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The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far) 
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
Couple more thoughts on some of the popular movies which I don't like as much.

Fincher's movies often strike me as a misallocation of resources. They're usually more expensive than they need to be. For instance, the opening scene of Social Network. You have a slickly designed set, cinematography that's calculated to a T, and dozens of extras and props. None of which have any dramatic purpose, and therefore no real reason to be there. They just sit there, like home decorations which you don't need to buy. Network has many scenes like that. The conversation with Timberlake in the club, with something like 150 kids who simply have to act like they're partying, even though they have nothing to do with the scene. That conversation could have taken place anywhere, it didn't remotely require that many extras (that much money, in other words). Then the crew competition action scene (?) is the most gratuitous of all. How much money spent, how many resources allocated for something which has absolutely nothing to do with the main purpose of the film, nothing to do with anything really? Like the trombone band which is just sitting there, seriously wtf? What about the random moments when like some extra rides through the frame on a bicycle? That sort of thing borders on studio bullying. The flaunting of resources for the sake of their flaunting. How am I supposed to focus on any madman with a dream theme with all that clutter going on?

Still, Fincher's films don't suggest bullying nearly as much as Nolan's. Nolan's films represent the ultimate form of production bullying: a celebration of what you can do when you have a gargantuan amount of money behind a production. I have a lot of money and you don't, haha; that's what his films say to me, first and foremost. How many 10s of millions spent on set pieces which are never really utilized dramatically, like the giant restaurant in The Dark Knight. The Avengers being the worst case to date of this sort of thing.

Skyfall's conservative approach is certainly the best use of a blockbuster budget I've seen in a long time. Mendes, Deakins, and Broccoli really have respect for the lower budget origins of the series; many scenes are treated very intimately. When they have room to do something splashy, they don't take it lightly. They dwell on their set pieces with respect and reverence. If you're going to spend millions on a glorified Macau casino, don't be in a hurry to leave. Find creative and dramatic things to do with the location, at least for a good 15 minutes. It's that mentality which makes Skyfall feel fresh and exciting, for me. It's reminiscent of Lewis Gilbert's approach to the pyramids in The Spy Who Loved Me. Still, I'm not sure if anything will ever top Peter Hunt's sublime, atmospheric approach to the winter wonderland of Majesty.


Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:33 pm
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
MGamesCook wrote:
Couple more thoughts on some of the popular movies which I don't like as much.

Fincher's movies often strike me as a misallocation of resources. They're usually more expensive than they need to be. For instance, the opening scene of Social Network. You have a slickly designed set, cinematography that's calculated to a T, and dozens of extras and props. None of which have any dramatic purpose, and therefore no real reason to be there. They just sit there, like home decorations which you don't need to buy. Network has many scenes like that. The conversation with Timberlake in the club, with something like 150 kids who simply have to act like they're partying, even though they have nothing to do with the scene. That conversation could have taken place anywhere, it didn't remotely require that many extras (that much money, in other words). Then the crew competition action scene (?) is the most gratuitous of all. How much money spent, how many resources allocated for something which has absolutely nothing to do with the main purpose of the film, nothing to do with anything really? Like the trombone band which is just sitting there, seriously wtf? What about the random moments when like some extra rides through the frame on a bicycle? That sort of thing borders on studio bullying. The flaunting of resources for the sake of their flaunting. How am I supposed to focus on any madman with a dream theme with all that clutter going on?

Still, Fincher's films don't suggest bullying nearly as much as Nolan's. Nolan's films represent the ultimate form of production bullying: a celebration of what you can do when you have a gargantuan amount of money behind a production. I have a lot of money and you don't, haha; that's what his films say to me, first and foremost. How many 10s of millions spent on set pieces which are never really utilized dramatically, like the giant restaurant in The Dark Knight. The Avengers being the worst case to date of this sort of thing.


Looking at it that way, Michael Bay is the king of cinematic bullying.

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Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:39 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
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Looking at it that way, Michael Bay is the king of cinematic bullying.


