“[My wife] was extremely vociferous, for instance, when she said, ‘Don’t make The Game.’ And in hindsight, my wife was right. We didn’t figure out the third act, and it was my fault, because I thought if you could just keep your foot on the throttle it would be liberating and funny. I know what I like, and one thing I definitely like is not knowing where a movie is going.” – David Fincher, Playboy (Oct. 2014)
What we have here is a very rare instance of me disagreeing with a great director who is bashing their own work. I love The Game, and I love how its intricate puzzle begins to come together in the third act. I’m very surprised Fincher has such big problems with it, but so it goes. In honor of the release of Fincher’s latest film, Gone Girl (which is fantastic, but more on that in a future post), I thought it’d be fun to dive back to one of his more overlooked movies. A film that, apparently, isn’t as liked by its maker as I once hoped. (Please note that this post contains major spoilers.)
If there’s a contemporary director who knows how to create a compelling opening title sequence, then it is surely David Fincher.
This actor playing the father (real name: Charles Martinet) is so good. The formality of his posture, the importance he gives his cigarette – you can tell this guy is bored with his own life.
I don’t know what it is about bathroom mirrors, but I love them. Every film I’ve made features at least one key scene in which a character stands in front of a bathroom mirror. So, naturally, I love that Nicholas Van Orton is introduced to us by giving himself a disapproving look in his bathroom mirror.
Whenever I write one of these posts, I watch the movie with my high-quality headphones on. So, this is the first time I noticed that during this insert shot of Nicholas’ watch, you can just barely hear the watch ticking. The detail. Fuckin’ Fincher, man.
If you ever want a master class in framing, watch a David Fincher film. Rarely is his camera positioned in any other way than the one right way. His compositions are flawless.
Breakfast: standing up, in the kitchen, reading the paper, tie flipped over the suit. Think about how much this says about Nicholas.
It’s funny that we never refer to Fincher as a great San Francisco director, because damn if he doesn’t know how to shoot the hell out of that city. (For further reading, see Zodiac and The Social Network.)
The disgusting level of entitlement Nicholas carries himself with is best discovered in the details. I love (love, love) the way he rudely orders another iced tea while eating lunch. Such an asshole.
James Rebhorn. Miss this guy. The way he subtly deflates Nicholas’ ego is quite a feat. And I adore how he sells the line, “Oh… it’s a game.”
I’ve written about the physical scene in this film before, but again, only David Fincher can make a boring medical examination a thing of sheer entertainment.
Why not shoot this in extreme slow motion with insanely lengthy crossfades? Man, I miss Harris Savides.
The news anchor breaking the forth wall and talking to Nicholas is a great double take. The first time I saw this film, I didn’t know what the hell was going on.
Crash, The Game, The Rat Pack, Payback, Sunshine, The Hurricane – Deborah Kara Unger crushed it in the ‘90s.
Great production design, jarring editing, cold cinematography – you can tell everyone involved had a blast with this scene.
I know Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” is overused in movies, but goddamn if it isn’t used perfectly in this film (twice). It expertly captures the chaos of this moment.
This is a great little moment. Watch how Nicholas doesn’t wait to introduce himself to the police, he simply sees that they’ve arrived and immediately begins leading them to the CRS office. For a moment, Nicholas’ entitlement is back. If only for a moment.
Look at the composition of this shot. Study the visual texture. You think that bright “street lamp” at the top right is just there?
This is the scene of the movie. Nicholas Van Orton, ruthlessly entitled millionaire-turned filthy beggar. I love Douglas’ defeated nuance in this moment. “Anybody…?”
Again, I’m so surprised Fincher doesn’t like the third act of this movie. I absolutely love the way the puzzle starts to come together.
This is my favorite What. The. Fuck. moment of the film. I had no idea what the hell was happening the first time I saw it.
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