Fight Club: Subliminal Tyler

Fight Club is David Fincher’s 1999 classic which is listed as an all-time great and is a certainty to be found on many peoples personal favourite films lists; however it’s not only it’s iconic story, great characters and extraordinary film-craft which makes Fight Club stand-out, it is the extreme detail in which it dives into, become not only a modern-classic; but a post-modern filmmaking master class. Its display of post-modernism is highlighted as within the opening sequences, before we are officially introduced to Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a series of subliminal styled flashes occur showing our character, the idea that it is post-modern is due to how Tyler himself shows us later within the film how filmmaker’s can achieve subliminal messages. As we find out later in the film, its Jack (Edward Norton) who  creates Tyler as a manifestation of his sub-conscious, to cover-up and to cope with his unhappiness due his slowing fading life which is looked at as pointless; however the very moments where Tyler flashes on screen is carefully orchestrated and very telling.

The Office is the first time we see Tyler Durden; his expression is very confused and dazed; as if he had just fallen into a different universe wondering where he is. Jack’s lines “Everything is just a copy, of a copy, of a copy” as he scans work through a photocopier, it’s all very telling, urging us to realise Jack has just made Tyler! Tyler is just a copy of Jack; they are the same people!

Tyler is then seen next in the Hospital, the doctor tells Jack “Swing by First Methodist Tuesday nights. See the guys with testicular cancer. That’s pain.” but Tyler stands behind with a grin, almost laughing at him. Is he laughing at Jack’s issues? The Doctors advice? or simply the idea that people think they know what pain and trouble is.

Tyler carries on mocking our cast and characters, this time in the Therapy Sessions he appears, the leader orders “Let’s all of us follow Thomas’s example and really open ourselves up.” Tyler with his arm around the guy, looking smug but once again a face of ridicule; thinking to himself Jack’s not going to find answers here; these aren’t men!

Tyler then stands in between Marla and Jack as the pair seem to walk away and gaze at each-other after a very textbook meet-cute. He’s obstructing them, showing Jack the one thing he make’s him promise later on.. Stay away from Marla!

Then Tyler appears in Jack’s hotel welcome video, he is on the far right on the front row, screaming welcome almost telling the audience he is soon to appear, as Jack slowly looses hope.

Then we see Tyler, not a flash but a long drawn out shot just before the two officially meet. He’s wearing his hyper-real clothes, but the way it is filmed is important, Tyler almost emerges out of thin air but more so straight from Jack’s body as the two pass on the escalator! The camera then follows Tyler all the way up as if he was our main character.

Then Tyler and Jack finally meet side by side on the plane and the first line Jack says is “Look we have the same briefcase”, or in other words, “Look we are the same person”.

 

 

 

 

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Fight Club (1999)

Genre: Drama

Director: David Fincher

Writers: Chuck Palahniuk, Jim Uhls

Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter

Rating: ★★★★★

Fight Club is something special, a film which is like no others in terms of story, action, characters and the ridiculous detail that has been sweated over to make everything just that extra bit phenomenal. It is a film which amazes you the first time you watch it, and then the second, third, fourth all have the same effect as you start to notice little in-jokes and hidden elements. The writing is great, dialogue beyond great, with the acting, directing and look being completely lovable and “sexy”. Fight Club is definitely a favourite, definitely a classic and definitely a film which deserves every single bit of praise it gets.

Our main focus is Jack (Edward Norton), Jack isn’t his real name, we don’t find out his real name, but will we call him Jack, for Jack sounds better than simply “the narrator”. He is the narrator however, and he tells his story looking back on how he has ended up spitting vowels onto a dirty gun that’s been shoved down his throat. He’s a slave to Ikea, his job and his insomniac mind which will not let him sleep, on the way back from work he arrives to find his condo blazing and his much loved furniture nothing but burnt fragments lying on the floor. He has nothing, everything that he is was in that apartment, and so he rings Tyler (Brad Pitt). Tyler is the most interesting single serving friend Jack has ever met; Tyler sells soap and briefly shared his plane journey with Jack earlier that day and the two meet and Jack stays at Tyler’s house. The lifestyle is different, there is no nice furniture, TV, hot water, yet Jack is happy, he is free. Tyler and Jack create Fight Club, a place where men can be free, where pain is a replacement for fear and violence is a replacement for crying, there is no therapy just fighting. However Fight Club catches on, gets out of control, and soon spirals into Project Mayhem which could spell oblivion, but what it means for Jack is much much more.

