The Definitive Ranking of the Films of David Fincher

Dustin said something the other day that really resonated with me. In reporting on the imminent release of Davind Fincher’s new Netflix series, Mindhunter, he held forth thus:

You know what’s refreshing about David Fincher right now? That he’s a middle-aged white guy with tremendous power in the industry who — as far as we know — has never sexually harassed or assaulted anyone!

The truth of that rings painfully loud and clear. We are seeing a much-belated opening of the floodgates in this industry of ours right now, and we are finally seeing what many people—women especially—have known for a damn long time: That it is rotten. Like most other similar constructs in our society, its power structures are held up by sexism, racism, and abuse.

But there is still room in there for those who are concerned only with putting out quality work. For those people who make it a real treat for the rest of us to call ourselves movie fans. David Fincher is one such a man, and his oeuvre is a feast. Let’s rank the shit out of it.

10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
The Curious Case of What The Fuck Were You Smoking, Mr Fincher? more like. It’s not that Fincher’s telling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s (read: ‘Probably actually Zelda Fitzgerald’s) short story about a man who ages in reverse is necessarily a bad movie, per se. It’s just a jumble of strange contradictions that sum up to basically zero. It’s well-acted but cloying; occasionally beautifully shot but forgettable; earnest but silly. For every tick you wanna add to the ‘Positives’ column while watching you can’t help but add two crosses to the ‘But Why?’ column. David Fincher isn’t a reclusive, once-every-decade filmmaker, but he isn’t exactly Mr Prolific either, so each one of his projects is worth savouring. Or rather, he should be making sure that each one of them is worth savouring. In any other filmmaker’s oeuvre, Benjamin Button could seem a harmless curiosity. In a director as precise as David Fincher’s, it comes across almost as an annoying time waster. This effect is doubled when you consider that the movie bounced around Hollywood in the developmental larval stage since the late 80’s, with numerous name directors attached at one point or another before Fincher finally caught it. Why, David, why? Why didn’t you duck?

9. Alien 3 (1992)
It’s widely accepted that Fincher’s debut feature is not a very good one. It is almost as widely known that this is largely not the director’s fault. Transitioning from his successful career shooting ads and music videos straight into (at the time) one of the most critically bulletproof movie properties, Fincher found himself butting heads with producers and studio reps over budgets, script issues, and overall creative control. ‘Control’ is a key word in the career of David Fincher, and while sometimes the push and pull between creative and business forces can lead to greatness, Alien 3 was not one of those cases—because the director is not one of those creative forces that needs interference from a tempering force. He is not a spoiled child who if given a large budget runs amok and creates a mess. Discipline and a clear creative vision are his hallmarks, and there are few filmmakers who can be relied upon to deliver the goods as much as he. But this was early days, and a combination of a large franchise and an as-of-yet unproven track record meant that Fincher could not exercise the kind of veto or override that would later become a powerful weapon in his arsenal. Alien 3 is the result of someone else telling David Fincher what to do. He once said of the movie: ‘No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me.’

8. Panic Room (2002)
Panic Room is a fine little genre flick. There’s nothing wrong with it, and plenty right with it. It’s tense, features some stellar actors doing great work (Jared Leto’s there too), and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. But in the gallery of the works of David Fincher, ‘fine’ doesn’t really cut it. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in it, just that its (intended) lack of ambition means it will often be overlooked. Had anyone else made Panic Room, it’d be a different story, because it is entertaining and very well made. Fincher called the film a ‘really good B-movie’, and that does about sum it up.

7. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
The phenomenon that is The Unnecessary American Remake can be a particularly draining experience for movie fans. The Wicker Man, Secret in Their Eyes, Diabolique—the list of cringe-worthy efforts at adapting international successes grows ever longer and sadder. But David Fincher’s version of the best-selling Swedish thriller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo does not belong on it. This is partly because it was developed roughly in parallel to the Swedish film adaptation rather than being conceived as a remake of the movie, but also just because it’s really bloody good. Ditching the slightly made-for-TV visuals that permeated the (otherwise pretty damn solid) Swedish version, Fincher crafts a much more cinematic telling of the story. Working with his longtime partner in crime, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth (Fight Club, The Social Network, Gone Girl), he creates chilly landscapes of foreboding and dread for Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander to stalk. It doesn’t do the movie justice to keep comparing it to the Swedish version, but alas due to the vagaries of fate and cinematic scheduling that will forever be its lot. In many ways Fincher’s version is grander and yet more intimate than the other. It’s shot to look better and bigger, but to feel more claustrophobic, and it achieves that splendidly. Mara’s Lisbeth, too, is a subtly different creation to Noomi Rapace’s conception of the character. Fundamentally they are very much alike of course, but there were shades of openness to Rapace’s Lisbeth, stronger traces of warmth, something slightly different behind the eyes. Both are great, but for my money Rapace is one of the few things about the Swedish movie that is superior to Fincher’s otherwise more able take.

