The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 18 October 2010

You've Got A Friend

The great thing about The Social Network is that everyone comes out it looking like an arsehole. Mark Zuckerberg, superbly played by Simon Amstell, is a passive-aggressive sociopath nerd. His friend Eduardo Severin has no understanding of the appeal of Zuckerberg’s ‘Facebook’ creation and, despite majoring in business, makes poor business decisions. Sean Parker is a complete idiot; he’s a dickhead who thinks he’s cool, which is why casting Justin Timberlake to play him is so interesting. And the Winklevoss brothers, both played by the same guy, are exactly the sort of private-school-educated rowing-club idiots that give higher education a bad name. That said, Harvard comes out of this film looking like a whole university packed with arseholes. And nearly everyone in this film is a misogynist.

Aaron Sorkin takes a bunch of unlikeable characters, and makes them interesting, and gives them great dialogue. Occasionally there are classic Sorkin moments where someone is asked a very non-sequitor-ish question simply so that another character can give a slick comeback; this seems to be the entire point of the Rashida Jones character. It’s all beautifully structured and put together, using a flashback device in an artfully understated way. The opening scene is a bit full-on, one of those scenes where you wish you could switch on the subtitles in the cinema, but after that it settles down.

Anyway, recommended, go see.

It’s a strange feeling watching a film about such recent history. Facebook is still so new that some of my friends have only just joined, like mad luddite technophobe peasants. The film goes into some detail about who had the idea, when in retrospect it seems obvious. In fact, not just in retrospect; Facebook was just doing what MySpace and FriendsReunited were doing, but without the clunkiness and having to pay for stuff. FriendReunited is a good example, because for a long time it had more members, but it lost the initiative because it stuck up paywalls and because it had limited functionality.

The film also addresses the area of privacy, an ever-present concern with Facebook as new people join, forget to check their privacy settings, or allow an application access to their information. But that was, I think, Facebook’s USP – it’s a look-at-me-site where you choose who can access it.

That said, it can only be a matter of time before something else comes along and all the bloody Farmville-type games drive people off of Facebook for the sake of their own sanity.

Before the movie there were a few trailers for films no-one in their right mind would ever want to go and see. Some Planes, Trains & Automobiles knock-off with someone in it who isn’t Jack Black but who might as well be. A film called Red which seems to be basically a US remake of New Tricks with Bruce Willis in the Dennis Waterman role. Plus a film which I can only describe as Mike Leigh Hammers Another Rusty Nail Into The Coffin Lid Of The British Film Industry. Thank goodness for LoveFilm, that’s all I can say.