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Fight Club (1999) 
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Post Fight Club (1999)
I rewatched this for the first time in yonks over the weekend, and I still think it's a wonderful film.

For many, its excesses may seem like bad taste, but I think it resonates as a brilliant and grotesque social satire. It's completely visually arresting. The performances are top, top notch. The best of Pitt's career, and it reminded me of a time when I genuinly thought Norton would become an all-time great. I also love Bonham-Carter's against-type performance as a cynical hag hit bottom.

I love its dark humour and the fact that despite everything and itself, it is a positive film. Part of a series of films at the back end of C20 which ask (or order) us to shape more meaningful lives for ourselves. At near 31, I can see now what the author was getting at. OK, I don't think I'm going to go to a local tavern and start beating the crap out of people for kicks, but at the time I appreciate the themes of how men are basically emasculated in modern consumer society, and the effects this can have deep in the sub-consciousness.

Awesome stuff.

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Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:09 am
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
This was one of Edward Norton's first lead roles.
Though his first was American history x which got him first Oscar nomination.

Brad Pitt and Helen Bonham Carter are very good but the highlight of the film is Meatloaf.


Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:45 pm
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
p604 wrote:
This was one of Edward Norton's first lead roles.
Though his first was American history x which got him first Oscar nomination.

Brad Pitt and Helen Bonham Carter are very good but the highlight of the film is Meatloaf.

I liked Meatloaf as Bob, but HBC turned in the best performance, IMO. This is one of my favorite films and a great cult classic.

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Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:00 pm
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club is a great movie. It's not a "movie" movie--in other words, not an exercise in "protagonist gets problem, protagonist struggles with problem, protagonist solves the problem and probably gets some nookie at some point". It has an original perspective, original ways of relaying that perspective, and it pursues that perspective to the very closing moments. It's the kind of literary, idea-driven movie that The Matrix might have been if it had some balls.

I also like the scene where Brad Pitt pees in the soup.

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Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:27 pm
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
Ken wrote:
I also like the scene where Brad Pitt pees in the soup.

I still piss myself laughing every time I see that scene, especially as you watch him pour the glass of water to make it flow... "Do not watch. I cannot go while you watch."

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Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:33 pm
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
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It's not a "movie" movie--in other words, not an exercise in "protagonist gets problem, protagonist struggles with problem, protagonist solves the problem and probably gets some nookie at some point".


Interesting, but I feel like you can still find that mantra in Fight Club. Norton gets Pitt, Norton struggles with Pitt, Norton destroys Pitt, and in the final shot Norton gets some nookie. It's a circuitous, original way of handling that formula, but the formula is still there I think.


Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:59 am
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
You can find it because you can find it in just about anything, but it isn't an exercise in writing to the formula.

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:12 am
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
I love the fact that despite being a superbly acted visual masterpiece it never loses sight of its self-awareness. Like I said earlier, some/many will find it grotesque in its blatent excesses, but there is a streak of wit running through the entire narrative that many of its detractors either miss or just don't appreciate.

Fight Club is a genuinly great film. A real visionary piece of work. My only regret is Fincher's subsequent decline into Benjamin Button and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo territory .

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:39 am
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
Yeah...that top 100 list I'm doing.....stay tuned


Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:12 am
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
Not to play the role of curmudgeon, but I don't think Fight Club is great or even very good. I love its first 20 minutes, but I find the social satire exceptionally muddled

Men are losing their identity to their possessions...so let's go join a faceless underground army?

and I've never seen the purpose of the main twist, other than the fact that twists are fun. The performances are indeed good, but you're kidding with Bonham-Carter cast "against type" as a hag, right? That's like saying Helen Mirren is cast against type as an aging sexpot...

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:29 am
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
Wait a minute, aren't you the JamesKunz who praised Titanic? ;)

This is a male thread only thanks, sweetheart :D

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:55 am
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
NotHughGrant wrote:
Wait a minute, aren't you the JamesKunz who praised Titanic? ;)

This is a male thread only thanks, sweetheart :D


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: I gotta say that I too also liked Titanic but I'm not nearly as dismissive of Fight Club as Kunzie here! In my mind, it still holds up brilliant and in fact my opinion of it has grown to where it has supplanted Three Kings as my favorite film to have come out in 1999.


