“The Social Network” – 2010. Dir. David Fincher

 

With Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Max Minghella, Armie Hammer, Rooney Mara with John Getz and Justin Timberlake

Music by Trent Reznor

Written by Aaron Sorkin

“Sorry, my Prada is at the cleaners, along with my hoodie and my ‘fuck you’ flip-flops, you pretentious douche bag!”

So “The Social Network” was on my “movies I’ll never see list” along with “The Blind Side”, “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Juno” – but the fact it’s getting a slew of good reviews and is directed by one of my favorite directors, David Fincher, and written by my favorite writer Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing” anyone?) I broke down and saw it.

The film deals with Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg and how he essentially fucks over everyone in his path. Including his best friend Eduardo Saverin who created Facebook with Zuckerberg and the fellow Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) and Divya Narendra (Max Minghella – son of the great Anthony Minghella) who went to Zuckerberg with the idea of “Harvard Connect”, which is in a sense what Facebook became.

This film has the look and feel of every previous Fincher film. It’s built as a thriller – with much intrigue and mystery, which is built upon by Trent Reznor’s chilling score and the perfect screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. It’s quite a marvel to see these three brilliant artists all roll themselves into one film. Oh yeah, and it’s produced by Kevin Spacey.

The center of this film is its screenplay. It is as epic as David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” or Robert Towne’s “Chinatown” – it’s that good. Aaron Sorkin will finally get his long deserved writing nomination and he seems to be the clear frontrunner for the Oscar – depending how “True Grit” rolls into the awards season.

From the screenplay we move to Fincher’s impeccable direction. He truly is a wonderful director, he has this mastercraft of building films with suspense, much like Hitchcock – yet makes his films epic like David Lean. He’s this hybrid of a music video director who meets 1970’s “New America” directors. He is great.

The acting in this film is almost as great as the screenplay and as good as the direction. I’ve never cared for Jesse Eisenberg, but in this and “Solitary Man” he’s starting to win me over. Justin Timberlake as the sniveling ass who created Napster, Sean Parker, is a highlight of the film. He’s really, really good – but he’s no where as near as GREAT as Andrew Garfield. I’ve not seen him in much, but in this film he’s great. He just may have my vote for Best Supporting Actor.

But somewhere between all this greatness, the film begins to drag. It’s not distractingly dragging, but it’s more of an annoying tick. It doesn’t get quite boring, but pretty close at times. With a run time of 2 hours, I think Fincher could have made a more taut film at a 1:45. There are just a few scenes that aren’t needed. You find yourself just not caring about what is happening.

This isn’t a great film, but it’s pretty good. This film is overhyped and overrated, and don’t let anyone tell you this film is as good or better than “Zodiac”, “Seven”, or “The Game” (although I seem to be on a one man mission when it comes to “The Game”). Oh yeah, this film marks the first time a Beatles song (actually sung by the Beatles) has been used in a film since Hal Ashby’s “Coming Home”. That’s BALLER!

Rating: 8/10

“The Game” – 1997. Dir. David Fincher

With Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, with Carroll Baker, and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

Like my father before me – I choose eternal sleep.

David Fincher couldn’t have followed his masterpiece “Seven” up any better than with “The Game”. The film follows the secluded life of Nicholas Van Orton an extremely wealthy alienated millionaire played by Michael Douglas. Nicholas’ birthday is the day the film begins; he’s 48, the same age his father was when he killed himself.

He has a lunch date with a Mr. Seymour Butts which is a joke from his brother Conrad (Sean Penn). During his lunch date with his younger and more of a free spirited brother, Conrad gives Nicholas a gift certificate to CRS (Consumer Recreational Services) and tells Nicholas to call the number because it will change his life.

Nicholas eventually contacts the service, and spends most of his day filling out a questionnaire and physical fitness tests. He finally is told what CRS is, it’s a game. It’s a very sophisticated game that is tailored for wealthy people.

Nicholas goes about his day to day life; he travels to Seattle to fire his father’s old friend Anson Baer (Armin Mueller-Stahl) because he hasn’t met his projections for the past few quarters. Nicholas tries to open his brief case to give Baer his severance package but he can’t open his brief case, it’s not his.

From this point of the film on, things begin to get skewed, events happen that are surreal – yet seem normal to everyone but Nicholas. I can’t really talk about much of the plot without ruining most of what happens in the film.

