When David Fincher’s Fight Club was released 20 years ago, it was a crystal ball that was mistaken for a cultural crisis, much like Do the Right Thing had been a decade earlier and perhaps Joker is now. Film-makers who were trying to identify a violence nesting in the culture were accused of trying to incite it – or at least clumsily juggling lit sticks of dynamite. No less an authority than Roger Ebert opened his review of Fincher’s film by calling it “the most frankly and cheerfully fascist big-star movie since Death Wish”, echoing widespread concern that impressionable men would lock into the empowering brutality of Tyler Durden and the army that gathers around him. Viewed from a certain angle, it looked like a recruitment film.
What cannot be predicted, however, is how items like Fight Club will shift during flight. It becomes easier to appreciate the ambiguities of the film when it no longer feels like a clear and present danger. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Fincher’s point of view isn’t confusing or contradictory all these years later, but the culture tends to move quickly from threat to threat, and it’s helpful to have enough distance to see the world it’s depicting more clearly. Whatever you think about Fight Club in 2019, it’s probably not exactly what you thought about it in 1999, if only because so much of what it describes has manifested itself in the real world or been distorted beyond recognition.
Things - Aggrievement - Male - Ron - Livingston
It all begins, as many terrible things do, with the pissy aggrievement of a young white male. Much like Ron Livingston in Office Space, another cult classic from the same year, Edward Norton’s unnamed narrator has gotten tired of the deadening routines that define his life. The difference is that cubicle culture alone isn’t what’s bothering...
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