Cinepub


Review: Catfish by Jamie

I thought long and hard about whether or not to make this review spoiler free or not and, in the end, I came to the conclusion that not mentioning spoilers would make this film particularly difficult to write about so yes, there will be spoilers in this review. Due to the nature of this film I would heartily suggest that you go and watch the film before reading further. To make sure that you don’t accidentally read anything that will spoil the film for you, I’ll place a video underneath this paragraph.

Hahaha, that never gets old. Yes, there’s nothing quite as funny as a chimp sexually violating a frog. It’s true what they say, they’re so like us. Anyway, on with Catfish then. I assume that we’re all finally on the same page here, all having watched the film. If you decided to read on anyway without watching the film then I guess that’s up to you. I can’t stop you.

The film begins in New York when professional photographer Nev Schulman receives a painting of one of his pictures from Abby Pierce, an eight year old from Michigan. Nev begins an online friendship with Abby and, by exension, Abby’s family including Abby’s mother, Angela, Abby’s brother Joel and Abby’s older half-sister Megan who Nev takes quite a shine to as they chat online and via phone calls.

Nev’s brother Ariel and his friend Henry Joost begin documenting Nev’s relationship with the family, in particular his developing romance with Megan. It turns out that Abby isn’t the only artiste in the family and that Megan herself is quite the proficient dancer and prolific songwriter. She sends him copies of songs she has recorded and he is quite impressed. Impressed, that is, until he finds that the songs have pretty much been taking from YouTube videos. This leads to the guys investigating some of the other claims the family have made.

For example, Megan had claimed that they had purchased a gallery in order to hold shows for Abby’s work and had sent them pictures of the building. Through some online sleuthing they discover that the building is actually an old JC Penney’s which is actually still up for sale. Determined to find out the truth behind the story of the family, the filmmakers decide to head out to Michigan to confront the family.

The first place they head to is a horse ranch which Megan supposedly owns in the middle of the night, which actually turns out to be quite a creepy scene. Upon arriving they find that find that no one is there and there is certainly no sign of any horses. Furthermore an investigation of the mailbox reveals that it’s full of postcards which Nev had sent Megan on his travels proving once and for all that the British door-based letter slot is far superior than the American mailbox system.

The next morning the three guys decide to just show up at the family’s house. There they find that Angela and her husband doesn’t look anything like their Facebook pictures, Abby isn’t an artist, Megan is no where to be found and Angela is in fact a housewife who cares for two disabled sons and is the actual person behind the paintings. The filmmakers come to the conclusion that it is Angela who has essentially fabricated an entire life on Facebook, creating fictional profiles for a large network of family and friends and that she is, in fact, in love with Nev

Nev eventually gently confronts Angela about all this and the truth finally comes out. The last half hour or so of the film is spent basically interviewing Angela and her family in order to try and get some kind of handle of just who she is. It’s revealed through these interviews that she basically carried out the lie in order to vicariously experience a life she had given up on in order to have the family she has now. During most of her interviews, Angela is seen making a sketch of Nev. When everything is all over Nev returns to New York where he finally receives Angela‘s portrait of himself.

So yeah, that’s basically the film. And it’s a well told story with many interesting turns and twists and you never really lose interest but by far the biggest question surrounding this film is it’s veracity. Are the events pictured real or is it all an elaborate hoax. It does seem as though things play out so nicely that it’s almost unbelievable but I’ve let documentaries slide for that before, the fantastic ‘King of Kong’ being a good example.

Still, there’s something else that just drives me to believe that the whole thing is fabricated and that’s the way people speak, especially the three filmmakers. It just seems to me as though they are saying things that they had planned out and trying to make it sound natural. I’ll admit this could be simply due to the presence of a camera. I’ve seen people just talking about stuff and coming off completely differently simply because they are being filmed. Still, these guys just come off so unnatural to me that I have a hard time believing that the film is a true documentary.

There’s also a scene where they’re talking about chickens and apparently none of them knew that chickens lay one egg a day. Really? Are you shitting me? Who the fuck doesn’t know that? I know that they live in New York but surely they must have learnt that at some point in their lives. The whole thing, again, comes of as something written that they thought would be a wacky little conversation because seriously, I refuse to believe that there’s anyone who has heard of chickens that doesn’t know that they lay an egg a day. I mean Jesus fucking Christ!

