• A masterpiece of both narrative and visual brilliance
  • A rich study in obsession—clearly influenced by the grittier 1970’s American New Wave cinema—like Lumet, Pakula and Coppola’s the conversation. At the very end a character tells Gyllenhaal that “you have that look”. She means that you have been worn down by this obsession and all three lead actors, have that transformation
  • Methodical and procedural— men of obsession made by a man of obsession (Fincher notorious for his numerous takes, and being a bit of a dick to actors and crew with his perfectionism)
  • Many critics, while praising or comparing this film with Seven (another Fincher serial killer film)—incorrectly call seven violent in their reviews. Unlike seven, this film actually shows the crimes so, not that I care, this is clearly the more violent film to make an accurate description
  • It’s an epic, a crime saga—large film with un-thriller-genre-like ambitions
  • It’s a dissection of an event much like Stone’s JFK
  • We have the retro paramount logo in the beginning
  • The haunting “Hurdy Gurdy Man” song by Donovan kicks off the absolutely spectacular prologue intro— Fincher’s editing of that initial shooting in the car is a technical marvel
  • Downey, Ruffalo and Gyllenhaal—three of the better actors of this generation—do some of their best work here- it’s a mount rushmore performance for all three— but the cast is an ensemble—Brian Cox is good, Chloe Sevigny, Koteas (always a favorite of mine), Mulroney, and especially worthy of praise is John Carroll Lynch—his performance as Arthur Leigh Allen is absolutely chilling
  • About half the critics mention Pakula’s procedural and cinematically dark (both in actual visual brightness and ominous narrative real-life nightmare (Gordon Willis as dp as well)) all the president’s men and they’re absolutely right— a bulk of the film is shot (gorgeously I might add—see above pic) in a newsroom much like seven is shot in an office… It’s lighting as mise-en-scene (there are several spots here- one of my favorites is the movie theater shot as well)—often Fincher shows at a low angle to capture the overhanging lights (on the street in San Fran, the Chronicle news room, the movie theater awning) as part of the frame and use lighting as mise-en-scene
  • Fincher’s trademark yellowish greens throughout—the film is a miracle of lighting and one of the best examples of mise-en-scene in the decade
  • Absolute narrative bliss—but it’s not a tightly wound machine like no country for old men– it’s a deliberately paced, but always engaging, procedural saga that spends as much time on a ikiru-like bureaucracy of the multiple police jurisdictions as it does the killings
  • Movie posters and references galore—outright references to bullitt, dirty hairy, and the most dangerous game but we have posters of key largo, the wrong man (Hitchcock), and crime films from the era like conquest and illegal
  • Rich period detail- the 1969 mustardy yellow, clothes and furniture. Meticulous mise-en-scene and décor—even the lighting—which works with Fincher’s trademark look—fits the era of the 1970’s—or at least 1970’s (Gordon Willis-influenced natural lighting) films.
  • A masterpiece