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David Fincher

The Killer – David Fincher (2023)

  • thriller

Thanks to Filmofiel for notifying me to a descent film on Netflix. A Netflix original even.

We follow a killer for hire on a job. In long monologues the killer tells the viewers about his job, his methodology, his state of mind and the world. His hit goes wrong, though, and he hurries back to his house in South America. There he finds his partner dead. Obviously somebody is after him for the job gone wrong. He decides that is is better to strike first.

Now you may expect a John Wick type explosion of violence, but “The Killer” is actually a very slow, minimalist movie. Nothing we have not seen before, but Fincher worked it out well and the result is a slow and moody action thriller.

Mank – David Fincher (2020)

  • drama

The title of this film refers to Herman Mankiewicz, a writer who starts to write for movies in the 1930’ies. Mankiewicz is played by Gary Oldman.

The film brings memories of Georges Clooney’s “Good Night, And Good Luck” (2005). Both are films playing in Hollywood where entertainment and politics are closer than one may imagine.

In the 1930’ies the political divide in Hollywood appears to have been between Communists and anti-Communists. People gather to talk about films, films of the competition, but also about politics.

In spite of his alcoholism, Mank has a keen observing eye. His writing skills make him a respected man in some regards, but in his drinking bouts he also swims against the tides of people close to him. The fact that he has to write a script in record-time just after having been involved in a car-crash complicates his situation. Apparently he decides to mix his script with current events, something that is not received with applaus.

“Mank” is an amusing film with subtle humour, nice characters, a nice 1930’ies setting and even a message of sorts.

Se7en – David Fincher (1995)

That is odd. I have known this film since it came out. I have seen it several times and when I bought a DVD recently I came home to find out that I already had it. So why did I never come to review it? Because it is too old? Because it was not old enough to be a ‘classic’? Well, it is a classic and deserves a place in the halls of this website.

Are there people who never saw the film? With “Manhunter” (1986) (he did I not review this film either? it is great) and “The Silence Of The Lambs” (1991) this is the mother of serial killer thrillers. Both these films where fairly dark and bloody, but “Se7en” rushes past in that. “Se7en” is one of the early films with a story that involves a puzzle too. Indeed, a classic. I did not remember the hip opening credits which also foreshadow films to come.

Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt) investigate a serial killer who seems to use some sort of logic in the choosing and displaying his victims. Quite gruesome too. The duo figures out the puzzle and set out to catch the bad guy. He has a closing surprise though.

Now, over two decades later, countless films have been made with these elements, but seldom as good as in “se7en”. There is not yet the ‘look what bloody murders I come up with’ type of script writing (well maybe this is one of the starts for these elements). Just a well made, gloomy thriller with some gruesome details.

I remember that I figured out the last two deadly sins when I first saw the film, but even when you know what is coming, “Se7en” is a great film.

Gone Girl * David Fincher (2014)

One day Nick Dunne comes home finding out that his beautiful wife is missing. When the police start its investigation, Dunne soon becomes the prime suspect for the murder of his wife.

The first part of the film is well done. It is told from Nick’s perspective and the situation becomes more and more awkward. His wife is an extraordinarily popular writer. Her parents immediately set up a gigantic search team and involve the media to find their daughter. This results in a huge media circus. Fincher nicely shows how the media is manipulated to manipulate the public opinion.

About halfway the film becomes explanatory and the level drops. A few plot-turns and shifts of perspective make that the film is not boring, but it never again reaches the atmosphere of the first part. In sum “Gone Girl” is a descent drama/thriller, but not more than that.

