FLASHBACK: The Social Network (2010/dir. David Fincher/USA)

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So I’ve thinking in retrospective… I’ve been surprised that, after posting screencaps from two different facebook conversations as well as trying to send out a facebook page for this blog, I’ve been surprised that I have not made a review for The Social Network yet. It’s obvious that it’s been a picture many have been aware of for a while now, having won Oscars (deservedly) for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Film Editing. The Facebook phenomenon has grown larger than any other social networking site, defeating Myspace, Friendster, Twitter and Tumblr. in the internet mythology of social manifestation. Everybody in my family has a facebook, even surprisingly my own father, even my first cat has her own page. The beginnings of its inception was inevitably going to be a topic that sparked interest, however much dramatized this film is.

I’m just checking your math on that… Yes, I got the same thing.

Ignoring the obvious lines between fiction and non-fiction (the fact that the movie was based on a book based largely on testimony by Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) – the superficially victimized character of this story; the non-existance of Erica Albright (played by the beautiful Rooney Mara) as the real Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) has had a stable and constant relationship with Priscilla Chan – they have been married this past year), one cannot ignore the fact Aaron Sorkin’s writing is more than just an exceptional script – he really does understand the decade… He has single-handedly represented the 00s in the most authentic and yet an unassuming manner. He probably didn’t tell the story as it happened, but he told a damn good story. For as much as one can pride Quentin Tarantino on dialogue mastery, it feels as though Aaron Sorkin has a mastery of that…
You can learn about each character just by reading the lines they say… without even watching the brilliant actors perform them.

You write your snide bullshit from a dark room because that’s what the angry do nowadays.

Looking into the cinematography, at first glance, I had thought that the movie felt more show-offy in that aspect. I can name specific shots that seemed weird and cannot be forgiven… the camera has unexplained and unnecessary lack of focus when the girl Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake, who probably had met his real-life counterpoint before in several lawsuits…) has slept with rushes out of the shower and then returns after explaining Facebook to him, probably just done to get a PG-13 rating avoiding any absolutely visible nudity. The little gag where Zuckerberg tosses a beer at Parker’s female friend a second time and it cracks… that was not natural, it really puts off that scene briefly.
But everything else about how it’s shot… even the apparent visual wet dream that is the Cambridge crew race… it’s unimaginable to imagine this movie shot differently… You can’t think of it like that. It’s mentally impossible.
In fact, it took me a while to realize that was the atmosphere of the time, though… Coming out from film classes in college, that is what every film student has to be about the best picture, the next updated thing – this movie is no longer living on film, what Fincher has used as a necessary tool despite being vocally for ‘digital’. No, fuck that now… Fincher’s using the RED and it’s the exact same thought process any man in a progressive mindset like the minds behind facebook would be in.
And yet, there’s more to it than just to show off its picture quality still. There’s a distinct difference between the warm and the cool colors used for the atmosphere… We’re introduced to the shadowy settings in scenes of parties and social gathering the ‘glowing green light’ to Zuckerberg’s ‘Gatsby’ and think of them as the college Holy Grail… no matter what other motivations come up, it’s all about parties for this incarnation of Zuckerberg…
But when he actually reaches that height of status quo… Yes, the darkness of the scenes is familiar to us, but it also reflects more on the heart’s trappings rather than it’s desires… It’s surprisingly an evil feeling now… It’s near nightmarish in some instances – Parker’s arrest or Brenda Song’s character suddenly burning her boyfriend’s gift on Eduardo’s bed…
I wouldn’t think it at first… this manner of vision, but now I can’t think of any other from a cinematic world like this.

Drop the ‘the’… just ‘facebook’. It’s cleaner!

In a similar manner, Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose’s score had to become a real acquired taste for me. My music fandom shan’t be a surprise given my name and previous posts, and I am a very enthusiastic fan of Nine Inch Nails (I don’t care who says what; I will always prefer NIN’s original ‘Hurt’ to Johnny Cash’s also amazing cover). But, I didn’t initially feel the music’s influence in the story…
It’s ambiance. It’s a touch of the suggestion that this bond between Eduardo and Mark is dying and it’s going to end soon… just around the corner…
I’m not entirely a fan, but I’m not going to be too harsh on it…
… On the other hand, the weaknesses of the score are covered by the brilliant sound editing (which it clearly did not win… because it was not a action shoot ’em up)… the amount of detail in the background noise, it feels like the atmosphere of the room you are actually watching the movie in… Really, The Social Network is a technical masterpiece, much like Zuckerberg would in himself direct it and make nitpicks until there are little issues with it.

I was your friend… You had one friend.

Jesse Eisenberg’s diagnosed with ADD in real life. I find that probably helped immensely in this character of Mark Zuckerberg. He doesn’t come off too much as an asshole to me until the climactic confrontation with Eduardo. Instead, he’s a guy who does not know how to talk to people, he’s a genius who doesn’t want to depend on others but regrets that he has to. One could clearly suggest that there are many more facets to the character of Zuckerberg than can be attributed just the one-dimensional claim that he is solely a bad guy.
If somebody tries to argue that, the whole point of the movie falls on its face.
He represents more than Facebook or intellectual ideas or the struggles involved in innovative pursuits. He represents a subcultural division of this past decade’s generation. He taps into the insecurities of nearly everyone. The film taps into this generation’s impersonal and superficial methods of socialization. When Eduardo and Mark’s friendship collapses, that’s a representation of the collapse of the trust in today’s social relations.
It’s this generation’s The Graduate. It’s going to be remembered for telling a lot more than how Facebook started… That’s only the tip of the iceberg here.

