Film review: The Social Network (2010)


No spoilers in my review. I think this being among the most anticipated releases of 2010 says a lot about what a weak year it’s been in theaters. Fincher’s film definitely is visually stylish, which you would expect, he doesn't hold back with his trademark darkness and greenish colours. And it’s certainly a film that lingers in my mind the next day, as I’m writing this review. But if this had been a strong year, say like 1999, I don't think this film would win many awards.

Its very much a “zeitgeist” movie trying to capture the times, and of course, it’s trying to appeal to the 500 million facebook users all over the world, much like Fincher attempted to latch onto the 90s generation with Fight Club (1999). I’m not sure people without a facebook account would care to watch The Social Network. And perhaps older people I think would struggle to identify with the youthful cast.

I thought the film gave a good depiction of the power of money and desire for recognition, but maybe it repeated this too many times, and I thought I had got the point after a while regarding the athlete’s feelings.

I’d have preferred that the film instead had focused more on the pros and cons of facebook itself. What is friendship? What does it do to you to have a bunch of so-called friends online? Has facebook changed the way we perceive the term friend, and if so, in a good or a bad way? And so on, and so on. The movie does this a little bit, facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s girlfriend issues for example, but we never really get to know why he cares about her in the first place, which I see as a flaw.

Seriousfilm on the other hand likes the fact that "Fincher and Sorkin nimbly avoid getting bogged down in the minutiae of Facebook, instead aiming their story squarely at timeless themes of loyalty, power, class, wealth, temptation, and genius". I guess if that is what you wanted to see, then it’s a great movie.

Its been brought to my attention that the filmmakers took liberties for instance with the relationship aspects and doctored this to make us care more about Zuckerberg the movie character than Zuckerberg the real life person. So don’t expect the story to follow 100% the true life story of the events.

The soundtrack is good, mixing a suitably fast-paced electronic score, and a song about Zuckerberg's alienation:





The story is well-directed by Fincher, told with suspense, and with many flashbacks, but it didn’t make me want to discuss the film afterwards in the same way Fight Club did. The social network in my opinion didn’t leave many things to interpret other than the final scene. To be honest, I didn’t really care who had been disloyal to whom, which is also left unsaid.


I guess the factual story about the founders of facebook could easily have been a documentary (and may already have been so). I’m still wondering why they elected to make it as a movie, and I think money is the motivation. So in that way the filmmakers mirror the movies characters. Maybe Fincher could relate to the notion of a man divided between money and friendship, and wanting to be recognized for his talent? What is more important for an artist, creating something important, or nurturing your friends? This is one of the few questions the film raises I found quite interesting. As seriousfilm puts it: “the film asks if you have to be an asshole to get great things done or if doing great things is just a convenient excuse for someone who was an asshole already”.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed being along for the ride, it moves at a fast pace, so I was never bored, and it’s good entertainment. But the film is too commercial and devoid of risk-taking to be truly groundbreaking. It’s too eager to please a wide audience, and unfortunately, however impressive and dense some reviewers are saying the script is, dare I say it, to me at least, it’s essentially a dumbed-down movie, which is a pity.

I hope one day I’ll get to see something which delves more into the psychology of facebook, and less into the legal battle of its ownership. Really, why should we care which of these dudes owns facebook? It’s a credit to what a good director Fincher is, that he actually makes us give a damn.

A captivating story, better than your average film. I think Fincher succeeded in what he tried to achieve with this film, but unfortunately it was something else about facebook, I was looking for. 7.5/10

Readers, any thoughts?


Further reading:

IMDB

Rottentomatoes

Reviews by others from LAMB

Facebook Co-Founder Speaks Publicly, What I Learned From Watching “The Social Network”

Songs for your iPod

Unison – Bjork

(My favourite track from her 2001 album Vespertine)


bjork UnIsOn

falling water bead | Myspace Video


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All Your Sisters - Mazzy Star

(Beautiful acoustic/dream pop song)



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Ripple - Grateful Dead

(To me this is the best song from their 1970 album "American beauty" . Notice the similar artwork to the 1999 movie?)

Film review: Chungking Express (1994)


Some people call this Wong Kar Wai's masterpiece. Having seen quite a few of his films, I think this is probably my favourite directed by him. The script and characters are interesting here, I think.

Apparently, this film was originally in three parts, and the third part was put into Wong Kar Wai's film Fallen angels (1995) instead.

Som have criticized 'Chungking Express' for being essentially two films in one. The two stories are similar, and I agree with other reviewers it might have been more interesting, if there was some connection. Maybe there is, who knows.

I liked the second half of the film better, as you really get to know the man and woman on an intimate and emotional level, and really care about them.


