Sorkin, but the sense of humour was darker. This was partly due to Sorkin's writing (and y'know the subject matter) but also partly due to Fincher's sense of black comedy. Few people can direct a scene that's both funny and mean as Fincher. Also as a side note, I'd have had no idea that the Winklevoss twins were played by one guy if I hadn't been told. Kudos to both Fincher and Armie Hammer, it was impressive.

I broke my own rules and read a bit about the response to the Facebook Movie and decided right quickly that I didn't care about the accuracy of the story. I'm sure things didn't happen the way they were depicted in the movie but that didn't especially matter to me. Yes, if it didn't it might be unfair to the people in it, but I think typically fictionalized history is a lot more engaging. I like documentaries just fine, but they don't have much in the way of a plotted through-line (unless they're very disingenuously edited).

I've been thinking of Jesse Eisenberg as that kid you get when you can't get Michael Cera for a while now. But between this and Zombieland, I'm beginning to wonder if Michael Cera is going to turn into the kid you get when you can't get Eisenberg. Yes, he's playing another soft spoken, awkward nerd character in this, but it's a very different type of soft spoken nerd. This new version of the the socially maladjusted nerd doesn't get along with others, not because he's a geek, but because he's unlikable. Zuckerberg's character is a type of person that a lot of us are familiar with, but that hasn't seen much in the way of screen time yet. I wouldn't be surprised to see this character type turn into a cliche` in the next handful of years, but it's still very fresh now. Credit where it's due, the role wouldn't have been nearly so good without Eisenberg's performance. The more I see of this Timberlake fellow, the more I like. He was alright in Black Snake Moan and he was better in this (plus I have a fondness for his brainy specs).

I fear that I've made another one of my gushy reviews where I don't have a ton of cruel...I mean critical things to say. But I just straight out enjoyed this. The Facebook Movie encapsulated a few ideas and character types I haven't seen much of before. It showed the success as an internet business in a way that seems more true to life (even if it isn't) than other movies that disastrously tried to explain the dot com thing. If you're holding off because it sounds boring, trust me it isn't. Sorkin works his usual magic to make the most mundane things alluring.

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