Posts Tagged ‘Jesse Eisenberg’

From an early age, we are conditioned to believe that the impression we make on others is perhaps the most significant thing we have to offer. It’s a mentality that drives us to aggrandize our own esteem and to diminish those we see less fit. Ultimately, life is a competition, and we are mammals of sport. We strive for the highest degree of importance, either in support or in spite of our impression.

However humanly sordid this subject may seem, its correlation with the world of today provides a perfect story to tell in David Fincher’s The Social Network. Through dramatized insight into the life of the youngest billionaire on the planet, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), we see imperfect, damaged individuals interact with success and competition in a way that sadly worsens their overall image.

The film begins at a Harvard bar where Zuckerberg gets dumped. In a short scene, writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher depict the man (or child, to be more specific) we are about to follow on screen for two hours. He is condescending, flippant, and vindictive, but it’s difficult to loathe him completely. His behavior is reactive to the frustrating exclusivity of the world encircling him. All Zuckerberg wants is to be accepted by Harvard’s most elite societies, and when he knows he can’t have that, he believes that his only choice is to be just as relentless.

Getting dumped works as enough incentive for Zuckerberg. He has no final clubs, no girlfriend, and not enough sociability to obtain either one of them directly. With his drunken woes, he realizes that he must make an impression peripherally, behind a computer screen. With the help of his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), he concocts Facemash.com, a site that compares the attractiveness of girls at Harvard University. The resulting sensation attracts entrepreneurs Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss to hire Mark for their website, Harvard Connection. Although Mark agrees to work for them, he uses his time and their ideas to create The Facebook. Thereafter, things begin to swell.

What makes The Social Network captivating isn’t its reliance on our familiarity with the world’s most popular website. Rather, it’s the intricate bravura that drives the storytelling. Fincher and Sorkin narrate from three different angles; one is the linear set of events that capture the genesis of Facebook, and the other two are in the form of litigations when both Saverin and the Winklevoss twins are respectively suing Mark years after Facebook’s inception. The film successfully hopscotches around time and space to tell one cohesive tale.

Again, my fascination with this film doesn’t stem from its brutal action because there is, in fact, none. Instead, it’s people just talking. However, the fervor with which all the characters speak is magnetic and almost poetic; writer Aaron Sorkin, best known for his work on The West Wing, writes such sharp dialogue with enough contrast between characters to give each scene its own arc and momentum. David Fincher, who is notorious for fashionable cinematography, reserves grandiose camera work only for the film’s most important scenes. Otherwise, he utilizes much quieter movement to create natural, unstoppable momentum.

Similarly, Fincher’s actors take on their roles carefully. Jesse Eisenberg plays an insecure anti-hero whose flaws are easy to sympathize with. Throughout Sorkin’s energetic script, Eisenberg finds solace in the silent moments with fierce facial expressions that are as defined as they are insidious. The Mark Zuckerberg featured in The Social Network is a hero in the most classical sense, and he is one of the most interesting characters of the year because of that.

Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo Saverin is brutally sympathetic, but I feel there is not as much development with him. His passivity leads me to question why he is friends with Zuckerberg in the first place; their relationship on screen is rightfully represented, but it’s still difficult to see what Saverin sees in Zuckerberg. Yes, he wants to be a successful business man; yes, he wants to impress his father; yes, he wants to be accepted just as Mark does. However, this aspect of the film could have used a little more aggression to further enhance his despairing side of the story.

The Social Network currently stands as one of my favorite films of the year. Its Shakespearean approach to telling a tale about greed, ambition, and betrayal is something I haven’t seen in some time, and it should be commended for that. Despite its few issues–Saverin’s underdevelopment and the tonal and thematic misogyny–Fincher’s latest movie is wonderful. Zuckerberg is a man blinded by his desire to leave a lasting impression of importance. He has no regard for those around him, but he wants to be accepted. Easily corrupted by the conniving Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), Zuckerberg transforms into a character that isn’t so easily defined. He’s complicated and well written, and Jesse Eisenberg gives him full life.

