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Posts tagged: david fincher

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Red Band Trailer (dir. David Fincher)

this will be taken down in no time so I’d watch it quickly.

An Unorganized and Hastily Proofread Argument for “I’m Still Here” in the form of a Top 10 Movies of 2010 List and Supporting Essay

Francesco’s Best Films of 2010:

1. The Social Network - David Fincher
2. Black Swan - Darren Aronofsky
3. Blue Valentine - Derek Cianfrance
4. Enter the Void - Gaspar Noe
5. I’m Still Here - Casey Affleck
6. Exit Through the Gift Shop - Banksy
7. True Grit - Joel and Ethan Coen
8. Greenberg - Noah Baumbach
9. The Fighter - David O. Russell
10. The King’s Speech - Tom Hooper¬†

With the Oscars fast approaching, this week every year presents a kind of free pass at the soapbox of hollering about the movies. Last years raison d’etre “Avatar” is still stinging from my criticism I’m sure.

Anyways, the 2011 movie-going year began with a drought unlike any I can remember. I believe it was April before I saw a movie worth remembering, and saying I remember “Kick-Ass” is compliment. When “Inception” came out in July and everyone made a mess on themselves in excitement, this writer among an unfortunately small handful of others tried to rain on the parade. “Inception” is most certainly not a great movie, so lets put that to bed, shall we? What it is, however, is a very good popcorn flick that aims very high and challenges its audience and Christopher Nolan should indeed be commended for that. The guy hasn’t made anything as heady or profound as “Memento” in years but who else in Hollywood is filling millions of seats with high-brow fun like “Inception”? And so the year cranks on. Summer sucked. “Greenberg” was the only bright spot.

Then in September 2010 Magnolia Pictures released “I’m Still Here”, a film that depicts the career swan dive of former Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix, who is fed up with being a celebrity. It landed with a plop so soft that even those who had been following the ongoing public Joaquin Phoenix saga had no idea it was in theaters.¬† Even most critics were fooled, like Roger Ebert, who wrote "A mind is a terrible thing to waste. The tragedy of Joaquin Phoenix’s self-destruction has been made into "I’m Still Here," a sad and painful documentary that serves little useful purpose other than to pound another nail into the coffin."

A sad and painful documentary? And I LOVE Ebert, don’t get me wrong. I could listen to him bash 3D all day. But this guy was taken for a ride, exactly as intended. Almost no one seemed to get that this was a joke. The progression in the quality of cameras used over the course of the film seems to have gone unnoticed. Likewise almost no one noted that Casey (and Ben) Affleck’s father is listed in the end credits as playing Joaquin Phoenix’s father. Not 5 minutes earlier everyone sees Joaquin and his “father” have a grounding heart to heart that brings the film full circle. It’s an affecting moment. And then we’re told immediately that it was staged. Is that possibly still too obtuse to register with anyone? Two weeks later, Ebert about-faced and ran a massive interview with director Casey Affleck literally gushing with fascination and praise at the revelation that the entire thing was a work of fiction.

The reason WHY Ebert and many others were fooled brings us to the man himself, Joaquin Phoenix, who somehow, incredibly, is receiving no golden statue talk whatsoever. Turns out people who hand out awards don’t like to be fooled or made to look ridiculous. The guy actually LIVED his character for over a year, in public, acting, and successfully deceiving the mainstream world entertainment media. His epic David Letterman debacle racking up millions of hits on YouTube.

Yet people didn’t get the joke. Upon release, it’s was a sad “documentary” that very few people liked and even less people saw. When it was revealed as being fiction, the only people who cared were the tiny group of folks (a mere 3,800+ IMDB reviews for example) that even knew the movie existed, sailing by the vast majority of the movie going public unnoticed. To give you some perspective, another tiny release this year, Sofia Coppola’s dull, trying way too hard to be Antonioni flick “Somewhere” has almost twice as many logged reviews on IMDB and examines many of the same themes of celebrity ennui by pointing a camera at abstractions instead of parading the entire FICTION of celebrity around on it’s head as Phoenix and Affleck do in “I’m Still Here”.

