- It’s a film that may combine the best work of both David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin
- Hard to top Travers: “The Social Network lights up a dim movie sky with flares of startling brilliance. Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Zodiac) puts his visual mastery to work on the verbal pyrotechnics in the dynamite, dick-swinging script by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing), and they both do the best and ballsiest work of their careers. The Social Network gets you drunk on movies again. It deserves to go viral.” https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-reviews/the-social-network-113030/
- From the fist glorious (maybe the best single shot in the film) frame know you’re watching something special. Fincher paints the mise-en-scene so well with his trademark lighting scheme (he may have to take the mantle of the master of darkness from Gordon Willis), green/yellow lighting. You almost don’t notice the triumph of lighting the first time because of Sorkin’s dialogue and talented young cast. You’re on your heels with the rapid fire argument- apparently the opening dialogue scene was shot in 99 takes—you hear these stories often with Fincher and you see it in the results—such a perfectionist
- It’s this generations’ Citizen Kane in many ways —told in a creative flashback narrative, genius/billionaire of our times, layered, dark
- The case for it being Fincher’s best (it’s this or Fight Club I believe) is that it’s as procedurally formal as Zodiac, as “of our times” as Fight Club, and has an ending as devastating as Seven
- Shakespearian weight to these characters, the setting—the morality play
- 2.5 scenes (including that jaw-dropping opening) with Rooney Mara and it’s a star-maker… Eisenberg was already established but this is his best, Garfield is mesmerizing, Armie Hammer became a star, too
- Trent Rezner’s score– it’s the theme is only used a few times but it’s one of the best scores of the decade
- Garfield gives us the big final scene though I think I’m going with Eisenberg who has the slightly better achievement- neither are the wrong answer— Garfield’s little dance over to him at the Jewish party and then saying “I’m buying” with those eyes—it’s a remarkably sympathetic character—and then he tears your heart out at the ambush at the end
- One of the best 10-15 screenplays in the artform’s history- Chinatown, Casablanca, The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, Sunset Boulevard, Seventh Seal—a few others
- Lines could go on forever “You would’ve invented Facebook” I’m 6’5 220 lbs and there are two of me”—the entire “do I have your full attention” scene—“I was your only friend”
- Fincher is a ridiculously good editor- one of the best we have— and the Regatta scene, paired with music and stunning photography is just him showing that skill off without Sorkin at all—
- but, overall- Fincher’s largest achievement in the film is the mise-en-scene specifically the lighting. It’s just very rare in cinema’s history that an auteur/director make his movies so specifically unique to look at in every frame and so beautiful. It’s unmistakably a Fincher film from the lighting. Look at the scene with the twins in the tank—look at the color of the water. Do yourself a favor and watch this in a completely dark room (just like all of Fincher’s work)–if you try to watch it during the day– the characters just disappear
- Timberlake is revelation—comes in about half-way through the film and the film is off again- he’s intoxicatingly good. It’s not him though, and as much as I like the cast it’s not the cast—it’s Fincher—he made Ben Affleck and Tyler Perry amazing in Gone Girl–
- The dialogue makes for a strategic chess match and a rallying tennis match simultaneously. Sorkin is taking us in and out of a series of conversations, testimonies in the larger structure—and then within the scenes the verbal wit is without a peer
- Another show-off editing for Fincher is Timberlake’s dinner montage—the opening hacking scene is set up this way as well
- “The Ambush”- lighting as mise-en-scene as Fincher shoots Garfield at lower angles- it’s Welles, Pakula or Soderbergh
- I might change the ending with the Beatles song—“Baby, You’re a Rich Man”—The Beatles are notoriously hard to get and it’s a coup to have their song in your film—but I’d go back to Rezner’s notes like the opening and the ambush
- A Masterpiece
Incredible movie. Defintely a masterpiece
It is overly talkative but the visuals are amazing. No one shoots quite like fincher. David Fincher would be a great filmmaker in my mind if he didn’t have a contempt for the human race and the quest for meaning and goodness that it common amongst us all.
@m- you’re going to start ruling out some of the best directors/artists in cinema (both contemporary and historically) with this type of critique. That’s your decision of course– but it is a shame.