He's one of them, sure. I've never expressed any admiration for his movies. The only difference is his lack of vindication from the critics.


Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:29 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
MGamesCook wrote:
Couple more thoughts on some of the popular movies which I don't like as much.

Fincher's movies often strike me as a misallocation of resources. They're usually more expensive than they need to be. For instance, the opening scene of Social Network. You have a slickly designed set, cinematography that's calculated to a T, and dozens of extras and props. None of which have any dramatic purpose, and therefore no real reason to be there. They just sit there, like home decorations which you don't need to buy. Network has many scenes like that. The conversation with Timberlake in the club, with something like 150 kids who simply have to act like they're partying, even though they have nothing to do with the scene. That conversation could have taken place anywhere, it didn't remotely require that many extras (that much money, in other words). Then the crew competition action scene (?) is the most gratuitous of all. How much money spent, how many resources allocated for something which has absolutely nothing to do with the main purpose of the film, nothing to do with anything really? Like the trombone band which is just sitting there, seriously wtf? What about the random moments when like some extra rides through the frame on a bicycle? That sort of thing borders on studio bullying. The flaunting of resources for the sake of their flaunting. How am I supposed to focus on any madman with a dream theme with all that clutter going on?

Still, Fincher's films don't suggest bullying nearly as much as Nolan's. Nolan's films represent the ultimate form of production bullying: a celebration of what you can do when you have a gargantuan amount of money behind a production. I have a lot of money and you don't, haha; that's what his films say to me, first and foremost. How many 10s of millions spent on set pieces which are never really utilized dramatically, like the giant restaurant in The Dark Knight. The Avengers being the worst case to date of this sort of thing.

Skyfall's conservative approach is certainly the best use of a blockbuster budget I've seen in a long time. Mendes, Deakins, and Broccoli really have respect for the lower budget origins of the series; many scenes are treated very intimately. When they have room to do something splashy, they don't take it lightly. They dwell on their set pieces with respect and reverence. If you're going to spend millions on a glorified Macau casino, don't be in a hurry to leave. Find creative and dramatic things to do with the location, at least for a good 15 minutes. It's that mentality which makes Skyfall feel fresh and exciting, for me. It's reminiscent of Lewis Gilbert's approach to the pyramids in The Spy Who Loved Me. Still, I'm not sure if anything will ever top Peter Hunt's sublime, atmospheric approach to the winter wonderland of Majesty.


Hmm interesting. The Macau casino set was actually built outside London from scratch, so I guess they really did have a vested interest in getting their money's worth.

I will say this though, Fincher isn't necessarily a hack. Don't get me wrong, Benjamin Button and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were pretty darn poor. But the Social Network actually works well as a kind of quasi-documentary type feature.

And the man made Fight Club ... albeit 14 long years ago now.

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Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:54 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
I actually think Zodiac's his masterpiece.


Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:32 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
I'm not sure what movies have been the best, but I'll post some of my favorites.

Because of all the controversy over Inception and Christopher Nolan, I'll say my two cents worth. Inception is great. I think Nolans dream world is far more creative than some of you give him credit for. And besides that, it's freaking fun. I also love the (not so) ambiguous ending that everyone still fights over when I'm sure it's not a question of whether or not the spinning top fell over at all.

While I'm talking about Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises was my favorite of 2012..silly plot details and all. I love Nolans Batman trilogy and was wholly satisfied by its conclusion.

When I first saw Drive I didn't know what to think of if it, mostly because it was not what I expected. I'm not sure I even liked it when I first watched it. My opinion changed before I even re-watched it though. The more I thought about it the more I realized I was glad it wasn't what I had expected because what I got was a much more unique and personal film.

Prometheus was the best theatre experience I've had in this decade. I left the theatre with such a movie high. It wasn't quite so effective on DVD.

I loved Looper.

There are a few 2012 movies I'm still interested in seeing that I missed. Specifically, The Master. Maybe I'll check that out today. Either way, the past 3 years have been alright, I look forward to looking at my favorite of the entire decade.

