Saturday, January 26, 2013

Se7en (1995)

WHO: Kyle Cooper designed the celebrated opening-credit sequence of David Fincher's second feature film.

WHAT: Se7en is an emotionally-draining, police-procedural structured horror movie that upped the ante for the serial killer genre a few years after the Oscar-sweeping Silence of the Lambs. There's no doubt that the unsettling opening-credits sequence did much to set the then-unique, but since often-imitated mood of the film. These titles also marked the first time many viewers (including me) took notice of scratching-on-film and other techniques associated with the world of experimental film, and its practitioners like Norman McLaren, Isadore Isou, and Stan Brakhage. Contrary to popular belief, Brakhage was pleased with the intentional homage to his work, and later praised Fincher as a director, calling Se7en "the most serious morality play I have seen on the screen since Orson Welles' Touch of Evil or The Trial. To learn more about how Cooper and Fincher arrived at these credits, check out this article and this video, but be warned that the latter reveals at least one late-in-the-movie surprise.

WHERE/WHEN: At the Pacific Film Archive. Ticket will say 8:00 PM, but the film will actually begin around 9:00 after an in-person discussion with Cooper.

UPDATE: I JUST LEARNED THAT KYLE COOPER WILL BE UNABLE TO ATTEND TONIGHT'S SCREENING AFTER ALL. FILM WILL STILL RUN, AT 9PM.

WHY: That's right, Kyle Cooper will be on hand at the PFA screening tonight. How often do we get to discuss the art of motion picture title design with one of the most respected people working in the field? I can't recall it happening here recently. I hope that among the topics discussed will be the issue of appropriating imagery that serves a wholly non-narrative purpose to a fictional arena, in which it helps emphasize the fractured state of mind of a deranged character. (Experimental techniques are most frequently imported into mainstream cinema to aid representation of insanity or intoxication.) I don't know if Cooper sees himself as an experimental artist working in a mainstream setting, or a popular artist borrowing from the underground, but this should be a fascinating discussion and a perfect appetizer to seeing a rare 35mm projection of a seminal work of 1990s Hollywood. For those of us waiting for the new SF Cinematheque calendar to get under way later this week, this screening may be a perfect tide-over. And perhaps some Se7en fans who don't know Brakhage, et. al. will be inspired by the event to check out a world of filmmaking well worth exploring.

HOW: 35mm print from Warner Brothers.

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