Friday, July 18, 2008

Profile: David Fincher

One of contemporary cinema's most dazzling visual stylists whose dark vision of human nature colors his images, David Fincher knew he was going to be a director at the tender age of eight when he began experimenting with an 8mm camera. The sight of neighbor George Lucas picking up his paper in the morning helped demystify the process too, proving that ordinary people made the magic happen. Filmmaking seemed the perfect outlet for a kid who could spend all day drawing and loved to make sculptures, take pictures and tape-record stuff. Fincher eschewed the film school route, getting a job loading cameras and doing other hands-on work for an animation company. He next finagled a position with Lucas' esteemed special effects production company, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), when he was only 18, and stayed there for four years, learning the trade from the ground up and earning some screen credits, including one for matte work on "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984).

Fincher, however, was not cut out for technical subservience. As he told the New York Times (September 2, 1997), "I have problems with authority, and I'm definitely not a team player. I.L.M. was very team-oriented. But it was a good place to try things out." He left the company to helm TV commercials, shooting his first one for the American Cancer Society, a grim hint of things to come showing a fetus smoking a cigarette. Though he would go on to direct spots for Revlon, Converse, Nike, Pepsi and Levi's, Fincher soon discovered that the slightly expanded format of music videos was an even better place to try things out. As a founder of Propaganda Films in 1986, he quickly took that company to the top of the field, helming memorable rock videos for Don Henley ("The End of the Innocence"), Paula Abdul ("Straight Up,” "Cold Hearted"), Billy Idol ("L.A. Woman") and Aerosmith ("Janie's Got a Gun"). He did some of his best work for Madonna, creating a sleek noir world of muscle hunks, black cats and bondage for "Express Yourself" (1989) and staging the equally memorable "Vogue" (1990), with its gorgeous black-and-white photography evoking a variety of movie divas of yore, slickly edited to Madonna's pop appropriation of the "vogue" dancing of Harlem's drag queens.

Having always wanted to direct science-fiction movies, Fincher jumped at the chance to make his feature debut with "Alien3" (1992), naively assuming Fox would let him make the movie he had pitched to get the job. He soon learned that his music video skirmishes had not prepared him for the all-out war of piloting a lucrative franchise previously steered by Ridley Scott and James Cameron. With the shooting script a scant 45 pages on Day 1, he knew he was in trouble but soldiered on when his agent told him he'd never work again if he quit, remaining allies with star Sigourney Weaver throughout while clashing repeatedly with studio executives nervous about their jobs. Individual sequences had much to recommend them, and Fincher sustained his dark visual assurance over a full-length film, but too much interference from higher-ups worried about production costs and trying to imitate past formulas resulted in a less-than-stellar release. Doubting he would ever direct another feature, Fincher returned to music videos, earning a Grammy for the Rolling Stone's "Love Is Strong" (1994).

Fincher kept reading screenplays though, and one finally crossed his desk that excited him from beginning to end. Unlike "Alien3,” "Seven" (1995) was a coherent script by Andrew Kevin Walker without any baggage, and the director pulled no punches delivering an extraordinarily gripping, unrelenting story of a serial killer murdering his victims according to the seven deadly sins. Dark, moody and malicious, it was unsettling from its mind-bending opening credits straight through to its downbeat ending which Fincher had fought to keep, informing reluctant producer Arnold Kopelson: "Forty years from now, nobody's gonna remember you and nobody's gonna remember Brad Pitt, but they're gonna be talking about a bad guy delivering the good guy's head in a box. Nobody's going to forget that." (From Entertainment Weekly, September 19, 1997). Often only the flashlights of the two detectives could penetrate the gloom of its inky-black darkness (a trick Fincher first used in Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun"), and many critics dismissed the picture as murky and pretentious. Audiences, however, did not agree. Almost overnight, on the strength of its overwhelming box office, Hollywood's favorite whipping boy became arguably the town's hottest director.

