David Fincher as an Auteur #2

My second post discussing David Fincher as an auteur will focus on his depressing and negative endings which often show failure, sacrifice or suicide. It is a common thing for Fincher to involve himself with a film that is actually gritty, grim and dark such as Se7en, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and even The Game; however the endings and climax are always very important.

Fincher’s first directing role in Alien 3 shows this, it’s a cruel horrible world inside this prison where you are only waiting for your imminent death which is slow and tiring. An alien creature invades along with a lost and injured Ripley, a female isolated in this male dominated society and world which sets up a very harsh storyline. However at the end of the film there is no victory or success for either the prisoners or Ripley who we follow throughout, following a spray of guns the prisoners are shot and Ripley commits sacrificial suicide as she jumps into a pit of burning flames. As an audience we have nothing to be happy about, our main characters are all dead and with no victory showing how rubbish and cruel the situation was.

The same feeling is portrayed in the ending of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; throughout the film we follow the subplot which shows the growing relationship between our two main characters Mikael and Lisbeth. Lisbeth is someone who we feel very attached too and sympathetic towards, however at the end of the film dressed up and ready to meet Mikael she witnesses him leave with another woman leaving her distressed and upset. It is heart-breaking to watch, again there is no positive ending for the film or our character showing just how cruel this world is and society is.

Se7en and Fight Club two of Fincher’s big classics and all-time greats also follow this same outlook and perspective, mainly focusing on suicide. At the end of Se7en our main character witnesses his wife’s head decapitated in box and then gets himself arrested for shooting her murderer which is the serial killer being chased throughout the film. We can only assume that Mills is going to spend the rest of his life in a prison cell, alone and hopeless yet he knew this would be the chosen path when he pulled the trigger on John Doe therefore technically committing suicide as he kills of his future. Fight Club has the similar ending after an emotional and somewhat crazy journey our main character stands with a gun in his mouth ready to end it all, the same situation in The Game. Fincher creates this very depressing feeling of injustice, giving the message that the good guys don’t win in society. Se7en even ends with Somerset’s lines “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.” I agree with the second part.” This sums up the films and in a way Fincher’s message.

It is fair to say that Fincher has a negative look on society and life in general especially in his first set of directing roles. It seems that if you want Fincher behind your film, you better make sure there are no happy endings and it isn’t a romantic comedy.  Negative films and depressing endings are definitely and unarguably a trademark of David Fincher, if you didn’t see my last post on his representation of women click here.

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Panic Room (2002)

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Crime

Director: David Fincher

Writer: David Koepp

Starring: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker

Rating: ★★★★

Panic Room is a film that is both clever and at the same time thrilling, Fincher although not creating a classic but a film which is always remembered and known. A great storyline with innovative effects make for an entertaining and fulfilling watch, whilst stars such as Jodie Foster and a young Kristen Stewart add solid performances to cap of a good release.

The storyline focuses on a woman and her daughter on their first night within their new large Victorian three-floor apartment. Meg (Jodie Foster) is mum to Sarah (Kristen Stewart), divorced she looks after her diabetic and bold teenage daughter but her night is troubled when intruders invade. Three men searching for a missing and hidden fortune break into their new home but when Meg and Sarah are awoken by their surprised visitors they take refuge in the house’s panic room but what the intruders want is where the hosts are hiding. The intruders think of ways to fight their way in and scare the pair out, but locked away Meg and Sarah try their best to survive and get help fuelling for some exciting events.

Thrilling is an understatement, there are many jumpy and heart-racing moments throughout Panic Room achieved by some great screen-writing. There’s real horror to the idea of someone breaking in whilst you’re asleep and likewise being trapped within your own house with three intruders. There always seems to be huge plot twists and deciding moments too which keeps the story not only entertaining but fast-paced which is a huge highlight to Panic Room.

The acting ensemble is also a distinguishing feature to Fincher’s film; Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart give solid performances which add to the film’s thrilling experience.  However equally as impressive was the roles and acting of the three intruders. Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakum, Jared Leto play Burnham, Raoul and Junior. Whitaker’s Burnham is a great character although a thief and burglar there is a real likable and sympathetic aspect to his character and persona. Whilst newly Oscar-famed Jared Leto plays the brilliant, clueless and funny character of Junior who is equally lovable and hateable. Panic Room’s performances really live up to the films overall quality and add again to the experience created.

David Fincher’s directing is great really creating the heavy, isolated and somewhat claustrophobic feel very successfully. The way the camera’s floated through everything and fly around the house is awe-inspiring something very new and innovative for almost 12 years ago. The very opening credits as the letters floated on the Manhattan backdrop was flawless and set the tone for the amazing camera work throughout. Although this is an underrated release from Fincher he should be praised for not only bravery to accept such a challenging task but his excellence in achieving such an exciting film which is only set within one house and mainly in one room.

The only faults that Panic Room holds are at times the annoyance that gets created by Foster’s Meg’s clumsiness. At many times simple things turn into drastic and dramatized moments, such as reaching for a fallen phone and knocking over loud furniture which at times can even be predictable. The only other picky thing I can fault is how I would have liked to seen a bit more justice or closure on the character of Burnham. However these aspects really don’t put down this film too much.

