Fallenangels Management

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Let’s open this month’s roundup of new and noteworthy books with two handsome volumes from Abrams Books. In 2013, the publisher found it had a hit on its hands with The Wes Anderson Collection. Matt Zoller Seitz’s critical overview of the filmography, paired with playful illustrations by Max Dalton, has since become a series. The Grand Budapest Hotel appeared in 2015, and The French Dispatch is all set for a February 2022 release.

Vulture already has an excerpt in which Seitz talks with key grip Sanjay Sami, “Anderson’s resident miracle facilitator,” about the construction of a seventy-second tracking shot in which a writer played by Jeffrey Wright discusses the challenges of preparing meals for a police unit while walking at a fairly rapid clip through various rooms of the station in Ennui-sur-Blasé. Sami pulled off a seemingly impossible shot aboard a train in The Darjeeling Limited (2007) and has been working with Anderson ever since.


Sami “speculates that the totality of shots like this, created in collaboration with [cinematographer Robert] Yeoman, production designer Adam Stockhausen, and myriad cast and crew members, are the ultimate expression of Anderson’s increasingly animation-influenced aesthetic,” writes Seitz. Sami admits that there are “moments where we’re like, ‘That’s it—with this request, he’s lost his block,’” but “when you finally sit down to watch the full cut and you get to one of those scenes, you invariably think, ‘Oh my God—he was right.’”


In 2018, Abrams teamed up with critic Adam Nayman and the British magazine Little White Lies to produce a book with a magnificent subtitle, The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together, and Paul Thomas Anderson: Masterworks followed in 2020. Nayman’s latest, David Fincher: Mind Games, completes what he, talking to Sydney Urbanek, calls “a weird, very circumstantial trilogy . . . and maybe not unfortunately, but maybe a bit dubiously, they’re kind of a broteur trilogy.”


Urbanek is especially interested in talking with Nayman about Fincher’s work in the 1980s and ’90s as an in-demand and multiple-award-winning director of television commercials and music videos. “With Fincher,” says Nayman, “you do have that question of, Did an adman become an artist or did he just become an increasingly artful adman?” Nayman also talks with critic, filmmaker, and Fincher champion Kent Jones on the Film Comment Podcast, and in another terrific conversation, he and Nick Newman agree at the Film Stage that Fincher has had “a huge impact on visual culture without necessarily being a household name.”


As a feature filmmaker, is Fincher “a subversive auteur, a hypocritical stylist selling faux rebellion to the multiplexes, or all of the above?” asks Chuck Bowen at Slant. “This is the question driving David Fincher: Mind Games, and critic Adam Nayman plumbs deeper into the subject than any writer before him.” In an excerpt from the book at the Ringer, Nayman calls Se7en (1995) “a series of precise strokes—its pace as finely calibrated as the metronome in [Detective] Somerset’s study, its shocks as carefully curated as a museum retrospective.” Literary Hub, too, has an excerpt: “In Alien 3 [1992] and The Game [1997], Fincher cloaked his anti-establishment attitudes in the vestments of genre, but Fight Club [1999] is so explicit about its provocations that they graduate from subtext to subject, with mixed if vivid results.”