Next came "The Game" (1997), a nightmarish, "Twilight Zone"-style thriller which projected the same sense of suffocating enclosure and mounting despair as had "Seven.” The sterile universe of ruthless tycoon Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) spirals out of control when he accepts the invitation of his younger brother (Sean Penn) to indulge in an unusual "entertainment,” courtesy of the mysterious Consumer Recreation Services. Sucked into a vortex of paranoia and uncertainty, Van Orton eventually wakes up somewhere in Latin America as a penniless nobody and spends the rest of the film trying to get to the bottom of things. Admittedly a stunning technical achievement, audiences still found the movie a little too coolly cerebral, and after a strong first week, word-of-mouth kept the crowds away. With "Fight Club" (1999), Fincher latched on to his most disturbing material yet, delivering an adrenaline-charged satire sending-up both corporate-consumer culture and the men's movement. The complacent, well-ordered world of Edward Norton comes apart when he encounters the destabilizing force of Brad Pitt, who prescribes brutality and mayhem as an antidote to the inauthenticity and mediocrity of modern life. Whether zeitgeist item or cult movie, "Fight Club" is pure Fincher, an inventive and bold visual display that begs the question: "What's next?”

Fincher answered with a gimmicky, but standard thriller, “Panic Room” (2002), starring Jodie Foster as a newly-divorced mom confined to a built-in panic room with her daughter (Kristen Stewart) when three burglars (Jared Leto, Forest Whitaker and Dwight Yoakam) break in and begin to terrorize the seemingly defenseless inhabitants while trying to find a secret stash hidden inside the house. Fincher relied heavily on fantastic images and camera moves—flying through keyholes, snaking along wires inside walls—amplifying the visual palette, but neglecting other crucial elements, namely character development and emotional depth. The director faced several problems during production—the original lead was supposed to be played by Nicole Kidman, but she left after 20 days of shooting because of a knee injury suffered on her previous film, “Moulin Rouge” (2001). With a pending actor’s strike on the horizon, Foster jumped aboard and played the role with her typical intensity. During filming, however, Foster informed Fincher that she was pregnant with her second child, making the long and physical shoot more demanding. Reshoots were scheduled so Foster could give birth—her stomach was too big to cover in some scenes. Despite all the production problems, “Panic Room” opened to favorable reviews and ultimately took in close to $100 million in domestic box office.

Fincher’s next film, the long-awaited “Zodiac” (2007), returned to familiar territory, tackling the famed Zodiac Killer, who was credited with five grisly murders in the Bay Area during the late-1960s. An elusive killer who reveled in taunting the media and police, The Zodiac’s identity was never discovered, while several other similar murderers were loosely—but not officially—attributed to him, adding an interesting twist to a genre sorely in need of innovation. The movie, though not highly appreciated as Seven or Fight Club, did introduce Fincher to the elite Cannes selection list for the Golden Palm.

As Fincher made the media rounds for Zodiac, he was deep into production on the New Orleans-set The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, an adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald story of the same name that reunited him with Brad Pitt, and co-starred Pitt's onscreen spouse from Babel, Cate Blanchett. The story revolves around a man born in the early twentieth century who ages backwards, causing complications when he falls in love with a 30 year old woman. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was originally slated for release in May of 2008, but was pushed back to November 26, 2008. The release date has since been moved to December 19, 2008.

* Born:
May 10, 1962 in Colorado
* Job Titles:
Film director, Commercial director, Music video director

* Daughter: Phelix Imogen Fincher. born in April 1994; mother, Donya Fiorentino
* Father: Jack Fincher. worked as a writer and bureau chief for Life magazine

* Ashland High School, Ashland, Oregon

* 1984 Left ILM to begin making commercials
* 1985 Made first commercial, a spot for the American Cancer Society which showed a fetus smoking (date approximate)
* 1986 Co-founded Propaganda Films with Steve Golin
* 1992 Feature directorial debut, "Alien3"
* 1994 Earned a Grammy for helming the Rolling Stones' music video "Love Is Strong"
* 1995 Had surprise box office success with the psychological thriller, "Seven" starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt
* 1997 Helmed third feature, "The Game", starring Michael Douglas and produced by Golin
* 1999 Helmed "Fight Club," a screen adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel of the same name starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton
* 2001 Executive produced a series of short film advertisements for BMW shown over the Internet at
* 2002 Directed the thriller, "Panic Room" starring Jodie Foster
* 2005 Executive Produced "Lords of Dogtown" a feature film based on the Documentry "Dogtown and Z-Boys"
* 2007 Helmed "Zodiac," an adaptation of Robert Graysmith's books about the hunt for the Zodiac Killer starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr.
* Directed music videos for Madonna, Michael Jackson, Rolling Stones and Nine Inch Nails
* Entered the film industry by getting a job with an animation company loading cameras
* Will helm "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," an adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's short story of the same name (lensed 2007)
* Worked at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), George Lucas' special effects production company

