David Fincher (USA, 1962) debuted with the third (very mediocre) installment of the "Alien" saga: Alien 3 (1992).
If English is your first language and you could translate
my old Italian text, please contact me.
Scroll down for recent reviews in English.
David Fincher (USA, 1962) debuted with the third (very mediocre) installment of the "Alien" saga: Alien 3 (1992).
L'astronave precipita su un pianeta e Ripley, l'unica sopravvissuta,
viene recuperata dai suoi abitanti. Gli altri sono stati uccisi da un virus
Il pianeta e` costantemente immerso nel freddo. Sul pianeta si
e` stabilita una colonia di una ventina di uomini che hanno fatto voto di
celibato e vogliono vivere in isolamento, come monaci.
Lei deve rasarsi il capo a causa di un'epidemia. Tutti hanno il capo
rasato, come monaci, appunto.
La presenza di una donna fra di loro causa subito forti emozioni e
Ripley sfugge a malapena a un tentato stupro.
Poco alla volta Ripley scopre che quegli
uomini hanno tutti un passato criminale e di fatto quella colonia e` un
carcere di massima sicurezza.
Ripley seduce il dottore.
Intanto gli uomini cominciano a morire misteriosamente. Ripley sa chi
sospettare, ma il comandante del carcere e` scettico, cosi` come il leader
religioso degli uomini.
A crederle e` soltanto il dottore.
Uno degli "alien" e` infatti sopravvissuto e si sta scatenando.
Divora l'uomo con cui sta parlando, ma risparmia misteriosamente lei.
Il comandante ancora non le crede, che e` lui a essere divorato davanti
ai suoi uomini.
Comincia allora la caccia al mostro, ma sul pianeta non ci sono armi.
Ripley assume il comando: preparano una stanza in cui disintegrare il mostro,
e poi si mettono all'opera per stanarlo dalle tubature e farlo cadere nella
trappola. Il mostro continua pero` a uccidere.
Ripley scopre intanto di essere incinta, e incinta del mostro
(potrebbe essere la ragione per cui il mostro l'ha risparmiata prima
sull'astronave e poi quando si e` trovato solo con lei).
Non solo: si tratta di un mostro-regina, che potrebbe figliare migliaia
Intanto la Company, il malvagio comando militare che e` responsabile di tutto
cio`, sta venendo a "salvarli", ma Ripley rivela agli uomini che la Company
vuole soltanto il mostro (vivo) per i loro loschi fini (costruire armi
biologiche) e naturalmente uccidere tutti i testimoni.
Arriva infatti l'ordine di metterla in quarantina.
Gli uomini decidono di fidarsi di lei.
Il mostro fa ancora vittime, ma infine Ripley e l'unico uomo sopravvissuto
riescono a farlo cadere nella trappola.
Nonostante la quantita` di acido, il mostro
sopravvive e insegue Ripley, ma finalmente Ripley trova il modo di farlo
La Company ha mandato uno specialista per farla abortire, ma lei sa
che in realta` vogliono proprio conservare il mostro. Lei, stanca di quella
vita e di quel mostro, si suicida gettandosi nella bolgia di fuoco mentre
sta partorendo il mostro.
Non succede quasi nulla per tutto il film. A lungo l'attenzione e` concentrata
sulla comunita` di religiosi-galeotti, che sembra essere il vero tema filosofico
del film. Poi si sposta improvvisamente sul mostro e diventa un banale film
di fantascienza di serie B, tutto sangue ed esplosioni, nobilitato da effetti
di luci quasi psichedelici.
Molteplici allegorie religiose tengono desto l'interesse in un film che
e` tetro e ermetico invece che sensazionale.
La suspence e` piu` metafisica che spettacolare.
Rispetto alle puntate precedenti, questa e` un incubo gotico.
Ripley e` interessante come caso psicologico. La sua vita e` segnata
dalla maledizione di nascere molte volte, ma in ogni vita
tutti coloro che ama vengono distrutti dall'aliens (Giobbe).
E` una donna praticamente
Seven (1995), written by Andrew Kevin Walker, is a gory thriller bordering on the metaphysical and the psychological.
In the process, Fincher creates one of the most disgusting, hateful, repulsive
figures in horror cinema.
A retiring detective is assigned a last case, the case of a grizzly murder
that was accompanied by a word: gluttony, one of the seven capital sins.
The old detective immediately guesses that this is just the beginning.
Which it turns out to be: more grizzly murders occur, each accompanied by
a similar sign (greed, sloth, lust, pride) and by literary clues that
explain why the killer indulged in such and such a torture.
The young detective, David, who is going to take his place
is forced to read poetry and religious books to understand the minmd of the
serial killer. He seems to always outsmart the police.
Suddenly and surprisingly, the monster delivers himself to the police.
He surrenders peacefully, but asks for a deal: he will sign a full confession
if the two detectives escort him to find the last two victims.