So where were we then? Oh yeah, no one gets a joke they didn’t even hear being told in the first place. It’s a fitting oversight that characterizes the rest of the Academy’s nominees for Best Picture this year as well. “The King’s Speech” (great writing, hideously photographed in that British moving wide-angle close-up way that makes me nauseous) is almost a guaranteed winner after taking the Producers Guild AND Directors Guild, but that would be such a tragedy in a year that was filled with challenging entertainment of all kinds. Sure they handed Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” a few pats on the head, but is a movie that edgy and polarizing really going to win? If history has taught us anything, certainly not. “Blue Valentine” was simply too great and too emotionally treacherous to sit through to realistically win any awards. The idea that there are 10 nominated films now and still no room for “Blue Valentine”, or for that matter “Exit Through the Gift Shop” or “I’m Still Here” or Gaspar Noe’s mesmerizing “Enter the Void” is simply fucking laughable. One could site dozens of examples of this, particularly from recent years. And while we’re on that note, with “Exit Through the Gift Shop” we’re given another example of a film posing as a “documentary” successfully fooling most people. “Exit” is one of the most original films to come out in recent memory, and unlike the Phoenix flick it’s not being ignored entirely. The Academy, telegraphing their almost complete ineptitude and behind-the-timesiness, nominated it in the “Documentary” category. Wait, what? Does anyone still think that was a documentary of anything?? It seems pretty apparent, even with minimal research and a single viewing of the film that the entire thing is a put-on by Banksy and that Mr. Brainwash is himself a work of subversive Banksy “art” designed to point out the folly of the whole commercializing of the street art scene. Alas.

Hopefully “I’m Still Here” will grow into its rightful fate of a cult classic, a statement on the nature of entertainment and how we ingest it, fully capturing the zeitgeist of the Hollywood cult of celebrity and exposes it for it’s fraudulence, or at the very least contextualizes it with such poignant absurdity that its impossible to take seriously, thus keeping the talented individuals involved in the making of the film at a safe distance from any type of recognition, be it a golden statue, or even just the whisper of a random studio executive acknowledging it’s existence.

If anything, 2010 was the year the movie-going public at large, thanks to (what i’m not sure, the internet, youtube, too many shitty movies in general?) stopped being able to tell the difference between reality and fiction, or in one pretty glaring example (“I’m Still Here”) could not be bothered to notice. I don’t know what that means yet exactly, nothing good I’m sure, but perhaps another time.

I’ll close by defending my top choices. I must admit “Black Swan” was my favorite theater-going experience I’ve had this year (a Film Forum revival screening of “The Tingler” in 3D not withstanding). Nothing got my pulse racing and sent shivers down spine (not the horror movie kind of shivers, but the great movie kind of shivers) like “Black Swan” did. But I know Aronofsky is capable of even greater things, so it’s no great crime to let him sit this one out. Portman should take Best Actress without a doubt. “Blue Valentine” is the most emotionally wrenching movie I’ve experienced since “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, or at least since the last time I saw Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage” on DVD. I thought it was great. Gaspar Noe’s “Enter the Void” was the most audacious piece of cinema in recent memory and so deserves to be near the top. Even Kanye West liked it apparently.

But for the big prize, I have to single out "The Social Network". I think I decided that after the second time I saw it but kept it mostly to myself. I’ve seen it three times now, and I’m confident in my decision. It’s by far the most wicked piece of writing to appear this year. It’s performances from Jesse Eisenberg on down to Justin Timberlake were pitch perfect. Fincher’s direction is tangible in almost every sequence and other than Roger Deakin’s work in “True Grit”, nothing else this year was better photographed. To put it clumsily. So yeah, “The Social Network” guys. I even surprise myself. I do think 10 or 15 years from now “The Social Network” is going to be considered a modern classic and stand a head above the rest in the cinematic collective memory, and it is well deserved.

And that’s it. Let’s hope for a good 2011. My new favorite person Megan Ellison has already insured that Paul Thomas Anderson will get not one but TWO projects financed, so I’d say that bodes pretty well.