Monday, April 11, 2011

The awesomeness of The Social Network

After Udaan, no movie has excited me more than The Social Network. I must have watched it in full about 4-5 times, and seen it in parts about 20. Having fully internalised it with all its strengths and failings (minor ones at that), I can safely say that The Kings Speech comes nowhere close to the genius, audacity, and showmanship of The Social Network. It is as if The Social Network embodies in itself all the qualities of the idea on which it is based upon – Facebook. And King’s Speech falters like its stammering, insecure protagonist, The King, Bertie.

There is such a lack of judgement in awarding The King’s Speech the main Oscar gongs; people will continue to make sappy, period films, trying to find historical figures with a minor deformity or handicap. Kirk Lazarus, you were right!

On the other hand, everything about The Social Network is burnished in dazzling intelligence – right from the imaginative storytelling to its explosive screenplay to the superlative ensemble acting. Having an edgy and creative director of the stature of David Fincher is a great start. But the real tone of the movie is the mastermind of Aaron Sorkin. The dialogues are paper-cut sharp and allow no one in this movie to be stupid (even though to Winklevii seem to in real life). In fact, the minor problem that arises due to this is the vicious sarcasm uniformly spouted by most of the characters stops their true personalities coming across.

Here are a few delightful nuggets

Cameron Winklevoss: Because we're gentlemen of Harvard. This is Harvard, where you don't plant stories and you don't sue people.

Divya Narendra: You thought he was going to be the only one who thought that was stupid?


Erica Albright: As if every thought that tumbles through your head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared.


Tyler Winklevoss: I'm sorry President Summers, but what you just said makes no sense to me all.

Larry Summers: I'm devastated by that.


Eduardo Saverin: I...I'm not a psychiatrist but...

Sy: Well, I'm glad we've got that on the record.


Gage: Your best friend is suing you for 600 million dollars.

Mark Zuckerberg: I didn't know that; tell me more!


But this is a minor quibble. In fact, it is these spite-filled gems that make the movie so engaging and entertaining. Even when you see through the customary Hollywood scene-writing tricks, you applaud because these tricks have been served up delectably and intelligently.

The framing of the movie as well is also extremely inspired. The depositions, which are the only reliable part of the movie, are used as the anchor, and the audience is flung back and forth through the episodes as described by several different people. Thus what happens in flashbacks is only a version of the narrator, and may not have really happened. Thus, it allows the audience to make up their minds, while still doing justice (I think) to all the people who contributed in their own way in making Facebook what it is.

In spite of the drama, and the complex setting, The Social Network provides a great deal of informative trivia that helps you connect the dots. Some of the interesting bits for me

  • Larry Summers – President of Harvard was also the Secretary of Treasury, among other things, and also believed to be responsible (along with others) for the sub-prime crisis through the repealment of key financial regulations

  • Sean Parker – Napster’s early employee, and also being a key figure in launching Facebook into the stratosphere. Also, the movie touches upon deftly on his problems with drugs and underage girls.

I also have to mention the acting here. In spite of a primarily young cast, the acting showed spark and maturity. Jesse Eisenberg was riveting, with his mannerisms, his delivery, and his command our scenes. Savour this scene, if you don’t believe me.

I just love the way, his carves up his enemies with his finger when he barks

The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing.

It’s a bit disconcerting at times how intelligent movies like The Social Network make you think you are.

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