May 5, 2005

Fight Club

This past weekend I watched "Fight Club" for the first time since it came out. When I first saw it, it bothered the shit out of me--almost as much as "Attack of the Clones." If I had a blog at the time, I would have written pages about those movies. Stupid to get so worked up but that’s what I do. I doubt if I’ll go see "Revenge of the Sith."

Part of the reason I got so annoyed with "Fight Club" was jealousy. I had just finished writing a novel about a revolutionary cult--it’s the reason I read a lot about Scientology (see last post) as well as other cults. Cults in our Midst is an interesting read. It’s an expose on cults which also reads like a manual on how to run a cult and brainwash people. Part of the problem with that novel is that it was too much a reflection of the non-fiction I had been reading. So…when I saw the revolutionary cult in "Fight Club" I got jealous and mad.

This was partly because the movie seemed like a Hitler Youth propaganda film, cloaked in productive ideas like anti-materialism. That seemed kind of dangerous to me--the hyper masculinity. I still don’t know what people mean when they say they "love" the movie. Brad Pitt’s character, the blonde alternative Uber-Mensch, is a nightmare. Free spirited, maybe, but nothing to aspire to. Maybe people aspire to that kind of anarchy, the ability to do whatever you want to do. It’s Nihilism without the philosophy: dangerous. I get the sense that people want to be in the fascistic militant group. I’ve never read the novel but I imagine it’s saying that this is what we’ve been driven to, not this is where we should go. The movie seems to celebrate violence.

The movie didn’t bother me nearly as much as it once did. Actually, I kind of liked it. It was nice to see a big Hollywood movie which had some relation to human conflict. I love science fiction movies, but CGI movies like "Lord of the Rings," "Harry Potter," "Gladiator" and whatever else are kind of dead and impersonal. It’s weird that "Fight Club," a movie that I hated, could make 90s movies seem like a renaissance.

Also, "Fight Club" has a surprise ending way before "The Sixth Sense" but "The Sixth Sense" gets all the credit for it. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, this post isn’t very interesting.

11 comments:

darling maggot said...

i saw the fight club ending, i didn't see the sixth sense ending. dunno why. i hear a lot of people saying the opposite. i think chuck palahniuk is an overrated novelist. i for whatever reason, hate the voice of his writing and characters.

the fight club script by jim uhls, which i read about a year before the movie was released, was very very well-executed.

the original line of dialogue for helena bonham's character when she says, 'i haven't been fucked like that since grade school', was, 'make me pregnant, i want to have your abortion'. i don't know if that's from the book or uhls got too dark and they shot it with a different line.

darling maggot said...

i meant i saw the fight club ending coming.

Empty Drum said...

This is why I don't share your hatred of CGI, HB -- Fight Club is DRENCHED in digital animation and editing tricks. Used intelligently and creatively. It's not the special effects that are ruining Hollywood, it's the lack of storytelling talent.

(Just in case you feel like continuing our private conversations into this forum :-) )

Henry Baum said...

I know that "Fight Club" has CGI stuff but it's not the heart of the movie. Most of the movie takes place in that house or in the basement where they fight. I don't hate CGI movies across the board.

Empty Drum said...

Yeah, but when you think of the key moments, what comes to mind? Almost all of the most striking imagery in the film is CGI -- the opening sequence, the plane crash, the ikea catalog walkthrough, the apartment explosion, the penguin, the "subliminal" overlays scattered about, the Big Secret Plot Twist, the ending sequence.....
I would argue that CGI is essential to the movie -- if all of the ideas in the story had been expressed verbally instead, the film would have had a lot less impact (My Dinner With Tyler?)
David Fincher is really good at doing what's necessary to tell a story visually - even if it involves over the top camera work and effects...
On another note, I think Brad Pitt rules. Please don't tell me he's a Scientologist :-p

Henry Baum said...

Brad Pitt was really good in that movie along with a lot of other movies back then. Seems like when he married Jennifer Aniston, he became a celebrity instead of an actor.

You might be right about "Fight Club." I like David Fincher too. I really liked "Seven." "The Game" was amusing.

See, I’m full of shit. I’m a pop culture hound like anyone. I have a mixture of fascination and revulsion with Hollywood. I say I don’t like CGI movies but I’ve seen the Matrix movies, the Harry Potter movies, both Spiderman movies, 2 LOTR movies, the Jurassic Park movies, I could go on…Part of this is because my mom’s a member of the Academy--she votes on the Oscars--so at the end of the year she receives VHS and DVDs of all the movies that have come out that year. Pretty amazing, and I see a lot of movies that I never would have seen otherwise. There’s an irony in there but I won’t bother.

I’ve been entertained by most of those movies. It’s hard to not be entertained by dinosaurs. Still, I think there’s something wrong with them. It’s not all right for grown men and women to be reading comic books, but it’s all right to go see Spiderman or the Hulk. It’s the same thing. I’m a snob, even though I sometimes drown myself in bad movies and bad TV.

I should have made a post out of this comment.

darling maggot said...

david fincher is very overrated. he became everybody's darling with se7en and then it's like he could do no wrong. i find him very boring and predictable with his shots and the way he makes his movies look.

Empty Drum said...

Fincher's far from perfect, but his work is very well crafted, even when shoddily concieved....One reason his approach has gotten a bit old is because it's been so widely (and amateurishly) imitated.
I think he's been largely successful in most of his films, especially in Fight Club, where he had pull off a difficult trick - fleshing out a world composed of the real and the subjective, seamlessly....
Thinking back, I do remember coming out of the theater after seeing Fight Club and being very agitated. We were in a shopping mall, and my wife wanted to look at some yuppie housewares. As we walked around the store, I got progressively angrier until I was figuratively being a total asshole to my wife. She wasn't affected the same way by the film, so I guess it was effective at stirring up some kind of male anger thing. Either that, or maybe I really am an asshole. I report, you decide....

ashleycrow said...

I refused to see Fight Club for a year or two after it came out, because I anticipated yet another "guy film" drenched in machismo, as you say...but to my surprise, it was about identity, one's place in what can feel like a soulless society. Perhaps Hitler Youth, perhaps the disenfranchised looking for a place where they can feel real and valuable. I could see the characters' struggle against those aspects of our culture that suppress the individual in support of the whole (even when such suppression is not actually necessary to the survival of the group). I don't personally believe that the Fight Club route is the path to cultural enlightenment, but I can certainly understand the desire to end institutionalized oppression.

darling maggot said...

empty, you do make a compelling point about why fincher's technique can seem tired. you're also right--his stuff is well-crafted even if poorly conceived. i guess i'd like to see something less studied and controlled and more spontaneous from a guy who obviously has talent. i like artists who shoot from the hip. i never feel like david fincher shoots from the hip.

Empty Drum said...

Keep in mind that, like a lot of contemporary directors, he got his start doing music videos - which tend to be overly mannered and not very spontaneous to say the least! This is why Marty is the God of All Film - because he can pull off outlandish camera work and staging, and make it seem totally spontaneous and energetic... Because it's all in the service of the story. Most directors can't manage that, and so you've got that trend of showoffy camera work that tries, but fails, to compensate for weak material. I would say Fincher's a borderline case....I think he's capable of Greatness but must win the battle with Cleverness first. Damn, this is some good coffee here. :-)

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