6. Gone Girl (2014)
A nasty, visceral, calculated piece of work is Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. And I mean that in the best way possible. It achieves exactly what it sets out to do, and it gives us a hell of a one-two punch of great female performances. Because yes, Rosamund Pike is something to behold in Gone Girl. She’s terrifying and captivating. But then you also have Carrie Coon providing the movie with the closest thing it has to a heart. Coon is just fantastic as Nick Dunne’s sister.

I have a peculiar relationship with Gone Girl as a whole however. I saw it in the cinema and thoroughly enjoyed myself—well, maybe ‘enjoy’ is not really the right word for this story, but I was certainly gripped. And I marveled as I usually do during a Fincher production at the technical proficiency—genius, really—on display. But once it ended I had no desire to see it again. And I don’t think that’s because it’s quite an unpleasant story to witness. I don’t mind unpleasant stories. Nor do I claim that it’s a movie that lives and dies with its twist. There is just something about it that left me a bit cold. It’s fantastically put together, but personally it didn’t do very much for me. Maybe I need to force myself to watch it again.

5. Se7en (1995)
After his experience with Alien 3 soured him on directing features, David Fincher retreated from the scene for some time, not even reading a script in over a year. Lucky for us, when Se7en landed on his desk he made it through. There are few movies that create a world quite the way that Se7en does. Like Blade Runner its universe feels complete and alive, a parallel dimension New York where it never stops raining. You feel dirty watching Se7en, infected with the city’s poison and profaned by Fincher’s meditation on the scope of humanity’s evil. Brad Pitt is a little bit adorable as he begins his slow transition from 90’s pretty boy automaton into the very capable actor that he would later become, but Fincher’s strong directing hand helps him out here. Morgan Freeman could have probably played the part of Detective Somerset in his sleep but he brings the full weight of his talents in his portrayal of the world weary detective. His supremely moral and empathetic character stands in stark contrast to the bloody evil unleashed upon his city. Part detective movie and part morality play, Se7en still packs a punch. Famously of course the studio wanted the ‘head in a box’ ending cut and re-shot for a less gruesome and more anodyne finish, but Fincher (and Pitt) fought to keep it. That was a smart move.

4. The Game (1997)
It sometimes feels these days as if we’ve all forgotten how great of an actor Michael Douglas can be. There aren’t many refreshers better than David Fincher’s much-underrated psychological thriller The Game (Wonder Boys and Solitary Man are two others). A slightly metatextual analysis of the artifice of moviemaking, The Game is primarily enjoyable purely as a visceral roller coaster of emotions and thrills. It is an extremely enjoyable and intelligent, giddy ride that Fincher directs with devilish precision. He guides us through the movie’s reveals like a master. Those twists and turns come hard and fast but crucially they do not feel cheap or unearned. There is no cheating here. The movie has heart too, which gives it all the emotional weight it needs to work. You feel for the characters, and Michael Douglas—with whom we spend almost the entirety of the running time and whose perception of things is our portal unto this dark tale. Looking back now, the atmospheres of paranoia and fear Fincher creates in The Game at times look like a trial run for Zodiac, and it remains a hidden gem in his filmography that I urge all who remember it with anything less than fondness to revisit.

3. The Social Network (2010)
How the fuck do you turn the genesis story of a social media platform into a taut and gripping drama? You hire David fucking Fincher that’s how.

I remember when The Social Network was announced. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I’m struggling to imagine a story I could be less interested in seeing.’ Oh ye of little faith, Past Knava, oh ye of little faith. What Fincher (with notable assist from a pretty great Sorkin script) achieves in this movie is quite spectacular. Rarely falling back on cinematic cliches or visual tropes usually used in the depiction of computer work, he instead devotes a lot of his focus to the psychological. The technical still features, of course, but The Social Network works so well because it allows the war of personalities and egos at its centre to take the spotlight. In typical Fincher fashion, events are depicted in a precise and methodical way, shots are perfectly composed and utilised—but it’s his often underappreciated understanding of the human condition that is the secret weapon here. He is a filmmaker driven by the need to explore what drives people to obsession, to devotion, to anger and to fear. In The Social Network’s versions of Mark Zuckerberg and the characters that were there at the birth of an unstoppable behemoth, Fincher found a gloriously twisted set of subjects to dissect.

