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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: David Fincher

DGA names 'The Artist's' Michel Hazanavicius best director

January 28, 2012 | 11:17 pm

Scorsese payne hazanavicius fincher dga

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

The Directors Guild of America on Saturday evening named Michel Hazanavicius best film director of 2011 for “The Artist,” the nostalgic black-and-white, nearly silent movie that hearkens back to the time of transition in Hollywood from silents to talkies. It is the first guild win for the 44-year-old French filmmaker.

"It's maybe the highest recognition I could hope. I really love directors, I over-respect directors. This is very moving and touching to me," he said, receiving a standing ovation. "Best director -- I really don't know what that means. All movies are different, so it's a strange thing to try to compare them and say which is best, but I'm very happy to get this. Thank you."

The other nominees were Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), David Fincher ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and Alexander Payne ("The Descendants").

PHOTOS: Directors Guild of America Awards

The DGA feature film awards are considered one of the most dependable bellwethers for the Academy Awards for best director. Over the past 63 years, the DGA and academy have disagreed on their choices only six times. The last time was nine years ago when Rob Marshall won the DGA award for “Chicago” and Roman Polanski was named best director by the academy for “The Pianist.”

Hazanavicius had already been named best director by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Critics Choice Movie Awards. He was in contention for a Golden Globe and is nominated for a BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award for best director.

Last week, “The Artist” won the Producers Guild of America award, which is one of the indicators for the best film Oscar. On Tuesday, “The Artist” earned 10 Oscar nominations, one less than the top nominee “Hugo.” Hazanavicius is up for three of those Oscars for director, screenplay and editing.

The 64th annual DGA Awards were held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland. Recent Golden Globe winner Kelsey Grammer was the host of the evening, succeeding Carl Reiner, who had become an institution at the event, hosting 24 times. Reiner agreed to host for a final time at the 2011 ceremony.

"Welcome to what will be a glorious night....for some of you. Last year we celebrated the DGA awards of biblical length -- it was so long, the Mayans could not predict an end," he said. "The director's cut was two hours shorter. Even James Cameron said, 'it was too long.'"

Before being named the night's big winner, Hazanavicius was presented with his nominee medallion by his two stars, Berenice Bejo and Jean Dujardin. Upon taking it, he said: "It's a thrill to be here and to be among these wonderful directors. I'm honored," he said in accepting the medallion. "Maybe you haven't noticed but I'm French. I have an accent and I have a name that is very difficult to pronounce. I'm not American and I'm not French, actually. I'm a filmmaker. And I made a film about my love for Hollywood. We create stories that tell people they are not alone. We separate life from shadows. Hollywood helped me grow up. I believed in values like courage, perseverance and integrity."

"I made this film as a love letter to Hollywood. I feel like I am being accepted by you -- not you as Americans but as filmmakers. So thank you." And he added:  "For my wife Berenice, I'm so glad we shared this together and I love you."

The guild gave James Marsh the award for feature documentary for "Project Nim."

The DGA award for best directing in a TV comedy series went to Robert B. Weide, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ("Palestinian Chicken").

In accepting, Weide said: "I have very mixed feelings about this because this means that I just lost a $300 bet to my wife, Linda. Why do they call this a medallion? It's a plate. I understand when you go to Don Mischer's house for dinner, you actually eat off of these."

Other awards handed out Saturday night:

Movies for Television and Mini-series: Jon Cassar, "The Kennedys"

Dramatic TV series: Patty Jenkins, for the pilot of "The Killing"

Musical variety TV: Glenn Weiss, for the 65th annual Tony Awards 

Reality TV programs: Neil P. Degroot, for "Biggest Loser"

Daytime TV serials: William Ludell, for "General Hospital" ("Intervention")

Children’s programs: Amy Schatz, for "A Child's Garden of Poetry" 

Commercials: Noam Murro

Three special awards were also presented. Ed Sherin was named an Honorary Life Member; Katy Garretson received the Frank Capra Achievement Award; and Dennis Mazzocco recieved the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award.

[For the record, 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29: A previous version of this post misspelled the last name of "Project Nim" director James Marsh as March.]

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Oscar nominations: Who's been hottest so far this awards season?

