Sunday, August 7, 2011

More thoughts on something Spike Lee said.

I rented The Social Network this week. I gave it a lukewarm review last year seeing it in the theater. I liked it more on second viewing. Drama should be about a character having an arc. Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) doesn't have much of an arc. He starts as an asshole. He ends up as an asshole. It helps if you see him as a storm that propels the story. Other characters do have arcs, most notably the second lead character Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield).

The screenplay is by Aaron Sorkin. He is best known for the quick back-and-forth dialogue style of his hit show The West Wing. Conversations are like tennis matches. The movie opens with such a conversation between Mark and Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). Mark is obsessed about status and very rude to her. She dumps him by the end of the scene. Her final line is "I don't want you to think women are not going to like you because you are a nerd. Women are not going to like you because you are an asshole."

She has a much shorter second scene in the middle of the movie. Mark sees her dining with friends in a restaurant. He goes up to her and asks if he can talk to her alone. She refuses. Both of these rejections are seen as creative fuel for Zuckerberg.

Mara's next role will be much larger. The Social Network's director David Fincher has cast her as the protagonist Lisbeth Salander in the American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I saw the original Danish film version. People think of the book as being all arty and stuff. I thought it was a rape revenge story and the other two books were much the same. I'm not likely see the American versions.

Putting my opinions aside, there is a worldwide cult of Lisbeth Salander fans nearly as headstrong as the fans of Harry Potter or the Twilight series. The chorus of disapproval was long and loud when Ms. Mara was cast. She was too pretty. She wasn't tough enough. Lisbeth is supposed to be 4'11" and Ms. Mara has the nerve to be 5'3" in real life.

I did not hear this quibble about the 5'4" Noomi Rapace, the star of the Danish version. There may have been a similar firestorm in Europe when the first version was made. I wasn't paying attention to it. Most Americans knew nothing about her before this film, so there were no pre-conceived notions of what she was capable of doing. I'm no stranger to this feeling. Seeing a good movie with a cast unknown to me makes the willing suspension of disbelief much easier.

The title of this post mentions Spike Lee. He isn't making this movie. I brought him up because of his quote about actors which I used last month on this blog. Spike said, “You’re out there buck-naked and that is hard. (This is) the reason why actors are fucked up; can you imagine having a job where someone is, ‘No, no, no. Your butt's too big, your head's too big, you're too skinny, your nose is too big?’”

We are supposed to covet fame and fortune. The fortune part I understand. The desirability of fame eludes me.


sfmike said...

Dear Matty Matt: You're a liar. You're doing this blog for fame, not fortune.

By the way, the Girl Who Kicked The Ass of Everyone While Being 4'11" is meant to be something of a mythical character, a la the Count of Monte Cristo, which is why she has been embraced so strongly by readers. The Count of Monte Cristo is also a Revenge for Rape and Imprisonment Saga, with lots of subsidiary characters, subplots and lurid contemporary (early 19th century) details. I enjoyed reading both series, by the way, but the Dumas version is better.

Matty Boy said...

Dear Michael: You have a point. I'm doing this for the much less virulent strain of Internet Writer Fame.

And I'm failing at it, which makes it noble, I guess.