This is an excellent film directed by a master of suspense and intrigue. David Fincher is such an unbelievable talent that his films have remained to be influences to future filmmakers. I haven’t seen “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons” and have zero interest to see “The Social Network” – I believe that Fincher is almost selling out now. Stick with what works, stick with what you’re good at.

What adds to this film is the original score by Howard Shore is as much a major part of the film as Michael Douglas or Sean Penn. It’s a wonderfully haunting score, much like that of “Eyes Wide Shut”. The music to the film is as much of a character as Michael Douglas or Sean Penn. Fincher’s use of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” is the best usage of music in any of his films. This is the film “Shutter Island” wanted to be.

Review: 9/10

“Seven” – 1995. Dir. David Fincher

With Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, R. Lee Ermey, Gwyneth Paltrow, John C. McGinley, Richard Roundtree and Kevin Spacey

“Where to?”

“Far away from here.”

This is a gritty noir film that centers around two detectives: William Somerset (Freeman) who is retiring in seven days, and his replacement David Mills (Pitt) who happen to investigate a string of murders where a killer is killing according to the seven deadly sins.

This is one fucking intense film.

There are many things that strike me about this film, and many things that bring me back to it. I’ve always felt that Freeman is the central character of the film – he’s the veteran detective that’s become so apathetic – so disgusted of the world around him that he’s become a better detective, he’s become extremely jaded. This final case completely solidifies he thoughts about the world.

Pitt plays the polar opposite of Freeman, he’s the young, eager and immature detective who is all balls and no brains – yet they work together with this steady truce and this odd symbiotic relationship.


Andrew Kevin Walker’s screenplay may be one of the finest screenplays ever transformed to screen. There are many elements to me that define the realism of the film. The fact that Brad Pitt doesn’t shower before work, that we know he doesn’t shower before work has always stuck with me. This is a direct reflection of his immaturity. When we see Freeman get ready for work, he’s cleanly shaven, his cloths are pressed, and his hat rests perfectly on his head. As much as Freeman resents his job, as much as it’s made him completely jaded – he has a respect for it, he has a respect for himself.

As Freeman and Pitt become closer, Pitt’s wife played by Gwyneth Paltrow confides to Freeman in a show stopping emotional scene. She’s pregnant and unsure to have the child; Pitt doesn’t know. The subject of abortion has become so taboo in our society its ridiculous – yet in the film “Seven”, nothing is off limits. This scene in the film is the one scene that I always remember, that I always think back too. The dialogue exchange between Paltrow and Freeman is some of the best written dialogue I’ve ever heard.

The dialogue exchange does two things: it completely sums up Freeman’s view of the world and it shows us Paltrow’s doubt. The second thing it does is set up the earth shattering ending that will always be remembered to anyone who ever seen the film.

I love Morgan Freeman in this film, and I think it’s his career performance. He’s the elder, the wise man. He’s a man who probably came from the projects of the city, yet he pulled himself up and becomes an extremely cultured man by spending so much time reading, he absorbs everything.


Kevin Spacey is fucking great as the killer John Doe, and each time I see the film, I just get more and more upset due to the fact that Kevin Spacey hasn’t done anything worth a fuck since “Beyond the Sea”. The fact that Spacey was in both this film and “The Usual Suspects” in the same year is remarkable – giving two polar opposite (to a point) performances and making them both believable. Kevin Spacey can act.

Brad Pitt is very good in the film yet I don’t really care for him, but I don’t think we’re supposed too – unless I just identify with Freeman’s character more. The only emotion that I get from Pitt is at the end of the film, then I’m at his will and I am so sympathetic and filled with so much sadness.

The direction that Fincher gives is wonderful – he guides us through New York City that reminds me very much of the New York City we saw in “Taxi Driver” – a world of filth and horrible things, but at least this time we have Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt to fight out battles for us. “Seven” remains to be David Fincher’s masterpiece.

Review: 10/10

The 10 Best Films of the 1990’s.

10. “In the Name of the Father” – 1993. Dir. Jim Sheridan. With Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite and Emma Thompson.

“I’m a free man, I’m going out the front door!”

This is one of the most dramatically powerful films I’ve ever seen. Seeing the true story of Gerry Conlon (Day-Lewis) and his father (Postlethwaite) being wrongfully accused and imprisoned in London over an IRA bombing is just so heartbreaking. Emma Thompson gives an amazingly great performance as the two men’s lawyer and the only one who believes their innocence.

9. “Natural Born Killers” – 1994. Dir. Oliver Stone. With Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Russell Means, Robert Downey, Jr. and Tommy Lee Jones.

