Fight Club

Warner Bros.

“It wasn’t as good as the book.” That old refrain comes up with just about any film adaptation, and for good reason. (You know, because it’s usually true.) Books have all the time in the world to tell their story. 200 pages? A bit short, but no biggie. 1,200 pages? Okay, George R. R. Martin, but only because we like Tyrion so dang much. Books aren’t a visual medium and can use your imagination how they see fit. Books don’t have a budget. Books can easily get a character’s internal perspective. But sometimes the unlikely happens and the film is just as good as the book. And sometimes a miracle happens and it’s even better.

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20th Century Fox

David Fincher‘s Fight Club wowed audiences with his typical technical brilliance and sharp use of CGI, but it remains an amazing piece of work fifteen years later for its narrative, social commentary and fantastic black humor. Misunderstood and under-appreciated by many upon its release, the film has gone on to earn legions of fans over the years, and listening to the commentary track featuring Fincher, Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter (one of four commentaries on the disc) opens up an even more detailed appreciation of the film. It’s actually one of the very first commentary tracks (or “auxiliary tracks” as Fincher calls them) I ever listened to many years ago, and the discovery that we had yet to cover it here made it well worth a second listen. Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary for Fight Club.

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Jesse Eisenberg in

Have you ever wished a fantastic song struck up the moment you walked into a room? It’s something that happens in movies, never in real life. But there are sounds that do accompany us in our every day lives. The ambient sound of the wind, cars driving by, idle chatter, coffee brewing. We rarely notice these noises because they are simply a part of the background, but what if suddenly all these unnoticeable noises were amplified? A subway car rushing by so loudly you’re forced to cover your ears. The chatter in a coffee shop becoming deafening. A copy machine sounding like gun fire. And no one else seems to notice. You would think you were going crazy, right? This is exactly what seems to be happening to Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) in The Double. Simon seems like an ordinary guy with a boring job, a small apartment, and a crush on a girl, but his world also seems off-kilter thanks to the film’s choice to turn up all the ambient noises that usually help give a scene a sense of grounding reality. Then again, Simon may not be living in reality, and The Double‘s ambient assault helps convey this idea without needing to explicitly say it. When Simon is introduced to his new co-worker, James, who happens to look exactly like Simon, it makes sense that Simon would start to feel like he is losing his mind — especially when no one else seems to agree that their similar appearance is striking and more than a little strange. But director Richard Ayoade creates a world that seems to live […]

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I Robot

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Fight Club

Pretend it’s 1999 and you’re still under the impression that Fight Club is a simple film about two dudes convincing many other dudes to beat the hell out of each other while also running a lucrative underground soap business. Now, prepare to have your mind blown — are you ready for this — by the revelation that Brad Pitt‘s character (You know, the one on the poster hanging in your dorm room that says “Mischief, Mayhem, Soap” that you’re going to use as an example for every girl you bring back there as to how much you like, appreciate film. It’s right next to your Pulp Fiction poster.) was just a figment of Edward Norton‘s imagination the entire time. Filmmaker Richard Trammell has bottled that little experience and taken it a few notches further with Fight Club minus Tyler Durden, an ingeniously edited scene from the film that lifts Pitt from the equation altogether and leaves Norton standing by his lonesome, talking and fighting with himself. Removing Tyler Durden from Fight Club, especially in the scene where the two fight each other, is both comical and sad to behold. Funny, because Norton’s ducking punches and talking to himself; sad, because all it probably took was blocking Durden out with our finger on the screen to realize what was actually going on in this movie. It’s a fascinating look at Fight Club, especially when you realize it’s the perspective of everyone who hung out with The Narrator throughout the course of the […]

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Fight Club

If you’re like me, you’re still struggling a bit with the pessimistic promise and optimistic despair of a Fight Club sequel in graphic novel form. It could be a towering tack-on to a beloved cult classic (that comes in both paper and celluloid) or it could derail the legacy of Cornelius. Or Rupert. Or whatever that guy’s name was. Unfortunately, that queasy feeling hasn’t been ameliorated by Chuck Palahniuk‘s recent explanation of the plot. From Hustler Magazine (via The Cult): “The sequel will be told from the — at first — submerged perspective of Tyler Durden as he observes the day-to-day tedium of the narrator’s life. Because 20th Century-Fox created the convention of calling the protagonist Jack, I’m calling him Cornelius. He’s living a compromised life with a failing marriage, unsure about his passion for his wife. The typical midlife bullshit. Likewise, Marla is unsatisfied and dreams of accessing the wild man she’d once fallen in love with. She tampers with the small pharmacy of drugs that her husband needs to suppress Tyler, and — go figure — Tyler reemerges to terrorize their lives.” First Beetlejuice, and now this.