9.5 out of 10


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After two frustratingly ambiguous teasers, the theatrical trailer for David Fincher’s The Social Network finally emerges, and it is surprisingly stunning. Enhanced by a musically effective and haunting rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep”, the preview suggests that this upcoming movie about Facebook should be taken seriously.

The film’s color and photography appear stylistically ominous, and the acting and writing shown indicate that the drama is just as engaging. Hopefully, Fincher can knock it out of the park, just as this trailer did.

The Social Network will open the New York Film Festival in September. It will then be released on October 1, 2010.

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The social network…We’re all a part of it. Now, thanks to adored director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac), we’ll get a chance to see it at its inception.

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network takes a personal look at the life of Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook. Release is set for October 1, 2010.

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It is now 2010, and everything from reviews to teasers is suddenly culminating to this. A reflective and hopefully not so irrelevant list of my favorite movies from 2009. I know that publishing such a compilation seems so out of date when we’re already in the new decade, but I want to contemplate on the past year a tiny bit before plunging into the future.

Before we count down, I’d like to share with you the ineligibles and the honorable mentions. The ineligibles are movies that seemed likely in making the list, but are ones I never got around to seeing. The honorable mentions are films that just barely missed the cut.

Ineligible: In the Loop, Fantastic Mr. Fox, A Single Man, The White Ribbon

Honorable Mentions: Drag Me to Hell, Anvil: The Story of Anvil, Coraline, Moon

And so we begin. It’s time to throw all numerical scores out the window and to simply go with intuition.

10. Where the Wild Things Are

Spike Jonze’s adaptation of beloved children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, is an assortment of innocence, wonderment, and loneliness. The treatment of these consolidated emotions is a bit rushed and unfocused, however, and what remains is a frenetic and rather sloppy movie; but where the film lacks in steadiness is where it succeeds in providing unabashed and sometimes painful emotion. Jonze’s artful construction of a purely fantastical world serves as a harbor of nostalgia for those who were once tormented children. From building forts to feeling ignored, Where the Wild Things Are manages to beautifully exhibit both the wonder and terror of growing up.

9. Humpday

Humpday is a cleverly inquisitve movie. At first, the film asks questions about sexuality and masculinity, but as it meanders to a fitting end, these queries slowly transform into examinations of a concept that is far more frustrating than sex. Growing up. Unbeknownst to our main characters, Andrew and Ben, they do make discoveries about themselves, and their inner demons are quietly exorcised. What makes this overall experience so cathartic is the innate goodness and relatability of the characters we follow. Now being twenty years old, I often bump into the proverbial quarter-life crisis. Thoughts of past accomplishments and future ambitions come up for dissection, and I’m sometimes unsure how to assess myself. Humpday happens to mirror some of my thoughts and apprehensions perfectly.

8. Adventureland

Adventureland isn’t just a movie that’s set in 1987. It’s a recollection of personal memories that vicariously warps us back to our own pasts. While watching this film, it’s natural to recall that sacred instance we first fell in love; it’s reactionary to conjure up memories of simply hanging out with old friends and realizing that life is pretty amazing when shared with the right people. Adventureland’s ability to feel like something in the past tense is a reminder that these years are the best years of our lives. Its depiction of joy, frustration, regret, and inebriation is honest and endearing, making us want to latch onto our own Adventureland, whatever that may be, forever.

7. A Serious Man

The latest Coen Brothers film, A Serious Man, opens with the quote, “Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.” What follows is an hour and a half of comically tragic torture, all befalling our gentle and very disgruntled subject, Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg). How we respond to his misfortune depends on our own religious beliefs, considering that Joel and Ethan Coen never pamper us with their own direct discernment, other than to antithetically “Accept the mystery.” Many of this film’s oddities and philosophical undertones are stylistically reminiscent of one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, and that is perhaps why I adore it so much. Its wandering nature is not only thought provoking, but also brave, for it ultimately encourages us to find our own meaning to the movie’s unfortunate events ourselves.