Mickey and Mallory Knox are loose, Scagnetti’s dead, and they’re live on national TV!”

LIVE ON NATIONAL TV? JESUS HAROLD CHRIST ON A FUCKING RUBBER CRUTCH, IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Olive Stone is the filmmaker of the times, making films that deal with our current status in America. With NBK Stone brings forth a film with a killer soundtrack and excellent cast that explores our need for Reality TV and the media and our cultures obsession with killers. It shows us how we as American are obsessed with the killers themselves and how we turn them into pop culture icons. This is one wild ride of a fucking movie! The finest performance in the film has to be Tommy Lee Jones as Warden Dwight McClusky. He’s out of his fucking mind!


8. “Boogie Nights” – 1997. Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson. With Mark Wahlbeg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Heather Grahm and Don Cheadle.

Wait a minute. You come into my house, my party, to tell me about the future? That the future is tape, videotape, and not film? That it’s amateurs and not professionals? I’m a filmmaker, which is why I will *never* make a movie on tape.”

The opening one shot is a magnificent display of talent. It shows much homage to Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” and much more to Russia’s 1950’s propaganda film, “I am Cuba”. It sends us into a furry and introduces us to all the major characters that we need to know about. I want to call this film his masterpiece, but I can’t – “There Will Be Blood” is. This was back in the days when John C. Reilly used to be a good actor – and when Burt Reynolds blew all of his chances of having anything resembling a comeback. I love this film.


7. “Goodfellas” – 1990. Dir. Martin Scorsese. With Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent and Paul Sorvino.

“You may know who we are, but we know who you are.”

Gosh, Martin Scorsese. What a master. I truly believe that this is the film that de-glorified the “romantic” life of mobsters. Sure “The Godfather’s” were brutal and violent, but we always sympathized with Michael – we were always pulling for him. We do that to a certain extent in “Goodfellas” but once we hit the second act of the film, and we watch Ray Liotta spin out of control – we know that he’s paying for the life he’s led. It’s amazing and beautiful and no one could ever do it better. Martin Scorsese is a God among artists.

6. “American Beauty” – 1999. Dir. Sam Mendes. With Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning, Mena Suvari, Thora Birch, Wes Bently and Chris Cooper.

“This is my first time.”

Man…all I can really saw about this is Chris Cooper winning for “Adaptation” was his make-up for not even being nominated for his role in this film. That’s it.

5. “Seven” – 1995. Dir. David Fincher. With Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gweyth Paltrow, and Kevin Spacey.

“Where to?”

“Far away from here.”

People like to say that “Fight Club” is Fincher’s masterpiece. I think “Fight Club” is overrated and trendy – but “Seven”…oh my God “Seven” – this film is just downright amazing! Kevin Spacey steals the show as John Doe, Brad Pitt is great as the young and cocky cop and Morgan Freeman gives the performance of his career as a cop that the world has left behind. Remarkable filmmaking!

4. “Pulp Fiction” – 1994. Dir. Quentin Tarantino. With John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman and Harvey Keitel.

“You see – this is a moral test of one’s self. You’re going to go back, drink your drink, go home, jerk off and that’s all you’re gonna do.”

Fuck “Forrest Gump”.

3. “Bad Lieutenant” – 1991. Dir. Abel Ferrara. With Harvey Keitel.

“Where the fuck were you when I needed you? Why the fuck weren’t you there for me, when I needed you?!”

Harvey Keitel does nothing but bare his soul in this haunting and repulsive film about a cop who’s fallen so far from grace, Jesus himself can’t even help him. This is pretty powerful stuff, and if you think you’re tough enough to watch this, make sure it’s the NC-17 version.

2. “Schindler’s List” – 1993. Dir. Steven Spielberg. With Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley.

“This is very cruel, Oskar. You’re giving them hope. You shouldn’t do that. *That’s* cruel!”

The reason I resent Steven Spielberg is because he has the talent to make this, “Jaws”, “Close Encounters” and “E.T.” – why waste it.

1. “L.A. Confidential” – 1997. Dir. Curtis Hanson. With Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce, James Cromwell, Danny DeVito and David Strathairn.

“Go back to Jersey, sonny. This is the City of the Angels, and you haven’t got any wings.”

Flawless.
Honorable mentions:  “The Insider”, “Unforgiven”, “Rushmore”, “The Thin Red Line”, “The Big Lebowski”