The detectives understand that the monster is playing with them, but accept
to make sure he does not escape judgement (he could plea insanity).
As they are driving,
the madman explains that the victims were not innocent people: they were all guilty of some despicable "vice". So he is no more a monster than a judge.
He takes them to the desert. The elderly detective sees a van coming down the
road at high speed and stops it. It is just a delivery man who has a package
for him. William opens the box: it is a head. Then he starts running towards
David yelling something. The monster, in the meantime, has been talking to
David, confessing his own sin, "envy", the sixth capital sin. The monster
speaks in a soothing voice that increases the anger of David. Before William
can reach them, the monster has confessed that he has just visited David's
wife, raped her, killed her and decapitated her.
William is running to stop David from killing the monster.
Envy is the sin of the monster himself, and so has chosen someone to kill him
The monster keeps talking: he wants to be killed by David, he wants to be
the sixth victim. William warns David not to do it: it would be cold-blooded
murder. More importantly, killing him would make him (the monster) the winner
of this subhuman game. But David can't resist and shoots. The monster has
fulfilled his prophecy: "wrath" is the seventh and last sin, and David has
just committed it. And will be executed for it.
The Game (1997),
written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris,
is a action thriller, and, again, Fincher manages
to populate it with philosophical meaning.
Nicholas is a divorced San Francisco millionaire who treats everybody
(his ex-wife, his housekeeper, his secretary) with ruthless contempt and
who lives alone in a big empty mansion.
On his birthday, his disreputable brother Conrad gives him a special present:
a gift certificate to a mysterious game.
Nicholas is still obsessed by memories of his childhood (suggested by
His father committed suicide at the age that Nicholas is just entering.
Nicholas overhears a business man talking about the game and can't resist trying it.
The game is run by a futuristic organization, CRS, that subjects him to a long
and exhausting psychological and medical test.
The game has unknown rules and has an unknown object.
On the steps of his home, Nicholas finds a clown puppet and finds a key in his
mouth. Once inside, the tv starts talking to him (there is a camera inside
the clown's head) and educating him about the game: he will be guided by keys
that will be given to him.
The object of the game is figuring out the object of the game.
Nicholas takes a plane and goes to fire an old friend of his father who has
failed, but can't open his own briefcase.
He has an argument with a clumsy waitress, Christine, whom he immediately
suspects of being part of the game.
Then follows her to apologize. A man collapses on the sidewalk in front of them.
They both hurry to help him, although Nicholas first suspects the man is acting.
When the ambulance arrives, the security guards force both of them to follow
them to the hospital for bureaucratic purposes.
The moment the ambulance arrives at the parking lot, the lights go off and
Nicholas realizes it is another elaborate prank. Nicholas and the girl take a
lift, that only the CRS key can start, but then the lift gets stuck and they
have to climb out. They find themselves inside CRS and the alarm goes off.
They run through narrow and dark alleys chased by the police and finally
escape the police dogs.
Nicholas is beginning to suspect everybody of being part of the game.
In his hotel room Nicholas finds compromising video, pictures and drugs.
(Trying to clean up the room he cuts himself and the toilet overflows).
Somebody follows him. Nicholas stops him and takes his gun. The man gets scared
and confesses that somebody hired him to follow Nicholas but then runs away.
Nicholas suspects that his father's friend wants to blackmail him with the dirty
pictures and goes to confront him. But the man has already resigned.
At home, he finds the house completely rearranged. Another prank.
He's calling the police when Conrad shows up scared to death and begs him for
a ride. He's scared of CRS and seeks help from Nicholas. They get into the
car but a tire blows up. As Nicholas tries to replace it, Conrad finds that
the glove compartment is full of CRS keys (another prank) and concludes that
Nicholas is part of CRS and so runs away disgusted.
A nearby street phone rings. Nicholas picks
it up and hears a recording of their argument: somebody was listening to them
all the time. Nicholas abandons his car and summons a taxi, but the
taxi driver takes him for a rollercoaster ride, then jumps off the car
that is going straight for the bay. Nicholas barely manages to get out
of the car as it is sinking.
Nicholas takes the police to the CRS location and they only find an empty
Nicholas suspects Christine and decides to track her down. Sure enough, he
finds enough clues at her place to confirm his suspicions, but Christine
helps him escape when the CRS men attack and try to kill him. This way Christine
wins his trust. Christine confesses to working for CRS and reveals
what she knows of the plan against him: CRS has gotten so much information
about him that they have been able to withdraw all the money from his Swiss
bank account and now they want him dead.
Nicholas calls his bank with his cell phone and gives them his password
to access his account.
Christine listens intently. Then Christine drugs him.
(Nicholas' cell phone was controlled by CRS and this was just a trick to get
the password from him).
Nicholas wakes up inside a coffin in a cemetery in Mexico.
