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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To criticize a film for having a shallow or confused message is
understandable. The problem with this criticism is that, in the case of
"Fight Club", the movie's message is not confused. It knows exactly
what it's saying; but many people don't.
Not only do some people jump to the conclusion that "Fight Club" is condoning violent or sociopathic behavior, but they think it's condoning fascism and terrorism, when it's actually outright mocking it. It's showing the juvenile pointlessness of it. Not only do some people miss that it's satirizing the teenage-rebellion mentality, but they assume it's pandering to it.
"Fight Club" is the story of two people representing two extremes: the Narrator, a white-collar worker who's become a slave to consumerism and the social construct around him, and the other is Tyler Durden, a violent nihilist with no regard for society or others, who feels the human race has been emasculated by materialism and advertising. Essentially, these two are exact opposites. But as the two of them become friends, they start an underground boxing club for the catharsis of people who feel just as trapped and emotionally apathetic as they do. Ultimately, Tyler takes this entire concept and evolves it into "Project Mayhem", a group devoted to vandalism and general mischief, but from there, it actively grows into a terrorist organization.
The thing that SHOULD be the giveaway that it's not promoting this behavior is through the DEATH of an innocent man as the result of these actions, and the fact that we see the misguided members of Project Mayhem lose their personal identities to a dangerous cult mentality.
I said it once and I'll say it again: Project Mayhem and their violent beliefs are not being condoned. And yet, to give you an idea of just how much the themes in "Fight Club" are taken out of context, there was a real-life incident with a kid in Manhattan who, influenced by the movie, attempted to blow up a Starbucks, as the Space Monkeys are seen doing in this movie. Of course, despite how obvious it was that this behavior was being mocked in the movie (and, once again, how they show an innocent man get killed as a result), authorities proceeded to scapegoat this movie, as if it was the fault of the film itself that someone foolishly misinterpreted the message and attempted an act of terrorism.
The film blatantly portrays Tyler Durden as a fascist and a terrorist, and yet, people actually think it's promoting him, simply because it doesn't outright tell you what to think. "Fight Club" is attacked by everyone from politically correct New-Agers and prudish moralists with mantras of "ZOMG THIS MOVEEZ VIOLINZ FOR THE STOOPID TEENAEGERS LOLZ!11" (and of course, shouted down by so-called cinephiles for being unconventional in nature, and for being a Hollywood film). I recommend actually thinking this film over instead of going by knee-jerk reaction. If the things that happen in this movie disturb you (especially the ending), then good. They SHOULD disturb you.
In short: "Fight Club" is condoning Tyler Durden's actions and beliefs as much as "Schindler's List" is condoning the Holocaust.
Of course, that's my take on how the message is misconstrued, so what else does "Fight Club" have to offer?
Well, as you'd expect from Fincher, it's a remarkable-looking movie, and the actors make the absolute best of it. It's consistently funny, full of unforgettable characters and dialogue, and most of all, it captures the world and feel of Generation X quite unlike any movie I've ever seen. But therein lies something fascinating: it's the absolute film for its time and place, yet it doesn't feel dated at all. The reason, I theorize, is because it does such an outstanding job of making you a part of the time in which it's set, and giving us something timeless to think about.
So what, in my opinion, is the true message of "Fight Club"?
"Fight Club" is--and this is important--NOT telling you what to think. It's simply asking you to reflect, question things. Question society, question the false prophets. Keep the balance between these two extremes (Narrator and Tyler)by being an individual.
This is a dismal movie. I'm going to spoil some stuff, so don't read if you don't want, but read on if you want to save some time and money.
After I sat through this abomination, I knew I'd come on here and see that it got great reviews, because it tried to be so artsy that weak-minded people would say they liked it just to try to convince themselves that they have advanced taste. Midway through I told myself that if I heard that "I am Jake's this and that" line again I would get up and leave, but sure enough I kept hearing it and I stayed. Maybe I'm as dumb as the filmmakers. The fact of the matter is that I haven't seen a plot this full of holes since "Slugs". So if I start a fight club, the participants will just start showing up at my doorstep out of the blue and turn into mind-numbed drones that do my evil bidding??? Not only that, but this movie also taught me that if I stick a gun in my mouth and pull the trigger, not only will I live but I'll be able to talk to people in my normal voice, as long as I put a gauze pad on it.
