Friday, October 18, 2013

Top 30 Things I Love About Se7en (that no one else talks about)

Is David Fincher’s Se7en the most disturbing, yet endlessly rewatchable film ever made? That was my main thought while watching the film recently. Here are a handful of other things that popped into my mind – moments rarely discussed that help make Se7en one of cinema’s most effective thrillers.


“Look. It’d be great for me if we didn’t start out… kicking each other in the balls.”

The way Brad Pitt leaves a cup of coffee on the street.


“I wonder… what exactly was the point of the conversation you were about to get into?”


The fact that this hard ass District Attorney really could be Shaft circa 1995.


The way Pitt shakes off hearing cops talk shit behind his back.


The brilliant master shot showing the GREED crime scene, tied perfectly with Howard Shore’s music.


“This not even my desk.”


The odd beauty of all these green desk lamps.


Mills ordering a cop to get him CliffsNotes.


The noise Morgan Freeman’s desk chair makes.


Morgan Freeman’s exuberant laugh. We don’t get to hear him laugh like that enough.


Pitt serving Freeman wine in a water glass.


The best scene in the film: “Honestly, have you ever seen anything like this?” “…No.”


How Pitt moves the ashtray out of his way.


John C. McGinley, badass.


Listen to the photographer’s voice. That really is Kevin Spacey.


“Could you at least sit across from me? I don’t want people thinkin’ we’re… dating.”


The way Pitt uses his god-awful neckties for many things: as a mask from stink, as a napkin for pizza grease, and so on.


“‘Of Human Bondage’… bondage?” “Not what you’re thinking.”


The sound design of the chase scene. Everything from the screaming children to loud televisions to a man yelling “Shut the fuck up!” in the background somewhere.


This woman’s half ass reasoning as to why she called Somerset about Doe.


How small Doe’s bed is. Shit is so creepy.


Pitt’s flashlight running out of battery. Seriously, who the hell thinks of such a tiny, perfect detail like that?


“If someone comes to your establishment, they wanna go downstairs and get a little oh-la-la, whatever… they gotta come to you, yeah?”


How Brad Pitt continually finishes his sentences with “Yeah?”


The ease of which Somerset and Mills finally come to agree.


The fact that Kevin Spacey can even make giving directions sound freaky as shit.


That subtle shriek that accompanies Shore’s score for the final sequence of the film.


“I don’t know, I don’t know.”


The scratchy detail of the end credits. No one does that.


Click here for more lists from And So it Begins, including:
Top 28 Things I Love About Heat (that no one else talks about)
Top 22 Things I Love About Goodfellas (that no one else talks about)
Top 13 Things I Love About Mulholland Dr. (that no one else talks about)

52 comments:

  1. Two things that jumped out at me when I watched it a little closer for a podcast episode:

    "The City" is never named. Considering studios' fetish with setting stories like this in New York, one wonders how this managed to duck the label. Turns out its Los Angeles, but the fact that its only ever referred to as "this city" makes me love it for the fact that it could be happening in any number of places.

    The violence - or the lack thereof. John Doe's victims die in some truly fucked-up ways, and yet with six of the seven, all we see is the aftermath. This film is described as brutal - rightfully so - but it's a testament to how little you have to actually SHOW an audience to convey a sense of brutality.

    Great post good sir. Made my day!

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment Ryan! I love the fact that the film never names the city, nor does it show any actual violence. Those are two things that help make it as accomplished as it is. Hey, do you have the link to that podcast episode? I'd love to give it a listen!

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    2. Ask and ye shall receive! If you likw what you hear, consider giving some of the others a go - the full series runs twelve episodes long, and plans for finally releasing series two in the coming months are afoot...

      http://filmlocker.podomatic.com/entry/2011-07-16T00_29_16-07_00

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    3. Nice man, will give it a listen this evening. Thanks for coming back and linking it!

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  2. I'm literally reading this post while procrastinating in the middle of writing a presentation on Se7en, I guess I'll take this list as inspiration to get back to work.

    Re-watched Se7en a couple of days ago in prep for this presentation and it really is a film that gets better with every re-watch. Such a clever film and I loved the similarities between John Doe and MIlls; both intent on cleansing the city of what they each perceive to be evil and will both happily break the law to do so. The conversation between them in the cop car and how they are both shown, not just John Doe, as trapped behind the bars in the car is a brilliant idea.

    But I think my favourite thing to do with the film is this quote from the DP Darius Khondi;
    “Sometimes the producer came to me and said ‘You know it’s a bit dark?’ I say ‘Yes, I know.'”

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    1. That's so cool that you were working on an essay when you came across this. What's the essay about? I'd love to give it a read.

      Your points are so spot on. Both Mills and Doe are completely trapped, and I love the way Fincher brings that out.

      I also remember hearing a variation of that Khondi quote. Hilarious.

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  3. If it makes you feel any better, I use the phrase, "This is not even my desk" in real life. Admittedly, no one gets it when I do, but I still do say it.

