The way David Fincher directs movies has been well documented, but what about the way David Fincher watches movies? Not surprisingly, Fincher is as much of a demanding and precise film viewer as he is film director. In a recent Fincher profile for The New York Times, the director’s close friends Brad Pitt and Steven Soderbergh provided a glimpse at what it’s like watching movies with the “Mank” filmmaker. Pitt and Fincher have worked together on three films (“Seven,” “Fight Club,” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and now regularly get together for movie nights.
“He’s one of the funniest [expletive] I’ve ever met,” Pitt told The Times about Fincher and their movie nights. “He’ll be muttering the whole time: ‘That shot works. That’s a bad handoff. Why would you go to the insert of the glove there? Stabilize!’ It’s like watching a football game with Bill Belichick.”
Soderbergh once got so overwhelmed by Fincher’s viewing habits that he had to escape the room. Fincher invited Soderbergh to his editing studio during the postproduction of Fincher’s 2002 thriller “Panic Room,” which gave Soderbergh a front row seat to Fincher’s precision.
“David had a laser pointer out, and he was circling this one section of a wall in the upper part of the frame, saying, ‘That’s a quarter of a stop too bright,’” Soderbergh said. “I had to leave the room. I had to go outside and take some deep breaths, because I thought, Oh, my God — to see like that? All the time? Everywhere? I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
“Benjamin Button,” Fincher and Pitt’s last collaboration together, opened in theaters December 2008, but the two have reunited in surprising ways in the decade-plus since the release. Pitt revealed earlier this year that Fincher played a role in coming up with all the jokes that Pitt included in his awards season speeches for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which won him accolades from the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and the Oscars. As Pitt told Variety, “My man Fincher, we trade barbs every week.”
Next up for Fincher is his passion project “Mank,” which is now playing in select theaters ahead of its December 4 streaming launch on Netflix. Pitt is tapped to star alongside Emma Stone in Damian Chazelle’s “Babylon” and lead the action vehicle “Bullet Train.”