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FIGHT CLUB (1999 - R)
FIGHT CLUB tells of one man's quest for self-enlightenment, which is to be found in a man who acts as his alter ego; the nefarious Tyler Durden. Together the two scheme of anarchist plans that will bring people closer to the ultimate ‘truth’ via abandoning the customary rituals of today's consumer-driven society. Beginning with the underground 'Fight Club', Tyler and the 'Narrator' scheme ways to turn their fighters into an army devoted to the cause of the ambivalent Project Mayhem, much to the demise of credit card companies all over New York City. Planning to erase the deficit, Project Mayhem smacks of, well, mayhem, that not even the 'Narrator' could imagine possible.
Written by: Chuck Palahniuk (novel) and Jim Uhls (screenplay).
Directed by: David Fincher.
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller.
Rated: R for disturbing and graphic depiction of violent, anti-social behavior, sexuality, and language.
Taglines: "Mischief. Mayhem. Soap." "In Tyler we trust."
Akin to the stylistic form of the first eighteenth century novels,FIGHT CLUB is narrated by an anonymous Narrator (Edward Norton). The Narrator is a thirty-something corporate slave who works the typical mundane 9-5 job where, upon its conclusion, he heads home to browse the latest IKEA catalog in search of some snazzy new item to don in his apartment. Though he is a man with a "respectable wardrobe"; a man who is "almost complete", even he can't deny that something is missing. But what exactly is that something?
In search of some meaning to life, some meaning of his purpose in life, the Narrator develops an unhealthy yet pervasive case of narcolepsy. Apparently the narcolepsy is so bad that it begins to affect his daily performance at work, his health, and even his own psyche. Searching for help the Narrator begins to visit random support groups. Though he has none of the sicknesses of the groups which he attends, while there something happens to him which allows him to let go, to cry; through the crying he finds a way to cure his narcolepsy. Albeit an indirect solution to his problem, the Narrator begins to once again find happiness, that is, until Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) enters the picture in all her manic-depressive gothic-esque hypochondriac glory: a woman who believes that she "might die at any moment; the tragedy is that she doesn't die".
Nevertheless, she too begins to regularly visit the same support groups as the Narrator, interrupting his therapeutic sessions with new friend Robert 'Bitch Tits Bob' Paulson (Meatloaf). As the Narrator notes, "Every night I died, and every night I was born again; I was resurrected. This was my vacation and she ruined it. Marla, the big tourist, her lie affected my lie, and I couldn't take it anymore". Yet again his narcolepsy returns and so he avows to approach Marla with an ultimatum, which of course ends in a compromise that has the two splitting up their hobby into assigned sessions.
Just as things are about to get back to normal the Narrator runs into the precarious Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), soap manufacturer and intriguing individual. After the Narrator's apartment mysteriously blows up he phones Tyler and the two meet at a bar to discuss the Narrator's latest predicament. There, the Narrator is introduced to the enlightening process of self-induced pain. Thus the first form of Fight Club is realized in the friendly brawl between Tyler and the Narrator who, after a vainglorious brawl, head home bloodied and bruised to converse over some good beer and crash on some more than dilapidated couches in Tyler's equally decrepit house, where the Narrator will now be residing. Beginning to immerse himself in the revolutionary, albeit anarchist philosophies of his new mentor, the Narrator finds himself continually in awe of Tyler's rebellious yet brilliant belief system, and actions. As the two continually begin to rumble, coming one step closer to that self-enlightened state, they get the brilliant idea of beginning an underground club, Fight Club.
Quickly many men begin to flock to the appealing, albeit nonsensical prospect of being inducted into the ‘Fight Club’. Just as soon as it gathers a huge fan base however, Tyler imposes rules on the club: "The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is you do NOT talk about Fight Club." 8 rules altogether, Tyler maps out the stipulations to the latest underground institution as men drool on the sidelines awaiting their turn at a friendly fight. Quickly the club gains notoriety and Tyler begins to give out assignments which he argues will help the men in their acquiescence of the club's mission to self enlightenment.
Having completely abandoned all worries for the courteous subjugation of his inferior role in society, the Narrator revels in the confines of his humble abode, the fleshy bruises of his fragile yet formidable corpse, the rebellious nature of his flippant attitude and appearance at work, as well as his more than slacking performance, and of course, Saturday night's and Fight Club. All seems well that is, until Marla Singer re-enters the picture and begins to make routine appearances at his house whereby her sexually precocious antics with Tyler are more than audible to the disgusted, almost begrudgingly heartbroken Narrator's ears. As he continually gives Marla the cold shoulder, she roams from room to room in the house looking constantly confused and hurt by the behavior of Tyler, and the Narrator. Nevertheless she returns for her daily sexual rampages, that is, until Tyler begins to make plans for his latest project: Project Mayhem.
