4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Morgan Freeman Edition

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today is Morgan Freeman’s 83rd birthday!

Morgan Freeman is one of my favorite actors but then again, I think he’s one of everyone’s favorite actors.  He’s an icon, not just for that famous voice but also because he’s a damn good actor.  Though he seems to get cast in a lot of mentor roles, he’s shown that he’s capable of playing a wide variety of roles, from heroes to villains to Gods.

(I have to admit that I would be so intimidated if I ever met Morgan Freeman, if just because I know that if I accidentally said something stupid, he’d probably give me a look of such utter disappointment that it would probably haunt me for the rest of my life.)

Here are….

4 Shots From 4 Films

Seven (1995, dir by David Fincher)

The Dark Knight (2008, dir by Christopher Nolan)

Invictus (2009, dir by Clint Eastwood)

Now You See Me (2013, dir by Louis Leterrier)

Music Video of the Day: Bop ‘Til You Drop by Rick Springfield (1984, directed by David Fincher)

When you think of which 1980s pop singer was most likely to fuse his music with a science fiction epic about a group of intergalactic prisoners being enslaved by some sort of smirking lizard king, Rick Springfield is probably not the name that immediately comes to mind.  But that’s just what happens with the music video for his song, Bop ‘Til You Drop.

Not surprisingly, this video was directed by David Fincher.  Before Fincher moved into feature films, he specialized in music videos that took artists to new and unexpected places.  According to both the Internet Movie Database and the Internet Music Video Database, this was Fincher’s first music video.  A year earlier, he had worked as an assistant cameraman on Return of the Jedi and both the slaves and the aliens in this video feel like they would not have been out of place as a part of Jabba the Hutt’s entourage.  Visually, the video also has much in common with Fincher’s feature directorial debut, Alien 3.

This song was recorded for the soundtrack of Hard To Hold, an apparently unsuccessful attempt to turn Rick Springfield into a film star.  I haven’t seen Hard to Hold but Wikipedia offers up the following plot description:

James “Jamie” Roberts (played by singer-songwriter Rick Springfield), being a pop idol, is used to having his way with women. He meets child psychologist Diana Lawson (Janet Eilber) in a car accident, however, who not only doesn’t swoon at his attention but has also never heard of him. He tries to win her affection but complicating things is that his ex-lover, Nicky Nides (Patti Hansen), remains a member of his band.

It sounds like the music video was more interesting than the movie.


6 Good Films That Were Not Nominated For Best Picture: The 2000s

Continuing our look at good films that were not nominated for best picture, here are 6 films from the 2000s.

Mulholland Drive (2001, dir by David Lynch)

David Lynch’s masterpiece may have started out as a failed pilot for a television show but, under his direction, it transformed into a hauntingly enigmatic mystery, one that is still being analyzed and debated to this very day.  David Lynch received an Oscar nomination for Best Director but the film itself was perhaps a bit too strange and unsettling to convince the Academy to give it the Best Picture nomination that it deserved.

Donnie Darko (2001, dir by Richard Kelly)

Mulholland Drive wasn’t the only film that proved to be too strange for the Academy.  Richard Kelly’s haunting Donnie Darko was also snubbed.  Apparently, we had good reason to doubt the Academy’s commitment to Sparkle Motion.

28 Days Later (2002, dir by Danny Boyle)

“Hello?”  Danny Boyle’s absolutely terrifying “zombie” film invited us to experience a world gone crazy and it pretty much convinced us that it was nowhere that we would ever want to visit.  Audiences were terrified.  Critics were stunned.  However, the Academy was unmoved and 28 Days Later went unnominated.

Inland Empire (2006, dir by David Lynch)

Needless to say, if Mulholland Drive was too strange for the Academy than there was no way that they were going to nominate David Lynch’s even more enigmatic companion piece.  Inland Empire is an unforgettable film featuring a great performance from Laura Dern.  The Academy should have nominated it for the dance scenes alone.

Zodiac (2007, dir by David Fincher)

Though it may not have been a box office hit, Zodiac is perhaps David Fincher’s best film, a true crime story that achieves a nightmarish intensity.  The film was probably a bit too dark for the Academy but it’s both chilling and unforgettable and it also features one of Robert Downey Jr.’s best performances.

