November 29, 2009
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‘Fight Club’ fully loaded on Blu-ray
By BRUCE KIRKLAND – Sun Media


Much scorned, often misunderstood, Fight Club is now widely accepted as an American classic.

So it is a cause for celebration that David Fincher’s savage satire from 1999 has just made its Blu-ray debut. Fight Club: 10th Anniversary Edition is a one-disc, fully loaded offering with the title writ in shocking pink. Emblazoned below is the graffiti: “You Are Not Special.”

The release inspires Fincher to call Sun Media on an off-day from shooting his latest $47 million opus, The Social Network. The new film, starring Justin Timberlake, is based on the book The Accidental Billionaires, a drama about the founders of Facebook. But Fincher, now 47, is happy to look back to an era before the Facebook generation and connect it to today.

In a disturbing way, Fight Club is more relevant now than in 1999, he says. “I can’t say that was the hope,” he offers sardonically. “We were hoping it was a cautionary tale as well as being satirical.” But the film’s multiple themes — excessive consumerism, widespread narcissism, the masculine identity and even terrorism — are part of the national debate in 2009.

“I think I kind of appreciate its madness more,” Fincher says of the film’s tone. “At the time, I just thought it was funny (although) I definitely felt it was talking about something that was close to my heart. It felt that Chuck Palahniuk (the novelist) had a real window into what I was feeling subconsciously. But, at the time, it didn’t feel as scathing, or as seething, in the same way that I feel it is now.

“But, you know, maybe it’s because I have mellowed. And I think I had more fun with it then than I do now. At the same time, I recognize that I was a little pissed off about something when I was making it.”


The plot beggars description, because reducing it to basics distorts the narrative flow and threatens to reveal the shocking twist. Suffice it to say that unreliable narrator Edward Norton plays a corporate drone. Through relationships with the iconoclast played by Brad Pitt and the sado-masochistic lover played by Helena Bonham Carter, Norton reaches a crisis point.

Fincher’s casting is letter-perfect. Most were first choices, despite rampant speculation involving Russell Crowe instead of Pitt, Matt Damon instead of Norton and Reese Witherspoon instead of Bonham Carter. Fincher confirms he seriously talked to Sean Penn “and who is more talented than Sean Penn?” He also found Courtney Love “fairly spectacular” for the female lead, but rejected her because Love and Norton were a couple. “They were romantically involved then and I just felt, at the time, that I would rather have people acting that out than living it out.”

Other speculation, and there is a lot of it, “is just Internet chatter,” Fincher says.

On one level, Fight Club is like all of Fincher’s features: Alien 3, Seven, The Game, Panic Room, Zodiac and the Oscar-nominated behemoth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. None, Fincher says, was tailor-made for its boxoffice. Instead, he looked into the future and saw home entertainment as the key to keeping his films alive.

“I make no bones about it. That’s the reason we’re working so hard. It’s not about the first weekend. It’s about perpetuity.”

In the case of Fight Club, it thrived because the 2000 Collector’s Choice DVD gave the film the enthusiastic audience that missed it in theatres, because it was originally and wrongly sold as a macho boxing flick.

“They found it on DVD. They found it was not a boxing movie,” Fincher says. “It’s not even particularly a macho movie — and it was never intended to be. It was always this slightly homo-erotic satire.”

bruce.kirkland@sunmedia.ca




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