627 The Game

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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swo17
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Re: 627 The Game

#101 Post by swo17 » Fri Dec 05, 2014 4:36 pm

jindianajonz wrote:Perhaps the film club could be moved to the Criterion Collection subforum?
That could be a good idea. The discussion all ends up there anyway. Anything to drum up more discussion.

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Re: 627 The Game

#102 Post by domino harvey » Fri Dec 05, 2014 4:39 pm

Actually, threads in the Film Club subforum are the only ones in the Bottom sector of subforums that do show up via View Active Topics. I've asked Chris about setting the Lists Project threads up to appear also but I assume he never got around to it

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Re: 627 The Game

#103 Post by cdnchris » Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:09 pm

I looked into it a bit but wasn't able to fix it (I also haven't been able to spend a lot of time on it.)

As to the home page there was a reason I blocked out some forums that required member logins to view, though maybe that's not completely necessary.

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Re: 627 The Game

#104 Post by swo17 » Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:17 pm

Is there some advantage to navigating the forum through "View Active Topics" as opposed to "View New Posts"? The latter lets everything through.

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Re: 627 The Game

#105 Post by EddieLarkin » Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:28 pm

swo17 wrote:Is there some advantage to navigating the forum through "View Active Topics" as opposed to "View New Posts"? The latter lets everything through.
For both of those options one needs to be logged into their account, which I rarely am when I browse at work. Consequently I nearly always use the home page's "Recent Forum Activity" to find new posts, which excludes everything from the Other Forums, including the Film Club. I would benefit greatly from the block Chris refers to being lifted.

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Re: 627 The Game

#106 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:36 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:
swo17 wrote:Is there some advantage to navigating the forum through "View Active Topics" as opposed to "View New Posts"? The latter lets everything through.
For both of those options one needs to be logged into their account, which I rarely am when I browse at work. Consequently I nearly always use the home page's "Recent Forum Activity" to find new posts, which excludes everything from the Other Forums, including the Film Club. I would benefit greatly from the block Chris refers to being lifted.
Exactly... I had never used the View New Posts function until swo mentioned it just now, because I'm so rarely logged in when I check the site, either at work or on my phone. In fact, I pretty much only log in when I specifically want to post a reply or a new topic, or if I realize it's been awhile since I checked the Lists pages or read the Film Club discussion (I've been a lurker forever, but I swear I'm going to make time to post on The Game, changes or no).

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The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#107 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Dec 06, 2014 8:43 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, DECEMBER 22nd AT 6:00 AM.

Members have a two week period in which to discuss the film before it's moved to its dedicated thread in The Criterion Collection subforum. Please read the Rules and Procedures.

This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

I encourage members to submit questions, either those designed to elicit discussion and point out interesting things to keep an eye on, or just something you want answered. This will be extremely helpful in getting discussion started. Starting is always the hardest part, all the more so if it's unguided. Questions can be submitted to me via PM.


-What is the goal of the game? How does it achieve its goal?
-How does the game construct (or subvert) reality? What do the game's shifting contexts do to the protagonist's sense of reality? What are the implications of this?



***PM me if you have any suggestions for additions or just general concerns and questions.***

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#108 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:28 am

To help whet your appetite, here is a video about Fincher's visual style that includes comments about his approach to The Game.

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#109 Post by dad1153 » Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:57 am

I hadn't seen "The Game" since I first saw it in theaters in '97, when it didn't leave much of an impression other that Fincher had a lot of cool toys at his disposal and was having a blast engaging purely in a technical exercise of creating a stylish paranoia genre flick. A few weeks ago while on vacation with my folks in AZ we sat and watched the movie on Blu-ray, their first time seeing it. Loving Fincher's filmography and being familiar with the type of role Douglas has been typecast into playing since forever (essentially variations of Gordon Gekko from "Wall Street") is no guarantee "The Game" will be up your alley. This is a movie that, paradoxically, rewards repeat viewings with small details you miss the first time out but also punishes you by having an ending that doesn't leave much reason to go back and rewatch. I personally loved how impersonal and detached Fincher treats his actors (props and/or chess pieces that need to be positioned in order to do their thing and then quickly disposed of) and Harris Savides' cinematography making San Francisco look pretty (like he also did for Fincher in "Zodiac"). Notice I'm praising the technical expertise and details, not the human connection/element the movie deliberately understates. Even Howard Shore's score feels deliberately impersonal.

