Film & TV

Open Letter to David Fincher, Director of Fight Club, Se7en and Other Dark Films

Dear Mr Fincher,

‘Dark imagery’ is a vague and overused way to describe a filmmaker’s talent. Directors from Spielberg to Tim Burton have proven themselves more than capable of presenting us with ‘dark imagery’. Making darkness appear affecting, that is all you are doing. Through Se7en and Fight Club you have wormed your way into modern culture and have achieved the status of cinematic auteur (I have to admit that I did see the ending of Se7en come a mile off, realising fairly early on that Brad Pitt was a bit wrathful and how you, or preferably an ingenious psychopath, could envy his darling wife). Your latest movie with your boyfriend Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, has already been hailed as another masterpiece and you have my sincerest congratulations for that.

Before I get too sycophantic, I want to talk to you about Alien 3, the cinematic skeleton in your closet. My question is simple: why dissociate yourself from the movie? What was so bad about Alien 3? I know you have a reputation, like many filmmakers, for being a perfectionist. You have based this reputation on the meagre basis of seven films, or at least six since we are not counting this one. Your argument is that the movie released was not the movie you aimed to make, that you were screwed by the producers of Twentieth Century Fox. Every good Alien movie has been through a nightmarish production; film making is a collaborative venture, like the sailing of a ship. Perhaps you know of James Cameron? I know – ‘ask a stupid question’! You only killed off all his characters in your threequel! The point is, Cameron is a renowned perfectionist and he too has quite rightly discredited himself from his directorial debut Piranha 2: The Spawning. You should be thankful that your first outing wasn’t that bad!

Even though Alien 3 forever remains a hard movie to defend, I actually quite liked it. It is your darkest movie. Aesthetically it’s up there with Ridley Scott’s original, completely nailing the terror that the xenomorph represents. Thematically, it took cinema’s greatest heroine to a tragic albeit logical conclusion. It is hard to defend, and people are quick to shun it, especially when they realise that you have detached yourself from its existence. Also because of its disappointing reputation, the producers had to go on creating more alien movies. So you see, you are in a way partly responsible for the Alien versus Predator franchise, which may sound like a fairly minor accusation, but from this film geek’s perspective it is an unforgiveable crime. I hope you are happy with yourself, Mr Fincher, and when you are inevitably handed the Oscar for best director I hope my words will hold a certain weight upon your guilty soul.

Yours grudgingly,
Charlie Phair

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