Ahem. Whether or not the film is real there are a couple things that just rubbed me up the wrong way. The first is the unrepentant douchebaggery of the three main characters. They just seem so smug to me that I just found them genuinely annoying and I was kinda glad that they’d been played for fools. The second thing is the style of the film. Something about how heavily it relied on the internet imagery pissed me off as well. Yes, I understand it’s a documentary about people meeting and forming relationships over the internet but do I really need to see Google Maps every time they go travelling? And I swear this film had showed Facebook more fucking times than ‘The Social Network’ did. It just seemed as though they were saying “Look! The internet exists and we’re using it a lot in our movie! Aren’t we current and up to date!” It just irritated the hell out of me and I realise that’s more my problem than the films but still.

Despite these flaws, it is a interesting story, true or not, about the perils of relationships with strangers over the internet and one which is certainly relevant right now what with the release of ‘The Social Network’ and Mark Zuckerberg being name ‘Times’ man of the year. Yes, 2010 was the year of Facebook and ‘Catfish’ is another part of that. Overall I’ll give it 3 out of 5.



Review: The Social Network by Jamie

Some small spoilers but I’ve tried to keep it relatively spoiler free, nothing that isn’t really obvious from watching the first third of the film or so.

Facebook has irrevocably changed the way human beings interact, either for the worse or the better. It’s hard to tell which. It ensures that we can stay in touch with old friends who it’d just be difficult to keep in touch with otherwise but then there’s always the odd report of a paedophile setting up a group so they can get pictures of kids. Whether true or not (and I tend to lean towards not because it’s my experience that the internet creates the ultimate herd mind, a mass organism that has all of it’s fight or flight instincts multiplied by billions compared to that which you’d experience in a single human being. If you don’t understand then just ask Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black), these reports certainly help to bring into question just how good of a thing Facebook is. But rarely is the question asked How is Facebook? The reason that that question is rarely asked is because it’s poorly worded. A better question would be where did Facebook come from? And that just so happens to be the subject of this film ‘The Social Network’.

Now I remember when their was first talk of this film being made and everyone, including myself, were basically saying “A film about Facebook? That’s fucking retarded! Who the hell’s gonna see that?” It didn’t matter that David Fincher was directing or that Aaron Sorkin was writing. It just seemed like a film about a website was a really stupid idea. And on reflection it would be a really stupid idea if that website wasn’t Facebook. The reason that Facebook is the exception is, as I stated, it is a world changing thing but more importantly it’s the way in which the website came to be that is fascinating.

Still, even knowing that the movie was about the complicated relationships behind Facebook, I wasn’t completely sold. The trailer pissed me off a little. What with the whole choir version of Radio head’s “Creep” it just seemed so pretentious and so self-important for a film about the founding of a website. Still, I had thought the same thing about the trailer for ‘Frost/Nixon’ and that ended up being a film that I really loved. The proof I decided would be in the pudding and, as it turned out, what a fucking awesome pudding.

From the opening film where Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg) was having a war of words with his girlfriend to the films final resolution, I was fucking hooked. The story is twisty and turny, filled with betrayal and intrigue. It’s hard for me to even begin this review.

Ok, so the basic plot is Mark Zuckerberg breaks up with his girlfriend, hacks Harvard’s computer network and creates Facesmash, a website that allows people to compare girls at the university whilst blogging nasty things about his ex. The website goes viral and within a few hours, Zuckerberg has managed to crash the entire Harvard network. He is reprimanded by the school but his actions gain the attention of the Winklevoss twins (Arnie Hammer) and Divaya Narendra (Max Minghella) who approach him with an idea for a new social network, completely exclusive to Harvard, allowing friends to share photos and keep in touch and that kind of thing. Zuckerberg agrees to help them.

As he’s working on the site, however, he comes up with his own idea. It’s similar to their idea but greatly improved allowing for greater user participation and a wider range of features. He calls it ‘The Facebook’ and launches it with the financial aid of his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) who becomes the manager of the business side of The Facebook. Eventually the website expands beyond the grounds of Harvard which attracts the attention of another internet pioneer, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) the creator of Napster who finds himself having fallen on hard times due to being sued by pretty much everyone in the music industry. It’s here when things really start to expand and soon everyone is rich.