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Se7en is a very complex and deep movie, while also being quite disturbing. Andrew Kevin Walker created one of the most original spec screenplays of all time, but it is the kind of story traditionally used more as a writing sample than actually made into a movie. But the creative team of director David Fincher believed in this extremely dark, uncompromising story, and made it just the way Walker wrote it.

The story revolves around two extremely well-drawn characters, David Mills (Brad Pitt) and William Somerset (Morgan Freeman). In one sense their relationship is the ultimate cliché -- the old veteran cop paired up with the brash rookie (though Mills is not actually a rookie, just new to the unnamed city where the movie takes place). But the contrast between these two characters is played out not for laughs or cheap drama but as the real working out of a moral question. Somerset, the lonely, cynical older detective, cares about people but has seen too much of the dark side of life to have much hope for society. Mills is not as intelligent as Somerset (kudos to Pitt for being willing to play a character that frequently looks foolish), and he lives by a simplistic belief in the power of law enforcement to change the world.

Throughout the movie, the two characters struggle with this conflict -- is human society basically rotten, and can one person do anything to make a difference? Somerset, an intelligent, well-read man, is smart enough to recognize the truth, however painful that is. Mills is the kind of person who has never truly questioned the simple "values" he was raised with. Somerset tries to educate him, tries to warn him, but ultimately fails.

In the end, it is only John Doe, the serial killer, who can teach Mills (and by extension the audience) the truth -- that this world is very often shockingly vicious and senselessly cruel. Doe and Somerset actually have similar views of society and the world, up to a point. But while Somerset still cares about his fellow human beings, Doe hates them, and takes out his rage in a series of gruesome murders based on the seven deadly sins.

This movie is about the investigation Mills and Somerset undertake of Doe's murders, his "sermon" to the world through serial killing. Ultimately, Mills and Somerset can only do so much to try to stop Doe; the killer always seems at least one step ahead of them, and stays that way until the very end of the movie. In a normal Hollywood film, Mills and Somerset would "win" in the end by catching Doe and setting the world right again. But Andy Walker had a quite different ending in mind, and Fincher and his team take the shocking conclusion all the way to the limit of tension and drama.

This movie, like Fincher's "Fight Club," was controversial for being violent and gruesome. Certainly there are a number of gruesome and disturbing images of murder victims' bodies, and many aspects of the story are very troubling, to say the least. But only one person is shown being killed on screen, and by far the worst of what happens in this story happens in the viewer's imagination. Unlike most films that have high levels of violence -- including, for example, Reservoir Dogs or Silence of the Lambs -- this movie genuinely attempts to grapple with the moral implications of what is being shown on screen. In direct contrast with, say Quentin Tarantino, who uses extreme violence for shock effect and to gain notoriety, Fincher actually shows less violence on screen and raises far more probing moral questions in the viewer's mind. I cannot think of any movie that contains as much genuine debate and discussion among the characters about crime and human morality as this one does -- while never becoming dull or preachy for a moment.

I cannot finish this review without a word about Mr. Fincher's extraordinary visual talents. This is a man who ranks with the top handful of directors of all time in his knowledge and grasp of film-making technique. Everything from set design to lighting, selection of film stock and processing techniques, camera movement, frame composition, and editing work together to create an entirely new level of visual brilliance. Fincher's use of technique brings to mind nothing more than the work of Steven Spielberg in the 1970s, the last time a director this extraordinary burst onto the Hollywood scene. A whole generation has passed since then, and there is a new wave of techniques and tools available to the filmmaker of the nineties. Fincher uses every one of these tools to their utmost. The technical work and supporting actors are uniformly superb. This is a movie that works on every level. Andy Walker, having written a mind-blowing screenplay, must have been stunned when he saw the finished film. This movie will rock you to the core.

