#279. David Fincher

Many directors in Hollywood will stick to a particular genre, mainly because their artistic style matches well with the mood of the genre. Wes Craven directed horror, Charlie Chaplin directed silent comedies, Steven Spielberg directed science fiction, Alfred Hitchcock directed thrillers. In terms of modern directors, there are very few that have tackled the psychological thriller well. Christopher Nolan falls into this category, but David Fincher succeeds in this genre as well. What’s even more interesting is that Fincher seems drawn to film adaptations of stories and books. This is the niche where he excels as a director. There are a lot of books out there that cover some pretty dark material, and David Fincher’s artistic direction certainly brings that element out on the screen. This week’s two films highlight some of David Fincher’s best works.

The Social Networksocial_network_film_poster
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 120 minutes / 2 hours

While Fincher’s filmography is not extensive (he’s only directed 10 films), his skill is quite apparent. A number of his early films have attained cult status, including Se7en (1995) and Fight Club (1999), the latter of which was an adaptation of the book of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. In terms of recognition by the Academy, within two years, he directed films that were nominated for Best Picture, as well as Best Director. His first nominations were for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), which itself was based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, he didn’t win that year, but his second set of nominations came with The Social Network (2010), which was also based on a book (this time being The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich). Once again, he was passed over for an Oscar, but I know he’ll soon be nominated again . . . hopefully claiming a win along with it.

Jumping back-and-forth between the deposition of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), and the time he spent at Harvard, The Social Network’s tagline reads, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Zuckerberg’s first enemy was none other than Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), the girl who dumped him. Fueled by anger and frustration, he created a website that compared the physical attractiveness of women on the Harvard campus. His next enemies would be the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer), who found out that he created a popular social networking site named Thefacebook after they had asked him to code a similar idea they had. As the social media empire expanded, his final enemy would be that of Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), the close friend who helped him start Facebook in the first place. Now he’s being sued and remains a lonely, apathetic man.

Se7enseven_28movie29_poster
Year: 1995
Rating: R
Length: 127 minutes / 2.12 hours

As I mentioned before, one of the directors who directed thrillers was Alfred Hitchcock. David Fincher has directed thrillers as well, but his style is much darker. Perhaps this is due to the types of thrillers that he has chosen to direct. From the aforementioned Fight Club (1999), to the film adaptation of Gone Girl (2014) (based on the Gillian Flynn novel of the same name), these psychological thrillers really play with the audience’s mind. Even though mystery thrillers come closer to what Hitchcock has done in the past, Fincher’s mystery thrillers are considerably more violent, merely on their source material alone. Case in point: Zodiac (2007) and the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) (based on the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson) both examine serial killers. One of his first films, Se7en (1995) certainly set Fincher’s style, as it’s a psychological mystery thriller.

Nearing retirement, detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is reluctantly paired with hot-shot detective, David Mills (Brad Pitt). Their first case involves a pair of murders, both of which are linked to two of the seven deadly sins: “gluttony” and “greed.” At these crime scenes, there are clues to the next murder: “sloth.” It is at this point that the two of them realize the killer has been taking an enormous amount of time to set up and execute these murders. Doing some research into the seven sins, they find John Doe (Kevin Spacey), who manages to escape. Meanwhile, the detectives are moments too late to prevent the murders of “lust” and “pride”. At this point, Doe surrenders willfully, but not without a few conditions. Revealing the location of the last two murders that have yet to take place, all three of them drive out to the middle of the desert to learn how “envy” and “wrath” will die.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 fantastic Fincher films

Bacon #: 2 (Being John Malkovich / Sean Penn -> Mystic River / Kevin Bacon)

#278. Jesse Eisenberg

Some actors just seem to appear out of nowhere. There can be many reasons for this, including having a breakout role in their debut film, being paired to a successful filmmaker’s masterpiece, or even just appearing in a lot of films. Jesse Eisenberg seems to fall into the latter two categories of this list, having appeared in 2-4 films almost every year from 2005 until now. This seems to be a similar technique to Domhnall Gleeson, who has had some very recognizable roles in films as of late. As for Eisenberg, he seemed to hit his stride in 2009 by capitalizing on his ability to play vulnerable, smart, and often comically awkward main characters. While this may have typecast him somewhat, there always seems to be a need for these types of characters, as many “non-jocks” can relate to them. This week’s two films highlight some of the best of Jesse Eisenberg’s current career.

ZombielandZombieland
Year: 2009
Rating: R
Length: 88 minutes / 1.47 hours

Perhaps the reason that Eisenberg’s characters come off as awkward and neurotic stems from his personal life and his affliction with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Channeling this into his characters has certainly produced notable results, one of the most prominent being that of the Spix’s macaw, Blu in Rio (2011) and Rio 2 (2014). However, Eisenberg might not have gotten that role had he not given an excellent performance in Adventureland (2009). With his comedic talent clear, he eventually teamed up with his Adventureland co-star, Kristen Stewart, again in 2015’s American Ultra. While Adventureland made his name recognizable in the romantic comedy genre, his starring role in Zombieland (2009) cemented his name as one of the comedic actors to keep an eye on for years to come.

If “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg) has a piece of advice for you, it’s Rule #1: Cardio. If he has anything else to add to that, it’s Rule #2: Double Tap. These rules, along with others, have kept him alive during the zombie apocalypse. After teaming up with “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson), the two men are conned out of their weapons and car by “Wichita” (Emma Stone) and “Little Rock” (Abigail Breslin). Despite this, Columbus and Tallahassee chase after the girls, but for different reasons. Tallahassee wants his stuff back, but Columbus has fallen for Wichita and longs to woo her, even though they’re just trying to survive the end of the world. When the group finally arrives at their destination, an amusement park in Los Angeles by the name of “Pacific Playland”, Columbus finds that his chance to get close to Wichita is also his chance to save her from attacking zombies.

The Social Networksocial_network_film_poster
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 120 minutes / 2 hours

While the neurotic stereotype works well for Jesse Eisenberg’s comedic characters, the remaining characters he has played certainly fall into the intelligently confident stereotype. In fact, these characters’ intelligence is almost seen as a character flaw, as they end up feeling superior to everyone else. A good example of this trait/flaw was his portrayal of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), who used his intelligence to combat one of the most powerful beings on Earth. On the flip side of the intelligence coin is that of the con-man. 2016 also saw Eisenberg reprise his role of J. Daniel Atlas in Now You See Me 2, the sequel to Now You See Me (2013). Despite many of these characters being fictional, the one, real-life intelligent character he has portrayed on film was none other than Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (2010).

During the fall semester of 2003, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) created a website called Facemash in order to spite a former girlfriend. Due to the site’s exponential popularity, it gained the attention of Harvard’s disciplinary board, since Zuckerberg hacked into college databases to steal photographs of the female students. He also gained the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer), who want him to code a dating website that’s exclusive to Harvard students. It is at this point when Mark gets an idea for a social media website and asks his friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) for a loan to get it off the ground. Thefacebook quickly takes off and soon expansion efforts are underway to bring the site to other colleges. In the process, new people are brought on board, old friends are turned away, and legal action is taken. All this just because a girl dumped Mark Zuckerberg.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 engaging Eisenberg roles

Bacon #: 1 (Beyond All Boundaries / Kevin Bacon)