Friday, July 05, 2019

David Fincher films

For better or worse, I think I've seen most of David Fincher's films. Below are my notes or briefs on Fincher's films (in chronological order).

A few preliminary observations and comments before the main event:

  1. In general, I wouldn't necessarily recommend Christians watch his films. That might risk cultivating the opposite mindset to Phil 4:8. And there are likely better ways to spend your time. However, if you've already seen his films, then this post might be useful.

  2. Philosophically, Fincher's films reek of nihilism. Perhaps anarchism too. At least there seems to be a rebellious "punk" streak.

  3. As a director, I think Fincher's film-making reflects superb technical craftsmanship. However, Fincher's films often come across as cold and impersonal.

  4. A consistent theme in most of Fincher's films is there's more than meets the eye when we look at people. There may be a surface beauty that's rotten to the core. This in turn reflects a biblical truth: "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Sam 16:7).

  5. These are my interpretations. Others might have better interpretations.

Alien 3 (1992)
Genre: Scifi. Part of the Alien franchise.
Lessons: I don't know. It was a mess. Maybe some sort of social commentary on disease and disease outbreaks.

Seven (1995)
Genre: A (gruesome) film noir detective story.
Lessons: The world is evil, but the world is worth fighting for. The Christian could say people are sinners, and God has every reason and right to leave us to ourselves, but instead he came into the muck and mire of our evil to rescue us.

The Game (1997)
Genre: Suspense or thriller. A twist of M. Night Shyamalan proportions before M. Night Shyamalan.
Lessons: Wealth and status are worthless in the face of death. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (Mt 16:26).

Fight Club (1999)
Genre: Rebel (in search of) a cause.
Lessons: Humans are body and soul. Western crass consumerism and materialism may feed the body, but not the soul. Ultimately there's little value, meaning, or purpose in living for material goods alone. The West has grown rich, but the West has grown fat. As a result the West has become weak and effete. All this leaves Westerners deeply dissatisfied. It splits our personalities, so to speak; it causes tremendous angst. For men, this often takes the form of buried anger and rage that can't be expressed. Men wish to live for more, for a higher purpose, but there are no good father figures or male role models to look up to. They're absent. God is absent. Fight Club is fantastic at posing these very real existential problems, but the film offers no good answers. It's similar to the popularity of Jordan Peterson who is great at posing these existential questions for men, but who can't offer what Christianity can offer.

Panic Room (2002)
Genre: Neo-Hitchcock.
Lessons: Nothing significant that I can remember.

Zodiac (2007)
Genre: A police procedural coupled with investigative journalism.
Lessons: The Zodiac killer is our Jack the Ripper. A lense through which to observe the past and present state of society. The 1960s were a turning point in our national consciousness. Pre-1960s, America was more idealistic. Post-1960s, America devolved into cynicism. That's likewise reflected in Jake Gyllenhaal's character who starts off as an idealistic "boy scout" but by the end he has become unhinged (obsessive) and his marriage has broken down. The rotten fruits of a generation can spoil future generations (e.g. in many respects we're still living with bad fruit from the sexual revolution, radical feminism, and identity politics).

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Genre: Fincher's Forrest Gump.
Lessons: Life is short, carpe diem. The brevity of life. "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14).

The Social Network (2010)
Genre: Loosely based on true events. The rise of Facebook.
Lessons: The irony of a social network (Facebook) built by someone who lacks social awareness (Mark Zuckerberg). Men competing for status in order to impress women (and the fetishization of Asian women). Hatred for exclusive circles (Harvard final clubs), but in the end becoming what they hate. In short, despite the trappings of civilization and technological advances, we're still primarily motivated by our basest desires (e.g. lust, power, greed, anger). We can't escape our base desires because we can't escape ourselves. "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom 7:24b).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Genre: A murder mystery with a cyberpunk overlay (malchick goth hacker).
Lessons: New Europe can't escape Old Europe. Europe believes it's forward and progressive with women and immigrants, but the abuse of women (rape) and xenophobia including anti-Semitism (murdering immigrants) lie just beneath the surface.

Gone Girl (2014)
Genre: A trashy romance novel disguised as a femme fatale tale with a dash of Hitchcock's Rear Window thrown in for good measure.
Lessons: Marriage can be a sham. Many people are lurid voyeurs for scandal. The court of public opinion changes with the wind. People aren't always who they present themselves to be. Indeed, Fincher has said: "I think people are perverts. I maintain that. That's the foundation of my career."

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