Wong Kar Wai's films are quite similar and this is another about people with broken hearts and having trouble moving on. Some bar scenes, violence, product placement and train stations have been thrown in like in some of his other movies. Some people call this his unique style, others think it's a little tiresome to see the same story rehashed over and over. I think his style is unique, as his films have a new angle on these themes.

I liked the cover song of The Cranberries 'Dreams' sung in Cantonese. California dreamin' is also a perfect choice, and will probably forever be associated with this film. I thought the music score at the beginning is quite similar to music in director Darren Aronofsky's movies such as 'Requiem for a dream' or 'The Fountain'.

It just goes to show that you don't need to have a huge budget to make a good film with likable people.

A very memorable film, mostly due to characters and music. I agree with another reviewer, who says the characters all have a charm and individuality about them.

Not sure that the title is very accurate, though. The Hong Kong title is Chung Hing sam lam. It's one of Quentin Tarantino's favourite films, watch him in this video talk about his love for the film.

IMDB

Rottentomatoes

YouTube

Songs for your iPod

Glass, Concrete & Stone - David Byrne

This is one of many tracks that impressed me on the soundtrack for In good company (2004). A half-decent movie, but the soundtrack is what left a lasting impact on me)



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Sunshine - Peter Salett

(Again, in my opinion the songs on the soundtrack were far better than the movie Down in the valley. Here's his myspace)



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This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) - Talking Heads

(Ok, you've probably seen Wallstreet (1987), but do you remember this beautiful song from the credits?)

Film review: Rabbits (2002)


Rabbits is directed by David Lynch, and may be the best Lynch movie you have never heard of. A must-see for fans of Lynch. Rabbits is comprised of 9 instalments totalling about 50 minutes, and is a companion piece to his latest underrated movie Inland Empire (2006), as some of the scenes are similar, but it can easily be watched independently of that film. It feels like he was experimenting with this type of filmmaking before using it in that full-length movie.

A word of warning, it could be difficult to obtain a copy of this film from regular shops like amazon. It was released as part of an expensive lime green box set in 2008, but was originally a series shown exclusively on DavidLynch.com. You might be able to find it on YouTube if you’re lucky.
The story is about a group of three talking rabbits in a room. Very mysterious and ambiguous, we never see what’s outside the room, so it’s difficult to make any clear-cut interpretations. Is it all a dream, and if so who’s dream? Is one of the rabbits humming the music from the red room scene in Twin Peaks?, and is this a clue to solving the mystery? The male rabbit says we should remember what he says, why?
What about the demon, who appears twice, the words are spoken in a foreign language, maybe a language not even known to man? Is the demon a representation of evil, an evil we cannot understand?
Is it an alternative or fictional reality? The male rabbit several times leaves the room and when he reappears we hear canned laughter. Only a few seconds have passed for us the viewers, but how long has he been away in the rabbit world?


Is Lynch mocking the TV-sitcoms and its phony laughing like Oliver Stone did in Natural born killers? The laughter seems inappropriate, as if this audience is laughing at the wrong time and have misunderstood the dialogue.

The bunnies talk in riddles, they don’t seem to be communicating with each other, is this Lynch’s failure to write a decent script, or more likely, an example of character’s not listening to each other but selfishly rambling on without paying attention to the others answers?

If you want to further discuss or understand the abstractness of this piece, I suggest you visit the IMDB message board for this title.

A fascinating, abstract, frustrating, creepy and unforgettable experience, but at the same time there’s no denying a typical David Lynch atmosphere. The music, costumes, shadows and lighting all add up to a unique world. It’s amazing that an almost plotless story can be so intriguing, but it really is! This is a piece of film not easily categorized other than saying it’s made by an auteur.

What makes it even more interesting is how it refers to Lynch’s other work like Mulholland Dr. and like I said Inland Empire. I guess you can draw certain comparisons to non-Lynch films Harvey (1950) and Donnie Darko (2001) as well.

IMDB

Book review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? / Philip K. Dick (1968)


I usually prefer sci-fi on film, but I was impressed by this novel, full of ideas, and it still holds up well today despite being written in the 1960s. Love the title of this book. I’d be interested to know of other novels where the title is a question? "What was she thinking? : notes on a scandal" is one book. Here are more.

The film Blade runner is loosely based on this novel. The book is more thoughtful and the film more visually atmospheric, so they compliment each other very well. The stories differ quite a lot, the book includes scenes with Deckard’s wife Iran and their pets. The ending to the film I think is more exhilarating. In the book, I am not sure I was entirely convinced that people in the future would want goats and sheep as pets, I can understand why they left this out of the film. The only motivation being real animals are sought after due to them being status symbols. The electric animals are lower down on the prestige chart. A weakness in both film and book: why does Deckard hunt the replicants, if they are going to die within a few years anyway?