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Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:47 pm
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
For the record, I do love Inception but I just happen to love The Cell even more. I will say that Inception is probably in the lower half of Christopher Nolan's resume but that has less to do with Inception quality and more to do with the strength of all of his movies.


Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:56 pm
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
Shit, my post earlier must not have gone through. Oh well, I just was saying that I agree about Zodiac being Fincher's best film. The mystery is intriguing and you can tell he has a real passion for the material.


Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:49 pm
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
I forgot to include Argo on my list. Fact or Fiction..well...Fiction or not, Argo was a really good film. I think it takes a special talent to make a movie really intense when everybody already knows the end, and Ben Affleck did that. I mean, I already knew he had the talent because of his previous directorial efforts. Gone Baby Gone is one of my favorite movies.

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Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:50 pm
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
MGamesCook wrote:
For instance, the opening scene of Social Network. You have a slickly designed set, cinematography that's calculated to a T, and dozens of extras and props. None of which have any dramatic purpose, and therefore no real reason to be there. They just sit there, like home decorations which you don't need to buy.

One of my least favorite arguments for whether something should or shouldn't be in a movie is that it doesn't move the drama. If moving the drama were the only thing that mattered, Nolan would be king and the Coens could go to hell.

(I'm not saying you're right or wrong, but I'm saying I take issue with this particular bit of reasoning.)

The opening sequence of a movie is one of the most important. It establishes moods, textures, emotions--primes you to laugh, cry, learn, be frightened, or whatever the movie is going to need you to do during the next two hours. The opening is like the training level in a video game. It's there to teach you how to watch the movie.

Instead of wondering what all that stuff in The Social Network does to tell the story, I'd say it's more important to examine the lingering effect, as evinced by the movie as a whole--and how the whole movie might have been different if it had had something different at the beginning.

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For the record, I do love Inception but I just happen to love The Cell even more. I will say that Inception is probably in the lower half of Christopher Nolan's resume but that has less to do with Inception quality and more to do with the strength of all of his movies.

The more I think about Inception, the more I think that it's easily the most brilliant story Nolan has put together, but it's also the one that makes his stylistic shortcomings hardest to deal with. It's easier now than it used to be, because I think that if you take the good and the bad together, it's still a very worthy movie. It's just frustrating that the execution holds it back from the greatness that the story deserves.

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Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:27 pm
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
Quote:
One of my least favorite arguments for whether something should or shouldn't be in a movie is that it doesn't move the drama.


That's fine, because that's not at all what I said. What I said was: a scene needs to have some dramatic purpose. Not necessarily move the drama forward, but have some dramatic charge unto itself (or comedic charge). So under that definition, the Coens are kings and Nolan is the one who can go to Hell 8-)

The point is really uitilizing resources to the maximum. Squeezing a wet rag until it's dry, rather than spending money on 100 wet rags and not draining any of them properly. The Coens know how to pace their scenes until things have really played out. They don't leave a specific set until they've milked it for all it's worth to their story or sense of humor. Nolan treats a set piece like it's a dime a dozen, because at his budgetary level, they indeed are a dime a dozen. Social Network also seems a bit nervous about staying on one scene for too long. It might be the only film ever made in which a musical montage is constructed out of people sitting across from each other at a restaurant table.


Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:51 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
The First Grader should be up there. Sinister and Magic Mike made my top ten list last year, too.

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Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:00 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
MGamesCook wrote:
Quote:
One of my least favorite arguments for whether something should or shouldn't be in a movie is that it doesn't move the drama.


That's fine, because that's not at all what I said. What I said was: a scene needs to have some dramatic purpose. Not necessarily move the drama forward, but have some dramatic charge unto itself (or comedic charge). So under that definition, the Coens are kings and Nolan is the one who can go to Hell 8-)

The point is really uitilizing resources to the maximum. Squeezing a wet rag until it's dry, rather than spending money on 100 wet rags and not draining any of them properly. The Coens know how to pace their scenes until things have really played out. They don't leave a specific set until they've milked it for all it's worth to their story or sense of humor. Nolan treats a set piece like it's a dime a dozen, because at his budgetary level, they indeed are a dime a dozen. Social Network also seems a bit nervous about staying on one scene for too long. It might be the only film ever made in which a musical montage is constructed out of people sitting across from each other at a restaurant table.