One of the two best screenplays of the 21st century. I could understand the “overly talkative” critique if the dialog wasn’t so brilliantly written and delivered, and if despite its talkiness the film wasn’t so visually dynamic and formally rigorous. As is though, this is a giant masterpiece, and one of the 15-20 greatest films of its decade.
@Matt Harris may i ask what the other btilliant screenplay is.
I think the Inglourious Basterds’ screenplay is a masterpiece of literature.
No problem with those, but I think There Will Be Blood should be in the discussion. The dialogue slaps you in the face like a milkshake and sweeps you off your feet like there’s a whole ocean of oil down there. It’s a tremendous character study, bold, dark, and brilliant. Dialogue doesn’t get much more hard-hitting than “I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed,” and the big confrontations between Daniel and Eli in the church and the bowling alley.
I think There Will Be Blood may be the best film of the century, but this one didn’t occur to me I think because so much of it is silent. You are quite right that there is some mighty writing there though.
I thought darjeeling limited had a terrific script, and i enjoyed inglorious besterd script for the most part. More recently I thought the master was well written
what is the single best screenplay of all time in your opinion?
It seems a little too obvious to be correct, but I honestly believe Citizen Kane may be the number one (I’m excitedly awaiting Fincher’s Mank to learn about its history). “Rosebud” and “I guess we’re both lonely” are justifiably famous and I love older Mr. Bernstein’s monologues. A great study of character, capitalism, opportunity, and greed. I have no problem, of course, if someone goes with Chinatown, Casablanca, Godfather, Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, Seventh Seal, Vertigo or Psycho, and some more.
Forgot to mention any Schrader or Huston scripts in there; they should be.
@Azman depends on how you mean. There are screenplays like ferris bueller that i quote all the time and then i cant tell you more than a couple lines from Wilders Apartment but i remember how great the flow of that script was. I think the best screenplays often serve the film and are mostly invisible in a way, like 2001. If i had to pick though, I’d vote for Schaffners planet of the apes. Brilliant satire
@Azman or the searchers, liberty valance, stagecoach. (Or whatever by hawks) Ford and Hawks seemed to have an ears for good talk
The best Fincher movie, the best screenplay of this century, one of the best movie of this century (in my top 10-15). Love the ending btw, sad.
All right, this is a silly question, but why is one of the best screenwriters so bad at titling his scripts? A Few Good Men is actually quite a good name, but the others are just trash. We’re making a movie about Steve Jobs? Hmm… we’ll call it STEVE JOBS. About Facebook? Hmm… THE SOCIAL NETWORK.
Haha, your question doesn’t make sense as you mention, what name would you have given it?
Love the title, you want bad titles ? I give you : Octopussy, We Bought a Zoo, Batman Forever…
@KidCharlemagne and @Graham— haha these are some bad ones. I’m with Graham on some of the others, too. Do better than “Steve Jobs”– but I doubt Sorkin wrote the titles, right? Probably some marketing executive. It is a shame.
So I’ll admit they are not really that bad. My taste in movie titles is, perhaps, quite different from many others. I’d vastly prefer an intriguing, concise title like Memento, Breathless, Blade Runner, Seven Samurai, or Vertigo to oft-admired ones like There Will Be Blood, The Silence of the Lambs, or No Country for Old Men that aren’t interesting until after you see the movie so you can analyze their strangeness. People who can make a good title think of a major motif that might matter more than the on-the-surface subject and express it (Wong noticed the importance of the characters’ Mood towards their relationship for his masterpiece, Malick noticed the superficially Heavenly nature of the Days they are spending for his, Coppola or John Milius realized how the war happening Now was like a psychological Apocalypse).
