While the upcoming "The Social Network" movie will offer one view of Facebook, another big-screen release may do a better job of showing both the power and pitfalls of the social network.
Catfish, which played at Sundance earlier this year and debuts in several cities next month, is a documentary that tells the tale of Nev Schulman, a New York City photographer who develops a close online relationship with three members of a rural Michigan family. It begins when the young daughter of the family, Abby, starts painting adaptations of some of the photographer's work. Nev, the photographer, also starts an intense cell phone, text message, and Facebook relationship with Abby's older sister, while conversing with the sisters' mom as well.
The photographer's brother and friend decide to capture the tale on film, but things don't get really interesting until the trio elect to head to the small Michigan town to surprise their online pals.
Then things get really interesting. I saw the whole thing last night but don't want to spoil it. Suffice to say, it's worth a watch when it hits limited release September 17 in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Austin, and Toronto.
One of the other interesting things about the movie is its ability to capture the flavor of the way actual reality and virtual reality are overlapping ever more often, particularly in the way the filmmakers tap Google Maps' Street View and Facebook itself to show some of the action.
Plus, here's a YouTube version of the movie's trailer: