Fear Itself: David Fincher’s THE GAME At 20

Twenty years later, Jacob revisits the master filmmaker’s technically accomplished dissertation on anxiety and desire.

By Jacob Knight
Sep. 12, 2017
Birth. Movies. Death.

When David Fincher was pitching his adaptation of Spider-Man during the ’90s, the key element that ruled out his take with studio execs was the refusal to execute another feature length origin tale. In Fincher’s version, our friendly neighborhood web-head was going to have his backstory explained via an opening mini-operetta, which would get his superhero coming of age out of the way so the fastidious Hollywood technician could tell the story he wanted to tell. This idiosyncratic approach rubbed suits the wrong way, but was repurposed for The Game (’97), Fincher’s Hitchcockian follow-up to the smash bit of serial killer morbidity, Seven (’95).

We’re introduced to Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) via a series of home movies. It’s Nicholas’ birthday party at his family’s lavish estate, and the kid is all half-assed smirks, the sparks of candles placed on an unseen cake illuminating his face like fireworks. Yet whenever his father is around, Nicholas tenses; the patriarch’s distant gazes and unsubtle grimaces casting a long shadow over what should’ve been a festive day. This is all foreshadowing; letting us know exactly what type of man Nicholas is going to turn out to be. There’s no radioactive spider, or magical transformation. Genes are all that’s required to transmute Mr. Van Orton into a shadow of his soon to be suicidal father – an ultimate, and probably unavoidable, fate.

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The Ultimate Plate Van for MINDHUNTER

From Jarred Land (Facebook) with Matthew Tremblay (Facebook), and Christopher Probst (Instagram)

Jarred Land (President at RED):

David Fincher‘s insane Plate Van for Mindhunter. 11 Epic Dragons on Global Dynamics United Tilt Plates all triggered by one detonator. Great Design Colab between Fincher, Myself and Christopher Probst.

All things considered, this wasn’t actually as expensive as it would seem.

I had a bunch of the 80/20 extrusions left over from previous projects and those Black Magic monitors I bought for super cheap online. My engineers built the 11 camera trigger out of a left over battery shell for about $40 in parts.

The initial design process was super efficient because 80/20 has plugins for SolidWorks so Fincher and I spent a lot of time on the computer pre-visualizing everything and we could figure out the weak links very quickly before we even had the van.

The GDU low profile bombproof tilt plates which Fincher, Matthew Tremblay and I designed we built just for this (which became the GDU tilt plates) seemed exotic but was actually way more cost effective than buying or renting dutch or tango heads that were expensive and not really made for what we were using them for. Remember this is a multi-year show so they actually are saving a ton of money designing it and building it rather than just renting everything for such a long period of time… it likely has already paid for itself.

This is just the prototype of something Fincher and I have been working on for a few years now and it’s going to get way way more badass as time goes on.

Christopher Probst:

Click to enlarge and read descriptions

David Fincher’s “The Game” Turns 20

by Chris Evangelista
September 7, 2017
RogerEbert.com, Balder & Dash

Investment banker Nicholas Van Orton has come to Christine’s home for answers. His entire life is coming apart at the seams, ever since he signed up for a life-altering game courtesy of the mysterious Consumer Recreation Services. He thinks Christine, a waitress he met seemingly by accident, might know something. With endless resources and a borderline ludicrous number of extra players, CRS has made Nicholas untrusting of nearly everything and everyone. Once inside Christine’s home, Nicholas slowly begins to realize the apartment is not really an apartment at all, but a set. The lamp still has a thrift store tag on it; the books on the shelves are false fronts; the water line isn’t hooked up. It’s all been staged for his benefit.

On the commentary track for the Criterion Collection release, director David Fincher reveals that when reading the script, this exact moment is what sold him on making the film. “That’s when I said, ‘I gotta see this, I gotta make this movie.’”

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Highlights from “The Killers Inside” (Empire)

While with MINDHUNTER, David Fincher aims to get inside the minds of the serial killers, Nev Pierce tries the same with the series director.

Words: Nev Pierce
Portraits: Marius Bugge
Digital Imaging: Justin Metz

Empire (October 2017 Issue)
September 7, 2017

“I DON’T WANT WHOEVER DID THIS KILLED,” SAYS DAVID FINCHER, “BUT I DO WANT A DIGIT.”

[…] He’s brandishing his new show’s “sides” in his hand: the day’s script pages, which have been stapled together in the wrong order. “Okay, we’re almost ready,” he calls out, unpicking staples. “Bring in the master thespians!”

[…] “Cut!” calls Fincher. “Moving on!” There’s a pause, from shock. Then laughter, as it dawns upon cast and crew that their director — not exactly known for being shy of repeating takes — is taking the piss. As detail-orientated as any FBI profiler, Fincher is hardly going to rush through a scene as nuanced as this. Walking over to the monitor, he says, “Okay, play that back. Let me see everything that was fucked up about it.”

