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Finding Fincher

June 1, 2008

After a long break, I’ve started researching my critical piece on the life and works of director David Fincher this week.  In some respects, I’ve been working on this paper since 2002, and I feel guilty that I haven’t delivered any material yet to Wil Forbis, my editor at Acid Logic, who has been kind enough to supply me with some source material (Dark Eye by James Swallow and a newer version of Se7en on DVD).  I also started reading Sharon Waxman’s Rebels On The Backlot this week, which, while flawed, is a fascinating read that I’d highly recommend to any film enthusiast chronicalling the potent era in the ’90s when auteur directors came back into style (Tarantino, Spike Jonze, Paul Thomas Anderson, David O. Russell, Wes Anderson, and of course, Fincher).  After speaking with friends this week, the parrallels to Easy Riders, Raging Bulls are obvious.  Waxman may or may not have used the book about ’70s visionary directors (Scorcese, Friedken, Spielberg, Lucas, etc) as a template, but there’s a definite mirror effect.  It could just be attributed to the cyclical nature of the movie business, but both make for compelling reads. 

     I really enjoy this type of writing (working on the bio format), but it’s aggravating in many respects.  With an essay or a rant, I can fire out my ideas and find a conclusion oftentimes in one sitting.  I also feel obligated to find some factoids and uncover information about the director that hasn’t been found elsewhere, which is also driving me nuts.  I was honored when Wil emailed me to let me know that both my Philip Seymour Hoffman article and the Bret Easton Ellis critique were referenced on Wikipedia.  I spend more time than I should on Wikipedia on whims, and as a new database, the concept of it fascinates me.  But when does the Fincher piece end?  And now that whoever the contributes out there have deemed to reference my work, I feel an obligation to do the best possible job that I can on the piece for the sake of Wikipedia and more importantly, David Fincher. 

     When I researched and wrote my findings about Bret Easton Ellis, I immersed myself in all things Ellis for three months, reaching a point where I could recite his life, his books and his movies from front to back.  I got to a critical juncture where I literally couldn’t stand reading anything more about him, at which point I knew I was done.  That, and there was a finite amount of interviews and features on the author online, and I reached the limit.  The problem with the movie industry is that there is almost too much information.  Producer interviews, cinematographer interviews, fan sites, technical articles on the technology that Fincher employs.  Maybe it’s not a problem, but there is so MUCH information out there that it’s tough to find the important factoids and sift them out from the rest.  I’d like to be comprehensive and leave nothing to chance.   Watching Zodiac for a seventh or eighth time this week, I’m identifying a bit with Robert Graysmith’s obsessive, note compiling nature.  Where does it end?  And what one anecdote or candid interview will set the bell off in my head that tells me I’m done?  I’ve got 16 pages of ten point font footnotes and six pages of the article that I’ve started.  A vast sea of information split up by personal information, specific movie information, Fincher quotes and the ten million projects that he’s been attached to. 

     And for as much of a long shot as it poses, I really would like to interview Fincher when I’m done.  I corresponded with author James Swallow (Dark Eye) for the sake of tracking Fincher down and he’s at a dead end as well.  He wanted to update his book on Fincher and couldn’t get a hold of the director when they originally sat down for the first edition.  While Fincher has conducted more than his share of interviews in the last year, it’s unclear why he chose the magazines and web sites that he did.  They aren’t all prestigious sites or top name interviewers.  I’ve logged on to any tangentially related web site or article post and put the word out that I’m dying to speak with the director.  And now that so much time has elapsed since Zodiac, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button quickly approaches.  Well, not that quickly.  The film is releasing December 19th and the Oscar buzz on the film is already into overdrive.  I can’t finish a piece that will be obsolete in five months, so I’d rather wait. 

     In the mean time, I’m going to finish up on Rebels On The Backlot and then re-read the chapters on Fincher on my lap in front of my keyboard for the purpose of logging the notes into this lofty, unreasonably (for me) large article.  I’ll also continue to comb the web for podcast interviews, critical expositions on the last round of films, and on-the-set anecdotes from Benjamin Button.  I don’t think I could ever write a full-scale biography book because my brain would overload.  I’m not built for it, and I’m too much of a perfectionist to survive the ordeal.  I would rather compose a consise, clever biographical essay that hits the key points, discovers some new findings and travels a theme that hasn’t already been established and reinforced over the years.  

     Goddamnit Fincher, how does a decent journalist get a hold of you?!  There’s a small glimmer of hope that he’ll permit an interview after so much research has been invested into his work.  If there’s one personality trait that shines through in my research, it’s that Fincher is a perfectionist, expecting nothing less than 100% from his actors, accepting zero compromise from the studios he works with, and constantly critiquing himself harder than any journalist or cinephile ever could. 

     Since I’ve covered an important actor from my generation (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a controversial writer (Bret Easton Ellis) and I’m closing in on a once-in-a-lifetime director (Fincher), I’ve entertained the notion of writing a bio piece on a stand up comic or a comedy troupe next.  I’ve always wanted to write a piece about Andrew Dice Clay, but there’s nothing in the way of research out there.  All the streams of info have withered up online, and while I’m still interested, his popularity has all but dissappeared (aside from his attachment to the Opie and Anthony show, which, honestly, I’m no longer interested in).  My other project is The Kids In The Hall, so I’ll probably start research on them some time next year.  With my contacts and connections at The Buffalo News, I regret that I didn’t get to interview Scott Thompson recently when they appeared in Buffalo as part of their national tour.  I’ve blathered enough for one day, though.  This is a discussion and a project for another time.  Again, if any Fincher fanatics out there have any leads on reaching the director, I’m all ears.  I’m willing to give up first time exclusive rights to the finished feature article or the interview for a little help in finding Fincher. 

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