6. An Education

Collectively, college students can be as pretentious as they are naive. I am no different. Nor is the main character of An Education, Jenny (Carey Mulligan). Her desire to become an adult far too quickly is triggered by the splendor of pop culture. She eventually finds herself circumscribed by an exquisite, highbrow life for which she is not yet ready, and it all clusters into a horrible yet calculated mess by the end. The illusion with which she is enamored is undeniably charming and elegant, and credit must be given to those across the Atlantic who made this film. Interestingly enough, behind said illusion is a reality we, myself included, should try to accept. We mustn’t be so quick to let our pretension overbear our not so necessarily terrible innocence.

5. The Hurt Locker

The most cataclysmic dangers in Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker are not epic or turbulent. Rather, they are unforeseeable and omnipresent. Trouble could be within a crowd of seemingly innocent civilians, or behind a wall hundreds of feet away, or dangling between loose bomb wires that are within one’s grasp. The notion that these dangers are all “could be’s” and “what if’s” is what makes the experience all the more terrifying. Additionally, the characters we see endure these crises are communally unstable and unpredictable, only heightening the already established tension. The intensity that is embedded within The Hurt Locker damages our characters psychologically, and we are challenged to accept them as imperfect individuals who are merely trying to survive.

4. Star Trek

As made evident by his television series, Lost, JJ Abrams has a penchant for creating thoughtful relationships between strong characters. With Star Trek, he takes familiar faces from a renowned franchise and still manages to create crisp dynamics. It’s an absolute joy to watch the relationship between James Kirk (Chris Pine) and Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto), one that traverses both directions in time, blossom from pure hatred to something a little less vile. Their exchanges, which range from simple bickering to physical engagement, are some of the best parts of the film, and where their individual character arcs conclude makes the journey with them that much more satisfying.

3. Up in the Air

Ryan Bingham’s (George Clooney) forlorn philosophy on relationships is one that I, more often than not, subscribe to. Yet, his gradual but never completed metamorphasis into a more susceptible person is alleviating on multiple levels. I say “never completed” because we don’t really know if he is a changed man by the end. Along the way, Ryan is damaged, betrayed, and abandoned, and we are left without a cathartic, warmhearted climax. Knowing that everything is literally up in the air by the end of this film, we become refugees who are forced to find a home in whatever makes the film seem whole to us. Our interpretations of such a bold ending will be subject to debate, and this is where our human tendencies will be examined. This beautiful experiment that director Jason Reitman conducts is one that I will not forget being a part of.

2. Mary and Max

Australian film, Mary and Max, is a claymation feature that is crude and sophisticated. The tone is childlike in appearance, but its deeply sad themes resonate particularly well with me at this point in my life. Currently attending college, I feel like I’m inside some sort of purgatory or in-between. I’m no longer a kid, but I’m not yet an adult. This place can be, at times, very lonely. The film’s characters are from both ends of the spectrum-Mary is a young, lonely girl, and Max is an old, misunderstood hermit. Where they converge in similarities and differences is exactly where I reside-that bubble of misunderstanding and uncertainty. Complemented by a captivating score, Mary and Max unfolds with the innocence of a children’s book, but its insight is extremely powerful.

1. Inglourious Basterds

I never thought I’d ever be putting a Tarantino film at the top of a favorites list. He’s a filmmaking genius, but the romantic in me doesn’t necessarily anchor to his masculine movies. However, upon further meditation, there’s no doubt in my mind that Inglourious Basterds is my favorite film of 2009. Tarantino’s orchestration of remorseless action serves as a shrewd device for both entertainment and examination, and I love everything that occurs on screen. More impressively, beyond the conscious brutality that Inglourious Basterds sustains is a great deal of lacerating tension that comes from people simply talking. Tarantino’s loud audacity is most prominent in his quietest scenes, creating a wholesome, epic experience-one that I admire from beginning to end.

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Odd but potentially fun. I liked the zombie kill of the week.

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