Last edited by oafolay on Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:10 am
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
Glad to see we've all managed to forget the first two rules of fight club... :lol:

JamesKunz wrote:
Not to play the role of curmudgeon, but I don't think Fight Club is great or even very good. I love its first 20 minutes, but I find the social satire exceptionally muddled

Men are losing their identity to their possessions...so let's go join a faceless underground army?

and I've never seen the purpose of the main twist, other than the fact that twists are fun. The performances are indeed good, but you're kidding with Bonham-Carter cast "against type" as a hag, right? That's like saying Helen Mirren is cast against type as an aging sexpot...


Bonham-Carter was cast against type at the time Fight Club came out. Up until then she had done mostly period pieces. Now that she's done a lot of roles that are a lot closer to her role in Fight Club then to her earlier work, I understand your question.

Also, what I love most about Fight Club is that it does not in fact spell out everything it's trying to say to an audience. Some people don't like that and not every film that tries to be ambigious succeeds at saying anything worthwhile at all, but I would say Fight Club does.

-Jeremy

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:35 am
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
I believe it's safe to call Fight Club a modern classic 13 years after its release.

In one way it's not surprising that Fight Club failed during its original theatrical run. The film is uncompromising, a bitter pill for the mainstream crowd to swallow. On the other had, Fight Club was released in what many people saw (and doubtlessly still do see) as the year of youth rage. 1999 was the year of Columbine, Woodstock 99 and the WTO protest riots in Seattle. In some ways, Fight Club showed that that teenage level of angst and rage could continue on into adulthood for many people.

I recall quite a few reviews that dismissed Fight Club as a film for mooks. But if one looks closely, Fincher and his screenwriters are not celebrating mookdom but subtly showing where it can lead. The way it does that is masterful.

First, we see Edward Norton's nameless narrator. He feels like a number (to quote Bob Seger) as does pretty much anyone who's worked a soul killing office job. He's doing good financially and materially. But his life is an "ikea nightmare". Then kaboom, his apartment is gone and he meets Tyler Durden. Not long from there we get Fight Club with its rules and we feel the sense fo release he feels from it. But then as iIght CLub grows and its intentions becoming icreasingly sinister, we realize that these people are still the same drones they were in their 9-5 office jobs. This is illustrated perfectly in the scene where we see that FIght Club has morphed into Project Mayhem. We see three of the members chant in perfect drone "The first rule of Project Mayhem".

The main problem with any movement, be it one with good or bad intentions, is that there are only a few leaders and everyone else is a follower. And many of the people that latch on to movements after they reach a fever pitch of sorts are people who can't think for themselves. Many of those WTO protestors in Seattle did not have an original thought in their head. Fight Club illustrates this problem perfectly.

It cannot be a coincidence that three of the best American films of 1999 (American Beauty, Fight Club and Magnolia) dealt with issues of angst in some way or another. If American Beauty showed midlife crisis mxed with suburban boredom and Magnolia depicted lost souls cut off from happiness in the present because of things that happened in the past (a simplistic way of looking at a complex movie I know), Fight Club was a reaction of sorts to conformity and what many saw as the hollow prosperity of the preceeding decade. Of those three films, while Magnolia is probably the best, Fight Club is easily the most effective. It's the cinematic equivalent of a blow to the solar plexus. A movie that truly leaves a mark.

So yes, Fight Club's classic status is well-earned.

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:40 am
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
A few more notes -

- The narrator's job - not merely boring, conformist, and the gateway to jetlag and insomnia; but also respresenting the crude, grasping nature of companies that put profit above human life.

- Tyler's job, which allows him the maximum possible geographical freedom, allows him to "sell rich women's fat asses back to them" and also acts as a crude metaphor for scrubbing society clean... whilst making a few bombs in the process

- The hilarious stupidity of the mooks he takes in under "project mayhem". Depicted as the kind of people who ironically benefit from the conformity they rebel against. "His name is Robert Poulson" etc

- The nod to the hero worship that even (or especially) those who lead supposed egalitarian projects receive from their subjects.


