The Social Network. Ten Years Later

Andrew Saladino
September 23, 2020
The Royal Ocean Film Society

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Sources / Further Reading:

Inventing Facebook by Mark Harris
Mark Zuckerberg Tried To Stop The Social Network From Being Made by Alyson Shontell
Did Network Predict the Future of Television? by Steven Rosenbaum

Music: Chris Zabriskie – “Candlepower”

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All Hell Broke Loose: David Fincher’s Se7en And The Medieval Morality Play

David Fincher’s grisly neo-noir turns 25 this year, but its major influences go back much further than the film industry. Kristina Murkett explores the film’s roots in the medieval morality play

Kristina Murkett
September 25, 2020
The Quietus

The gruesome, grim and gut-wrenching ending of Se7en is unparalleled. The “What’s in the box?” scene is a murderous masterpiece; Fincher’s direction is so violent, visceral and unsettling that the scene becomes not only about an execution on film, but the execution of film-making.

All of the elements in this scene combine to create the final climax in which detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) shoots serial-killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey): the sickly yellow colour palette; the handheld camera shots; the ominous crescendo in the score; and the menacing metaphor of Doe’s silhouette in his blood-red uniform against the setting sun.

In killing him, Mills fulfils Doe’s prophecy; in Doe’s own words, he “[becomes] vengeance, [becomes] wrath.”

Twenty-five years ago, when audiences first walked out of the cinema solemn and more than a little shell-shocked, critics realised the seismic power of the film. Roger Ebert said that​ “Se7en is one of the darkest and most merciless films ever made in the Hollywood mainstream,” whilst John Wrathall described it as “the most complex and disturbing entry in the serial killer genre since Manhunter.”

These reviews still ring true; the film’s themes are intense, insidious, and irredeemably gloomy, and yet the performances and psychological terror of the script are still undeniably gripping. Its box-office success (it was the seventh-highest grossing film of 1995) arguably secured Fincher’s image as a master of bleak, bold blockbusters, and it is still the 28th most highly rated film of all time on IMDb.

There are many works that had an important influence on the film: Silence of the Lambs, Psycho and M, to name a few. However, one of the most revelatory influences, and one that can help us to understand the fatal foreshadowing of the characters’ endings, is actually a genre that came 500 years before Se7en: the medieval morality play.

Read the full article

Not Many People Have Basements in California …

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Se7en and the 10th anniversary of The Social NetworkThe Ringer hereby dubs September 21-25 David Fincher Week. Join us all throughout the week as we celebrate and examine the man, the myth, and his impeccable body of work.

Robert Graysmith visiting the home of Bob Vaughn in ‘Zodiac’ is David Fincher’s most purely terrifying scene. Here’s how it came together—and came to stay in the movie.

Jake Kring-Schreifels 
Jake Kring-Schreifels is a sports and entertainment writer based in New York.
September 24, 2020
The Ringer

On a wet September night in 1978, Robert Graysmith couldn’t resist his curiosity.

A month earlier, the San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist had received an anonymous phone call regarding the identity of the Zodiac, the notorious Bay Area serial killer. “He’s a guy named Rick Marshall,” the mysterious voice told him at the start of an hourlong conversation. The killer’s string of murders in 1969 had gone unsolved, but Graysmith suddenly had a new lead. According to the tipster, Marshall—a former projectionist at The Avenue Theater—had hidden evidence from his five victims inside movie canisters, which he’d rigged to explode. Before hanging up, the nameless caller told Graysmith to find Bob Vaughn, a silent film organist who worked with Marshall. The booby-trapped canisters, Graysmith learned, had recently been moved to Vaughn’s home. “Get to Vaughn,” the voice told him. “See if he tells you to stay away from part of his film collection.”

