David Fincher

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Year: 2011
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Steven Zailian (screenplay) Stieg Larsson (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I think this was a lot of great work put into a ridiculous story for the sake of capitalizing on something successful.  I think this was a horrible book and I don’t know that I have ever been more disappointed by a twist at the end, but despite what I think the book sold millions and millions of copies.  It was easily one of the most successful books of its time and a big movie production for it was necessary under those circumstances.  I think the movie was really well made, the actors were terrific, and the soundtrack by Trent Reznor was awesome.  Yet, despite all that I found the story in the movie to be even more ridiculous than the one in the book and I can’t get past that.  Still, we own the movie now for two reasons.  One, Amber was a big fan of the book and liked the movie. Two, Rooney Mara is so aggressively naked in this movie and she is so sexy I felt it justified the purchase no matter how stupid the story is.

My problem with this story is simple; it’s a murder mystery about someone who was never murdered.  When reading it I was so excited to find out how it actually happened, who did it, and how they got away with it.  I sincerely feel like finding out that nobody did it and nobody got away with it was one of the biggest let downs I have had as a reader.  In fact I think it makes a fool out of every single character in a book full of foolish characters.  Now I’m not talking about Salander, she is a badass.  Blomkvist on the other hand is a foolish character and I felt like he was so overdone and ridiculous.  Everywhere he went, no matter the circumstances, the woman he was talking to came on to him and just had to have sex with him.  Now, according to my wife I should get that with Daniel Craig cast in the part but I still don’t buy it.  I just think this was the writer living out his own perverse fantasies through the character he most related with.  Now, I thought how it happened in the book was stupid; Blomkvist finds the woman he is looking for very much alive and then promptly goes on to have sex with her as well, go figure (all victims of extreme sex crimes are interested in spontaneous sex with men they just met right?).  In the movie I thought it was even worse.  When all is said and done Daniel Craig looks up at his board with the family photos on it and realizes the woman he has been looking for is right in the center of the thing.  In forty years no investigator could figure out who she was and he just realizes suddenly who it is and figures it all out? That’s no shocker, that’s not the twist I was looking for and I just cannot get over the disappointment of it.  Amber insist that the story is better in the next two books but I could never bring myself to even bother with them.  Worst ending ever, period. If I missed something vital and just don’t understand then by all means let me know.  I suppose it would make much more sense that I overlooked some vital detail then to think I am the only person who realizes how weak this ending was.  I doubt it, but in the event that I am right and this ending totally blows please leave a comment and lend me some support, I feel alone in this opinion.

There is one more significant problem I have with this story in both the film and the book.  I do not like rape, I do not own many movies in which it happens and it is part of any plot that I find distasteful and disturbing.  Yes I understand that it is a fact of life and something that happens but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like seeing it.  It is a morally reprehensible act and the absolute worst thing someone can do to another, be it a woman being taking against her will by a man or man on man like in Deliverance it’s just wrong plain and simple. What happens to Salander is fucked up, for lack of a more appropriate expression.  I didn’t like reading it, I don’t like seeing it, and I don’t enjoy a story in which something this awful happens.  I love to watch movies, and I find most of them sullied by this kind of plot point.  I’m not the kind of person who would turn a blind eye to such a thing because I am really against it but I don’t have to like movies that show it either. Salander’s vengeance in this film may be amazing and awesome but I still don’t like having to see what he did to her.  It takes her to the next level of badass and in truth I do like her as a character.  I don’t generally re-watch a movie when there is a scene I feel I must skip (except in the case of Team America: World Police because while I don’t want to see those puppets getting freaky or vomiting relentlessly I still can’t get enough of the rest). My problem with rape may actually be the reason I hated this story so much in general.  I was excited to find out who this killer was and all I found out was about how demented and monstrous these rapists and sex criminals were.  Sex crimes are ugly and awful things.  I didn’t find the things that happened in the book shocking but repulsive and disappointing.  I expect there to be these kinds of awful people out there in the world, it doesn’t surprise me at all it only upsets me to see it unfold in words or on screen.

