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The Social Network

By on Nov 2, 2010 in Reviews | 12 comments

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MARK ZUCKERBERG is on a DATE. He is also a NERD, as demonstrated by the universal Hollywood mechanism of marking out smart people by making them speak their dialogue too fast.

GIRL: So, which is the easiest Final Club to join?

ZUCK: Bitch farm animals SCART lead order a burger!

GIRL: That’s it, I’m leaving you. I don’t care how good you are setting up the DVD player!

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ITAR-TASS: MOSCOW, RUSSIA. OCTOBER 28, 2010. Actors Jesse Eisenberg (L) and Andrew Garfield star in Columbia Pictures' The Social Network movie directed by David Fincher (Fight Club). The film is about the legal battles of Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Sony Pictures press service) Photo via Newscom

MARK ZUCKERBERG is hiring interns for DA FACEBUK. His co-founder EDUARDO SAVERIN walks into the computer lab where a competition seems to be going on. He asks a BRILLIANT QUESTION.

SAVERIN: What’s going on here?

ZUCK: Python intern competition MySQL teddy bear collection!

SAVERIN: But why are they drinking?

ZUCK: Hacking Linkin Park pop-up window tequila shot!

SAVERIN: Impressive!

DA FACEBUK adds more programmers to its team and TAKES OVER THE WORLD.

 

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AARON SORKIN, Luddite-extraordinaire (“I figured a good first step in my preparation would be finding out what Facebook is…” – you figured?!) and the screenplay writer for The Social Network is busy at work. He is conversing with a MINION who advises on ‘technology-stuff’ for the screenplay.

SORKIN: Okay Minion, you see this scene here? It needs more computer?

MINION: More…computer?

SORKIN: Yes! Like, hacking and stuff. Can we make Zuckerberg hack into the Pentagon?

MINION: I’m pretty sure he didn’t do that…

SORKIN: Dangnamit!

MINION: …but we could make him say he needs ‘an Apache server with a MySQL back-end’ to run the Facebook…

SORKIN: DO IT!

At the end of a long day at work, MINION feels miserable. Working for a person who wants him to write about ‘More computer’ is mind-numbingly menial, but it pays the bills. A smile creeps across MINION’s face as he remembers the joke he snuck into the script – making Zuckerberg use Emacs instead of vi! He probably used Vi though, MINION muses.

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Watching paint dry is a fascinating exercise. There’s something of an ethereal quality in what’s happening, as you sit with rapt attention – and look there, out of the corner of your eye, that little bubble just dried up! Ooh! Slightly less fascinating though is watching David Fincher’s latest inevitably destined for blockbuster success film, The Social Network.

Maybe I am being harsh. The script doesn’t use pseudo-technobabble like, say, Swordfish did; the few scenes where programming is shown are very accurate. But the intention is just the same – borne out of a need to establish that there’s a ‘computer hacker’ in the room. Sheryl Sandberg (current COO of Facebook) admits, without the liberties the film took, it would be two hours of Jesse Eisenberg “sitting around with his friends in front of his computer, ordering pizza”. While nobody wants to see that, the film spectacularly accomplishes being boring and condescending at the same time – much like the portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in it.

Look, I’m not getting into a debate on whether Mark Zuckerberg stole ideas or swindled people. Regardless of what he did the film is, ultimately, boring. The only reason why anyone would stick around till the end is because this is Facebook we’re talking about. Were this about any other major web or technology company, nobody would be interested. Fair enough, no other major company has touched people’s lives in such a visible way. Still doesn’t make the film any less boring.

ITAR-TASS: MOSCOW, RUSSIA. OCTOBER 28, 2010. Actor Jesse Eisenberg in a still from The Social Network movie directed by David Fincher (Fight Club). The film is about the legal battles of Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Sony Pictures press service) Photo via Newscom
Everyone in this picture looks bored!

