With the imminent arrival of his version of David Fincher., I thought it was time to examine the work of a true genius of modern cinema –
From Se7en to, from The Game to Panic Room, from Zodiac to , here is a truly gifted film maker at work. Even Alien 3, his debut feature, was told with his trademark visual flair and dynamic story-telling drive. So what if people didn’t think it kicked as much arse as ‘s Aliens, or the seminal first movie, it was a whole different tone.
But he followed that with a blow to the solar plexus that was Se7en – in retrospect, possibly seen as his real debut. One of my favourite films, that just never disappoints viewing after viewing. The serial killer movie that redefined the whole genre, contains some of the most exquisite cinematography in modern film, courtesy of the great Darius Khondji, as well as two stellar performances at its centre (or three if you count a certain cameo), illustrating that you can do something different with the world weary cop who’s seen too much and never fired his gun, to the driven, young detective with everything to prove and lose. Somerset, played by Morgan Freeman, with the kind of jaded wisdom that you really hadn’t seen done quite that way before, is the intelligent focused centre around which Mills, played by (in the first of his killer trilogy of performances for the director), revolves and will maybe learn something from. Stunning. Just stunning.
Of his movies following that, I loved the sheer spiralling and disconcerting nightmare of The Game, the mind blowing daring of Fight Club, the pressure cooker ensemble of Panic Room and best of all, the epic, frightening reconstruction of Zodiac – the serial killer who terrorised San Francisco in the late 60’s and 70’s and told superbly through 3 very different characters –‘s boozy but tenacious newshound, Mark Ruffalo’s dogged, straight-as-an-arrow cop and Jake Gyllenhaal’s geekily brilliant cartoonist cum crusader.
So now we have the reinvention of , one of modern literature’s most visceral heroines, who fights her cause in a bloody and brutal world, aided only by the honest journalist, who is actually her soul mate, Mikael Blomkvist in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I can’t tell you how excited I am by the thought that the first of Stieg Larsson’s stories involving these 2 characters is being re-envisioned by Mr Fincher. It seems such a natural pairing.
Plus, after the success of working alongside the terrific Aaron Sorkin on(which I’m sorry, should have won ‘Best Picture’), he is working with another great wordsmith on this project, Steven Zaillian – the superb screenwriter responsible for amongst others Schindler’s List, Clear and Present Danger, American Gangster, Gangs of New York and Moneyball. Add to that, the dynamic casting of Daniel Craig and (startling in the opening scene of The Social Network and already drawing huge praise for her portrayal of Lisbeth), alongside support to die for – Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Steven Berkoff, Goran Visnjic – we have everything in place for a real cinematic event.
People comment on Fincher’s interest in darkness and shadows and I certainly think those are themes that allow him to examine characters and situations that push our buttons and push the boundaries of storytelling in film. Even The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which before I saw it I thought was a step away from his usual metier, being a sweeping, romantic epic but having seen it, was blown away by the dark melancholy at its heart. I love the fact he tackles hard stories and what’s more executes them with such a specificity, borne out of many takes (90 + for the bar scene at the start of The Social Network), incredible detail in each frame and what must be the most clear vision of what he wants to see at the start.
And so I look forward to whatever’s next out of Fincher’s bag of tricks. Apart from hopefully the second and third Tattoos, on the slate for 2012 is the US tv version of the acidly witty political drama House of Cards, reuniting him with Kevin Spacey (as Chief Whip Francis Urquhart). Mmm, can’t wait. Darkness, bring it on.Tags: David Fincher, directing, Fight Club, Panic Room, Se7en, Seven, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Game, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the social network, Zodiac