FLASHBACK: Bubba Ho-Tep (USA/dir. Don Coscarelli/2002)

I’m getting somewhat tired of only reviewing movies from the past decade, but I promise, I’m working on older film reviews, they’ve just been turning into essays from the amount of content. I put in and I will deliver as soon as satisfied.

That said, I stayed up all last night and decided to check out a movie that I had been meaning to see for a long while. It attracted with starring roles for cult movie phenomenon Bruce Campbell, a man who had one point in my adolescence been my favorite actor, and Ossie Davis, a veteran African-American actor who had also made an impression in his appearances in Spike Lee’s pictures to me. In addition, the director of one of my absolute horror buff pleasures, Phantasm, and helmer of the adaptation of one of my favorite books, John Dies at the End by David Wong, Don Coscarelli was the director to put the picture together.

But even if these factors weren’t in the movie, the premise would’ve been enough of a strange hook to begin with. Elvis Presley (Campbell) has been alive this entire time and living in a nursing home. Disillusioned by his fame and depressed over the divorce and estrangement of his wife and daughter, Elvis decided in the late 1970s to switch places with an impersonator to start a fresh life. Unfortunately, his impersonator, Sebastian Haff (also played by Campbell) had fallen into Elvis’ same vices and became the untimely statistic in 1977. Elvis, now believed to be Haff, had been injured later on and put into a coma, eventually ending up in the retirement home where nobody believes he is who he says he is, he gets no respect or dignity from his peers or staff, and his only friend is a senile black man who believes himself to be JFK in hiding from Lyndon B. Johnson (Davis).

Strange enough as a picture? Well, now a mummy is stealing the souls of everyone in the retirement home.
Yep.
This is one of those movies perfect to relax at midnight when you’re avoiding sleep. This is…

Easily B-movie fare that would fit Campbell and Coscarelli’s respective resumes, but there’s a deeper factor in Bubba Ho-Tep that warrants more than one viewing, more than one could say for a B-movie. It’s not so bad it’s good. It’s actually good enough to be surprising. The titular mummy’s presence is made known from the beginning (with humorous definition title cards setting the mood), but he doesn’t make an appearance until late in the game. Instead, we end up opening in on the aged Presley, watching his roommate die without a real drive, nor a real ability to do anything. Life merely flashes by him, as he sits in his cot.

With so much time on his hands now, the first major segment of the picture is dedicated to him reminiscing about what went wrong. This is the man who was ‘The King’. But he lost that peak in his life way before his supposed death. He’s got nothing left to him, nobody remembers him, the price of not wanting to burn out in the rock and roll life. It’s not much different from the treatment of his fellow nursing home residents, but their senility leads them to become oblivious (possibly on purpose). Elvis is the only one who has to deal with his existential dilemma, the fact and the embarrassment.

Bruce Campbell’s real acting chops come into focus at this picture’s first act, having him deal with the patronizing staff members who will only pretend to care, but in reality are just waiting for him and the other people in the home to die. He provides a believable and outright sympathetic Elvis Presley in his final agonizing years, no longer a legend but just a faded glory. However, the writing talent in the picture is sparked by a plot device that’s just as important and metaphoric in the film’s context as it is trashy in any other context: Elvis’ penis, which shares the same put-down qualities as Elvis himself at this state.

For this reason, Bubba Ho-Tep is one of those movie rarities that are hard to categorize into a single genre. A drama? Well, it doesn’t take center-fold. A comedy? It’s more subtle in that, even despite the ramblings of the elder characters. In essence, it depends on how you as an audience view the characters’ situations that defines the picture’s genre. A horror? Not until the second half really…

At this point, the victims become more apparent as they succumb to the ancient monster, only given the nomiker of ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’ by Elvis. Only ‘Jack’ seems to really have an idea of what the residents are facing. And the two protagonists band together to regain some of their old glory and die with their lost dignity, rescuing the souls of the deceased and defending the souls of the living.

Campbell and Davis’ chemistry make this picture a sure bait for anyone not buying the quirky plot, while the direction and special effects are low budget, which are definitely impressive for what they are, Coscarelli being the low-budget master he is. However, they both unfortunately date the movie a bit. The real call of the picture (other than Campbell’s spot-on performance – unusually without the camp and more stocked up on the sincerity) is Joe Lansdale script, a provision of a buddy monster picture that is surprisingly sincere and poignant despite it’s unconventional plot. The dialogue is hilarious without being of a showy sort, most of it bolstered Davis’ delivery.

I really wish I could be more detailed with my favorite scenes, but I refuse to in the sense of recommending this picture with a 9/10. For its few flaws, it still shines as a gem of a picture.

On a final note: I stuck around watching the credits in the dark and when it came to the copyright policy, I saw (probably in a tongue-in-cheek nod to Phantasm) the clause threatened criminal prosecution and the wrath of Bubba Ho-Tep. My eyes widened…

… I was watching a pirated copy. I apologize, Coscarelli, if you read this. I have myself purchased previously a DVD copy of Phantasm and a VHS copy of Phantasm II legitimately and intend to buy this movie now (having deleted my pirated file). Please don’t set neither Bubba Ho-Tep or The Tall Man on me.

What would the King do? Bribe you with a Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich.
 
Also, adding Reggie Bannister to a picture has my vote.