He sells the watch, buys a fake passport and gets on a bus,
dirty, bleeding, penniless; hitchhikes back to San Francisco and finally
walks back home. He finds his mansion locked with a notice of foreclosure
and has to break in. After a shower, he's ready to fight again.
First, Nicholas tries to meet Conrad, but he has been hospitalized for a
nervous breakdown. Nicholas has to beg his ex-wife to lend him her car.
She is the only one he can trust. While he's talking with her, he sees a
commercial on tv played by the CRS boss, Feingold: he is a tv actor.
Nicholas tracks him down through the picture in a restaurant and forces him (at gunpoint) to help him break into
the CRS building (it turns out they move from one floor to another).
The actor takes him inside CRS. He finds Christine and all the other characters
of the game in the cafeteria.
He takes Christine hostage to escape from the security guards who start
shooting at him. Christine begs him to let her explain that it is
just a prank, that even this is part of the prank, that there is a birthday
party waiting for him upstairs. He doesn't believe her and shoots at the
first man who walks from the door: it's his brother Conrad, with a champagne
bottle in his hand. Everybody is stunned: they are dressed for a birthday
party. Conrad lies dead on the floor.
Nicholas drops the gun, walks to the edge of the skyscraper and jumps off.
But they were waiting for him: Nicholas drops right into the mattress that
they have ready for him. The gun, obviously, had been replaced with a fake one.
His brother is alive and is right there with everybody else: this is his
birthday present. They changed his life.
The brothers hug, Nicholas cries and the audience gives him a standing ovation.
Even his ex-wife is there. Everybody was part of the prank.
The plot if full of twists, but it is fully rational to the end.
Fincher indulges in continuously shocking the
viewer and, as usual, goes well beyond what was needed to make his point.
The film is about a prank. But the prank is so elaborate and ubiquitous,
that it slowly "becomes" his life.
This is a thriller in which very little happens that is worth of terror.
The tension is due to waiting for something to happen while nothing is actually
happening but anything can happen next.
Nicholas has no morality.
Nicholas keeps repeating that the only thing that matters is the stock.
People will judge him based on the value of the stock, not on his moral values.
This is a moralizing experience for him.
The psychological leitmotiv is self-control. Nicholas is a manipulative freak.
But the infallible tycoon slowly begins to see every person as a potential
participant and every event as a potential prank. He is losing control,
and the film is very much about loss of control.
This is a humiliating and humbling experience for him.
Much of the film takes place in narrow alleys and huge buildings, that combine
to create a nightmarish urban universe.
Nicholas' impotence in the face of destiny's whims is reminiscent of
Martin Scorsese After Hours.
The sinister, Orwellian corporation is similar to the one in
John Frankenheimer's Seconds (1966).
The ordinary man trapped in an ordeal of which he is completely ignorant
and has to slowly and unwillingly decipher is the substance of
Hitchcock's North by Northwest.
And, naturally, the theme of the man oppressed by an incomprehensible fate
is the main theme of Kafka's novels.
the organization turns the unwilling Nicholas into a modern Ulysses, on an epic
mission to find the meaning of life.
The alternative would have been to end up like his father, a man without a
mission in life.
If English is your first language and you could translate
my old Italian text, please contact me.
Fight Club (1999), based on Chuck Palahniuk's novel "Fight Club" (1996) and scripted by Jim Uhls,
is one neurotic mess of a movie, and Fincher's
hand has never been more trembling, but the story is superbly told and
the surprise is amplified by the unconventional directorial style.
For half the length of the film, the unorthodox elements of Fincher's
film-making prevail over the plot. He is one provocative director and
here he has free reins to indulge in his favorite hobbies. The subject of
manic depression is the ideal vehicle for Fincher's long journey through the
tortured psyche of cinema.
Scroll down for recent reviews in English.
Fight Club (1999), tratto dal romanzo di Chuck Palahniuk,
Nella prima scena Jack e` a terra, e qualcuno gli sta puntando una pistola
in bocca mentre attendono che abbia inizio la demolizione dei grattacieli
Jack racconta come si e` venuto a trovare in questa situazione. Impiegato
frustrato di una grande casa automobilistica, passa le serate frequentando
gruppi di malati. I malati si consolano fra di loro e indirettamente
consolano anche lui, che torna a casa guarito dalle sue nevrosi. Un flashback
dentro il flashback spiega che Jack e` afflitto da insonnia cronica. Ha un
solo hobby: acquistare mobilia. Cerca invano aiuto dall'amico dottore, il
quale si irrita a sentirlo lamentarsi e gli consiglia di andare a trovare
i malati di cancro ai testicoli: quelli si` soffrono davvero. E cosi` Jack
comincio` a girovagare per quei gruppi. Non solo lo fecero sentire meglio,
ma curarono la sua insonnia. Uno di quei malati, Bob, gli si affeziono`
A guastare tutto fu Marla, la causa di tutte le sue disavventure. Un giorno
Jack si rese conto che questa donna, cinica e sprezzante, era una "turista"
come lui, frequentava diversi gruppi semplicemente per il piacere di trovarsi
fra malati. Jack la confronto` e la convinse a spartirsi i gruppi, in modo
da non interferire l'uno con l'altra. Marla si comportava come se fosse
indifferente alla morte (attraversa le strade senza guardare).