After years spent independently entrenched in the open case, Graysmith dug into Marshall’s history and found several coincidences. His new suspect liked The Red Spectre, an early-century movie referenced in a 1974 Zodiac letter, and had used a teletype machine just like the killer. Outside The Avenue Theater, Marshall’s felt-pen posters even had handwriting similar to the Zodiac’s obscure, cursive strokes. On occasional visits to the upscale movie house, Graysmith observed Vaughn playing the Wurlitzer and noticed the Zodiac’s crosshair symbol plastered to the theater’s ceiling. There were too many overlapping clues. He had to make a trip to Vaughn’s house. “We knew there was some link,” Graysmith tells me. “I was scared to death.”

Almost three decades later, director David Fincher turned Graysmith’s nightmarish visit into one of the creepiest movie scenes of all time. It takes place near the end of Zodiac, after Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) follows Vaughn (Charles Fleischer) to his home through the rain in his conspicuous, bright-orange Volkswagen Rabbit. Once inside, the mood quickly becomes unnerving. After disclosing that he, not Marshall, is responsible for the movie poster handwriting, Vaughn leads a spooked Graysmith down to his dimly lit basement. As the organist sorts through his nitrate film records, the floorboards above Graysmith creak, insinuating another’s presence. After Vaughn assures his guest that he lives alone, Graysmith sprints upstairs to the locked front door, rattling the handle, before Vaughn slowly pulls out his key and opens it from behind. Graysmith bolts into the rain as though he’s just escaped the Zodiac’s clutches.

Ultimately, the third-act encounter is a red herring. Vaughn was never considered a credible suspect. But in a movie filled with rote police work and dead ends, those five minutes of kettle-whistling tension turn a procedural into true horror. The scene is a culmination of Graysmith’s paranoid obsession with the Zodiac’s identity—a window into the life-threatening lengths and depths he’ll go to solve the case—and a brief rejection of the movie’s otherwise objective lens. “It’s actually so different from the rest of the movie,” says James VanderbiltZodiac’s screenwriter. “It does kind of give you that jolt that a lot of the movie is working hard not to [give].”

Most simply, the basement scene is a signature Fincher adrenaline rush—a moment buttressed by years of intensive research, attention to accuracy, and last-minute studio foresight. Thirteen years after the movie’s release, it still sends shivers down Graysmith’s spine.

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Ten Years Later, Mark Zuckerberg Is Still Trying to Overcome ‘The Social Network’

On the cusp of the 25th anniversary of Se7en and the 10th anniversary of The Social NetworkThe Ringer hereby dubs Sept. 21-25 David Fincher Week. Join us all throughout the week as we celebrate and examine the man, the myth, and his impeccable body of work.

How David Fincher’s masterpiece became a tech CEO’s origin story—even if it’s not totally true.

Alyssa Bereznak
September 22, 2020
The Ringer

In 2017, Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard for a victory lap that most people can only dream of. Twelve years after the Facebook CEO dropped out of school to run what would become the largest online social network in the world, the elite Ivy League would give him an honorary degree. Facebook celebrated the event as an opportunity to showcase the company’s history and display a more personal side of its CEO, organizing a few public broadcasts ahead of the speech. One of those included a visit to Kirkland House H33, the room where it all started.

“This is the first time that we’ve been back in this dorm since I left,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook Live video that he was filming from his smartphone. With his college sweetheart Priscilla Chan in tow, he directed viewers toward his old desk, and the rooms where his Facebook cofounders (and then-roommates) Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes worked and slept. After some reminiscing about tiny bed sizes and dining hall cuisine, he addressed an incident that has, over the span of the past decade, become millennial folklore.

“One weekend I wanted to build this prank website, FaceMash,” he said with his signature indecipherable smile. “I basically sat here for, like, three days straight, and just coded this thing. And it was a prank. It was kind of funny but also a little bit in poor taste.” He summarized how it spread quickly, froze his laptop, and caused Harvard officials to turn off the entire dorm’s internet connection. “That was probably one of my more memorable moments from Kirkland House, just sitting here, and, like, I’m trying to fix this, Dustin’s trying to do his computer-science problem set, Chris is trying to write some paper for social studies or whatever he’s studying, and all the sudden the internet goes dark.”

