Animadversion: The Social Network – Review by Kamran Jawaid and Farheen Jawaid

This post is the updated copy of the review published in iMAGES on Sunday, Sunday 21st November 2010 in our film review column Animadversion. A link to the published version can be found at the end of this post.

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We All Need a Human Connection

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

Social Networking: the potential is blitzing in digits commonly suited to chartered accountants working for J.P. Morgan. And it banks on the best assets a good internet connection and a database of zeros and ones can bring: the human connection – the hub of alternate, far-flung, relations and pokes otherwise known as Facebook.

With Billions in money and 500 million in friends (or friend of friends), it all starts with an awkward table-talk about China, its labor and a misguided, half-insecure, break-up with a girlfriend, Erica (Rooney Mara). It ends with a guy sitting alone in the lawyer’s office, friendless, hitting the refresh button on his Facebook page. Would his former girlfriend, Erica, accept his “add as friend” request?

That’s just one of the small, incisive, blips of reality punctured throughout the blazing and witty vintage Hollywood screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, Charlie Wilson’s War) – it will get a nod, and hopefully more, around Oscar time, because Mr. Sorkin and David Fincher have created the next big-screen miracle: a talky thriller about 20-something computer programming geeks, relationship suicides, potential big money and litigation.

What’s also uniquely gifted to The Social Network is that it succeeds as a tent-pole without over-plowing the sex-and-drug angle (though, it does play a part at the end of the movie). The film is about the creation of Facebook and the subsequent legal battles within the co-founders. And it has the rhythm of box-office gold. As Manohla Dargis of the New York Times puts it: “(the film is one in which) ideas, words and bank books blow up rather than cars”.

Often the movie, drenched in Mr. Fincher’s color-corrected palette of greenish, orange-yellows, he used mostly for “Zodiac” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (he needs to let go now), drabs the film in the unconventional frame of teen-films from the late-90’s / early 2000’s – a time when studios were making low-budget fare circling College Campuses, “Urban Legends” and “Skulls” to pump-up their revenue stream (give or take tawdry teen-comedies).

However, this feeling of low-key lighting (and the inherited values of HD Cinematography) adds a touch of subtle coldness to the film’s overall architecture, a trait shared by principal character – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, played with picture-perfect detachment and angered, nerdy, tones by Jesse Eisenberg. As a film about establishing the-next-big-website that focuses on human-interaction, seeing Mr. Eisenberg in stark emotional contrast is a flash of genius.

While Mark Zukerberg may have had the angered brain-cells to launch Facebook in a spire of alcohol and let-downs (as an outburst of being dumped, he launches the site FaceMash – aka “Hot or Not” – that hacks into pictures of female college students and pits them against each other, based on who gets how many votes, the application still exists in face book), the films heart is a charming Andrew Garfield (playing Facebook co-founder/CFO Eduardo Saverin), kitted with semi-formal jackets and a low-esteem persona – and maybe chances of Best Supporting Actor nod (maybe).

The Social Network 01Complementing and negating Mr. Garfield’s classic Peter Parker persona (Mr. Garfield is playing Peter in the upcoming Spider-Man reboot), is the films other Best Supporting Actor contender Justin Timberlake (definitely, maybe). Mr. Timberlake slithers in as Sean Parker, the entrepreneur who launched websites Napster and Plaxo.

Mr. Timberlake’s Sean Parker, Mr. Eisenberg’s Mark Zukerberg or Mr. Garfield’s Eduardo Saverin, (honorable mentions go to Armie Hammer – both of his double roles – and Max Minghella), who all live within the confines of being a teenaged entrepreneur in the 2000’s. Even as the film jumps between friendship, hostility and financial shake-ups, no one hits each other (they don’t even shove each other into a wall or something). They have lawyers for that.

If it was the eighties, nineties, Bruce Willis or Mel Gibson, then it would have been a different situation. But then again, we’re talking about a totally different breed of filmmaking; one where Mr. Fincher has graduated to, Summa Cum Laude.

Released by Columbia Pictures, The Social Network is rated PG-13 and is based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich. It has moments of drug-use and semi-nude women are quickly taken care of by soaring egos, emotion detachment and legal depositions. This is the world of the Power Elite nerds. The minds without which we would be devoid of parasitic applications like Farmville.

Second Opinion

By Farheen Jawaid

The Social Network 02 The hype and the so-called grandeur attached to movies before their release can sometimes put a lot of preconceived notions in the mind that can go either way. But that hype gives that extra something this is essential in the dog-eat-dog opening weekend. In most cases it doesn’t have anything to do with how good the movie is. That’s why it’s a shock to see a movie like “The Social Network” which is one of those exceptional gems because it’s even better than the appended publicity.

“Network” is about the events that lead to the birth of now gargantuan social networking site Facebook, and its makers. Co-creator of Facebook, Mark Zukerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is an antisocial Harvard student and probably the most intelligent guy in the room. He has a compulsive social suicide streak and an emotionally distant, egocentric, gray personality. A complex performance test that puts Mr. Eisenberg in a subtle jam as he delivers cutting sarcasm, egoistic pitches that despite making him a complete jerk, makes him a jerk with a heart. The level of commitment is true for Mr. Eisenberg and the cast, who share the movie without an inkling of pretence in their acting.

The Social Network 03 Ego, greed and morals are what give wind to the sails of “Network” and Director David Fincher handles everything in a refreshing, sincere, way. “Network” is made in a clear crisp narrative, without overtly decorative camera works or special effects gushing forth from every corner.

The story is penned by Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men and Charlie Wilson’s War), based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich. Mr. Sorkin proves that his pen is still the sharpest when it comes to strong and determined characters and on the ball dialogues. Not for a moment does the mind wavers from the astute verbatim or the cast that includes Andrew Garfield, the unsure honest friend, Justin Timberlake as the slick and certainly dubious co-founder of Napster and the Armie Hammer who plays twin Winklevoss brothers. “The Social Network” is an instant classic. And unlike other instant classics, it deserves to be one.

Published version can be found at:

http://www.dawn.com/2010/11/21/animadversion-the-human-connection.html

and

http://www.dawn.com/2010/11/21/second-opinion-5.html

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