I will admit this movie was very well made and a lot of people did some really great work to get it made. It is not for me though, I will gladly watch Rooney Mara walk around naked when her character makes the decision to do so and is not being forced, but by and large there isn’t anything else here for me.  That being said I’m not going to go any farther with this review.  I have said my peace about it and welcome your opinions to be left in comments, feel free to completely combat or agree to what I have said. My money bets most will disagree with me.  Given that I am in the minority of opinions in regards to this book and film I don’t think you should accept what I have to say about it and see it yourself if you are interested.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I thought this movie was an incredible adaptation of the book. It wasn’t completely spot on, but they added in all of the scenes that mattered. I have read all three of these books by Stieg Larson. The second and third books are the best ones, and I can’t wait until they come out. How this story plays out is twisted and unpredictable. The woman in the story had a horrendous childhood. Her father used to beat her mother, and her mother was one out of a couple of girlfriends he had. We find out a lot more about her upbringing and relationship with her father in the next two movies/books. Rooney Mara looked exactly like what I envisioned in my head. She did an incredible job with this role. I believed in her, I saw her pain and felt it. This movie is a little graphic and crude, but that’s what makes it so honest. Daniel Craig did okay in this movie. I pictured Blomkvist a little more gritty and not as attractive as he is in this film. Which reminds me, all authors seem to put their own character in the book, and Stieg did this through Blomkvist. He uses this character to sleep with any and all women. It’s a bit silly, but I would probably do the same thing. (Maybe not sleep with everyone, but perhaps my main character was covered in tattoos? 🙂 )

The-girl-with-the-Dragon-Tattoo-Movie-PosterMaybe I am just biased, but I LOVE this poster. I think it was a gutsy risk to make this an all black poster. I think it fits the mood of the movie, but it isn’t going to stand out when it is sitting beside the other releases. I love the way they showed both of the main characters on the front. As most of you know by now, I hate it when a poster tries to fit in everyone in the movie. This is an example of how to do it right. You get the character of Blomkvist and Lisbeth right away. The font choice is great for this movie, but I wish the typography was a little more tight.

This movie was great and I can’t wait to see the next two. The story gets really crazy.

girl-with-dragon-tattoo-uncensored-posterRyan here again, this is the unedited poster for the film that I think was only displayed overseas where sexuality isn’t so taboo. I felt compelled to add it the bottom of this review because, well, it’s awesome isn’t it?  I saw this poster online before the movie came out and I was immediately interested in the movie despite what I thought of the book. Again, Rooney Mara looks really good in this one as you can plainly see.  There is just something about such a dangerous woman that makes her really sexy.

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The Game

Year: 1997
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris

RYAN’S REVIEW

A very good movie. This was early in the career of director David Fincher and I would have watched anything and everything he made back then in the later 90s. This movie is dark, it’s intense, and an absolute thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat in suspense the whole time. I saw this for the first time after I became such a fan of Fight Club and David Fincher.  I thought this movie was very good but the weakest of the three films I had seen from him, Seven being the third.  Being the weakest next to those two films isn’t a bad thing though, they are great movies and that doesn’t make this one bad, it just suffers by comparison.

This movie really keeps you guessing the whole time.  When I saw it I was led to think that it was reasonable to expect so much more to come from Fincher films.  That isn’t how it turned out really and I said as much in our review of Fight ClubThese three Fincher films all wowed me and they are exceptional movies even now. The only thing that makes this the weakest of the three is simply that the other two were SO incredible.  This one is good but the wow moment in the end doesn’t really compare to the box or the realization that Tyler Durden wasn’t real.

I think Michael Douglas is a great actor and it really sucks that he is getting older now. He is very natural in the role he plays here because it is so similar to roles he has plays before.  He is like a more mellow version of Gordon Gecko in this movie. I have never been a big fan of Sean Penn but I have had to eat my words lately regarding him because he was so good in The Assassination of Richard NixonHe plays his part well enough in this movie too playing the younger brother of Michael Douglas. Spike Jonze also makes an uncredited cameo at the end of the movie as a paramedic. While the performances are good in this movie I think the film is driven mainly by the complexity of the story.  There is also a great musical score that goes along with the film and really sets the right tone for the intensity of the movie.

This is one of those movies that will keep you guessing for two hours then make you question everything all over again in the end.  I think we all occasionally find ourselves in the mood for that kind of film and next time that happens to you then you should give this one a try.  It’s not the greatest movie I have ever seen but it is good and it is worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Isn’t Michael Douglas just, awesome? I really enjoyed this movie. I don’t remember the first time that I watched it, but every now and then I catch it on television and get sucked in all over again. It’s all about this guy who gets the opportunity to play The “Game” and unbeknownst to him, he is actually playing a game with his life. The Game actually becomes his life and we (the viewer) get to watch it unfold. How he reacts to the situations that present themselves is important to his character change throughout the movie. His character in this movie might as well be called Gordon Gecko from Wall Street.

Have I mentioned to you guys that I am a graphic designer? Yup, that’s what helps pay the bills around here. After talking to Ryan about the blog, we thought I may have a good voice on here to review the typography, intros and poster for these movies. This is the movie poster for The Game. I am sure that in 1997 they thought it was really clever to make his head into a puzzle, which of course is a game. Today, we may look at this as a little campy. Especially since the puzzle pieces are falling away into the distance. The typography of The Game is nice, however. A serif font was a good choice for the title and the movie itself.