Fight Club is mind-blowing in every sense of the word, to tell more of the story is a crime but it withholds one of the greatest plot twists and endings to a film. Jack is a modern-day man; he represents most men, a generation of men which have been raised in a feminist society, but is that right? The film speaks so much, Tyler speaks so much, and when analysed you can see so many ideas and the brilliance behind the concept. The concept of this story is great, two men, Tyler and Jack creating something so simple yet so dangerous and something that is apparently somewhat nature for men. It is much more though than the fighting, Jack and Tyler have a relationship with Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) a lost soul, yet it brings so much excitement and thrill. The story involves humour, everything from the character of ‘Bob’ to fight club homework assignments, then the action with explosions and soap, and finally the mystery, the absolute awe of what has been created and witnessed.

However one of the most likeable aspects of Fight Club is our characters, Jack for starters is just a slave to the world, but what he turns into is very different, rebellious and free we like him and admire him. Tyler is the definition of fun; no-one who sells soap and wears flower suits can be as cool as Tyler. Then Marla, it all starts with Marla, she is witty, and despite neglected she is so important. Brad Pitt is brilliant and so is Edward Norton, they portray their characters flawlessly, Pitt is fun just like Tyler, whilst Norton although more serious is likable and sympathetic just like Jack.

Fight Club is in my opinion the best film Fincher has ever directed and he certainly is remembered for it. The directing is new, and clever, the explosion scene in the condo is a single moment which highlights this alongside the opening title sequence. Fincher creates a dark gloomy look but it complements the exciting characters and story in a strange way. The effects are great, the fighting looks real, the blood looks even more real and the aftermath of “Blondie’s” fight looks brilliant. Everything within Fight Club seems faultless. The score should also be mentioned, its electric feel is needed whilst the end song is somewhat nostalgic to hear, let alone completely complimentary.

Fight Club is unexplainable, once watched more than once your admiration increases. The writing is one of my favourites, from dialogue to the wrapping up of each storyline and plot. The overall product is flawless and there’s no wonder why it is regarded so highly.  It is my favourite performances from both lead actors whilst they are also both of my favourite characters. Fight Club is a classic, and there’s no debating about that.

 

 

 

 

 

David Fincher as an Auteur #2

My second post discussing David Fincher as an auteur will focus on his depressing and negative endings which often show failure, sacrifice or suicide. It is a common thing for Fincher to involve himself with a film that is actually gritty, grim and dark such as Se7en, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and even The Game; however the endings and climax are always very important.

Fincher’s first directing role in Alien 3 shows this, it’s a cruel horrible world inside this prison where you are only waiting for your imminent death which is slow and tiring. An alien creature invades along with a lost and injured Ripley, a female isolated in this male dominated society and world which sets up a very harsh storyline. However at the end of the film there is no victory or success for either the prisoners or Ripley who we follow throughout, following a spray of guns the prisoners are shot and Ripley commits sacrificial suicide as she jumps into a pit of burning flames. As an audience we have nothing to be happy about, our main characters are all dead and with no victory showing how rubbish and cruel the situation was.

The same feeling is portrayed in the ending of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; throughout the film we follow the subplot which shows the growing relationship between our two main characters Mikael and Lisbeth. Lisbeth is someone who we feel very attached too and sympathetic towards, however at the end of the film dressed up and ready to meet Mikael she witnesses him leave with another woman leaving her distressed and upset. It is heart-breaking to watch, again there is no positive ending for the film or our character showing just how cruel this world is and society is.