'The Descendants' expands rapdily, 'The Artist' slowly

-- Jasmine Elist and Susan King

Photo: Directors Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Michel Hazanavicius and David Fincher attend the 64th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards Meet the Nominees Breakfast held at the DGA on Saturday.Credit: Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA 

  


Golden Globes: Irrelevant? Maybe. But not the speeches

January 16, 2012 |  3:32 pm

Meryl Streep
In the most obvious of ways, the Golden Globes have absolutely no bearing upon the Oscars. No academy member suddenly thought last night, "By Jove, that 'Artist' sure seems to be a favorite of the Hollywood Foreign Press. I'd best check it out." If anything, given the reputation of the people voting for the Globes, you could see academy members wanting to go the opposite way.

But that's not how it works either. At this juncture of the award season, with nomination ballots already in, Oscar contenders can only help (or hurt) their chances by the way they conduct themselves when in the spotlight at public events. So how did this year's crop of Oscar contenders do last night at the Globes? Let's go to the tape:

MERYL STREEP

She's human. Forget for a moment the forgetting of the glasses. Did you see the kiss she gave her husband of 33 years, Don Gummer? Or the smooch she planted on Colin Firth's lips? Mamma Mia! Meryl was bursting with love last night! And then, yes, this master thespian can apparently be reduced to fits of profane yammering without her pair of trusty reading glasses. Granted, her speech went on a bit too long, but the standing ovation that greeted her and the charming humanity she displayed from the stage can only enhance her chances with academy voters. Which brings us to ...

DAVID FINCHER

When Streep did that cute little distress signal at the podium, miming a pair of spectacles with her hands, the call went forth to Hollywood: Get this woman her glasses! A specialized unit immediately sprang into action, an A-list A-Team that had Harvey Weinstein handing off the glasses to George Clooney who then made it almost all the way to the target before (in his words) "chickening out" and giving the final baton to David Fincher who ... started for the podium and then sat back down.

First, let us just remark how odd it is to see Fincher occupying the Mayor of Hollywood front-and-center table spot usually reserved for the likes of Jack Nicholson or Tom Hanks. But more to the fatal Clooney gaffe: There's no way the publicity-shy Fincher makes that final handoff in the spotlight. Clooney might as well have picked up his phone and called Ryan Gosling in Thailand for all the good he did in giving the glasses to Fincher. And viewers would have delighted in seeing him on stage with Streep.

GEORGE CLOONEY

On all other counts, Clooney acquitted himself nicely, displaying his trademark blend of graciousness and charm. His acceptance speech mixed an affable shout-out to friend Brad Pitt's humanitarian work with a profane thank-you to Michael Fassbender to "taking over the frontal nudity responsibility that I had." His remarks were short and sweet and few would mind hearing a variation of them come Oscar night.

OCTAVIA SPENCER

Tears? Check. Surprise? Check. "Seriously nuts" and "trembling ... gonna fall off these high-heel shoes"? Endearing. Quoting Dr. King? Priceless. The shot of Melissa McCarthy crying says it all. This woman will be hard to beat, even in a year dominated by her "Help" costar Jessica Chastain.

JEAN DUJARDIN

Even though (from the look on his face) Mark Wahlberg has no idea how to pronounce his name (nice save, Jessica Biel!), Dujardin enjoyed a nice introduction to Middle America last night, delivering a clever speech that played up his nationality without resorting to Benigni-level antics. The bad news: He's still being upstaged by the dog.

RELATED:

Complete Golden Globes coverage

— Glenn Whipp

Photo: Meryl Streep hoists her Golden Globe for lead actress in a motion picture drama, which she won for her performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." Credit: European Pressphoto Agency


'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo': Betsy Sharkey's film pick

January 12, 2012 |  8:30 am

Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's" Lisbeth Salander, the pierced-punk-hacker-tracker with a post-modern grudge in need of settling, has fascinated me from the first time I waded through the priceless pulpy viscera of the late Stieg Larsson’s books.

In 2009, when the Swedish films came along and the excellent Noomi Rapace brought her to searing life, I couldn’t imagine another Lisbeth. Ah, but never underestimate the power of director David Fincher to bring polish and panache to the party, which he has done to exhilarating and harrowing effect in this season’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

Actress Rooney Mara, haunted and hard, has given Lisbeth a new range of repressed emotions I didn't think possible. Meanwhile, Steven Zaillian’s excellent script has nicely bulked up Daniel Craig’s role -– significant in the book, downsized in the Swedish films.