The basic story of how Facebook started off seems to be more or less true. The only changes that seem to have been made is liven up the few interesting characters available –  giving Sean Parker more of a playboy vibe, portraying Eduardo Saverin as a martyr, and making Mark Zuckerberg appear more of a jerk than he probably is in real life. The changes are forgiveable and necessary to move the plot forward. What really grates though is how everyone in the film tries to speak in punchlines rather than normal human beings. “You know what’s better than a million dollars? A billion dollars!” “You’re not an asshole. You’re just trying too hard to be one!” “A chicken crossed the road. To get to the other side!” Etcetera.

I was impressed with Jesse Eisenberg’s performance. I was apprehensive when I heard a relative unknown was cast in the role, as I consider Michael Cera to have a monopoly on the nerd movie market. Eisenberg does a great job of acting out the character he’s given though! As for the soundtrack – by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – it’s very meh. You can download a five-track EP sampler of The Social Network soundtrack for free from the Nine Inch Nails’ Null Corp website.

This probably won’t be able to dissuade people from watching this movie as this is one that every user of Facebook will be curious to watch, and it’s not meant to. For me, the high-point of The Social Network ended with the Scala & Kolacny Brothers trailer.

My rating of The Social Network: 2 / 5

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In case you’re wondering where the ‘forgotten co-founder’ of Facebook is these days: apparently, Eduardo Saverin is living in Singapore now! (Where he’s a regular at The Butter Factory. I’ve been to The Butter Factory a few times – nice hangout. Bills itself as one of the “coolest places in the city” and takes this statement too seriously by pumping jets of dry ice through the air-conditioning. I swear!) Less than six (geographical) degrees of separation?



12 Comments

  1. Nyx

    November 2, 2010

    Post a Reply

    I was planning to drag my entire extended family along for this one. Now I think I’ll just force them to watch the South Park FB episode.

    • Ankur Banerjee

      November 2, 2010

      Post a Reply

      You’re going to convince your extended family to watch “a cartoon”? And once they do grudgingly agree, that ‘cartoon’ will have swearing in it? Godspeed, Nyx.

      (Although come to think of it, the alternative – this movie – has scenes of sex in toilet stalls and people snorting cocaine off a sloshed girl’s belly. Hmm, South Park might just be the more family friendly option by a tiny whisker.)

      • Nyx

        November 3, 2010

        Well, the episodes I have *are* bleeped.
        And not just the name “Muhammad”.

        I suppose if I want to educate them about Facebook, there are a lot of ways that will evoke less insinuation about my questionable tastes. Like organizing a real-life game of Farmville.

        …or I could just keep posing as the “tech expert”.

      • Ankur Banerjee

        November 3, 2010

        There are censored versions of South Park available for pirating? The desecration.

    • Ankur Banerjee

      November 3, 2010

      Post a Reply

      21 was at least entertaining and I expected this movie to be more like it. The Social Network is neither entertaining, nor is it a documentary.

      • Amrit

        November 3, 2010

        You are now officially on the vampire “To be eliminated” list. Just after Stephanie Meyer,Salman Rushdie and Taylor Lautner.

    • Ankur Banerjee

      November 3, 2010

      Post a Reply

      Using TSN soundtrack for a short film is fine; just that it doesn’t work well when it’s a long, boring film.

      If you make me speak in punchlines in my biopic, I’m going to physically kill (as opposed to just literally killing you.)

  2. ishmeet

    November 6, 2010

    Post a Reply

    Ahh, I’d been thinking about watching this one. Some of my, erm, “we only switch on the computer to Facebook! FB FTW!” kinda friends quite loved it. But now I’m thinking maybe I’ll give it a pass. I watched Thank You for Smoking the other day, and quite liked it. Dialogue is so critical to a movie, and speaking in punchlines is just, um, lame.

    And omg, you’re so right about Michael Cera being the ultimate nerd! I didn’t know this movie had Jesse Eisenberg, and when I saw the first picture in this post, I actually thought it was Michael Cera! I didn’t even give it a second thought. Heh.

    It is sad though, the way they typecast computer guys. Just like they tend to typecast sardars in adverts and movies (couldn’t find a better example). It’s just annoying.

      • ishmeet

        November 7, 2010

        Hahaha! Can’t blame you at all. Jesse Eisenberg actually resembles Zuck more, though.

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