Fight Club (1999)

4.5 STARS

General Information:

The information from below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/

18  139 min  –  Drama | Mystery | Thriller   –  12 November 1999 (UK)

Director

David Fincher

Writer

Jim Uhls

Stars

Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter

Plot:

Jack’s (Norton) life is dull and depressing: he is an insomniac, goes to cancer self-help groups (he doesn’t have cancer) and works in insurance. Suddenly he befriends Tyler Durden, and his life takes a dramatic twist. They form an underground fight club, yet their ‘Fight Club’ develops and becomes more and more to Jack’s disliking until eventually his life – and indeed: the world – spirals out of control…

Review:

Fight Club can be described by all of the film-critic-bullshit-clichés ever written: it is brutal, funny, disturbing, sexy, entertaining, mind-bending, breath-taking, thought-provoking – and bloody hell it’s violent. Well what is this film about? What is it not about? It’s about machismo, violence, sex, consumerism and fascism; yet it is also about: instinct, work, primal desires, money, and of course: soap (soap to make BOMBS!….obviously). All of these ideas and concepts are all mixed up and thrown into this mind-bendingly visual and darkly comic film. Yet, oddly, it works.

Jack narrates the film, it is told from his perspective. The first section of the film is philosophical and is a commentary mainly about consumerism and how Jack is bored with life. Jack is a sucker to consumerism, rather than watching TV and eating chips at night, he sits in his toilet and reads the IKEA catalogue pondering which furniture defines him as a person. He also goes to testicular cancer classes, even though he doesn’t have cancer, and because it makes him feel superior. (Hey, I said the humour was dark).

Suddenly, his life takes a turn, as he meets a soap-salesman named ‘Tyler Durden’ (Pitt). Jake envies Tyler because he is his opposite – he has a good body compared to him, is better looking, more confident, (and by the amount of noise made in the bedroom) is apparently good at sex.

Next thing you know, Jack’s condo blows up.

Bye-bye IKEA furniture. (Yes, that’s the satirical bit about consumerism.)

Luckily Jack phones Tyler and asks him to stay with him, they then form an underground fight club for many reasons: to vent aggression, to pass time because they are bored with life, to ‘get back’ at society. However, Fight Club builds and builds and builds until it becomes more serious: ‘Project Mayhem’.

This film is perhaps comparable to A Clockwork Orange: it is violent, yet it is also funny in areas in which it shouldn’t be. It challenges me as a viewer, and it distorts how I would normally react to violence. As a society violence is frowned on, yet in Fight Club it sets them free. The people doing the punching and the people receiving the punch both feel better than they’d ever felt in their entire life. Should we agree with what Tyler has done to these people? Has he really set them free or has he given them a false concept of being ‘free’? I’ll let you decide on these questions for yourself…

Verdict:

Funny, satirical and downright violent, Fight Club is not for the fainthearted, and must be viewed more than once in fear that it may be taken the wrong way. If it’s not a satire about fascism or consumerism, it is entertainment at the very least: original, bright, daring and bold; don’t you dare miss this cinematic gem.

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Lost In Translation (2003)

 3 STARS

General Information:

The information below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0335266/

 15 104 min  –  Drama   –  9 January 2004 (UK)

Director

Sofia Coppola

Writer

Sofia Coppola

Stars

Bill Murray; Scarlett Johansson; Giovanni Ribisi

Plot:

Two strangers, who are bored with life, meet together in Tokyo outside of their homeland, America. As the film progresses they form an intriguing bond as they realise that they have more in common than they first realised.

Review:

Despite all of the critical acclaim, the praise and all of the other hoo-hah that this film has received, it still left me wanting more. It lacked something. Something which most films have, something which makes you go to watch a film for, something that really does make or break a film:

a plot.

Okay, I’m being harsh; perhaps this film does have a plot.

A plot that’s fairly watery and lose around the edges that is.

Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are two people who are bored with life. Harris is a film-star who has lost all of his fame and glory and is now ending up starring in drinks commercials. Whilst Charlotte is another lost soul who plays the wife of a photographer who ignores her every night, she on the other hand, is not famous, so more of an ‘everywoman’ (in contrast to the overly-used ‘everyman’).  One’s a millionaire, whilst one isn’t. One isn’t ignored, as he is famous, and the other is, as she is not famous and is constantly ignored by her soul-mate.

The film is about how two strangers can meet and form a bond. Quite an odd and intriguing bond as they both have conversations with which you’d only have with a stranger whilst waiting at a bus stop. Conversations without detail – and without detail is without any attachment, in this sense their relationship is, in a sense, fulfilling, as they can have conversations but without being judged, as after all, they don’t really know each other. Whereas, if you had a conversation with your partner, or your friend, or your boss, you are being judged, which is why their bond is so unique and which is also why they are both emotionally attached with each other (even though their conversations have some level of detachment). In this respect the film is witty, clever and original. I liked the first half of the film for this reason, the film was comical and it had undercurrent commentaries of day-to-day life. Yet, the film carries on, and this ‘plot’ got thinner and thinner because well, it isn’t even a plot. Yes, it’s original, but it leaves the second half nowhere to go on. What did I like in the first half? Well, there were various comical moments, these moments perhaps being slightly ‘racist’ to Japanese people, but hey-hoh, that’s ‘art’ for you.
I also liked the originality of how the two characters met. I liked the fact that they both had self-improvement CDs as they were both lost.

What also strikes me about this film is the fact that it has a certificate of ‘15’. What for? It’s the most watery 15 I have ever seen. It contains no violence, some references to sex (i.e. boobs and a few hookers), a few odd ‘rude words’ here and there, but 15, really? How can the BBFC award a 15 about two strangers having conversations with each other? Surely a 12. At least a PG.

Anyway, enough of the politics…Bill Murray, plays Bob, and there is no other way to describe his performance other than: superb. I do believe that this is his best performance yet. It is a very intriguing performance, and one of those performances that is very rare in a film: it feels real. He doesn’t play Bob Harris, neither is he pretending to be Bob Harris, he is Bob Harris. His performance is subtle – subtle is very difficult to play, and it is a good subtle, it is not underdone, and it is not overdone, it is just right. In this respect, I can compare his performance to Anthony Hopkins’ performance in The Silence of the Lambs. Obviously excluding the fact the Bill isn’t a psychopath who eats people for ‘fun’ that is.

Both of their performances are subtle, so subtle that it is believable and real.

However, I have so much to criticise. Yes the acting was of the top-notch – but that is, surely, the least anyone expects from a film. Unless of course, if you like Keanu Reaves, (but that’s a different matter, a different review, a different rant).

So anyway, the acting was good, but the film lacks – as I mentioned earlier – plot. The plot is basically several random, aimless conversations that these two strangers have. This spans over the length of an entire film. I don’t like that. If it were a one-off serial drama which lasted for forty-five minutes, I would have been pleased, delighted, in fact. Yet, this is a film; this is longer, which makes these conversations drift off into a dreamscape impossible-land of ever-so-increasing-dullness. The film is like blank canvas with a miniscule dot in the middle, it’s got something in it, but not much, not much to be even be classed as ‘brilliant’. However, I must take into account that many people like this film, reviews class it as philosophical and a commentary on day-to-day life. People have claimed that this film made them think about their lives and if life is really worth living. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that. If a film wants to commentate on such philosophical questions, it needs to be impactful, not subtle. It needs to be in-your-face, not just hide behind the corner hoping not to be seen.

This is where Lost In Translation falls, it is not heavy in substance, it is like a slow feather falling to the floor. Great to look at, but not much to it. However, if you like films that are attempting to be philosophical but aren’t quite getting there, this is the film for you.

Oh well, the acting was good.

Verdict:

A thoroughly original plot, yet the film digs its own hole in the fact that the plot doesn’t give it anywhere to dig any further, as it well…goes nowhere. I like the originality of the plot – yet I don’t like the fact that this is the one and only leg the film stands on. Yet I suppose that’s what the film-makers intended: to suggest that life ends nowhere, we are all lost souls, like the characters in the film: who are, as the title suggests: Lost In Translation.