Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Great Alphabet of Films—F is For

Fight Club

      What'd you think? I was going to choose 26 films, but NOT include one from David Fincher; in my greatest Will Smith circa Fresh Prince of Bel-Air imitation, "Oh hell no!" Such an omission would be criminal. It'd be like going to your buddy's house on Super Bowl Sunday, but not watching the game. Let's get real here. We know what I'm all about; giving deserving filmmakers their due praise—or conversely, lampooning junk, though I'll save that ridicule for another day.
      Fincher's cinematic genius, as I've often espoused, comes from his marvelous ability to manipulate the "single-person" narrative structure, which he employs to unearth broader themes—i.e. the Nietzschean narrator of Fight Club (sometimes Jack, seldom "Ikea Boy," often nameless, [SPOILER ALERT] but mostly ... Tyler Durden) played amazingly well by Edward Norton. Moreover, Fincher explores this narrative design through a purposeful visual style. The lurid and dark atmosphere of Fight Club serves as a parallel metaphor to the paralysis and despair of Norton's character. 

     The star of Fight Club is the aforementioned, depressed young man, who will succinctly call "Narrator" (Edward Norton). He epitomizes the inconsequential cog of corporate ascendancy. Apathetic and embittered by the doldrums of his profession, he drowns out his sorrows by getting all HGTV, and constructing the "perfect" apartment—"I'd flip through catalogues and wonder what kind of dining set defines me as a person." The Narrator suffers from a tormented existence, complicated by insomnia, and a deepening and increasing alienation from the world at large. Consequently, he surrenders his loathsome faculties to various support groups, for patients with terminal diseases. It seems he has avoided the Dr. Phil circus-route, and instead, is merely just looking for someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on.
      On a fateful business flight, he discovers Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a devilishly handsome,  charming iconoclast, and, above all else, a soap salesman. Tyler openly demeans the materialistic world, and, quite antithetically, believes that one can learn a great deal through a monastic existence characterized by pain, suffering, and chaos—insert awkward reference to film's title, as we now enter the Fight Club. 
      The Narrator is invigorated by the spectacle of bare-knuckle brawling, which provides him with a newfound infusion of life. The two brawlers become close friends and roommates (a typical Hollywood machination, right...not so fast, Fincher is better than that). As more men join in the secret society, it becomes a crowded sensation despite the existence of the infamous first and second rules of fight club. But as these tactically homoerotic bouts help strengthen the bond between the Narrator and Tyler, a strange situation reaches new heights of strangeness. Tyler becomes sexually involved with Marla (Helena Bonham Carter)—a witchy seductress of grungy recklessness—even though the Narrator has sustained a quiet infatuation with the sensual brio since their support-group circuit shenanigans. 
      Based on the Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name, Fight Club is a magnificent examination of our insular, societal tendencies and contemporary manhood. More specifically, it is a referendum against mass consumerism and overt materialism. I do not want to posit such a blanket criticism of our culture, but Palahniuks novel and Fincher's direction is purposefully disturbing. And precisely due to their steadfastly rebellious quality, I'm able to appreciate the film even more. 
      The sardonic, testosterone-fueled science fiction of Fight Club touches a raw nerve. The film builds an elaborate phantasmagorical structure around the search for dispossessed masculine authority. Fincher employs this optical and illusory structure to psychoanalyze our entire society, wielding his robust arsenal of tricks. As the movie progresses, Fincher deposits subtle hints at what the story is really about, rewarding those of us who enjoy repeat viewings.
      Fight Club morphs this form of dreamy escapism into something infinitely more dangerous. Tyler Durden builds a bridge from the anti-materialist rhetoric at the film's core to a burgeoning paramilitary dream project, evidenced by the club's rigorous training and subversive agenda. It may seem frighteningly offensive from afar, but it is much less gruesome than Fincher's earlier film Seven, and quite compellingly, more serious. It is a dramatic exploration of the lure of violence through the lens of a diabolically regimented, dehumanized culture. 
      Mr. Fincher, Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Norton are provocative, complex, and ingenious. Norton is one of my favorite actors because he exudes such a relentless sophistication. His character's decisions are always on the ball. Brad Pitt is a modern day personification of the classic movie star that rose from the Golden Age of Hollywood, as he struts through the film with revitalized bravado and a visceral sense of purpose. And Fincher is, per the usual, fascinating. His film is expertly shot, terrifically edited, and spiked with canny computer-generated marvels. Despite the utter chaos of the Narrator's world, Fincher marries these disparate elements into perfect harmony.

*The philosophy of Fight Club—Tyler  Durden's point of view (notice the flickering). 


  1. always enjoyed watching movies..

    awesome lists of films.
    bless your Day.