That soundtrack doesn’t hurt either.

2. Fight Club (1999)


Can you say: ‘Zeitgest-y’?

Alright how about: ‘Unwarranted backlash’?

Fight Club is a powerful and kinetic bit of vital filmmaking, made by a director driving home his creative vision and indelibly searing his name into the historical record.

It’s also become somewhat of a sacred text for reactionary, ignorant internet fuckboys who completely misunderstand its message and who use it to promote retrograde ideals of masculinity and violence that fly directly in the face of its ideals. The backlash against Fight Club seen in some commentary circles is a confused crusade. In tarring those idiots who abuse the movie for their arse-backwards politics, sometimes the movie gets dragged along with it, and that’s unfair. The film stands on its own, and is not only a hyper entertaining, blackly funny indictment of mass consumer capitalism, toxic masculinity, and the poisonous relationship between the two, but a tour de force of acting and directing that packs a hefty emotional punch too. I have seen Fight Club many times. I never get bored. I always see new things.

1. Zodiac (2007)


Look, Zodiac is basically a perfect piece of work. I wrote a whole bunch of words detailing exactly why a little while back. The only thing that might have changed since then is that, like fine wine, it has aged a little bit and become even greater. It’s a perfect storm of technique, humanity, and control.

It’s Peak Fincher in other words. Drink it in.


Petr Knava lives in London and plays music


Drink DuJour: Nonna’s Mule

Housed in Miami’s ivy-covered Hotel St. Michel, Zucca is an Italian ristorante and bar serving indulgent cuisine from across Italy’s varied regions. The restaurant boasts an award-winning mixology program and features unique sips such as the Fifty Sage of Grey and Gran Hotel de Milan.

This week’s Drink DuJour, Nonna’s Mule, is an Italian take on the Moscow Mule created by Zucca’s head bartender Giorgia Crea. The fresh cocktail combines lime juice, ginger syrup, watermelon juice, grapefruit soda and Grappa, and is served in a chilled copper mug. Pair the colorful drink with Fiori di Zucca, fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella, or a charcuterie board.

Here, see the recipe for this refreshing (and Insta-worthy) craft cocktail.

1 ½ oz. Grappa
¾ oz Lemongrass/Ginger Syrup
¾ oz. Lime Juice
¾ oz. Watermelon Juice
Top with Grapefruit Soda

Preparation: Add Grappa, watermelon, and lemongrass/ginger syrup to a shaker filled with ice and mix. Add grapefruit soda to the shaker and strain into a chilled copper mug. Add crushed ice and garnish with a slice of watermelon and a lime wheel.

The post Drink DuJour: Nonna’s Mule appeared first on DuJour.


NYFF Review: ‘The Venerable W.’ The Tale Of An Evil Buddhist Monk Shows Parallels To Trump

«They live in our land.
They use our resources.
They have all the rights they want.
You think they’d be happy, right?»

It’s a speech that could be pulled from President* Donald Trump’s spite-spitting responses to the NFL players kneeling, or the Black Lives Matter protests, or even the survivors scraping by hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico. But this is a speech from Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk who has become the face of violent anti-Muslim movement in Myanmar. This confounding figure is the focus of filmmaker Barbet Schroeder’s latest, The Venerable W., which plays as part of the New York Film Festival‘s Spotlight on Documentary.

The Venerable W. is the final installment of Schroeder’s «Trilogy of Evil,» which includes his 1974 documentary General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait, which centered on the notorious military dictator of Uganda, and 2007’s Terror’s Advocate, which followed Jacques Vergès, a lawyer infamous for defending Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy. But here’s the embarrassing bit where I admit I’m mostly familiar with Schroeder’s more Hollywood-friendly fare, like the thrillers Single White Female, Desperate Measures and Murder By Numbers. Suffice to say, even the warning that this would be about an «evil» Buddhist monk did not prepare me for what The Venerable W. had in store. It’s beyond jarring to see a Buddhist monk—typically thought to be a peaceful group—smiling over the carnage he’s caused. And that’s just the beginning.