Of course the Winklevoss twins and Narenda haven’t exactly been too pleased with all this as they feel that Zuckerberg basically just stole their idea. Finding no help from Harvard’s higher ups, they send a cease and desist letter and pretty much leave it at that as one of the twins is really reluctant to sue. That is until they find out Facebook has spread all the way to England. Then it’s litigation time.

Meanwhile Zuckberberg basically screws over Saverin who also decides to sue him and Zuckerberg suddenly finds himself fighing two cases.

It’s these trials that are basically the framework of the film with all the other stuff provided as flashbacks. It’s handled really well all though the first time the film left one trial only for the flashback to end in another I was a little confused though it didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. It’s a really interesting way for this film to play out especially if, like me, you haven’t read the book it was based on ‘The Accidental Billionaires’. You know that Zuckerberg is gonna screw over the twins and Narendra, at least from their point of view, and it’s fairly obvious how but you can’t figure out just how he’s going to screw over Eduardo who, to be honest, seems like the only real friend that Zuckerberg has due to his… somewhat abrasive personality.

So yes, it’s time to talk about Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. Well, for years the standard joke has been that Eisenberg is basically the guy you get in your film if you can’t get Michael Cera but in ‘The Social Network’ he really shines. I honestly couldn’t see Michael Cera pulling this off. The way he portrays Zuckerberg as this arrogant, selfish, self-centered… Hell, basically sociopathic individual that for some reason you still feel something for is amazing.

Hell everyone’s amazing in this film. Andrew Garfield stands out as poor Eduardo who sticks with Zuckerberg through everything despite his personality and is ultimately discarded. In fact the scene when he is finally just screwed over by his best friends is one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve seen since maybe Toy Story 3. I didn’t cry this time but I think I was actually close.

Even Justin Timberlake surprised me as Parker, again someone who, like Zuckerberg, should be truly, truly unlikeable but there’s something about him that just you just can’t fully hate him. Oh, you can hate him more than Zuckerberg but still there’s something just kinda likeable beneath all of his doucehbaggery.

Fuck, everything in this film was great. The plot and the way it unfolded, the score by Trent Reznor, the way Eisenberg handled the quick, snappy dialogue, the fact that one guy is playing both twins and you would swear that, no, they must’ve just cast twin…. Everything. Go see this movei. Drop whatever it is you’re doing right now and go see it.

On top of everything else there is a personal investment in this story. We all use Facebook. That’s just the way life is now and to see it’s origins and to see how it spread and became this major force in our lives, well, it’s just incredible. See it. Five pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: The Social Network by Jamie

Some small spoilers but I’ve tried to keep it relatively spoiler free, nothing that isn’t really obvious from watching the first third of the film or so.

Facebook has irrevocably changed the way human beings interact, either for the worse or the better. It’s hard to tell which. It ensures that we can stay in touch with old friends who it’d just be difficult to keep in touch with otherwise but then there’s always the odd report of a paedophile setting up a group so they can get pictures of kids. Whether true or not (and I tend to lean towards not because it’s my experience that the internet creates the ultimate herd mind, a mass organism that has all of it’s fight or flight instincts multiplied by billions compared to that which you’d experience in a single human being. If you don’t understand then just ask Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black), these reports certainly help to bring into question just how good of a thing Facebook is. But rarely is the question asked How is Facebook? The reason that that question is rarely asked is because it’s poorly worded. A better question would be where did Facebook come from? And that just so happens to be the subject of this film ‘The Social Network’.

Now I remember when their was first talk of this film being made and everyone, including myself, were basically saying “A film about Facebook? That’s fucking retarded! Who the hell’s gonna see that?” It didn’t matter that David Fincher was directing or that Aaron Sorkin was writing. It just seemed like a film about a website was a really stupid idea. And on reflection it would be a really stupid idea if that website wasn’t Facebook. The reason that Facebook is the exception is, as I stated, it is a world changing thing but more importantly it’s the way in which the website came to be that is fascinating.

