I’ve been trying to concentrate on only featuring trailers for scrappier, under-the-radar releases; but really I want to be able to point friends in the direction of anything that looks excellent. So, despite its oversaturation, here’s the trailer for Fincher’s The Social Network.
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Why does the film look so excellent? First you’ve got Fincher at the helm. His name alone will get me in the theatre opening weekend. I can forgive him for generic studio fare like The Panic Room and the flawed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And I’m actually in the minority who found a good many things to like about his debut Alien3. But the number of masterpieces the man has made? Se7en. Fight Club. The Game. Zodiac. And after this he’s onto the American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Having read the book and seen Niels Arden Oplev’s very good Swedish film, I think Fincher is going to top it.
In watching the trailer you get a glimpse at how Facebook has genuinely changed the social landscape. People have used it to get back in touch with friends from periods spanning the entirety of their lives, going back to early childhood. Credit where credit is due; Friendster and Myspace never had that kind of cultural significance. Just as featured in the trailer, you can watch as not-often seen friends find a long-term relationship, get married, have kids, all through status updates and changing pictures. I think it’s possible to say that it has actually changed the world and the way people think and relate to each other. And the film hits while Facebook is at its probable peak.
The cast is headed by Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. Eisenberg is limited as an actor in certain ways; he can’t seem to escape a certain amount of glibness and emotional disconnect. But here that looks to serve the character of Zuckerberg, and Fincher is absolutely the kind of director who can work with an actor to turn up their natural proclivities to eleven. Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg may end up being one of the pinnacles of his career. He may be too young and not have the right kind of career behind him to get an Oscar nomination this year, nor may this be the kind of film to get that sort of recognition if its audience skews young, but I think the work is going to be on a level of which Eisenberg didn’t even know he was capable. His final lines in the trailer reveals an obnoxiousness, arrogance, and confidence that I know I’ve personally seen in the kind of brilliant douchebags who often end up running empires.
The central triumvirate is completed by Andrew Garfield as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and Justin Timberlake as Napster co-founder and Facebook advisor Sean Parker. Garfield, an amazing young actor who can be seen in Boy A, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (in which he acts circles around Heath Ledger’s final performance), Red Riding Trilogy: 1974, and the upcoming Never Let Me Go, was recently brilliantly cast as the next Spider-Man in the franchise reboot. And Timberlake, who has been slowly growing as an actor in indie films over the past several years, should really flourish under Fincher’s direction, taking a huge jump forward in his already respectable and constantly progressing abilities with a performance that finds new levels. The very strong young ensemble also includes the likes of Rooney Mara, Rashida Jones, Max Minghella, and Joseph Mazzello. Rooney Mara must have done an excellent job because Fincher just cast her in the much-coveted role of Lisbeth Salander in his upcoming The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo adaptation.
In fact, with last year’s addition of five more best picture nominations, to the category for a grand total of ten, I think The Social Network getting one is probably going to be a lock; there simply haven’t been that many excellent films this year, and certainly not Hollywood releases. Who, besides me, has seen The Yellow Handkerchief, Easier With Practice, Chloe, or the three films that comprise The Red Riding Trilogy? I’d include The Kids Are All Right on that list, but some people have actually gone to see that one, and it may fare a bit better and get the indie vote, though it certainly didn’t do the business of Little Miss Sunshine or Juno.
But I’m not sure how The Social Network being nominated for Best Film is going to translate to its chances across the board, or for its younger cast to be recognized. On the surface, it’s not the kind of film that screams “Oscar contender,” and despite the way Facebook has changed a generation, that may not be a part of the world of a lot of the older Academy voters. And it’s Fincher’s first non-sci-fi or non-thriller. Even The Panic Room, while somewhat generic, was a thriller, and I’d include Fight Club on that list due to its narrative structure, heightened stylization, and thriller-like plot elements. Benjamin Button, while dramatic, had certain fantasy elements to it and featured a hell of a lot of special effects and CGI. So this is, in essence, the first time Fincher has done straight drama. But I think if the dice fall right and Fincher has directed the hell out of it, as it looks like he has, there’s a very good chance The Social Network may join Inception as the most talked-about movie of the year, whether is has any chance of sweeping the Oscars or not.
A quick note on Never Let Me Go, which stars the aforementioned Andrew Garfield, along with Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley, and hits theaters in limited release on September 15th. I wanted to post the trailer for Mark Romanek’s extremely promising adaptation of the poetic and beautiful Kazuo Ishigiro novel. Both Garfield and Mulligan look to be amazing in it, and much like Eisenberg in The Social Network, the combination of character and material could very likely be a career high note for Knightley. But having seen the trailer after having read the book (which I would recommend), the trailer really just reveals too much, and I don’t think anyone should watch it before going to see the film. So I’d say to put the mid-September release date on your calendar, but try to avoid the trailer.
And finally, a note on Fincher’s upcoming The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. He may not have the quintessentially cast Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander, but he did an excellent job of avoiding saddling himself with a Hollywood starlet like Natalie Portman or Anne Hathaway, who were both talked-about for the role and can both sometimes be very solid actresses, but would have nevertheless ruined the film with their recognizability. Salander is the kind of role that requires the casting of a relative unknown who can disappear into the part, and doesn’t bring along any publicly-recognized celebrity that would compromise, and in this case destroy, the character. Fincher has finally cast Rooney Mara in the role, who appears in The Social Network and can be seen briefly in the trailer crying. That’s about the best casting for Salander you’re going to find in a Hollywood version, and it’s smart for several reasons: she’s a talented up-and-comer, she seems to genuinely have “the goods,” and she’s already worked with Fincher before. On top of that, Fincher has also perfectly cast Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist, Robin Wright as Erika Berger, and Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vanger. Hopefully he’ll get Max Von Sydowon board for Henrik Vanger. So The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is shaping up to be another likely masterpiece, and it’s great to see Fincher working steadily again after a 5-year hiatus in the early-mid 2000’s while he struggled through a lot of aborted film projects and some very serious health issues.