Fight Club (1999)
Drama, 139 minutes
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter
Why do I like Fight Club? It seems to suggest that violence and anarchy are good things, but that's certainly not something I believe. I think it comes down to the dark comedy and the strong script, coupled with excellent performances from Norton and Pitt. This is a cool world to experience, but I wouldn't want to live in it.
The story seems perfectly traditional at first. We see Norton on a plane. He's referred to as The Narrator in the credits and seems to think of himself as Jack. He encounters Tyler Durden (Pitt) and takes his business card. Jack returns home to find that there's been an explosion in his apartment, so he calls Durden and eventually asks to stay at his house for a while. Durden is a cheerful, carefree lunatic who wants Jack to punch him. The two fight on the street and decide to recruit members and form Fight Club, believing that it's an expression of freedom.
Jack spends his free time visiting support groups. We see him hugging people with testicular cancer and all manner of diseases. He enjoys letting his inhibitions go and listening to the members speak about their illnesses. After a while, he becomes aware of Marla (Helena Bonham Carter). Like him, she's a tourist visiting the various support groups. He confronts her and they agree to attend different classes.
Durden encourages Jack to stop trying to live up to the expectations of other people. As a result, Jack becomes more assertive. He challenges the authority of his boss and stops worrying about his appearance and the latest IKEA catalog. He regularly shows up for work with fresh cuts and bruises. Jack finds that he enjoys his new image. One thing he doesn't like is Durden forming a relationship with Marla.
Fight Club is set in a gritty world and makes the viewer feel unclean while watching it. Fincher is good at creating unsettling worlds and this one is similar to those found in The Game and Se7en. Durden's house appears derelict and the neighborhood is seedy. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Durden has a purpose for starting Fight Club. The recruits are assigned tasks to disrupt society and members can come from any occupational background. It's like a secret society.
Fight Club contains a major twist and I won't reveal it for those who haven't ever seen the movie. The twist elevates the movie to a different level. Subsequent viewings are enhanced because you'll notice little details you may have missed the first time. It's clever how everything ties together. The ending annoys some viewers, but it works perfectly for me. The final sequence is set to one of my favorite Pixies' songs and is probably my favorite scene in the entire movie.
Although it's not an action movie, Fight Club is a pure adrenaline rush. From the opening credits set to the pounding beat of the Dust Brothers, it rarely lets up until the relative calm of the closing scene.
I'm enjoying this project and got more out of Fight Club on yesterday's viewing than I ever have before. Just don't go out and copy the behavior it depicts.
on June 27, 2004
Fight Club is certainly not a monumental film, but it struck a chord about the modern condition. The comedy is of the blackest variety and you will have to suspend any squeamish-ness you may feel toward very violent films to reap enjoyment out of it. But all the roles are skillfully played, especially by Brad Pitt's Tyler Durden, and underlying the banality of blood and mayhem is a message...a message that perhaps life doesn't have to control us...life can be what you make it...just be carefully you do so thoughtful with positive human regard and a degree of clarity. Attempting to control life can get out of hand.
Chuck Palahnuik's novel comes to life in the adept hands of director David Fincher (of Seven fame). It is no surprise that the scenes are slickly cool, the violence is of the "in your face" variety, and we are entertained despite our misgivings. The movie has some real "Momento" moments, so I won't try to delve into the story-line to risk giving any of those away. A truly fetching role is turned in by Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer a chain smoking barely hanging on to life love interest of Edward Norton's. Their chemistry and interplay is terrifically authentic and dead-on funny. Brad Pitt take the show though as Tyler Durden, an ultra-confident hipster that makes soap. The lines he and Norton toss back and forth are classics to be remembered and quoted in bars, around water coolers, at support groups.
"Fight Club" is an experience you owe yourself, if not for anything more than to ponder the state of society and what is truly important. I think if you see the movie out to the end and get past the violence, you may find this message though-provoking. You just may find yourself laughing along the way.
on June 8, 2004
This movie completely transcended what I expected of it. I had put off watching it for a long time, and then one day my roommate and I popped it in. I was blown away. I've seen it a few more times since, and each time it gets better and better. There is a lot that a first-time viewer wouldn't pick up on and it's great to go back and pick those things out. The acting (Norton, Pitt, Bonham-Carter....and MEATLOAF) is fantastic, as is the direction and the effects.
The message of the movie has stayed with me ever since I first watched it - it is a fantastic commentary on our consumerism-driven culture as well as our lack of originality as a whole and our fear of deviating from the path of least resistance. I may not be a guy, but sometimes I want to be Tyler Durden...I want to laugh at someone who deserves it, and question the status quo, and.....make soap.