Although there are discrete references to e.g. George Orwell’s 1984, it’s still a very original book. Amazing that an author can create such a future world from scratch. Everyone is under suspicion for being an android. Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter assigned to kill several Nexus-6 model androids, who have murdered there masters on Mars. An empathy test — the Voight-Kampff — is used to distinguish humans from androids. Another reviewer raises an interesting question: Wouldn't it be so much easier to just make all androids so they have an easily distinguishable feature to show they aren't a normal human?


I think this book works on many different levels. A lot is going on between the lines. It’s a science fiction adventure, but it’s also a dystopian warning saying we should look after the environment. It’s about how the drug industry is dangerous and can control your feelings. Furthermore, it’s a cautionary tale about how we should go about cloning and act towards are creations. The story is also about what it does to the protagonist Deckard that he is assigned to kill androids. Philip K Dick has stated the story is about what makes us human. Having a friend who suffers from autism, I felt the androids are described in an almost autistic way having little or no empathy towards others, this is less visible in the film. But this could just be a prejudice attitude among Deckard and his colleagues, we can’t be sure. The author PKD on page 90 tries to defend this lack of empathy by stating Deckard’s wife sometimes has even less empathy than androids.

It can be very difficult to determine if someone is an android in Philip K. Dick’s world, likewise it can be difficult to know straightaway if someone is mentally disadvantaged. It is widely known that a number of mentally disadvantaged people see themselves as aliens, try and pass themselves off as normal individuals, and on occasion are not even aware of suffering from a mental condition. In the book, several comments are made that the androids are attempting to blend in to society and pretending to be ordinary people. I may be wrong, but this allegorical interpretation I think suggests Philip K Dick himself was autistic (many artists are), or had knowledge of people with this condition. The androids lack many human qualities, but that's in part because they are manufactured that way. Is it their fault that they lack empathy? The androids could represent any given oppressed group throughout human history.

To me, it’s difficult to know exactly what PKD was attempting to say, as the story is open-ended. I feel the novel has taken on a life of its own based on countless reviews and articles over the years which interpret the story in various ways.
I guess the message to me is we should treat androids with equal respect and give them the same rights as humans, and not treat them as slaves, if one day the technology should allow them to be created artificially. Androids in the book have feelings and desires too. The story depicts how humans are as ruthless as robots by their willingness to kill robots. I think the author probably asks more questions than he answers, which I see as a good thing. We the readers are left to ponder these ethical questions ourselves.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is in “1001 books you must read before you die”

Also, check my recommendations of Blade Runner and Frankenstein, which are related.

Songs for your iPod

She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult

(love the use of drums at 0.28!)



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We Used To Be Friends - Dandy Warhols

(Why don't more bands use electronic drum beats like this? I wish they would)


Dandy Warhols - We Used To Be Friends
Uploaded by Pink_Bmx. - Explore more music videos.
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Lately I've Let Things Slide - Nick Lowe

(This slow acoustic track is very different to the other 2 songs above. The singer Feist recommended this 2001 album "The convincer" on amazon. Its a beautiful album you can hear again and again in my opinion)

Film review: Jeremy (1973)


Once in a while you come across a movie you’ve never heard of before, which has a heart and soul, the relationships feel genuine, and some good music, Jeremy is such a film about first love.

I would call Cameron Crowe’s 'Say anything' among the best teen romances on screen of the 80s. 'The sure thing', also with John Cusack, to me another highlight in that category.

If you are able to see beyond Jeremy’s somewhat ludicrous 70s hair cut, and thick-rimmed and geeky spectacles, Jeremy (1973) is in my opinion a gem, a ‘70s Say Anything’, if you will.

My favourite part of the film is the intro, which features the song Blue Balloon (The Hourglass song) - by Robby Benson. I like how the opening draws you into the main characters predicament:





You don’t have to be a teenager to appreciate it, I watched it like a nostalgic trip back to my youth, and what it felt like to be in these kind of situations.

I don’t think they did a very good job with the poster on IMDB at all, the two main characters come across as creepy ! So I went with an alternative poster in my review.

I thought the first half of the film was stronger than the last half. Jeremy is a warm-hearted coming-of-age film more people should discover, only 303 people have rated it on IMDB!

IMDB

Rottentomatoes

YouTube

Songs for your iPod

Harvest Moon - Neil Young

(This song got me interested in N. Young, I first heard it in the film Away from Her (2006), and Harvest Moon is still my favourite Neil Young album.)


