Thursday, January 13, 2011

Movies: The Social Network

Last week I was listening to an old broadcast of Fresh Air (by old I mean three weeks old). David Edelstein, NPR's regular film critic, was listing his twelve best movies of 2010. I hadn't heard of 75% of them and if you aren't a film critic, then you probably hadn't heard of some of them either. Edelstein finished his list and he was asked why The Social Network did not make it because the film is the favorite in a lot of critic's circles. I listened to his response, which served more as a reminder that I needed to see the movie before awards season so I could access its worth compared to other frontrunners this year like True Grit, The Fighter, and The King's Speech. So I did. And not having seen The Fighter yet, I couldn't compare it with the SN, but I enjoyed True Grit and The King's Speech quite a bit more than the SN.

The SN is a good movie, but it's not great. I enjoyed it because people spoke very quickly throughout the movie. The whole film was an intense exercise in listening. Apparently, people who attend Harvard and/or score a 1600 on the SAT speak quickly and esoterically all the time. I love a movie that commands your utmost attention just to keep track of the arc of the film or who the hell is who. The acting was believable. Justin Timberlake puts in a respectable performance and by film's end you hate his character, Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster because he essentially talks himself into a 6 or 7% share of Facebook by suggesting the company move to California and he helps acquire some funding. But really, are we to believe Facebook wouldn't have taken off without his aid? I hope not. The SN's greatest shortcoming is that the viewer doesn't know the accuracy of the film. Mark Zuckerberg said that the film was not accurate at all, except for his college wardrobe at the time. So, what to believe? We know the lawsuits happened, but there is so much more to the film than lawsuits and beyond them we don't know what really happened during the creation and flourishing of Facebook. Jesse Eisenburg plays a pouty Zuckerberg who doesn't show much emotion at all from start to finish. Maybe that's the way Zuckerberg is in real life, but that doesn't make him hard to portray. If it were up to me, and it's not, I wouldn't consider Eisenburg for any awards because of this and that the competition this year is intense--plenty of performances outshine Eisenburg's.

Prior to seeing The SN I had heard that the movie portrays women in a disrespectful and degrading light. It does do that, but remember, the guys the movie centers around are in college and, whether or not it was an accurate portrayal, Sean Parker is no outstanding figure either. The characters are into women and sex. Are the women on Harvard's campus as good looking as the ones in the movie? There is no way. Are the women on Harvard's campus as easy as the women in the movie? Possibly, I don't know. Are there guys in college as interested in getting some as the guys in the movie were? You bet. So, for the most part, the portrayal of women in the SN was accurate.

I will write again soon about another movie. My closing thought: The SN was good, but man, not one of the finest movies of the century so far, like some critics have described it. I will say this though, The Social Network is better than Facebook.

1 comment:

Rachel Larson said...

Thought what you said about it being intense to follow was correct but I was not impressed at all. It shouldn't be on the list for an Oscar that's for sure.