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Watching the reviews come in for The Social Network is like watching Secretariat run that last race. How good will they get? Another 100 scorer. Manohla Dargis closes her review this way:

Mr. Fincher pointedly abandons his smudged browns for a gauzily lighted sequence of the twins rowing at a tony British club that, with the edges of the image blurred and movements slowed, looks like a dream. This is a world of rarefied privilege in which men still wear straw boaters, and royalty blathers within earshot. Mark isn’t invited, not because he’s poor (he isn’t), but because this is a closed, self-reproducing system built on exclusivity and other entitlements, including privacy. (The movie refers to Mark’s being Jewish, and the twins look as if they crewed for the Hitler Youth, but that’s just part of the mix.) Mark doesn’t breach this citadel, he sidesteps it entirely by becoming one of the new information elite for whom data is power and who, depending on your view of the Internet, rallies the online mob behind him.

“The Social Network” takes place in the recognizable here and now, though there are moments when it has the flavor of science fiction (it would make a nice double bill with “The Matrix”) even as it evokes 19th-century narratives of ambition. (“To be young, to have a thirst for society, to be hungry for a woman,” Balzac writes in “Le Père Goriot.”) The movie opens with a couple in a crowded college bar and ends with a man alone in a room repeatedly hitting refresh on his laptop. In between, Mr. Fincher and Mr. Sorkin offer up a creation story for the digital age and something of a morality tale, one driven by desire, marked by triumph, tainted by betrayal and inspired by the new gospel: the geek shall inherit the earth.

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“All Roads lead to ‘The Social Network'”
by Brian Whisenant

Hello again Awards Daily! I am quite happy to be back with you after a great ride covering Tribeca Film Festival. This time around, there is a new beast to conquer, and its name is New York Film Festival.

If you didn’t read my coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival, or if you haven’t been to my blog, I will give you a quick run down of my perspective. Like many of you, I have been a fan of movies and an Oscarwatcher for most of my life. I was basically hooked on the Oscars at age 12 after I accidentally ended up in “Moonstruck” instead of “Police Academy 4.” (My little town of Corinth, Mississippi only had a Twin Cinema, so it was a lot easier than you might think.) That film changed my life. I remember begging the video rental manager a few years later to please PLEASE let this 15 year old rent “The Silence of the Lambs!” I had to know if it deserved to beat “Bugsy!” Anyway, years passed, I became an actor, continued to love film and Oscar and found Oscarwatch.com when I just couldn’t contain my obsession on my own any longer.

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Today I found myself listening to KCRW, our local public radio station, and a show called The Business came on. Kim Masters was at the Toronto Film Festival spending her time with Nigel Cole, the director of Made in Dagenham. Cole was talking about getting noticed at the fest, and film promotion in general. At some point, the title of the film became the point of discussion. As Masters interviewed various people involved with the production and the distribution it came out that the film’s original title was going to be “We Want Sex.”

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From an interview with Allen in the NY Times when asked about trends in his later work compared to the past:

No, it’s too hit or miss. There’s no rhyme or reason to anything that I do. It’s whatever seems right at the time. I’ve never once in my life seen any film of mine after I put it out. Ever. I haven’t seen “Take the Money and Run” since 1968. I haven’t seen “Annie Hall” or “Manhattan” or any film I’ve made afterward. If I’m on the treadmill and I’m scooting through the channels, and I come across one of them, I go right past it instantly, because I feel it could only depress me. I would only feel, “Oh God, this is so awful, if I could only do that again.”

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We’re born alone. We die alone. But in between, we are connected to people.

We are connected to them because we love them. We give birth to them or give birth to us. They call us up to talk on the phone about their problems. They sleep next to us at night. They make us laugh when we buy our coffee from them, or sit next to them on airports.

Some of these connections last a lifetime. Some do not.

Thanks to Facebook, we now have two working definitions of the word “friend” and “like” and “status.” We assign a number to the amount of friends we have gathered like that really means we have more friends. I have something like 720 friends. Does that make me feel less lonely? Does it help me feel like a belong to the human race? Has it changed my life in any significant way?

