Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Social Network

David Fincher, 2010 (8.4*)
I love David Fincher but was not as impressed with Social Network as some of his other films, such as The Game, Fight Club, and Zodiac. Network is well-crafted, but these other films had an existential edge that put people in life or death situations.

Social Network only put people in lawsuit situations as the film was about a liar, a cheat, and a thief, played with little acting by Jesse Eisenberg, who is about as bland as a computer bytehead ought to be; and about a white collar criminal, who, rather than serving time, has been made a billionaire by this unscrupulous system. It's more enraging than entertaining, a sad statement on the current economic reality, that if you're willing to steal data, hack into proprietary computer systems (with immunity I might add), and cheat your partners, such as CFO Eduardo Saverin (effectively played by Andrew Garfield), then maybe you too can become an American billionaire and a folk hero. And who needs old friends, many new ones will flock to the money once you have it, especially the babes; and who cares why they're there - the important point is that they're hanging around.

All in all, this is not a very respectable businessman, or even a worthy human being. In the film, he has no friends for a good reason, he's pretty much a despicable egotist with obvious disdain for most others. The film even begins with a display of his egotism, which causes his current girlfriend, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) to break up. In spite he embarasses her in his blog online, which is really a slanderous offense, so I hope she later got some money from this all-American jerk.

This is how the founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg got his start: he hacked in and stole The Harvard Facebook, which was an online directory of university students with ID photos, very much like an online yearbook. He then had a 'rate the girls' contest with the photos of the female students, in which he paired two at a time on his blog site. His penalty when caught? Academic suspension for six months, which then gave him more free time to do more hacking and stealing. He then did the same to some other universities, committing a federal crime in each case. Where the heck was the FBI?

A couple of entrepreneurs, who row crew for Harvard, came up with the idea for a Facebook styled reference just for Harvard U. that he agreed to work on for them. Rather than show them anything, he kept stalling them while he created Facebook for himself. So there's the story in a nutshell; it's public knowledge, this film just adds a few personal confrontations and anecdotes, and is told is flashback style from some legal depositions for the lawsuits, as this immature kid created nothing but enemies. He had no real original ideas, just a few minor enhancements to existing networks, such as the 'relationship status' of the individual (whoopee..) and he didn't even create a unique name. This is very similar to simple online resume and job sites, all that was basically added was a message system like the 80's style bulletin boards. So, combine personal resumes with 80's level internet, and 'boom', instant success with very little work.

Ironically, in California to seek venture capital, he teams up with Napster (ie, stolen music) creator Sean Parker (an effectively obnoxious Justin Timberlake), who admits "everyone was suing us, so I just said 'fuck it' and declared bankruptcy." Yep, avoid all liability and punishment by just going bankrupt; what a clever system the lawyers have devised to protect guilty capitalists at the public's expense, as only corporate not personal wealth is at risk; you can keep whatever you managed to steal or get as 'compensation', and if the corporation is 'bankrupt', none of the guilty lose anything except a job, but someone else crooked will always hire a crook with experience. It's only fitting that these two should team up in Facebook's early success.

Fincher and the film will apparently win many awards this year, but I preferred the fight for survival in the austere crime film Winter's Bone, and the mind-blowing complexity of the sci-fi film Inception. However, this belongs in the short list of films worth seeing about capitalism, which includes Wall Street, Rogue Trader, Boiler Room, Executive Suite, The Hudsucker Proxy, Putney Swope, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Tucker: A Man and His Dream. Ironically, only Suite and Tucker were about anyone with any real ethics and original business ideas, the rest were about con artists, thieves, and manipulators.

Awards page at IMDB, it's up to 55 so far.. it's also #167 on the IMDB top 250 films..


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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