Fight Club

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Director: David Fincher.
Screenplay: Jim Uhls.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier, David Andrews, George Maguire, Richmond Arquette, Eugenie Bondurant, Rachel Singer, Christina Cabot, Sydney Colston, Jared Leto.

“We are consumers. We’re the bi-products of a lifestyle obsession”

Despite showing confidence in his abilities, some unwanted studio interference with his feature debut Alien 3, left director David Fincher carrying the can for failing to fuel the franchise. It was critically panned and a massive failure but Fincher didn’t let that get him down. He got his angry head on and seemingly still had a point to prove. What followed were two of contemporary cinema’s most visceral works; the serial killer thriller Se7en shocked audiences to their core while Fight Club cemented Fincher’s reputation for being one of the most wildly inventive directors of his generation. With these films alone, it’s clear that Fincher does things his way now.

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Edward Norton is the narrator, a man who is tired with his mundane existence and dead-end office job. He is tired of going through the motions of his boring life and masking his contempt for others around him. That is, until he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a charismatic, off-the-wall soap salesman with a very twisted philosophy on life. Not before long our narrator has succumbed to Tyler’s wicked and rebellious ways and they both decide to start up a Fight Club – private meeting place where men can be introduced to the joys and catharsis of physical violence. However, Fight Club is so successful that it grows in stature to Project Mayhem – a reactionary group intent on achieving economic equilibrium.

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As the now infamous quote instructs us; the first rule about Fight Club is that “you do not talk about Fight Club“. But then, if we didn’t talk about it then we’d be going against the very anarchist themes that the film so closely adheres to. What Fincher crafts here (from the novel by Chuck Palahnuik) is an aggressive polemic and damning indictment on the darkness of our society. He flips a finger to the greed infested corporations and the consumerism that has tainted our souls and permeated our very existence. He challenges the ideas of free thought and the nature of altruism while managing to suggest it’s all just male self-indulgence and homoeroticism. Basically, he’s tapping into the zeitgeist and he doesn’t give a tuppenny fuck who he upsets. It’s a film that cuts across genres and refuses to be pigeonholed. And that’s the marvel of it all.

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However, Fincher doesn’t just go on an anti-establishment rant, he delivers it with a philosophical intelligence and infuses the whole hyperkinetic affair with a myriad of stylistic flourishes like Flash cuts, fake cues and subliminal images. It is refreshing to see that someone in Hollywood is willing to take chances and Fincher certainly does that here. Added to which, he’s aided immeasurably by his two leading actors; Norton is as solid as ever in a role that requires him to hold back while Pitt takes most of the plaudits for one of the most flamboyant (and now iconic) characters in his rΓ©sumΓ©.

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Bold and intrepid filmmaking of the highest calibre. It’s quite possibly the most daring film of the 90’s and it’s still as relevant today as it was upon it’s release. In fact, it will remain relevant as long as we live in a capitalist society. Social satires don’t come much more aggressive or provocative than this.

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Mark Walker

Trivia: Some of fake names used by the narrator in the self-help groups are taken from “Planet of the Apes” (Cornelius), as well as classic roles played by Robert De Niro (such as Rupert from “The King of Comedy” and Travis from “Taxi Driver”).

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33 Responses to “Fight Club”

  1. Great review, man!

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  2. Yep. I agree with all you say. Gritty and interesting and fun to watch. I loved the cancer visiting scenes with Meatloaf.

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  3. Yes. So much yes. This film was absolutely bloody brilliant! Excellent work as always Mark!

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  4. Excellent Mark, such a bold and twisted film with a strong visual style.

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  5. I thought the first rule of Fight Club is that you’re not supposed to talk about Fight Club Mark? πŸ™‚

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  6. Jared Leto + 5 star score makes Tyson a happy boy πŸ™‚

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  7. Probably one of my few faves of Brad Pitt’s performances [I think you know how I feel about him ;)] But Norton is fantastic here too, it’s a weird and bizarre film but one that needs to be seen I think.

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    • Yeah, definitely needs to be seen, Ruth. Even if you end up not liking it (I can’t see why, though) but it’s such an iconic film now. Glad to hear you came round to Pitt in this one. I thought he was superb!

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  8. I’ve gone back and forth on this movie quite some time. After I first saw it I liked it but after a while felt it was overpraised. When I saw it again, I enjoyed it far greater and it works well as an astute criticism of excessive commercialism.

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    • I get what you’re saying, man. I was somewhat similar in my outlook to it. First time I loved it. Second time, I tuned out but any other viewing since then has brought me straight back to my original opinion. I think it’s a superb movie!

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  9. Looks like someone’s going through Fincher’s backlog. Can’t say that I blame you, I’ve recently been doing the same myself. Nice review here, Mark, this one’s a classic. πŸ™‚

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  10. jackdeth72 Says:

    Excellent critique and commentary, Mark!

    Being of the generation before Mr. Pitt and Norton. I could definitely understand their(?) need to lash out and create something uniquely their own. Amongst scathing dialog and mind bending cinematography!

    Close to ‘Snatch’ in having Mr. Pitt embody a character not immediately recognized as Mr. Pitt. Good eye opening stuff all the way around. Especially Mr. Norton’s fights with himself.

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    • Cheers Jack! Spot on observation about the likes of Pitt and Norton trying to make their own stamp on things. I’d say they certaintly achieved it. Its quite unlike anything before it and very few (if any) after it.

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  11. Great review, Mark. πŸ™‚ I have nothing interesting to say as everyone loves this thing anyway so I’ll just say that this is Brad Pitt in his 3rd sexiest role. Hmm. I should do a full list…

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    • Haha! Cheers Disco Girl!

      Pitt’s “3rd sexiest role” you say? I’m intrigued what that list might be now. Especially the top two. I think you SHOULD do a list. If anything, you’ll be able to relive and remember the Pittster in such an enjoyable light πŸ˜‰

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  12. I take pride in being one of the few on this planet, seemingly, who despises Fight Club. πŸ™‚

    (But not your review of it, of course. But please, take this down a star, would ya???) πŸ˜‰

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  13. Good read mate…a cracking film, and one that tapped into the pre-millenial times like nothing else. That final scenes when all the credit company offices come down still gets the hairs raised on my arms when I see it. Pitt and Norton are great, they really play off each other well (and obviously given the big reveal near the end that’s pretty important)…Helena Bonham-Carter’s really good in it too.

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    • Cheers bud! Love seeing the company offices come down. As an anti-capitalist, that was right up my street! πŸ˜‰

      With you on the performances too. Norton gets the less showier role but still does very well. Pitt has rarely been better and even though I’m not normally a fan of Bonham-Carter, she was very good here. It’s probably the only performance I like of hers.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. A classic movie and Fincher at his best. Have not rewatched this one in a while, so might be time to do so.

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