One of my folks gave up and walked out on the movie literally 1 minute before the big reveal unfolds... so close! The next morning, at breakfast, my dad's wife was kind enough to watch the ending on my portable BD player (basically from the moment Nicholas is on the building roof 'till the end) and, though she still didn't get it, was glad the resolution of the "crazy story" was a "happy one"... OK? My dad stayed with me 'till the end of the movie but he didn't like it that much until, the next day, we went to see "Gone Girl." I sold the whole director vision thing to him and, though he didn't much care for "The Game" and loved "Gone Girl," he could see how the guy who did one did the other. My folks' negative reaction to "The Game" reminded that many viewers simply aren't equipped or can't handle the long-range arc that the movie is playing. Patience and an above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty willingness to suspend one's disbelief is required, and God bless Douglas, Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn (the ultimate 'That Guy' actor playing the ultimate 'That Guy' role) and a sea of recognizable faces for selling utterly incredulous BS with the sincerest of expressions. But, as the news report Van Orton listens to early on in the movie talking about how impossible it is to pass a health care law through the Republican congress, "The Game" comes from a pre-9/11 era in which we could buy that filthy rich men parlayed in this over-the-top excesses and we'd all shrug our shoulders half-believing it to be somewhat probable.

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#110 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Dec 08, 2014 1:56 pm

dad1153 wrote: But, as the news report Van Orton listens to early on in the movie talking about how impossible it is to pass a health care law through the Republican congress, "The Game" comes from a pre-9/11 era in which we could buy that filthy rich men parlayed in this over-the-top excesses and we'd all shrug our shoulders half-believing it to be somewhat probable.
As opposed to now vigorously nodding and 100% believing it to be probable that filthy rich men wallow in excesses on this scale? Or is that just me?
Mr Sausage wrote: DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

-What is the goal of the game?
I also had not seen the film in some time, though I saw it both in the theater 17 years ago (!) and at least twice on (bare-bones, non-Criterion) DVD in my early college years, and I realize now that I fell deep into the "missing the forest for the trees" trap with this movie, which I enjoyed at the time for its atmosphere and technical proficiency but was far too wrapped up in parsing the details of the game's execution to see what the game itself represented.

Admittedly, I don't own the Criterion edition of the film (though I will soon!), so I haven't viewed any supplementary material, and haven't read any critical or scholarly writing on it beyond a small article Mike D'Angelo (a huge supporter) wrote a few years ago about its emotional impact on him; all this to say, I'm sure the following is screamingly obvious to anyone who's put more time and effort into the film than I did prior to last night's viewing, but it's a new angle for me, and I wanted to articulate it even if only for my own benefit.

The purpose of the game, in my new and (hopefully) improved reading of the film, is to provide a thrilling, cathartic, fun, tragic, provocative, and terrifying experience completely outside the bounds of the player's normal life; to allow participants to experience situations, emotions, locations, risks, and people (even people we think we know) in ways they would most likely never be able to outside of the game; and to do this in a precise, carefully controlled way that delivers its customers back into our normal lives at its conclusion, unharmed but ideally not unchanged.

So, basically, the game is a movie. An absurdly expensive, ridiculously precise, boundary-pushing movie production mounted for an audience of one.

My previous view of the film's ending had been that it would have been better served to have Nicholas' killing of Conrad and subsequent suicide be "real" (it definitely would have been more in line with the tone of Fincher's previous film), and even barring that, I never bought that he would be so accepting and understanding of the experience after being pulled from the airbag. It's now obvious to me that any other finale would have muddled, if not completely ruined, the metaphor (maybe less a metaphor and more of a mission statement for Fincher as a director), and that Penn and Douglas sold the moment that Fincher and the script had built to so well that the version 20-year-old me wanted to see would have been far, far inferior.
Mr Sausage wrote: -How does the game construct (or subvert) reality? What do the game's shifting contexts do to the protagonist's sense of reality? What are the implications of this?
What I loved about the way the game was constructed was that it, like a good movie, used every technique possible to make Nicholas forget, deny, or question whether he was in fact involved in a fabricated narrative construct; the other characters and the situations presented kept subverting and redefining his expectations for what he was experiencing, never allowing him to be aloof or detached and pulling him back into the flow of its narrative. The stakes of the game for him continually changed, from basic curiosity to trying to "win", from trying to stop the game to pure survival, from revenge to acceptance. Just mentally turning it over again twelve hours after "getting it" for the first time, I keep remembering new details that fit beautifully into both the film's narrative and its metaphor.

