Tales From the NY Film Festival / part 3

David Fincher brings the Facebook movie to town for Opening Night

David Fincher's "The Social Network" was one of the best NY Film Fest Opening Night films in years. The dialogue by Aaron Sorkin was so sharp and the direction so fast paced, that there was barely time to catch it all in one sitting (reveal - I saw it twice).  Everyone was buzzing at the premiere screening about it being a perfect way to start off the two week festival. Expectations were high for Fincher, director of "Zodiac" and "Fight Club", especially given all the press and no comments from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Not only did this movie make a perfect landing in the Zeitgeist of 2010, it also made a perfect landing in the Zeitgeist of this year's Festival. I rarely say that my favorite film of the Festival is also the top movie at the box office two weeks running. 

David Fincher
Aaron Sorkin

And yet, talking about the film with friends in the city this week, I am surprised to find that people are avoiding seeing it because they don't like Facebook, or don't anticipate it being anything but a Hollywood knockoff. The price of success? This film starts off so quickly, with such a knockout opening sequence, that there's barely time for the film company's logo to appear on the screen before the dialogue rolls up on the soundtrack. Fincher talked about it at a special Festival dialogue - how he worked the actors - Jesse Eisenberg and Rooney Mara - until they could play a 15 minute scene in 3 minutes naturally. In fact he said, the only way he would have "final cut" was if he brought the film in under 2 hours and 7 minutes. So it moves fast. And it is, in its own way, a film as classically constructed as any Hepburn and Tracy film of the 40's. It's subject matter is not really Facebook, but a classical playing out of human relationships under the pressures of ambition.   Jesse Eisenberg is pitch perfect as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, or at least the Mark Zuckerberg of Sorkin's script. Andrew Garfield, the next Spiderman, is also splendidly sad as Zuckerberg's spurned business partner Edwardo Severin. And alright, Justin Timberlake does a very good job as Napster founder and master manipulator Sean Parker. 

Jesse Eisenberg
Justin Timberlake

So Opening Night was an unqualified success, and the Festival was off to a great start. The party was at the Harvard Club in midtown - that was a little weird, until I remembered it was a film that took place at Harvard - duh. It was an elegant but cavernous space, and very crowded. I couldn't locate Justin Timberlake to get his photo. But I did find most of the other players while they were still "Social,  and digitized them before they headed out into the night. 

producer Scott Rudin with writer Aaron Sorkin
David Fincher with Gina Gershon
Andrew Garfield
Jesse Eisenberg
actress Brenda Song with fans outside the theater