Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's Complicated

Yesterday, I reviewed Let Me In. Let Me In is a haunting and very high quality film. I think it's one of the best movies of the year. However, that wasn't the only movie I saw over the weekend and, to give you a hint of the other movie's quality, Let Me In wasn't the best movie I saw this week. The Social Network is, simply, the best movie so far this year. Until now, that title belonged to Inception but The Social Network makes Inception look like something the dog puked up, swallowed and then puked it up again. But I kid Christopher Nolan.

This is the story of the creation of Facebook, a web site some of you may have heard of. You can tell it's an important film because people can't stop writing about it, if only to dismiss it and call it unimportant. I've read a few saying it's not really about Facebook and that's true. It's not about a web site but rather about the people who created it. A more potent criticism is that it's not historically accurate. In the end, when it comes to movies, that doesn't matter. Whether a film based on true events is eerily accurate or complete fiction doesn't affect if it's good or bad.

The opening scene introduces us to Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) in 2003 when he was a sophomore at Harvard studying computer science. The David Fincher directed movie portrays Zuckerberg as a genius with limited social skills out on what he doesn't realize is the final date with his girlfriend, Erika (Rooney Mara). Erika has been putting up with his flaws for a while and gets fed up when he passive/aggressively insults her 10 times in about 3 minutes. Mark doesn't think the breakup was justified so he goes back to his room and starts drunkenly writing intimate and embarrassing details about her on his blog. While doing this, he also takes out his anger on the entire female gender when he angrily whips up a website called Facemash.com that took pictures of every girl at Harvard and asks people to rate who's hotter. These are real life incidents that his detractors use to attack him to this day. Mark got in a bit of trouble for this but he also gained the attention of three members of one of Harvard's final clubs. This was educational to me as I didn't know what the hell a final club was. Depending on your social one monetary position in life, they can either be described as a place where Harvard's finest young men (Yes, even in 2010, they're all male) meet and form bonds and friendships that mold and benefit them OR a place where rich, well connected misogynist touchholes get together to drink and wonder why the rest of the world thinks they're touchholes.

Anyway, three members of one of these clubs hire Mark to take their idea for a Harvard dating site and make it a reality. Instead, Mark enlists his roommate Eduardo Saverin to give him business advice and financial aid to create his own site which he will call TheFacebook.com. The site's addictive nature makes it an instant hit, much to the chagrin of Mark's former business partners who couldn't help but notice that Mark had created something that was at least similar to their idea without them. This spawns the first lawsuit against Mark.

The second one happens when Mark and Eduardo have a falling out, a falling out that starts when Mark allows Sean Parker to become involved in The Facebook. I knew some of this story going in but I had no idea that the Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, had a hand in the creation of Facebook. At this point in time, Napster has gone from being the hottest thing ever to being a glorious and epic failure and Parker (Justin Timberlake in a pitch perfect performance) sees Facebook on the laptop of a recent hookup and quickly recognizes its potential. Parker comes off as a schmoozing parasite who takes advantage of Mark's hero worship of him to become an intricate part of this new company. He's also portrayed as a man whose vindictive nature and personal excesses put the future of Facebook in danger.

I have no idea what the real Mark Zuckerberg is like but he's fascinating in the movie where he's a man whose entire life is an example of irony because he has difficulty connecting with people yet he creates the greatest personal connection tool in history. The story is told Rashomon-style in which characters being deposed in the various lawsuits give their versions of events but they all agree on Zuckerberg's nature. When he talks to people, his conversations are more like real life blog posts. He states his harsh, unfiltered opinions then waits for people he regards as his comments section to respond. Eisenberg, as well as the entire cast, did a great job.

September has been a very good month for movies. This Friday, there's a new Katherine Heigl comedy coming out so I'm sure she'll put a stop to that.

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