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IntroMeals

Since it’s right upon us, I thought it might be fun to completely ruin your Thanksgiving this year. With no further introduction, here are the most disgusting meals consumed by human people in movies. Enjoy!

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Fight Club Doctor

One of the trickiest things for a movie to pull off is the derailment of the narrative at the hands of a character we barely get any time with. We’re trucking along with a hero we like, and some plucky upstart with only a few lines of dialogue changes the game completely. It seems deeply unfair, like young Bruce Wayne enjoying his delightfully privileged upbringing when a guy with a gun in an alleyway puts all of that to an end, launching a deep psychosis and a billion-dollar franchise. Tellingly, Tim Burton and company proved they couldn’t handle the random nature of the situation when they turned that grinning alley guy into The Joker. It’s closure we didn’t even know we needed. Since embodying raw chance is a difficult job, it’s amazing when a movie uses it as an advantage, launches the story with it or hides it so thoroughly that we don’t even recognize how powerful a day player was. It can also be a powerful tool in seeing how the protagonist deals with the roadblock. Some rise to the occasion, others fall off the cliff, and still others grab their toys and go home.

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IntroDisclaimers

Sometimes it’s not enough to simply present your movie without remark, so over the years filmmakers and censors have devised various ways to make sure we know exactly what we are seeing before, or sometimes after we see it. Other times they get bored and, like anyone bored at work, decide to have a little fun with the process.

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Fight Club

Quick! Think of a beloved, bold, classic, cult film with Oscar caliber performance and craft that you’d never want to see remade or reimagined. Now imagine the medium you’d never want to see that film remade or reimagined within. Was your answer Dirty Dancing as a web series? First of all, no, that’s the wrong answer and, second of all, that sounds delightfully terrible. No, the right answer was Fight Club and “graphic novel.” Too bad. In the crush of the weekend’s massive influx of Comic-Con news, an announcement from author Chuck Palahniuk got a bit lost in the fray, and it’s finally managed to get around days later. Palahniuk appeared at the convention for a number of reasons – to sign books for fans, to appear on a panel called “Ode to Nerds,” to clearly be very good to his admirers, and to slyly announce that he’s working on a sequel to his “Fight Club.” The author slipped the news in during his panel when asked what he was working on next, and while it’s heartening that it’s Palahniuk who is working on this so-called sequel, we’re finding it very hard indeed to get excited about the potential for any sort of follow-up to his original vision, particularly in graphic novel form. Collider passed along the news, straight from the author’s official site (called “The Cult”) about the process of the new novel and the bare bones of Palahniuk’s vision for it. If you’re not interested in getting clear-cut […]

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fantastic four bill murray

Welcome to another edition of the Reject Recap, where we highlight the past week’s best news and original features from this very movie site and others around the web. It really wasn’t a huge week for stories out of Hollywood and the rest of the industry. Some of the biggest things involved sci-fi movie casting and trailers and the reminder of a remake nobody sees as necessary. In addition to the ten posts curated for your attention, we also share two goofy mash-up videos for your enjoyment this weekend. Start your weekend right after the jump.

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Reel Sex

Ladies and open-minded gentlemen, this is the weekend for which we have been waiting ever so patiently. Years of watching our fellow sisters remove clothing and undulate for the good of “story” has finally paid off, and we will have our day in the sun. Our fearless prince, director Steven Soderbergh, has reached into the depths of his vast (yet dwindling) bag-o-tricks and presented us with a simple masterpiece that has been on the tip of wagging tongues for months. Magic Mike is the product of a genius, and while it isn’t a perfect film, Soderbergh’s dedication to objectifying his male cast is reassuring and welcomed. It is about time ladies get a fluff movie that isn’t about shopping, shoes, or relationships, but instead two hours of glorious female gaze. These men are hotter than this Texas drought I’m currently suffering through, and I appreciated every moment I had with them. But what makes Magic Mike something of dreams is the film’s playful self-awareness that it is, in fact, meant to be a sort of man droolfest. Soderbergh knows what he’s doing, and instead of alienating his audience he embraces them, offers up a beer, and presents six sexy, shirtless men on a platter for the world to see. I’m sure a discussable plot is in there somewhere (and I will leave that to our film review), but I am more interested in reflecting on a handful recent films that paved the way for this glorious moment of shirtless wonderment.

