Friday, February 11, 2011

The Social Network - Movie Discussion

The Social Network was incredible. Every scene, every character, was excellent.

Mr. Mark Zuckerberg deserves the most discussion here so let me get to it. My understanding of Zuckerberg prior to the movie was colored by pundits covering big Facebook stories (‘Zuckerberg says privacy is dead’) and the reaction after Social Network was made (That Zuckerberg says it wasn’t true while everyone else said it was). Regardless of all that, I loved Mark Zuckerberg. So focused, so spiteful, yet with such obvious vulnerability. The intensity of his focus is what gives him such a bad name I think. But it was so honest! I mean honest in that he never hid how entirely self-centered he was. It’s obvious he used his friend (Eduardo Saverin) for money. He never pretended to care about the same friend getting into the Phoenix Final Club. A fault seems not be to anymore when the person is open about it, after that it’s up to others how they deal with it. I just love a person / character who knows what they want and goes get it. No nonsense, no compromise. Anyone who tried to stop him, he insulted before paying them to get lost and shut-up. Some of the best scenes are Zuckerberg fearlessly starring down a team of lawyers, telling his own to quiet down, then breaks down the situation, how it’s going to work, what everyone is thinking. That’s a confident man in full control. And the little touches in the scene too! The notepad he’s writing on for the whole meeting, casually flips it up and everyone sees he’s just been doodling. I pumped my fist there. Give it to the fucking man Mark.

Which is how I would categorize the film. The founding of Facebook, sure. But also it’s this new generation coming up, not wanting to slip into the established order, but (one) create the world as they want it. Whether that be a crazy party house in Palo Alto and or reconfiguring the nature of social interaction. But (two) also to defend themselves from ruthless theft of ideas and make sure they as people aren’t discarded. As a creative person constantly worrying about such, worrying about “breaking into the industry”, this movie is heaven. Like a Revenge film. All the people I can’t stand (or will grow to loathe) getting a verbal and financial beating. Embarrassed first. Then slammed. How is Zuckerberg hated? He’s a hero for the new / next generation of people. Look at the Winklevoss twins. Trying to go through the proper channels, getting the older generation (I supposed those in power would be synonymous with older generation) to fight the battle for them. They failed because of it. Nobody cared about them. That older generation just wanted to rob and sell the idea, whoever had it / got it / stole it. As an aside, the Winklevoss twins were hilarious. “I’m six-five, two hundred and twenty pounds, and there are two of me”. Thank you I love you. The morale is if you want it, take it.

Sean Parker was the cautionary tale. Willing to help a fellow young blood and eager for payback. Again, I don’t know how people don’t like him. He made music free. Hero. He’s seen this minefield the older generation has laid out. All the tricks they have and what they think. How they have constructed all the systems of finance and intellectual property to take. He knows they literally have to take on the world. Maybe it’s a statement on Zuckerberg or on the state of the world, but Zuckerberg was already wary of how to proceed with Facebook. Was it only because he didn’t trust anyone? It strikes me as common sense not to trust anybody in business. Brutal world. Justin Timberlake was perfectly cast for the role, with his real life celebrity persona just bleeding a little bit into his character to give him instant notoriety and insider information. So well played.

I misunderstood the ending, at first, for my benefit. I thought Zuckerberg was trying to friend the lawyer woman (who just left). And I thought ‘what a message’. To say despite all Zuckerberg has achieved and been through, that face-to-face poor Mark was still ill equipped to handle a relationship with someone he could care for. But it was also saying that he has changed how personal relationships are handled. His constant refreshing wasn’t pathetic but realistic for how often people check their Facebook page. That the first thing that anyone would do after work or after anything is check their page. The actual ending stirred similar thoughts. Just with a little added detail that even though Erica Albright knew Zuckerberg build Facebook and still didn’t like him, she still had a page. Facebook is inescapable. Facebook is necessary. It’s a pillar of modern social life. I was sympathetic to Zuckerberg’s longing but not especially keen on him attaining his desire. As happy as I was to see him assert his personality completely and honestly I recognize it’s not an entirely agreeable one, and so, as far as fights that are not generational, I’m not very invested in the outcome.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Moon - Movie Review

Moon will possess just enough of your interest to keep you until the end. The whole plot can be summed up quickly [SPOILERS]: A corporation named Lunar, in order to reduce labor costs, clones an employee to run their moon base. Here’s the twist: the clone (the main character) doesn’t know he’s a clone. But when he finds out there is no big meltdown or rage at the morals of corporations or Science or anything. The clones accept it. The go back to work. Really rational and mature of them. I don’t want hysterics but I was a little curious about the how and why of the cloning and just wished the clones were too. Skipping the how and why of plot, the final score is one clone dies (three year life span), one stays on base to run it, and one goes to Earth where the film ends implying some controversy with clones on Earth. That might be interesting.  [END SPOILERS]

What keeps the interest are the obvious homages to the great science fiction films of the 70’s and 80’s. The director cites 2001 and Alien among others in a QA feature on the disk. You know the elements, the robotic helper that is programmed to “save” the crew, the seemingly quiet base located nowhere near anything, the lack of talking, the clear signs of over-stress. Moon just creates these homages empty, not filling in a story.

Moons central science fiction elements are the clones and cloning in the service of lower labor costs. Sterile. But more offensive is that the film doesn’t explore the science or effects of cloning, only gives a surface examination of the psychological effects, and none of the social or political ramifications. That’s why I watch science fiction. Ask an intriguing “what if?” question, then honestly see where it goes. Moon doesn’t even offer a close character study. The clones get over the confusion of there being clones pretty easily, and only refuse to let go of a desire to see the family they know isn’t theirs. Which, what, reinforces the power of love and need for connection? That’d be worse than the nothing. The film does and says nothing.