on February 10, 2000
When I'm looking at the Top Ten list's of America's critics and the nominations of the DGA,WGA and all the other guilds and press associations, I terribly miss David Fincher's outstanding film "Fight Club", which is possibly the best film of 1999.
Not only is the film visualy stunning, it is also very thought-provoking, wickedly funny and, above all, extremely entertaining. Only few films managed to be so many things at once. David Fincher, in my opinion one of the most exciting directors of the decade, fills his movie with so many ideas that it would be sufficient for three more movies, and they are not just gimmicks for their own sake, they all mean something. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt are brilliant in the leads and the soundtrack by the Dust Brothers fits perfectly to the images.
Many reviewers thought the film was fascist. I think you can only call this ridiculous, since that assumes Fincher sympathizes with Tyler Durden's project mayhem. In fact, he invites us to form our own opinion, like Stanley Kubrick did in "A Clockwork Orange". "Fight Club" hands over the resposibility to the viewer. This may be uncomfortable to some, others (like myself) will embrace this.
on February 2, 2000
FIGHT CLUB arrived in the US with a blaze of publicity stressing its violence and nihilism; some critics (and those close to the production) countered this with the suggestion that it was an anti-materialist jeremiad. On a second viewing, it seems like neither -- it's easier to see it as a smart, committed and complex piece of filmmaking. David Fincher once again dazzles with his direction, which is as intelligently energetic as the acting of Brad Pitt and, especially, Edward Norton. What's really impressive, however, is the way that the film manages to flirt with an anti-materialist, hyper-masculine primitivism even as it suggests that we're all a little too sophisticated to buy it (as it were).
FIGHT CLUB may hold that we're not the clothes we wear, or the credit cards in our wallet, but it's savvy enough to realise that our paths of thought and modes of organisation are almost entirely contaminated by the world we've created. Is the solution to destroy that world? Well, that's an option -- but watch closely in the movie's second half and see how subtly and hilariously Fincher undermines this: the anarchists begin to chant management-speak, to dissolve into a collective identity, and to form franchises as if they were selling frappucino rather than revolution. Norton is especially horrified at all this, and his wonderful reactions to the disintegration of 'Project Mayhem' are the calm (and moral) centre of the film. Rather like ANIMAL FARM, Fincher tells us that we can have our revolution, but it's going to cost us dear; perhaps even the individuality and reason which we'd hoped to gain from our actions.
on April 29, 2000
I didn't see this movie in the theaters because it had gotten very mixed reviews from the so-called professional movie reviewers. But, when it hit the local vidoe store, I thought I would give it a try. WOW, what a kick in the teeth, interesting, and fast moving journey into one man's mind. The path this movie takes is fantastic.
Norton and Pitt are perfectly cast, and supported by a crew of fight club members that make for a well-acted show. Meatloaf, Ed Gil, Jared Leto, et. al. are great in support as the members/followers of the leads. Helena Bonham Carter has the only real female role in this film and is perfectly cast. But as much as the acting, this movie is made by the story. Unconventional, with a great twist at the end, the whole movie kept me on the edge of my seat. As with many great movies, it is hard to classify the genre (action, comedy, drama), as there is a sampling of all in this film. In the end, I would just classify this as a great film.
Much was made of the violence of this movie when it first hit the theaters. Those critics overstated the case. There is blood and violence in the movie, but it is not excessive and it serves the plot well.
If you missed this in the theater, see it now. If you saw it once, see it again. I will.
on January 23, 2006
It's a number. A star. A rating. Tyler knows that. He doesn't care. He's just pleased to know that in a world where even God doesn't know most people's name, there's another man who knows who Tyler Durden is.
Tyler Durden lets Big Lou punch him repeatedly in the jaw, while laughing maniacally, mocking him and infuriating him. At the end of the scene, Tyler seems to make the point: Real men don't always beat the crap out of other men, Real Men laugh silly at other men who try their best to make them feel pain, but only fail repeatedly. How would you feel if you sucked in all the power you had, landed a blow on a dude, and he laughed in your face as if to say, "That's your best shot?" Not very good, I think.
Tyler Durden [Brad Pitt] is the manifestation of every man's fantasy. Good-looking, brash, arrogant, fights like a tank, takes a beating like a tank, ****s like a machine and doesn't do any REAL work.
The Narrator [Ed Norton] is the manifestation of most modern men's reality. Plain-looking, dead-end job, no stable relationship, a decent collection of lifestyle accessories and sheer boredom.
When the two meet, you might expect the movie takes the usual route where the two men get to learn from each other, and find that each person's life has as many highs as pitfalls, and that your life is what you make of it. Err...no. Tyler is an enigma. A revolutionary of sorts. Hell, he isn't here to "learn" about the Narrator. He's here to "Jack" his life!!! Tyler Durden is a bigger, larger-than-life figure than James Bond, the Terminator or even Neo. He could easily steal any one of Bond's potential bed-mates from right under his nose. He could easily program the Terminator to believe its existence was useless and that it should self-terminate. He might even make Neo give-up and dump the whole "Because I choose to.." talk.
