Saturday, October 2, 2010

the Directors: David Fincher

In 18 years and eight films, David Fincher has made a name for himself that most non-film enthusiasts would recognize.  He’s best known for conveying the familiarity of crime using unconventional, seedy methods.  Notorious for making his actors slog through dozens of takes, Fincher is nothing short of a down-to-the-tiniest-detail auteur. 

His latest, the Facebook flick The Social Network, is due this Friday.  It’s a deviation from form, but if David Fincher’s name is in the credits, I’m there.

Alien3 (1992)
Well, everybody has to start somewhere.  At least Fincher admits that this is garbage.  He so hated the Big Brother control that the studio had over the film, he walk out before editing even began.  Wise choice. D+

Interesting Fact: Before Fincher came on as director, Vincent Ward (What Dreams May Come), Walter Hill (48 Hrs.), Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2), among others, were scheduled to direct. 

Se7en (1995)
Here’s a bold statement to get you going: Se7en is the best serial killer/police procedural movie ever made.  Period.  Think about it.  How many serial killers movies never show the killer actually offing someone?  I can think of one. And it is called Se7en.  Aside from its beyond-skillful recreations of gruesome crime scenes, this movie is full of humor (“It would be great if we didn’t start off… kicking each other in the balls,”) and enough didn’t-see-that-coming moments to fill 10 movies.  Dozens of filmmakers have borrowed (stolen) from this film, which Fincher should take as a compliment, for Se7en is his masterpiece.  A+

Interesting Fact: Fincher lobbied hard to have the final lines of the movie removed (Freeman’s Hemingway quote), but ultimately lost out.

The Game (1997)
“What do you give the man who has everything?”  That’s the question that fuels this groovy psychological thriller.  Why do I always forget about this movie?  It’s clever as all hell, convincingly acted, and still manages to trip me up everytime I go back to it.  Michael Douglas fits effortlessly into Fincher’s warped take on how the rich live.  Some viewers may get frustrated by the film’s never-ending twists, but if it’s your first viewing, don’t worry, you’ll love it next time. A-

Interesting Fact: Jodie Foster was originally set to play that role that Sean Penn ended up taking over.  In a reversal of fortune, Sean Penn was supposed to be the lead in Flightplan, which Jodie Foster ended up starring in.

Fight Club (1999)
I’ll probably catch shit for this one.  Sorry, but Fight Club is not THE BEST FILM EVER OH MY GOD.  People swear by it, I know, but it’s not even Fincher’s second, or third best film.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s entertaining as hell and, like all of Fincher’s great films, it opens our eyes to a world we once knew nothing about.  But, it’s overrated.  It’s over long and seriously loses steam once the Project Mayhem segment begins.  Both Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are fantastic.  Like I said, it’s good, yes, but not great.  B

Interesting Fact: Despite its now cult status, Fight Club received mostly mediocre reviews upon its initial release and netted a measly $37 million at the box, nearly half of what it cost to make.

Panic Room (2002)
Like The GamePanic Room is often forgotten as being a Fincher film.  Fincher has admitted that he used this film as a testing zone for the ground breaking CGI techniques that he used briefly in Fight Club.  Here, we get long, silent tracking shots of a gorgeously expansive Manhattan home.  The gimmick looks good, but it’s also the best part of the movie.  Jodie Foster flexes her skills rather well, but the run-of-the-mill ending is not at all like Fincher.  B-

Interesting Fact: The film's opening credits, arguably the aspect of the movie people remember the most, took over a year to complete.

Zodiac (2007)
Thank God Fincher took five years off, the result of which was this stirring film of utter excellence.  Chronicling one of America’s most notorious, and never official apprehended, serial killers is no easy feat, and at damn near three hours long, Fincher does it in stride.  Zodiac is so detailed, so expertly choreographed, that it rivals Se7en as a top-tier film in the crime genre.  There isn’t one flaw in any aspect of this movie.  To view it is to view two decades of American culture.  A great film. A

Interesting Fact: While it's no secret that Fincher is a glutton for multiple takes, Zodiac was where he got most Kubrick-esque.  Fincher would require 60 plus takes for some long shots, but up to 30 for the most mundane shots (like Jake Gyllenhaal throwing a folder in the passenger seat of his car).

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Simply put: this movie doesn’t do it for me.  It’s overly sentimental, corny and to… damn… long.  I don’t mind the gimmick of someone aging backwards, nor do I think Pitt’s performance has flaws, but I have a great deal of trouble becoming emotionally invested in the film or its characters.  It has its great moments, but could’ve easily been an hour shorter.  C+

Interesting Fact: Along with being Fincher's first PG-13 rated movie, Benjamin Button is by all accounts Fincher's most successful film, earning $127.5 million, 13 Oscar nominations, and three Oscar awards.