In sum, I'm excited to have found so much more from The Game in this revisiting, and am anticipating digging even more into the film in the discussion and in grabbing the Criterion blu over the holidays and treating myself to the supplements.

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#111 Post by warren oates » Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:01 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:So, basically, the game is a movie. An absurdly expensive, ridiculously precise, boundary-pushing movie production mounted for an audience of one.
This is both right on and where, for me, the analogy strains a little. Longtime Mamet collaborator, master magician and historian of magic and crime Ricky Jay is fond of defining a con game in much the same way: An elaborate fiction/drama with an intended audience of one. Of course, unlike Douglas' experience inside in the narrative, the movie The Game isn't custom built just for any one of us. It's mass entertainment, conceived, at least at first, to be enjoyed with a large audience (even if we're all locked up in our individual solitudes), and it won't change on the fly based on what we decide to do while we're in it. It's also why I've found myself looking for the sorts of things that fascinate me in The Game in other places. In more immersive experiences like video games or even interactive theater* and extreme haunts, the kinds where you sign waivers and they sometimes faux kidnap you. The best one I've ever done, this year's Alone in Los Angeles, did succeed in fooling me more than once about when its own "game" was over and what was inside/outside the boundaries of the experience, which, in addition to the myriad other cool details, was exactly the sort of thrill I was seeking. I can't recommend it highly enough.

I think one of the underrated aspects of The Game's game and one of the things that draws me to participating in more affordable takes on it is the simple tangible experience of truly not knowing what might happen next, something for which Douglas' character really does require an extreme intervention . It's the rarest sort of feeling for me nowadays in the midst of a more traditional narrative. It's the reason why an older aunt of a friend of mine, Tia Marlene, told me she'd given up on fiction completely in favor of sports.

*I've been meaning to start a thread about this in the Other Arts subforum. Everything from the Blackout house to Punchdrunk productions like Sleep No More...

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#112 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:06 pm

Notes about the film's stately, inexorable style and Fincher's control (along with themes and stuff):

Early in the film Nicholas is driving home. He's shot facing frame right. This is intercut with 'home-video' shots of his childhood-self driving along facing frame left. For a few seconds, Nicholas is on a collision course with himself. What is the goal of the game? We're told: to provide what's missing. So what's Nicholas missing? A bunch of things with a bunch of attendant ironies, but mainly: chaos, disorder, fracture. Or, at least, that's what's missing in his lifestyle. During the commentary Fincher mentions using closeups only for something truly important (part of not exhausting the viewer). As Fincher is elaborating on this idea, we get a closeup of Nicholas removing the glass top containing his birthday cupcake. An odd detail to be important enough to demand a closeup in a movie determined to use them sparingly. But there's something about how pristine and elegant that covering is, the way Nicholas' little birthday cake and birthday meal are all so meticulously done (as well as shot). It's all hermetically sealed. Nicholas' life, like Fincher's style in these moments, is aloof and controlled. Other scenes reiterate this: he's called a "left-brained word-festishist" after taking the test, he marks up the proposal during the meeting ruthlessly and efficiently, ect.

So the purpose of Nicholas' game is to introduce chaos and disorder into his hermetically sealed life. It does this by attacking all of the illusions of control he has: his wealth (removed), his status as a competent business man (the briefcase), his status as an upstanding citizen (the photographs and the hotel room), his sense of home (violated repeatedly), his sense of privacy, his sense of reality, his trust in law and order, even the safety of being in his own country. It then forces Nicholas to confront his past and his father's suicide by (re)living them symbolically: he again must worry paternalistically about a recalcitrant brother (the whole 'they keep fucking you and fucking you' scene), whom he ultimately fails to protect (no doubt a buried fear of his) when he kills him. He then leaps to his death from the roof like his father. He's forced to experience all of his worst fears and memories as a way of exorcising them.