In a series of interviews, Wirathu speaks calmly about the threat he believes Muslims pose to Myanmar (A.K.A. Burma). Statistics show Muslims are the minority, making up only 4 percent of the nation’s population. But the Islamophobic Wirathu frankly dismisses facts, comparing these people to ravenous catfish and horny rabbits who will overtake the land, choking out the Buddhist faith and «true» Burmese culture. He blithely denounces them as not really his countrymen, and repeatedly and blithely employs a slur against the Muslims that the doc explains is comparable to the n-word. Wirathu preaches to his followers how they must «protect their religion,» and applies political pressure to instill their agenda into the government. As his detractors warn of the «fake news» Wirathu plants to demonize the Muslims and make himself seem all the grander, my stomach churned and churned.

Myanmar is on fire, literally and metaphorically. Wirathu has ignited a holy war that incites his followers to burn down the homes of Muslims, chasing many Burmese people—of both groups—out of flaming villages and into internment camps. It’s a civil war enacted by people who don’t recognize it as such, because the Buddhists following this menacing monk don’t believe the Muslims are their countrymen, but terrorist invaders whose mosques as «military bases» to plan jihads. The rhetoric is so sickening and familiar. As Wirathu rails about how Muslims wish to reproduce like rabbits to wipe out the Buddhists, he sounds like any alt-right loon tweeting about the «white genocide» conspiracy.

The Venerable W. gives Wirathu plenty of time to preach and boast, and just enough rope to hang himself. His brash lies are immediately shot down by statistics and infographics. His chilling calm is offset by devastating footage of villages razed, and human bodies ablaze, some still twitching with life. His attempts at self-aggrandizement are repeatedly undercut by journalists and other monks, who speak openly about his limitations, hypocrisy and crimes. Schroeder shows both how this monk is dangerous, and also a grotesque fool. But the latter hardly matters when Wirathu still manages to sell books, peddle propoganda, and convince so many of his black-and-white fantasy, where Muslims are the great danger, and he is a hero to the preservation of their race and faith.

The Venerable W. is thorough and thoroughly gutting. Incredibly, Schroeder delivers a comprehensive look at a brewing civil war many Americans may have no awareness of, and yet can relate to on a disturbingly deep level. To say it’s a hard watch is an understatement. Regardless, it’s docs like this that refuse to let propagandist and tyrants dominate the conversation, and thus become essential viewing.


31 Times Prince Harry Was in Uniform and You Got Weak in the Knees

Yes, Prince Harry is great with kids, an attentive boyfriend to Suits star Meghan Markle, and a shining ambassador for the royal family, but one of the most important things to him is the time he spent in the Armed Forces. His love of all things military-related started surprisingly young, and with his passion project the Invictus Games going into its fourth year, it looks set to continue throughout his life, so what better way to celebrate than to take a look at all the most significant times that Harry has worn a military uniform?

POPSUGAR Celebrity

Oliver Stone Walks Back His Defense Of Harvey Weinstein

Oliver Stone during an appearance on CBS's 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.'

Note to Hollywood: don’t stick up for Harvey Weinstein because karma is going to come down and rightfully snatch your weave. Just ask Oliver Stone!

As y’all know by now, many, many women in Hollywood have said that Harvey is a Grade-A skeeze, and more women are coming forward. The Hollywood Reporter says that Oliver was asked about the Harvey situation at the Busan International Film Festival and, rather than do the completely rational thing and condemn the turd, he sort of took the Donna Karan route:

“I’m a believer that you wait until this thing gets to trial. I believe a man shouldn’t be condemned by a vigilante system. It’s not easy what he’s going through, either. During that period he was a rival. I never did business with him and didn’t really know him. I’ve heard horror stories on everyone in the business, so I’m not going to comment on gossip. I’ll wait and see, which is the right thing to do.”

Oliver’s PR team probably hit up the Chili’s happy hour hard after he gave that statement. But Oliver eventually took back what he said with a statement on Facebook:

I’ve been travelling for the last couple of days and wasn’t aware of all the women who came out to support the original story in the New York Times.

After looking at what has been reported in many publications over the last couple of days, I’m appalled and commend the courage of the women who’ve stepped forward to report sexual abuse or rape.

I’ll therefore recuse myself from the “Guantanamo” series as long as the Weinstein Company is involved.