Il lavoro porto` Jack in giro per l'America. Il suo mestiere consisteva
nel valutare le probabilita` che un difetto di costruzione causi un incidente.
Se la probabilita` e` superiore a un certo fattore, tutti i modelli con quel
difetto vengono ritirati; altrimenti la casa automobilistica lascia che
gli incidenti continuino a succedere e la gente a morire. Durante un volo
incontra un venditore di saponette, Tyler, che gli lascia la sua carta da
visita. Jack viene trattenuto all'aeroporto perche' una sua valigia e` stata
persa. Quando torna a casa, trova l'appartamento sventrato da un'esplosione:
tutta la sua mobilia e` andata distrutta. Non sapendo dove andare a dormire,
chiama Tyler, il quale gli offre ospitalita`. Ma prima vuole essere picchiato.
jack e` dapprima riluttante, ma poi accetta. Presto i due prendono a
picchiarsi selvaggiamente nel parking lot di un bar, godendo come dei pazzi.
Vanno a casa pesti sanguinanti. La casa di Tyler e` un rudere abbandonato
in una zona di periferia che sembra essere uscito da una catastrofe bellica.
Tyler e` un curioso misto di filosofo ateo, scienziato pazzo e teppista.
Quando fa il cameriere, piscia nella salsa dei cibi.
Tyler gli confida la formula per fabbricare dinamite in casa.
La loro amicizia diventa comunque indissolubile. Jack si installa in pianta
stabile in quella casa cadente, in cui non funziona nulla, e apprende poco
alla volta la filosofia di vita di Tyler, sempre piu` affascinato dalla sua
forte e originale personalita`, che rappresenta il completo opposto della sua
vita di mediocre impiegato senza personalita`.
I loro scontri finiscono per far epoca e proseliti. Nel sotterraneo di un bar
gli avventori si radunano per picchiarsi. Tyler decreta la nascita del
"Fight Club". I membri hanno tutti mestieri umili (molti sono camerieri)
che nel picchiarsi sfogano le stesse frustrazioni di Jack. Tyler e` abile
a manipolare le loro nevrosi.
Marla gli telefona. La mattina Jack scopre che Marla ha dormito li` e ha
fatto l'amore con Tyler. Jack ricostruisce cio` che e` probabilmente
accaduto: avendo sentito che Marla ha tentato di suicidarsi ingerendo un
tubetto di sonniferi, Tyler e` andato a prenderla e l'ha portata a casa,
e poi ne ha approfittato. Marla sembra soddisfatta della serata e un po'
perplessa che Jack la metta alla porta. Jack e` effettivamente irritato:
prima lei ha invaso i suoi gruppi di malati, adesso invade anche la sua
amicizia con Tyler.
Fatto sta che Marla diventa la ragazza di Tyler e Jack deve vivere in una
casa scossa giorno e notte dai loro violenti amplessi. L'insonnia riprende.
Marla e Tyler gli ricordano i suoi genitori.
Un detective gli telefona e gli comunica che il suo appartamento venne fatto
esplodere da qualcuno usando dinamite fatta in casa... Jack intuisce che e`
stato Tyler, ma evita un confronto. Al detective grida che l'incendio non
ha distrutto soltanto la sua casa e la sua mobilia, ha distrutto lui ("it was
me that got destroyed").
Tyler gli fa vedere come fabbrica sapone: si procura il grasso rubando i
sacchi di spazzatura di un ospedale, che sono pieni di sangue e carne umani.
E` un genio della chimica. Per iniziarlo alla sua filosofia gli versa su una
mano un acido che gliela brucia e gli lascia un'orrenda cicatrice
("only when we lost everything, we are free").
In ufficio il capo di Jack ha sempre meno pazienza per il suo comportamento
maleducato. Un giorno trova la fotocopia delle regole del "Fight Club" e
Jack deve incutergli paura per convincerlo a dimenticare il fatto.
Il "Fight Club" intanto sta dilagando. Anche Bob ne diventa parte.
Tyler tiene discorsi che sembrano ipnotizzare la folla.
Sono schiavi che lottando riconquistano la loro identita`. Tyler e`
meta` predicatore invasato e meta` filosofo dell'alienazione.
Jack, stanco di lavorare, decide di ricattare il capo. Sa tutte le porcherie
che la casa automobilistica commette e vuole una pensione mensile per tenere
la bocca chiusa. Il capo lo mette alla porta, ma Jack si picchia da se`
fino a farsi sanguinare. Il capo, per evitare una denuncia, gli fa avere
Tyler intanto ha cominciato a usare i suoi "schiavi" per compiere atti di
vandalismo. Ogni schiavo riceve un "compito" che consiste nel causare danni
a qualche struttura pubblica. Presto gli atti di vandalismo assumono i
connotati di un piano di sabotaggio su grande scala.
