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If there is one director who has consistently documented the fragmented and isolated experience of living in an American metropolis in the last 30 years it is David Fincher.  His camerawork and colouring are as important as his characters in highlighting the dark and unsettling nature of living in urban cities.  As the cold war ended, Fincher seems to be suggesting that the real terror is now hidden within the cities and the institutions that control us.  As the world has become smaller through globalization and the Internet, his films show how paranoid we have all become in finding a place in society.

He has also become an expert in representing the inevitable decline of Western masculinity – whether it is through the insecurity of bare-knuckle fighters; the reckless boredom of superrich business men; the inability of police to stop random brutality from serial killers; or bitter politicians acting revenge on a society that is slipping from their grasp – Fincher has created a body of work that always shows strong men getting outwitted, physically beaten and losing their minds.

His next project is the highly anticipated Gone GirlThe second season of House of Cards unfurls on Netflix today.


House Of Cards (2012)

First off we have a television series (Fincher produced the series and directed the first two episodes) that managed to set the tone for the Video On Demand revolution.  House of Cards was an updated American remake of a 1990s BBC television series that took viewers behind the scenes of Parliament with a Machiavellian politician who had been denied a presumed promotion.  The remake transposes the action to Washington and managed to reflect the vacuity and corruption of politics back to a hungry disenfranchised electorate.

Kevin Spacey stars as Francis Underwood, the House Majority Whip for the Democrats.  He feels that he has been snubbed after helping to elect the president and so begins to take action in order to get revenge by sabotaging and using key figures in the establishment for his own nefarious ambitions.

The series was the first major production to be funded by Netflix, who released all 13 episodes online simultaneously immediately creating an inventive impact in how it was received.  Audiences were given the option to watch it over a long period, or instead ‘binge’ it all in one go, which meant that critics didn’t know how to review it without revealing spoilers.  This innovative exhibition model has legitimized the viewing habits that modern digital audiences have had for years, legally or illegally viewing media on screen instead of through box sets.

In terms of tone, the series couldn’t have been released at a more perfect time in recent American history.  The comic dysfunctionality on display in the US congress gave the series extra bite, and with Fincher at the helms it contained a dark and cynical sense of humour that relished the imminent downfall of the powerful men in charge.  Underwood often makes monologues to camera, as did the BBC’s Ian Richardson,  in order to connect with the audience, a device that Fincher had used brilliantly in Fight Club, and by doing so manages to provide proof of the contempt and corruption that audiences had expected of politicians for years.

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