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Monday, December 30, 2013

Director Retrospectives- David Fincher PT 1

This is part one of a three part retrospective of David Fincher. Future instalments with discuss Fight Club, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Panic Room, The Game, Zodiac, Benjamin Button, Alien 3, and the first two episodes of House of Cards.

Part One- Polar Opposites- Se7en and The Social Network

Seven (1995)If Fincher didn’t invent the convention of the brilliant serial killer always being just one step ahead of the police, he unquestionably perfected it here. This is the twisted psychopath unleashing his vengeance upon the deserving, avaricious world at its absolute best. And this remains Fincher’s best film.

Two cops in New York are hunting a serial killer. The presence of the killer is momentous even before the detectives track him down, once caught, the killer is channeled through Kevin Spacey with a disturbingly authentic evil calm.
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker, this amazing original script that was almost never made. Walker wrote it as an original screenplay around 1991. Apparently he was quite depressed at the time. New Line Cinema bought it, but it took years before it went into production Walker went to work on other projects thinking the script would never be made, but it was. It was released Sept 22, 1995.
By using the seven deadly sins as the basis for justifying the killer’s prerogative, the film’s plot is definitely one of the best around, added to this amped up, excellent performances by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, the production comes off flawlessly, but Seven is so haunting and goes down as one of the best Thrillers of all time because of Fincher’s vision of a hellish New York. This world is poison and Fincher makes it seep. 

The grit and grime of the crimes scenes combined with filth of the city streets, alleyways, rooftops, constantly being pounded with rain, darkness engulf even the few happy moments of the film. So much of this film’s beauty is in the compilation. The sets and lighting are so complex that making Seven must have been the result of a finely tuned crew, each member bulked up on their own creative genius. It is how everything, every element aligns perfectly that makes Se7en such a phenomenal filmmaking achievement.

The Social Network (2010)- Maybe not understanding all the programming and math involved in the technical side of the project makes me feel like an idiot? I have no idea what any of equations or algorithms mean, or how to write script.
Maybe I’m a little jealous because I never got to go to college parties as glamorous as the ones in this film?
Or maybe the problem is that the subject matter it just so banal that despite the quality of the production, this film is lost on me?
I have a problem with this film that is so full of maybes. And yet for all its weaknesses, it won three Oscars, albeit one of them was for Baxter and Wall's editing, which is superb. Both editors have worked on numerous Fincher productions. 

None of the actors are convincing at portraying the real people they are supposed represent. Maybe that’s the point? They are attempting to play versions of Zuckerberg and Co. that seem more interesting than the real, live versions.
I guess I see the reasoning behind this. As activities, creating companies, programming computers, or writing software, no matter how profound, aren’t exactly as riveting as invading Bin Laden’s compound, or smuggling blood diamonds out of Liberia.
Still, I am no fan of Jesse Eisenberg. His success is baffling to me. He was for a while a Michael Cera impersonation gone wrong, now, whatever he is, he does it well. He sells tons of tickets…but none of them are to me.
The best part about this film is that it has Rooney Mara, briefly. Later she becomes Lisbeth in Dragon Tattoo.

The most interesting thing about this film is simply that it exists and was so successful. Rather, that a production company actually paid David Fincher to try and create a full-on thriller packed with betraying, greedy, snarky little boys either getting their way, or losing millions of dollars. Poor babies.
Even if in the end Zuckerberg did create something monumental, so what. It's just a monument to a monument. What does any of this represent? How does any of this change the world?
It’s not like Facebook has cured any sick people or stopped any wars. It’s arguably even created a recent few (of both).