Tyler ha creato un esercito di sottoproletari che non hanno nulla da perdere
e che, grazie ai loro umili lavori, hanno accesso a tutti gli edifici
della finanza, della politica e dell'alta societa`.
Tyler obbliga Jack a sottostare ad altri atti di iniziazione: minaccia di
uccidere il commesso di un negozio se questi non giura di tornare a studiare;
guida contromano in un'autostrada affollata finche' l'auto si sfracella.
Jack e` sempre piu` incerto.
La casa si trasforma in un centro operativo dell'esercito eversivo di Tyler,
con l'obiettivo di portare a compimento "Project Mayhem".
Tyler riesce a ipnotizzarli e trasformarli in zombie. E li guida in atti di
terrorismo sempre piu` spettacolari. Sequestra persino il capo della polizia
e gli spiega che loro sono onnipotenti perche' compiono i lavori da cui dipende
la vita di tutti gli altri.
Jack non viene informato dei contenuti di "Project Mayhem", viene
progressivamente emarginato da Tyler. Bob muore e Jack tenta invano di far
capire agli zombie che lo scherzo e` durato troppo a lungo.
Fra i due leader c'e` tensione.
Tyler scompare. Marla viene a trovarla e se ne va furibonda quando Jack le
dice che Tyler non c'e`. Jack trova le ricevute dei biglietti aerei acquistati
da Tyler e si mette sulle sue tracce. Lo insegue di citta` in citta` e in
ogni citta` capisce subito che sono stati istituiti nuovi "Fight Club".
Tyler sta costruendo un impero. Jack lo vuole fermare ma non riesce mai
a raggiungerlo. Una sera pero` intuisce la verita`: in un bar dove non e`
mai stato il barista lo riconosce. Si precipita in hotel, chiama Marla
e le chiede se loro due hanno mai fatto l'amore. Marla, sempre piu` irritata,
glielo conferma. Tyler e` li` di fronte a lui. Gli aveva fatto giurare di
non parlare mai a Marla di lui, e Jack ha appena infranto la promessa.
Tyler e` lui. Tyler e` il suo alter ego. Jack ha distrutto il proprio
appartamento per distruggere se stesso e si e` creato una seconda personalita`.
Jack sta parlando nel vuoto, ma vede di fronte a se` Tyler.
Jack torna a casa, trova gli agenti chimici per fare la dinamite e una serie
di cartelle con gli indirizzi di grattacieli, e capisce i piani di Tyler:
far saltare in aria quei di grattacieli per scatenare il caos.
Mette in salvo Marla, che
Tyler adesso vuole uccidere perche' sa troppo. Poi va a consegnarsi alla
polizia. Il detective comincia a credergli, ma lo lascia solo con alcuni
poliziotti che si scoprono essere tutti aderenti del suo esercito e hanno
istruzioni, da lui medesimo, di tagliargli i testicoli. E` stato lui stesso
a metterli in guardia contro di lui e contro le frasi che sta pronunciando
adesso. Non gli resta che fuggire (in mutande) e tentare di disinnescare
Irrompe nel primo grattacielo. Non c'e` nessuno, perche' i guardiani fanno
parte dell'esercito rivoluzionario e sono stati avvisati di restare a casa.
Trova l'auto carica di esplosivo e disinnesca la bomba nonostante Tyler
gli compaia davanti e tenti di dissuaderlo. I due litigano e si azzuffano,
ma nelle videocamere si vede soltanto Jack che spara nel vuoto e si picchia
da solo. Tyler lo blocca e gli mette la pistola in bocca. I suoi uomini
sono andati a ripescare Marla e l'hanno portata li` per essere giustiziata.
Jack e` pavido, mediocre, insicuro. Tyler e` tutto il contrario di lui, e`
cio` che lui ha sempre sognato di essere. Jack vorrebbe liberarsene,
Tyler lo convince che non e` vero.
Jack compie l'unico gesto che puo` fermare Tyler: si spara alla testa.
Tyler si accascia con la stessa ferita. Jack e` ancora vivo, tranquillizza
Marla, si prendono per mano. E in quel momento i grattacieli cominciano a
esplodere e sgretolarsi, uno dopo l'altro, davanti a loro.
Il protagonista di questo film (Tyler) e` il doppelganger del protagonista.
La sua filosofia e` un misto di Nietzsche e zen.
Il racconto e la cinematografia sono brutali, come brutale e` Tyler.
La prima parte e` troppo "raccontata", come se Fincher leggesse semplicemente
le pagine del romanzo. Nella seconda la narrazione si fa serrata e davvero
La prima parte sembra inutile finche' non diventa chiaro che
il film racconta un caso psicanalitico, e pertanto il fatto
che compiva un lavoro amorale, che era malato
di insonnia e che godeva delle disgrazie altrui
costituisce la spiegazione di
cio` che succede dopo, di come arrivera` allo sdoppiamento di personalita`.