Panic Room deserves much more praise than it gets, alongside writer and director David Koepp and David Fincher for creating such a thrilling clever film. It can be so tense and thrilling it is amazing considering the simplicity of the events and setting. It isn’t as outstanding as other Fincher films but it is new and unique and shouldn’t be forgotten, easily watchable and enjoyable Panic Room is the definition of entertainment in many ways.

 

David Fincher as an Auteur #1

Just before I review Se7en the next film on my list, I thought it would be good to analyse Fincher as an auteur and pick out a key trademark in between my reviews. So here is my first obvious and somewhat brutal trademark of Fincher – his absolute expressed hate for women. Now thinking back to any films in general that you’ve watched it is a common occurrence to have a woman playing the damsel in distress and for her to get injured and hurt, but it seems that Fincher goes that little step further in ALL of his films to get across the message that its males that dominate society.

His first major film whilst being in the prestigious and important director’s seat was Alien 3 (1992) where he first instigated this hatred for women. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crashing onto an all-male prison island is completely isolated and is in a society completely dominated by men. She is stripped of her femininity by appearance and is treated poorly as she is undermined throughout. She is the only female character in this film and despite battling this Alien creature showing some signs of strength she is at threat to male dominance constantly. The ending of the film despite a heroic sacrifice by Ripley shows that she didn’t win her battle as she leaps into a pit of fire not only killing herself but the unborn queen alien. The overall message of the film seems to sum up that a male’s world is brutal and violent, when women simply enter this world they can’t win, they’re hopeless. It might seem much read into and a vague judgement, or maybe it is all just a coincidence?

Se7en (1995) Fincher’s second most popular film, it follows similarly the same idea of Alien 3. In the criminal world it is dominated by males, there is not a single female police officer or woman with a high-status or role within the film. Once again this male dominated society is absolutely brutal with murders and serial killers, something a woman surely couldn’t handle? – Well according to Fincher. Detective Mill’s (Brad Pitt) wife is the main female character within the film; we only see her do one or two things throughout? And one is occupying that feminine role within the kitchen as the men do the hard gritty jobs. In the final scene as none of us can surely forget, we see her head in a box as John Doe completes his final sin. Completely uncalled for, no reason whatsoever that she was killed other than to fulfil John Doe’s plan. However and despite this coincidence again, just like Alien 3 our only female main character is dead and can’t survive in this male dominated society.

The Game (1997), it is a strange film to say the least as most characters play a double-role, one in this fake world “the game” and the other in real life reality that doesn’t become too clear till the end. Our main protagonist is a man who is in the business world and once again no female characters are competing in this society, males dominate completely. The main female character is Christine and even though she is playing her role in “the game” she is presented as highly promiscuous, deceitful and manipulative.  Even after the game has finished she still retains no power what so ever in this world.

Skipping Fight Club (1999) as the film itself presents too many things to even contemplate thinking about and looking into we jump to Panic Room (2002). A criminal world is again laid out for us, one dominated by males. The story plays very much to the damsel in distress stereotype; it labels our two female characters as weak and vulnerable for the majority of the film. It sets up this world where our main character Meg is in an absolutely fragile state recently divorced, an alcoholic (by the first two scenes) and relying on money from her ex-husband she is totally dependent. Alone and in charge with responsibility this brutal male world victimises her and her fragile severely diabetic daughter. Burglars, part of a criminal world (male dominated) break into their house and take advantage. Okay okay, two get killed and the other arrested as the female characters fight back however throughout the film they are vulnerable and still dependant on males. The daughter’s life is saved by the burglar and the intervention of Meg’s ex-husband causes helpful delays. The main message though is that women are inferior to males in society.

Finally, as if I carry on much more the term “male dominance” may become somewhat hypnotising I shall skip to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) a film actually based on book that was once drafted “Men who hate women”.  We follow a male journalist who’s in an industry that has become very financial and business like, once again something that women can’t handle. The only professional woman in the industry is his boss, who rather unprofessionally he has an affair with.  Our main female character is a subject of constant pain that is inflicted by males. A rape victim, and a sufferer of a hard life due to her abusive father she becomes a private investigator. Again isolated, socially and physically. Everyone who she reports to for either governmental or occupational reason is a male and one who eventually rapes her. The story itself follows a criminal case that investigates a series of murders where young girls and women are victims of brutal killings and rape. In the end of the film there is a happy fairy-tale ending set up as our main characters journalist Mikel and private investigator Lisbeth seem to be in a relationship, however as Lisbeth goes to meet him she witnesses him with his boss, riding off with her dreams dashed and once again alone in this male dominated world the film ends.

This is just all analytical reasoning, but it seems fair to say especially from my perspective that David Fincher likes his films to show male dominance and to play on the stereotype that it is females that need saving. Obviously this is a very controversial look, but nevertheless one that I am currently studying and that see quite frequently appearing and popular. Next time you watch a David Fincher film, future releases such as Gone Girl maybe? Or just an old classic bear in mind this trademark and see whether it fits.

Everyone’s thoughts and opinions? Discuss.

Mr – Women hating – David Fincher

As part of my A-Level Film Studies course I will be doing Auteur Theory on David Fincher. Watching all of his films in college I have decided to review them from Alien 3 (cubed) to Gone Girl if released in time, I will also comment on his trademarks. If people could give me feedback and advice that would be great, also some secrets about Fincher might help too. All of the reviews can be found on my David Fincher category so it’s easy to follow my progress – Thanks