What up yo.
I just listened to a 45 minute long audio podcast of Kurt Anderson interviewing the master, film director David Fincher
As he is currently promoting his latest film “Gone Girl”.
Finch discusses the first visual-storytelling stimuli that sparked his interest in filmmaking when he was seven years old…
How he grew up in California during the terrorizing reign of the Zodiac Killer…
And he makes a comment that is, to me, maybe the most insightful & telling comment I have ever heard him make:
Which is that if he had the chance, he would reshoot 90% of his work.
I’m going to make a ridiculous statement here:
I’ve taken pictures, still do, here and there, and it’s men like Fincher that inspired me to pick up a camera in the first place.
The ridiculous point is that I am comparing taking a picture to the work that Finch does.
But I write this because I also find it difficult to look at the images I’ve taken in the past. When I do, I cringe and wish I had known more and created something better.
The more you learn, the more you wish you knew then.
You just can’t get moments back. Ever.
And it’s capturing the moments and the light…
Utilizing all you’ve learned up until that moment to create and capture…
I think the artist looks back and recognizes that had they known a few of the things they’ve picked up since…
They could have created something different.
While the perfectionist thinks they could have created something better.
And it eats at them.
Fincher is the latter.
It was a comment that I instantly related to.
It is his attention to detail…
That drive to create visual, coherent perfection in him that make his films and videos of the past as beautiful and rich as they are.
I’m certain it isn’t something he can see in his own work…
Be it “Alien 3”, which showed all the signs of the sumptuous Fincheresque style we would all come to know him for.
This is especially apparent when watching the workprint of that film.
It is here you can clearly see what he was “going for” with this film before 20th Century Fox hijacked it from him.
Fox pushed him in a corner. He had a horrible experience on that film. And he walked away knowing that from then on he would demand what all the masters do:
He would demand final cut.
And that’s when he stood back, cut Brad’s hair
and created the world of “Se7en” that took the cinephile world by storm and introduced us to the Fincher Film.
Each frame of Se7en is a painting. The film is punishing. The style is dark & exacting. Gorgeous and luscious. The subject matter is pure detective film noir, with an ending that he had to fight for…
An ending that would go on to alter cinema.
WHAT’S IN THE FUCKIN BOX!!!”
His next film, 1997’s “The Game“, is my second favorite of his films. It is, as he would describe back then:
“a complete mind fuck of a film.”
The shots, the pacing and the editing of that film, the music placement throughout…which he would put only in moments where he knew the audience would expect silence…
While he would put silence in moments where the audience would expect music.
Here he was honing his vision, his storytelling ability, his style…
The journey that Michael Douglas’s Nicholas Van Horton takes while playing “The Game” was unrelenting and absolutely lost me until the ending hit me in the face like a sledgehammer.
Maybe we had seen everything this guy had to offer?
Not everybody signed up for the game and took the ride…
They were confused which honestly is the best compliment you can pay him with that film…
Then he read a novel called Fight Club.
He knew it was Brad’s film.
He explained it to Pitt…
Pitt was hesitant.
He was doing films like “Seven Years In Tibet”
Finch grabbed the script, drove to Pitts house and sat on the front steps waiting for him until he came home that night.
When Pitt showed up, he told him he had to read it now.
Pitt relented, read it there…
And Tyler Durden was born.
We would all stand back and marvel at his genius…
The dark gorgeous, photography…
The disturbing and incredibly liberating subject matter
It scared and confused people and the man at Fox who championed it was fired when it didn’t make it’s $70 million budget back (it only pulled in half that theatrically)
Then the DVD was released. People began to be exposed to it.
Fincher had cracked it wide open.
He was now auteur.
A cinematic, renegade genius.
Making bold and beautiful statements.
A Martin Scorsese for the new generation.
The anti Spielberg.
He then made “Panic Room”
But it’s Fincher, so you forgive him and Jodi.
It’s not a bad movie, it’s actually…
It’s just not what we expected next from the director of “Se7en” & “Fight Club”.
Then Fincher vanishes.
After a long sabbatical, rumors start circulating that he is working on a new film about the zodiac killer.
A 3 hour running time, with “Zodiac”, we are introduced to the next evolution of Fincher.
Directed with meticulous precision…this is my favorite film of his…so far.
A film that is, in reality, three separate films.
A comprehensive, brilliantly edited & composed exploration of all the facts behind the case.
Then there is the way he embraces Digital Technology to make such striking and elegant visual symphonies like “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button“…
Or the engaging, intelligent and kinetic film “The Social Network”…
Or his 2011 remake “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”
Even though this was a remake, and one that seemed to mimic the original a bit too much for my taste…there are still those quintessential Fincher shots in the film the casting Trent Reznors score, the genius advertising (how long have you been staring at the one sheet above?)
Each film takes his talents and technique, his prowess and ability with the artform even further than you thought he could have before.
A pure artist, while my heart breaks imagining a film world without celluloid, men like Fincher have restored my faith in the digital filmmaking movement as he consistently demonstrates what is possible when we move beyond the familiar and venture into this new digital world and explore the potential it has.
The fact is, whenever I’m asked who my favorite director is…
Whether I say it or not…
The first name that always comes to my mind,
is David Fincher.
- Audio Podcast: “The Artful Violence Of David Fincher”
- Video: “David Fincher…And The Other Way Is Wrong”
As always, it’s high-octane, gasoline drenched content guaranteed to fill your belly and make you explode.
In Tyler We Trust.