Il film e` in effetti la storia di un clamoroso caso psicanalitico, in cui
il soggetto non soltanto si reinventa un'identita` e una vita, ma addirittura
nella nuova personalita` diventa un genio, ed elabora una singolare filosofia
The Panic Room (2002), written by David Koepp, was another
Zodiac (2007), with a screenplay by James Vanderbilt based on
Robert Graysmith's book "Zodiac" (1986) about a serial killer of the
San Francisco Bay Area,
is a diligent reconstruction of an unsolved police case.
The best scene of this very long film is probably the scene with the movie
theater organist, that looks like a tribute to the horror films of the black
and white era.
Of all Fincher's portraits of sociopaths this is perhaps the most disturbing.
A serial killer is on the loose. His killings seem to follow no logic.
He sends encrypted letter to the newspaper and signs them "Zodiac".
One of the reporters assigned to the story, Paul, is helped by a
cartoonist, Robert (the man who will later write the book on which this film
is based), to decipher the letters.
Zodiac talks of man as "the most dangerous animal".
The Zodiac killer keeps killing (brutally stabbing a student and his girlfriend who are having a picnic by a lake) and calling the police to announce his
The cartoonist suspects that "the most dangerous animal" is a reference to
the book "The Most Dangerous Game" about a man hunting humans.
Zodiac kills a taxi driver and two cops fail to stop him because he is white
and they thought the serial killer was black.
Investigations by the police are hampered by bureaucracy.
Zodiac mails a letter to the newspaper threatening to kill children getting
off school buses.
The chief inspector David asks the newspaper to withdraw the news in order
to avoid city panic.
Robert, who is a single father with a little boy,
drives his child to school pulling him out of the school bus at the last moment.
A TV station organizes a special of a popular show inviting a lawyer to talk
about the killer, and the killer does make a phone call as expected, talking
about the headaches that make him lose control. The police
tries to trace the phone call in vain.
The tough and arrogant Paul spends an evening at the bar discussing the killer
with the sweet and affable Robert, who shows
him that Zodiac is an amateur when it comes to encryption: anyone could have
easily deciphered his "secret" messages using a couple of books that can be
found in any library (and one has a title that contains the word "Zodiac").
Zodiac writes a letter to lawyer, what sounds like a cry for help, but the
chief inspector David suspects that Zodiac merely wants publicity.
A rash of Zodiac killings make the headlines in the newspapers.
A woman is kidnapped by a man who then throws her baby out the window of the car
and tries to kill her, but she escapes and the baby is alive.
Paul, however, is not impressed. He thinks that these are all copycats,
not the real Zodiac, but the real Zodiac takes credit for them because he
likes the publicity. Paul also discovered that
the Zodiac logo is actually the logo of a wristwatch called Zodiac.
Paul's article have become famous and Zodiac retaliates by sending him a
card with a death threat. Paul keeps investigating and finds out that someone
with the same handwriting committed a murder before the Zodiac started calling
himself that way, a murder still unsolved. The local police disagrees, but
Paul's article causes a sensation in the whole state. All sorts of crazy
people show up as witnesses and some even confess being the Zodiac.
A man reports that his old fishing buddy once told him of a plan to kill
children getting out a schoolbus
David and his partners question this man, a middle-aged factory worker who
calls himself Lee.
It turns out he was in the places where murders were committed, and he even
had knives stained with blood the day after the murder at the lake. And David
notices that this man is wearing a Zodiac wristwatch. And he admits candidly
that his favorite book as a student was "The Most Dangerous Game".
Lee was also fired from a job because he touched children improperly.
Lee's brother admits that Lee has mental problems. His
brother's wife recognizes the same spelling mistake in the word "Christmas"
in a Zodiac letter.
But the handwriting expert rules out Lee as the author of the Zodiac letters.
David has learned that Lee can write with both hands:
maybe he uses the right hand only for the Zodiac letters and the left
hand for everything else. And a psychologist argues that a man undergoing
personality change can alter his handwriting.
David gets a warrant to enter Lee's trailer (full of squirrels, both dead and
live) and finds more evidence, but the handwriting just doesn't match.
Paul has purchased a gun and is now drinking heavily. His behavior is so
erratic and disrespectful at the newspaper's offices that eventually he has
to leave newspaper and town.
One day David and his wife are watching a film in a theater,
"Dirty Harry", a film whose character Scorpio is based on Zodiac,
Robert is watching it with his wife and tries to talk to David but David
is annoyed: the press has been a problem for him, not a help.
To make matters worse, David's partner, tired, asks to be transferred to another city.