Fight Club

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Undeniably one of the best films of the tremendous cinematic year that was 1999, David Fincher's Fight Club is a cultural landmark. Chuck Palahniuk's acerbic first novel (and still the best the 5 of his books that I've read) is visualized with Fincher's stylistic creativity and the result is a modern classic.

Edward Norton plays a white collar stiff, whose life is so nondescript that he is known only as The Narrator. He acknowledges that he is mired in shallow consumerism; a slave to the "IKEA nesting instinct." He is also an insomniac and can only find catharsis and sleep after sitting in on 12-step program meetings for dying people. This strategy fails, however, when Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) pulls the same stunt and ruins the reality that he has found. After an explosion that destroys the narrator's apartment, he moves in with soap salesmen and revolutionary Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). Together, they start an underground society in which men reject civilization and unleash their primal urges upon each other.

Fight Club is often described as anti-consumerism or anti-establishment. There are, however, two less talked about ideas that I take away from it. The first is the conflict between biology and society. Sitting on a bus, the protagonists see a rather gaudy advertisement for Gucci underwear. Durden asks derisively, "Is that what a man looks like?" I would argue that it is the insidious nature of the consumer culture, that it actually emasculates men by tapping into their male drives. It is the natural role of the male to be the hunter/gatherer, so buying things has become the modern incarnation of this. Another example of this interplay occurs when the narrator described how his father would leave his family to start a new one every six years. "Setting up franchises," says Durden. Interestingly, the behavior described here does approximate the behavior of human males, pre-civilization. The short average duration of modern marriages suggests the hard-wired nature of this behavior. The fight club, however, is an outright rejection of modern society, in which men revel in short bouts of non-lethal violence, perhaps as they were meant to. When these urges are bottled up, it may not be too much of a stretch to suggest that the result can be wars and genocide.

There are also, I believe, religious implications to the fight club and to Project Mayhem. Tyler Durden's philosophy seems to be part anarchism and part determinism, behaviorism and materialism (in the metaphysical sense; certainly not in the consumerist sense). He is about three parts B.F. Skinner and one part Henry David Thoreau. It is those facets of Skinner-type philosophy that are of the most interest to me and that Durden espouses most fervently. Like any good materialist, he utterly rejects the notion that human beings have any special worth. He extols to his followers: "You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else... We are all part of the same compost heap." Yet ironically, in supposedly freeing his followers from consumerism, he makes them slaves to his own purposes. They are shaved to become like the oft-mentioned sacrificial "space monkeys." They are removed of their names (this has a very anti-Christian feel to, since the having of and giving of names by humans is considered an important gift from God among the most meticulous followers of that religion). "Sooner or later we all became what Tyler wanted us to be," says the narrator. Durden also expropriates the idea of 'hitting bottom' as the beginning of salvation (the 12-step program is a fundamentally religious construct), further casting him as a sort of Anti-Christian. B.F. Skinner suggested that understanding the science of human behavior was the key to controlling that behavior benevolently. Similarly, Durden exerts control over his followers for what he believes are good ends. Whatever the merits of those ends, there is no doubt that Tyler, in some ways, becomes very much like the corporate fascists he despises.

Finally, Fight Club is a definitively 'male' movie. This is neither good nor bad, but it is undeniable. The character of Marla is entertaining, but almost entirely defined by her relationship to the two male protagonists. The picture would have almost worked without her. The idea of castration is presented as a deeply held male fear and is used skillfully throughout the movie. If we can take one thing away from this film, it would be the danger of denying the difference in biology between males and females. Males have a need for some level of violence and it is important that we have acceptable outlets for it. Conversely, it is interesting to take note of some of the ways in which society attempts to homogenize the sexes. Take the idea of "paternity leave" for new fathers - it's great in theory and it should certainly be an option, but I can almost guarantee that it will never become the norm, because it is a practice that is just so contrary to our deeply ingrained biological drives. To deny this is the height of naivety and will do no one any good.

