If you’re going to go hunting crazy people you’d best check your sanity at the door and secure your firearm to your hip. Mindhunter is already looking like it might be the next masterpiece to come out and it’s not even here yet. Entering the mind of a psychopath is, I would imagine, much like entering a store in which the food looks appetizing and fresh but is rotten inside, and there’s an especially wide drain in the floor that can accept just about anything that might fall down it. Disturbing yet? That’s not even the start.
In the grand scheme of David Fincher’s career, The Game is the one that gets forgotten about the most.
Not an odd misfire like Alien 3 or Benjamin Button, not one of his killer thrillers like Se7en, Gone Girl or Dragon Tattoo, not one of his instant classics like Zodiac or Fight Club, and not one where he just felt like shown off like Fight Club or Panic Room.
The American director discusses his long-awaited return to feature filmmaking with Logan Lucky.
It’s been four years since Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement from filmmaking, slamming the door on his way out with an impassioned cri de coeur on the state of the industry at the San Francisco Film Festival. In the event, it turned out to be more of a working-vacation, what with his 2013 TV movie, Behind the Candelabra, and two seasons of The Knick released in the interim. Now he’s back on the big screen with Logan Lucky, one of his best films to date, bringing with it a new fight against the system with the film’s experimental distribution model. We sat down for a long chat with American cinema’s most restless workaholic, the original Sundance Kid.
Thanks to Joe Frady
People’s willingness to rebrand themselves as monsters without remorse is an alarming, puzzling trend of modern society. It may be hard to find an explanation outside of human selfishness and narcissism, traits director David Fincher has made a career out of depicting and deconstructing. He’s conjured timelessly horrific hellscapes where serial killers blend right in with films like Se7en and Zodiac, and hit a more socially applicable nerve tearing down self-righteous white male privilege in 1999’s Fight Club. But his most haunting and refined work ties directly into the anxieties of this decade—that of social media and all the opportunities it provides to forge new identities. With The Social Network, Fincher showed a social outcast turn into a trailblazing tech celebrity while losing friends and being fueled by spite toward his ex-girlfriend. His under-appreciated follow-up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo saw a more selfless social outcast seeking personal love and acceptance for the first time, only to have her hopes crushed and resume a life of indifference.
Gone Girl, the 2014 adaptation of a bestselling paperback thriller, feels like the inevitably demented amalgamation of questions Fincher proposed in Network and Tattoo. Are there new consequences to controversial or intimate information being immediately shared to the public? Can one convincingly build a new persona strictly from their online or media perceptions? In the third installment of what could reasonably be called Fincher’s “tech trilogy,” the answer to both is a resounding yes—one stained by blood and deceit.
Much is said about David Fincher’s obsession with detail, every frame having to believably exist in the world he has created. Furthermore, this attention to detail extends beyond visual narrative storytelling. It also commands every protagonist Fincher has ever brought to life.
One character in particular most mirrors Fincher’s own obsession with perfection—Michael Douglas’ Nicholas van Orton. In The Game, Douglas portrays a character so seduced by the compulsion to maintain his lavish lifestyle that he has subjected himself to a lonely state of living.
It is within the character of van Orton that Fincher brings to life his most honest portrayal of loneliness. Whereas in Gone Girl we were shown loneliness through the prism of married life, or within Fight Club by the shackles of a consumerist society, The Game projects loneliness in its truest form. Unless others place themselves in the same vicinity as van Orton, our protagonist never engages with humanity. He is as internally isolated as he is externally.
The story of what came to be known as the Zodiac murders began on December 20, 1968, though no one knew at the time how significant that particular shooting was to become. There’s no agreed upon date when the murders ended because the Zodiac—a moniker the killer gave himself—has never been identified. His shadow stretches until it just reaches into 1970, though attacks beyond 1969 have never been substantiated. For a period of just a bit more than a year, the Bay Area was paralyzed by the randomness and viciousness of these crimes. And that viral fear was spreading. Down in Los Angeles, the Tate and LaBianca murders committed by the Manson family were essentially contemporaneous with later Zodiac attacks. Californians at both ends of the state were sleepwalking through a new reality.
This is the context in which the editorial cartoonist Robert Graysmith began a job at the San Francisco Chronicle in the summer of 1969. And though the timeline of the Zodiac murders is a relatively compact one, it’s a thread Graysmith, who became a central part of the narrative, continues to chase. The story depicted in David Fincher’s 2007 film, based on Graysmith’s bestselling 1986 book by the same title, begins and ends with Graysmith. Ten years on, the film that tells his story continues to transfix viewers, and getting caught up in its snare still feels all too easy.
1. LFF Connects Special Presentation: Mindhunter. Episodes One and Two
David Fincher returns to television with a Zodiac-style police procedural, based on the men who first coined the phrase ‘serial killer’.
BFI London Film Festival
Tuesday 10 October 2017 18:15
BFI Southbank, NFT1
Tickets: Sold Out!
Dir: David Fincher
Exec Prod: David Fincher, Josh Donen, Charlize Theron, Ceán Chaffin
With Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Hannah Gross
Total running time: 107min
UK Distribution: Netflix
Son of Sam is on the cover of TIME Magazine, Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’ is on the airwaves and FBI Agent Holden Ford is troubled. Policing used to be a matter of establishing the three basics; motive, means, opportunity. But it’s the late-1970s and politically unstable times can produce chaos. A new breed of killers have emerged whose motives are ambiguous. Holden’s (Jonathan Groff) hunger for innovation leads him to Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), a seasoned if skeptical agent of the Behavioral Science Unit. Together they tour regional police stations, like a pair of criminal psychology-totin’ Bible salesmen, preaching Freud to officers whose approaches are resolutely Old Testament. Their cross-country motel-safari soon gives them a glimpse into the depths of the violent and sexually depraved crime that cops are ill-equipped to deal with. A new method is called for, but it will bring them unsettlingly close to murderous minds. David Fincher returns to episodic drama, with this sharply scripted Zodiac-style procedural, based on the men who first coined the phrase ‘serial killer’. As the opening two episodes show us, this is invigorating, witty and meticulous storytelling, from the typography to the impeccable music cues. Crime drama at its most addictive. Kate Taylor
Thanks to Joe Frady
These members of the filmmaking team are expected to attend the festival:
David Fincher, Director; Jonathan Groff, Cast; Holt McCallanay, Cast
The internationally acclaimed director and creative force behind the new Netflix drama MINDHUNTER talks about his work.
BFI London Film Festival
Tuesday 10 October 2017 21:00
BFI Southbank, NFT1
Tickets: Sold Out!
Director David Fincher, whose films Zodiac and Se7en explored the psychology of serial killers, presents another probing look into the psyche of some of America’s most infamous sociopaths with his upcoming Netflix series MINDHUNTER. One of the most revered filmmakers of a generation, Fincher began his career making pop promos with some of the world’s most influential artists, from Madonna to Michael Jackson. He has also directed a series of iconic ad campaigns for major international brands. As a feature filmmaker he has few peers, with a back catalogue including Fight Club, The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. MINDHUNTER marks Fincher’s return to the small screen after overseeing House of Cards for Netflix. We’re delighted to welcome Fincher to the BFI London Film Festival to discuss MINDHUNTER in the context of his career and the recent boom in long-form episodic drama.