Allowing each member of Fight Club to interview for a position in the upcoming top secret project, the Narrator and Tyler set about organizing project mayhem. But though the Narrator is still involved in the project he begins to notice himself being left out more and more as Tyler begins to confide in other members, space monkeys, of the club, leaving the narrator to the menial tasks of the project. All the while Tyler is noticing the Narrator's skepticism and begins to take great pains to assure the Narrator’s commitment to the cause.
But the sudden death of Bob begins to send the Narrator's head spinning and suddenly nothing makes sense anymore. His hounding boss, Richard Chesler (Zach Grenier), his dead friend, the ambivalent Marla, nothing makes sense anymore just as Tyler's vision no longer seems correct in its lack of moral and ethical subservience. As the Narrator begins to take matters into his own hands he is met with repeated resistance from the spreading members of Fight Club which has now recruited people from all over the nation. Flying from state to state in hopes of tracing Tyler down, the Narrator begins to question if Tyler is really who he thinks he is, more importantly, if he exists at all.
Believing himself to be the "button-down oxford cloth psycho" who finally snaps, the Narrator begins to understand that despite his apparent ignorance to the cause of Project Mayhem, he may in fact be the mastermind behind the project’s mission to wipe away the nation's deficit (by blowing up all major credit card buildings thereby destroying all credit records), as well as Fight Club. As more and more people begin referring to him as 'Sir', the Narrator begins to understand that his alter-ego friend, Tyler, may be just that, his alter-ego, a subsequent manifestation of himself.
As he races the clock to stop Project Mayhem before it occurs, creating total economic chaos, the Narrator will have to confront Tyler and finally discern the truth to himself, to Tyler, to his relationship with Marla, and to Project Mayhem, before it's all too late.
FIGHT CLUB is flat out brilliant. Possibly one of the most brilliant, witty, original, fantastic, mind-blowing, innovative, and modern scripts ever, FIGHT CLUB steals the scene and emerges a true film for cult film and blockbuster lovers alike. Packed full of radical philosophy, the film offers a philosophical, psychological, and anthropological lens through which to analyze not just the characters of the film, but one’s self. FIGHT CLUB is startling, moving, enticing, though-provoking, compelling, and flat out second to none. Never before has there been a film like FIGHT CLUB and never again will there be a film that can be a FIGHT CLUB without being a flat-out inferior replication of the original.
The cinematography in FIGHT CLUB is solid and often the direction captures several unique angles, and exploits the use of lighting so as to add to the symbolic meaning exploited in the film. Also adding the to artistic vision of the direction is the subtle yet detectable film splicing which repeatedly inserts random images, usually of Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden, which ironically parallels Tyler's profession in the film. There is so much attention to detail in this film, as is an absolute necessity so as to successfully pull off the plot. No stone is left unturned, no corner unexplored in the well-rounded, solid, fluid, complete film that is, in short a masterpiece.
Edward Norton and Brad Pitt steal the scene in their masterful portrayals of the antithetical characters of Narrator and Tyler Durden respectively. Edward Norton calls on his hallmark dry humor and stoic personality to pull of his role while Brad Pitt brings his wild charisma to life in the rambunctiously rebellious Tyler Durden; think his character in "12 Monkeys" with much, much more character development and you truly have one of the most memorable characters, along with Ed Norton’s character, in modern fiction. Uhls and Fincher do justice to Palahniuk's novel and give it a visual splendor that constantly entices the senses and entices the mind. FIGHT CLUB is thought provoking, palatable, everything. IT TRULY IS the ultimate guy flick, but also has much to offer for any true cult film or underground film lover, as well as any academic looking for a little insight into some of the uncanny ways to self enlightenment. FIGHT CLUB is a cutting edge treat from which much of Hollywood should take a note and follow the terrific example set by such a unique film as this.
Edward Norton plays Narrator, the conservative, straight-laced, white collared, IKEA obsessed worker bee who suddenly grows tired of the monotony of his consumer-driven lifestyle that leaves him wanting more from life.
Brad Pitt plays Tyler Durden, the antithesis of the Narrator's persona; Tyler is a wild, revolutionary, primal man with a desire to obliterate the economic system that blinds humans from the ultimate truth.
Helena Bonham Carter plays Marla Singer, the intriguing woman who is almost as crazy as the Narrator with her hypochondriac tendencies and manic-depressive ways.
Meat Loaf plays Robert 'Bob' Paulson; next to Tyler, 'Bob' is the narrator's closest friend after months of bonding in weekly testicular cancer group sessions.
Zach Grenier plays Richard Chesler, the Narrator's stereotypical hard-assed blue-collar corporate boss who grows increasingly tired of the Narrator's rebellious and unproductive ways.