I got fed up of hearing about, reading about and generally being surrounded by everything politics so I decided to write something about films to distract myself. If you also want to distract yourself from the consistent onslaught then have a read.
I implore you to watch all the films that I’m going to write about and become fans of Fincher by doing so. There’s no way that you won’t be. I won’t be writing about Panic Room, Zodiac, A Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo out of laziness. This doesn’t mean they aren’t good films, I just don’t feel like writing about them today.
Similar to my post about Kevin Spacey, I’m going to break down some of David Fincher’s work and why I love them so much in an extremely amateurish way. David Fincher is one of my favourite filmmakers of all time with one of the most impressive movie catalogues ever, with the only real dud being Alien 3 but that was mainly due to studio interference. I’m now going to go through some of Fincher’s movies that I like and discuss why I like them. Yes I am going to mention spoilers because I’m talking about the plot and can’t be bothered to avoid them.
I wrote about this film before in my Kevin Spacey post, yet I doubt this will be the last time I write about it due to my love for it. The reason I like the plot of this film so much is that it’s rare that the “baddie” completes his evil plan. So often in film the good guy thwarts the bad guy’s plan and everyone lives happily ever after singing nursery rhymes in fields of daisies. This doesn’t happen, the twisted evil plan from the twisted evil man comes to fruition and is completed. I’ll quickly break down how John Doe (JD) carries out each of his treacherous acts in the style of the 7 deadly sins.
Gluttony: To punish a rotund man for his unhealthy eating habits, JD forces him to eat until his stomach explodes and then ties him up like a hog – apple in mouth and all that – after he dies.
Greed: JD drains the blood and removes a pound of flesh (à la Shylock) from a greedy defense attorney. To emulate what JD perceives he’s done to society.
Sloth: JD ties down a known drug dealer and child molester to a bed. And photographs the gradual decline of his physical health over a year (he’s found a year to the day from when the first photo’s taken). The police assume he’s dead when they find him due to his stench and the decay of his body but to the surprise of everyone – especially the viewer – the zombie-like creature coughs and moves and freaks everyone out.
Lust: This is the most brutal and harrowing death of all in the film, yet it isn’t shown – merely described. JD forces a man to wear some kind of bladed dildo thing and rape a prostitute to death with it. Causing severe mental trauma to the man and a gruesome death for the woman.
Pride: JD disfigures a beautiful woman’s face and gives her either the option of taking suicide pills or to call for help. She chooses to kill herself rather than living life without being beautiful. She chose “pride” in death and died beautiful rather than being alive with ugliness. I don’t think the choice she took is that of pride, more stupidity, but that’s a different matter.
The film concludes with the famous “what’s in the box?” scene where we never actually see Gwyneth Paltrow’s cut off head in the box (although many claim that they have).
Despite this, many people believe that they can remember seeing the head, due to John Doe’s (Kevin Spacey’s character) goading of Detective Mills (Brad Pitt’s character) in describing cutting the head off his pregnant wife. A gruesome scene, perfectly crafted culminating in Mills losing his head and shooting Doe multiple times in the head. Completing the last 2 sins of the 7, envy and wrath. With Doe killing Tracy due to his envy of her married life with Mills, and Mills’ revenge shooting Doe being wrath.
The bleak and gritty atmosphere of the film, the concept of JD’s plan and the culmination of the film with the incredible what’s in the box scene mean that this is my joint favourite film ever. (Along with American Psycho which I’m sure I’ll write about at some other point).
Gone Girl: (AKA the film in which Rosamund Pike was robbed of an Oscar)
I’ve always loved an anti-hero, be it Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange, Walter White in Breaking bad or, the best of all time, Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of the psychopathic Amy Dunne is another to add to that list. She was raised terribly by exploitative parents who write books about what they wish their daughter to be in a series called “Amazing Amy”. She grows up twisted and sociopath-like due to this and carries out various evil acts throughout her life – the peak of these being disappearing and making it look like her husband, Nick, is responsible for her murder.
Nick is a bit of a self-centred wasteman. He has an affair with a student of his writing class, loses his job as a journalist during the financial crash and forces Amy to move back to Missouri with him due to his mother’s illness. They live off her trust fund money for a while until her parents ask for it back upon falling on hard times. With the rest of the money Nick buys a bar which he runs with his sister Margo.
Amy decides that she doesn’t want to live this life anymore with said wasteman and decides to inject some more enjoyment in her life. She creates the scene of her own murder – spilling her own blood and then wiping it up, getting Nick to go for a walk on his own so he wouldn’t have an alibi, using her neighbour’s urine to make it appear that she was pregnant, and changes her appearance before going into hiding.
People blame Nick due to the evidence against him and his general relaxed demeanour in front of the media when addressing Amy’s disappearance. Everything seems to be going well for Amy but in the trailer park she’s staying in, some other residents realise she has reams of cash on her and steal it. Realising that she doesn’t have any money left and nobody else to turn to, she runs to her rich ex-boyfriend Desi who protects her and keeps her in one of his houses. Later on she decides that he’s had his use and slits his throat during sex after faking that she’d been raped by him. She then goes back to Nick (still covered in Desi’s blood) and lies to the world that Desi kidnapped and raped her and that she somehow manged to heroically escape and head back to her husband.
There’s a whole media frenzy about the happy couple being back together yet they resent each other. She then uses him further to her own enjoyment by taking his semen from a sperm bank and artificially injects it into herself to make herself pregnant. For the sake of their child Nick plans to stay with her for at least the next 18 years.
The game is one of Fincher’s lesser known films and I think unjustly so. The plot follows multimillionaire fat cat banker Nicholas Van Orton (played by Michael Douglas), who isn’t happy with his life. He is distant from his ex-wife and family and can’t get rid of the image of when his father killed himself, living in a massive mansion on his own. On the day of his birthday, his brother gives him a voucher for a “game” put on by a company called CRS and tells him that it will change his life.
Nicholas then goes for a series of mental and physical tests to see if he can participate in this game. He is told that he failed to qualify for this game but it’s quite clear that this isn’t the case.
His life goes into turmoil, with his reputation, money and safety supposedly at risk. He’s never sure what’s reality and what isn’t and goes off on a series of adventures trying to find out what’s happening to him and how to find out what the truth is behind CRS and how it’s effecting him.
The main message of the film is that you shouldn’t spend your life working and doing things you don’t enjoy doing even if it brings you success and money. Live life to the fullest and don’t spend your entire time grinding to the point where you’re unhappy and don’t want to live anymore – like Nicholas’ father.
I don’t want to write a whole lot more about this film as I enjoyed not knowing a huge amount about it when watching it, especially the ongoing battle of working out what’s reality and what isn’t.
To start off I don’t dislike this film, I just think that it’s overrated. There are many things that don’t make sense and enormous plot holes throughout that for a pedant like me I find impossible to overlook. That doesn’t mean that the film doesn’t have it’s good parts, most of these from Helena Bonham Carter who puts in the performance of her career in my opinion.
It really irritates me that this film is rated so highly by so many (to the point where it’s the #10 rated film on IMDB) as I think it’s Fincher’s weakest film, apart from Alien 3. Yes the rules of fight club speech is cool, but that doesn’t mean it’s a better film than Se7en, which is 12 places below it on the IMDB top rated movies list.
I could go into more detail about things in Fight Club that I don’t like or don’t make sense plot-wise, but I really can’t be bothered.
And there it is, the Fincher films that I could be bothered about, hope you enjoyed.