Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Famous Director's First Theatrical Movies, Part 7

Welcome to the seventh installment of the series, Famous Director’s First Theatrical Movies.  Today we look at the first movies of Wes Anderson, David Fincher, and Spike Lee.  Wes Anderson is known for his quirky, visually beautiful movies, David Fincher’s movies are varied and distinct, and Spike Lee’s movies are known for their sharp racial commentary.  Let’s check out the first movies of these famous directors.
                Wes Anderson is known for the films The Royal Tenenbaums, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel.  In 1994, Anderson made a short film titled Bottle Rocket with Owen Wilson and Luke Wilson.  The short film’s success at Sundance led them to contact with James L. Brooks and Polly Platt, the latter of whom served as producer on the feature film, Bottle Rocket. Polly Platt helped Anderson and the Wilson brothers secure financing from Columbia Pictures.  Bottle Rocket the feature film was released in 1996 and filmed entirely in Texas.  In Bottle Rocket, three friends, Anthony (Luke), Dignan (Owen) and Bob (Robert Musgraves) have a 75-year plan for several heists and live off the money from the robberies.  After they rob a bookstore and stop at a motel, Dignan falls in love with Inez, one of the hotel maids, decides to give Inez most of the money they stole…. While a critical success, Bottle Rocket, which was made for $7 million, only made $560,069 at the box office in 49 theaters. 
                David Fincher has directed such varied movies as Seven, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network and Gone Girl.  In the early 1990s, Fincher was a co-founder of Propaganda Productions and had successfully directed music videos and commercials.  Meanwhile, Alien had a troubled pre-production, going through several writers and directors.  After Vincent Ward was fired from production, Fincher was asked to direct Alien 3.  During production, he clashed with the studio, 20th Century Fox, over the script and budget issues, and did much of the rewriting on the script.  Like James Cameron in Piranha 2, Fincher said that the producers did not have “the necessary trust” in him.  Ellen Ripley, the hero from the last two films, crashes in an escape pod on Fiorina “Fury” 161, a foundry made by a penal colony.  Everyone else from the escape pod is dead, and Ripley fears an alien embryo was inside someone from the escape pod.  An alien bursts out of a dog on the ship and starts attacking members of the Fury 161, forcing Ripley to battle the Alien once again.  The movie received mixed to negative reviews from critics (44% on Rotten Tomatoes), but grossed $149.8 million worldwide, thanks to a strong international box office (it only grossed $55.4 million in the US). 
                Spike Lee is known for such films as Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, The Original Kings of Comedy, 25th Hour, and Inside Man.  After releasing his student film, Joe Bed-Study Barbershop: We Cut Heads in 1983, Spike Lee set to make his first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It, in 1985.  Spike Lee filmed on location in the African-American neighborhood of Fort Green, Brooklyn for two weeks with a budget of $170,000.  The story concerns Nola, who freely dates three men at the same time, Jamie, Greer, and Mars.  Eventually, all three find out and Jamie lays down an ultimatum: he wants to be the only lover.  It should be noted that a controversial scene makes light of rape, which Spike Lee later regretted.  Still, the movie was well regarded by critics for its depiction of a vibrant African-American community, not stereotypes as pimps and drug dealers.  The movie made $7 million at the box office.
                Spike Lee and Wes Anderson, filmmakers with unique visions, both made movies that showed their emerging talent.  David Fincher, like James Cameron before him, was given a sequel where studios and producers put too much influence on the movie and it suffered as a result.  Here are the first theatrical movies of Wes Anderson, David Fincher, and Spike Lee.
                Schedule note: I will be taking next week off. Have a great Thanksgiving!

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