Robert is now as obsessed with the case as Paul was. Robert visits Paul, who
lives alone and has become an alcoholic and drug addict, and suggests that he
writes a book on the Zodiac, but Paul is not interested, and Robert decides
to write it himself. Years go by, without any Zodiac killing, and the
case seems to be forgotten, but Robert has kept searching. He has a hunch that,
to come up with his cipher, Zodiac used the three books that he used
to decipher it. Robert searches the records of all the local libraries and
finds out that someone stole those three books from one of the libraries.
Robert also finds out that once the Zodiac called the lawyer and said that
it was his birthday, and this was around Christmas.
His newspaper prints an article about Robert's investigation for a Zodiac book.
Someone phones Robert and tells him the name of the Zodiac, Rick.
Robert visits the handwriting expert, who is adamant that nobody can fool his
test: Zodiac cannot be any of the people whose handwriting the expert tested.
The same anonymous man called the expert and told him that the Zodiac's name is
Rick. Zodiac phones Robert at home: just the characteristic heavy panting, no
A cop tells him that Rick, who was in charge of cryptography in the navy,
was his favorite suspect but they could never check his handwriting.
Robert needs a creative way to get a sample of Rick's handwriting.
David gets in trouble when the newspaper gets a letter signed by the Zodiac
but his superiors think that he, David, forged it. David decides to terminate
all contacts with Robert, but Robert continues his research. Robert even goes
on television to publicize his project, as bait for Zodiac. Zodiac keeps
calling him in the middle of the night without saying anything, just heavy
panting. Robert's wife cannot take it anymore: she feels that Robert's obsession
is threatening the family (they have three little children) and moves out.
Robert finds a poster made by Rick when he was the projectionist at a movie
theater showing a movie based on "The Most Dangerous Game" and the handwriting
expert thinks that this is the closest to the Zodiac's handwriting that he has
ever seen. Robert frantically tracks down the retired organist of the theater,
Bob. Bob lives alone in a sinister house and has been questioned before about
Rick, but calmly tells Robert that Rick did not write the poster: he, Bob, did.
Bob then invited Robert in the dark cellar and Robert begins to shiver.
When Bob starts turning off the lights, Robert panics and runs away.
Robert is fired from the newspaper, since he doesn't draw cartoons anymore.
Now he is totally absorbed by the book project. He finds a woman in jail who
is adamant that a man called Lee stalked one of the victims.
Now Robert focuses on Lee again. Robert realizes that Lee's birthday falls
just before Christmas and realizes that Lee's life matches the patterns of
the Zodiac letters: there were no letters when Lee was in jail for another
crime. Excited, he runs to David's house in the middle of the night to share
his new findings, but David reminds him that neither the handwriting nor
the fingerprints of Lee match the Zodiac's. David accepts Robert's theory that
Lee is Zodiac, but refuses to help because no jury would convict a man whose
fingerprints and handwriting don't match the killer's.
Robert walks into the store where Lee now works and simply stares at him.
Seven years later a cop interviews the only surviving victim who saw the face
of the Zodiac and this victim identifies a picture of Lee.
The police are ready to arrest Lee but Lee dies of a heart attack.
The overblown and overstuffed 166-minute The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), loosely based on a Scott Fitzgerald short story, was perhaps his attempt at making a sentimental melodrama.
The Social Network (2010),
book "The Accidental Billionaires",
is a biopic of the social-networking corporation Facebook, and a cold-blooded evocation of degenerate campus life. Needless to say, in Fincher's hands the Facebook founder becomes just another sociopath.
The 158-minute murder mystery
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) is a diligent adaptation of Stieg Larsson's best selling novel "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (2005).
Gone Girl (2014),
an adaptation of Gillian Flynn's best-selling novel (2012),
is a very twisted mystery thriller, but the obnoxious
dialogue makes it feel more like a party of bored Las Vegas veterans
and the ending is as implausible as Hollywood can get.
One easily guesses that Fincher wants to satirize the cynical tv shows that
create heroes and villains based on no evidence for the sake of increasing
their ratings, but the satire is sabotaged by the very fact that the script
gets too implausible towards the end.
Fincher wanted to show that when reality is shaped by the media
it is perfectly logical that evil wins; but the theorem doesn't quite follow
from the proof.
A writer visits his sister at the bar that they own and they chat about the
fact that it is already his wedding's fifth anniversy. His wife calls him,
he rushes home, and he finds that she has disappeared.
She is an even more famous writer, known as "Amazing Amy".
He calls the police and initially does not panic, but slowly it becomes clear
that Amy is "missing". At the police station he also stumbles into his own
father, who has fled the mental hospital and wandered on a highway.
The female detective in charge of the investigation finds it weird that he
knows so little about his wife's lifestyle.
Nick tells her that they moved to his little hometown from New York to take
care of his ill mother (now dead). The police organizes a press conference
to get the word out and recruit volunteers.
They all sound hypocritical about Amy. A cherished tradition for their
wedding anniversaries, Amy had set up a treasure hunt. The police detective
finds the first envelop, marked "clue". Each clue leads to another one.