Se7en and Fight Club two of Fincher’s big classics and all-time greats also follow this same outlook and perspective, mainly focusing on suicide. At the end of Se7en our main character witnesses his wife’s head decapitated in box and then gets himself arrested for shooting her murderer which is the serial killer being chased throughout the film. We can only assume that Mills is going to spend the rest of his life in a prison cell, alone and hopeless yet he knew this would be the chosen path when he pulled the trigger on John Doe therefore technically committing suicide as he kills of his future. Fight Club has the similar ending after an emotional and somewhat crazy journey our main character stands with a gun in his mouth ready to end it all, the same situation in The Game. Fincher creates this very depressing feeling of injustice, giving the message that the good guys don’t win in society. Se7en even ends with Somerset’s lines “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.” I agree with the second part.” This sums up the films and in a way Fincher’s message.

It is fair to say that Fincher has a negative look on society and life in general especially in his first set of directing roles. It seems that if you want Fincher behind your film, you better make sure there are no happy endings and it isn’t a romantic comedy.  Negative films and depressing endings are definitely and unarguably a trademark of David Fincher, if you didn’t see my last post on his representation of women click here.

My Top 5 Actors Of All Time

#5 Bruce Willis: Born March 19, 1995 he’s currently 58 years old and has been in the film industry since 1980. He features in the top ten stars in terms of box office receipts made. Most known for playing hot-headed, wisecracking and hard-edged characters he has his own franchise that is Die Hard where he plays officer “John Mclane”.

Die Hard (1988) is rated just outside the best 100 films of all time, and has brought along sequels of Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard: With a Vengeance and more recently Die Hard 4.0 (2007) and Die Hard: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). The franchise has made $502,440,899 in lifetime gross being one of the most successful set of films of all time.

Bruce Willis isn’t just an action-hero, he’s played roles in dramas, thrillers and sci-fi films. Most popular playing the lead role in The Sixth Sense (1999), written and directed by at the time brilliant M. Night Shyamalan it got nominated for a staggering 6 Oscars and is rated 143rd best film of all time. He has also worked alongside with possibly the best screenplay writer and director of all time Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction (1994) and finally he played lead role as a taxi driver in the brilliant The Fifth Element (1997) and starred alongside an all-star cast in Twelve Monkeys (1995).

 

Staring as lead role in an amazing amount of award-winning successful films he definitely deserves to be on this list. For me he is the best action actor and my favourite. His roles in the Die Hard films are amazing and they are one of my favourite sets of films. He is a truly talented guy too also writing, producing films and occasionally making soundtracks. He’s had a stunning career and is still going strong to date, well done Bruno.

#4 Morgan Freeman: Always playing “God” in films he has established a very godly prestigious role in the film industry and Hollywood. Known for his calm, and authoritative voice and demeanour he is possibly one of most well-known actors to date. Born June 1st, 1937 some would say he’s been around since the Stone Age but with those years he’s featured in some of the best films ever made, on the way winning an Oscar and a further 55 awards.

Playing one of the lead characters in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) voted the best film of all time, his role as Ellis the prison “getter” will be remembered for a very long time. He also played alongside Brad Pitt in the hugely successful Se7en (1995). Total gross of all of Morgan Freeman’s films stands to a staggering $4,003,514,144 with films such as Deep Impact (1998), Robin Hood (1991) and Driving Miss Daisy (1989) providing a big lump of that sum also not forgetting the Batman films.

He finally won his much deserved Oscar in 2009 for Invictus where he had the honour of playing the character of Nelson Mandela in his first term as president of South Africa in a battle to win the Rugby World Cup. In his career he has also been on set with David Fincher, Clint Eastwood to create amazing films.

For me he’s an outstanding, talented actor and without him some of my favourite films wouldn’t be as good. His presence is unique and his ability to draw you into a film is unbelievable. I think he no doubt deserves the credit he gets and of course the spot on this list. Although old he’s still going but you have to admire his fantastic career in film whether it be acting, producing or writing.