If you still don't know, this movie is about a clinically-depressed guy who's search for therapy leads him to Brad Pitt, who teaches him that beating the bejeezus out of people will brighten his spirits. More guys find out about this, and they all join the "fight club" and then naturally go live with Pitt to become his evil minions. Of course! This must be how the Wicked Witch found all those monkeys. Their evil deeds get worse and worse, and the supposedly still-sane Norton inexplicably keeps hanging out with this bunch. This leads to one totally inane scene where the evil monkeys return from a gunfight with one of their members dead, and all Norton can do is whine "C'mon guys, cut it out".
So after this movie backs itself into a miserable corner, it's only escape is the equally awful "It was all a dream" ending, where we find out that Brad Pitt was just Norton's evil imaginary friend, and that Norton had been committing all these acts himself. Please audience, forget the fact that the "imaginary" Pitt managed to pull Norton from a burning car wreck and pick him up off the ground and hurl him down a flight of stairs. I don't care how psycho you are, your imaginary friend cannot physically pick you up.
Plot hole #9233 asks us to believe that during this short time, Norton had been in EVERY MAJOR CITY in the US forming more armies of mind-numbed robot monkeys, and that every male over the age of 18 in the United States was now a member of his "secret" evil gang. So anyhow, Norton finally realizes that he's been crazy all this time, and to kill Pitt he sticks a gun in his own mouth and blows his neck off, a wound which apparently isn't as debilitating as you would think, since he manages to get right up and make up with his girlfriend and watch peacefully as his evil plot comes to fruition. But wait, you thought he was sane now and would be horrified at what he did? So would I, but that apparently also is not the case.
Before you typically think that my movie tastes aren't as cultured as yours, let me tell you that I loved the masterpiece that was "A Clockwork Orange", and this movie was NO "Clockwork". If Clockwork ended by telling you that the old man in the wheelchair was actually the killer and that McDowell was just his evil imagination, then we'd have a comparison, but Kubrick wasn't that horribly stupid.
I am Jake's bad movie review.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Is it possible to tell the truth and lie at the same time? Here is the
lie: You can pretend special awareness and moral superiority even as
you demonstrate a complete adherence to the system you condemn
found honest and heroic in the process.
Is there irony in the fact that George A. Romero's supposed jab at consumerism (Dawn of the Dead) was marketed to consumers, and has since become a trendy tool for industry profit? Is it ironic that this satire of corporate soullessness is a corporate product itself? David Fincher is a commercial director. He directs commercials. Even his films are commercials. The style you see is only the transference of corporate technique into the realm of fantasy for entertainment. This film hasn't done anything socially other than amuse, negatively influence and accrue interest.
I apologize if Fight Club has opened your eyes. I am sorry that you do not realize the truth: that you are just a sheep. We are all sheep. None of us are free in thought or action. We are all selectively intelligent. Some of us are aware, and some of us are more aware. Some are aware enough to see a problem and exploit it. Some are aware enough to see a problem and imagine themselves not an intimate part of it. Some of us know that the most deceptive form of 'evil' is that which makes us feel superior even as we wallow in comfort.
Fight Club is not a bad film because it uses the system to pretend to fight the system. Fight Club is not a bad film at all. It is just an expensive lie packaged for consumers to blindly eat and feel that they are doing something other than consuming, other than feeding the system. Eat the rich, my ass.
Talk about how cool Fight Club is. Talk about how funny you find it. Talk about how a little girl crying at the sight of a grown man's penis is biting social commentary. Just don't kid yourself that Fight Club is anything more than an amusing diversion from the actual truth of the human condition. Just tell yourself that you are not that gullible. Or in Fight Club speak: "You are not your gullibility".
This is what you get when the morally dead take a faux moral perch and attempt to laugh at the carcasses below. You can kick a corpse and pretend that it is dancing. But in realty, it is just dead meat. Want to be an actual rebel? Work with the homeless.