This movie may not "change" your life, but it will affect it. You will develop a liking for red leather. You will start working on a new walk. You will start sizing people up everywhere you go. You will stop caring about the fact that you're a 6-foot 120-lbs weakling with 13" biceps. You will start to think, "I'm sure I could throw ONE good dislocating punch at a 220lbs biker even after I take 4 punches to my face". You will want to be in better shape. You will cringe at the idea of a woman having any kind of control over your life. You will want to learn the art of dead-pan sarcasm that scares your boss out of his/her wits. Watch this movie, and you will wish that someday, people will ask, "Say, Who is (insert your name)?"
One of the better "mainstream" movies to have come out of Hollywood in recent years. Unless you exclusively like movies with a "Made for Oscars" plot [Disabled dude learns to appreciate life, WWII/Vietnam Veteran learn the value of human life,Gay Dude stands up against the system, etc.], you will have a hard time wondering why this movie didn't win a few dozen awards. In Tyler, You Can Trust.
on December 20, 1999
Many of the people I know who didn't enjoy this movie simply didn't get it. Some were threatened by the attitude towards consumerism. Others found the violence too much, or even worse, over done. But no one came out of that theatre with something they'd expected or something they could forget about. Those who went in for an action flick were forced to watch a literate, existential, art film with violence that they couldn't get excited about because it had meaning. Those who wanted to see Brad Pitt saw Brad Pitt and paid little mind to the brilliant story brought to us by one of the finest new American authors, Chuck Palaniuk. And the rest were offended by the negative attitude toward their favorite coffee chains, clothing stores, and/or furniture outlet. I say good.
Some wonderful things about this movie, not giving anything away, are that the characters that are fighting the above mentioned institutions are also willing participants in making them as successful as they are, and the body count is as low as a big budget Hollywood film has been in years. Don't believe me? Check it out.
As a film, it stands out as one of the most creative and beautifully shot movies this year. David Fincher, not being bound by convention, made one of the best adaptations from novel to screen ever with Fight Club.
This film will speak to everyone. To some it will say horrible things they do not want to hear. To others it will touch a place you never knew you had in you. Read the book if you want to really know the philosophy. See the movie for a demonstration.
on November 7, 2007
I won't review the movie as others have done a fine job at that already - just feel compelled to add that if you already have the brown-wrapper 2-disc issued in 2000 then this steelcase edition offers no new content. Also, contrary to amazon's listing, this is NOT a DTS sound edition - it offers 5.1 dolby and below only. This is an excellent film - if you don't have the 2000 2DSE then by all means pick this up - the extras are marvelous. But don't make my mistake and buy it thinking it's new - it's just a repackaging of that 2000 edition.
on January 4, 2000
Having had a chance to read the working screenplay and the book after seeing the film, I have to say that this is probably one the best adaptations (Jim Uhls, screenwriter) out of Hollywood in a very, very long time. The soundtrack (Dust Brothers) also is amazingly crisp and can easily stand alone as a finished work (Get the CD if you haven't already). Jeff Cronenworth's cinematography slides and pulls through an oily darkness that is almost palpable, and the camera's point of view prowls the fight scenes like a pacing caged animal. The post-production sound engineering by LucasFilm is hyper-detailed like some kind of twitchy, speedy paranoid high. There is not an actor out of place in this film... each shot and each action is remarkably balanced in creating the overall feeling in this amazing work. David Fincher did an incredible job pulling this all together, and I would recommend this film to anyone with a serious interest in what was one of the best films of the decade.
on March 5, 2001
This has to be one of the best movies ever made! Fight Club tells the tale of an insomniac who is losing his grip on reality. Then, he meets Tyler, and that is when all hell breaks out! The naration given by Edward Norton is powerful and haunting, and it makes the suspense and terror seem that more realistic. This is the kind of movie where you cannot tell the story to others too much without giving the whole movie away. The ending is one of the best I have ever seen in a movie since Usual Suspects. This is a powerful movie which will make you believe that chaos can end all existence. I think EVERYONE should see this movie. It is gruesome and violent at times, but it's worth it! It's a shame that I can only give it 5 stars. It really should be 100 stars, or even more! Fight Club is without a dobt one of the best movies ever made!
on September 2, 2000
I am Jack's sense of utter disbelief. How is it that the general America public completely missed the boat on a movie that struck dead center as a perfect parody of our society? I have to draw the conclusion that Fight Club was received relatively poorly at the box office because most people could not understand its primary themes and messages.
I'm a 30-something male living in 'middle' America and from what I see; our society is tittering on the edge of self destruction. Children are rampaging through schools with shotguns reenacting scenes from Quake and the consensus solution is - take away guns? The polar caps are melting and the news reports that scientists still have no proof of global warming? The population is growing at an exponential rate as our health care system approaches financial melt down attempting to sustain every human life.
