Fight Club (DVD, 2007, Collector's Edition; Steelbook)

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How much can y'know about yourself if you've never been inna fight? FIGHT CLUB

Jul 23, 2009 (Updated Jul 23, 2009)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Sex, Violence, and deep psychological insight.  Brad Pitt in a single glove...and nothing else...

Cons:Violence.  Violence and the glorification of Violence.

The Bottom Line:

Macho posturing, societal deconstruction, Jungian psychology, and Brad Pitt Naked.


Fight Club (1999) Directed by David Fincher

"This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time."

Chuck Palaniuk's novel is brought to life, much like Baron Victor's little science project.  There is a lot going on here, so pay attention.  And while Chuck is handing out profound psychological insights and macho jingoism with his right hand, his left is picking your pocket, or more likely, placing something risqué and incriminating in it.

Edward Norton is our hero.  He is an insurance adjuster, who goes around the country examining fatal auto crashes to determine exactly how long his company can get away with not ordering a recall.  A job like that, it gets to you.

He gets insomnia.  As he observes (quite accurately) when you have insomnia, you are never asleep, but you are never really awake either.  His life is an Ikea perfect condo and a job that won't let him sleep, and he needs release.

He finds it in support groups.  Not for insomniacs, or insurance adjusters, or soulless corporate work droids, but for tuberculosis, brain parasites, and survivors of testicular cancer.  There, listening to their stories, lying about his own, he moves through a sea of fear and grief, and into someone else's arms, to cry and console each other, and to go home, and sleep the sleep of the just.

But it is spoiled by a poser, a faker who is not really sick, who is there as a tourist!  Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) isn't dieing, or sick, and certainly does not have testicular cancer.  And she is ruining this for our hero.  Her lie reveals his own.

So they split the groups, and he lives with half insomnia...

Then, two things happen that change his life.  He meets a man on the plane; Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt).  And his apartment blows up.  All the useless crap that he thought was important was taken away from him, and he got a guru who is half Yoda, half Freud, with a heavy dash of Ted Nuggent, and Gary Busey, but sexy.  He got a place to live; imagine the Addam's family mansion, but run down, and he got a hobby... Fight Club.

The First Rule of Fight Club is...You don't talk about Fight Club.

The Second Rule of Fight Club is...You don't talk about Fight Club.

Fight Club is just men, meeting in back alleys and basements, and going at each other bare knuckle until one gives up.  There is no hatred, there is nothing to prove, nothing is resolved.  But for a few moments, they are completely alive, completely awake, and completely in the now.  That can be addictive....

And his life changes.  Hard and lean, he discovers he can go to work with a face like hamburger, and no one will ask him how it happened.  He is confident; he tunes out the trivial, and ignores social convention.  He is liberated, and they are blind.

But Tyler is an alchemist; he turns lye into money and a teaching aid, and liposuctioned fat into soap.  At the same time he has turned our hero from a soft, diffident neurotic with no idea who he was into a hard lean man who observes the world, and sees through it's bullmerde.

But as Tyler works his social alchemy on the men of Fight Club, our hero begins to wonder what it is he is making.  What is his left hand doing while his right gives the mundane workaday world the finger?

This is a hard movie to review...there are so many great scenes, so many hilarious quotes, so many insights that beg to be discussed.  But it is also a movie that yields constant surprises.  And those have to be protected.

But there is still so much; Marla wears bridesmaid dresses she buys for a dollar, and steals clothes from the Laundromat for resale.  She walks across the street without looking; to her disappointment she has yet to be hit.  She smokes like a haystack, which is why when they are dividing groups, she is willing to give up TB (it doesn't go over well there.)  And the mouth on her! "A condom is the glass slipper for our generation. You slip one on when you meet a stranger. You dance all night, and then you throw it away. The condom, I mean, not the stranger."  (I wanted to use a quote featuring the key phrase "grade school", but that would be tacky.)

Tyler makes soap out of liposuctioned human adipose tissue, then sells it to high end department stores for $20 a bar.  He organizes Fight Clubs, and gives out homework assignments to the members; he holds a store clerk at gun point, tells him that if he is not back in school in six weeks, he's dead, and explains how he did that man the best favor of his life.  Tyler takes doughy boys, raised by women, unsure of themselves, and their role in society, and turns them into social terrorists, high lighting the hypocrisy of the modern world with acts of anarchy, nameless men in black, as hard as wood.

And our hero...nameless...troubled, unable to sleep, unable to find the perfect end table that will make his life make sense, doing a job of soul crushing evil wrapped in banality so he can buy the sofa that defines him as a person.  He is so emotionally constipated that he pretends to be a eunuch so that he can cry between Robert Parson's big moosie manboobs, just so he can sleep.  Attracted to the only woman who is totally free, but just as screwed up as he is.

There is a lot of insight in this movie, but there is a vast amount of violence as well.  And while Tyler spews a lot of profound sounding patter, much of it is psychologically stunted.

But in a way, I find that almost more profound than genuine philosophy...the movie is the unfolding of our hero; Tyler's insights give us a glimpse inside his head.  I mean what do you do with a man whose power animal is a penguin?

There is a twist at the end that is like M. Night Shyamalan's wet dream.   As an action movie, it is first rate, as a psychological thriller, it is a rollercoaster ride.  As a comedy, it is a crash course in abnormal psychology.  And it works.

There are a million movies out there that are superbly done, that when you are done, you think, good movie...and then you never watch again.  This movie has a great quality of being infinitely rewatchable.  The second time through, you are looking for all the clues that foreshadowed the twist (and they are legion), and every time after that, you find something new, a piece of Durden wisdom made relevant by what follows, a new sign of neurosis for Marla, a single frame spliced into the film...

Is Fight Club a road map for post modern man to find meaning in our society that crushes the primal aspects of our maleness?  H*ll no!  But is it a cautionary tale about finding some release for the back logged testosterone?  Possibly.  And it is a damn good story.

And this is definitely a contribution to my Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting! Write Off.


Recommend this product? Yes

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