The proverbial bar for the year has been set.
The Social Network is the best (new) movie I’ve seen in over two years. Period.
And before you read this, here’s the honest truth about this entry—I had originally planned out one of my “How to Make a Movie” posts and I was going to explore the three best aspects of the movie from a filmmaking standpoint. But then I couldn’t come up with the three best aspects, because there are at least seven or eight that would have to be mentioned in a post like that.
I mean, for starters, I would have discussed the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, which starts from the very beginning firing bullets of genius dialogue, and you better keep up or get out of the way. At the same time, it’s never imposing and the great dialogue fits perfectly within the flow of the plot development. At least a third of the movie takes place inside a conference room during depositions. Boring, right? Wrong. These are some of the most memorable scenes of the film. Aaron Sorkin will undoubtedly have a room full of awards come March for his work on this script.
And then I would have talked about the acting. Jesse Eisenberg gives a career performance; and while I think he’s normally a good actor, many times I feel like he’s just playing Jesse Eisenberg, which is definitely NOT the case here. He was totally immersed in the character of Mark Zuckerberg. He was funny in a jerk-ish sort of way, and definitely captured the “idiot-savant” feel that he was going for—a mal-adjusted genius, sure of his intellect but not of himself. The supporting cast is outstanding. Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and particularly Armie Hammer (who played the entertaining Winklevoss twins), all held up their end of the bargain.
(By the way, Justin Timberlake has officially solidified himself as the most talented entertainer in the world. There, I said it. Dude is a multi-platinum recording artist both in a group and as a solo act, he can put on an amazingly electric concert, he’s in the conversation for one of the best SNL guest-hosts ever, he can dance, and now, he has proven that he can act, and will rack up some awards nominations for sure, and possibly an Oscar nom. For those keeping track at home, that’s (1) Singer (2) Recording Artist (3) Dancer (4) Comedian (5) Serious Dramatic Actor. Oh, and by the way, he’s only 29. Case closed. He will probably run for office some day, and God help me, I’d vote for him.)
And let’s not forget who directed this piece of work, the man himself, David Fincher. This is a huge comeback for him IMO after Benjamin Button, which obviously a lot of people liked, but to me was a very technically well-produced movie that had about as much soul as a side salad from Wendy’s. Here, he combines his brand of gritty, technically flawless production with Sorkin’s script and character development. He’s definitely less present than in some of his films like Fight Club, but he does get a few chances to flash his brilliance—one scene in particular where the Winklevoss twins are at a rowing tournament (where they foreshadowingly place 2nd) is a little treat for Fincher fans who appreciate his pizzazz.
I would also definitely have to mention the film's trailer, which I believe is a lost art in Hollywood. This is absolutely one of my favorite trailers of all time. Radiohead's "Creep" as sung by a children's choir in the background, the random facebook profiles displayed that seem weirdly ominous given the music, and then the tension builds more and more as the storyboard is revealed. "Creep" is the perfect song to represent this movie and the character of Mark Zuckerberg, and in general it is representative of the facebook generation. I obviously wouldn't even be mentioning the trailer if it hadn't been so pitch-perfect and amazing.
And then I’d probably end by saying something about the zeitgeist of the whole thing. It wonderfully captures the spirit of the times we live in. I mean, I was in college when facebook was created, and I can tell you that the insanely fast way that facebook caught on like wildfire and was spread was accurately depicted in this movie. Moreover, the characters were all representative of the millennial generation—the way the company started without much organization, Zuckerberg forcing students to take shots of liquor while writing code in order to “try out” for facebook, all of the males’ distorted viewpoints about women—it was all very “true,” for lack of a better word. The wifey and I were commenting on how many twenty-somethings were in our theater with us on the opening night of the movie. It was a good 80% of the people there. The movie will play to older crowds, because of the great dialogue and the somewhat indicting nature of the film towards millennials, and it will play to the younger teens who are just now getting into facebook, but I can’t help but feeling that my generation will particularly “get” this film.
But the thing I can’t help but mentioning is just what a well-rounded film this is. People I normally chat about movies with often point out to me that it’s difficult for me to really enjoy films if they are not well-rounded. Take Inception, for instance, a thoroughly enjoyable blockbuster that lacked character-development and above-average dialogue. Was it a great piece of filmmaking? Yes. Was it a great piece of well-rounded filmmaking? No. And films in the latter category will always appeal way more to me, which is exactly why The Social Network is at the top of my list right now for 2010, and I will not be surprised if it remains there until the end.
In my next couple of posts I’ll discuss some of my most-anticipated films for the rest of 2010, and why you should be anticipating them too.