But now, Oliver is in some icky hot water of his own. Variety reports that ex-Playboy model Carrie Stevens accused the director of groping her at a party 26 years ago. Carrie also took to Facebook to say that Oliver is cut from the same douche cloth as Harvey:

“Oliver walked past me and grabbed my boob as he waltzed out the front door of a party. I still remember the cocky grin on his face like he got away with something. These douchebags are not above the law, and they should be held to the same standard as every other man. It’s common decency NOT to grab boobs, pu–ies (like our President does) … or any other body part of another, uninvited. They should go back to preschool, because they must’ve missed the lesson … ‘keep your hands to yourself.’”

Oliver didn’t respond to the allegations, but it comes on the heels of women finally feeling safe enough to call high-powered players like Ben Affleck out.

Another director (and one who has worked with Harvey a lot) is apparently so upset that he can’t make words. Quentin Tarantino had to express his thoughts through Joan of Arcadia (aka Amber Tamblyn).

Quentin and Harvey are producing partners and close friends to the point where Harvey threw an engagement party earlier this year for the director and has previously defended him after Quentin spoke out against police brutality. Don’t feel like this is the time to pay him back, Boo Boo Q. You do, and it’ll be the media equivalent of O Ren Ishii and the Crazy 88s hounding your ass.



Paris Hilton Getting Hotter, Mooch On The Prowl & Buy Rick Pitino’s House!

Instagram Photo

Clemson at Syracuse won’t be much of a game tonight, right? That’s over on ESPN. There’s also Canadian Football on ESPN2 for my buddy Podcast Paul. You’ll also get late night gambling opportunities with Washington State and Cal. There’s also Yankees-Astros. That should take 5 hours and end at 1 a.m. EST. Plan your night accordingly.

Paris Hilton getting hotter?

The Mooch is out here chasing poon…here’s the latest

New signed OJ helmets have hit the market

Jon Gruden to Knoxville?

Buy Rick Pitino’s Louisville house

This Florida Woman gets naked, invades house, eats canned pineapples

Local TV station blurs out competition’s logo on van during shot…and it’s in San Diego!

Here’s Jessica from the Texas Pom Squad!

Game Action Punch of the Night

Instagram Photo

Burger of the Day

Sports Gossip, Sexy WAGs, NFL and Hot Cheerleaders: BustedCoverage

Sarah Jessica Parker Is Quite Particular When It Comes To House Rules For Her Staff


Comedian and former co-host on The View Michelle Collins got her hands on emails from Sarah Jessica Parker to her staff (Michelle’s friend works for SJP) instructing them om how things should be done around the Parker-Broderick home. According to Page Six, SJP’s directives are very particular in a Joan Crawford kind of way. Michelle read the emails aloud in her stand-up show Magic Mich.

Page Six reports:

In the emails that Collins, 36, claimed were written by Parker herself, the actress, 52, instructs staffers to refill a tiny 1.75-ounce container of Vaseline with a small spoon or knife for her children’s use. She stresses that the refill jar not be too big (so as to not clutter the house), and that the cutlery used to handle the Vaseline must be hand-washed using a paper towel followed by a cycle in the dishwasher.

Oh, to be a fly in the ointment in that room when the Vaseline is allowed to dip below full!! The poor children, having to stick their finger in a jar past the first knuckle. Maybe this instruction is a psychological manifestation stemming SJP’s childhood of deprivation where she was forced to scoop off-brand petroleum jelly from a giant jar to rub on her ashy elbows like I did as a kid. It’s a known fact that SJP wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth but now that she can afford one, it’s for VUO (Vaseline use only). She done come up!

According to Page Six, other instructions also revolve around things being monitored and refilled, like the face and body wash in her 14-year-old son’s personal shower. There is nothing more cruel than making a staff member monitor the shower of a 14 year old boy. Sounds like a human rights violation to me. She’s also given instructions on how hard the children should blink when eye drops are administered (apparently there was a pinkeye outbreak in the household).

But it’s not all cracked whips and stern lectures at Casa Parker-Broderick: Tuesdays are Taco Tuesday!! Break out the sombreros and maracas, mom’s cooking! Sarah’s Taco Tuesday shopping list for her staff specifies “whatever meat goes in tacos”. The flesh of your vanquished enemies is really hard to find without risking felony charges. Still, Kim Cattrall better watch her back.