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When you boil it all down, it’s all subjective. Movie critics are really just people who are better at communicating their opinions clearly, but they aren’t perfect all of the time. Nor are they psychics in any way. Sometimes time (and audiences) won’t going to agree with them, and that’s okay. As the following ten movies show us, there are times when a film isn’t an instant classic. Some require a bit more time to be broken in. Today’s trash might be tomorrow’s classic.

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Shaun of the Dead

We all know what it feels like when a film touches on events yet to come. Usually it’s the best when it’s something that you could only pick up on after already watching the film once before – it’s like a little inside joke you get to have with the filmmakers, a reward for sitting through the movie more than once. At times it’s not even the fact that it foreshadows event in the films, but rather that it’s so subtle that it takes a few goes to even pick up on. Other times are less subtle, but just as fun. This is probably going to have spoilers in it. Just to be clear.

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This post is probably not what you think. There are no LOLCats, no Rage Comic stick men bellowing about the superiority of The Dark Knight and Inception. It’s not really a love letter to modernity. But it’s also not Sight & Sound‘s decennial Top Ten List. That prestigious publication has done great work since even before polling critics in 1952 to name the best movies of all time. They’ve recreated the experiment every ten years since (with filmmakers included in 1992), and their 2012 list is due out soon. However, there is certainly overlap. The FSR poll includes only 37 critics (and 4 filmmakers), but we’re young and have moxy, and none of us were even asked by Sight & Sound for our considerable opinion. That’s what’s fascinating here. The films nominated by those invited by S&S have the air of critical and social importance to them. They are, almost all, serious works done by serious filmmakers attempting to make serious statements. This list, by contrast, is the temperature of the online movie community in regards to what movies are the “greatest.” The results might be what you expect. But probably not.

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Perfectionist. Demanding. Hard to work with. David Fincher is a man who hates his own brand but is secure in his own reputation. Of course, it’s a little bit easy when that reputation includes stunning movies and a mind that can operate at an auteur speed in the high-occupancy Hollywood studio lane. He’s a (mostly) accessibly genius, which is rare and which means that we as fans and filmmakers can learn a lot from him. Fortunately, he’s as free with his advice as he is with his nightmarish visions. Here’s a bit of free film school from a living legend.

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If you’re “too old” to skulk around all hunch-backed in your own yard looking for the painted eggs your little cousin hid for you, why are you holding that remote with the Pause Button at the ready? We all love hunting. It’s in our nature. Just like we love discounted Criterion titles, free scotch and foot massages that don’t mean anything sexual. So here are some Movie Easter Eggs to hunt down. Bonus one? They involve movies, so you have a solid excuse to just watch movies all week. Bonus two? If you can’t find them, they won’t smell rotten after a few days. And be sure to add your favorite in the comments section for fellow hunter/gatherers:

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It’s called a character arc, and everybody has one. It’s the progression of a character throughout a film as they go from “A” to “B” and change emotionally, intellectually, and physically along the way. It exists because nobody sane wants to watch two hours of some dude sitting in a chair…which just so happens to be the story of how this very list was made. When it comes to action, horror, and any other fast-paced genre of film, one of the best things about watching the characters adapt is that since the environment they exist in is so do-or-die, there is a incredibly steep learning curve – so by the end of the film, you most likely have a completely different person you started with…and considering that they are still alive, they probably got way, way more badass along the way.

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Boiling Point

AMC’s The Walking Dead and I have a strange relationship in that I watch it but don’t particularly care for it. I can’t really tell you why I tune in every week, but it has something to do with my great love for the comic books and a desire to see horror on television, mostly regardless of quality. The books by Robert Kirkman have always had a bit of melodrama about them, but the show has often taken that to obvious, soap opera levels. “The Walking Dead” comics feature a great cast of characters with complex motivations and relationships. Many of those characters made it to the television show – well, at least characters with the same names made it in. Things have changed so drastically from comic to screen that one has to ask – when does an adaptation stop being an adaptation?

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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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