Sorkin’s titles, on the other hand, are on-the-nose as if like an Ernest Hemingway six word story. We are going to be watching a movie about ROUGLY 2-3 MEN WHO ARE GOOD? We are going to be watching a movie about A NETWORK THAT IS SOCIAL? We are going to be watching a movie about S T E V E J O B S? Wow! Movie titles where you say what the movie is exactly are either daring (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) or dumb (Steve Jobs). The honest truth is that it would take me a while to find a high-quality title for Social Network because it’s not my work and I’m not nearly the writer he is; it’s just that the name seems laughable for such a well written text. I love the tagline: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Perhaps a play on that might succeed? “Network Enemy” or something, perhaps. For Steve Jobs’ title, I’d take anything but what we have. Biopics that just take the subject’s name as the title are far too many in number already.
Don’t like the « Steve Jobs » title too but love A Few Good Men or Moneyball.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is one of my favourite title (make sense about the movie and the last 30min, it’s not a movie about the assassination of Jesse James, it’s about Robert Ford and his legend, remind me of The Man who Shoot Liberty Valence).
IMHO, the best titles are one or two words. « Taxi Driver », « Raging Bull », « Vertigo », « Casablanca ». Ma favourite of all time is « Chinatown » (the best screenplay ever I think).
I’m not sure if you’re attempting to disagree with my previous opinions or back them up, because I mostly agree with what you just said. A Few Good Men and Moneyball (forgot about that one) are interesting titles. I’d agree that the full Jesse James title is a very bold and polarizing choice to make that pays off. I love the name Roger gave to his review: “ Don’t reveal if Jesse gets killed, or who by!”
As I said, I like simpler titles. Raging Bull and Vertigo are nice for sure. Chinatown and Casablanca sound nice, although I‘m not sure that they’re among the very best names. However, I think I take a bit of issue calling Taxi Driver a good title. It’s, as I said about Sorkin’s, on the nose and not about the true meaning of the story.
The Social Network is not a bad title, (not a great one, just good/meh) otherwise I agree with you.
Drake. To be concise and in a nutshell I just want to give you major props for a fantastic analysis, critique, and admiration of The social Network. Fantastic work by you and outlining what makes the movie a classic. Truly stunning my friend
@Kent Crosier– well thank you very much- appreciate the kind words!
The title of Sorkin’s new superb movie, The Trial of the Chicago 7, may prove my point about his tendency toward bland titles. The film, which is about the titular seven characters being tried for inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, was released on Netflix a few days ago. I would suggest that everyone watches it as soon as they can. I saw it with my family last night, and would like to put some notes below. I will try to include no major spoilers, but if you typically like to see reviews after seeing a movie, I would suggest waiting to read.
With this type of dynamic and rapid dialogue-focused screenwriter also taking the directorial position for the movie, it can be expected that the narrative will be the main focus. No matter the connotation that may bring, this film is an extremely successful stylistic expression in all the elements of film. This is a definitive courtroom drama, and can be expected to hold all of the known traits of the genre, but it is also a harrowing true story, a political statement fit for the 2020 times, an ensemble slice-of-life emotion movie, an explosive satire, and an energetic work of craftsmanship.
A fairly obvious comparison for me to The Trial of the Chicago 7 is JFK. After a dynamic opening sequence to introduce the ensemble, the whole narrative takes place during the trial, with an abundance of flashbacks to the controversial events of the convention protest. A comparison to JFK should immediately, and correctly, imply that the editing here is impressive. Although watching all the actors sit in a room for two hours and read off the masterful script would still be engaging, the lack of the montage-like cutting through the flashbacks and back to the courtroom would wrench away much of the power. Sorkin knows when to speed up and slow down his portrayal of the plot on screen. This film is also something of a masterpiece of casting. Of the leading defendants, there is Eddie Redmayne as the leaderly intellectual, Sasha Baron Cohen as the comedian who the only one able to refrain from anger, Jeremy Strong as Cohen’s less intelligent hippie counterpart, and more. Besides the 7, we have Mark Rylance as perhaps the best performer in the production as the angry defense attorney, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a sympathetic prosecutor, Frank Langhella as the head judge really reaching toward Nurse Ratched in terms of wretchedness (although no character in cinema has even nearly reached that level of evil), Michael Keaton in a small role, and many more.