With Fincher's deft touch, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth’s stealth and speed set to chilling, thrilling music from composer Atticus Ross and Nine Inch Nails genius Trent Reznor (the three were part of Fincher's "The Social Network" success last year), it all works to keep Lisbeth’s world spinning darkly, violently, madly, wildly. Wow.

RELATED:

Betsy Sharkey's best film picks of 2011

More from Betsy Sharkey on 24 Frames

Review: 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'

-- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Rooney Mara, left, and Daniel Craig in David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Columbia Pictures


DGA to Fincher: Sorry about last year, can we make it up to you?

January 9, 2012 |  3:47 pm

Rooney Mara stars in David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Now let us just say from the outset that it is possible that Directors Guild of America voters simply liked David Fincher's mesmerizing way with bleakness in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" more than Steven Spielberg's shout-outs to John Ford in "War Horse." Certainly, members didn't share Fincher's sentiments that "Dragon Tattoo" might be just a tad too dark for awards consideration.

But there has to be something more to today's DGA Awards nominations that put Fincher in alongside Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), doesn't there? DGA voters clearly dig Fincher, handing him his third nomination in four years. Of course, they haven't liked him enough to actually give him the award in this category, even last year when most had Fincher winning for "The Social Network." Could this year's nomination be viewed as an attempt to put that whole giving it to Tom Hooper thing behind them? Or could it merely be another signal of a changing of the guard? (Spielberg hasn't been nominated since 2005's "Munich" -- not that he has given voters much reason or occasion to look his way.)

Fincher won't win this year, either. But, taken with the Producers Guild nomination for "Tattoo," it is possible that both he and the movie will now show up among the Oscar anointed. More often than not, four of the five DGA nominees go on to receive Oscar nods. Figuring that Scorsese, Hazanavicius and Payne are locks and that Allen seems increasingly likely to receive his first director's nomination since "Bullets Over Broadway," the question now is: Will the DGA slate sweep in clean with the motion picture academy, as has happened twice in the past decade? Or can Spielberg slip in, aided by the academy's older sentimentalists?

A third option and, admittedly, one that with today's news and previous snubs from the PGA, Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild seems something of a pipe dream, is that academy voters will go the auteur route and nominate Terrence Malick. "The Tree of Life" has its hard-core disciples, but they are vastly outnumbered by those who hit the eject button once the dinosaurs showed up. Oscar prognosticators have long assumed that "Tree" had enough bedrock support to win nominations for picture (provided devotees slotted it No. 1 or No. 2 on their ballots), director and cinematography. Now only director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki seems a safe bet.

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 -- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Rooney Mara stars in David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Merrick Morton / Columbia TrStar


'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' is cool and crafted, critics say

December 21, 2011 | 10:52 am

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The story of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" has captivated audiences twice already in recent years — via Stieg Larsson's Millennium novels and their Swedish film adaptations — and introduced an iconic heroine in hacker Lisbeth Salander. Now David Fincher's new English-language version has the challenge of bringing Salander to life while bringing something new to the table. For movie critics, how well Fincher and his team fared depends on who you ask.

The Times' Kenneth Turan finds the film too frigid, writing that the combination of Fincher's steely precision and Larsson's bleak source material "feels, in a coals-to-Newcastle way, like shipping truckloads of ice to the far reaches of the polar regions." Turan also takes issue with the film's handling of Salander, whom he says is the heart of the franchise. Actress Rooney Mara "clearly did everything her director asked of her," Turan writes, "but this film's cold, almost robotic conception of Salander as a twitchy, anorexic waif feels more like a stunt than a complete character, and so the best part of the reason we care enough to endure all that mayhem has gone away."

Continue reading »

David Fincher's 'Dragon Tattoo': Should it stay under wraps?

December 9, 2011 |  3:12 pm

David fincher

I went to see David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" last night at a screening packed with critics and media insiders. Of course, I can't really say what I thought of the movie, thanks to a strict embargo that restricts any reviews or opinionated tweets about the film until next week.

The embargo provoked a comical flap earlier this week between "Dragon Tattoo" producer Scott Rudin and New Yorker critic David Denby, who broke the embargo and ran a review of the film, claiming in an email exchange with Rudin that, well, there were just too many quality movies coming out at the end of the year and the New Yorker just didn't have enough space to wait until its year-end double issue to write about all of them.