I suppose you could say that the opening scene sets the tone.

An affluent, but uncomfortably crammed room that makes personal connection a bit of a challenge. One that despite the sheer numbers of people who the characters will no doubt share many superficial things in common, makes interaction on a meaningful level almost impossible.

It depends on how you see the movie. I've never had a Facebook account for 2 reasons. Firstly, I don't want pictures of me drunk all over it (bad for employment prospects), and secondly I think Facebook and other such networks actually serve to perversely increase loneliness and isolation, rather than decrease it.

Don't get me wrong, I know that a number folk use it in a positive fashion, but I bet the overall net-effect of it is to de-personalise people rather than integrate them. And this is acknowledged in the film, as Zuckerberg is almost incapable of connecting with people outside a very narrow clique. And even this limited interaction breaks down. Facebook is moulded in his image - clever, an obsession for (other people's) details; but superficial, facile, and no substitute for real interaction and an actual life.

The few negative reviews I've read about The Social Network have claimed it embraces Zuckerberg's, ironically anti-social, world view. But these people should be forced to watch him trying in vain to connect with his former girlfriend - pressing the F5 refresh key over and over hoping she eventually forgives him for being such a c*nt.

The Social Network is a good film. It captures to a reasonable level the excitement that the Zuckerberg crew have when they realise they have something huge on their hands. But also, at the same time, how all this is built in the mould of, and to reflect on, all the worst of people's narcissistic personality traits.

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Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:47 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
Gedmud wrote:
I'm not sure what movies have been the best, but I'll post some of my favorites.

Because of all the controversy over Inception and Christopher Nolan, I'll say my two cents worth. Inception is great. I think Nolans dream world is far more creative than some of you give him credit for. And besides that, it's freaking fun. I also love the (not so) ambiguous ending that everyone still fights over when I'm sure it's not a question of whether or not the spinning top fell over at all.

While I'm talking about Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises was my favorite of 2012..silly plot details and all. I love Nolans Batman trilogy and was wholly satisfied by its conclusion.

When I first saw Drive I didn't know what to think of if it, mostly because it was not what I expected. I'm not sure I even liked it when I first watched it. My opinion changed before I even re-watched it though. The more I thought about it the more I realized I was glad it wasn't what I had expected because what I got was a much more unique and personal film.

Prometheus was the best theatre experience I've had in this decade. I left the theatre with such a movie high. It wasn't quite so effective on DVD.

I loved Looper.

There are a few 2012 movies I'm still interested in seeing that I missed. Specifically, The Master. Maybe I'll check that out today. Either way, the past 3 years have been alright, I look forward to looking at my favorite of the entire decade.


I think that despite its huge ambition, Inception is an adequate rather than especially good, or especially bad film.

I don't like saying it much on here because it can get you tarred and feathered, but I too liked The Dark Knight Rises. They betted heavily on symbolism and a rousing theme at the expense of an entirely coherent story - but I actually think they managed to make it pay off.

I thought Drive was a decent Movie, with a good supporting cast, but a badly cast lead. Kingdom of Heaven springs to mind.

And I thought Looper was a pretty average sci-fi yarn with some admittedly stunning photography.

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Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:55 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
NotHughGrant wrote:
An affluent, but uncomfortably crammed room that makes personal connection a bit of a challenge. One that despite the sheer numbers of people who the characters will no doubt share many superficial things in common, makes interaction on a meaningful level almost impossible.

It depends on how you see the movie. I've never had a Facebook account for 2 reasons. Firstly, I don't want pictures of me drunk all over it (bad for employment prospects), and secondly I think Facebook and other such networks actually serve to perversely increase loneliness and isolation, rather than decrease it.