In short, Fight Club is a movie that attempts to give a distorted portrait
of society as an evil in order to facilitate showing violence and yet more
violence. But since the protagonist's disbelief in society is not
substantiated, the movie has a hard time explaining the destruction plot.
So, time has to be spent watching people fight.
And of course, the disbelief cannot be motivated: The protagonist
complaining that: "God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas ... We
no Great War. No Great Depression." is both romanticizing over events in
Western history, that made absolutely no sense to the people living it, and
at the same time mocking our grandparents and the life and society they
fought for, ours.
The main character continues: "We were raised on television to believe that we'd all be millionaires, movie gods, rock stars, but we won't".
Well, learning to differentiate between yourself and "movie gods [and] rock stars" and learning that life is not all beer and skittles is what growing up is about today.
So, Brad Pitt et al., grow up. And go read a book or something.
The rubbish quote sums it up pretty good: "I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men that have ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas or waiting tables; slaves with white collars. We're the middle children of history. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate, so we can buy s**t we don't need. We were raised on television to believe that we'd all be millionaires, movie gods, rock stars, but we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very p***ed off. "
I sat through the first half of this movie with my mouth open. It was so exciting, brilliant, a Fritz Lang for the new millennium. Edward Norton's face. That insomnia that he carries all over him is so magnificently drawn that creates the opposite effect on its audience. I was awake, very awake, sitting on the edge of my seat, devouring every moment, enjoying it like hell. Helena Bonham Carter was a like a great silent movie star doing her first talkie. Pola Negri, Theda Bara. As if this wan't enough, Brad Pitt, and Brad Pitt is Brad Pitt with all its fabulous connotations. Then, can you explain to me why I detested this movie? Why it made me so angry? Can you? I can only tell you that half way through I turned against the movie or the movie turned against me, either way I didn't like it. I felt cheated in the worse possible way. I felt treated like a moron. You start promising me the most unique film experience I've had in a long time but what you delivered was a tired, opportunistic, gimmicky, easy piece of nonsense. Why? David Fincher is one of the most consummated craftsmen American movies have ever had. Don't you agree? He can tell you a story, even something like "Seven", a horror thriller, in a way we've never seen before, at least half of it. He has an eye like no other. That's why my frustration. An artist like that putting himself at the service of something that's not done, not finished not worthy of his talents. You may think I'm being a bit too hard on the man. But let me tell you, it's out of love. I expect so much from him, I've seen what he is capable of. But so far have been only halves. Brilliantly acted, sensational to look at, but halves, just halves. He should look at Fritz Lang, Pietro Germi, Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell, William Wellman and naturally John Ford, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Fincher already inherited something from each one of them. Now the trick is that it isn't a trick. Half is better than nothing. But in the grand scheme of things, it's not enough.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Fight Club" runs a bit over 2 hours. For the first 1 hour and 51 minutes
found this movie very difficult to watch or enjoy. I kept wondering why Ed
Norton's character continued to put up with Brad Pitt's out-of-control
character. To me the movie seemed to be one big mess. However, my
and trust in the director, paid off and I had to watch much of the movie
twice to really appreciate how good it is. I rate it 9 of 10 and predict
will be one of those ground-breaking films that viewers and critics refer
for years, much like "The Matrix" and "The Sixth Sense." It is definitely
for someone with a mature mind, who can understand subtleties, and who
enjoys "studying" a film. This film is definitely meant to be a funny and
absurd take on life, but with a very dark tone to it. It isn't really
"fight clubs", although the fighting is presented as an avenue for
characters to deal with their inner conflicts. It is not intended to
represent reality, nor to suggest that fighting is good. It's closest
film is perhaps "Doctor Strangelove."
I saw this film on DVD. The sound is perhaps the best I've heard so far. There are several crashes and explosions throughout the movie and the realism is just so good it made me cringe. But you have to have a good subwoofer to enjoy it all.
Now - CAUTION - SPOILERS FOLLOW - READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
However, I think most people will enjoy the movie more, on first viewing, if they understand the total concept. So here it is.
