Friday, May 17, 2013

937. Fight Club (1999)


Running Time: 139 minutes
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Jim Uhls, from novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Main Cast: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Jared Leto, Meatloaf
Click here to view the trailer

I AM JACK'S NOD OF APPROVAL

You know, I probably shouldn't even be writing this. I was told, during the course of this movie, that the first two rules of Fight Club are: You DO NOT talk about Fight Club! Oh well, as long as everybody agrees to keep it on the "D.L.", I think I'm safe.

First and foremost, before I even attempt to write a plot synopsis on "Fight Club", know that Edward Norton is the Narrator and that his character is never given an official name. Therefore, I'll simply be calling him the Narrator. Kay? Now then...The whole story is told in flashback, with the audience seeing the end of the movie first and then being told basically the entire story, by the Narrator. We begin with the Narrator (Norton) and his inability to sleep. He's your pretty basic guy. He's got a nine to five office job, he's a slave to the Ikea catalogs and he has a pretty decent looking apartment. It's just that he can't sleep and despite going to doctor's, they all refuse to give him anything to help him. Then, he gets involved with support groups intended for people with terminal illnesses (testicular cancer, blood parasites, etc.). The Narrator doesn't have any of these illnesses, but going to the meetings allows him to feel SOMETHING and that allows him to sleep. He's going pretty good for a while, until he meets Marla Singer (Carter), who is also a support group faker, someone who tours the different illness groups, for one reason or another, without actually having the illnesses. With Marla there, the Narrator can't focus the way he used to and confronts her. They agree to split up the meetings and to never see each other again. Even later, the Narrator meets Tyler Durden (Pitt), an opposite copy of the Narrator, who dresses different, acts different and looks different. They have a chance encounter on an airplane, where they sit next to one another and then depart...nothing special. When the Narrator arrives home that night, he finds that his apartment has blown up in a freak accident and for reasons unknown even to him, he calls Tyler (they exchanged business cards). Tyler agrees to let the Narrator stay with him and after a while they become pretty close. Eventually, the two invent and develop Fight Club, an underground, fighting league, which ultimately turns into Project Mayhem, a terrorist group.


SPOILER ALERT!!

The first time I saw "Fight Club", I didn't like it very much. Then again, I was probably a little to young to be seeing such a confusing film anyway, so that was probably my own fault. Later, after rewatching it several times, I grew fonder of it and ultimately, I really liked it. Now that I've said that, let me remind you of what this journey is doing to my personal film tastes: breaking them down and rebuilding them. Suffice it to say, that I still really do LIKE "Fight Club", but think that it's inclusion in the top ten of the IMDB Top 250 is a little ridiculous and even more ridiculous is the fact that Empire even included it as #10, in it's list of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All-Time". Sure, it's really good, it makes you think, it's got a lot of great camerawork and it's an all around good story, but it has its flaws too and under no circumstances is it THAT good. In fact, may I just take a moment to applaud THE BOOK, which didn't even give it a full page blurb or any photos (in my edition anyway). Kudos to them for not bowing to public opinion!


So what's going on here? Maybe you stumbled across this review because you've got questions, you seek answers or you just don't know what to think and want a little clarification on what you just watched. Well, we've got a man (Edward Norton) who has a name, but we never know it. Due to his intense lack of sleep, he begins to hallucinate and furthermore, goes so far as to create an altar ego: Tyler Durden. See, Tyler is everything that the Narrator isn't, that the Narrator wants to be. He's cool, he's independent, he's great in bed, he smokes, he's good looking, he wears a pretty sweet red leather jacket, etc. Most importantly, this altar ego doesn't bow to public opinion, consumerism and doesn't meet the expectations set upon him by society. He does his own thing and that's what works for him. The altar ego is a rebel, he makes things happen, he's got a plan. That plan is Project Mayhem, a plan that is going to give a great big FUCK YOU to corporate America, without really hurting anyone...anyone that matters anyway, in his opinion.

This movie made me think about a few things. The first thing it made me think about was the fact that you RARELY see any good man vs. self movies. We see man vs. man movies all the time, man vs. nature movies all the time and even man vs. society movies are a lot more prevalent than man vs. self. Okay, so I guess we see them in much milder forms, but if ever there were an example of man vs. self, then it is "Fight Club". The other thing the movie made me think about was how terrible things get started. What started as a mere group of guys who wanted to see if they could hold their own in a fight, ended up being a terrorist cell. How many fight clubs are being started right now? Maybe they aren't even fight clubs. In my town, we have a group of guys who meet at an abandoned grocery store parking lot and race their cars. They (supposedly) call themselves the "car club". What I'm getting at is how many groups of guys get together for seemingly harmless things and end up doing dastardly deeds? If you get enough people together, sooner or later, someone's going to suggest something that's a little out there and if that someone is popular enough, the whole group will surely chime in.


A man puts a loaded gun into his mouth and pulls the trigger, for the sole purpose of killing his imaginary friend. That's "Fight Club". It's a clever, intelligent story and we may never see anything again that is as innovative, unique or original as this...unless Charlie Kaufman has something to say about it. It's impossible to be a film fan and not like this movie and all I was stating by the above paragraph, is that it certainly does have it's flaws. I'm still convinced that there are plot holes in there somewhere...somehow, there's got to be! I'm not crazy about Edward Norton either and honestly, I'd go so far as to say that this is a Brad Pitt show, who easily one ups Norton. If you want a good Norton flick, go watch "American History X", because this isn't his hour in the spotlight. I'd also say that the film is just too long. My wife sat down to watch this with me and even having seen it before, decided to bow out at about the hour and a half mark, because she just didn't care anymore. If they could've wrapped everything up in a nice, neat bow, within two hours, this would've been A LOT better....but, as it is...

RATING: 7/10  ...call it a '7'. Can't, in good conscience, go higher than that, because I think I even liked "All About My Mother" better, overall.

MOVIES WATCHED: 683
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 318

May 17, 2013  12:16am

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