Patrickgoldsteinbigpicture2

If you, like me, were wondering what Fincher thought about the whole mess, he gave his own characteristically blunt, idiosyncratic take on the whole affair to the Miami Herald's Rene Rodriguez. Fincher didn't beat around the bush. "If it were up to me," he said, "I wouldn't show movies to anybody before they were released. I wouldn't give clips to talk shows. I would do one trailer and three television spots and let the chips fall where they may."

While he didn't exactly bash movie critics, he made it clear that the people who mean the most in terms of delivering a verdict on his work are the ones who see the movie on opening night. As he put it: "I think film critics are really valuable. But the most valuable film critics are usually those people who come see a movie with their Blackberry and then text their friends 'It sucked.' Or 'It's awesome. You should see it.' You know what I mean?"

Fincher is right. It's the hoi polloi who really matter when it comes to spreading the gospel about a good film. Except at Oscar time. This is the one time of year when the critics have some clout. If you look at the historical record, you'll see that a movie with lousy reviews has never won an Oscar for best picture or animated feature.

Of course, if you don't let the media see your movie in a timely fashion, you risk becoming the focus of stories that wonder: So why can't we see the film? Is there something to hide? That's what has happened with Rudin's other award-season release, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," which Warner Bros. has kept away from critics and media types until this week.

The whole idea of media access, especially during Oscar season, has become so highly charged that the New York Times' Brooks Barnes weighed in today with a bizarre story claiming that Rudin was such a puppet master that he was manipulating the entire Oscar carnival by keeping the film away from prying eyes, or as Barnes breathlessly described it: "The Oscar race now comes down to one man's hand, and how he intends to play it."  

It's a pretty preposterous theory, especially considering the fact that Barnes bolsters his argument by saying that Rudin was burned last year when the late-arriving "The King's Speech" stole all the momentum from Rudin's own film, "The Social Network," which had been released in October. In fact, that's not what happened at all, as tons of media types saw "The King's Speech" early in the fall when it screened at both the Telluride and the Toronto film festivals. What won the Oscar for "The King's Speech" was how much it appealed to older academy voters, not its late entry in the race.

I'm with Fincher. It's probably unrealistic to expect that everyone could wait until opening weekend to see a film, but it would be great for all of us — from the experts to the rank 'n file — to see the movie at essentially the same time. It's what happens all the time when a studio has a stinker, which they keep away from critics until the last minute. It would be refreshing it they would try the same thing with a good movie too.

RELATED:

'Dragon Tattoo's' producer Scott Rudin in embargo battle with New Yorker critic David Denby

— Patrick Goldstein

Photo: David Fincher, left, with Rooney Mara at a press meeting for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" in Stockholm, Sweden.

Credit: Claudio Bresciani / European Pressphoto Agency

 


'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' star says there's plenty of room to improve on Swedish original

July 13, 2011 | 10:00 am

   Rapa
Few Hollywood films come with the expectations that saddle David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Each book in Stieg Larsson's original trio of mysteries is a beloved international bestseller, and the Swedish-language films based on those books were art-house hits that introduced the world to the highly regarded Noomi Rapace.

But at least one star in Fincher's December thriller says the director's Hollywood adaptation of "Dragon Tattoo" may not be as fraught as it would appear. "I thought the Swedish movies were nothing great, just sort of average," Joel Kinnaman, who plays the character of Christer Malm in Fincher's movie, told 24 Frames.

Malm is the flamboyant art director and co-owner of Millennium magazine; he takes over for Mikael Blomkvist when the protagonist exits the magazine as a result of the story's chief scandal.

Played by Jacob Ericksson in the original Swedish films, Malm was initially intended to appear only in Fincher's second and third movies, adaptations of "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," Kinnaman said. But Fincher decided he wanted to include the character in "Dragon Tattoo." So he had Kinnaman shoot a few days for this film too.

As contrarian as his opinion might seem, Kinnaman -- who was speaking on the New York set of "Lola Vs.," a romantic dramedy he's shooting with Greta Gerwig -- has a number of allies: The three films averaged a decent but hardly overwhelming 69% score on Rotten Tomatoes. (The first film, directed by Niels Arden Oplev, was the best regarded of the bunch, notching an 86% score on the site.)