The Social Network (2010)
Another Fincher work of art.  It's only October, but this film is already being hailed as the best movie of 2010.  It's a for-our-time movie that defines a decade.  How do you pull off a flick about Facebook?  Have Aaron Sorkin pen a scorcher of a script and cast more-than-capable actors to make the dialouge soar.  Then, put Fincher in the director's chair and let his impeccable eye for cinema take over.  The result?  A one of a kind film that resonates long after you leave the theatre.  A

Interesting Fact: Fincher cast identical twins in roles of the ultra WASPy Winklevoss brothers.  However,  the actors playing the twins aren’t related by blood. Fincher used one of their voices to dub both of the actors’ dialogue, and put one of their faces on both bodies


  1. i absolutely can't wait to see this movie!! I downloaded the Scala & Kolacny Brothers version of "Creep" after i saw the is such a haunting song

  2. Nice, I didn't know who sang that, and now I do! The movie premiered yesterday in LA and it is getting rave reviews. Leave it to Fincher...

  3. Se7en is such a masterpiece, it's one of the most influential movies of last 20 years. I can't believe that TSN got so many accolades, while Se7en didn't. TSN is a good movie, but I'm not a big fan of Fincher new, gritty and raw style that started somewhere in the middle of Panic Room.

  4. @Sati. That's really true; despite that Panic Room is often overlooked as a Fincher film, it's probably the most significant film of his in terms of style. He definitely changed his game after that.

    I can't speak highly enough of Se7en. Movie fucking rocks.

  5. David Fincher is definitely my favorite director. I pretty much love all of his movies apart from Benjamin Button (i don't count Alien 3 as a Fincher movie). Zodiac, Fight Club and Seven are all in my top 20 movies of all time. I still can't believe he is constantly ignored by the Oscars and other big awards ceremonies. Maybe Gone Girl an fix that, but when they ignore as masterpiece like Zodiac my hopes are not high.

    1. Zodiac feels like something the Oscars would actually go for. I can't believe that it didn't land a single damn nomination. Screenplay at the very least should've happened. I'm so pumped for Gone Girl.

  6. Fincher is one of my favorite dirctors. My 3 favorite Fincher's films would be (in order):
    Fight Club(+10/10) - When I saw it I know Brad Pitt is his %^&$@!, but the all film is just super great.
    Se7en(10/10) - I love the Freeman Pitt chemistry, Spacey's performance was great, but you said enough about this film.
    Gone Girl (10/10) - Very great, all the performances were good and a damn good plot twist but I didn't belive the story
    Honorable Mention: House of Cards (10/10) - I watch just the first two episodes, but both were very great.
    Which are the best to worst Fincher's films now, in your opinion?

    1. Se7en
      Gone Girl
      The Social Network
      The Game
      Fight Club
      The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
      Panic Room
      The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
      Alien 3

  7. The best part of Benjamin Button is the beginning with Elias Koteas as M. Gateau. That's wonderful. (Or maybe I'm just too fascinated by WWI material) The rest, take it or leave it.

    1. YES! When I wrote about Koteas for my In Character column, I pretty much said that exact same thing.

  8. So I've seen The Game and 1st it's awesome, A- defenitly, Michael Douglas was on point, the editing was smooth and the writing was really funny; 2nd the third act was a bit silly and there are some messy scenes in the movie but that's all the wrong I can say about this film I really liked it.

    Now a very mean comment, sorry. Other thing that I want to say it's this: "Fight Club it’s overrated". This is probably the worst thing you wrote on this blog. IF YOU MAKE SUCH A BALLSY STATEMENT YOU NEED TO HAVE BACKUP. I agree it's overrated, but "It’s over long and seriously loses steam once the Project Mayhem segment begins" is not a fault or a flaw, it's personal opinion. And I think you understand that someone would be offended by this but I'm not. The film, I agree, is good, not great, but give a shit about what you say Okay. I can say that Taxi Driver is overrated because I consider the main character stupid but that's just personal opinion. And that was my first opinion, now I love the movie. Look I can say why Fight Club isn't the best film ever: it's smart, but it's the kind of smart that everybody can appreciate, in other words it's very accessible, everybody can like it, it's not challenging, it's good. Sorry that I was so rude, but I was really pissed off, you're one of the best blog writers and I appreciate your writing so much.

    1. But dude, keep in mind, I wrote this FIVE years ago. I don't agree with that opinion of mine anymore. Though I would say that Fight Club is far from Fincher's best film.

    2. Well, Fight Club is one of the only Fincher films that I didn't bought the dvd. I wasn't so excited to hear the audio commentary.