The heavily-fictionalized founding of Facebook places Mark Zuckerberg against wealthy enemies and old friends.
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Armie Hammer
Review by Jon Kissel
Biopics or historical dramas always leave themselves open to some amount of accuracy bashing, whether by what’s left in or what’s kept out. The kilts in Braveheart weren’t commonplace for decades after the events of the film and the Battle of Stirling was fought over a bridge. The protagonist of A Beautiful Mind had a gay lover who doesn’t make it into the movie. The events in The Death of Stalin happened over months, instead of days. The Social Network knows its place within this tradition and chooses not to care. In its heavily fictionalized account of the founding days of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s motivation is distilled into a grasping misogyny due to his inability to get girls to like him, and no mention is made of his actual college girlfriend and eventual wife. Writer Aaron Sorkin takes the bulk of his research from a book which heavily relied on jilted founder Eduardo Saverin, a tax-cheating expatriate who is heavily motivated to see things in the worst light possible. Director David Fincher, exactly the type of controlling filmmaker needed to get Sorkin under control, makes what was likely a bunch of overcaffeinated computer geeks writing code into the end-all Shakespearean origin story, a saga that runs so far away from accuracy that it ultimately gets all the way back around to it. The Zuckerberg of Fincher’s imagination might be nothing like the real one, but he foreshadows the exact kind of type who’ll eventually rule the internet and empower humanity’s worst instincts. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, the truth of The Social Network is what it’s about and not how it’s about it.
Charlie Kaufman seems like exactly the person that streaming services and their no-strings-attached bonanza of cash were made for. If I’m a studio executive and I need movies to gross deep into nine-figure territory, the first things that get cut are idiosyncratic representations of this or that decaying mental state. A more depressed, less funny, less creepy version of Woody Allen, Kaufman’s neuroticism has infected half a dozen movies over a couple decades, most very good to great. The greatest Kaufman films, namely the first three that he only wrote for, are the unquestioned best in comparison to the three that he directed. The latest of these latter three, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is the epitome of a filmmaker left completely to his own creative devices. For most, Kaufman’s new film is going to be an indulgent and impenetrable exercise, but he’s been too good for too long to just dismiss this outright. The equivalent of a difficult crossword puzzle, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is probably worth it for those who really want to do the work and decipher it: I just don’t think I’m in that group.
Rian Johnson, having dipped into noir, heist, and sci-fi, tries his hand at chamber mysteries in Knives Out and continues his unbroken streak of inventive takes on established genres. In his films, Johnson can be counted on to distill his tightly-crafted plots into one big takeaway, wherein the journey is plenty compelling but the residue sticks around long after the end credits. In Looper, he used the cliched questions of time travel to great effect, and in The Last Jedi, he somehow was allowed to subvert the entire Star Wars franchise, at least until the follow-up entry undid all his work. With Knives Out, an airtight mystery plot tramples upon the pretensions of second-generation wealth and leaves the viewer with a perfect final image and more to think about than merely whodunit.
Many years ago, I went to the local second-run theater with a large group of college friends for Pint Night i.e. bring a pint of liquor to a movie. The movie: David Dobkin’s frat pack romp Wedding Crashers. The liquor: probably Smirnoff. As was my wont in college, I knocked out my pint too fast and had to leave the theater sometime around Will Ferrell’s cameo to spend some time in the restroom. I remember thinking, as I sat on the floor by a toilet, how much time could possibly be left in this movie? In the intervening fifteen years, I no longer drink til I throw up but Dobkin is still making overstuffed and underedited comedies that exhaust all their energy long before the end credits. Combined with Netflix’s impulse to encourage filmmakers to make longer movies, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is suffocated by drawn out improv, false plot developments, and sloppy characterization.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
Click to set custom HTML