Overall, Fight Club makes my top 10 list for superb acting (especially by Norton, the best American actor of his generation), great humor and satire and its excellent script, thanks largely to the excellent source material. To conclude, I'll quote the deterministic, yet strangely comforting words of Chuck Palahniuk, from near the end of Fight Club (the book): "We are not special. We are not crap or trash either. We just are. We just are, and what happens just happens."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Shawshank Redemption

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Can Hollywood, usually creating things for entertainment purposes only, create art? To create something of this nature, a director must approach it in a most meticulous manner, due to the delicacy of the process. Such a daunting task requires an extremely capable artist with an undeniable managerial capacity and an acutely developed awareness of each element of art in their films, the most prominent; music, visuals, script, and acting. These elements, each equally important, must succeed independently, yet still form a harmonious union, because this mixture determines the fate of the artist's opus. Though already well known amongst his colleagues for his notable skills at writing and directing, Frank Darabont emerges with his feature film directorial debut, The Shawshank Redemption. Proving himself already a master of the craft, Darabont managed to create one of the most recognizable independent releases in the history of Hollywood. The Shawshank Redemption defines a genre, defies the odds, compels the emotions, and brings an era of artistically influential films back to Hollywood.
The story begins with the trial of a young banker, Andy Dufrense, victimized by circumstantial evidence, resulting in a conviction for the murder of his wife and her lover. After a quick conviction, Andy finds himself serving a life sentence at Shawshank prison, with no hope of parole. He exists in this prison only in appearance, keeping his mind free from the drab walls around him. His ability to do this results in the gaining of respect from his fellow inmates, but most of all from Ellis Redding. Ellis, commonly referred to as Red, finds gainful use of his entrepreneurial spirit within the drab walls of Shawshank by dealing in contraband and commodities rare to the confines of prison. Andy's demeanor and undeniable sense of hope causes Red to take a deeper look at himself, and the world around him. Andy proves to Red and the other inmates that in the conventional walls of Shawshank prison convention will find no home in his lifestyle.
By creating the film's firm foundation, the meticulously chiseled screenplay paved the way for this film's success. Frank Darabont outdoes himself with the phenomenal adaptation of Stephen King's equally noteworthy novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. In this novella, King demonstrates that he can break free from the genre he dominates and still create a marvelous piece of modern literature. Though the film mirrors the novella in many ways, Darabont illustrates a focused objective of improving upon the areas where the novella came up short, resulting in one of the best book to film transitions ever.
While maintaining some of the poetic and moving dialogue of the novella, Darabont also proves that a film's score can generate a great deal of emotional response from its audience, as dialogue does. He employs the cunning Thomas Newman, son of the legendary Hollywood composer, Alfred Newman. Darabont shows recognition for the film's needs by employing Newman, who makes the gentle piano chords whisper softly to the viewer, as if a part of the scripted dialogue. Newman lends himself to individualism and tends to drive more towards the unique in the realm of score composition. His effort in Shawshank did not go unnoticed, as his score received an Oscar nomination in 1995. While unique and independent, Newman's score never once intrudes on your concentration or distracts from the film.
With work from vast array of talented scene designers, costume designers, composers, cinematographers, and various other Hollywood artists, the cast of The Shawshank Redemption had a strong foundation to work with. The marvelous cast of this film will dazzle you with some of the most convincing performances you will witness in a film. While both Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman shine as Andy and Red, respectively, the true spectacle of acting lies within the plethora of amazing supporting actors who easily disappear into their roles. Most noticeable of these, the veteran film star James Whitmore, who portrays the elderly Brooks Hatlen. Brooks, a man incarcerated for an unmentioned crime for so long that he finds himself attached to the Shawshank and the daily life he has lead. Each of these actors show a true dedication to their art, and a focused purpose in their motivations, creating a convincing setting that never once caters to anything unbelievable.
With all of the aesthetic touches and attention to cinematic detail, the most beautiful part of the film lies within its thematic material, such as its focus on the human desires for the most abstract concepts, like hope and freedom. These themes, which concern things the human spirit undoubtedly yearns for, seem so intricately woven into the plot that it easily draws its audience in to its story. Though full of hardened criminals, your heart will go out to these men as they display the most basic of human emotions, and deliver some of the most quotable lines in a film to date. Like a great novel, this film manages to succeed at greater things than simply entertaining an audience. Darabont tells his story most masterfully, illustrating principles and inspiring his audience to think. He leaves us a poignant film with a powerful message of hope, and redemption, something we all seek.
This film manages to redeem Hollywood in the eyes of people who feared it long lost in a dark sea of clichés and predictability. Darabont shows us that artists still work in the Hollywood studios and production facilities. These artists show their capability to produce art; real art that inspires you to look at the deeper aspects of life and the world around you. The Shawshank Redemption delivers much-needed breath of fresh air for anyone who realizes the capability of film. It proves that masters of the craft still live on this earth, and still bless us with timeless masterpieces that we will never forget....