Zodiac * David Fincher (2007)

A film about the serial killer that called himself Zodiac from David Fincher whom we all known for films such as “Se7en”, “Fight Club” and “The Strange Case Of Benjamin Button”. Ficher took over 2,5 hours to tell the story of the killer of whom it is not with certainty known who he was. The film is based on the book by Robert Graysmith. Actually, the film is about how Graysmith wrote his book.
Graysmith was a cartoonist for one of the newspapers that received information of the media-horny Zodiac killer. Even when the Zodiac became less active, Graysmith continued his investigations.
The first part of the film is a thriller. We see the Zodiac performing his hideous crimes. Lateron the focus shifts more to the investigations and then to Graysmith. Obvious is the despair of not being able to find and catch the killer. The film has a good atmosphere and gives an interesting insight into a gruely story.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo * David Fincher (2011)

Of course I have never read the books, but also have I never seen the original film trilogy. I want to see them, but their lengths (all over 2,5 hours) hold me back. Then when we thought ‘what the hell’, our video on demand did not have the Swedish films, but the remake of the first part. No problem, because what a great film this is! This is certainly the best thriller that I have seen in some time. Scandinavian thrillers always tend to be nicely dark and gloomy so there may still be a reason to watch the original some time, but Fincher seems to have remained close the to original by not moving the story to the USA and using Swedish names. There are actually two stories (or three depending if one comes back in the second part). The troubled journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Graig) is asked to look into an old family scandal for which he is invited to an island where only this family lives. Then there is the story of the girl from the title, the violent Lisbeth Salander. These two stories come together in the film. The trouble of Blomkvist is not entirely clear to me, but he wrote something about a big company based on bogus sources and the company sues him and his employer. This story is not a big part of the film, but perhaps it comes back lateron in the trilogy.
The story is original and the film watches like reading a book. The atmosphere is good and the story unfolds in a nice, slow pace. There is none of the obligatory blazing action, but a story. The Lisbeth part and the end are a bit overdone, but a modern film needs some violence Fincher may have thought (or the author of the books). The wonderfull soundtrack is from Trent Reznor, so the NIN shirt in the beginning is doubly funny. Indeed, a good film so perhaps I now need to watch another five 2,5+’s…

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button * David Fincher (2008)

I wanted to see this film for a while, but the 166 minute length was a big reason why it took so long. I can say, the film is definately worth the 166 minutes, but I think it could have been a bit shorter. Of course you know that this film is about Benjamin Button who was born elderly and gets younger as he ages. The main story of this film is Benjamin (Brad Pitt) becoming friends with Daisy (Cate Blanchett) early in his life, but given the situation, this friendship can never be what it could have been otherwise. Later in their lives Benjamin and Daisy meet again, but only halfway their lives the love and romance that has always been there could lead to something feasible. Of course, this is only for a limited amount of time. This fact is worked out wonderfully with a heartbreaking melancholy and a short period of bliss. While not with Daisy, Benjamin has adventures of his own, strange ones of course, since a 15-year old elderly who sleeps with a woman for the first time of his life and drinks his first alcohol is a strange thing for the rest of the world. “The Curious Case…” holds some nice (bigger and smaller) surprises in the story and in the overly realistic melancholy reminds me of “Magnolia“. It is (about) as good as this film too.

Fight Club * David Fincher * 1999

However I have known about this film I never watched it since action-movies are not realy my kind of film. In the end it turned out to be a bit more than an action film: a violent lesson in Zen!
What did I say there? Yes, read it again: a violent lesson in Zen.

Edward Norton plays Jack who is bored by his life as an insurance inspector who suffers from severe insomnia. Accidentally he runs into Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and the two become friends. After finding out about their mutual love for fighting and pain, they set up a fight club where strangers can beat the shit out of eachother and still become friends. Fight Club slowly evolves to become an anarchistic/terroristic organisation lead by Jack and Tyler.

Tyler has the strangest philosophy of life which gets pretty close to what you hear from the Buddhist corner of Zen at times. He wants Jack and later his other students to become unattached by the material world, fame, appearance, etc. Also he says that the destruction of life (your own or that of others) will result in higher appreciation of it, but death is something to definately not worry about. During the film Tyler says a lot of things which are in total contrast to his lifestyle and it seems that through violence he wants to reach harmony with himself and the world. Taking ascesitism and self-mutilation to extremes, I like the idea of Fincher and his story.

What I don’t like too much is the end which is very Matrix/Existenz-like. Also the length is a bit overdone (135 min). But overall “Fight Club” is better than I expected and it reveals some strange abnormalities in peoples (spiritual) lifes to extremes.