When I say that I'm a big fan of David Fincher's work, I say that because of his innovation. Because of his fearlessness. Because of his ability to make his films create a visceral reaction. No doubt he is very talented, I just don't know that he is working on all cylinders. And I'm not sure that I ever want him to. What makes Fincher great is that he is constantly exploring. Trying different things. Even his failures are interesting.
When I say that I'm a big fan of David Fincher's work, two films come to mind. Zodiac, which I think is his most mature work. And The Game, which is just wonderful fun. And of those two, the film that I keep going back to is The Game, his most overlooked work. I often revisit it, reliving the experience of Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), wishing that I was new to it all once again. You can truly only experience the game once, but it's still a lot of fun playing it over and over.
The criticism I've heard of this film is its lack of believability. In reality, this could never happen and I would say one of Fincher's talents is in making the unbelievable, believable. But what's great about The Game is that Fincher makes you want to believe. To forgive things so you don't mess with the fantasy. Probably the hardest scene to swallow, for me at least, is the one where Nicholas goes and visits Christine (Deborah Unger) at her "apartment." When Nicholas discovers who Christine really is, CRS shows up and the bullets fly. Every time I see this scene, my brain battles with me. It says "No way this could happen." And my heart says "Maybe. Maybe it could." But my brain says "did they already rig that apartment with small explosions to look like gunshots? Is that rocksalt they're shooting? Rubber bullets?" I try to justify it in my head and it never quite works for me.
The Game was on AMC last night and right before I fell asleep this scene of note played out. Again, I was struggling, trying to justify it logistically in my head. And then I noticed something I had never noticed before. A slip in the fantasy that maybe is the reason why I have such a problem with this scene. When CRS begins to infiltrate the apartment, they are shooting from the sidewalk into the windows. Nicholas and Christine leave for the backdoor. Then there is a quick cut where we see the CRS gunmen shoot out the front door. Huh? Up until this point, every bit of the game is played through the eyes of Nicholas. Everything he is experiencing is from his point of view. Except this one quick scene. And I wonder why Fincher showed it at all. Was it to make us doubt that CRS is really not about Consumer Recreations, but more of a terrorist group? Was it to show us that they were really using bullets, making us even more amazed that they pulled it all off? I don't know. But I don't think it works. And what's more, that simple shot hurts more than it helps.
Of course all this would be great fodder in the form of an extra on a Criterion edition of the DVD, which will probably never come to fruition. So I guess until then, this discussion (or lack thereof) will have to reside in the halls of Lazy Eye.
Thanks to Movie Screenshots and Movie Quiz for the screenshots and storyboards.