As Zuckerberg tells it, the story of FaceMash was nothing more than an innocent college gag that ended in a night of forced unproductivity. But chances are, most people watching that day remember it differently, as the riveting sequence of events at the start of a major Hollywood blockbuster called The Social Network. After conquering the business world, Zuckerberg had finally earned the approval of the elite institution he’d once antagonized. But sitting at his old dorm room desk years later, it seemed his one remaining challenge was to reclaim his past.

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The Rewatchables (Podcast): ‘Se7en’

Bill Simmons, Sean Fennessey, and Chris Ryan revisit David Fincher’s 1995 crime thriller starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Spacey

Bill Simmons, Sean Fennessey, and Chris Ryan
September 22, 2020
The Ringer

But Seriously, What’s in the Box?

Twenty-five years after the premiere of David Fincher’s ‘Se7en,’ one “mystery” still lingers

The Ringer Staff 
September 22, 2020
The Ringer

Fincher Moments: Mark Zuckerberg Walks Into a Bar

On the cusp of the 25th anniversary of Se7en and the 10th anniversary of The Social NetworkThe Ringer hereby dubs the next five days David Fincher Week. Join us all throughout the week as we celebrate and examine the man, the myth, and his impeccable body of work.

The first few minutes of David Fincher’s ‘The Social Network’ is a thesis statement on its protagonist—and a harbinger for a decade defined by assholes

Katie Baker
September 21, 2020
The Ringer

“The scene is stark and simple,” reads the first page of the screenplay. A young couple sits bickering at a campus pub, a tale as old as time. They speak quickly and sharply about pressing student concerns: SAT scores, summer jobs, a cappella groups, and whether one of them used to sleep with the establishment’s bouncer. (He’s just a friend named Bobby, she insists.)

Each character feels increasingly insulted by the other. By the end of the conversation, their relationship is through. “A fuse has just been lit,” notes the script at the scene’s conclusion, describing a dynamic—college breakup as launching pad—that is broadly familiar to audiences yet is also, in this telling, a portal to a great and eventually unrelatable unknown. That’s because this movie is no rom-com; it’s The Social Network, the 2010 deep dive into the hectic and ultimately litigious early days of Facebook that was written with snide perceptiveness by Aaron Sorkin, directed with bold ambition by David Fincher, scored with staccato generosity by Trent Reznor, nominated for eight Oscars, and received by audiences worldwide to the tune of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.

Read the full article

The David Fincher Syllabus

A collection of things to listen to, read, and watch about the director behind ‘Fight Club,’ ‘The Social Network,’ ‘Mindhunter,’ and more

The Ringer Staff
September 21, 2020
The Ringer

Light The Fuse: Liz Hannah Interview (Writer of ‘The Post’, ‘Long Shot’, and ‘Mindhunter’)

Charles Hood & Drew Taylor
July 20, 2020
Light The Fuse – A Mission: Impossible Podcast

For this very special episode we are joined by screenwriter Liz Hannah (“The Post,” “Long Shot,” “Mindhunter”). We find out why she loves the franchise (especially “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”), her appreciation for Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa and what she wants out of the two new movies. She also talks about working with David Fincher. And we also get Liz – and her husband – to rank Tom Cruise’s hairstyles!

Listen to the podcast on:

Apple Podcasts
Stitcher
SoundCloud
Spotify
Google Play
YouTube

Or listen here on our website!

davidkoepp.com: “Panic Room” Script Archives

Directed by David Fincher · 2002

Screenplay by David Koepp.

When intruders break into her new home searching for a missing fortune, a divorced woman and her diabetic daughter take refuge in the house’s fortress-like safe room.

