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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Social Network.... and a few thoughts on other films

The Social Network

Give or take Inception, The Social Network is perhaps the "buzziest" movie to come out so far this year. It comes to us with ecstatic reviews, zeitgeist appeal (who's not on Facebook now?), and a truly talented director (David Fincher) and writer (Aaron Sorkin) combo.

The movie does not disappoint. From first frame to last, The Social Network is a highly engaging, suspenseful, and fascinating character study of a man (boy?) who is a bit of an enigma. It's easy to leave the movie and come out with very different feelings about Mark Zuckerberg. Villain, hero, tragic hero? The movie never really pulls it out for either side. Personally, I fall in the anti-hero side, but I'd love to hear from those who disagree.

The most accomplished part of the film is the highly literate script that moves quickly and tells us just about everything we need to know without being expository. I also loved the intense music by Trent Reznor and the performances by Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield. I've always liked Jesse Eisenberg in his earlier performances (Rodger Dodger, The Squid and the Whale, Adventureland), but goes beyond his previous performances here. He plays Zuckerberg as an obsessive, socially delayed, ambitious, and somewhat pathetic. I don't think he ever cracks a smile in the whole movie. Andrew Garfield, as Zuckerberg's partner, also gives a very good performance as the most sympathetic character in the movie. I also really enjoyed Justin Timberlake's performance as the flashy and charismatic creator of Napster.

As much as a I really really liked the film, it doesn't quite tip the scales to love for me. It was a lot of fun, and very interesting, but it's not a movie I would go back to again and again. It's being talked up a lot as an Oscar frontrunner, but I don't quite see it winning the whole thing at this point. It will certainly do well in nominations, but I don't think the older Academy will push it over for the win. It's still one of the most engaging and exciting movies of the year.

Grade: A-

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2010)

As a fan of the books, I was excited to see how the Swedes adapted Stieg Larsson's characters to the screen. What I found was a long movie that was consistently watchable but still didn't add some of the important details of the books. It was fun to watch, but I think mostly because I knew the characters from the books. Noomi Rapace gives a good performance as the title character, but she didn't quite fit my image of Lisbeth Salander. I wanted someone even edgier and stranger, and in the movie she came across as semi-normal. It was fun to watch, though, and I'm sure I'll see the next two.

Grade: B-

Babies (2010)

So this was kind of cute, but also pretty tedious after 80-some minutes. No narration, no explanation, just a film comparing four babies. I think maybe some Werner Herzog-like narration would have kept me more interested.

There were several scenes where the babies interacted with cats that I loved. I would have liked it better if it was called "Cats" and just had a few scenes of babies. What does that say about me?

Grade: C

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