The Dark Knight (2008, dir by Christopher Nolan)

I have to admit that I’m not as big a fan of The Dark Knight as some.  However, when you talk about infamous Oscar snubs, you have to mention The Dark Knight.  This film received several nominations and was one of the most popular films of the year.  When it was not nominated for Best Picture, the outcry was so great that the Academy changed the rules to allow more films to compete.  11 years later, Black Panther finally accomplished what The Dark Knight did not and it became the first comic book film to be nominated for best picture.

Up next, we wrap things up with the 2010s!

The monster from Mulholland Drive

Music Video of the Day: Love is Strong by The Rolling Stones (1994, directed by David Fincher)

Love is Strong was the first single to be released off of the Rolling Stones’s 1994 album, Voodoo Lounge.  Since everyone already knew that the Rolling Stones were giants of music, the video for Love is Strong took the idea one step further by casting the Stones as actual giants, towering over New York City.

The video was directed by David Fincher.  Having already made a name for himself as a talented music video director before even making his first feature film, Fincher did this video after directing Alien 3 but before Seven.  Fincher has said that Alien 3 was such a frustrating experience that, after completing the film, he had no desire to ever make another feature.  (Of course, he would change his mind upon reading the script for Seven.)  As this video shows, even if Fincher had stopped making movies after Alien 3, he would still be remembered and highly regarded for his music videos.

Love is Strong subsequently won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video-winning song.

Music Video of the Day: Roll With It (1988, directed by David Fincher)

Yes, this video was directed by that David Fincher.

Taking place in a crowded bar and featuring patrons dancing while Steve Winwood and the band perform in the background, this video shows that, even before directing films like Se7en, Fight Club, and The Social Network, Fincher had a strong eye for detail.  The video makes you feel the heat.

Because this video has a page at the imdb, we actually know the names of some of the people who collaborated with Winwood and Fincher.  The choreography was provided by none other than Paula Abdul while the black-and-white cinematography is credited to Mark Plummer.  (Plummer’s other credits include the films Two Moon Junction, After Dark My Sweet, The Waterdance, and Albino Alligator.)  The video was edited by Scott Chestnut, who subsequently worked on several feature films directed by John Dahl, including Red Rock West, Unforgettable, and Rounders.

With the help of this video, Roll With It went on to spend four weeks at the top of Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

Music Video of the Day: Get Rhythm by Ry Cooder (1988, dir. David Fincher)

Once again, we have club-owner Stanton, but back in the 1980s before he played a club owner in Stop by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. This time he is under the direction of none other than David Fincher. I didn’t expect to hit a David Fincher music video while going through ones with Harry Dean Stanton.

It’s a shame that the version I found has such a low resolution. I mean there isn’t anything particularly interesting about the video. It’s one of those where a band starts playing to a nearly empty place and people keep trickling in until the club is packed because they can’t resist the pull of the song. But still, you can tell that it probably looked really good when it was shown properly.

What happened to the parrot between shots?


Harry Dean Stanton Retrospective:

  1. Those Memories Of You by Dolly Parton & Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris (1987, dir. White Copeman)
  2. Heart Of Stone by Dwight Yoakam (1996, dir. Dwight Yoakam)
  3. Sorry You Asked? by Dwight Yoakam (1996, dir. Dwight Yoakam)
  4. Nothing To Believe In by Cracker (1996, dir. Samuel Bayer)
  5. Stop by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (2003, dir. Charles Mehling)
  6. Dreamin’ Of You by Bob Dylan (2008, dir. ???)

Music Video of the Day: She’s A Mystery To Me by Roy Orbison (1989, dir. David Fincher)

Seeing as I did In Dreams yesterday, I felt it was necessary to follow it with She’s A Mystery To Me, since they are connected. I’m going quote Wikipedia below about how the song came to be, and it’s ties back to both In Dreams and Blue Velvet (1986) because me paraphrasing it doesn’t make any sense.