(just a few random observations)

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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
NotHughGrant wrote:
Wait a minute, aren't you the JamesKunz who praised Titanic? ;)

This is a male thread only thanks, sweetheart :D


I think you mean boys only, if you're all ready to circle jerk over Fight Club.

But moving on from your lowest-common-denominator comment

My job in life, so far as I see it, is to prevent people from their tendency of going to the extremes and ignoring the middle ground. Did you ever notice how few things in life actually are binary, with no in-between? Almost nothing. Black and white aren't discrete opposites -- they're just the furthest extremes of grey. So I will defend Titanic to the death simply because people can't say "It was flawed but had its moments," they must declare it the worst movie of all time. If people suddenly decided Titanic was the best movie ever, I would instantly change my tune and point out its numerous problems. Because Titanic isn't great or terrible. It's somewhere in between.

Now Fight Club is a bit different, because it's at least singular enough that I can imagine people thinking it's amazing even as I disagree (and, for the record, there are plenty of movies that I don't stick to the middle ground on because they're truly great and I don't really want to hear a bad thing about them). But I've met very few people who can coherently explain to me what the hell this movie is trying to say. Most people seem to just embrace the fact that it seems very manly. Like you did above.

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:13 pm
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
To boil your question down to a similar one asked by David Bordwell, "Yes, but what is the commentary?"

He was asking in response to people's insistence that The Dark Knight is a commentary on our modern times/the war on terror/whatever. As he didn't observe any logical through-line to the various references seeded throughout TDK, he concluded that the film takes no coherent perspective. It is, as he terms it, "strategically ambiguous". It encourages people to read the references however they want, because everything fits equally.

I don't see such a strategic ambiguity in Fight Club. I think its position is a little more complex than that of other movies, but it doesn't waffle in its portrayal of masculine anxiety. It also doesn't propose open-and-shut solutions to the characters' problems as most films attempt to do, and in fact appears to indicate that there can be no such solution. It understands the characters' plight, but does not tolerate their actions.

I'm not going to boil Fight Club's meaning down to a high school lit crit summation (e.g. "Fight Club is about recovering lost masculinity" or "Fight Club is a satire on men who try to be manly in a time when they're no longer required to be") because I don't think it can be. I think it would be a worse movie if it could be. I think that's what a lot of people expect, given that Tyler initially appears to be the protagonist's spirit guide out of his existential funk. The movie quickly subverts this idea. Maybe that's why it doesn't sit well with some viewers.

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:24 pm
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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
JamesKunz wrote:
NotHughGrant wrote:
Wait a minute, aren't you the JamesKunz who praised Titanic? ;)

This is a male thread only thanks, sweetheart :D


I think you mean boys only, if you're all ready to circle jerk over Fight Club.

But moving on from your lowest-common-denominator comment

My job in life, so far as I see it, is to prevent people from their tendency of going to the extremes and ignoring the middle ground. Did you ever notice how few things in life actually are binary, with no in-between? Almost nothing. Black and white aren't discrete opposites -- they're just the furthest extremes of grey. So I will defend Titanic to the death simply because people can't say "It was flawed but had its moments," they must declare it the worst movie of all time. If people suddenly decided Titanic was the best movie ever, I would instantly change my tune and point out its numerous problems. Because Titanic isn't great or terrible. It's somewhere in between.

Now Fight Club is a bit different, because it's at least singular enough that I can imagine people thinking it's amazing even as I disagree (and, for the record, there are plenty of movies that I don't stick to the middle ground on because they're truly great and I don't really want to hear a bad thing about them). But I've met very few people who can coherently explain to me what the hell this movie is trying to say. Most people seem to just embrace the fact that it seems very manly. Like you did above.

I don't think it's the worst movie of all time, but it certainly is one of the most boring films i've ever seen, i'll at least acknwledge that the special effects were impressive, but that simply wasn't enough to make up for the lackluster story and acting, I was actually laughing at Jack's death scene.


As for Fight Club, i'll admit I mainly watched it to see people beat the hell out of each other and not because of it's critical acclaim, I thought it was a decent enough film but didn't really see it as mindblowing, and yes, I had no idea what the hell the film was trying to say either.