Don't get me wrong, I know that a number folk use it in a positive fashion, but I bet the overall net-effect of it is to de-personalise people rather than integrate them. And this is acknowledged in the film, as Zuckerberg is almost incapable of connecting with people outside a very narrow clique. And even this limited interaction breaks down. Facebook is moulded in his image - clever, an obsession for (other people's) details; but superficial, facile, and no substitute for real interaction and an actual life.

The few negative reviews I've read about The Social Network have claimed it embraces Zuckerberg's, ironically anti-social, world view. But these people should be forced to watch him trying in vain to connect with his former girlfriend - pressing the F5 refresh key over and over hoping she eventually forgives him for being such a c*nt.

The Social Network is a good film. It captures to a reasonable level the excitement that the Zuckerberg crew have when they realise they have something huge on their hands. But also, at the same time, how all this is built in the mould of, and to reflect on, all the worst of people's narcissistic personality traits.

It is worth mentioning that The Social Network, for all its virtues, sprang from the pen of the notoriously tech-impaired Aaron Sorkin. The film is not about and does not attempt to demonstrate the effects that Facebook has on interpersonal reaction. If it had, Sorkin would have been far out of his depth.

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Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:17 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
I don't think the film deals with Facebook's effect as such for the reason that the bulk of the story occurs in the lead up to Facebook's creation.

But I feel that it deals to some extent with the irony of an anti-social person creating a social network.

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Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:24 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
For me, The Social Network, as intended by the writer and director, aimed to do two things, and it did them both very well. One was to portray the single-minded obsession that comes with creating something on your own. (This can be extended to any art from but the film dealt very specifically with the world of software engineering.) The other was to convey the grayness of intellectual property rights and how the old-fashioned rules cannot cut it anymore in this era of technology. (This is evident from the nonsensical IP war between Apple and Samsung.)

The single-minded obsession is what gets me each time, TSN nails it. As someone who is obsessed with creating something of his own, it is fascinating to see Fincher get so many aspects of it spot on. There are some circles of the internet that has said that the developers have been portrayed incorrectly as people who did a lot of what they did to get laid. This couldn't be farther from the truth. While getting laid does turn out to be a benefit, the principals are shown as people who are obsessed because they know they have something special on their hands. They know the rewards are going to be worth it provided they can get it online and market it properly. Both those last aspects, the getting it online (which was easy in Facebook's case) and marketing it properly (which was not) have also been realized in vivid fashion. It is immaculate in its attention to detail.

The parallel track of the two lawsuits capture the gray areas of IP ownership. It made for fascinating talks in my software engineering circle. Some were in favor the Winklevosses because the concept is where all software starts and anybody who's proficient in development can bring the concept to life. Some were in favor Zuckerberg saying that his single-mindedness to take it live is what led to Facebook becoming a global phenomenon. His vision and technical prowess are singularly behind the behemoth. And that anybody can provide an idea in a single line but it takes a true visionary to bring it to life. Both sides of this conflict were also flawlessly realized by Fincher and Sorkin.

But really none of that would've worked if the drama wasn't so captivating. The film's central relationship between Zuckerberg and Saverin provides for much of the dramatic depth, and in this regard, I loved David Bordwell's analysis of the film. I've also read some people saying that Zuckerberg's character comes across as one-dimensional, which again I disagree with. As NotHugh said, the film's closing shot is a solid example of why this isn't the case. But there are many other great scenes where you're supposed to be disgusted by his actions, but the emotions in Eisenberg's eyes tells us otherwise.

And Fincher's attention to detail was exquisite. The PCs of the era, the various flavors of Linux shown in the film, the sequential growth of Facebook from a simple Find Your Friend website written in PHP to something that connects people globally on a grand scale are just a few examples. I know most technologically impotent people may not care for this stuff, but we geeks do. All of it lends an incredible sense of verisimilitude to the film. On paper, the story sounds dry and boring, but Fincher's deft direction makes it a riveting watch.

That is why The Social Network is on my top tier for this decade and why I would probably rank it as one of my favorite films of all time. All of the above just struck a chord with me. And I understand that it may not be the case with most people who, unlike me, are not into all the aforementioned things.