  2. This is one movie I never get tired of watching. Great choice of films.

  3. FIGHT CLUB is the greatest movie of all time and I've seen a lot of movies.

  4. I have never seen this movie...

  5. Awesome movie pick! One of my favorites.

  6. ah, you know what I think off Fincher and his dark ways :) so I shall keep quiet, but at least the film features scantily clad Brad Pitt if nothing else ;)

  7. Great film, though the estrogen in me prevented me from watching it more than once. I fear I will never be able to sit through it again, but I can appreciate it nonetheless. :)

    East for Green Eyes

  8. @ Jingle

    Thanks! Glad to be of service.

    @ Roza

    Me neither. The story is filled with so many great subtleties, I pick up new tidbits with each repeat viewing.

    @ MOMM

    I like your enthusiasm!

  9. @ Laura

    You need to rectify that. It is an extremely worthwhile viewing experience.

    @ residentgamer

    Thanks! You're a cooler person for that statement!

    @ Dezmond

    Yep. I know all too well its not your kind of film. But that being said, it's good you can still appreciate aspects of the movie.

    @ RosieC

    I feel what your saying. At least you braved through it one time. That's enough to impress me.

  10. Great, great movie from an equally incredible novel. I love the way the film just gets in your face, confuses you and wows you all at once. I could not look away from this movie even once. All three performances were astounding. Excellent choice for F.

  11. Fabulous 'F' post. Though I saw Fight Club, I don't think I appreciated it as you did. I'm not sure if I could watch it again, because the fisticuff violence turned my stomach. Loved the twist at the end though! Thanks for sharing. Happy Thursday! :o)

  12. SPOILER ALERT! I enjoyed this movie - but I saw the "flickers" in the opening moments and figured it out. (And no, I'm not one of those people who ALWAYS say they figured it out or saw the twist coming - DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT - I didn't know Jaye was a he, I didn't realize the body on the floor was Jigsaw, and I didn't know Bruce Willis was dead. But I knew this one! ;) Great post! Cheers!

  13. Great review of Fight Club. I've never seen it and probably won't, but I had wondered what made it such a compelling read and watch. You gave me that view, so thank you!

    Happy A to Z, that rebel, Olivia

  14. This is a bit of a classic indeed :)

  15. @ Melissa

    Thank you! Just trying to keep the flow of good movies going strong!

    @ Seams

    Fair enough. The twist was great. And thank you. Happy Friday to you!

    @ Craig

    You know I'm delivering the goods, lol!

    That's awesome. The first time I watched it, I was too young and naive to realize the magnitude and intricacy of the film, so I didn't get it w/my first viewing. But my film eye has refined and matured over the years, and now I'm a masterful spotter of twists!

    The ones you named are all classics. Too bad M. Night Shyamalan has not made another good movie. The Sixth Sense was brilliant.

  16. @ Olivia

    Thank you. Glad my post could enlighten you. Despite your reluctance, I still think you should at least give it a try.

    @ Trisha

    Classic then, classic today, classic tomorrow. You couldn't be anymore right!

  17. One of my all time favorites. Fincher is the man!

  18. as per usual, love your movie choice Matty, brilliant film, I love Norton , very underated at times.

  19. Yep, this is an oldie, but goodie.

  20. I love this film. Edward Norton was wonderful.

  21. Love Palahniuk and this is a classic film. I'm not sure if perhaps you are in a separate challenge for just films, but if not, I LOVE the idea and will definitely be catching up and following you through the rest of the alphabet!

    God bless!

  22. @ Nebular

    You know it bro! We're both on that Fincher bandwagon!

    @ Dempsey

    You're right. It had an underrated theatrical run and didn't really become such a revered film until its DVD days, where it reached that cult classic status.

    @ J.L.

    Haha! I like your description!

  23. @ Kari

    Yes! Norton is such a fine actor. And he is definitely one of the smartest! I'm surprised he doesn't get more universal praise.

    @ Trudy

    Thanks! Nope, it's not a separate challenge. I'm just too obsessed with films. If I'm going to do a post a day, the only way I could maintain my sanity with it is if I was talking about films, lol.

  24. This is one of the greatest movies I've ever seen, and Fincher, Norton and Brad Pitt were amazing.

  25. I loved Fight Club! I've read a few of Chuck Palahniuk's book and he sure does know how to make a reader cringe!

  26. @ Myne

    You got it. That triple duo helped make it an EPIC film!

    @ Amy

    Haha, yes he does. He has no problem accentuating madness. Thanks for comment!

  27. I'm a big fan of all of Fincher's films (well, maybe not Alien 3), though this is easily my favorite. Fantastic pick.

    Jack's Raging Bile Duct

  28. Two part response:

    @ Nate

    Thanks! I'm more than delighted to welcome another Fincher-file here. Too bad we couldn't convince the Academy to give Best Picture to him this past year. And Alien 3—you're right, its meh.

    @ Jack's Raging Bile Duct

    "You are not a unique and beautiful snowflake."