#3 Brad Pitt: A name that everyone knows and an even more popular face. Brad Pitt born December 18th, 1963 started his quest to Hollywood fame in 1987 in “Hunk” as an un-credited character of a guy with a drink on a beach. A further 67 films later he has been nominated for 4 Oscars and has won 37 awards, featuring in possibly some of the best films made.

The film that everyone will remember is Fight Club (1999), he played alongside Edward Norton in a film rated 10th best film of all time, but shhh we’re not allowed to talk about it. He has further acted in films such as Se7en (1995), Twelve Monkeys (1995) where he got his first nomination for an Oscar, furthermore and more recently films such The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Moneyball (2011).

Moneyball a film that is personally one of my favourites, Brad Pitt played lead role as well as producing. About an underdog baseball team with a low-budget huge success it’s an incredible film that got nominated for a huge 6 Oscars. The total Box Office for Brad Pitts films stand  worldwide at 3 and a half billion dollars showing he’s a top actor in top films.

He’s an actor that brings a certain style and “coolness” to his films that no one else does. His outstanding acting and a relationship with Angelina Jolie he is probably the most famous Hollywood actor and is one of the highest paid A-Listers. He’s certainly a talented guy and with only being half way through his career we’ll definitely see more of Pitt, definitely deserving his place as #3 on this list.

#2 Leonardo DiCaprio: Just missing out on top spot is the heart-throb born in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio. Born November 11th 1974, he started his acting career with minor TV series but after making the world flutter as his performance of Jack in Titanic he cemented his position as an all time great.

In my opinion Mr. DiCaprio hasn’t done a bad film, from the likes of Catch Me If You Can (2002) and more recently The Great Gatsby (2013), he is one of my favourite actors making and performing in some of my favourite films. The world of cinema must think so too as he’s been nominated for 3 Oscars and a further 31 award wins.

Titanic (1997) being his most famous film alongside Inception (2010). In Titanic he played the character of Jack in a romantic drama that swept the nations heart. Although not featuring as frequently in films as other actors every film he has done has been hugely successful. Django Unchained (2012), Shutter Island (2010) and The Departed (2006) all sweeping in awards. His total box office for films standing at an almighty impressive $5billion.

With his unique charm and class alongside be innocent child like look there’s no wonder he’s a popular man. With his extreme talent there’s also no surprise he’s #2 on my list. He has featured in some of my favourite films and played some of my favourite characters, in the words of Jay Gatsby well done old sport.

#1Tom Hanks: top of my list and I’m sure many others is the great Tom Hanks. Not only has he featured and played the lead role in a number of timeless classics unlike most actors he has played in every genre of film, from comedies, dramas, war to romance, each giving an amazing performance. Born July 9th, 1956 in Concord USA Hanks started his career of acting in the 1980’s with various TV series to then play in films such as Big (1988), The ‘Burbs (1989). He is now known for much bigger classic films, all time greats and he is known for his amazing acting and unique voice.

Tom Hanks has played lead roles in films such as Forrest Gump (1994) and PPhiladelphia (1993) that both won him Oscars. Two more of my favourite films of his and of all time, Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Cast Away (2000) also got nominations for Oscars. It’s safe to say his films have had huge success, and no surprise his performances in both Forrest Gump and Cast Away are my favourite and deserve huge credit.

Over the course of his prestigious career Hanks total box office for films is just over $6billion, more than every actor accept Samuel L. Jackson. Over the last decade  he has also shown his talents as he has started to produce and write films such as Polar Express (2004) and Larry Crowne (2011). He’s my favourite actor mainly due to his appearance in a number of amazing films from the Toy Story series to You’ve Got Mail. I guarantee if you ask people they’re top 10 films Tom Hanks is lurking in there somewhere.

 

Tom Hanks tops the list for his unbelievable amount of amazing films and his all round nice guy personality. A truly talented guy responsible for some of the best films and performances in the last 30 years truly deserve top spot.