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Moriarty's Review of FIGHT CLUB

Published at: Feb. 27, 2007, 1:52 a.m. CST

Hi there folks, Harry here. I can't comment on Moriarty's review... I won't read it... yet... I just saw FIGHT CLUB, I'm set to begin writing my own review and I don't want to be influenced by Moriarty's words. So I'll say this... Knowing Moriarty, I'm willing to bet he'd tell you before going into spoiler territory.... so if he does say... that he's going to discuss spoilers... go away. And stay out of TALK BACK unless you have seen FIGHT CLUB... remember... first rule is to not talk about Fight Club... to me... this pertains to people who haven't been a part of it. Talk only with those who have seen it. Here's Moriarty...

Hey, Head Geek...

“Moriarty” here.

The Labs are quiet. Every machine has been shut down. All the henchmen are hiding tonight. They’re wise to do so, too, since I’ve just returned from my second viewing of the year’s best film, one of the finest pictures of the decade, and one of my very favorite movies of all time. I’m speaking, of course, about FIGHT CLUB, the powerful new masterpiece by David Fincher. I am so completely pumped up out of my mind on a mixture of pure adrenaline and intoxicating ideas that I am literally dangerous right now. I expect I won’t be the only one affected this way, and because of that, this film is on a collision course with controversy.

That’s a good thing, though. This is a case where I truly believe that anyone over 40 should be nervous about this film. If it were just a case of a film that gave me a visceral rush, it wouldn’t be worth anyone’s time to be upset over it or threatened by it. That’s not the case, though. Far from it. This is a film that gets under your skin, that wants to get in your head. Once it’s there, it wants to change you, and if you’re open to it, it will.

Why will the film threaten the status quo? Because it lays bare one of the primary feelings that my generation has been soaking in for the past ten years. It gives name to that dissatisfaction that has gone from a whisper to a scream as we have aged into this uneasy adulthood of ours. It’s the first film I’ve seen that stands up and calls our society bullshit for all the right reasons. It’s easy to be an angry young man, but it’s hard to be right about it. Screenwriters Jim Uhls and (uncredited) Andrew Kevin Walker, novelist Chuck Pahluniak, and director Fincher have collaborated to give a unique and terrifying voice to this angst, and they’ve managed to give it a wicked sense of humor that somewhat tempers the scathing anger that lies just beneath the surface. As a result, the film will sneak up on viewers. They’ll watch the first half thinking that they’re witnessing a dark comedy that’s a little stranger than average. But once the film really kicks into high gear... once Project Mayhem gets underway... there’s no turning back, and there’s no more release valves. David Fincher once said he is interested in cinema that scars. If that’s true, then he should be brutally proud of FIGHT CLUB, because it has the power to literally rearrange a viewer’s body chemistry.

Let me back up a bit and tell you a little about the film, even though summary seems pointless. Edward Norton stars as the film’s nameless narrator, and it's easily the best performance he's given so far. The very first images of the film literally put you inside his head, as we witness the electrical storm that represents his fear centers firing. The credits play over a long, complicated pullback through his brain, ending as we continue to pull back to reveal a gun jammed into Norton’s mouth. In voice-over, Norton says, “People are always asking me, do I know Tyler Durden?” Turns out it’s none other than Durden holding that gun. Brad Pitt is glimpsed only in quick flashes in this sequence. The two of them are locked in a room far above the city, waiting for a series of explosions to rock the world. As Norton tries to make sense of this, he sorts back through events to find where this all began.

Norton flashes back to a time when he was just another faceless worker for a major automobile company, an accident analyst whose job it is to decide if defects in cars merit recalls or not. Suffering from insomnia, he visits a doctor, desperate for something that will help him rest. Instead of giving him a prescription, the doctor half-jokingly suggests Norton visit a support group for testicular cancer. When he does, Norton finds himself addicted. He finds something that makes him feel, even if he is lying. He begins to visit a different group every night, letting himself be moved to tears, and at first it works. He sleeps again, better than ever. His seemingly ideal solution gets screwed up by the arrival of Marla Singer, played to decayed perfection by Helena Bonham-Carter. Like him, she’s a tourist, playing at her sickness. “This Marla Singer chick did not have testicular cancer,” he seethes in voice-over. He confronts her, tries to bully her, and ends up splitting the groups with her.

Even this uneasy peace is temporary, though. Norton meets the oddly charismatic Tyler Durden on a plane, and from the moment he arrives onscreen, it’s clear that Brad Pitt was born for one purpose only -- to give life to this brilliant, prophetic figure. He’s never even approached this level of performance before, and it made me ache to flash back on the wasted years of SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET and MEET JOE BLACK. He is a god in this film, chiseled steel and seductive intelligence wrapped up in one savage animal. It’s the greatest blend of physical and verbal charisma that I can remember in recent film, like some twisted evil version of the characters that young Paul Newman once played. It’s obvious why everyone in the film is drawn to him immediately. The audience will be, as well. He’s given the very best lines in the script, and there’s a combination of humor and truth in almost every line. Their initial meeting is brief but memorable, and when it’s over, Norton leaves for what he thinks will be a return to his normal life.

And that’s as much as I think I’m going to say about the story. This isn’t going to be a long review. In some ways, it would be pointless for me to ramble on. There’s no reason for me to try and explain anything further. Even in the synopsis above, I haven’t communicated to you the textures of the film or the outrageously confident visual style or the note-perfect use of score by The Dust Brothers. I haven’t been able to convey to you how brilliant and subtle the editing by James Haygood is. I haven’t given due to the costuming work or the production design or that astonishing cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth. Until you witness the mind-boggling work by makeup effects artist Rob Bottin or the contribution of Digital Domain’s Kevin Mack and his team, you can’t understand the impact of every single collaborator on the film. I don't think I've done justice to the perfection acheived by every single bit of casting in the film, from the stars to bit players (look for the lead singer of Live in a particularly groovy cameo). The story is just one small part of why this movie is so freaking great. I do love the fact that it’s impossible to predict where this trip is taking you. Midway through the film tonight (my second viewing), the person I was seeing it with leaned over and whispered, “This is one strange film.” “You ain’t seen nothing yet,” I whispered back, and it’s true. Even as you think you’ve got a grip on it, the film twists out from under you once, twice, and again. You can peel this thing back over and over and never get any closer to the center.

I would say that this is a film you need to see at least twice, but I suspect you’ll make that decision on your own. Unless, that is, you’re one of those people who are angry you even made it through once. I know that as I left the theater tonight, I literally bumped into Elliot Gould, who was also walking out. All I heard him say was, “That was awful,” but it was enough to almost stir me into violence of my own. I understand his reaction, though. I can’t imagine what this film must have looked like through his eyes. I can’t imagine what my own parents will think when they see the movie. As the last ten minutes unfold, I bet they’ll just keep shaking their head, trying to will the images off the screen. No film can possibly go this far, they’ll think. No film can possibly be this angry, they’ll think. By the time “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies blares out over the end credits, they will be horrified and offended deeply. To them... to the entire generation of them that sold out the dream of change that defined them in their 20s... this film should be read as a declaration of war. We may not have had a defining issue that we protested, but we also didn’t overdose on self-satisfaction before we were thirty. We haven’t turned our backs on our ideals and our standards in order to slip into the corporate world. We’re still defining ourselves, and this film dares you to find the truth of yourself, to define yourself by what you believe and not what you own.

If you see this film and you’re not stirred in some way by it, either good or bad, then chances are you’re dead already, and there’s no work of art, no matter how great, that can help you now.

“Moriarty” out.

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