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February 8, 2011


Status update on The Social Network

Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss Twins

I went to see The Social Network for a second time last night. I saw it on opening weekend at the beginning of October, and loved it, but I tend to forget an awful lot of stuff about movies if I only see them once.

A few observations from the second time around:

  • As an origin story about Facebook, it's not especially compelling or, apparently, even very accurate. But that doesn't matter. It's not really a movie about Facebook any more than Citizen Kane is about newspapers. I've seen some comments on Facebook from people saying they're not interested in seeing it because they don't care about Facebook--those people have nothing to worry about. Aaron Sorkin doesn't care about Facebook, either.
  • Jesse Eisenberg is 100% on the money. He manages to convey feeling totally superior to everyone in the room while needing their acceptance and also hating his own guts, all at the same time. He's incredibly good.
  • Also great is Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins. He's hilarious. Every time he comes on the screen I'm glad to see him. Or them. I don't think it's necessary to be rich, handsome, and privileged in real life in order to play rich, handsome and privileged, but in this case, it doesn't hurt.
  • Justin Timberlake is pretty good at balancing the magnetic rockstar charisma with a streak of calculating slimeball. You see the selfish jerk side come out here and there before the end when he really emerges as the bad guy. Watch this movie and Black Snake Moan and you can see he's got some chops.
  • One part that's less good: Eduardo. The script was largely drawn from the book The Accidental Billionaires that used Eduardo as its main source. The basic story is sympathetic to Eduardo and presents him as the loyal friend that Zuckerberg betrayed. But it's hard to feel that way, even though I guess we're supposed to, because of the long stretch we spend with Mark, et al in Palo Alto when things start heating up for the company, while Eduardo is off in New York riding the subway for 14 hours a day or whatever. When he shows up and eventually gets the shaft, we're meant to sympathize with him, but by then the story has moved in another direction and isn't really about him anymore. It's a structural/emotional flaw. Also, Andrew Garfield seems like he's faking--his acting is opaque and awkward compared with everyone else.
  • About women in the movie: a lot of people have complained that women are presented as peripheral objects for the male characters to play with or insult as they wish. I understand this is probably an accurate representation of how these characters, 20 year-old guys with something to prove, might behave. Sorkin says this is what these guys are really like. Sometimes the movie itself seems to support this viewpoint, though, and women are made to look trivial through camera work and editing, not because of anything a character says. A movie can make female characters human even as male characters dehumanize them (like in "Mad Men") but that doesn't happen very often here. Rooney Mara standing up for herself and telling Zuckerberg off, twice, helps.
  • The Trent Reznor soundtrack is awesome. Especially the music during the Facemash creation, it really makes what could have been a tedious scene about anti-social drunk programmers into an exciting action sequence.
  • My least favorite moment is the song in the final scene: "Baby You're a Rich Man" by the Beatles. It's gaggingly on the nose, and after such great soundtrack choices that are so time-and-place specific, we get The Beatles? David Fincher usually screws something up at the end of his otherwise great movies, so I guess in the scheme of things this isn't that bad.

Best movie of the year? It's up there.

categories: Celebrities, Movies, Women
posted by amy at 12:59 PM | #

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And yet you appear to be the last person in America who's not on Facebook. Geez, even I'M on FB, and I'm a hundred years old.

Posted by: Tim at February 9, 2011 6:31 AM

I read somewhere that Fincher's goal in casting the Winkelvii was to find a guy(s) who could say "We don't do that because we're gentlemen of Harvard," and get the audience to think "Hunh, yeah, that makes sense," rather than "You dumb fuck." Much of what makes them so compelling is that they so strongly believe they're the good guys that they convince you, just a little bit, to root for James Spader against Ducky.

As for the final music cue: It is indeed painfully on the nose. But I sometimes wonder if that isn't the idea. More to the point: What the Beatles are, absolutely and unquestionably, is popular. More popular than anyone, ever. The hard, shiny mixing of the song shifts it from beautiful to aggressive, like the popular people are finally singing Zuck's praises but it's all horrible.

Posted by: That Fuzzy Bastarrd at February 9, 2011 11:09 AM

Fuzzy Bastarrd: While watching it this time, I did feel more sympathy for the Winklevii. The way the story is presented in the movie, Zuckerberg did in fact steal their idea. He may not have used a single line of their code, but in the scene when they're outlining their idea for Harvard Connection in the bike room of their club, you can see him connecting the dots in his head, and then the next scene is him telling Eduardo about "his" idea, which is a marginally enhanced version of the Winklevii idea. Zuck's the conceptual genius, but it took rich, privileged twins to teach the social outcast about exclusivity.

Yeah, Armie Hammer is great because he's so utterly and convincingly self-assured (or entitled), but the movie also supports his argument. In this movie, James Spader kind of has a point about Andie not being the right kind of girl.

About the final song: yeah, now Mark's one of the beautiful people, and it's horrible, which I get. But it's horrible. Fincher always does something that bugs me in Act 3! At least this time he waited until the last 30 seconds of the movie.

And Tim: I'm secretly on Facebook, but I'm a lurker. I'll find ya!

Posted by: amy at February 9, 2011 1:40 PM

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