2010 was a great year for film. Great not just in terms of the films that were released onto our cinema screens (due in no small part to 2009 being a vintage year for Cannes), but also in terms of the films that I got to watch for the first time. 2010 was a year in which Hollywood struggled with mere competence while the art house roared in defiance. A year of triumphs. A year of breakthroughs. A year of brilliance.
In fact, 2010 was such a good year that I found it surprisingly difficult to limit myself to just ten films. My original long-list contained nearly thirty titles all of which, in leaner years, might have made it onto the final shortlist.
As usual with my Best of the Year posts, I have posted links to any pieces I may have written on or around the films in question. However, I hummed and hawed so massively over one particular title that I felt compelled to write a little something to justify its inclusion.
- A piece on Cholodenko and Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
- A piece on Granik and women’s oppression of women.
- A piece on Grimonprez and why you should kill your double.
- A piece on Ford and why you are not a unique and special snowflake.
- A piece on Arnold and the ambiguities of youth.
- A piece on Klotz and the power of language to dehumanise.
- A piece on Kiarostami and the challenge of modernism.
I went back and forth on Finch’s The Social Network. I have now seen it twice and tried to write about it on three separate occasions with little success. Initially, I was impressed by the film’s success at Following William Gibson and Lauren Beukes into the realisation that cyberpunk is not only about the present but about social class. Then, I was annoyed by the script’s attempt to ‘stitch-up’ Zuckerberg by presenting him as an autistic uber-nerd who simply did not understand the real depth of human relationships (and so wanted to reduce them to a simple formula) and so had no problem betraying all of his ‘real friends’ when the opportunities presented themselves. As Zadie Smith points out in her insightful New York Review of Books piece on the film, this is to do not only Zuckerberg but also the Facebook generation a real disservice.
In the parlance of Neal Stephenson, The Social Network is a film written by a hobbit about a dwarf. Aaron Sorkin (a writer I believe to be both intensely irritating and grossly over-rated) is a Hobbit. He writes about Dwarven culture with a Hobbit’s eyes and a Hobbit’s mind. Hobbits are smug in their certainties and myopic in their perspectives. Hobbits turn their nose up at that which they do not understand and, because Zuckerberg is a Dwarf, Sorkin quite clearly does not understand him.
The Social Network is a fascinating film because it absolutely fails to either understand its subject matter, or communicate any real insights into that subject matter. However, what it does do is spell out, in no uncertain terms, that Hollywood still does not understand the internet.