Among today’s film auteurs, Fincher stands above nearly everyone else. In fact I can’t think of a director not named Nolan who has a better eye for creating a full encompassing world through the lens. Today we’re gonna be discussing his best moments, and how these films have stood the rest of time, even if they aren’t yet considered old school classics.
5. GONE GIRL, 2014
Like many, my first exposure to this excruciating world came from the Flynn book of the same name. The book is amazing, if not also infuriating. What Fincher does is bring the tense atmosphere of the book to a startling vision of a couple completely ruined in more ways than one. Ben Affleck as the husband is able to be likeable, at first, but over the course of the film you see different shades of a character. In the end though, Rosamund Pike steals the movie, and as you unravel the mystery, you realize that yes, Affleck as Nick isn’t a world class husband in any way, but his wife isn’t the glorious woman he thought she was. By the end of the movie you feel nauseous from watching all the terrible things that occur to the characters. You don’t end up feeling amazing. It’s a difficult film to watch, and the carnage depicted feels more real than it should. It’s strange. You don’t feel particularly bad for any of the characters, but what Nick goes through, no one deserves, even if he was a shitty husband. The moral is that even if you go through tremendous trauma, sometimes the end is just the beginning of a snake trap you can’t escape.
4. SE7EN, 1995
Speaking of snake traps, Se7en is another movie that seems to be rolling to a satisfactory climax, until bam, some shit goes down in the middle of nowhere and it’s at that moment you realize pain is eternal. You follow Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman through the ropes of various rings as they try to discover the identity of serial killer John Doe, but as the mystery reveals itself, this film becomes something else entirely. Legend has it spacey only accepted the commanding role on the condition that his name not appear in the opening credits, thinking it woul make the reveal of himself as the killer more shocking. It worked, and for most of the movie he serves as the demon lurking in the darkness, circling the city and Detectives Mills and Somerset. The scenes are brilliantly plotted out, and the terror, and rushed adrenaline of some sections forced you to watch. It’s a gorgeously dark film. The sets, the overall narrative and the ultimate reveal of the villain are perfectly executed( like the lawyer), but it’s those final moments when you realize that the villain won the war before the final battle, and all that’s left is to see what results from the fallout of that crucial nail biting final scene. He didn’t know.
3. FIGHT CLUB, 1999
Maybe the best initial viewing of a movie I’ve ever had in my life. When this came it my high school buddy Miles drug me to see it proclaiming it as the best movie ever. It’s not, but I definitely thought it was for a considerable period of time. I won’t delve too far into the exact plot if the movie, but it’s very much in the spirit of the novel by Palahniuk. It expertly captures the feelings of a lost generation, unsure of the next move. The feel of it is dense and without empathy, but it’s relatable. When Tyler and Jack are talking about what they should've done with their lives you feel that misguided optimism so many of our generation feel. We all weren’t supposed to be famous and Nobel and brilliant. It’s brutal in its portrayal of beauty and poetic in its portrayal of rebellion, and it just works. The acting by the big three of Pitt, Norton and Carter carries the film as much as the message does. We aren’t special, and we aren’t all meant for wondrous things. Sometimes though doing the most destructive things can set us free, and that’s what I take away from the movie. It’s aged incredibly well, and in some ways it’s serves as a warning call to the world were living in now. Would Tyler Durden be checking his Facebook all day while posting pics of kids that only his family cares about for likes and hearts? Fuck no he wouldn’t. We’re doomed as a society, and still Fight Club reminds us that the “ things we own end up owning us.”
2. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, 2011
There are two camps for this novel turned film series. One is the Swedish versions of the Millennium trilogy, while the other is represented. By Fincher's attempt to see it through more American eyes. For me this is the best version. It’s expertly directed as usual, and the performances by Mara, Craig and essentially the entire cast is a master class in adaptations. The time is set early one, with Fincher's coldest, and best qualities burning themselves to the film. It’s gorgeous throughout, and the plot is top notch. It was easily the best movie I saw the year of its release, and on multiple viewings you pick up more and more. It’s a long film, but it never feels tired or lost in its vision. From the opening moments where we see Christopher Plummer opening up another sad reminder, until the chaotic conclusion and the solving of the crime at hand, you’re on the edge of your seat. It’s brutally captivating in a way most films aren't Rooney’s performance as Lisbeth is the stuff of legends. She’s viscous yet smart in regards to how she views the world, but you’d probably be the same if you went through what she has. Sadly the other books never got the Finchers treatment, which is a shame because both of those could’ve been incredible films. It’s cold, distant, and deceiving from start to finish. An excellent film, that lands at number two on this list. Truly a must watch if you’re a fan of the series.
1. ZODIAC, 2007
Goddamn is this a great movie. There’s a reason it’s often hailed as not only Fincher's best, but also one of the best films of the Aughts. Everyone who either grew up during that era, or happens to a be serial killer buff(probably not the best word to be honest) is aware of the Zodiac killer and how she shattered the safety of the Californian north during the 70’s. The movie opens up with a murder, but the change in narrative between the committal of the crimes and how investigators far and wide try to dissect is masterfully done. Fincher takes long cuts during the horrific moments, forcing the viewer to stay focused, even if what is being shown on screen isn’t something you want to see, or think about. The cast surrounding the film is top notch as well. Gyllenhall as the eventual last soldier still trying to figure it out was an excellent choice, but having Downey Jr. as the intrepid drunk reporter makes them a one two bunch. Rounded out by police officer Mark Ruffalo and plenty of other great but less recognizable actors and what you get is another genius project from one of the best directors alive. Like I said it’s a slow burn of a film, but plenty of scenes are unnerving in their execution, specifically the cellar scene towards the films climax. That one segment of the film is somehow scarier than the grisly murders you see throughout the film. It’s just a perfectly fine film, and for that reason it makes the number one spot on the Top David Fincher films.
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Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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