Neil Young - Harvest Moon
Uploaded by LeBalayeur. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

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The Promise - When in Rome

(The "nerd" movie Napoleon Dynamite uses this track in the end credits. IMO not the best film, the dance scene in the movie is a classic, though. ( ;



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Gin Soaked Boy - The Divine Comedy

(This song is amazing, he even includes 'The Catcher in the Rye' in the lyrics!)

Book review: The Catcher in the rye / J.D. Salinger (1951)


Loved this American coming of age novel, which I just finished. A classic, which might just creep into my top 10 books! Originally written for adults, it’s far from being your typical young adult novel. Suitable for all age-groups.

At the beginning, the main character, Holden Caufield says he got thrown out of many schools, and this is an incentive for the reader to discover why. Holden is difficult to pinpoint, he is described as both childish for his age and sometimes he seems wise beyond his years. The conflict is simple: Holden wants to be an adult, but at the same time he doesn't.

He is a rebel without a cause, without having an alternative to school life. Holden refuses to follow society’s rules, he follows his own. Holden is bothered by trivial things around him. You wonder why he listens to the audience in the foyer, when they clearly irritate him? He rebels, but nevertheless he doesn’t seem able to ignore stuff.

The novel’s strength for me is its energy, characters, humour, and observations. Another positive element is the description of the difference between the inner and outer world.

I was never bored for one second, which is rare for me when reading a novel. There were actually some parallels to the film Roger Dodger (2002), which is one of my favourites. There are many cultural references to the novel, wikipedia has made a long list.

Chapter 11 is my favourite part, where Holden seems happy and likeable in the company of his friend Jane Gallagher, these events takes place in the past. This chapter is both a strength and weakness to me, because I don’t quite believe it’s the same subjective voice as the rest of the book.

Disliking everyone around him apart from a select group of family and friends, he drifts around in New York during the course of the story. He is only good at writing English essays. He doesn’t have much in common with his roommates, but still for reasons unknown helps one of them with written English. Why? Is he trying to fit in or be accepted? Or is he just helpful? They appear only to talk, because they go to the same school.

We don’t know for sure why he is so angry and pointing out other people’s faults, there are probably several reasons, an incident with a brother of his, puberty, from an upper-class family, not knowing who he is. Is he a sociopath or have some other mental illness? Is Holden aware that he needs help, or does he need other people to inform him of this? It’s more of a chaotic character study of a young man than a story of A to B. Holden to me is interesting, his many observations are sometimes arrogant and pessimistic, but often funny and na├»ve. For example saying an audience are clapping at the wrong time, and the pianist is not playing right.


A very good description of New York, he give Woody Allen a run for his money! Holden and others being able to walk around so freely in NY was something that I felt showed it was written in another era. Today kids probably wouldn’t be able to walk around like this without grown ups.

The novel is still controversial to this day. Some readers may be turned off by Holden’s swearing, is Salinger almost making swearing cool? It encourages the reader to think for themselves and find there own place in life. But controversially Salinger/Holden in a way are also encouraging young people to drop out of school. Promoting drinking and lying. This could be why the novel has been banned in some places. Holden is an anti-hero who has become an icon for teenage rebellion and alienation, a character teenagers could identify themselves with. Making the novel forbidden has obviously made it even more intriguing to read.

A weakness could be the structure of the story, I felt like the scenes sometimes where variations of the same situation repeated. The way he thinks about his sister is a little disturbing, but innocent. His sister Phobe, similar to Holden, is also wiser than her age implies, and other times she is immature. You get the feeling Holden misses his childhood enormously, it’s a sanctuary of memories. For example the way he describes going to the museum, when he was a kid. Some have criticized too much whining being on display and there is not enough character development, but this didn’t bother me.

To me TCITR reads as a book written from the heart, as if Salinger couldn’t help writing the story. Maybe the message is that growing up is tough, which is probably why so many young adults can relate to Holden’s inner thoughts and behaviour. His parents seem to be very distant, which makes it even more difficult for him. A lot is going on in Holden’s mind, which we are allowed to peek into, which is why its even more surprising to hear him claim he is the least intelligent of his siblings. Perhaps he is intelligent, but the schools don’t fit his way of thinking and learning.

It’s that rare book that I felt I could re-read immediately after I had turned the last page. A must-read in my opinion. 9/10 ( :

Further reading: bookdrum.com

Songs for your iPod

3 Beatles songs I like, you might not have heard before?

If I Fell - The Beatles



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Julia - The Beatles



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And I love her - The Beatles

Funny scene from Grumpy old men

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