The obvious traits that are purely visual style here relate to the form of the movie, with repeated settings, shots, and lines. However, I did notice some unique photographic traits in the mise-en-scene and movement. Sorkin successfully uses many different types of shots, from expansive wide frames of the courtroom or policemen to close-ups in expressive character moments. A compositional arrangement of two heads out of focus at the edge of the frame and another person in between farther away seemed common. Sometimes, especially in transitional scenes, Sorkin will track the camera around to follow characters and heighten the energy. The cinematography here is on-point throughout, with Cohen’s character’s comedy stage a lighting standout reminiscent of the Gaslight from Inside Llewyn Davis.
I could write about the powerful scriptural moments in The Trial of the Chicago 7 all day, but I presume you would rather see them for yourself. When everything happening in this movie is placed together, we are left with a tightly crafted, energizing, emotional, and complex piece of cinema that viewers will certainly remember.
@Graham- great work here! I can’t wait to get to it. Should get to it this week
The editing is certainly what leapt out at me too, and the influences of JFK are so clear. I didn’t think it was always on great form, particularly in the “slow clap” scene. But it is a really admirable effort from Sorkin as a director, not just as a screenwriter.
This one broke into the TSPDT 1000 at 535.Very good
The Master too made it in at 485!
@Zane- I saw that- some of these I’m not thrilled about but certainly well deserved for The Master and Social Network
@Malith– I saw that- giving Fincher 4 in the top 1000– very impressive for a contemporary auteur
How about Under The Skin(2013) in at 399!
@Malith- I saw that too– seems aggressive
Agreed. Pretty major push there. I haven’t seen it but have heard good things about it from many people including yourself but 399 is a very significant push considering it was not previously in the top 1000.
@Zane- yeah I’m not sure on the math but how is the only film from 2013 at #399— no other film represented from the year at all? That gap doesn’t seem plausible. #363 for Toni Erdmann for 2016 (again the only one from 2016) is even more egregious
I didn’t see La La Land from 2016 and Ida from 2013.A very big dissapointment there for those films to not be in the TSPDT Top 1000 and Under the Skin and Toni Erdmann to make the top 400.
Well i don’t mind the 399th position for Under the Skin, the problem is not Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Ida.
Isn’t Inside Llewyn Davis the # 1 movie of 2013 on TSPDT? How did not make the cut?
Do you still think Holy Motors is overrated? I remember you said you would watch it again for Carax’s studio.
Because it is the movie that is rated highest (619 to 285). That’s MP territory
@Aldo- certainly with this context I think Holy Motors is overrated. I think Annette should be coming out in 2021 (who knows with what’s going on in the world) and would love to get Holy Motors again before seeing it
Looks like the 2010 page is suffering from the same problem. Only the image at the top and no text.
@Malith- thank you
@Malith- thank you again
After rewatch of this and Fight Club I’m torn for which one is Fincher’s 2nd best film (Zodiac is my # 1 for him).
This film is utterly flawless:
– great performances all around especially Eisenberg who nails Zuckerberg both with the look
and all the distinctive mannerisms. Timberlake gives a career best performance and even
though his portrayal is quite inaccurate (according to articles I’ve read) it is none the less a
– great score, controls the mood throughout the film
– world class editing
– Fincher’s distinctive lighting
– the writing, I mean it is endlessly quotable with all of Eisenberg’s hilarious quips and sarcasm
Neck and Neck with Fight Club although if forced to choose I would give the slight edge to this
Drake, curious why you didn’t like The Beatles Baby Your a Rich Man? I thought it was a great choice, it has a somewhat bitter sweet mood which matches up with the ending scene with Zuckerberg sitting in a room alone on his computer friend requesting the girl from the opening scene.
And speaking of Zuckerberg it’s an absolute tragedy that Jesse Eisenberg didn’t win an Oscar. I mean he became Mark Zuckerberg.
@James Trapp- I just think you have one of the brilliant scores of the 21st century—go back to it for the close of the film one last time. And I think the melancholic tone fits better than The Beatles song choice as well
@Drake – not going to argue against the score being amongst the best of the 21st century. Yeah, I am not going to argue against any of your points, none the less I still love the song and admittingly I am a little biased as The Beatles are my all time favorite music group aside from Pink Floyd and possibly Led Zeppelin.
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