Tag Archives: David Fincher

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 176 – Fight Club

A film that jogs memories for Mike, as in the process of revisiting Fight Club he realises what an impact it had on him as a teenager. David Fincher’s outrageously stylish and visceral story of a generation of dispossessed men finding purpose in violence has only increased in relevance in the twenty years since its release, drawing comparisons to incels and school shooters, but it also leads Mike to recall how it affected his interests and attitudes in his youth. José, who saw it on its release, was on the positive side of its mixed response and recalls trying to convince his friends of its greatness – and is proud to have been proven right in the years since, in which it rapidly became perhaps the defining cult hit.

Mike is surprised to discover a sexual dimension to it that he hadn’t quite realised was there – obviously, Tyler and Marla’s ceiling-shaking lovemaking sessions hadn’t escaped his attention, but it wasn’t until this screening that he saw Marla as desirable and human, rather than simply present and symbolic. She’s weary but hopeful, fiery and alive but constantly flirting with death, and with the benefit of knowing the film’s infamous twist, deeply sympathetic. Mike argues, too, for a strain of homoeroticism — Steve Erickson writes that Chuck Palahniuk came out as gay in 2004. The clues are everywhere both in his book and Fincher’s film — in the fighting and particularly in Brad Pitt’s appearance – more than powerful and intimidating, he’s attractive, the narrator’s ideal self (though we don’t, as José points out, see him topless and sweaty nearly as often as we might remember).

It’s not without its problems. The question of exactly what it says, and indeed how deliberately it says it, is dependant perhaps on the viewer’s mood and cultural context as much as anything. Fight Club wants to be thought of as a satire, that’s clear, but of what – and is it as much of a satire as it thinks it is? Mike suggests that much of what drives this problematic area of debate is the effectiveness with which the film brings us into the narrator’s mental state, conveying beautifully his attitudes, desires, repressions, regardless of whether we might think of them as positive or negative. Were the film more objective, more willing to offer judgement of its characters, these questions would be less troubling but the film would have none of its potency.

We agree that Fight Club is a considerable piece of work – José less enthusiastically, but it would be hard to be as turned on by it as Mike is. To have seen it on the big screen is a treat – every one of its compositions is electrifying, beautiful, considered and inventive – and the themes it explores have only grown in relevance since 1999. If it comes round, don’t hesitate to buy front row tickets. If it doesn’t, dig out the DVD, which you definitely own, and watch it again.

The podcast can be listened to in the players above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

Eavesdropping at the Movies 29 – Molly’s Game

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Eavesdropping celebrates the New Year with a snappy, sharp crime flick about the world of underground, high-stakes poker. We discuss the material’s weakness, our different takes on Molly’s character, the film’s descent into schmaltzy daddy issues, Sorkin’s directorial mediocrity, what David Fincher might have done with the material; the audience’s response to Sorkin’s dialogue; how good Chastain, Elba and Cera are; and the way Star Wars is dominating every bloody screen in every bloody cinema. Mike sounds different because he has a cold; I, because I’m occasionally trying to eat cake and talk simultaneously.

 

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link

 

José Arroyo and  Michael Glass of Writing About Film

Zodiac (David Fincher, USA, 2007)

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Based on the famed ‘Zodiac Killer’ who operated in San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s and whose murders remain unresolved, David Fincher’s film has fantastic set design, marvelous mise-en-scène and complex story-telling. Gyllenhall is adequate as Robert Graysmith, the cartoonist who begins to detect a pattern to the killings. Where the film really breaks down is with Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery, the crime reporter who Graysmith enlists in his quest to solve the murders. Downey Jr. is becoming the ‘Greer Garson Of Our Day’: everything he does is meant to incite a round of applause, he can’t seem to get over the cuteness of each of his actions, and there’s an implicit gracious bow to each part of his performance, like a toreador after each pass of the cape; all  extraordinarily grande-dame-ish and irritating. In spite of Mark Ruffalo, fascinating as always, the casting rather sinks what is otherwise a fantastic movie: gorgeous to look at, marvelously plotted, rather dankly elegant, and with a searing visual intelligence. A film that sadly and ultimately remains unsatisfying but which every film buff should see.

José Arroyo