Sorkin does Facebook

by Paul William Tenny

Aaron SorkinAaron Sorkin is a brilliant writer that hasn't let me down since I discovered the guy on Bravo. Yes, I said Bravo. I didn't know about The West Wing until Bravo picked it up for syndication and ran a marathon. Three episodes in and I was hooked, only later to find he had written A Few Good Men, and suddenly it all made sense.

Studio 60, especially towards the end of its first and only season, was as good as it gets on television now, and perhaps forever. This guy is on that top rung of the writing ladder, up there with Joss Whedon and J. Michael Staczynski, maybe even on top of the whole damned heap. He did the military, he did politics, and he even did television itself.

And now he's doing Facebook.
Personally I'd rather see his deep-sixed project about the inventor of the television, but this isn't a man that you pass up folks, no matter how silly the subject matter may sound. Facebook is a dotcom 2.0 bust waiting to happen since social networks haven't figured out how to make money (and probably won't) and doesn't serve as a source of entertainment unto itself, it's just a communication medium really, so why would anyone want to make a movie about that?

Hell if I know, but Pirates of Silicon Valley was a superb film and Sorkin lords over people on the level that made that film, so I'm sure he'll find a way to make it interesting. This guy is a master of character driven drama, and that's actually a pretty good fit, isn't it? There's not much else to play with other than the people behind the scenes, though I think it might be more interesting after Facebook fails the way Apple did.

It won't open big and won't turn into a block buster, especially not in the current anti-high-art climate of all special effects and no story (see: Transformers.)

On the other hand, you'll be far more likely to end up discussing this film with someone other than your kids on an intellectual level that you won't ever find on Facebook itself. That kind of stimulation alone is worth it, if you ask me. Being entertained visually is great, but it's not true to the tradition of cinema as I have come to admire it, it's not the complete picture and frankly I'm getting sick of movies where "entertainment" is more like lustful arousal than it is an intellectually satisfying experience on all levels (see: The Usual Suspects.). Explosions, the big reveal, the plot twist at the end -- all great in moderation, but are being used far too often as the meat of the meal rather than desert.

Sorkin defines the contrary.

As an aside, a viewer on G4's Attack of the Show while talking about Sorkins latest endeavour believes that Hollywood has run out of ideas which is why we're being bombarded with sequels and adaptations. But that's not true at all. One of the most commonly cited statistics that has practically become a cliche is that there are as many as 10,000 new, original scripts written in Hollywood every single year that are thrown in the trash or ignored. A lot of them are rejected honestly because they suck or because they aren't original, but with numbers that large then you've got to have -- even at 10% -- 1000 scripts that are original and worth shooting.

They aren't rejected because there aren't anymore good ideas, people, it's because network suits are cowards and would rather spend money on a known property. I suppose to a degree, funding plays into the equation where a studio can't even get the money it needs to shoot without creative interference from the banks and hedge fund folks -- as if suit interference wasn't bad enough -- where the money guys say they won't take a risk on a new property when they can sink their money into a "franchise" that has already proven itself.

Even if that "franchise" consists of a single film with sequel potential that barely made back what it cost to produce, and in some cases, even films that failed financially.

I guess even if you fail, so long as you don't fail epically, then you've earned at least one sequel, if not two or three.

It's a balance but not one that can be justified every single time, not when each studio may only produce 6-10 films per year and you've only got a half dozen big players and half those films are going to be franchise fillers right off the bat. And not to place blame entirely on the system, these studios wouldn't keep making sequels and adaptations if people didn't go to the theater in droves to see them.

But no, there isn't any kind of creative drought in Hollywood. At least not at the level that actually produces these films. It's easy and lazy for fans to blame creative talent for these failures without ever holding responsible the management that put bad ideas into play in the first place.

If you want to blame someone, blame the suits.
in Film


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