The Problem With Modern Movies, Explained By David Fincher

With his new Netflix series Mindhunter creating quite a stir, David Fincher seems to be everywhere lately, expounding on both the show and his career. Over the course of the Mindhunter promotional tour, Fincher took time to point out the problems with modern movies. And since he's very good at what he does, his is an opinion probably worth listening to.

David Fincher doesn't seem to be a fan of superhero movies. Which puts him at a bit of a disadvantage, since that's seemingly the only thing Hollywood wants to produce right now. Smaller character driven movies are few and far between, and when they arrive they're almost never financed by big studios, but rather by smaller independent companies.

In an interview with Financial Times (via The Playlist), Fincher talks a bit about the eternal struggle to push for smaller, more character-driven movies in a world obsessed with big studio tentpole cinema:

"Look, many people at studios are still fighting the good fight. There are executives there who are friends of mine. But if you want to make studio movies, you stay in their lanes, which are romantic comedy, affliction Oscar bait, Spandex summer, superhero tentpole, moderately budgeted sequel."

This struggle within the studio system has made Fincher adaptable, and more willing to give places like Netflix a chance. "I see Netflix as people who are bold enough and interested enough to build a playground between film and television," he says in the interview. "And that playground can be a safe haven for adult drama, which has been squeezed out of the multiplex."

With Netflix, Fincher has executive produced both House of Cards and the brand new Mindhunter, which also finds Fincher directing 4 of the 10 episodes of season one. While Mindhunter dabbles in the world of serial killers, it's less a thriller and more of a character piece. There are no chases, no fights. Instead, it's scene after scene of characters sitting in rooms having frequently intense conversations. This concept may seem like an anomaly now, but there was a time when Hollywood was all for this type of entertainment, as Fincher makes clear:

"There's no time for character in movies...Look at All The President's Men — everything is character. Now, movies are about saving the world from destruction. There aren't a lot of scenes in movies, even the ones I get to make, where anyone gets to muse about the why. It's mostly the ticking clock. And in this show it's hard to find the ticking clock. But the thing is: I don't care if the whole scene is five pages of two people in a car sipping coffee from paper cups as long as there's a fascinating power dynamic and I learn something about them. And I do not care if the car is doing somewhere between 25 and 35 miles per hour."

Fincher doesn't seem to have much hope for the future, closing out the interview saying, "The cinema isn't dead. It just does something different. The place is still filled with kids, it's just they're all on their phones. It's a social event like a bonfire, and the movie is the bonfire." It's a bit of a downbeat interview overall, but it's hard to argue with what Fincher is saying. And it's worth noting that the acclaimed filmmaker behind serious dramas like Zodiac and Seven is also fine with finding ways to work within the blockbuster movie machine every now and then. After all, he's still expected to direct World War Z 2.

Mindhunter is streaming on Netflix now.