Now Fincher's style: the expected route would be the one Scorsese took in Goodfellas, where the style devolved from elegance to franticness as the lead character's life spun out of control. But Fincher's style is never subjective; he maintains the same aloof, impersonal manner throughout the movie even though it's about a man whose pristine life is broken apart. This begs the question of whether, like Michael Bay, Fincher is a slave to his own style, unable to adapt it to the themes of his movie. But I think his style is perfect here, because The Game is not a movie about the loss of control. This is about super-humanly perfect control. It's a paranoid movie and it declares its lineage with the allusion to The Parallax View during Nicholas' test. We're not meant to feel Nicholas' lack of control; we're meant to feel a meticulous and intimidating control underlying everything. All of Nicholas' chaos has been organized perfectly, improbably so, and Fincher's style embodies that and layers the movie with a feeling of sheer purpose.

The great thing about this style is that, while it could make everything seem safe because under a guiding hand, it actually feels ominous and foreboding because it's on behalf of something that can organize reality in any way it sees fit. This is more than a mere political conspiracy (with evidence, coverups, and seams dangerous enough to get those who notice them killed); this is a conspiracy where even the accidents are part of the plan, where there is nothing that has not and cannot be controlled. And the corollary here is that, once inside a game like this, one's sense of reality can never regain its prior stability even after the game has ended. Like Cronenberg's game movie, eXistenZ, being inside a constructed reality erodes your ability to perceive stability in any reality. The film doesn't make too much of this (I'm happy it resisted the temptation to have an Inception style ending), but it's present throughout almost every scene: what is real, how do I know, how could I ever know? And how will I ever be able to know again?

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#113 Post by warren oates » Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:36 pm

So many excellent points, Sausage. I'm especially intrigued by The Game's place in the lineage of 70's paranoid thrillers and its thematic elaboration on the themes of earlier films. The Parallax View is a clearly intended reference, but I also can't stop thinking about The Conversation's San Francisco when I see The Game. I'd say the films also share some psychological and thematic common ground. Harry Caul is, like both Nicholas and Fincher, a inveterate control freak, and someone who seems unable to handle it when the tables are turned. The dark forces manipulating the reality of the worlds in both films have shifted from shadowy political operatives of Pakula's films to faceless corporate entities.

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#114 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Dec 08, 2014 4:49 pm

warren oates wrote:... but I also can't stop thinking about The Conversation's San Francisco when I see The Game.
The moment that really underlined The Conversation as a key touch point for me was the bloody toilet overflowing in the hotel, a specific homage against the background similarity of the breaking down of Caul's and van Orton's illusions regarding their control over their lives.
warren oates wrote:
DarkImbecile wrote:So, basically, the game is a movie. An absurdly expensive, ridiculously precise, boundary-pushing movie production mounted for an audience of one.
This is both right on and where, for me, the analogy strains a little. ... The Game isn't custom built just for any one of us. It's mass entertainment, conceived, at least at first, to be enjoyed with a large audience (even if we're all locked up in our individual solitudes), and it won't change on the fly based on what we decide to do while we're in it.
I agree that the latter distinction (re: the changing of reality/film in reaction to the player's/viewer's decisions) between Nicholas' experience and ours as film-goers strains the comparison, but I don't think the former does, necessarily. To paraphrase something our fearless Film Club leader said in another thread a couple of weeks ago (and that's been knocking around in my head since), our subjective experience of any film isn't so much a statement about us or that film as a unique combination of the two at a specific time. So maybe the unique and personal experience we have with any film or other work of art individualizes it, in a way, regardless of how broad or narrow the intended audience might have been.

It just occurs to me that one might also read more than a little of Fincher's anxieties not as a film-goer but as a filmmaker in Nicholas' experience; he is notorious (and, one might argue successful) as a director for demanding precision and total control from his actors, cameras, and effects. Yet the filmmaking process itself is so dependent on controlled chaos -blending the contributions of hundreds of collaborators - that directing isn't far from constructing a game/film with thousands of variables that still has specific meaning for a specific person (himself, if we're being auteurist). Perhaps the collision of Nicholas' hermetically sealed cupcake of a world with another forcefully imposed vision of life is a nice representation of Fincher's experiences as a perfectionist in a medium in which perfection is practically unattainable.

Or maybe I'm just jabbering in tongues. Definitely one of those two options.

