"That was probably the most accurate part, seeing Fucked Company at your company while you still worked there," Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams joked at a panel after a screening of the film August. Director Austin Chick assured "that was in the script from the beginning." "It's kinda like Fucked Company," Fucked Company creator (and AdBrite founder) Phillip "Pud" Kaplan shouted from the audience moments later. The latest Josh Hartnett vehicle, produced in part by Josh Hartnett, August attempts to portray tragedy while simultaneously reifying the "Internet rockstar" archetype. But it's dated from the start by Aronofsky-esque visuals and a Fischerspooner soundtrack as Hartnett's character Tom, CEO of Landshark, hears in passing of Internet-video startup Pseudo.com laying off dozens as his own public company is exploding around him.
The film will appeal to at least three camps: Those for whom Hartnett can do no wrong, anyone who appreciates a "Please, God, give me another bubble before I die" bumper sticker and New Yorkers of a certain age. I can identify on two of the three counts, but still, the film felt like a naked Indiewood appeal for me to consider Hartnett a serious actor. For starters, how did this startup founder know about tight, pegged jeans; skinny, shapeless, twill-cotton sportcoats and "douchebag neck" tees three years before Williamsburg?
A steely-eyed, remorseless David Bowie gives the movie a certain cachet and this appearance by Jason Calacanis as a master booster will also have its draw. But I can't see it crossing any mainstream borders even after building bridges between psychographic camps. I'd give it the early-mover advantage, except a lot of the same territory was already covered better by Groove.