During a restless night of sleep in June 1987 in London during U2’s Joshua Tree Tour, Bono slept with the soundtrack to the film Blue Velvet CD on repeat. The CD had been given to him by the Edge’s wife. When he woke the following morning, he had a tune in his head which he assumed was from the soundtrack. He soon realized it wasn’t so he wrote down the basic structure of the song. Later that day he sang the unfinished song to the band at their pre-concert soundcheck at Wembley Arena. After the concert, Orbison paid the band an unannounced visit backstage, where a perplexed Bono played the song for him. Bono and Orbison worked again on the song in mid-November in Los Angeles. The album Mystery Girl was named after the song.

I haven’t seen all of David Fincher’s music videos, and I might be a little biased since I like Orbison so much, but I think this is the best one I’ve seen. I love that he did it with almost no one in the video. It’s all done as if we are a detective arriving on a series of scenes, and trying to piece together what happened.

According to Wikipedia, there are two versions of this video. This is the popular one where it is a grown woman that is planning on leaving, who we assume is Orbison because of the boots. In the other version, it’s a mother who is pursuing her young daughter who is about to board the plane. The woman is played by the same person in both videos. The big difference is that the second version has the one leaving return to the person showing up at the end rather than being left standing alone.

The only other video that I can think of that is quite as beautiful, or is at least very similar, is Butterfly, where Mariah Carey got veteran cinematographer, Daniel Pearl, to co-direct it with her.

The video was shot by Marc Reshovsky. He worked mainly as a cinematographer. However, he did get behind the camera for a few music videos like Nothin’ But A Good Time by Poison and I Remember You by Skid Row.

I’ve included the trailer below for the documentary made about the album, Mystery Girl, that was directed by Orbison’s son, Alex Orbison:

Also, assuming it is still up, here is Bono singing the song:

It’s amazing how much it sounds like something Bono would write, but it’s still inextricably linked to Orbison’s voice.


Here’s the teaser for Mindhunter!

Coming to Netflix in October…

It’s a new show about serial killers and the people who study them, hunt them, and hopefully capture them.   It’ll be like Criminal Minds, though it’ll probably feature more profanity and nudity and less Thomas Gibson-involved physical assaults.

This show was produced by David Fincher so you know every film blogger is going to have to watch at least one episode.

Music Video of the Day: Heart by Neneh Cherry (1990, dir. David Fincher)

When I was a kid, Neneh Cherry was that artist they always broke out when talking about one-hit wonders. That one-hit being Buffalo Stance. What I didn’t know is that she not only had other songs, but worked with two well-known music video directors. This time around it was David Fincher.

According to the book, I Want My MTV, he was well-known in music video circles for getting female artists to do rather interesting things in his videos. Of course one of the best examples is Madonna crawling on all-fours to lick milk from a dish like a cat in Express Yourself. You can also see that touch in Paula Abdul’s S&M dance for Cold Hearted. This video shares the onscreen text thing with Cold Hearted. One of the most interesting videos of David Fincher’s is the one for She’s A Mystery To Me by Roy Orbison. He did it mainly with the remnants people leave behind, or clues if you will about the mystery of the title. You get the gritty stuff in videos like Janie’s Got A Gun by Aerosmith. This one sits halfway between Express Yourself and Billy Idol’s cover of The Doors’ L.A. Woman.

Take special notice at a minute and twenty-two seconds when the guy looks towards the stage and the dummy turns its head on its own. I wonder what that represents…said no one who has seen any of David Fincher’s music videos, or watched this one to about the two minute and fifty-five second mark.

There is a whole chapter in the book I Want My MTV devoted solely to David Fincher. I’ll probably do a whole retrospective of his videos at some point. If you haven’t watched them, then you’ve only seen some of Fincher’s work. He made over fifty music videos–one as recent as 2013.

Oh, and this being a music post, I did catch a tiny bit of the Grammys. I am not a big fan of award shows in general, and certainly not one that thought it was a good idea a couple of years ago to stop dead in order to tell people they were going to go to Congress to manipulate copyright law which had people in the audience nodding in agreement. Still, I did catch some of the Beyoncé number where she was Lady Liberty with African neck rings sitting on a chair on a table that went from the Ben-Hur slave ship to The Last Supper with people’s faces bisected to go with the lyrics that also included a little Busby Berkeley. That was nice.