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#115 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:51 pm

I wonder how much the film is about Fincher critiquing his previous features, and then ending it with a happy ending, given that Alien3 ends so bleakly with a similar suicidal plunge. And Se7en is all about a serial killer seemingly omnisciently manipulating a whole city with all of its variables (and almost getting caught at one point, which seemingly leads the killer to incorporate his pursuers into his grande finale). Maybe The Game is the purest expression of the idea of the entire world revolving around yourself, even when everything has been calculated to seemingly look haphazard and impossibly random. There is even a key moment in the film at the point at which the organisation begins actively trying to murder Michael Douglas's character in which Deborah Unger's character shouts at him "Now you've done it!", which is almost word for word the same line that Sharon Stone yells at Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall when he makes the decision to abandon his old life with her for his new Martian spy persona.

Which perhaps itself prepares for the move in Fight Club into being both the architect and victim of your own elaboratedly constructed fantasy world. In some ways perhaps the issue with The Game is that it is the hyper-privileged (and therefore immediately unreal beyond all of the plot holes) film about the fear of losing it all that comes almost as the focal point in the middle of a trilogy bookended between the more successful, zeitgeist capturing working-class Se7en (library trips and dinner parties with aspirational young couples) and middle-turned-underclass Fight Club (Ikea furniture traded in for boozy brawls and assessing the cost of damage replaced by direct action).

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#116 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:19 pm

Control over one's environment always seems like a key factor in Fincher movies- be it the consequences of lacking it (Alien 3, Panic Room), the monstrosities possible when one has it (Se7en, Fight Club, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), I feel like it might reflect Fincher's own controlling nature to some degree- in which case, you could read this one as self criticism, a film about a man too much in control who is forced to relinquish it, both internally and externally, by being put through what is essentially a movie designed around him. Obviously I don't think that necessarily means the movie is autobiographical, but I do think that deep concern with being essentially a God over a specific domain- and the belief that it's possible, to the extent of making the ending work- is something that I feel almost everywhere in Fincher, and is a hallmark of his universe.

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#117 Post by aox » Mon Dec 08, 2014 11:15 pm

colinr0380 wrote:There is even a key moment in the film at the point at which the organisation begins actively trying to murder Michael Douglas's character in which Deborah Unger's character shouts at him "Now you've done it!"
I thought all of those shots were blanks and the bullet holes were done with the same technology movies employ themselves.

(?)

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#118 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 08, 2014 11:53 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:Control over one's environment always seems like a key factor in Fincher movies- be it the consequences of lacking it (Alien 3, Panic Room), the monstrosities possible when one has it (Se7en, Fight Club, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), I feel like it might reflect Fincher's own controlling nature to some degree- in which case, you could read this one as self criticism, a film about a man too much in control who is forced to relinquish it, both internally and externally, by being put through what is essentially a movie designed around him. Obviously I don't think that necessarily means the movie is autobiographical, but I do think that deep concern with being essentially a God over a specific domain- and the belief that it's possible, to the extent of making the ending work- is something that I feel almost everywhere in Fincher, and is a hallmark of his universe.
Panic Room, and to a lesser extent Alien 3, are battles for control of space. Panic Room especially is like an extended game of king of the castle. Seven has the most parallels with art since it is about a man imposing a pattern of meaning on the world, albeit through extreme violence, and asking others to interpret the significance of his signifiers. Zodiac takes up the theme of meaning by showing people becoming so consumed by the impulse to find patterns that they sacrifice their personal lives. The characters in Zodiac are trying to control information. Information establishes order and order reveals meaning. It's a crucial thing to control, but the information is so vast, the connections it suggests so endless, that meaning may be impossible. Zodiac is, among other things, about the madness in the need to control. There are parallels to be made between the impulse it reveals and both the artistic impulse in general and Fincher's in particular. But one can probably make too much of that--I'm not sure that Fincher's movies are self-parodies.

The Game has the most god-like atmosphere of his films: the characters aren't fighting for control amongst themselves, against a social system, or against an indifferent, likely meaningless world. It's one character fighting for control against a system too omnipotent to be grasped. And yet it's Fincher's least hopeless movie. Everything it takes from the character it gives right back, with some added bonuses (the implication that he will pursue human relationships again). There is the implication that reality has been too destabilized to go back, yes, but this doesn't affect the mood of the ending. There is a set of rewards for completing the game. The next step from this are the endings of The Social Network and Fight Club, two films whose hope is tentative. The Game is not so tentative. This ultimate control is disturbing and yet benign, or at least constructive if you don't want to go that far. The game's purpose is therapeutic. Although maybe the ending is hopeful in that slightly empty way the ending of the story of Job is hopeful.