And in case you were wondering, here’s what happens when SJP runs out of something. HIGH DRAMA!

Just the check please… X, sj

A post shared by SJP (@sarahjessicaparker) on



Review: ‘Marshall’ Is Fine, But Not Worthy of The Man It Depicts

It’s hard to make a good biopic. The greatest challenge is to tell a life story — for those whose lives have had a greater-than-average impact on our world, the likelihood is that their life is too much, too rich with experience, too full of stories to be compressed into a single film. It’s certainly been done, and done well, in some instances — films from Gandhi to Walk The Line have done admirable enough jobs. But too often the film’s reach exceeds its grasp, and in trying to show us everything, leaves us feeling empty.

The solution, as offered in director Reginald Hudlin’s Marshall, is to focus on a snapshot, a single event that can serve as a taste of that character’s life and work. Sure, Thurgood Marshall was the first black Supreme Court Justice in United States history, but he was once also a down-in-the-trenches civil rights attorney. Here, the filmmakers drill down and focus on a much smaller case — this isn’t Brown v. Board of Education — and tell the story of Thurgood Marshall’s journey to Bridgeport, CT, of all places. There, he is begrudgingly paired with a local insurance attorney, Sam Friedman (a surprisingly effective Josh Gad) to defend Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown), a black man accused of the rape and attempted murder of his employer’s wife (Kate Hudson).

From a strictly sociopolitical standpoint, it’s a fascinating choice of subject matter. It serves as an important reminder that even in the well-heeled New England cities, racism and racial persecution thrives, even if it may be less overt than in the South back then. It also allows the film to incorporate some elements of privilege and class into its story — a big part of Gad’s arc is his character’s fear that the case will ruin his reputation, without really considering what it will do to the life of Joseph Spell. It also — albeit not always capably — weaves in the longstanding white fear of black men coming for their white women, or worse, white women willingly submitting to black men. It takes a small part of Marshall’s life, and it does quite a bit with it.

The performances are all quite good, even if I sometimes felt like I wasn’t getting as much out of Chadwick Boseman as I should have been. Boseman turns in an intense, though often understated performance as Thurgood Marshall, embittered because he’s silenced by an ornery judge (played with a keen subtlety by James Cromwell) and is forced to have Friedman be his voice inside the courtroom. His constant back-and-forth with Gad’s Friedman are well orchestrated and the two have solid chemistry together. But Marshall was a massively influential, charismatic personality in real life, and I never quite got the feeling that Boseman was truly feeling the character. Sterling K. Brown is terrific as the accused Spell, giving a performance that manages to precariously straddle the line between resigned and angry. If there’s a weak spot, it’s Dan Stevens as the prosecuting attorney, giving a sneer, scoffing, over-baked turn that takes it just a smidge too far, transforming what likely was an arrogant, privileged jerk into a laughable villain parody.

The issue with Marshall is not that it’s bad. It’s a good movie, but it’s scripted in a curious fashion that takes some getting used to — sometimes it feels more like a buddy comedy between Gad and Boseman than a Serious Historical Drama. Other times it’s so intense that it’s almost painful. It throws in a couple of plotlines that don’t get the attention they deserve — Marshall’s relationship with his wife as they struggle to conceive, and Friedman’s precarious position as a Jewish lawyer trying to find his footing in an upper crust, WASPy society. These elements are there, but not really explored enough. There’s a moment when Friedman’s wife is devastated upon learning that her cousin in Europe has been taken by the Nazis, but it’s a 90-second scene, thrown in haphazardly and without the dramatic weight it deserves.

Perhaps that’s the real problem with Marshall. It’s good, but it’s not great, and a movie about Thurgood Marshall — at any point in his life — should be great. That phrase in the previous paragraph — «without the dramatic weight it deserves» — probably applies to the movie as a whole. Sure, there are some tense, dramatic moments, and the performances are mostly strong, but the film is too uneven in tone, too off-kilter. It’s not even that the comedic moments are bad. As I said, Boseman and Gad are quite good together, and Hudlin can do comedy quite well (he directed one of my unappreciated favorite films, The Great White Hype, which uses satire quite effectively). But it awkwardly stumbles between drama to comedy, failing to transition properly or to integrate the two elements as seamlessly as it should. A film about Marshall and Friedman (who became a significant civil rights attorney in his own right) should be better than this on all fronts. This is an enjoyable enough diversion, but not the film its subject matter deserves.


