Sunday, April 2, 2017

Rewind '99: Fight Club

Back in 1999, I saw Fight Club in my hometown's second run theater and it immediately had an impact on my life. I went out and bought the book (movie is better), devoured articles about the film (it's an allegory for Calvin and Hobbes? Mind blowing!) and went through many of the special features when a loaded DVD edition dropped (Brad Pitt and Edward Norton make fun of a Jean-Claude Van Damme action sequence involving doing the splits to avoid a projectile). After all the negative press (Columbine-era, violence) the $60 million experimental flick brought in a tepid $37 million in theaters but became one of Fox's most sold DVD's, moving 6 million copies and grossing an additional $55 million. Legions of college kids would be inspired by Tyler Durden's aloof yet cool guy style for better or for worse and the dark sense of humor, twist ending along with computer enhanced visuals made it a title that was unique for it's time in a year that saw additional titles challenge mainstream cinema with arthouse sensibilities like The Matrix, Being John Malkovich or Three Kings.

Watching it all these years later, the film still holds up. Sure the visual f/x shots moving through a trash can look sleek but weak in the modern age but Pitt and Norton's performance as weirdos who challenge social norms in a dark search for self and love through soap, mayhem and violence are as effective as ever. David Fincher is at his nuanced, atmospheric best with the stark yet dark look and feel, the Dust Brothers soundtrack and twisted sense of humor from Chuck Palahniuk's novel and Jim Uhl's script. And of course, Brad Pitt as the scuzzy yet funny yet statuesque Durden would become and still is a highlight in his filmography.

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