While the broad popularity of Larsson's novels is what prompted Sony to make a "Dragon Tattoo"  film in the first place, Kinnaman had a surprising admission. "The truth is I haven't read the books," he said. "I tried with the first, but I just couldn't get into it."

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

 Photo: Noomi Rapace in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Music Box Films

RELATED:

With new trailer, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo begins to breathe its fire

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Will Rooney Mara make a good Lisbeth Salander?

 

 


Did the facts behind 'The Social Network' hurt it at the box office?

October 4, 2010 |  9:30 am

Social
Like Jon Stewart vs. Bill O'Reilly, or Mark Sanchez vs.Ryan Fitzpatrick, stacking up a true story against a fictional one isn't exactly a fair fight.

True tales hold an innate advantage. Tell audiences you're depicting an event that at least roughly parallels how it really happened, and it changes everything. Ordinary dramas are turbocharged into extraordinary ones. Flaws and pockmarks that would be called out in a fictional narrative are papered over and forgiven. For most of us, the idea that a movie's events played out that way in real life allows a shaky premise to be let off the hook; if it all really happened, we think, how can we hold a movie responsible for contrivances or leaps?

And true stories allow us to be more impressed by a film's texture and performances, which may be why five of the past six best actor Oscar winners were playing real people, or at least characters inspired by real people.

That principle should have helped "The Social Network" exceed all expectations this weekend.

As anyone within smelling distance of a television or Web site has learned  over the past few weeks, the David Fincher movie isn't just about a few ambitious young people taking on the world and each other -- it's a part of our recent past that, details about technical accuracy aside, has in turn helped shape our faraway future.

Wherever you looked, you couldn't escape the movie's truth, or at least its truthiness. Writer Aaron Sorkin went on talk shows to discuss the competing vantage points he merged to tell the story.  There was the daily saga of whether Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would himself see the movie (he was spotted in a Seattle screening! he rented out a theater for Facebook employees!), that seemed to underline, eerily and in real time, the same narcissism he displayed on the screen.

And if the marketing campaign's invocation of memes from the site didn't remind us that this all was happening in more than a fictional world, the very fact that millions of us log in to Facebook every day accomplished the trick for us. (That Facebook's corporate representatives questioned the authenticity of the account only made the film seem all the more hard-hitting and, well, truthful.)

All this should have taken an already tantalizing story and compelled us to see it even more. Yet when the movie opened this weekend, that's not what happened. With $23 million in domestic box office, The film performed respectably. But it fell short of some predictions that had its opening-weekend total closer to $30 million. Instead, its $23 million was in line with other more fictional and farfetched dramas this fall, such as "The Town," which tallied $23.8 million in its first weekend, almost exactly the same box office figure as "The Social Network." The but-much-of-this-is-real factor seemed to have little favorable effect on the film.

There's no way to determine this precisely, of course, to test how "The Social Network" would have performed if there were no shades of real life in it -- if it were, say, just an older- and more male-skewing "Gossip Girl" with A-list film credentials.  What we do know is the movie played well on the coasts, where an awareness of the media is practically in the drinking water, and where the film almost certainly benefited from the publicity that came from its parallels to real-life events.

It didn't play as well elsewhere, which suggests that any benefits accrued from the movie telling a real-life tale might have been counteracted by the perception of the film as a story of a group of real-life rich Harvard kids fighting over credit.

In this way, it might have been better off it was about a site we didn't know as well, or one that didn't exist at all. Tell people that the events of most Hollywood movies happened that way in actuality and their eyes snap open. But remind them of a real-life company founded by elites, in an elite place, and you may not grab their attention in quite the same way. In fact, you just might push them away.

If the real-world echoes did have a mixed effect on the performance of "The Social Network," it contains a certain irony. Since the film's publicity campaign began, the filmmakers and the cast  have attempted mightily to explain that, even though some contested this version of events, it all well could have been true. This probably answered some journalists' questions. But when it comes to attracting moviegoers, sometimes, it seems, there may be truths worth avoiding.

--Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: The Social Network. Credit: Sony Pictures


'Social Network' has nearly 500 million reviewer friends, too

October 1, 2010 |  1:24 pm

Social
It’s about as rare as pitching a perfect game in baseball — a movie that draws nearly 100% raves. But "The Social Network" has come about as close as any movie this year to reaching the milestone.