Blake Lively Has Her Own Story Of Sexual Harassment (But Not About Harvey Weinstein)

Ryan Reynolds Honored With Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

The number of actresses, actors and others coming forward is pretty huge. Most have a story about Harvey Weinstein, who is – to half-quote Emma Thompson – the current gross tip of this iceberg. Blake Lively has had a friendly relationship with Harvey Weinstein for a while (she wore a Marchesa dress when she got married to Ryan Reynolds in 2012). Blake has something to say about Harvey Weinstein and sexual harassment in Hollywood, but they’re two separate conversations.

Blake spoke to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week to promote her latest film All I See is You, and they spoke about this situation with Harvey. Blake’s name has been thrown around a little this week after Gretchen Mol spoke up to officially kill that blind item. Blake didn’t have anything to say about that blind item. She just stuck to the sexual harassment allegations. Much like Jennifer Lawrence’s statement regarding Harvey, Blake says she never heard any rumors about him and that he never did anything to her.

“That was never my experience with Harvey in any way whatsoever, and I think that if people heard these stories…I do believe in humanity enough to think that this wouldn’t have just continued. I never heard any stories like this – I never heard anything specific – but it’s devastating to hear.

It’s important that women are furious right now. It’s important that there is an uprising. It’s important that we don’t stand for this and that we don’t focus on one or two or three or four stories, it’s important that we focus on humanity in general and say, ‘This is unacceptable.’

The number one thing that can happen is that people who share their stories, people have to listen to them and trust them, and people have to take it seriously.”

It’s true, Blake, people should be listening to people and taking allegations seriously. Like, oh, i don’t know, maybe the allegations made against a certain “empoweringdirector friend of yours?

Now onto Blake’s experience with sexual harassment at work. The Los Angeles Times recently published a story about how people are coming out of the woodwork and telling their own stories of awfulness. Blake opened up about a makeup artist who she says creeped on her during filming.

“He was saying things inappropriately, insisting on putting my lipstick on with his finger. I was sleeping one night on location and I woke up and he was filming me. I was clothed, but it was a very voyeuristic, terrifying thing to do.”

Blake says she reported the makeup artist to the project’s producers. After three months, producers called her in for a meeting. Blake assumed it was about the alleged makeup creep. It was about dog shit.

“They called me into my trailer and said, ‘We need to talk to you.’…And they said, ‘Your dog left a poop behind the toilet in your dressing room and our janitor had to pick it up. And this is very serious and we can’t have this happen again.’”

Eventually Blake got a lawyer involved, and an investigation was conducted. The makeup artist was given the boot, but Blake says it was far from an unceremonious firing.

“Our unit production manager wrote him a letter of recommendation because nobody wanted there to be bad blood.”

Now that people are actually talking, something tells me that makeup artist won’t be likely to get such a glowing letter of recommendation the next time they’re canned from a job. “I highly recommend this creepy makeup artist if you want to  find them hovering over you with a camera when you wake up from a nap.



Saying Farewell To ‘Sex And The City’ Really Is For The Best

Sex and the City was a game-changer in terms of TV. It’s become a buzzword for the representation of women, a kind of cultural benchmark for discussions of sex, sexuality and relationships. Women defined themselves using the characters’ foibles and trademarks. That’s so Miranda, we might say. And we knew what it meant. If like me, you watched it avidly the first time around, you definitely had an opinion on who Carrie’s best boyfriend was.

Then came the films; the first, a more serious attempt at a continuation of the story, and the second, a daft romp that was not reviewed kindly, to say the least. So I had mixed feelings when the news broke that Sex and the City 3 had been shelved, apparently because Kim Cattrall wouldn’t do it.

SATC3 could have been a return to the show’s glory days. Roles like that don’t come along often for women over the age of 50. Politically speaking, another shot at pushing the envelope in terms of representation of female sexuality and issues pertaining to women’s bodies could have been welcome. It could have been really interesting to see the show’s take on those issues in the current political climate. Imagine Miranda representing a woman in a sexual assault case, Samantha wearing a Pussy Hat to the Women’s Day March, Charlotte teaching her daughters about role models like Malala, and Carrie finally getting round to teaching that ‘Women in the Arts’ writing class to some young people in need of a mentor and role model. With crazy fashion, occasional slapstick and some sex jokes thrown in for good measure.