Still, even knowing that the movie was about the complicated relationships behind Facebook, I wasn’t completely sold. The trailer pissed me off a little. What with the whole choir version of Radio head’s “Creep” it just seemed so pretentious and so self-important for a film about the founding of a website. Still, I had thought the same thing about the trailer for ‘Frost/Nixon’ and that ended up being a film that I really loved. The proof I decided would be in the pudding and, as it turned out, what a fucking awesome pudding.

From the opening film where Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg) was having a war of words with his girlfriend to the films final resolution, I was fucking hooked. The story is twisty and turny, filled with betrayal and intrigue. It’s hard for me to even begin this review.

Ok, so the basic plot is Mark Zuckerberg breaks up with his girlfriend, hacks Harvard’s computer network and creates Facesmash, a website that allows people to compare girls at the university whilst blogging nasty things about his ex. The website goes viral and within a few hours, Zuckerberg has managed to crash the entire Harvard network. He is reprimanded by the school but his actions gain the attention of the Winklevoss twins (Arnie Hammer) and Divaya Narendra (Max Minghella) who approach him with an idea for a new social network, completely exclusive to Harvard, allowing friends to share photos and keep in touch and that kind of thing. Zuckerberg agrees to help them.

As he’s working on the site, however, he comes up with his own idea. It’s similar to their idea but greatly improved allowing for greater user participation and a wider range of features. He calls it ‘The Facebook’ and launches it with the financial aid of his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) who becomes the manager of the business side of The Facebook. Eventually the website expands beyond the grounds of Harvard which attracts the attention of another internet pioneer, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) the creator of Napster who finds himself having fallen on hard times due to being sued by pretty much everyone in the music industry. It’s here when things really start to expand and soon everyone is rich.

Of course the Winklevoss twins and Narenda haven’t exactly been too pleased with all this as they feel that Zuckerberg basically just stole their idea. Finding no help from Harvard’s higher ups, they send a cease and desist letter and pretty much leave it at that as one of the twins is really reluctant to sue. That is until they find out Facebook has spread all the way to England. Then it’s litigation time.

Meanwhile Zuckberberg basically screws over Saverin who also decides to sue him and Zuckerberg suddenly finds himself fighing two cases.

It’s these trials that are basically the framework of the film with all the other stuff provided as flashbacks. It’s handled really well all though the first time the film left one trial only for the flashback to end in another I was a little confused though it didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. It’s a really interesting way for this film to play out especially if, like me, you haven’t read the book it was based on ‘The Accidental Billionaires’. You know that Zuckerberg is gonna screw over the twins and Narendra, at least from their point of view, and it’s fairly obvious how but you can’t figure out just how he’s going to screw over Eduardo who, to be honest, seems like the only real friend that Zuckerberg has due to his… somewhat abrasive personality.

So yes, it’s time to talk about Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. Well, for years the standard joke has been that Eisenberg is basically the guy you get in your film if you can’t get Michael Cera but in ‘The Social Network’ he really shines. I honestly couldn’t see Michael Cera pulling this off. The way he portrays Zuckerberg as this arrogant, selfish, self-centered… Hell, basically sociopathic individual that for some reason you still feel something for is amazing.

Hell everyone’s amazing in this film. Andrew Garfield stands out as poor Eduardo who sticks with Zuckerberg through everything despite his personality and is ultimately discarded. In fact the scene when he is finally just screwed over by his best friends is one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve seen since maybe Toy Story 3. I didn’t cry this time but I think I was actually close.

Even Justin Timberlake surprised me as Parker, again someone who, like Zuckerberg, should be truly, truly unlikeable but there’s something about him that just you just can’t fully hate him. Oh, you can hate him more than Zuckerberg but still there’s something just kinda likeable beneath all of his doucehbaggery.

Fuck, everything in this film was great. The plot and the way it unfolded, the score by Trent Reznor, the way Eisenberg handled the quick, snappy dialogue, the fact that one guy is playing both twins and you would swear that, no, they must’ve just cast twin…. Everything. Go see this movei. Drop whatever it is you’re doing right now and go see it.

On top of everything else there is a personal investment in this story. We all use Facebook. That’s just the way life is now and to see it’s origins and to see how it spread and became this major force in our lives, well, it’s just incredible. See it. Five pints out of five. Laterz.




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