The three leading film review aggregators — Rotten Tomatoes, Movie Review Intelligence and Metacritic — are, as of Friday, showing that director David Fincher’s fictionalized history of Facebook’s founding has drawn the best marks of any narrative feature this year, with respective scores of 98, 96 and 98.

According to Movie Review Intelligence, only five movies this year have received scores greater than 90: “Toy Story 3,” “Lebanon,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “Winter’s Bone” and “A Prophet" (and most of them were not as widely reviewed as "The Social Network," whose score thus suggests critical favor that's broad as well as deep). "The Social Network" is a barn-burner of a tale that unfolds at a splendid clip," writes Kennth Turan in The Times.

With such high scores, and a projected first-place opening in theaters this weekend,  the next question for the David Fincher film inevitably will be the movie's awards fate. "Social Network" stacks up well on this count too. Last year’s best picture winner, “The Hurt Locker,” had respective Rotten Tomato, Movie Review Intelligence and Metacritic scores of  97, 92 and 94, while the previous year's Oscar juggernaut, “Slumdog Millionaire,” rated average review scores of  94 and 86 from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic (Movie Review Intelligence didn’t launch until January 2009).

Of course, great notices don’t guarantee Academy Award success -- a year ago "An Education" and “Bright Star” were among the best-reviewed releases of the year, and neither won a single Oscar.

-- John Horn

twitter.com/JGHorn

Photo: Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network." Credit: Sony Pictures


Facebook author Mezrich: Mark Zuckerberg should love 'The Social Network'

September 22, 2010 |  5:34 pm

  Zuck
Ben Mezrich, author of the Facebook-genesis tale "The Accidental Billionaires,"  is one of the main reasons "The Social Network" exists. The upcoming David Fincher movie germinated when Mezrich's tome was optioned in 2008 by producer Scott Rudin, and Mezrich and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin began meeting and poring over the story. (The movie centers on the web of relationships between co-founders Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin and other Harvard students, who alternately collaborate and battle over credit.)

“Billionaires” has generated controversy among critics who say that Mezrich uses fictional techniques in a nonfiction context, and relies heavily on the recollections of Saverin but not Zuckerberg, who wouldn’t cooperate. We had several conversations with Mezrich to discuss his relationships with the personalities in the book as well as with the film.

Among his more notable thoughts: Facebook's standing will actually be enhanced by the movie. And Zuckerberg -- who has said he won't see the movie but on Wednesday was reported to have been spotted at a Seattle screening -- comes out looking good, Mezrich believes, contrary to much of the consternation from the young mogul and much of the Facebook camp.

There's been some hay made of the fact that Zuckerberg wouldn't talk to you. How hard did you try and why do you think he turned you down?

I spent a year kind of trying to get Mark to talk to me. It was a little like "Waiting for Godot." There were a lot of the "maybes" before the "no." I think he didn’t want this to be an authorized story, and even though it wouldn’t have been done that way I think that’s what he was afraid of. It’s a little ironic. Facebook is all about opening boundaries, and yet I can’t get this guy to sit down and talk to me.

Why do you think Saverin decided to tell you his story?

I got an e-mail at 2 in the morning, completely random, in February 2008 from a kid whose best friend was Eduardo. It just basically said, “My best friend co-founded Facebook and nobody knows who he is.” He was angry. He felt betrayed. And then Eduardo met me and started telling me these stories about how he’d been screwed over. Then my book proposal leaked out on Gawker — and I don’t know exactly what the trigger was — but Eduardo called me and said, “You can never speak to me again.” It was six months of interviewing him, and then he cut off conversations. I heard he got a billion-dollar settlement from Facebook. A billion dollars is a lot of money. If someone offered me a billion dollars not to talk …

Did you think Zuckerberg would be as upset by the book — or the movie — as he has suggested he is in some of his public comments?

He does come off pretty well in the movie. It’s not negative at all. It's [simply the story of] an antihero and driven geek turned into a powerful figure.

So you think he might actually like the movie if he saw it?

I would love to hear what he actually thinks of it. I personally came out of there saying this is the best movie I’ve ever seen. My previous favorite movie was “Fight Club,” but I think this is even better. It was amazing to see. And I do think it's a very fair portrayal of the different points of view. It’s the true story of how Facebook originated. Facebook wants to keep calling it fiction, but there’s a lot of documentation. It may be the most documented movie ever made.

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