NEXT MOVIE: Gangs of New York (2002)

Movies Not to Watch

ALIEN 3
Year:1992
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Several different writers.

In lieu of making my wife suffer through this film that I don’t even want to watch myself I’m just adding it to this section. Nobody should see this movie, I don’t even know many diehard Alien fans who thought it was worth their time. It’s only in our collection because it was part of a trilogy pack that was on sale. This movie is simply awful, it looks bad, it sounds bad, it is generally boring and is just more of the same. Nobody believes Ripley about this monster alien, it slowly kills everyone, the company wants it to turn it into a weapon, frankly there is nothing new here.  Yeah Ripley is now carrying a queen and she has a shaved head but come on can’t they be more creative than that for such an important franchise.  Can’t a series helmed by the likes of Ridley Scott and James Cameron be taken more seriously? Yeah David Fincher has gone on to have a great career but in 1992 he was a nobody, not somebody you hand the keys to a big time money-maker to.   Some hot-shot sitting on top made devastating decisions that led to this piece of crap. That’s what happens when executives care more about making money than making a good movie. It’s something that David Fincher has apparently disowned, and wasn’t even involved in post-production.  I have read that the studio got too involved and pressured him to do things a certain way that made it difficult for him.  The studio also did all the post-production changes without his involvement.  This film was doomed from the start and it isn’t worth our time.

I would also like to say something about Alien Resurrection, because we do not own this film but it is worth mentioning.  I think there is a lot about the fourth installment that was stupid, i.e. the breath identification system.  However I enjoyed it, it’s not all stupid and it was a decent re visitation to Ripley and her relationship with the alien monster.  It’s not the best film ever made but it’s not the worst either. If you enjoyed the first two alien movies I would give that one a shot.

NEXT MOVIE: Alpha Dog (2006)

SE7EN

Year: 1995
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Andrew Kevin Walker
Nominated for Best Film Editing


RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is a perfect starting off point for this blog because in so many ways it is a perfect movie. Film Noir to the core and top of its genre. It was one of the first movies directed by David Fincher, who would go on to do many great movies. An all-star cast including the great, wise, and stoic Morgan Freeman. A younger Brad Pitt showing off some great range and outstanding acting skills. Gwyneth Paltrow, who hasn’t aged a day in 15 years now. Kevin Spacey whose name wasn’t listed in the credits to enhance the element of surprise. The always fantastic R. Lee Ermey, and even Shaft (Richard Roundtree) make an appearance in the movie. This movie was not for the tenderhearted in 1995, or even now for that matter. It is provocative, interesting, and shocking. The ending was more than just surprising it was emotionally compelling. Brad Pitt made me believe in this movie. He made me feel the pain of his character in the end, when he realizes what John Doe has done. Pitt became a star with this movie, I own the two movies he starred in prior to this film as well. He is good in those films but it is this one where you start to see his swagger. He manages to be ultra cool through most of the movie and then vulnerable and angry in the end. As I said before, he shows great range. This film is one that comes to mind when I think of Pitt’s best work, and personally I like to think that Brad Pitt is the actor James Dean would have been had he not died.
Kevin Spacey should not go unmentioned here either, he was just at the beginning of an amazing run that included The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, and American Beauty. His John Doe, who kills to prove a point, is chilling yet mesmerizing at the same time. You know that he is a monster, a truly terrifying foe, but at one point he almost convinces you. He makes a point, you almost relate to him, and think that maybe the world has gotten a little out of control.
This is my first time blogging about a film but in all honesty I don’t think there is much more I really need to say about this film. I feel I should be careful to not give too much away about the plot in case someone reads this who hasn’t seen the film. I want to encourage that person to see it but I don’t think I need to convince them that it is great. I think the film speaks for itself, I am confident that anyone else who takes a chance on this film will enjoy it. Se7en was easily one of the best films of 1995 in my opinion, and owns it respective place as the first film on our movie rack.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan introduced me to so many films that I never even knew existed. He created this movie snob, a monster if you will. This film was one of the first ones. The first, second and even third time that I watched it, I was amazed. I thought Brad Pitt was amazing, but being a woman it is almost a sin to not think so, am I right? I loved the darkness of it. I loved the intensity of it. Why am I using past tense? I feel like I can no longer say I love this film. I feel like sometimes I say I do because I am “supposed” to love it. But, having recently watched it for this blog, I find it too dark, and too intense. Don’t get me wrong, Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Gwenyth Paltrow all give stellar performances, I felt restless the whole time and not sucked into the film as I used to be many years ago. I can’t give this film a bad review at all, it really is amazing for what it is, but I find myself depressed and sad after watching it, not the same “ah-ha!” after the first few viewings of it. Even still, I am happy it sits on our collection.