Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Facebook Movie

The Social Network is a little like nesting dolls, or so I thought at first - but this doesn't seem right because I can't be certain as to which particular film-layer masks or is masked the others.  Is it a Sorkin film?  Is it Fincher's?  (Columbia is the author for all legal purposes.)  Less a bunch of nesting dolls, then, and more like a multi-faceted set of optical illusions.  What, also, is this movie about?  "Human connection," Facebook specifically, the rise of a network more generically, a Will Hunting story minus the uplift, Harvard & Silicon Valley social life?  (An aside - Harvard's Kirkland House is presided over by Tom Conley, a great critic and scholar of cinema.)   In this respect, one can hardly pinpoint an origin to David Fincher but one can say, perhaps, that this is the kind of story - narrative resolution inconsequential, diffuse social reference & meaning - with which Fincher has spent the last decade thriving.

4 comments:

edo said...

I think it resembles ZODIAC in that respect, but THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON ends with some sort of resolution and doesn't really have any diffuse social meanings. And PANIC ROOM is a veritable exercise in convention, albeit it a very thrilling one.

This is going to sound like auteurist claptrap, but I think Fincher resides in the form of the thing. The film looks, feels, and flows in a way that is uniquely his own.

Zach Campbell said...

Thanks for the comment, Edo. Yeah, I admit I still haven't caught up to Benjamin Button so maybe that's a sloppy oversight - but I do think that Panic Room, whose ending is implied, alluded to, more than shown (and we don't see much in the way of aftermath, do we?) seems to me to end in a 'Fincher-esque' way. But yes, definitely that film is a genre exercise through and through - and a very thrilling (and I think smart) one.

I think that Se7en, The Game, and Fight Club (can't remember Alien 3 very well) have big reveals of some kind written into the script, but what has intrigued me as I've watched these earlier Fincher movies at various points in my life is how they still "feel" messy, unresolved ... it's a tension that I think Fincher, as a director, is drawn toward and which I think that (as he's gotten more clout?) he's been able to work on projects that allow this feeling to grow.

edo said...

I think what you're putting your finger on is the sense of haunt in his work that is often the result of an inadequacy of the story resolution. I don't think it's that there is no resolution, but often the resolution fails to resolve what is really wrong in the world.

ALIEN 3 may be a different case, but perhaps there's something of this haunt in the fact that the only way to defeat evil in the film involves suicide. In SEVEN, there's the sense that John Doe's scheme exerts supernatural control over every happening. THE GAME and FIGHT CLUB are similar. CRS controls the world in the former. Tyler Durden in the latter.

I think it's only in the last three films, ZODIAC, BENJAMIN BUTTON, and THE SOCIAL NETWORK where this quality comes to full fruition. It's no longer tied to plot gimmicks or supermen, but seems to permeate reality and touch everything.

Zach Campbell said...

That's a convincing breakdown - I'll buy it!