Posted on 1/30/11 07:13 PM
The film starts with Zuckerberg talking to his girlfriend which through his own arrogance (something we will be bombarded with throughout) causes them to breakup, heartbreaking however it may be at this moment in the film I don't empathise with this guy. In a brilliant opening scene we are lead following Zuckerberg through Harvard (and the credits.) As far as camera work goes this is the most creative Fincher gets, aside from the rather pointless rowing scene midway through but I'll come back to that.
To get over the break up Zuckerberg decides to create a comparison website called 'Facemash', which is a rather cruel website that pairs pictures of women from the university against each other, it's all fun and games till the university server crashes. Notoriety soon follows Zuckerberg, his story becomes folklore, he created this website all the while being intoxicated. Whilst all this is happening we are shown scenes of Zuckerberg in court against two prosecutors claiming their share of Facebook profits, these scenes heightened my dislike of the main character, whether this is intended I'm not too sure, if it is then they've succeeded. It's becoming clear why the real Mark Zuckerberg wanted nothing to do with this film.
After creating Facebook, Zuckerberg and co-founder/best friend Eduardo Saverin begin to gain even more fame (the fortune is yet to come) around Cambridge. Whilst on a night out Zuckerberg sees his ex and confronts her. Finally this is his opportunity to win her back, or maybe not. This scene particularly shifted the disdain I felt for the character to pity, pity because he clearly is inept at having an interest in anyone else but himself. This pity heightened later on in the film, in possibly my favourite scene, when Saverin realises that his share is being decreased, Zuckerberg has stabbed his mate in the back partly through the influence of Sean Parker and partly through his own selfish gain.
This film is enjoyable but there were a few bones I had to pick with it. First of all, was there a need for the rowing scene in the middle, it added barely anything to the story, it seemed more like an exercise in direction rather than storytelling, this then lead me to believe that maybe Fincher didn't have enormous faith in the script and has simply added an action packed sequence to keep the viewers interested. The second problem I had with The Social Network was Eisenberg's performance, or maybe more accurately his lack of performing, the only difference between the Zuckerberg character in this film and the character of Columbus in Zombieland is the ego he has acquired, there's still that awkwardness about him, a trait that Michael Cera also carries within his performances, maybe he should have nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of love struck Scott Pilgrim because in my eyes the weight of both their roles is equal.
Before I watch any film I try to go in there without any preconceptions, even if I've been told that a certain film is fantastic. The same applied with The Social Network, so in the end I wasn't disappointed because I didn't have any expectations. It was entertaining, in the sort of "What's on at the cinema that isn't a rom-com, doesn't star Adam Sanler and isn't based on a comic book?" entertaining, it ticks all these boxes. On saying that it doesn't provide a memorable story line, there isn't an allegory beneath it and sure it may be relevant today but it may become a victim of it's own relevance, remember Myspace? I didn't think so.
Posted on 1/28/11 09:28 AM
Straw Dogs is yet another Western film directed by Peckinpah. Now it may not be a traditional Western but several aspects of the film lead me to believe it could be placed in that category. For starters, the film is set in the West (of Engalnd), there's a gang of outlaws (Charlie Venner, Norman Scutt, Riddaway) and a corrupt 'sheriff' (Major John Scott.) It's interesting to note that the outlaws are to an extent 'cowboy builders' (English slang for builders who provide a bad service for a very good price) who spend the first quarter of the film harassing Amy which in turn leads to dire consequences but I'll come to that later.
However, the similarities to the Western genre end there. The main character David Sumner (brilliantly portrayed by Dustin Hoffman) isn't your typical hero or anti-hero, for the majority of the film he's a pushover, he lets the builders flirt with his wife, he avoids conflict and even when the builders kill his cat, after a heated debate with Amy, he simply dismisses the incident and goes on a hunt with the perpetrators. It is amidst this scene that, probably, the most disturbing moment of the film plays out, that is the rape of Amy by two of the builders. Yet again David does and perhaps maybe even more disturbing about this incident is the fact that Amy does not report such a crime to Major Scott. You can't blame her though, this is the same policeman that let a paedophile free and in the final scene very stupidly confronts the gang of builders unarmed and asks them to put their gun away, don't worry he gets his comeuppance in the end.
As a viewer you begin to become frustrated with the calmness David has, how far can these men push him? This is the main basis for the film, what does it take to make a man snap. It seems that an attempt on breaking and entering does push David to his limit and he finally breaks down and in a very violent manner. The final act has it all, guns, fire, a man trap, rats, boiling whiskey and a triumphant ensemble of bagpipes.
Although some may see this film as glorifying vigilantism I believe it's doing the opposite by showing the brutality that one man can achieve if he is over that edge, Peckinpah even said that the true villain of this film is David, but morality aside this film isn't portraying real life, it's not a film based on fact, there isn't a village like this (not that I know of) in England and it's pure fantasy. Although I'm not going to argue with the fact it was banned, you can clearly see why it was banned at the time, I will say that personally I believe that if it hadn't gained notoriety for it's controversy it wouldn't be held in such high regard as it is today.
Posted on 1/11/11 10:34 AM
A truly inspiring film in every sense of the word. The story's central character is Aron Ralston (James Franco), a cocky and quite arrogant mountain climber who ultimately gets his arm lodged between a rock and a hard place. While the principal story is about Aron's survival the film goes deeper than this, showing almost every thought that goes through his brain.
The direction is brilliantly shot by Danny Boyle and it is through his camera work that we develop a close bond with Aron through his struggle. While the camera may not be as steady as some people like, for me, it's the forever moving camera that really captures your attention, who wants to see one man in one place from two or three angles for 80 mins? One thing that spoke loudly to me was the rapport you sense between Franco and Boyle, almost like the early Scorsese/De Niro films, here's two people that both have an honest love of film wanting to create something truly beautiful. Although this is their first film together I predict Boyle will work with Franco in the years to come.
However life affirming 127 Hours may be I feel it may be overlooked this year for another British film, The King's Speech, which to me is a tragic shame because what Boyle has done is something completely different, something new, whereas The King's Speech is dead set on patronising Britain with yet another film about the monarchy. Unfortunately, I'm probably alone in this thought and I imagine it'll be The King's Speech that will come away with the title of best British film.