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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
Now kids, let's play nice! :lol: :lol: Now, since I consider this to be one of my top 5 films, I feel as though I need to weigh in here so maybe I'll just post my flixster review of the film which I feel could elucidate my thoughts better than anything. Enjoy!

Quote:
I remember being reluctant to see this movie for the first time. Even though several of my friends had been telling me for a long time what an amazing film it was, I still couldn't help but wonder how on earth a story about underground boxing clubs could truly be worth my time except for maybe a couple hours of cheap, testosterone-fueled escapism. Well, when I finally did sit down to watch this several years ago, it didn't take long for the movie to quell my skepticism and then some. Yes, it is called Fight Club and yes, these underground clubs do play an important role in the progression of the plot (although that element of the story doesn't appear in full force until 40 or so minutes into the film) but this is only a small portion of a much more ambitious cinematic agenda; however to say much more than that would be violating the first two rules of Fight Club in a big way...not that I'd ever let that stop me from doing so anyway (don't worry, I won't spoil anything).

Like the best films that take their basis from a well-known novel (which, in this case, I read after seeing the film), this one manages to stay true to its roots while developing its own identity. Screenwriter Jim Uhls and director David Fincher deserve credit for realizing the strength of Chuck Palahniuk's source material and wedding it so perfectly to their own collaborative vision. It's all too rare that a film continuously builds such taut momentum and keeps viewers' adrenaline pumping while still providing a healthy dose of intellectual nourishment and strong character development but Fight Club does all of these things with unparalleled skill. As is often the case with his films, Fincher does an amazing job of developing an almost overpowering sense of atmosphere; he also peppers the film with tons of visual bells and whistles. The opening credit sequence gets us off to a flying start with a journey under the skin of the main character and the proceedings only gain momentum from there. In another sequence later on in the film, we get a tour of someone's apartment as though it were laid out on the pages of a sales catalog, with lines of text printed on the screen to describe each item therein. There is also a nice little parody of the FBI warnings that accompany DVD's and videotapes. Additionally, there are several single frame "quick clips" that come and go so quickly that they may not be noticed at all on the first viewing. A lesser director would have let all of this visual chicanery overwhelm the story but as he's proven time and time again, Fincher is capable of using this sort of kinetic, restless style of filmmaking to enhance a compelling narrative rather detract from it. Fight Club is definitely a dark, gritty and relentlessly-paced trip but that's to its benefit, not its detriment.

Thankfully, the talent in front of the camera is a perfect match for the ambitions of the people behind it. As the Narrator of this film, a cynical, insomnious, young professional who is quickly growing weary of his yuppie lifestyle, Edward Norton slides effortlessly into another challenging and complex role. I don't think that Norton could ever give a bad performance if he tried and not surprisingly, he lives up to his reputation here, breathing life into a three-dimensional protagonist who is not at all what he seems to be at first. Meanwhile Brad Pitt gives what may be the best performance of his career thus far. It certainly outdoes his Oscar-nominated work in 1995's Twelve Monkeys and his previous appearance for Fincher in Se7en, which came out that same year. Here, the actor effectively sheds his pretty boy image and buries himself under the skin of the mysterious but charismatic Tyler Durden and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, he proves capable of going toe-to-toe with Norton. Finally, Helena Bonham-Carter (aka Mrs. Tim Burton) is equally as good as her male co-stars in the role of Marla, the suicidal but attractive woman who comes between the two main characters. In smaller roles, Jared Leto and especially (and somewhat surprisingly) Meat Loaf, amongst other actors in minor parts, stand out as well.