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Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:40 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
I must admit, I liked this film more than I thought I would.

Having read many reviews of it beforehand, I found the negative ones were based on strawman arguments of Zuckerberg worship.

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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
This was actually fairly difficult for me. Anyway, here's what I came up with:

10. Take Shelter
9. Exit Through the Gift Shop
8. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
7. Blue Valentine
6. Martha Marcy May Marlene
5. The Master
4. 127 Hours
3. A Separation
2. Amour
1. Another Year (this has become one of my personal favorites)


Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:21 am
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Post Re: The Best Movies of the Decade (So Far)
NotHughGrant wrote:
It depends on how you see the movie. I've never had a Facebook account for 2 reasons. Firstly, I don't want pictures of me drunk all over it (bad for employment prospects), and secondly I think Facebook and other such networks actually serve to perversely increase loneliness and isolation, rather than decrease it.

Don't get me wrong, I know that a number folk use it in a positive fashion, but I bet the overall net-effect of it is to de-personalise people rather than integrate them. And this is acknowledged in the film, as Zuckerberg is almost incapable of connecting with people outside a very narrow clique. And even this limited interaction breaks down. Facebook is moulded in his image - clever, an obsession for (other people's) details; but superficial, facile, and no substitute for real interaction and an actual life.

The few negative reviews I've read about The Social Network have claimed it embraces Zuckerberg's, ironically anti-social, world view. But these people should be forced to watch him trying in vain to connect with his former girlfriend - pressing the F5 refresh key over and over hoping she eventually forgives him for being such a c*nt.

The Social Network is a good film. It captures to a reasonable level the excitement that the Zuckerberg crew have when they realise they have something huge on their hands. But also, at the same time, how all this is built in the mould of, and to reflect on, all the worst of people's narcissistic personality traits.


I myself am on Facebook. To me, it has positive and negative sides. However, I've never seen it as a real "community". It isn't and never has been. It's the online equivalent of a high school. What role do you want to play? Jock? Yearbook editor? Hall Monitor? Math Club President? The prime difference between FB and real high school is that you get to make the choice.

As far as The Social Network goes, it's a film that reaches (or at least comes extremely close to) greatness. Like Taxi Driver and Being John Malkovich it's a perfect pairing of screenwriter and director. What will make it last I suspect is the fact that when you boil it down to its bare essence, it's less a movie about FB or even about a generation's descent into a grotesque yuppie shadow of its former self. It's primarily about a young man who so desperately longs for status that he's willing to do anything to get it, even f it means backstasbbing friends, ripping people off, humiliating those around him. That wasn't necessarily new when Fitzgerald wrote it up in The Great Gatsby and Welles Cinematized it in Citizen Kane. But it still resonated then and it still resonates now.

Balaji Sivaraman wrote:
But really none of that would've worked if the drama wasn't so captivating. The film's central relationship between Zuckerberg and Saverin provides for much of the dramatic depth, and in this regard, I loved David Bordwell's analysis of the film. I've also read some people saying that Zuckerberg's character comes across as one-dimensional, which again I disagree with. As NotHugh said, the film's closing shot is a solid example of why this isn't the case. But there are many other great scenes where you're supposed to be disgusted by his actions, but the emotions in Eisenberg's eyes tells us otherwise


Spot on. The movie never made Zuckerberg into the villain even though it could easily have done so. But it was too ambitious to do that. Instead it showed him in all his human complexity. At the end, he more or less realizes that yes he is an asshole. But he doesn't know how to be anything else.

Saverin is the one I've always felt the most sympathy for whenever I've watched the movie. The Winklevosses (or "Winklevii") always came off as pompus schmucks finally forced to confront the reality that the free ride wasn't going to last forever. Saverin on the other hand has been backstabbed by the person he thought was his best friend. Anyone who's been through that knows the feeling.

So yes, I would count TSN at the top of the decade list so far.

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Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out-Martin Scorsese.

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Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:27 am
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