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To become DAVID FINCHER or STANLEY KUBRICK?


Michael Ryan
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Hello All,

 

 

A few weeks ago I viewed the documentary STANLEY KUBRICK: A LIFE IN PICTURES. I have always thought of Kubrick as one of the best directors in film history. I have not always enjoyed his films, but I have always realized the ?importance? of each film. And as I grow older, some films that I revisit I have found myself enjoying them with ?different eyes?.

 

So this is my question to all those new, aspiring directors out there. Is it in your soul to become David Fincher or rather Stanley Kubrick?

 

Both are good directors. However, for me they both represent completely different ends of the creative universe. For me, Fincher is all about the here and now. The BMW, the A list Hollywood party. The goal of a big weekend box office. The celebration and the exploitation of the dark side of humanity (listen to his audio commentary on SEVEN). For me, he is the fast food for our minds.

 

Stanley Kubrick. For me, Kubrick wasn?t about the A list. He wasn?t about the Hollywood party. His films were about the human journey. I believe he made films that were the celebration of what he had in his heart and mind...and those thoughts either connected with the weekend box office or did not. Kubrick didn?t exploit the dark side, but rather explored and tried to enlighten us (FULL METAL JACKET, EYES WIDE SHUT).

 

Both are very good directors. Both have made great films. But they do represent two totally different directions in filmmaking.

 

To those directors out there I think you should look inside and find what it is that you would like to become and not just follow the popular trend.

 

In any event, what are your thoughts.

 

 

Mike

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In order to become like either of these filmmakers, i.e. enjoying the success they did for the work they did, I am of the firm opinion that you'd need to employ time travel. Movies such as theirs simply don't have the mainstream draw that existed then.

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Early in Stanley Kubrick's career he was very much an A-list hollywood director, who married one of his stars and no doubt partied in LA, it was after all the 60's. I think while there are obviously differences between them I am surprised that you would choose these two directors who I think have far more in common than other younger directors I can think of. Especially if you consider their ability to use bleeding edge technology to create their films and that they both started as photographers and cameramen.

I don't think kubrick or fincher make popcorn movies at all and I don't think fincher makes "fast food for our minds" Also Kubrick was very interested in the darker side of the human mind, look at jack in the shining or humbert in Lolita or any character in Full Metal Jacket bar the photographer. On top of that he was a very successful box office director which is why warner brothers poured 10s of millions of dollars into his films. He was very aware of his audience which is also why he had so much control over the marketing of his films.

As far as finchers films being about the here and now, well one thing I really like about his films is that they may seem to be set in the here and now (except alien 3) but they are fully realized new worlds, quiet unlike "reality" or what we see around us.

I hardly think there is a fight in the minds of young directors to go down these two "divergent" paths. There must be a better example or analogy.

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Movies such as theirs simply don't have the mainstream draw that existed then.

Huh? Fincher is about as contemporary as it gets.

 

More polar opposites in each direction would probably be Spielberg and Tarkovsky; Spielberg being cited as the number one highest grossing film director of all time, and Tarkovsky contending that the moment a director considers his audience at all, his film no longer is his own work of art, but only a commercial response to what the audience wants to see.

 

On a side note, I think Kubrick's greatest film is 2001, though oddly enough, Tarkovsky dismissed it, saying that true art must address man's moral condition. However, the several references within the film to Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," such as Strauss' song "Also Sprach Zarathustra," the theme of evolution, and the child at the end (a reference to 'the three metamorphoses'; first part of Zarathustra) lead me to believe the film does say something about man's moral condition - namely, that with the coming of the Ubermensch (Superman), morals are a thing that will be "overcome."

 

Anyway I prefer Kubrick's films to Fincher's...so I guess Kubrick...but I'm a firm believer that everyone ought to do his own thing, and I think there are still countless new things to be done. Kind of the Heraclitus idea that "you can't step into the same river twice."

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I don't think even Fincher or Kubrick planned to become who they eventually became. Besides, it's like asking what type of success do you plan on achieving, as if you had a lot of control over that aspect. Kubrick only gained his artistic freedom through the box office successes of "Spartacus" (which proved to the studios that he could be trusted with a large budget), "Lolita" and "Dr. Strangelove." Without those movies, he would not have been allowed to make the others that followed.

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I think Fincher is a lot closer in style to Kubrick than any other director. That meticulous blocking and framing and obsessive re-takes - the swiss perfectionism. Also that cool distance they share.

