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Oct 4, 2010

Fletch's Film Review: The Social Network, Catfish

"What came first, the chicken or the egg? I ate the chicken, and then I ate his leg."

That particular sentiment doesn't really have all that much to do with either The Social Network or Catfish, but something about it seems to encompass the two films together, and besides, how many opportunities do you really get to shoehorn random Beastie Boys lyrics into a dual movie review? Anyway...

It's a bit serendipitous that these two films should happen to be in theaters at the same time (or is it?) - the former telling the tale of the genesis of Facebook, the latter demonstrating how it (and other forms on online media) have shaped our world and perceptions of it over the last 15 years. But when boiled down to their essence, both are really about the same thing: what drives us online in the first place? What is our motivation for creating and cultivating personas in a virtual world, particularly when it's at the expense of our tangible one?

It's somewhat sadly predictable, then, that the answer is the same. It's a common answer for internet-based stories, and really for any geek-themed story, of which these most certainly qualify: the desire for power. The part where it's not sad - where the story changes - is the manifestation of that power, as it can have many meanings. The quasi-non-fictional (or is it quasi-fictional?) Mark Zuckerberg might long for many things, but in the end, The Social Network is no different from Sex Drive or Superbad or countless other teen comedy romps - Zuckerberg wants chicks, man, and he'll stop at nothing to gain the money, fame, and influence needed to get them to desire him. He may be a genius, but as we've learned from a thousand ugly duckling tales, that's just not enough - or at least it wasn't enough for him.

The makers of Catfish don't want me to talk about their film. Really, it says so right on their website ("Don't let anyone tell you what it is"). They have good reason. It is purported to be a straight-up documentary, and for the most part plays as one, but don't let anyone fool you - it's residence in theaters at present is due to two large factors: 1) its connection and proximity to The Social Network, and 2) it's Blair Witch-like marketing ploy.

I won't tell you "what it is," but I'll tell you this: it doesn't matter. With or without marketing gimmicks, Catfish is an important film for our times. The parties involved may not end up with billions of dollars or fame and adulation, but they too are after their own little slice of power, and the lengths that they go to get that slice make Zuckerberg look like a Boy Scout.

Additionally, Catfish brings to us a brilliant kinetic and frenetic flair that I've not before seen in film, truly employing the tools of our modern time to push the story forward. Sure, it might be heavy product placement for Google Earth, but not since my initial viewing of Raiders of the Lost Ark have I been as impressed with the illustration of travel as it's demonstrated by Catfish. Brilliant.

The Social Network
Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"It's in the hole!"
Reality:
"It's in the hole!"
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Catfish
Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"Darn tootin."
Reality:
"Darn tootin."
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs


5 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: The Social Network, Catfish"

The Mad Hatter said...

Holy Hannah - two films living up to expectations in the same week? Someone call the US Mint and have them issue a coin!!

Fletch said...

Perhaps my Expectation-o-meter is overshadowing my reviews...

M. Hufstader said...

Glad to see a good review of Catfish...so far I've just heard people complaining about it. Perhaps I'll have to change my mind about seeing it...rental?

Fitz said...

It doesn't seem like you enjoyed Social Network as much as your rating would indicate.

Fletch said...

M. Hufstader - People are upset because they feel the trailer indicates one direction that the film will go...and it doesn't go in that direction. But that should take nothing away from what is portrayed. Avoid seeing anything more about it and then, yeah, definitely make a rental of it.

Fitz - if anything, I think I elected to write less about it specifically since it's so well-covered. Also, I seem to be somewhat in a minority by "only" granting it 4.5 lambs (I was tempted to say 4; I'd like to say 4.25ish) where so many are bestowing it with 5s. But make no mistake, I enjoyed it very much.