What does this have to do with Fight Club? Obesity is at an all time high in this country, and it serves as a flawless metaphor of America - Fat & Happy. Fight Club puts America (in all of its ugly glory) right in your face, and it appears that the majority of the public is too close to the forest to see the trees. Fight Club says "We'll take their liposuction fat, repackage it in a nice wrapper and sell it back to them as soap". That's an ugly concept that most people don't want to even think about.
I have asked a number of people what they though this movie was about, and they essentially respond - guys with mental problems who start a club to act as a venue for macho brawls. Were my peers sleeping during their viewings?
It was reported that when this movie was first screened at the movie studio, the executives involved were concerned about being investigated for promoting fascism. This movie takes aim at "the system", "the man", "the establishment" and strikes dead on. On the DVD, there are supplementary commentaries from all the major players involved with Fight Club. At one point during the dialog, Ed Norton says that when he read the script; he was amazed by the depth, complexity and originality of this movie. After the movie was released, he was criticized along with Pitt for pandering to Hollywood's violent tendencies.
It may be true that the only reason Hollywood green-lighted this picture was because of the violence, but I don't think they truly understood what they had authorized. If you choose to watch this movie for the first time (or repeatedly which I highly recommend) focus on getting past the violence. The fighting is used as a concept vehicle - we all live in a stress-induced coma that is perpetuated through the daily trials and tribulations of life. The way that the characters wake up from their coma is by experiencing primordial pain - fighting. Once they are awake, they recognize that they have been asleep all of their lives. Oddly similar to The Matrix, but the similarities end there.
By endorsing this movie, I'm not purporting that we are all silently asleep at the wheel. Neither movies nor their reviews can completely cover complex concepts in a nice simple package. As Norton touched on in the commentary, this movie has more thought provoking ideas than almost any other I can think of. The sad part about Fight Club is the fact that it has become a self-fulfilled prophecy. Its mediocre showing at the box office reinforces Hollywood's perception that the general public is becoming increasingly comatose - we want intellectual Big Mac EXTRA value meals as opposed to Steak au Poivre.
Could you make sure to put heavy violence and low thought on that Big Mac? Fincher, Norton and Pitt all proved that they had big coconuts to make this movie, and I don't think anyone even noticed their contribution. If you like a well trimmed New York strip steak topped with cognac peppercorn demi-glaze then bon appetit!
on May 29, 2000
Fincher's Fight Club opens in a mysterious semi-darkness, both comforting and disquieting, autistic and boundless, vaguely familiar. But it is only when we are expelled from this strangely biomorphic womb-like place we realise that we have been within the deep recesses of our protagonist's mind. In a shaky pullback we emerge from Jack's mouth that has the barrel of a gun jammed inside it.
Jack is a loner, a man going nowhere fast, an angst-ridden emasculated wage-slave with terrible insomnia. He seeks solace, rather bizarrely, in victim support groups, feeding off the misery of others Sleep comes to him at last and he becomes addicted to the self-help ethos. That is, until he is exposed by another fake attendee, Marla. Without the group empathy and misery-fix to soothe his troubles, Jack hurtles deeper into depression, culminating in his apartment exploding. In his deep dark night of the soul he turns to Tyler Durden.
Tyler Durden is the embodiment of pure id: an existential nihilist, a sociopath with terrorist inclinations, inhabiting a dilapidated decaying brownstone on the edge of existence. He scavenges human fat from liposuction clinics to make into soap to sell back to the rich ladies it came from; urinates in the soup of the restaurant in which he works; and, moonlighting as a projectionist, he splices single frames of pornography into family movies. The disruption of the social ethic is his prime motivation.
When the two men get into a fight, Jack is amazed how exhilarated he is by the raw, unfettered violence. Consequently, the Fight Club is formed, a secret society of like-minded males prepared to go one-on-one with bare-knuckles. But, "the first rule of Fight Club is that you don't talk about Fight Club", and with the movie it's true too: here I depart from plot details. But let me say this: Fight Club is not a fighting picture (Van Damme fans be warned) and it is as far removed from the escapist blockbuster that people expected as it is possible to get (hence its box office failure). But, quite simply, Fight Club is, without doubt, one of the most subversive pieces of cinema, ever. And. With a denouement twist that is, unlike The Sixth Sense, impossible to guess.
Based on a controversial novel by Chuck Palanhiuk, Fight Club is a relentlessly dark, tortuous journey of one man's self-discovery. Hoisted up to greatness by Fincher's incredible vision and by career best performances from both Norton and Pitt, it is one of those rare films that is quite unlike anything that has preceded it. It is intelligent, funny, ultra-violent, touching, repulsive, in equal measures: and, an excruciatingly accurate study of maleness and virility to boot (which, critics take heed, doesn't automatically make the film misogynist [in the same way the human soap factor doesn't make it anti-Semitic]).
Throw aside your expectations, Fight Club is a modern masterpiece of the dark fantastic.