American Beauty

The Film: Fight Club (1999) The Plot: Our nameless Narrator (Edward Norton) works for a major auto manufacturer, investigating fatal crashes caused by product defects and running cost-benefit analyses to decide whether it’d be more expensive to recall the deadly cars or to pony up settlements in future class-action lawsuits. Sound like an amoral, soul-murdering job to you? Our Narrator agrees and embarks on a fumbling quest for peace. He gets a hearty shove down the path toward enlightenment when a) his apartment full of “versatile solutions for modern living” mysteriously explodes, b) he strikes up a love/hate relationship with the morbid nihilist Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), and c) he joins forces with soap entrepenuer and terrorist mastermind Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) to found the Fight Club movement.

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Culture Warrior

For the first time in recent memory, I’m going into Oscar Sunday having no idea who is likely to take home many of the major awards. I’m sure there are entire websites out there devoted to an accurate prediction of who and what will take home the gold on Sunday, but there seems something a bit different about this year. Of the nine films nominated, I don’t have a clear sense of what would be the top five had AMPAS not changed the number of entries in the top category. While The Artist may clearly have more of a chance than, say, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, there’s no grand battle between likely leads like there was between The King’s Speech and The Social Network last year. And I don’t think I’m alone in stating that this year’s uninspiring list of nominees seems to reflect a growing indifference against the ceremony itself. Sure, on Sunday, like I have every year since I was eleven years old, I’ll watch the entire ceremony from beginning to end. And, like every year since I was twenty-one years old, I’ll make fun of the pompous and excessive self-congratulatory nature of the proceedings. But while in most years I have had some skin in the game, besides the two nominations afforded to the excellent Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the presence of the transcendentally excellent Pina in the Best Documentary Feature category, this year I didn’t even get a sense that the Academy was awarding […]

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You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at editors@filmschoolrejects.com. For your next edition of ‘Circle of Jerks’ you should (maybe) have this question: what is a film you hate that is considered a cinematic masterpiece? – Nicolas M.

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“I don’t understand the concept of bad masturbation,” is how Rob Hunter responded to me pitching this list, and he’s right. No one should understand that concept unless they have the tragic disease known as Sandpaper Hands. However, there is a certain challenge in filming someone masturbating that separates the men from the boys, and the women from the girls. Thus, while bad masturbation may be unfathomable, a bad masturbation scene is easy to imagine. “It is not enough to be abstinent with other people, you also have to be be abstinent alone. The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery, so you can’t masturbate without lust,” is how Senate-seat-seeker Christine O’Donnell responded to an interviewer discussing pro-abstinence groups and their mission not going far enough. These cultural phenomena are colliding in an explosive way. So, in honor of Ms. O’Donnell, we’d like to share the lust in our hearts and a few great masturbation scenes on film.

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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by examining a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t make us stare longingly at Maggie Cheung without being able to do something about it. Part 28 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Adultery” with Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love.

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Tired of the same old 420 list? Intrigued by how we put The Big Lebowski on both lists? Read on as soon as your interest in that squirrel dies down again!

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This week’s Culture Warrior is getting its bunker ready for Y2K.

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culturewarrior-sammendes

This week’s Culture Warrior tries to figure out what common theme connects five films made by one of our most talented contemporary filmmakers. From American Beauty to Away We Go.

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Sam Mendes is the latest director signed on to tackle the project, but should we put our faith in him?

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