Total control of this sort means that meaning isn't imposed on the world (eg. Seven, Zodiac, and Fight Club), it's woven into the fabric of it. The game organizes a world to have a specific meaning and then lets its character live that out and then take that meaning with him when he leaves, even if it isn't a meaning he would ever have arrived at on his own.

Or something. I'm too tired to tie any of this together. It's just what occurred to me from reading your post, matrixschmatrix. But I did just rewatch Seven tonight and it is still the very best serial killer hunt thriller that I've ever seen. Audacious and deeply unsettling.

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#119 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Dec 09, 2014 5:14 am

aox wrote:
colinr0380 wrote:There is even a key moment in the film at the point at which the organisation begins actively trying to murder Michael Douglas's character in which Deborah Unger's character shouts at him "Now you've done it!"
I thought all of those shots were blanks and the bullet holes were done with the same technology movies employ themselves.
(?)
Well, yes. When I say "actively" I perhaps mean "pro-actively"! It's still revealed to be the game but it is the point when the film moves from systematically destroying our hero's life to more crude methods of seemingly actively trying to end it! And perhaps the Michael Douglas character needs that to fight against, rather than simply losing all of his assets, in order to turn him into a 'hero'.

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#120 Post by swo17 » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:13 pm

A question: Many of Fincher's films have tricksy or gimmicky endings, and The Game is certainly no exception. It obviously isn't a very realistic ending, but that's not the only criterion on which these things can be judged. How well do you think it works in the context of the world set up by the film? Does it take you out of the film, as a scene that finally demands too much suspension of disbelief? Or does the fantasy of what preceded it set the stage for a world where even this ending is possible (or even necessary)? And what about the ending improves upon or perhaps pales in comparison to the endings of other Fincher films?

(Note: If you're discussing the ending to anything other than The Game (and especially Gone Girl!) please do so in spoiler tags that identify which movie you're spoiling.)

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#121 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:56 pm

I think the trompe-l'œil (am I using that correctly?) of an ending would seem ridiculous in another movie, but it fits within the rules we've established- total control of an environment and total understanding of a psychology are both possible, and the game-player's movements can therefore be more or less perfectly predicted. The whole movie is essential an act of Freudian anaylsis and resolution for the Douglas character in any case- this is just the super rich guy version, where it's also a Make-A-Wish fantasy.

I find that Fincher's endings, at least up through Zodiac, were usually more concerned with a spectacular gesture than necessarily a logical follow through from the plot- certainly that's true of both Se7en and Fight Club, the movies immediately preceeding and following this one- and on those terms, it makes perfect sense. It also prevents the movie from feeling pointlessly cruel; if the whole point is watching a man deconstructed and driven to suicide, the arc of the movie goes from rescuing a man's soul from the prison of wealth and power to proving that doing so is essentially impossible, which seems like a fruitless kind of pessimism.

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#122 Post by knives » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:59 pm

Does the film really say his soul is rescued though? I took the implication that his wealthy lifestyle was so jaded he needed to be completely and psychologically deconstructed to get any sort of high. By the end of the movie Douglas is laughing it up with Penn as if the preceding movie were nothing but a good prank. He merely went on a rich(er) guy skydiving.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#123 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:01 pm

I always read it as Douglas having been sueccessfully reconstructed, since he's now capable of having any kind of human relationship, but it's certainly true that giving up being an 80s pure capitalist rich guy to become a Richard Branson rich guy isn't exactly a St. Francis level turn.

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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#124 Post by knives » Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:06 pm

It's almost certainly my politics painting my interpretation, but I never saw the film as suggesting a turn beyond maybe having a laugh every now and then. In terms of wealth and consideration for the poor he is the same exact person. Other rich people will just like him more. There's nothing in the ending suggesting to me that he'll give to charity or even bother to learn about the world outside of how it directly effects him. the sort of tragedy for me comes from the implication that there is no real evolution on Douglas' part.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

#125 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:12 pm

Insofar as what we're seeing is a form of therapy, there's probably a commentary to be made about what psychotherapy actually does there, along the lines of the critique put forward by The Sopranos- it doesn't make you a better person, it just makes you a more functional and better able to fill your chosen role. If your role is inherently anti-social, well, you just become better at dealing with the contradictions of that.
Last edited by matrixschmatrix on Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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