Norton plays the "narrator", and in the introductory scenes we find out he has a conventional existence, a traveling job as a "recall coordinator" for a major automobile manufacturer. By his own admission he is "a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct", travels with his "CK shirts and DKNY shoes", and says of his total existence "close to being complete." "Fighting" is completely foreign to him. But, deep in his subconscious he hates what he is becoming, and if he were to die now his life will have been meaningless.
Brad Pitt's character, Tyler Durden, is Norton's alter-ego. They are one and the same person. In opening scenes you see various single-frame flashes (stop-action on DVD helps see this clearly) of Pitt's 'Tyler', we assume still in Norton's subconscious as he first begins to realize he hates his existence.
Then, on a buisness flight, while talking to the lady seated next to him, Norton thinks "I pray for a crash or midair collision", which is quickly followed by a highly realistic "dream collision", then Pitt's Tyler Durden the rest of the trip is actually sitting next to Norton, conversing with him. This "prayer for a crash" is the consciousness that first makes Pitt's Tyler totally real to Norton.
The rest of the movie has many scenes with both Norton and Tyler but, we see later, no one else ever sees Brad Pitt's "Tyler", they only see Norton as "Tyler." Brad Pitt's Tyler is explained this way, "You were looking for a way to change your life. You could not do this on your own. All the ways you wish you could be - that's me. I look like you want to look... am free in all the ways you are not. Little by little you're letting yourself become - Tyler Durden."
The movie's title is unfortunately misleading, because only a small part of the movie is really about the fighting, which is used as a way for disillusioned men to get out their frustrations. One line by Norton, "This kid from work, Ricky, couldn't remember if you ordered pens with blue ink or black. But Ricky was a 'god' for 10 minutes when he trounced the maitre d' of the local food court", explains the gist of why they fight. It symbolizes the one area where they are in complete control of their pleasure and pain.
That last comment, "maitre d' of the local food court" illustrates the comedic approach to much of the movie. Who ever heard of a food court having a maitre d'? How much lower in the food chain could you get? Or Ricky supplying ink pens at work? One of the fight club "assignments", to pick a fight with a stranger, then lose", has a number of very funny sequences in it.
The movie turns very dark when the fight club kicks itself "up a notch" and begins to plot the destruction of all major buildings housing credit card companies. The rationale - destroy them and all their records of debt, and everyone can start again at ground zero. When Norton's Tyler finally at 1 hour 52 minutes into the film finally figures out what he had done, he tries unsuccessfully to twarth the plan. The final scene shows him and his girlfriend standing before a window in a high-rise, and sequentially all bombs go off and the buildings crash into various piles of rubble. Reminiscent of the final scene of "Doctor Strangelove", where all the nuclear bombs are going off, destroying the world.
The closing line, Norton says, "Everything will be alright. You met me at a really strange time in my life." Again, dark humor.
The genius of this film, if there is any, resides in the premise that the two main characters represent the two extremes of the same person, and in the end the "real" Tyler Durden meets them in the middle. Once you know this premise, and can watch the whole movie in this context, I found it much more enjoyable, made much more sense, and every scene with both Tylers is done completely in character with the premise.
The DVD also has a second DVD which is devoted to extras which are in themselves very interesting if you like to study the art of film-making. However, plan to spend a minimum of 5 hours total in viewing and studying this film to get its full impact.
I had avoided this movie as I had assumed it was 'Rocky Goes
Underground'. Saw it last night (May 2013) only because my son wanted
to watch it and I was too tired to get off the couch. I was totally
blown away. It has no resemblance to Rocky or any other boring boxing
Can't stop thinking about it today, certainly can't concentrate on work. Why? Because I totally identify with The Narrator and it seems from the comments here and from the consensus of viewer ratings that I am far from alone. Its not 'Macho Porn', or 'little-boy posturing' as Roger Ebert describes it. It is rather one of the most thought provoking movies I have ever seen.
I unleashed my own Tyler Durden 10 years ago, not violently or illegally, but I did turn my back on my serf-like existence as a well- paid corporate slave. Sure it was painful and chaotic. But my marriage survived and now I run my own small business. Sometimes I think I made a mistake, as my former affluent life sure was easier. But it takes a movie like this to remind me how empty it was and how much more satisfying it is to take the road less travelled, to forge my own destiny, to have a proper work life balance that allows me to know my kids and to not be sucked into hollow consumerism.
