Thanks to those involved in voting for the Directors’ Weekend poll. Clearly, the realm established by filmmaker David Fincher has certainly created a huge fanbase – I know some of you unashamedly declare him as your favorite of the modern era, or indeed all time. I know one guy who does not like any of Fincher’s films. Alas, here are the films you voted 10 through 6..
10) Alien 3
Butchered in its theatrical release, David Fincher’s disowned Alien 3 received a new Producer’s Cut, assembled with leftover footage from the original production and edited to Fincher’s notes. But even before post-production basically ripped the movie from Fincher’s hands, actual production and pre-production weren’t any smoother. Decisions constantly changed direction of the film, entire scenes were rewritten on set. And while negative reception still haunts this controversial third entry, the “Assembly Cut” allows audiences to get a glimpse into a unique take on a franchise that had no reason not to be terrible.
Fincher’s take on the series keeps the corridor horror but doesn’t aim to go bigger and louder than Aliens and still isn’t nearly as scary as Alien. What Alien 3 managed to accomplish, is a more melancholy “end of days” feeling. It’s not post-apocalyptic for the human race, but with Ripley surrounded by murky environments on a cold, desolate prison planet, it certainly feels like it.
Ripley is alone. She’s the sole survivor of every encounter with the horrifying Xenomorph creature. It’s taken everything from her. Her friends, family, her life. Who knows how many years it’s been since she has been back on Earth? She hates the creature and she’s tired. An operatic, haunting score from Elliot Goldenthal uses his booming operatics to influence the fantasia gore and splatterfest. It’s got more in common with a fantasy horror film than straight science fiction. Because that’s not what David Fincher was aiming for. We’ll never see his true, unfiltered vision for this film. What we can see is a story of a woman who has been tossed into the ass end of space, coming out the other side beaten and battered, and ready to fight tooth and nail to defeat a seemingly unstoppable evil once and for all. – – – by Diego
9) Panic Room
To be no. 9 in the David Fincher directorial rankings is no defeat, Panic Room has it’s pride and place among the filmmaker’s elite. Claustrophobic, chilling, and compelling, this was just Fincher’s 5th feature as director, already established with a bar raised so, so high. Not only does Panic Room introduce us to one of today’s most beloved actresses, it is also through and through drenched in Fincher’s formidable fingerprints, collaborating with cinematographers Connrad W. Hall and Darius Khondji to mesmerizing visual results. Think you’re not keen on this one, literally see it again and appreciate the technical terrain at least. – – – by Robin
8) The Game
The Game is one of the ultimate mind fucks of a film. It starts with a premise to play a game and let yourself get taken in by what happens, and know that it’s not real. But then once shit starts to happen, what do you do know? This is what Michael Douglas has to go through after he is invited to play by his brother Sean Penn. Douglas plays Nicolas Van Orton, who is in somewhat of a mid-life crisis after he reaches the same age that his father was when he committed suicide at the age of 48. He decides to see if this game can cure him of his funk, but what he doesn’t realize is how invested he will become and how much it will effect everything in his life, to the point of fearing for his own safety. I was quite taken with this film when I saw it because I had never seen a film premise like this before, and was so unaware of where it was taking me, just like Nicolas. Everything he was experiencing felt like I was too. It’s great when I film can suck you in like that and have you come out the other side with both an emotional and phycological gut punch. – – – by Al
7) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
However unFincher this turns out to be, which ironically translated extremely well with AMPAS, here is a movie that swells with all manner of crowd-pleasing components. A rich story (Eric Roth somehow regurgitates strands of his Forrest Gump), told with a deft, attention-to-detail by Fincher, production design to savor, yet another penetrating score by Alexandre Desplat, accompanied by the familiar strong performances, sound design, and fluent editing. Not for everyone, sure, but a dear peer and friend of mine recently declared she was smitten by The Curious Case of Benjamin Button because of it’s poignant depiction of her home New Orleans. Courtney could no doubt showcase that movies touch us is countless ways, that even David Fincher can come out of the dark and reach the heart. – – – by Robin
6) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
While the American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo doesn’t come anywhere near the greatness of The Social Network or even Gone Girl, it is still a thrilling and successful adaptation of the famed novel by late author Stieg Larsson, and the fact that it is one of Fincher’s lesser movies is a testament to his directing power. In The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Fincher uses some of his traditional filmmaking aesthetics: a chilly score, brooding cinematography, breezy yet caffeinated editing, and even a rich female lead performance in the form of Rooney Mara’s performance as Lisbeth Salander. Mara captures both the detached social nature and livewire ferocity of Lisbeth amazingly, and it is no wonder that she managed to score an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Lastly, this film has one of the best opening credit sequences I’ve ever seen in a motion picture. – – – by Matt
David Fincher’s top 5 coming up. What are your thoughts on these so far?