Seven: The Violence of a Cinematic Hellscape

Posted by David Shreve | Aug 29, 2017
Audiences Everywhere

There are less than 20 gunshots fired in David Fincher’s 1995 film Seven, each exchanged between David Mills and John Doe. If you don’t count Detective Somerset’s late face slap, there is only one wounding act of violence committed onscreen. It’s an oft-shared description offered by cinephiles and aspiring screenwriters and critics: Seven is, in the most basic sense, a non-violent film, even as watching it feels like a very violent viewing experience. For most of its run-time, Seven, which this week celebrates its 20th anniversary, is a noir- serial killer thriller built around already murdered corpses rather than murderous acts. Yet, this basic quantifiable description feels misleading to anyone watching or re-watching the film, anyone caught within or recently escaped from the spiraling trap of the film’s increasingly unsettling, malicious scenes.

Seven is widely credited for displaying influence from prior detective films and inspiring several films of comparable serial killer concern, but few films in either comparative line have less character violence and yet even fewer give as distinct an impression of having witnessed something truly violent.

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How a Thinking Filmmaker Films Thinking: The Shot-By-Shot Slow Burn of David Fincher

Posted by Brandi Blahnik | Aug 28, 2017
Audiences Everywhere

One of the most challenging aspects of storytelling is showing a character thinking. It might sound like a straightforward task, but think about what you look like while studying. Ever watched someone complete a puzzle? It’s a quiet, meditative task marked by trial and error. In reality, there’s remarkably little head-scratching or furrowed brows. Visually, it’s rather unimpressive.

So how does a creator reveal thinking—poring over material, investigative work, head-buried-in-clues research—without absolutely boring the audience? How does a director reinvent frustration, the false lead, the maddening search, particularly over a two-hour film?

David Fincher has made a career of chronicling that very process.

Not only has Fincher produced some of the most haunting detective sequences in film—Se7en, Zodiac, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo—but you’d be unlikely to find criticism calling his films boring. He’s a master at tension-building and unapologetic about his resolutions. Perhaps this is why so many of his characters fall prey to their own obsessive madness. The unraveling of a character is something Fincher portrays with patience and deliberateness.

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Art of the Title: Angus Wall & Elastic

Art of the Title: Angus Wall

Art of the Title: Elastic

In Studio Partners:

Design: Elastic
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
VFX: a52

Still Image © Joe LaMattina

The One Thing Game of Thrones, Westworld, and The Crown Have in Common

Along with shows including American Gods, The Defenders, True Detective, and more, they’ve all got gorgeous, elaborate opening credits designed by Elastic.

By Nick Romano
August 24, 2017
Vanity Fair, Hollywood

How do you set the tone for the sprawling world of Game of Thrones in just under 120 seconds? Ask Angus Wall. For the past six years, the designer—who created the HBO drama’s striking main-title sequence—has been devising new bits of opening animation for Thrones to coincide with the drama’s plot progression. Viewers know within the first two minutes of an episode whether they’re heading to Winterfell, King’s Landing, or beyond the Wall—where the night is truly dark and full of terrors. This year, the show’s plot has taken fans to new and long-absent locations including Dragonstone, Oldtown (where Sam studies to be a maester), and Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, which means the sequence itself has also had to evolve.

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Elastic on vimeo

The 50 Best Films of the ’90s, From ‘Pulp Fiction’ to ‘Groundhog Day’

The best films of the 1990s came from filmmakers who not only had unique visions but who opened new doors to the endless possibilities of cinematic storytelling.

By 
Jul 14, 2017
IndieWire

The ’90s were a moment of tremendous upheaval in international cinema. Here in America, the revolt against Hollywood’s bland output a decade earlier had resulted in a small window in which American independent cinema became commercially viable and started seeping into more mainstream fare. Young and exciting directors, most of whom are now A-listers, were given resources and able to make multiple films. Meanwhile, Hollywood’s big commercial films were in the hands of directors like Spielberg, Bigelow, Verhoeven, Woo and De Palma, as franchises continued to be invented rather than recycled.

On the international scene, the Iranian New Wave unloaded a treasure trove of new films, the great run of Hong Kong cinema was peaking and maturing, three great auteurs completely upended how films in Taiwan were made, and a pair of Danish directors with a dogma wanted to change how every film was made.

More than anything, what defined the decade was the emergence of individual filmmakers who not only had unique visions – every decade has its great auteurs – but ones who opened new doors to the endless possibilities of cinematic storytelling. Directors like Abbas Kiarostami, Wong Kar-Wai, David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino reinvented cinema on their own terms and gained recognition as superstars for doing so, each winning major prizes at Cannes. Meanwhile, landmark films like “Hoop Dreams,” “The Celebration,” “Toy Story” and “The Matrix” pointed to ways technology could be used to make films in a different way.

Needless to say, no cinephile’s knowledge base is complete without a robust awareness of the 20th century’s final decade, and these 50 titles represent our sense of the most essential ones.

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The Plot Twist Checklist

Ciara Wardlow
August 8, 2017
Film School Rejects

A toolbox for the construction of plot twists, not an instruction manual (nobody reads those anyway).

A great plot twist is the stuff movie legends are made of. It’s what separates the good from the mind-blowingly great; the fertile ground from which many a movie meme and some of the most iconic lines in all of film history have sprouted (“No, I am your father,” “What’s in the box?!”, Bruce Willis is a ghost, etc.). As a good plot twist thrives on innovation and doing the unexpected, it is impossible to put together a genuine “how-to” guide for the crafting of plot twists. Instead, included below is a curated collection of some of the tools most frequently used in the construction of the best cinematic twists and turns. Maybe some of you might want to use these to craft some of your own twisting narratives, but even if not, as with any art, identifying and understanding the tools being used only enables a deeper appreciation of the finished product.

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Art of the Title: David Fincher

David Fincher: A Film Title Retrospective

August 27, 2012
Art of the Title