This is a movie that one cannot judge based on someone else's opinion (although I have tried my best to provide a very biased opinion!). You have to watch it, with an open mind, and a sick sense of humour at your disposal (this movie is also funny as hell). Watch it, live it, love it.....but whatever you do, don't talk about it. That's the first rule.
on August 29, 2013
Not much to write about this, since most have seen it and know what it is all about. Not much to add on the story side of things here. Just wanted the Blu-ray version of this for my collection and with the Hi-Def imaging some of the scenes will really pop demonstration just how great some of the CGI imaging used to help create some of the realistic affects in the movie. Also at the price I purchased it at it was an incredible deal having purchased it for something like $6.
on August 30, 2001
Fight Club is the "Taxi Driver" of our times and Ed Norton is the DeNiro of his generation. I missed this when it first came out largely due to the panning of critics. Shame on me. I saw it on cable about halfway through so all the surprises weren't so surprising. Finally I rented it and saw it all...twice. I disagree that the Fight Club turns into a facist group as they don't really have a political ideology worked out. If anything they're more Nihilistic than anything, particulary anarchist.
They're are some wonderful ideas in the film, ie, when Pitt tells Norton that soap was created by the ashes of heroes. There's more but that's all I'll say on that.
The real lesson of this film is the dangers of young men without positive male role models in their lives growing up in a consumer culture - Yes, you need fathers! The film argues that manhood is learned and not intrinsic and that without these role models, young men will follow anybody who seems to know what they are talking about. The danger is that they may follow the wrong person. This we already know ie Gangs, Army. It's just well presented here.
On another note, I'm currently reading the book. It's equally great. The lack of description only adds to it. I also got the soundtrack. It's great.
Fight Club is destined to become a cult classic like Taxi Driver. Ask about, you'll find it doesn't take long for a group of guys to start talking about fight club, thereby breaking the first two rules. See it, and you will too.
on May 21, 2004
Fight Club. Wow, what more can I say? It has to be one of the greatest films I have ever seen in my whole life for so many amazing reasons. It is a brilliantly-acted, superbly-portrayed, beautifully captured, complex masterpiece that was easily the film of 1999. Forget the Matrix and Star Wars for a minute and watch this. You'll soon see that special effects aren't everything and that all you need is a mind-blowing script like the one on display here to make a seismic impact. The film is riddled with dark humor and sharp quotes, violent action and emotional turmoil all of which result in the demise of one man's descent into madness as the approaching millennium beckons. Upon its release the film made a big impact by word-of-mouth, but was harshly snubbed by many award show judges. In the past five years, however, it has gone on to become an uncalculated masterpiece of the highest order that not only appeals to a wide audience, but teaches a strict lesson about the fabrication and consumer-obsessed society that we live in.
Edward Norton plays Jack, a man on the verge of being the biggest loser in the world. With no friends or family and stuck in a dead-end job, he turns to victim support groups. The man suffers terrible insomnia and feeds off the depression that the other group members pour forth. His apartment later explodes, forcing him to turn to a man whom he first meets on a plane...
The man is of course Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and in all his cocky arrogance and fast-paced way of life makes a big impression on Jack. Tyler is the complete embodiment of the guy who is bad, but we love him because of it. He steals fat from liposuction clinics which he makes into soap, before selling it back to the rich and fat ladies it once came from; urinates in the soup of the restaurant in which he works; and splices single frames of pornography into family movies. He has one main motivation in life: to disrupt social ethics and the way in which we live our lives. The people with the typical SUV, the 2.4 children and the idyllic lifestyle that everyone wants.
The two man are complete opposites - day and night, as it were. Jack moves in with Tyler when his place is destroyed, and soon finds his life completely changing. When Jack gets talked into a fight with Tyler, he is amazed by how raw and primal he feels from inside. And the rest is history. "Fight Club" is formed, a secret underground society where men meet, one-on-one prepared to go head to head bare-knuckles style. The first rule of Fight Club is: "You do not talk about Fight Club." The second rule is the same. You get the picture.
Helena Bonham Carter is really fantastic as Marla, who is another fake visiting social victim groups when she meets Jack. She drives him crazy, and the rest of the plot is pretty much too hard for me to explain. I've only seen this film twice, bt I still have a hard time explaining what lies beneath it. The genius at work, director David Fincher, has created an intricate and glowing masterpiece that unfortunately gained a reputation as a guy-film because of the violence. It's anything but, and I encourage anyone who enjoys films such as American Beauty to watch it - not for the violence, but for the lesson you'll undoubtedly learn from society's fabrication.
You can't really watch this film without seeing how beautifully-filmed it is. Filled with dark and brooding colours and tones of blues and blacks, we get a perfect view of the society in which Tyler and Jack inhabit. Most of the scenes take place at night and the run-down city just reflects the storyline completely. There's also the eye-candy on offer: I don't want to sound cliché, but Brad Pitt is just so beautiful in this film! There isn't a hotter man alive on the face of the Earth, and this factor alone makes it worth watching a million times, especially the scenes where he's in the bathtub, bedroom, dressing gown, etc. Yum yum!