Each clue also happens to be related to some embarrassing moment of their
The flashbacks show his missing wife's version of the story, as she was
writing them in her diary: their marriage was falling apart, he was abusive,
he had financial problems, he had her buy life insurance. Flashback after
flashback (i.e. diary entry after diary entry) we realize that she was scared
The police organize a volunteers search and he moves in with his sister.
One night a teenage girl knocks at the door: it turns out that he had an affair
with this young girl and had promised her to get a divorce.
The entries in Amy's diary paint the picture of a sordid husband, who married
her only for sex and money. She even bought him the bar.
The female detective finds out that Amy tried to buy a gun,
and we also read in the diary that she feared for her life.
Nick's sister catches him with the young lover. She is furious at him for
lying to her, and he confesses that he was afraid of incriminating himself.
A neighbor comes forward pretending to be Amy's best friend and tells the police
that Amy was six weeks pregnant. Nick swears that he knew nothing of it.
The police tries to reconstruct what happened in the house and concludes that
the evidence has been clumsily staged. Worse, there was blood, a lot of blood,
and it was wiped out. Nick is now officially a suspect.
The detective can't arrest him until she finds the body, but the media
destroy him to the whole nation. A tv hostess is particularly brutal in calling
him a sociopath, a murderer and even incestuous.
The police finally find Amy's diary and this seems to seal the case, because
now the police know that Amy was afraid of Nick.
Meanwhile, Amy is alive and well, driving away. We realize that Nick is right:
she has framed him for her assassination.
We hear how methodically she created the circumstances that would point at
his guilt: a huge credit card debt, the life insyurance, and the faked
pregnancy. She even carefully stages the mistakes in the crime scene.
And finally she faked the entire diary, full of events that never happened.
She had found out about Nick's teenage lover and that was her revenge.
She rents a cabin in another town and is befriended by a sexy and nosy neighbor
who accidentally discovers that Amy is carrying a lot of money, usually
strapped on her body.
Nick realizes that he is serious danger and flies to New York to hire the best
attorney he knows. The attorney decides to begin with a public relationship
campaign. Nick also stops by to see two men that belong to Amy's past.
One was sent to jail for raping her, but tells Nick that he was framed by Amy.
The other one, Norman, is a rich man who never got over his highschool
crush on her and refuses to say anything.
The public opinion is ready to lynch Nick.
The female detective is the only one who still has doubts.
Meanwhile, Amy gets robbed of all her money by the sexy neighbor and her
boyfriend: they figured out that she is hiding and therefore won't call the
police. It is the first setback for Amy's plan. Now she has no money at all.
She calls Norman, knowing that the sucker will help her. In fact, he offers
her shelter in his galactic mansion and believes every word she tells him
about being abused by Nick. In return he clearly wants her for his mistress.
The mansion is controlled by cameras placed everywhere.
Nick's lawyer sets up a television interview in which Nick will tell the truth
about his extramarital affair. Nick's
girlfriend goes on tv before him revealing their relationship, but Nick
still fares well in his own interview.
Amy calls the police anonymously and tells them to search a woodshack, and
that's where the police find her diary (besides all the expensive items that
were charged to Nick's credit card and Nick denied of having purchased).
Both Nick and his sister get arrested.
Amy, meanwhile, has come up with a plan to get rid of her new abuser and to
save herself. (And this is where the film loses credibility, momentum and
pathos). She fakes a rape in front of the cameras of the compound.
Then she has sex with Norman and stabs him to death. Still drenched in his
blood, she drives home, walking in front of the paparazzi into Nick's arms.
Amy tells the police that Norman kidnapped her.
Nick does not believe a word, nor does the detective. There are too many
inconsistencies in her story. But her reappearance has cleared Nick of the
crime of murdering her, hence Nick has a vested interest to go along with
her lies. The tv shows and the crowds are ecstatic at their soap opera's
At home Nick confronts Amy but she refuses to talk for fear that he might be
wired. They talk in the shower, naked, and she candidly admits that she
murdered Norman, but she tells
Nick that he has no choice but to go along with her crazy scheme: pretend
that they are happy together and now she is really pregnant (of Norman).
The tv shows that demonized Nick now demonize the rich psychotic lover.
The female detective is powerless to continue the investigation even if
Nick tells her the truth.
Nick is scared of being home with the real sociopath, who now also seems to
be seriously attracted to him.
She dictates to him what he needs to say for her in public, so that she
can feel safe from the police. He does so live on television to the very
hostess who had demonized him before. They announce Amy's pregnancy to
a public presumably moved to tears.
The black-and-white Mank (2020) reimagines the story of how Herman Mankiewicz wrote Welles' Citizen Kane and delivers an exhilarating
evocation of the glory days of Hollywood.
The Killer (2023) is a mediocre adaptation of
Alexis "Matz" Nolent's and Luc Jacamon's