 

I think Fincher himself said it best when describing the differences in style between Spielberg and Kubrick: if Spielberg had to show a wino getting beat up in alley, the audience/camera would have been the wino. Whereas if Kubrick would have shot the same scene, the camera would have been looking on from a distance without participating.

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So this is my question to all those new, aspiring directors out there. Is it in your soul to become David Fincher or rather Stanley Kubrick?

If it's in your soul to become like "somebody else", then you'll have nothing original to contribute to filmmaking, and therefore have nothing in common with the above examples.

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"I think both suck and that Michael Bay is a much better director than any of them."

 

The Rock

Armageddon

Bad Boys

Pearl Harbor

The Island

 

Better movies than...

 

Lolita

Dr Strangelove

2001

Barry Lyndon

A Clockwork Orange

Full Metal Jacket

 

?? I don't know about that... of course I'm biased, as Lolita is prob my favorite film.

 

I think it's great to look up to and be inspired by such great directors. That's why most of us do what we do, we saw a film and were inspired to make films. The trick is using what inspired you to create your own voice and your own ideas. There's absolutely nothing wrong with trying to emulate your heroes in the beginning, it's one way to learn. Soon you develop your own interests and ideas and become your own person. This is a Utopian ideal, of course, but one to strive for.

 

Also, I would love to have Kubrick's attention to detail, he doesn't miss anything. The man was neurotic as hell, but the movies were that much better. Fincher is a fine director as well. I really loved Fight Club on so many levels. I wouldn't place him anywhere near Kubrick though. Just my .02

Edited by Joseph Winchester
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It's best to leave Kubrick alone. He's one of filmdom's true originals. Those who try to emulate his style usually meet with disaster, as Spielberg did with A.I.

 

In a similar way, a lot of screenwriters waste a lot of time trying to immitate Preston Sturges. Can't be done. Move along.

 

Fincher can be copied. The question is why you'd want to? Fincher himself is a copy of Ridley Scott, who is himself annotating a lot of Kubrick's work. (Alien/Blade Runner:2001, Duellists:Barry Lyndon, Gladiator:Spartacus, Matchstick Men:Lolita.)

 

A copy of a copy of a copy = Bore-ing.

 

Zodiac was 2 hours and 40 minutes I'll never have back.

 

R.I.P. Stanley Kubrick. And I'll take Sir Ridley over Fincher any day of the week.

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Hello All,

 

The point of my original question was to make those who would want to become directors to stop and think for a moment.

 

Is it really all about the German car and the house off Sunset Blvd? Or is it really about something more?

 

There is nothing wrong with directors like Michael Bay. After all a popcorn salesman is an honest profession.

 

What is it that you want to add to the history of motion pictures? Ask yourself now. Because after you have directed AMERICAN PIE PART 8 it will be too late.

 

Hollywood is a game to be sure. Some, like Kubrick, could play much better than others.

 

When director Frank Capra made IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE I'm sure he wanted a hit. I'm sure he wanted big press. But I think in the end you have to step back and look at the big picture. It doesn't really matter now...some 60 years later...if IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE was a big hit or got Capra invited to all the best Hollywood parties. That moment has passed for that film and it's players a very long time ago. What's important now is that it can still touch your heart and soul. And it will keep touching the hearts and souls of those who have not even been born yet. Capra has done his job well. He has added his voice, an important voice to the human journey.

 

Michael Bay and David Fincher will make lots of money for shareholders and they will be the cause of some grand parties...but they will be forgotten.

 

Think about the path you would like to take now. Don't just drift.

 

Don't get me wrong, the Bay's and the Fincher's of the world are good at what they do. However, does the world really need more of the same?

 

 

Mike

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It's best to leave Kubrick alone. He's one of filmdom's true originals. Those who try to emulate his style usually meet with disaster, as Spielberg did with A.I.

 

I don't feel that Spielberg was attempting to emulate Kubrick with AI, in fact, many of the interviews he gave around that time testify to that. He was merely attempting to finish a project that Kubrick had started( and everyone has an opinion on the success or failiure of that one)

For absolute emulation of Kubrick one has to look no farther than Jonathon Glazers' "Birth"

 

 

Fincher himself is a copy of Ridley Scott, who is himself annotating a lot of Kubrick's work. (Alien/Blade Runner:2001, Duellists:Barry Lyndon, Gladiator:Spartacus, Matchstick Men:Lolita.)

 

A copy of a copy of a copy = Bore-ing.

I can't begin to express the problems I have with that quote, but - this being the internet, I'm gonna try anyway. :)

 

First off, the inference that Scott is attempting to emulate the career of Kubrick. You quite conveniently forget any of Scotts' films that dont fall into your analogy and, more importantly, fail to see that both emotionally & visually, they are utterly different in their directing styles.