OVERALL GRADE: 10/10
Fight Club was criticised because of its violence, but for me I can't really see what a fuss people were making of it. Yeah, it deserved its rating and it's not suitable for children, but I truly believe that there's nothing stomach-churning in this film that would make the faint-hearted squeamish! The film makes an impact right from the start and Jack's smart narration is a part of this completely. I haven't revealed the twist that this movie contains, but it's really smart and very well-done. Without knowning what this twist is, you might think that this is just another movie, but you'd be wrong. View it for what it is: a sharp and bright look at society and the ways in which we are told to live.
on October 15, 2000
It is scary what most people are not getting out of this movie. Yes, this movie starts out bashing materialism, but if that is all you can see, you've really missed it. What is truly scary is that most audiences who are excited about this film seem to be to glorifying Tyler's character and praising his rebellion. The guy is a Hitler character, killing people, destroying everything, and stripping individuals of their identity. Sure people are fed up with capitalism to the point where violence is the only thing that seems real. No one is denying that. But, this movie is also a satire on the proposed solutions. I think this is why people are confused at the end. Everyone is willing to be cynical about our violent, materialistic society, but not many seem brave enough to consider the possibilities that could come with rebelling against it. There isn't a tied up in a package message to this film. It makes you think and think and think because some answers just aren't obvious. Great film! I hope people start understanding it better or we are all doomed!
on June 6, 2001
Wow.. where do you begin with Fight Club? Well, let me start with: "I have never read the book." That having been said, this movie is one of the my favorite movies ever, and it's a pity that it wasn't given a better reception by critics and fans alike when it came out.
From a strictly filmmaking point of view, Fight Club uses a variety of interesting storytelling tehcniques that help build the story, and carry the unreality of what we're seeing. The ending makes you want to go back and see it again, just to figure out what you missed, and yes, it does all fit together when you watch again, in fact it fits in so well, you're amazed you didn't see the ending coming.
As for the DVD itself, it's impeccable. The video transfer is damn near perfect.. if you think you see blotches on the screen every once in a while, look again.. trust me! :) The colors are a bit dark, but is done intentionally, and helps keep the mood. The sound is unreal.. you don't just listen to it, you immerse yourself in it, letting it surround you. Great use of all 5.1 channels.
This DVD would be worth the price just for the movie itself... but, it's packed to the gills with extras features! Damn near information overload here... 4 seperate commentary tracks, deleted scenes, domestic, internationl and Internet trailers, hidden spoof catalogue, storyboards..the list goes on and on.
People tend to either love Fight Club or hate it... but most everyone I know says it was a movie to think about, and that alone is reason enough to check it out. It is by far the best thing to come out of Hollywood in many years.
on April 20, 2001
This movie is a Buddhist message.
"It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything."
"The things you own end up owning you."
These messages dominate the movie.
Forget about the point of a degrading society. This movie is about an individual letting go - including letting go of a society's standards. Letting go of what you think are your needs. This includes anything that you think is important - because it isn't. Believing in FREEDOM is supporting that which you hate as well as that which you love.
When one can extend this message completely throughout his life - where no circumstance is inherently different from any other - then he is enlightened.
To all the buddhists out there (I am not one) I caution you at seeking enlightenment. For a living, I create artificial intelligence simulations. My progressing understanding of what I may be and the way my awareness works has brought me increasing levels of depression. If there are those that think I have yet to learn, I caution them the same.
Fight Club stands alone - in my mind the best movie ever made - (The Matrix, Star Wars and The Godfather were up there). Much of this is due to its message but its presentation is first rate.
Don't see it twice - see it 100 times. It is remarkably consistent, rich and if you give it a chance will change what you are.
I've quit my job a long time ago - but I still go to that job.
on April 27, 2002
I can see why 'Fight Club' would be easy to hate, but I can't see how it's possible not to simultaneously love it.
It is just so incredibly cool! David Fincher is clearly developing the filmmaking techniques of the future here, with special effects used non-obtrusively throughout the film. The man has a visual sense unmatched in mainstream cinema, and along with the clever and hilarious script this means the movie is like a long series of set pieces.
Those who dislike 'Fight Club' (excluding people who just can't cope with the actually-not-so-explicit violence) typically do so because they either see an offensive "message" in it (fascist, anarchist or conformist depending on the reviewer), aren't impressed with the level of insight achieved, or feel the film is a mess of contradictory ideas. The first group is clearly deluded, as the people behind the film have expressed healthy scepticism about any ideologies presented in the film, but the other two have a point. The film DOESN'T offer a solution, and it IS a mess of ideas and emotions. That's because it is about our culture at the eve of the Millennium, which is just as confused and inconclusive.
No, its (only) real flaw lies elsewhere, in the storytelling. The identity-twist near the end makes sense the second and third time you see the film, but on first viewing it seems artificial and constructed. Similarly, the faux-happy ending is too indistinguishable from genuine Hollywood schmaltz. These two points could have been communicated to the audience in a better way, but otherwise the film is just about flawless.