    I love the entirety of the library scene. It's filmed so beautifully and the music used (sorry, not enough of a classical wonk to name the piece) fits so well with what happens. It's visual poetry--that music combined with the images from the books Somerset is photocopying makes that scene nearly perfect.

    There are other things I love here. The laughter when Mills asks about workman's comp if he shaves off a nipple is a wonderful moment. The way each new day is announced. The constant downpour. The fact that John Doe limps in the chase scene after he falls and hurts his leg. How unsettling the opening credits are. John C. McGinley screaming "Dicks!" to get Mills's and Somerset's attention. The use of the phrase "...to spite her face." Mills's enthusiasm when he says, "Ladies and gentlmen, we have ourselves a homicide!"

    I could go on, but I'll stop.

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    1. That's priceless that you say that quote. I feel like half the things I say are movie quotes, and rarely do people get them. I'm just so... misunderstood. Ha.

      Library scene is incredible, for all the reasons you mentioned. Amazing that Fincher pulled off such a restrained, gorgeous scene in the middle of a gritty, raw thriller.

      You really could go on forever. That homicide line is great. And the way Freeman looks at him...

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  4. If the goal of this post was to get people to want to watch Se7en again well mission accomplished. I'd also like to point out that me and couple of other guys were listing annoying movie cliches (ones mostly found in thrillers) and I noticed how Se7en pretty much avoided every single one of them.
    -Dan

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    1. It definitely avoids cliches, which is what makes it so great. And really, is there ever a bad to rewatch Se7en?

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  5. I love this. Man, Morgan Freeman's laugh is amazeballs. And Kevin Spacey is excellent. I remember the first time he is revealed- it just makes sense. And I am continually amazed by how likeable Brad Pitt makes Mills. Those little things.

    And of course, Fincher is a master of details. I can't imagine what people's reactions must have been when this film came out.

    Great post :)

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    1. Thanks! I would've loved to have seen this in the theater. It was completely unlike anything that had been made. And you're right, when we see Spacey, it just fits so well. No one else could play that.

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  6. Oh, great post. Se7en is in my top 5 of all time and it truly is insanely rewatchable. I love all those little things Pitt does - the head shake when he hears the cop make fun of him, the coffee thing where he is standing in the rain, the ashtray thing. All those details really make his character feel like authentic person. Still, it's Freeman who is my win for this.

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    1. Thanks! I had no idea this was in your Top 5. That's awesome. Both of the details these two actors give their characters is just incredible. Authentic indeed.

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  7. That is great. One of the things I love about the film is the use of music from a remix of "Closer" in the opening credits (I don't remember which one as it's been a long time since I've listened to the EP) to David Bowie's "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" at the end of the credits. I need to see it again. It's been some years since I've seen it.

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    1. Oh hell yeah, those song choices are spot on. So damn appropriate. Especially those opening credits. Jesus christ.

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  8. I love Se7en.. I love Fincher. Man, I should have a Fincher weekend. Zodiac, here I come!

    But the list is awesome, it's weird that all your chosen things are not the first things that come to mind when I think of Se7en.. Yet, the green light thing is probably my favorite, it just looks so pretty in a midst of such an ugly plot.

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    1. Glad you like the list! I love having Fincher marathons, and Zodiac makes an excellent companion piece to Se7en. Great double feature there.

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  9. Oh man, I love this post so much! I'm glad you singled out John C. McGinley. I always kind of laughed at him yelling "We've got a box!" at the end.

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    1. Thanks! "Call the bomb squad, call the bomb squad, we gotta box!"

      Fuckin' McGinley... the man rules.

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  10. My number #2 of all time, so you know why I love this post. You mentioned leaving the coffee in the street. I always laugh at that. Great work, sir!

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    1. Thanks buddy! That whole scene with Pitt is hilarious. The way he's standing in the rain like a moron. I just love the hell out of David Mills.

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  11. Love this post, love that it's about Se7en. It's one of those films that (in my recent experience) film snobs seem to be gradually turning up their noses to and reinterpreting as a provocative film without real artistry. This movie is a genre masterpiece. My favourite thing about the film is that Fincher actually had his crew write up dozens of John Doe's journals! Not to mention building that insane, impressive library set from scratch.

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    1. Glad you like the post! Yeah, no matter how you cut it, Se7en is a genre masterpiece. The dedication to detail is astonishing. Far too few thrillers do that today.

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  12. Se7en is a masterpiece. My favorite thing about it is the restraint shown throughout the movie. First, we usually only see the result of Doe's work. Leaving things to our imagination makes it so much creepier than a slasher flick, for instance, where we get to see all the nasty details and get desensitized to what we're seeing. Lastly, we're never shown "what's in the box," again letting our imaginations run wild.

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    1. Those two things are why Se7en is so great. If we saw the crimes being committed, it would simply be too much. But by exercising restraint, we're privy to a fresh vision.

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  13. Great little details, all of them. Nice list here Alex. It's such a magnificent film. One of my favourites, in fact.

