Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Screenwriter is One!

Yes, indeed. It’s been a year of fuming about 3-D, speculating on the Oscars, compiling best-of lists, giving out about re-makes, speculating on the Oscars, making fun of Robin Williams, speculating on the Oscars, making fun of Russell Crowe, stomping …

Wed, Oct 6, 2010, 19:31

   

Yes, indeed. It’s been a year of fuming about 3-D, speculating on the Oscars, compiling best-of lists, giving out about re-makes, speculating on the Oscars, making fun of Robin Williams, speculating on the Oscars, making fun of Russell Crowe, stomping about Cannes and speculating on the Oscars. We’ve been a bit quiet of late, but, don’t worry, it is also very nearly the first anniversary of Screenwriter’s initial Oscar post, so, very shortly, the debate every reader loathes will be up and running again. It’s already into its second act in some places. Check out The Envelope on The Social Network.

Mention of that David Fincher film prompts me to lurch in a dangerous direction. Whenever I make negative criticism of internet charts or ratings, somebody always fumes that I am a fool for expecting any such poll to deliver a definitive measure of quality. I know! I did not — as my mother still says — float up the Lagan on a bubble. But it remains interesting to ponder why such statistics end up as they do.

Ah, yes, The Social Network. The film, which opens next week, is a very cool, very clever, very well acted examination of the tensions surrounding the birth of Facebook. Jesse Eisenberg is genuinely creepy as Mark Zuckerberg, the site’s inventor, and the director’s somewhat varnished style suits the material nicely. But, insofar as one can assess such things, The Social Network does not look much like the best film of the last decade.

The ¬†American reviews have, however, been absurdly ecstatic. A glance at Metacritic confirms that The Social Network has, by that site’s calculations, received the second best notices of any new release since 2001. Only Pan’s Labyrinth rates higher. It’s not even as if Fincher has been a consistent ¬†favourite with American critics. They were (wrongly) quite huffy about Se7en and (rightly) disdainful of the spectacularly childish Fight Club. Mind you, unlike most reviewers on this side of the Atlantic, the US pundits were tolerant of the bum-bustingly boring Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Very strange. Anyway, as few of you will have seen the flick yet, I won’t go on and on about it. Let’s return to the subject next week when The Social Network — a fine film, I stress — makes its way into Irish cinemas.

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