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Thursday, March 10, 2011

"A million dollars isn't cool, you know what's cool? A billion dollars." ( A review of The Social Network)

From the moment I saw the teaser trailer for The Social Network, some time last year, I was hooked. Over a black screen we hear some choice bits of dialogue while words like "Punk" "Prophet" "Traitor" "Billionaire" slowly come into view with a soundtrack of drawn out musical pulses that gradually build in intensity as the trailer unfolds, when it reaches it's conclusion we are shown a picture of Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) and then the words "The Social Network" presented in the style of the Facebook logo. This was just a taste...then they released the trailer, utilizing similar bits of dialogue except now with the footage that accompanies them, all set to a chilling (near, save for a piano) a cappella rendition of Radiohead's "Creep". I was amazed, to but it bluntly, this is how trailers should be made: It gave nothing away and barely gave you an idea of what the film would be. The idea was at first ludicrous, when I had heard the rumors, a film about Facebook? What next? But this trailer changed my mind. When I finally saw the film several months later, my anticipation was well rewarded. The premise is simple: A retelling of the conception and subsequent birth of what is now arguably the king of all social networks, Facebook, and the lies, the genius, the inspiration that surrounded it. Oh, and the lawsuits. We witness two different depositions as Zuckerberg is being sued by two different parties. This is the first mechanism used to further then story. The second is the use of flashbacks to reveal how, and why, the whole Facebook phenomenon started. In my personal opinion I believe the choice to unfold the story in this manner was a great choice. The pace is quick, concise and clear, never dragging, never allowing itself to drag, it kept me interested, kept me wanting to see more, and I can tell you I was never bored.
We can argue about the legality of what Zuckerberg did, about whether or not the site should've been allowed to continue functioning considering his, as the movie states, "intellectual property theft", but it would be irrelevant. Regardless of your opinion, what Zuckerberg did, what he created, was nothing short of genius. Whatever truly fueled him, whatever his motives really were, he saw something more, knew something the Winklevoss twins did not. Facebook may've appeared to be a simple social networking site among the ranks of Myspace and Friendster, but it was something far more important, to the online community in general and specifically our generation. Something that continues to change and adapt to the ever-shifting, often fickle social scene.
What makes this film work is a masterful combination of very important elements. First, the strong leading actors. Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justing Timberlake and Armie Hammer, all of whom embody the characters they are portraying with a deft sense of realism and finesse. Second, the witty, intelligent, fast paced and razor sharp writing of Aaron Sorkin, who's script leaps off the page onto the screen with a clarity that is near unparalleled. Third, David Fincher (the director). Fincher has come a long way from his feature film directing debut, Alien 3. Fincher proves he is worth his salt and worthy to contend with the best of the best (consider his latest films: Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and now The Social Network), with his adept control of the actors' performances, taking the script and making it his own, he has become a force to be reckoned with within the directing community. Fourth, and by no means the least, the fresh, original, often haunting score composed by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) and Atticus Ross. This score won Reznor the Oscar at the Academy awards for best original score and he deserves every bit of that honor. Sorkin took the source material and made a screenplay that was his own, the actors interpreted it in their own way, Fincher molded it into his style, and Reznor made it into something all together different than all the others before him, and yet, it all comes together, it all works as a whole, a wonderful piece of cinematic art that I am proud to have witnessed, a film with a beautiful sense of humanity and depth. I have seen the movie countless times now and I find myself discovering something new about it every time I watch it, maybe nothing substantial, or even important, but things that make it a thrill to watch with every subsequent viewing.

This film should've won best picture at the Oscars (granted The King's Speech was a great film as well), and I will stand by that. I think this is a film that will be remembered for generations to come, because it captured something great, something that could've been lost in a single moment of hesitation or doubt. Was Zuckerberg wrong for what he did? Maybe, probably, but does it matter in the long run? He's worth upwards of 40 billion dollars now, I believe, but I don't think it was ever really for the money, not saying he doesn't enjoy it or would give it all away, but I think he truly saw something, something that was important, something that was "cool", and that was a priceless asset he wasn't going to give up. I'm glad he didn't.
See this film.

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