Panic Room Script Archives

Panic Room – 1.17.00
Panic Room – 2.15.00
Panic Room – 10.9.00
Panic Room – Color 2.8.01
Panic Room – Pitch

Other Screenplays by David Koepp

Soundstage Access: Interview with Writer of “Zodiac” and Director James Vanderbilt

Brando Benetton
December 11, 2018
Soundstage Access

It was amazing to sit down and chat with Writer/Director/Producer James Vanderbilt, whose credits include Sony‘s ‘The Amazing Spiderman‘, ‘White House Down‘ and David Fincher‘s masterpiece ‘Zodiac.’

In our conversation we talk about James’ early success selling his first script just days away from graduating at USC, his relationship with pitching films to studios, becoming a first-time director on ‘Truth‘ and much more.

Make sure to find and follow the podcast on Facebook.

Listen to the podcast on:

Apple Podcasts
Spotify

Stitcher

Also:

Stephen Nakamura, Colorist (‘Fight Club‘, ‘IT: Chapter Two‘)
John Schwartzman, Cinematographer (‘Jurassic World: Dominion‘)

Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’: A Suspenseful and Thrilling Combination of Police Procedural and Newspaper Film That Masterfully Chronicles the Progression of Obsession

Zodiac poster by Barret Chapman

Koraljka Suton
January 24, 2020

If you asked David Fincher about the childhood years he spent in San Anselmo in Marin County during the 1960s, the topic that would undoubtedly pop up would be that of an infamous serial killer who, in the director’s eyes, was “the ultimate boogeyman.” For it was precisely that time and that general area that saw the rise of the Zodiac, a murderer who frequently wrote letters and sent coded messages to local newspapers, gleefully taking credit for the gruesome killing sprees that would inevitably trigger waves of paranoia across the West Coast. As Fincher recalls: “I remember coming home and saying the highway patrol had been following our school buses for a couple weeks now. And my dad, who worked from home, and who was very dry, not one to soft-pedal things, turned slowly in his chair and said: ‘Oh yeah. There’s a serial killer who has killed four or five people, who calls himself Zodiac, who’s threatened to take a high-powered rifle and shoot out the tires of a school bus, and then shoot the children as they come off the bus.’” Fincher’s fascination with the mystery man who wreaked havoc in Northern California during the late 60s and early 70s, claiming to have taken the lives of thirty-seven people (out of which only five were confirmed as being his victims), ultimately resulted in the director gladly accepting to work on Zodiac, a 2007 movie written by James Vanderbilt. The screenwriter had read a 1986 non-fiction book of the same name while he was still in high school, years before pursuing his eventual career. After getting into screenwriting, he had the chance to meet Zodiac author Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist who had been working for one of the newspapers the killer wrote to during the 1960s, and decided to make a screenplay based on the information-packed book. Having creative control over the material was of the utmost importance to Vanderbilt, given the fact that the endings of his previous scripts had been altered. Together with producers from Phoenix Pictures, Vanderbilt bought the rights to both Zodiac and its follow-up, entitled Zodiac Unmasked, after which the Seven director was asked to come on board.

Apart from having a personal attachment to the story of the notorious serial killer who was never brought to justice, what drew Fincher to work on the project was also the fact that the ending of Vanderbilt’s script was left unresolved, thereby staying true to real-life events. But Fincher’s perfectionism and his wish to depict the open case as accurately as possible led to him asking that the screenplay be rewritten, for the wanted to research the original police reports from scratch. He also decided that he, Vanderbilt and producer Bradley J. Fischer should personally interview the people who were involved in the case so that they could discern for themselves whether the testimonies were to be believed or not. The people they spent months interviewing were family members of suspects, the Zodiac killer’s two surviving victims, witnesses, investigators both current and retired, as well as the mayors of Vallejo and San Francisco. As Fincher elaborated: “Even when we did our own interviews, we would talk to two people. One would confirm some aspects of it and another would deny it. Plus, so much time had passed, memories are affected and the different telling of the stories would change perception. So when there was any doubt we always went with the police reports.” They also hired a forensic linguistics expert to analyze the killer’s letters, with the expert’s focus being on how the Zodiac spelled words and structured sentences, as opposed to the emphasis that was put on the Zodiac’s handwriting by document examiners in the 1970s.