But again, the rose-tinted nostalgia glosses over some of the issues in the show, issues that perhaps don’t stand up to scrutiny so much now. And so, as I read the hot-takes flying in about the show, the films, and Cattrall’s decision, I couldn’t help but wonder: is there still room for the SATC brand in 2017? How does the show hold up now? Is it time to strike the movies from the canon?

For reasons that seemed a good idea at the time, I recently completed a re-watch of the series. I’ve seen the whole thing countless times before, but the boxsets had gathered some dust since the last visit. As the episodes rolled on, there were a lot of things that dated the show. Surprisingly, fashion isn’t really one of them. Some of the outfits were so bonkers at the time that they are still just bonkers now. The shoes are still fabulous. The technology seems ancient; Carrie uses email for the first time in season 4. SEASON 4! (Who feels old?) She even has an embarrassing email address like so many of us did the first time, before we realised we’d have to start using it to apply for jobs. Hey, Shoe Gal.

But more seriously, it was a little disconcerting that the show I remembered as such a driving force in terms of representation would be pulled apart if it aired in 2017. It’s really white. It could be called Rich White Women Problems and the City. It doesn’t do well representing lesbianism, bisexuality or trans issues. There are beloved gay male characters, but these rely on outdated clichés and outlandishly flamboyant campness. How did I not notice all this the first time around? It’s like reuniting with someone you thought was a delight and a hoot, only to realise they are actually a bit of an arse.


The episode on abortion is also somewhat uncomfortable, with rather too much (for my taste) focus on the guy’s right to know, and some borderline unpleasant judgment from the otherwise perfect Aidan. (Perfect for me, not for Carrie.) Would the 3rd movie have taken a bolder stance? We’ll never know, but it’s unlikely. There are plenty of things that you can ‘get away with’ on TV that would never make the cut in a mainstream movie.

It’s what the films did to the characters though, that makes the cancelled movie more of a relief than a disappointment. Adorable Steve became Steve the Cheater. Big went from ‘go get our girl’ romantic epiphany to wedding day flight risk. You could excuse (to an extent) some of those transformations by narrative need; stories that were neatly resolved in the show needed a fresh injection of conflict to justify the movies. OK, Big was never totally reliable. But Steve? How dare you.

It didn’t stop there. And this is where you can’t help but be thankful that the third movie never existed to provide its take on current affairs. Stanford and Anthony conveniently stopped hating each other’s guts and got married, so that the second movie could have a gay wedding. Featuring Liza Minnelli, of course. Hell yes for a gay wedding. But Stanford and Anthony together? Look, Anthony put it best when Charlotte tried to set them up on a date in the show. Just because they are both gay doesn’t mean that they will get along, or like each other, or fall in love. I admire the intention, but more could have been gained with Stanford marrying a New Character Who Happens To Be Gay (fancy that?) and hiring Anthony as his wedding planner. Now that would have been interesting. Just imagine the Groomzilla moments we could have seen…

Carrie always was rather melodramatic in the show, but usually in a harmless way. No more: Movie Carrie became hurtful, snobby and mean. Samantha went from risqué and provocative to an embarrassing American tourist, in an attempt to address attitudes to female sexuality in the Middle East. That was meant to be profound and political, but instead it was mortifying. Just, hide-behind-your-hands mortifying.

In all honesty, the highlight of the second movie was a brief conversation between Miranda and Charlotte about how hard motherhood is, where they were kind and supportive to each other while acknowledging their privilege.

So yes, there would have been lots of opportunities for interesting representations and messages, but could we trust them to do it well, given the evidence of the first two films? Not so much.

I still love a lot about the show. I kind of enjoyed the first film, if you can call ‘furious and crying’ enjoyment. I enjoyed a few bits of the second film, and cringed through much of the rest. I would have seen the third film, though it would have been out of apprehensive curiosity rather than full-blown excitement.

I mean, it could still get made. They could write Samantha out, or re-cast the role (as Kim Cattrall suggested). Or they could just come up with a new idea. How about that, Hollywood? Use the SATC fans as a demographic, as you can probably rely on them to turn up to watch it, especially if you cast those actors who want to work together again. But make something new, rather than recycling material that should be left to the warm, fuzzy realm of nostalgia. AND DO IT BETTER.

P.S. Big and Carrie clearly belong together.
P.P.S. Berger and the Russian are the worst.
P.P.P.S. How come I still can’t afford Manolos?


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