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Thanks to Hunter for spotting another clip, after the cut.

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In advance of its Telluride premiere, Peter Weir’s epic trek The Way Back has already found a distributor. Deadline says the acquisition is a synergistic deal for Newmarket since Newmarket’s parent company Exclusive Media Group provided financing for the film’s production.

Newmarket previously handled US distribution for Whale Rider, Monster, The Passion of the Christ, Downfall, and The Prestige, so they have experience shepherding provocative material with sophisticated finesse.

Peter Travers, via twitter:

“David Fincher‚Äôs Social Network is the 1st film I’ve given **** in 2010. It‚Äôs the movie of the year that also brilliantly defines the decade.”

(Travers ranks 5th in the unscientific poll we conducted last week, teasing out the top critics to find the “10 Most Influential.”)

*ravelette is to rave as novelette is to novel. I’m claiming coinage rights.

The Guardian posted a world exclusive for the trailer for Another Year. You can watch the high quality version over there. Here is a somewhat lower quality version that just hit YouTube:

Another Year was easily the best and most memorable film I saw out of Cannes.¬† It resonates still after all of these months. The astonishing performance of Lesley Manville is one to keep an eye on, particularly with a lot of fluff and nonsense coming at us lately. It’s one thing to be youthful and alluring. It’s a whole other thing to deliver a full spectrum performance like Manville does. In other word, step aside, bitches.

It is a subtle film in many ways, and there are going to be people who watch it and fail to connect because they’re looking for a big bang, or an easy answer. But this film is probably the best I’ve seen to illuminate the meaning of life. The meaning of life? Other people. The point of life? Living for others, not for yourself. And if you can make it through another year you’re already a winner.


Scott Foundas steps forward with a hugely enthusiastic review for The Social Network in Film Comment.

This is very rich material for a movie on such timeless subjects as power and privilege, and such intrinsically 21st-century ones as the migration of society itself from the real to the virtual sphere—and David Fincher’s The Social Network is big and brash and brilliant enough to encompass them all. It is nominally the story of the founding of Facebook, yes, and how something that began among friends quickly descended into acrimony and litigation once billions of dollars were at stake. But just as All the President’s Men—a seminal film for Fincher and a huge influence on his Zodiac—was less interested by the Watergate case than by its zeitgeist-altering ripples, so too is The Social Network devoted to larger patterns of meaning. It is a movie that sees how any social microcosm, if viewed from the proper angle, is no different from another—thus the seemingly hermetic codes of Harvard University become the foundation for a global online community that is itself but a reflection of the all-encompassing high-school cafeteria from which we can never escape. And it owes something to The Great Gatsby, too, in its portrait of a self-made outsider marking his territory in the WASP jungle.

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A smaller cropped and grainier version of this shot appeared in this week’s Fall Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly. slashfilm has delivered a high-res version that’s worth swiping and posting.

The New York Film Fest will open with the Social Network and close with Hereafter, thus putting them front and center in the 2010 Oscar race. Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours will close the London Film Fest, it was recently announced.

From Indiewire:

“Hereafter”‘s NYC premiere marks Eastwoods’s fourth visit to the New York Film Festival. Eastwood’s film, from a script by Peter Morgan (“The Queen”), tracks the lives of three people who are haunted by mortality in different ways.

“As so beautifully evident in ‘Hereafter,’ Clint Eastwood continues to make the most daring, provocative films in America,” Richard Peña offered in a statement. “With his returned appearance here in the New York Film Festival, the director has showcased an Opening Night film, a Centerpiece film and now this year’s Closing Night with Hereafter, a hat trick of which we are especially proud.”

Snagged from HE.  Nice to see some real footage.