Whilst some of Scotts' earlier work was criticized as being 'cold' emotionally, he freely admits to that being a side-effect of his inexperience with directing actors. The lack of emotion apparent in Kubricks' direction is much more a product of his tendency block, shoot and edit in much more objective style, slightly removed from the action and emotion of the characters.

 

Second, the assertion that Fincher is copying Scott... Why? Because both directors have a reputation for being very exacting visually? Would that it were that more directors looked upon that aspect of the craft with an equal level of concentration, we would ALL find ourselves more challenged professionally.

Finchers' work has been mostly modern urban, a setting which Scott( looking at his resume and the relative success of his individual films) obviously feels less at ease with..... And AGAIN, their visual style is markedly different. Their blocking, choreography, lens choices & lighting preferences are very distinct and quite different in tone.

 

The only similarity seems to be in the level of control they exert over every individual aspect of their films: Art direction, costume, sound, editing, even visual effects- to the extent that, even without credits , their films are both quite obviously products of their particular aesthetic and dramatic styles

 

Having a certain stamp to ones work is not a failing, especially given the current standard of feature direction nowadays.... what you rather watch? A Fincher or Scott movie?.....Or something directed by Brett Ratner?

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Michael Bay and David Fincher will make lots of money for shareholders and they will be the cause of some grand parties...but they will be forgotten.

 

Think about the path you would like to take now. Don't just drift.

 

Don't get me wrong, the Bay's and the Fincher's of the world are good at what they do. However, does the world really need more of the same?

 

You're lumping Fincher with Bay? There's no range between Kubrick and Bay -- you're either at one end or the other? No room for a Sidney Pollack, let's say, or a George Roy Hill or a Woody Allen? Either you're a cinematic genius or a commercial hack?

 

I'm a huge Kubrick fan but I don't think it's fair to say that some young person who wants to be the next David Fincher is somehow aiming low. It's not like that said they want to be the next Brent Ratner...

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It's an interesting question. I mostly work as a commercial director/dp and I ask myself all the time how long I can keep doing this before I start doing something of substance. Obviously a paycheck and working in the field is important and a great way to cut your teeth and pay the dues, but ultimately that's not why I got into all this. I suppose you have to keep working in order for that inspiration/dream project to come along, but to be completely honest, in ten years if I'm still doing the same thing, I will probably look into some other kind of work.

 

Not to be completely harsh towards the work I do now, but it's commercials. A lot of fun can be had while making them, but they have no longevity and ultimately promote a product, not an idea or philosophy.

 

I'm sure a lot of people have wrestled with this. Obviously it takes a lot of luck to have it all work out the way you'd like.

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I had a good friend who was a great guitar player and a dam good musician as well. One day we were debating different points of style generally waxing profane :)... when he told me, ( and I don't know for sure if this is true ) that Carlos Santana wanted to be able to play like Jimi Hendrix but in the end he had to play guitar the way Carlos Santana plays guitar.

 

It is better to be inspired by the masters than to try and be like the masters.

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Hello Chad,

 

I would encourage you to start thinking about making a short film. I have interviewed several small format filmmakers who have made really interesting and worth while short films for under $2.000 dollars. These filmmakers have poured their soul and their time into these projects. The results have been outstanding. It's really amazing what you can do when you have the will.

 

These short films have only been seen by a few thousand people and will never have the press of ZODIAC...but, in the end, success is not always measured by the amount of zeros in a bank statement.

 

Mike

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You're lumping Fincher with Bay? There's no range between Kubrick and Bay -- you're either at one end or the other? No room for a Sidney Pollack, let's say, or a George Roy Hill or a Woody Allen? Either you're a cinematic genius or a commercial hack?

 

I'm a huge Kubrick fan but I don't think it's fair to say that some young person who wants to be the next David Fincher is somehow aiming low. It's not like that said they want to be the next Brent Ratner...

And to be quite honest, as great as Kubrick is, he's hardly the pinnacle of that far end of the spectrum of cinematic genius, nor is bay at the far end of commercial hack (though I really dislike Bay's films....really, really dislike them). There have been plenty of better and more influential filmmakers than kubrick, some of who are alive and working today (Godard...perhaps Kieslowski, as Kubrick called his Dekalog "the only masterpiece I have seen in my lifetime")...just as there have been plenty bigger hacks (thoguh probably not currently working). I also don't see where this comparison is being derived from. I really can't find striking similarities in thier styles or content.

Edited by Robert Lachenay
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