[…] Fincher directed four of the ten episodes, with the others shot by Dane Tobias Lindholm (A Hijacking) and Brits Andrew Douglas (U Want Me 2 Kill Him?) and Asif Kapadia (Senna).

[…] “It’s a much more theatrical presentation,” he reflects. “It’s a lot of sitting at a table with a guy in manacles, trying to get him to tell you what was going through his head when he did the most inhuman things to another entity you can possibly imagine.”

[…] Of course from Seven to Zodiac to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Fincher has dealt with more than his fair share of successive slaughters. The interest may stem from his youth. His dad was a journalist, his mum a mental-health nurse, and conversations about killers weren’t infrequent at home.

“There were a lot of serial killers in the ’70s,” he remembers. “And we probably talked about most of them. My mom would come down much more on the notion of rehabilitation and my dad would be like, ‘Once you understand what’s really going on, you probably have less empathy than you would going in.’ So that might have been what made MINDHUNTER appealing. Then again, whenever I can blame my parents, that’s my default.”

[…] As much as we now take the idea of psychological profiling for granted, back in the ’70s it was new. In that sense, while MINDHUNTER is about murder, it bears some thematic comparison to Fincher’s BAFTA-winning The Social Network, in that it is also about invention. Fincher knew Groff from that, in fact, rather than any of his TV work (“I know this is gonna shock you,” says the director, “but I’ve never seen Glee”).

[…] Visiting Quantico, Fincher walked down into a basement and came face-to-face with a life-size mannequin of Hannibal Lecter: the ultimate serial-killer icon. “The Silence Of The Lambs was a huge recruitment tool,” says the director, who, when asked by his FBI guides what he wanted to do with MINDHUNTER, told them he wanted to strip away the super-villainy of serial killers.

[…] “I feel like Dennis Rader [‘The BTK Killer’] is a lot of things, Gary Ridgway [‘The Green River Killer’] is a lot of things, Richard Ramirez [‘The Night Stalker’] is a lot of things,” he says. “But they’re not gourmands. We want to show these people as they really are, which is quite sad and human. Even though the aspect of them that they’re keeping hidden is this intensely subhuman part.”

It’s an attitude you might not expect from the man who once put Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box. But there’s empathy here. Recalls Fincher: “Jeffrey Dahmer [cannibal, necrophiliac and murderer of 17 people] said, ‘I’m sexually aroused by seeing people’s insides.’” He pauses, before adding wryly. “Okay, well, there’s not a lot of clubs for that… Suntan lotion and beer and bubblegum and automobiles are sold by cleavage, they’re sold by abs — there’s this commingling of our sexual impulse in almost every kind of communication. If that doesn’t work for you, what must the world be like? I mean, I’ve seen the crime-scene photographs from Jeffrey Dahmer. He was a subhuman. And yet you can’t help but listen to him and go, ‘Was there a chance had we gotten there earlier?’”

[…] Not that the empathy extends eternally. “I like to think of myself as a liberal,” says Fincher. “And yet there are definitely moments where I find myself going, ‘Give me a backhoe and some quicklime and let’s stop worrying about the appeals process.’”

[…] MINDHUNTER is asking difficult questions. “It is also entirely salacious!” says Fincher. “Let’s not kid ourselves. But hopefully we’re going to be dealing with the things that make us similar as opposed to the things that separate us.”

[…] A resident comes over to say she’s a fan. Fincher smiles. “It’s always nice to know there are pervs out there!” She laughs. “We keep you in business!” “That’s true,” says Fincher. “Without pervs I’d be nothing.”

Read the full profile on the October Issue of Empire, now on sale: Print, Digital, Subscription

Previous profiles and interviews with Fincher by Pierce at nevpierce.com

Empire Issue Preview: Star Wars, Mindhunter, Mother

John Nugent
6 Sep 2017
Empire

Now, witness the power of our fully operational movie magazine! It is once again that momentous moment when a Star Wars movie graces the cover of Empire – and this time, we’ve gone fully holographic, depicting Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley in all their shimmering glory. Here’s a little taster of what you can find in the October 2017 issue of Empire, on sale Thursday 7 September.

MINDHUNTER

David Fincher’s next project, the furiously-capitalised MINDHUNTER, arrives on Netflix in October, and Empire was on set to get under the skin of the serial killer mystery, and why “pervs” keep him in business.

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2017-09-07 Empire (341) - Cover

New “Mindhunter” Teaser Looking Like Another Masterpiece from David Fincher

Wake
September 6, 2017
TVOvermind

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.

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The Game Turns 20: A Retrospective of David Fincher’s Overlooked Gem

By Rory Cashin
(September 5, 2017)
JOE

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.

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