The 28th. August 28th, to be exact. Year? 1962. The atmosphere is stale, the light is saturated, the frame is tightly composed—carefully shot but seemingly always dislocated. The inner psychology of the character has its external limits. Are we talking about the conditions in which David Fincher was born? Quite possibly. His filmmaking style seems to indicate a familiar but dark and twisted world in which characters confront perhaps their inner demons. Films such as Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999), Panic Room (2002), Zodiac (2007), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), The Social Network (2010), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), Gone Girl (2014) and most currently his work on the Netflix series House of Cards (2013-present) engulf his filmography only up to 2015. It would seem then that David Fincher is only just beginning, that his take on thrillers and film-making in general is a visual record of the fast-paced, shattered and ultimately mad condition of the times. So, ladies and gents, without further ado, I will proceed with the spotlighting.
Fight Club (1999): I’m sorry, did we not see this coming? Fight Club is a classic, meshing together the realistic and illusionistic multitudes of the current human psyche—self-help-seeking, paranoid, cynical, dark in humor and in search of something fresh amidst the grip of identity crises. Indeed, Fight Club is just that; an avenue (however, illusionary) in which to expel one’s suppressed, uninhibited, and perhaps psychotic persona. Fincher certainly captures that one can never certainly know what is real and what is not, what our suppressed desires alone conceptualize. This neo-noir thriller is a study in what some may call the Post-modern era, the schizophrenic experience–rapid cutting, jarring compositions, and seemingly an indifference to crisis. The film is marvelously made; an excellent aesthetic balance struck between thoughtful form and disjointed content.
Gone Girl (2014): The most recent [film] addition under David Fincher’s name is certainly Gone Girl. I must confess, however, that the extreme fawning over this film both from my peers and the media, I was not so enthusiastic to watch this at first. I had grasped the film with an already formulated expectation. But in the end it had spoken for itself. Through controlled framing and stylish direction, Fincher’s Gone Girl catapults the viewer into the mysteries of familiarity. In the twisted scene where Amy (Rosamund Pike) is attempting to seduce Desi (Neil Patrick Harris), Fincher crafts the scene in an almost deliciously tragic, operatic fashion, sufficiently bloody to cringe away from, yet thoroughly graceful enough to revel and almost delight in Amy’s choreographed feat. An insane thought perhaps, but we are discussing Fincher.
House of Cards (2013-present): And then there was television for the cool dames and fancy cats or vice versa out there. Well, not exactly. In the unfeasible interface through which David Fincher’s House of Cards exists, again we are faced with an antagonistic protagonist (or is it the other way around?) that seems to resemble the ‘bizarro’ half, if you will, of the individual–charismatic at times yet deceitful, greedy, power-hungry and merciless. Already in its third season, Cards has already proven to be a tour-de-force in the creative and ever-expanding field of “cinematic television”. For the sake of readers who perhaps are not quite up to speed on season 3 or the series in general, I will refrain from so-called spoilers. But, there’s a scene in an episode within season 3 in which Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is literally standing below a crucified Jesus Christ in a church. Even still, the menacing Underwood unflinchingly speaks to Christ as if the positions were the other way around. The sequence is noir-esque and unforgiving. Frank thinks larger than himself, but is it that reflection of him or of us who delight in the exchange? Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant I say.
Well, there you have it. A celebration, albeit brief, of director David Fincher in honor of his birthday. I came across a flyer once that was admonishing people of the ills of television and film stating that it includes “bloody scenes of holdups, fights, murder, drinking, smoking, dancing, and scantily clad men and women”. Here’s to you, Fincher. Cheers indeed.