Read the full article

Film stills by Merrick Morton (Paramount Pictures)

Other in-depth articles on films by David Fincher on Cinephilia & Beyond:

Alien3: “Take all of the responsibility, because you’re going to get all of the blame”

Se7en: A Rain-Drenched, Somber, Gut-Wrenching Thriller that Restored David Fincher’s Faith in Filmmaking

Downwards Is the Only Way Forwards: Welcome to David Fincher’s The Game

Fight Club’: David Fincher’s Stylish Exploration of Modern-Day Man’s Estrangement and Disillusionment

Fincher’s Zodiac As Easily One Of The Best Thrillers Of The Millennium So Far

From Facebook to ‘Fuck-You Flip-Flops’: How Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher Made ‘The Social Network’ a Fiery Word-Off

Fight Club Turns 20: Interview with the Film’s Screenwriter Jim Uhls

The fight cannot be a lie.

October 7, 2019
Storius Magazine

This month, Fight Club turns twenty. David Fincher’s adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, written for the screen by Jim Uhls and starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter, became a movie classic that has generated every form of cultural reference, from memes to research papers. Ranking #10 on IMDb’s Top 250 best-movie list and lending “The first rule of Fight Club” catchphrase to teen chats and corporate meetings alike, the film has come to occupy a unique niche in modern culture.

On the anniversary of the movie’s release, Fight Club’s screenwriter Jim Uhls spoke with Storius, reflecting on the film’s journey and lasting influence, adaptation challenges, fan theories, and his screenwriting techniques.

STORIUS: Today, twenty years after its release, Fight Club seems surprisingly contemporary, especially considering how many changes our society has gone through since 1999. It has entered the cultural lexicon, is often referenced even by people who haven’t seen it, and doesn’t seem to age much. What do you attribute the movie’s endurance to?

It hits a nerve with each generation that discovers it, seemingly because the basic life circumstances of the viewer, whether in 1999 or 2019, are the same. Part of that nerve is the idea of how self-worth is defined — both by society and in one’s mind — which are usually the same.

But, in this film, they become different. Men in their twenties, still puzzled about what they should do with their lives, are discovering a different way to define self-worth. A group of them meet to experience something that is outside the parameters of civilization. Each fight is one-on-one violence between two men who have no animosity towards each other, might not even know each other. They’re doing it because it’s a ritual, a primal ritual, in which they take part both by doing it and by watching others do it. It’s physical combat, wordless, and true — i.e., the fights are actually happening, so they are true. Other things all around these men can be lies, with or without words, but the fight cannot be a lie.

Another part of that nerve is Tyler Durden’s contempt for materialism, consumerism, the impossible ideals invented by advertising, and in effect — everything that is fake, or a lie, or a pathway to soullessness — all constantly bombarding us, in our “civilized” world. I’ve been repeatedly surprised by females, from teenage to senior citizens, telling me they love the film. It’s clearly aimed at a form of emancipation for young men, but part of the nerve it hits must resonate for women.

STORIUS: It’s hard to believe now that the movie was considered a failure when it was released, and that it took a few years and a DVD release to turn it into a financial success and a cultural phenomenon. Why do you think the film had such a bumpy road to recognition?

The bumpy road, the period of initial domestic release, was largely due to the vexing challenge of how to make a trailer for the film that promotes what the film is. It wasn’t an easy task. And it wasn’t achieved.

I ran into a friend about two weeks after the initial release, and he said he hadn’t gotten to the film yet, but he would; he just wasn’t a big fan of boxing movies.

“Boxing movies.” That’s a solid example of someone not having any idea of what the film was about during the time when it was vital to get that across to the public.

Read the full interview