In its Oscar year, Shawshank Redemption (written and directed by Frank Darabont, after the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, by Stephen King) was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and walked away with zero. Best Picture went to Forrest Gump, while Shawshank and Pulp Fiction were "just happy to be nominated." Of course hindsight is 20/20, but while history looks back on Gump as a good film, Pulp and Redemption are remembered as some of the all-time best. Pulp, however, was a success from the word "go," making a huge splash at Cannes and making its writer-director an American master after only two films. For Andy Dufresne and Co., success didn't come easy. Fortunately, failure wasn't a life sentence.
After opening on 33 screens with take of $727,327, the $25M film fell fast from theatres and finished with a mere $28.3M. The reasons for failure are many. Firstly, the title is a clunker. While iconic to fans today, in 1994, people knew not and cared not what a 'Shawshank' was. On the DVD, Tim Robbins laughs recounting fans congratulating him on "that 'Rickshaw' movie." Marketing-wise, the film's a nightmare, as 'prison drama' is a tough sell to women, and the story of love between two best friends doesn't spell winner to men. Worst of all, the movie is slow as molasses. As Desson Thomson writes for the Washington Post, "it wanders down subplots at every opportunity and ignores an abundance of narrative exit points before settling on its finale." But it is these same weaknesses that make the film so strong.
Firstly, its setting. The opening aerial shots of the prison are a total eye-opener. This is an amazing piece of architecture, strong and Gothic in design. Immediately, the prison becomes a character. It casts its shadow over most of the film, its tall stone walls stretching above every shot. It towers over the men it contains, blotting out all memories of the outside world. Only Andy (Robbins) holds onto hope. It's in music, it's in the sandy beaches of Zihuatanejo; "In here's where you need it most," he says. "You need it so you don't forget. Forget that there are places in the world that aren't made out of stone. That there's a - there's a - there's something inside that's yours, that they can't touch." Red (Morgan Freeman) doesn't think much of Andy at first, picking "that tall glass o' milk with the silver spoon up his ass" as the first new fish to crack. Andy says not a word, and losing his bet, Red resents him for it. But over time, as the two get to know each other, they quickly become the best of friends. This again, is one of the film's major strengths. Many movies are about love, many flicks have a side-kick to the hero, but Shawshank is the only one I can think of that looks honestly at the love between two best friends. It seems odd that Hollywood would skip this relationship time and again, when it's a feeling that weighs so much into everyone's day to day lives. Perhaps it's too sentimental to seem conventional, but Shawshank's core friendship hits all the right notes, and the film is much better for it.
It's pacing is deliberate as well. As we spend the film watching the same actors, it is easy to forget that the movie's timeline spans well over 20 years. Such a huge measure of time would pass slowly in reality, and would only be amplified in prison. And it's not as if the film lacks interest in these moments. It still knows where it's going, it merely intends on taking its sweet time getting there. It pays off as well, as the tedium of prison life makes the climax that much more exhilarating. For anyone who sees it, it is a moment never to be forgotten.
With themes of faith and hope, there is a definite religious subtext to be found here. Quiet, selfless and carefree, Andy is an obvious Christ figure. Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) is obviously modeled on Richard Nixon, who, in his day, was as close to a personified Satan as they come. But if you aren't looking for subtexts, the movie speaks to anyone in search of hope. It is a compelling drama, and a very moving film, perfectly written, acted and shot. They just don't come much better than this.
OVERALL SCORE: 9.8/10 = A+
The Shawshank Redemption served as a message of hope to Hollywood as well. More than any film in memory, it proved there is life after box office. Besting Forrest and Fiction, it ran solely on strong word of mouth and became the hottest rented film of 1995. It currently sits at #2 in the IMDb's Top 250 Films, occasionally swapping spots with The Godfather as the top ranked film of all time -- redemption indeed. If you haven't seen it yet, what the hell are you waiting for? As Andy says, "It comes down a simple choice, really. Either get busy living, or get busy dying."