One more look at James Franco trapped and ready to do what it takes to survive:

From EW:

In 2003, American rock climber Aron Ralston cut off the lower part of his right arm with a dull knife in order to free himself from a fallen boulder in a Utah canyon. His shocking deliberateness saved his life. When Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) first heard Ralston’s story, he started envisioning what he calls ”an action movie where the hero can’t move.”¬†127 Hours ‚Äî out Nov. 5 and starring James Franco as the imperiled mountaineer ‚Äî chronicles the excruciating period of time Ralston spent trapped alone as his panic and desperation mounted. ‚ÄîKaren Valby

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Bringing out the big guns. Ur doin’ it right. According to Deadline‘s early sources. Those numbers should be strong enough to make it the 5th highest opening of 2010. The 3rd highest non-3D opening (right behind Twilight Eclipse at $64 mil). And — as long as we’re slicing and dicing with the Ronco Miracle Blade — might as well parse it one more way and note that Inception is the #1 non-sequel, non-remake, original, made-from-scratch movie of the year.

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For those who’ve already seen Inception in early screenings, please float by to share your feelings. We don’t often devote a topic to an exclusive open forum, but maybe a movie as thought-provoking as Inception could use a meeting place where readers can congregate for coffeehouse conversation. The comments here are likely to be rife with spoilers, so don’t dive in unless you already know whatever there is to know.

[BFCA UPDATE: Thanks to ladylurks for keeping track of the Critic’s Choice rankings of the year’s best reviewed films to date. Here the new line-up for the BFCA’s top 3 narrative feature feature films of 2010, with a more complete list after the cut.]

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Inception’s critical scorecard gets a boost from the last wave of reviews. Count The LA Times‘ Kenneth Turan in tight with the ‘blown away’ team:

Welcome to the world of “Inception,” written and directed by the masterful Christopher Nolan, a tremendously exciting science-fiction thriller that’s as disturbing as it sounds. This is a popular entertainment with a knockout punch so intense and unnerving it’ll have you worrying if it’s safe to close your eyes at night.

Not to belabor a point made again and again over past few days, but one’s enjoyment of the film is clearly connected to one’s ability to keep up with what’s happening. In short, Turan “gets it.”

For “Inception” is not only about the dream state, it often plays on screen in a dreamlike way, which means that it has the gift of being easier to follow than to explain… But even while literal understanding can remain tantilizingly out of reach, you always intuitively understand what is going on and why.

Helping in that understanding, and one of the film’s most satisfying aspects, are its roots in old-fashioned genre entertainment, albeit genre amped up to warp speed. Besides its science-fiction theme, “Inception” also has strong film noir ties, easily recognizable elements like the femme fatale, doomed love and the protagonist’s fateful decision to take on “one last job.”

Likewise, instead of wrestling and fuming in frustration if every bit narrative flair doesn’t immediately click into place, Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post is happy to relax, submit, and be swept up in its thrall:

Rather than trying to game out “Inception” on first viewing, it’s best to let it wash over you, and save the head-scratching and inevitable Talmudic interpretations for later.

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The Playlist and In Contention point us to the new Social Network trailer:

And note the “like” button below. Funny, that.

A couple of days ago we had a back-and-forth in the comments about whether or not a movie not shot with IMAX cameras can deliver an enhanced experience on IMAX screens. Our conclusion was yes — based mostly on wishing and hoping it would be. NolanFans has a clip from an interview with Nolan himself offering some solid assurance on which to hang those hopes. Reason enough to convince me; how about you?


P
ics from set on Flickr — click here for more.

It’s kind of old news now by web standards but it’s worth mentioning that the Social Network will indeed open the New York Film Fest, which runs from September 24 through October 10. ¬†It’s almost worth flying out to New York just to see that. ¬†I like this platform for the film, but this means it won’t be also hitting Toronto.

Writer Aaron Sorkin, it has been announced, will bring back A Few Good Men and The Farnsworth Invention for the Fall Broadway season, again, almost worth flying to New York for.

Although I have the script for the Social Network, I have stopped myself from reading it. ¬†I agree with Christopher Nolan who says that reading scripts spoil the finished product. ¬†I learned my lesson when I read Charlie Wilson’s War, another Sorkin script. ¬†And just because the Social Network is in David Fincher’s capable hands doesn’t mean that reading the script beforehand won’t put a movie in your mind that you can’t erase.

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