At lunch the other day one of my friends asked the group we were with what our favorite movie of all time was. I wish I had something arty and cool to say, but I have to go with David Fincher’s Fight Club. I was twenty years old when it came out and just angry and dumb and nihilistic enough to become completely absorbed by it. The only film I’ve seen more often is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I’ve probably seen about 200 times, mostly in the theater.
I think I saw Fight Club two or three times in the theater and read the book at least twice, which is unusual as I don’t typically re-read books. I’d like to read as many as I can in this incarnation and there’s no time for reruns because the sand is pouring from the cruel hourglass of mortality at a clip that should fill us all with existential dread.
Yet for some reason, I like re-watching movies, especially Fight Club. I always notice new things in the performances or clever editing choices. Set design is an area of film I think doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should. Fight Club‘s sets are so well textured and rich with obfuscated expository elements I almost always find something new to look at.
When I finally got it on DVD, I watched the thing for a week straight. I had this Roland drum machine sampler thing at the time and spent the week after that trying to pull out dialog and sound effects and drop them in really bad drum and bass loops.
The special commentary with Brad Pitt, David Finch, and Edward Norton is very interesting if you’re a fan of the movie or just film making in general. Other than a few bits of the score and some aged CGI, I think it still stands up today.
I have this weird talent for knowing how a film is going to go from the jump, but I didn’t see the reveal that the narrator and Tyler Durden are the same person at all. The second time you watch it, Marla Singer immediately becomes a character you have sympathy for. You never get to experience her sexy, gnarly anarchy the same after you understand how Tyler actually treats her.
All the editing tricks and Easter eggs and secrets in the film opened up after I started really looking for them. There’s the door with all the driver’s licenses from human sacrifices. You see Tyler four times before he’s introduced. There’s a Starbucks cup in almost every scene.
I have never seen anything in the film, other than maybe Marla’s expressions, give away the big reveal. It’s done amazingly well, but I always hate that moment in the film because Hollywood can’t let the “bad guy” live, so you know Tyler has to be sacrificed. You can’t have free, unchecked people running around in society. Even fictional ones.
I’d already dowloaded a large file of beat poetry’s bullshit life lessons, but this flick put me over the edge. I wanted to be free in all the ways Tyler said the narrator was not. I was having a pretty shitty year and I wanted nothing more than to change everything about how I was living.
I saw the movie the first time with a soon to be ex-girlfriend who probably wanted to be Marla Singer, but was actually just a shitty human. We had a third wheel along, a close friend, who she would eventually cheat on me with. I used to have this knack for driving women into the arms of total fucking dorks. Thankfully my wife can’t abide by trench coated, goth beta males, so I don’t have to worry much about that these days.
My wife’s also one of the only women I know who really loved Fight Club (I’m sure there are more of you out there, most of you I’ve talked to dismissed it as too violent and Bro-ish). She made her girlfriends come over and watch it and got into a big fight with one of them who did not approve of the fisticuffs.
There’s funny little parts of the film that could never happen if it took place today. The doctor he goes to see for insomnia would have written him a scrip for Ambien on the spot. The actual fight club would have been exposed on instagram. People would love to have an apartment that big. Or what about that house? Put that shit on the rebuild tip like that handsome ass Ryan Gosling did in The Notebook. The Paper Mill area? That’s the PaMi District.