Film Rec: Fight Club (1999)

I was short on ideas today, I'm not going to lie. My brother convinced me to rewatch the following, and the result rounds up to "good enough." Film Rec: Fight Club (1999) There are many things I wish I could say in this post. For example: I wish I could comment on the adaptation of Palahniuk's novel. I can't. Most of the library's in my county refuse to stock the book, and the two towns that do have it are perpetually checked out; to expand, it's not exactly on my must read list, either. I also wish I could praise the writing a lot more than I can. I consider Fight Club 3/4's of an amazingly well written, imaginative film with an ending so confusing I still can't entirely wrap my brain around it on the fourth or fifth viewing. Still, 3/4's is better than most violent American films, so the recommendation stands. And even with my issues with the lack of clarity near the end of the film (and don't think I don't get the main issues at hand about identity and this master plan: I do; it's just all revealed in a massive lint ball of confusion that falls apart faster than newspaper in a torrential downpour), the only thing I can think of that might improve the film is more Helena Bonham Carter. Those reasons aren't just selfish: she's the character that shows something is very wrong with the situation, and her extended absences may fit the character type but don't particularly benefit the story arc. Jim Uhls managed to make a very strange (assuming other Palahniuk novels are written in similar ways with similar artistic ambition) novel and turned it into a very compelling, if intentionally scattered, film. The issues that would normally bother me, like Pitt's character being a bit flat or an over reliance on voice over work, don't. Let's take those examples further. Pitt's character has to be flat, albeit a very dynamic performance through flat material. He is the product of stripping every element of individuality out of a man and leaving the raw essence of human sensory desire: he wants to feel anything, but doesn't want to be attached to it. He's an exaggerated male stereotype that works to contrast against Norton and meld with Carter. Or the voice over work. How much do we actually know about Norton's character? Only what he tells us in voice over: his thoughts. He gains our trust as a reliable narrator, but admits failings with his insomnia and narcolepsy that work to set up the main conflicts and reveals later in the film. In a smart decision, much of the dialogue and descriptive voice over narrative is very low key to contrast against the much grander and stranger events actually occurring in the film. We gloss through a series of self-help groups with major issues for comedic effect, giving us insight into two of the three major characters who take pleasure or relief in other's suffering. Yet we'll slow down and itemize every single item in an apartment, or linger over a car wreck, the more mundane elements of life emphasized to throw the viewer out of their comfort zone. Is it a strange, confused film? Yes. And intentionally so. If you haven't seen it, and can handle violence (like a certain actor turned lead singer (rather than the singer turned actor who also appears in the film) being punched in the face again and again and again and again and again and once more for good measure until he's a bloody pulp) and dark humor, it's probably a decent match. If nothing else, watch for Carter's magnificent crazy-lady hair and constant stumbles.

Labels: film rec

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