Saturday, February 5, 2011

Quote the Critics: Fight Club

Being a recurring feature in which, rather than compose our own, fresh thoughts on certain films, we quote professional critics who've already had those same thoughts, and whose prose are largely unimprovable.

Roger Ebert:
Although sensible people know that if you hit someone with an ungloved hand hard enough, you're going to end up with broken bones, the guys in "Fight Club" have fists of steel, and hammer one another while the sound effects guys beat the hell out of Naugahyde sofas with Ping-Pong paddles.
... Helena Bonham Carter creates a feisty chain-smoking hellcat who is probably so angry because none of the guys thinks having sex with her is as much fun as a broken nose.... Women, who have had a lifetime of practice at dealing with little-boy posturing, will instinctively see through it; men may get off on the testosterone rush.

Well, at least one man didn't - Nathan Rabin, AV Club:
A tremendous technical accomplishment, a masterpiece of set design, editing, scoring, and precise direction. [But...] Everything about it conveys a smug, adolescent nihilism that's as emotionally powerful as it is shallow, and while it may be interpreted as an anti-fascist/anti-cult parable, it also draws most of its power from the same conformist, hyper-masculine ideology.

... [It] never really has any humanity to speak of.

One of the pleasures of reading Ebert's reviews is that of watching him toss off piercing insights, such as the one about Carter's Marla Singer. Why does the unnamed protagonist (a cheap writer's trick that must be offset with genuine dramatic energy to work; see, Ewan McGregor's lovable rube The Ghost Writer) not forget all about Tyler Durden and lose himself in the delights of such a lithe and pliant barbie doll of a Hollywood Love Interest? The movie doesn't bother to offer an explanation, which can only be interpreted to mean: "because the plot requires him not to." At their cores, both The Ghost Writer and Fight Club carry sophomoric and hollow statements about the World at Large, but only one of them bothers to wrap it in a compelling narrative and lively characters.

And that's not even mentioning how facile even the first post-millennium decade has shown the latter movie to be.

Huh - it seems I put down some thoughts of my own after all. Oops!

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