Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Social Network

It's Oscar season and the people behind "The Social Network" are pimping it for best movie of the year. Some critics are agreeing with them. The bureau chief does not, although it's pretty good and definitely the best thing David Fincher has done. I think the film is benefiting from the dancing dog syndrome. No one believed you could make a film about the origins of an Internet company that was entertaining and so it's overpraised.

Fincher uses his considerable technical abilities to keep the film going at a furious pace and writer Aaron Sorkin's dialogue is similarly fast and clever. The acting is excellent. Plus it's about Facebook, which presently has over 500,000,000 users (the bureau chief is not one of them). However a certain amount of slight of hand is involved. The film is not really about the Facebook phenomenon in the 21st Century. It's constructed of much older stuff: the queasiness of the supposedly nonexistent American class system; the youthful agonies of lust and love; the central capitalist myth of the bootstrapping young entrepreneur; the betrayals that success brings etc. This is not a criticism. These are the constituent things that will be here when Facebook morphs into something else or is pushed aside by something bigger.

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