As can be inferred from the title (and as just about everyone reading this should know), Fight Club is not a peaceful and serene film-going experience. Comparisons to A Clockwork Orange and to Tarantino's work (especially Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction) are not out of place here; like those earlier films, this one has been criticized over the years for its brutal, unflinching depiction of violence. While there is no denying that this is an often graphically-violent film, none of it is gratuitous; it has a purpose here in terms of the insights it gives about the film's characters and their dire circumstances. These are men who've lost touch with their purpose in life and have become disillusioned with the world around them -- especially its preoccupation with material wealth and superficial notions of success -- and this gut-churning need for some sort of meaningful connection has forced them to go to extremes. Perhaps the most bitterly ironic point made here is that these people are drawn to this lifestyle because it initially offers them some respite from the stifling conformity of their daily live but ultimately, it engulfs them into a form of servitude that is far more ensnaring and destructive than even their worst nightmares. Fight Club does what it must to bring us into the depraved and desperate existence of these characters and it's not always pretty. For me, the scene that was the toughest to watch was the hand-burning scene. It's not even the most violent occurrence in the film but perhaps, it's the relative simplicity of this scene that elicited such a strong reaction from me. There are plenty of other wince-worthy moments here; weaker stomachs need not apply. This film definitely does not pull its punches (both literally and figuratively); however for all of the intensity and bleakness, there is still plenty of twisted humor to break the tension. Another commonality with Tarantino's output is that Fight Club successfully mines the irony in even the grimmest of scenarios. The intelligent, sharply-written dialogue only serves to enhance this impression and there are some surprising laugh-out-loud moments here. In fact, this film could easily be considered as much a dark comedy and a social satire as it is a thriller and a psychological drama; it certainly does a superior job of weaving all these elements seamlessly into its overall fabric. The fact that Fight Club so easily defies conventions and expectations is another strength. Even the central plot twist -- which I'll not spoil for those of you who still haven't seen this (what the hell are you waiting for?) -- isn't designed merely to just blindside the viewer. It's well-integrated into the storyline and it makes perfect sense the more one thinks about everything that preceded it. Thankfully, the success of the film isn't dictated by whether or not one knows the twist beforehand since there is plenty of material above and beyond that to command our attention and occupy our minds. Best of all, the movie doesn't fall apart or lose any of its power even after you've seen it a hundred times; in fact, this is one of those rare films that prove to be even more rewarding with subsequent viewings, where knowing how things will turn out offers even more food for thought than before. To me, this is the mark of a truly great film and one that has lost none of its ability to amuse, thrill, enlighten and disturb audiences even now, more than a decade after it first hit theaters.


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Post Re: Fight Club (1999)
MGamesCook wrote:
Interesting, but I feel like you can still find that mantra in Fight Club. Norton gets Pitt, Norton struggles with Pitt, Norton destroys Pitt, and in the final shot Norton gets some nookie. It's a circuitous, original way of handling that formula, but the formula is still there I think.


It always come back to getting some nookie.

JamesKunz wrote:
Not to play the role of curmudgeon, but I don't think Fight Club is great or even very good. I love its first 20 minutes, but I find the social satire exceptionally muddled

Men are losing their identity to their possessions...so let's go join a faceless underground army?

and I've never seen the purpose of the main twist, other than the fact that twists are fun. The performances are indeed good, but you're kidding with Bonham-Carter cast "against type" as a hag, right? That's like saying Helen Mirren is cast against type as an aging sexpot...


Thank you for pointing out the Bonham-Carter not being cast against type, because I didn't understand where that comment came from.

And the film is not about men losing their identity to consumerism. Palahniuk's initial inspiration that sparked the foundation for Fight Club (one of those fun details you can pick up word of mouth from living in his home town, most people around Portland have met of know someone who has met Palahniuk) was from watching a gay mens underground fighting match, perhaps the de facto end-all be-all of metaphors concerning men fighting against a culture consistently working against their base nature. Fight Club isn't about the consumerism as much as consumerism is a device to approach a generation of men fighting for the machismo and masculinity ever consistently being denied to them. Tyler is simultaneously everything you wanted to be, everything you were told you should be and, better yet, everything else you were told you shouldn't be. He's smooth, enigmatic and resourceful, he's hot, stylish and fuckable, and he's narcissistic, accomplished and has nothing to compensate for. Fight Club's first twenty minutes are brilliant satire, but the film remains a brilliant satire because follows its satire through to an end point where perhaps our problems with society should approached with a better understanding of what we have and where we've already ended up. We're stuck in a constant tug and pull of society/culture versus man and more specifically his base nature, and we should learn the value of not allowing or forcing society/culture to bow out of the fight.

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