Embracing the Melodrama Part II #112: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (dir by David Fincher)

Curious_case_of_benjamin_button_ver32010 will always be considered, by many of us, to be the year that Oscar journalism first jumped the shark.  That was the year that a group of self-styled award divas (which Awards Daily’s Sasha Stone being the most obnoxious culprit) went batshit crazy over a film called The Social Network.  

From the minute that David Fincher-directed film premiered, the Sasha Stones in the world not only declared it to be the greatest film ever made but also insinuated that anyone who disagreed had to be stupid, crazy, and evil.  It actually got rather silly after a while.  That is until The Social Network lost best picture to The King’s Speech.  Suddenly, what was once merely enthusiastic advocacy transformed into fascistic fanaticism.  Suddenly, these people started to view the 2010 Oscar race (and each subsequent Oscar race) as a rather tedious battle between good and evil.  For these people, David Fincher represented the forces of good.  And Tom Hooper, the director of The King’s Speech, represented all that was evil.  They took this to such an absurd extreme that they not only subsequently heaped undeserved praise on Fincher’s bastardization of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but also unnecessary scorn on Hooper’s Les Miserables.

Of course, what was forgotten in all of that drama was that — before Hooper and The King’s Speech came along, the 2010 Oscar race was predicted be some to be a rematch between Fincher and Danny Boyle (whose 2010 film, 127 Hours, was indeed nominated for best picture, alongside The Social Network, King’s Speech, and Black Swan).  When Fincher and Boyle previously competed during the 2008 Oscar race, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire defeated Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

And indeed, the case of Benjamin Button was curious one!

Loosely based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button told the story of a man who aged in reverse.  When Benjamin is a baby, he has the wrinkled face of an elderly man.  When he’s a teenager, he’s walking with a cane.  When he’s middle-aged, he looks like Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall.  (In that regard, it helps that Benjamin is played by Brad Pitt.)  And when he’s an old man, he’s a baby.  Though the film, wisely, refrains from offering up a definite reason why Benjamin ages in reverse, it hints that it could have something to do with a clock that was built to run backwards as an anti-war statement.

Benjamin is born in New Orleans in 1918 and raised in a nursing home by Queenie (Oscar nominee and future Empire star Taraji P. Henson).  The love of Benjamin’s life is Daisy Fuller (Elle Fanning when young, Cate Blanchett as an adult), a dancer who also loves Benjamin but who, unlike him, is not aging in reverse.  For this reason, Benjamin and Daisy cannot be together.  That’s the way tragic love works.

The film itself features a framing device.  Daisy, now an elderly woman, is dying and gives her estranged daughter, Caroline (Julia Ormond), the diary of Benjamin Button.  As Caroline reads, Hurricane Katrina rages outside.  I’ve never really been comfortable with the way that the film uses Katrina as a plot point, for much the same reason that it bothered me when Hereafter used the real-life Thailand typhoon and London terrorist bombings to tell its story.  The real-life tragedy of Katrina feels out-of-place in a story about Brad Pitt aging backwards.

As for the rest of the film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is … well, it’s a curious film.  Visually, it’s definitely a David Fincher film but, at the same time, there’s something curiously impersonal about it.  You almost get the feeling that this was Fincher’s attempt to show that he was capable of making a standard big budget Hollywood film without getting too Fincheresque about it.  Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett have chemistry and they look good together but Fincher has never been a sentimental director and his heart never truly seems to be in their love story.  (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl feel more like a natural couple than Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett do in this film.)  There’s only a few scenes, mostly dealing with the more morbid aspects of Benjamin’s odd condition, towards which Fincher really seems to feel any commitment.

As a result, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button becomes a curious misfire.  It’s a film that struggles with the big picture but is occasionally redeemed by some of its smaller moments.  (The scenes with the elderly Benjamin as a dementia-stricken baby are haunting and unforgettable.)  Ultimately, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is probably the weakest of the five 2008 films nominated for best picture but it’s still an interesting film to watch.