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    1. Thanks man. Really glad you like the list. Definitely one of my favorites too.

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  14. Seen it a hundred times and still a fair few things I hadn't actually noticed here. Great post... makes me want to get back into this film for another round asap!

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    1. Thanks man! I've seen this film so many times, and it never grows old. Hope you enjoy your next round with it!

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  15. Have you seen 12YAS yet? I can't wait to read your review.

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    1. Saw it Friday. Astounding. A perfect film. Review will be up in the next few days!

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  16. "This isn't even my desk" is my favourite line from any film, ever. Gets me every time. And Morgan Freeman's burst of laughter, love it. This list is the reason Seven is easily in my top 10 films of all time, yet you still managed to pick up on things I'd never noticed before, great job Alex!

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    1. Thanks man! Really glad you dig the post. "This not even my desk" is so priceless. Every single time. Love that delivery.

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  17. Brilliant attention to detail, Alex! I'll have to watch this classic soon.

    "This woman’s half ass reasoning as to why she called Somerset about Doe." HAHA FACT. Hilarious.

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    1. Thanks! I just love her strung out delivery of that bullshit story. The cop taking notes knows it's BS, but what the hell ya gonna do, you know? Great flick.

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  18. I think these are my favorite posts of yours.

    That wine in the water glass has always stayed with me. And the green lamps. I was in high school when I saw this, just entering real movie fandom, and that was one of the first times I remember being really conscious of what lighting in a film could evoke.

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    1. Really? That's nice to hear. Thanks man. They're a blast to create.

      I first saw this the summer going into 7th grade. Was home alone, and by the end, was freaked the fuck out. I loved every little bit of it. Crazy good.

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  19. Fantastic work as always man! I just updated my top 100 list, and I'm kicking myself for not putting this back on there.

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    1. Thanks buddy! Yeah, this is a great one for sure. But you have A LOT of solid flicks on your top 100, no doubt.

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  20. I finally saw this movie recently, and I am not a huge fan. I don't even know why I didn't like it more than I did -- I suspect it's a case of having heard too much hype beforehand. Love this post! You really nailed it here. :-) I absolutely loved the Cliff's Notes scene. Classic.

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    1. See, that's interesting, I thought you'd really appreciate the darkness of this movie. But yeah, fair enough, it isn't necessarily an easy film to love. Glad you like the post though :)

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  21. Se7en is my favourite Fincher film! And considering Fight Club and The Social Network are also on his resume that makes it very high praise indeed! My favourite scene: the shock during the sloth finding!

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    1. Se7en is the best, isn't it? My favorite Fincher as well. The first time I saw that Sloth scene... Jesus, I don't think I've ever been more freaked by a film.

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  22. I love Se7en, and I think the script is often unfairly overlooked. I often see people suggest the movie is more style over substance, but there is one great scene you haven't mentioned yet. I suppose it would be one of my favorite things no one talks about.

    It's the scene where the two detectives are waiting for the results of the finger print scan. Mills is trying to get comfortable on the couch, while Somerset stares off into space, reflecting on the futility of what they are doing. After talking about the mundane process of collection evidence, he trails off and says they're "Picking up diamonds on a deserted island. Saving them, in case we get rescued." And in an instant, we are taken from the dark, depressing hallway, to a very vivid image, one of a bright blue sky, crashing waves, and two desperate men, alone on a deserted island, stuffing diamonds into their pockets (or what remains of them), delirious, and grim, but still with a mind for personal reward stored in the back of their minds. And all of this comes from just two sentences, delivered by Morgan Freeman.

    A few others:

    The happy accident found in the scene where Mills recounts the time a fellow officer was shot, as he and Somerset drive to the Sloth crime scene. As he tells the story, sunlight peaks from between some buildings, and for two seconds the inside of the car is completely illuminated, with the light shining from Mills' seat, to Somerset's. It's a rare moment that the movie just happened to capture on film.

    I also love the extreme closeup on Doe's gun as he points it at Mills. The darkened face, the rain, the water droplets on the gun. The movie is a masterpiece, as far as I'm concerned.

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    1. Wow, I love the depth of which you look at that scene. Seriously, tremendous insight. Made me appreciate that moment so much more.

      Also, that close up of the gun is crazy good, and the sunlight creeping between those buildings is such a nice touch. I agree: a masterpiece, plain and simple. I love everything about this film.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a perfect comment.

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  23. Finally gave it another re-watch...and a review...http://dellonmovies.blogspot.com/2014/02/morgan-freeman-week-se7en.html

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    1. Awesome man, will check out your review ASAP.

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  24. The bar scene is just perfect ! i've never seen something like that before with the song in the background ( Gloria - Speaking of happiness) and the deep talking about apathy ...definitley my favourite movie of all time.
    Greetings from Morocco.

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    1. I love that scene too. Their articulate disagreement is so well played by each actor. Great call. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  25. "Get a haircut."

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    1. So good. I never knew what he was saying there, until I watched the movie with subtitles. Great line.

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