Edward Norton plays the nameless narrator whose life radically changes when
Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) enters his life. Norton plays a character who
can't sleep and finds respite in the many groups that help people tackle
cancer or give up smoking. He meets Marla, a creature just as dependent on
those support groups as he is.
Tyler Durden's arrival turns Norton's world upside down as he highlights how consumerist and pointless his life has become. They lash at each other and find violence eases their dissatisfaction with the world. Others join them as fight clubs emerge across the country. Tyler and Norton's character come to believe that they can take the dissatisfaction and help change the world and they develop something called Project Mayhem. But Norton begins doubt Tyler and becomes troubled by Tyler's origins.
It's easy to see why this movie has become popular with heterosexual males from late teens to early thirties. It's an expression of discontent with modern life, challenging expectations, capturing adolescent and middle-aged angst and distilling it into a movie put together with great panache and flair.
Norton and Pitt give showy performances typical of their work. Pitt is clearly trying to break away from the pretty boy image established by A River Runs through It and Thelma and Louise. Bonham Carter, similarly, is attempting to change her prim Edwardian image (A Room with a View, The Wings of the Dove) for something more shocking.
It's an exercise in style with its flashy editing and obvious special effects. It's probably Fincher's best film to date but the points it makes are hypocritical. One scene encapsulates this: Pitt and Norton look at an advertisement and ask whether this is how a real man is supposed to look. But this is exactly how both Pitt and Norton appear; it is the image movies like Fight Club perpetuate; it's the ideal that movies like this reinforce. Pretentious and glossy entertainment.
David Fincher is terrific with his camera. Visually his films are a wonder. Unfortunately the contents are so thin that the interiors of his tale vanish very quickly. What remains is "the look" and the promise, no matter how unfulfilled the promise remains. Edward Norton is sensational, especially in the first 20 minutes of the movie. Brad Pitt, already a film icon, does his thing, and that, of course, is a plus. Helena Bonham Carter surprised me big time with a facade I had never seen. The slow motion of the smoke coming out of her mouth as Fincher introduces her to us is a work of art in itself but, and that "but" is a real problem, nothing remains because deep down there is nothing there but a fantastic eye for and to startle and amaze. I'm sure that sooner or later David Fincher will come out with something that is as powerful inside as it is outside.
So I re-watched Fight Club for the first time in a few years, having
liked it very much the first time.
David Fincher is a fantastic director and the directing in this movie is pretty fantastic. The editing and other elements are also of highest order, as Fincher's films usually are.
My problems with the film lie within the script, which seems to get totally lost in itself. Fight Club's themes of consumerism and materialism and existentialism are obvious, since they are in the foreground, not tying to hide in the background for interpretation. If you think you're a movie buff for understanding this, you're not. It's simple to understand but is at the same time thought provoking, since the movie is about big ideas.
Free yourself from society. Accept that your life is meaningless. Destroy yourself to find out who you really are. You are capable of more than you think. Fight Club states these ideas as blatantly as I just did. It shows the main characters being freed and we root for them, but really, do we see a whole lot of benefit to this lifestyle?
The film seems to suggest that there is an extent to which this lifestyle becomes dangerous and is unhealthy, yet the film still glorifies it, suggesting no middle ground as to how far we should carry out its philosophies, other than going insane and causing an apocalypse.
Another problem I felt was that the "space monkeys" in the film are all freeing themselves from being slaves to their possessions and society, yet they act like drones when embracing Tyler's philosophies. They become just as much victims to fight club and project mayhem as they were to their societies rules.
Is the point of the movie to lose yourself in these ideas? To become a slave to new philosophies in exchange for being a slave to society? The last few minutes seems to suggest that Norton's character regrets his actions and that he has gone too far, but where, does the film suggest, is the middle ground? Despite all this, Fight Club is electrifying and hyper throughout in a way that few movies are and for that it is worth seeing. The ideas are good, but lose track of themselves. Only fanboys think this is one of the best films of all time. It's not, you only like it cause it's cool and you think you're a member of a cult.
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