Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And Now I Miss The Janus Again...

Somehow, until this afternoon I'd forgotten that Fight Club was ten years old. In fact, a little over a month ago in 1999, a number of us (including some current Blogorium readers) went to the Janus Theatre to see David Fincher's anarchic vision of Chuck Palahniuk. Back when the flashes of Tyler Durden early in the movie were literally flickering frames, so you weren't sure what you saw, back when Brad Pitt was still in movies like Seven Years in Tibet. More importantly, back when we were all angsty 19 and 20 year olds who wanted to see the system taken down a peg or two.

And now it's ten years later. I'm not as angst-y - maybe grumpy - and we've taken a few shots at the system only to realize its design is pretty solid. Well damn. At least Fight Club remains entertaining as black comedies go.

I have a bit of a difference of opinion with one of the PHD students on campus about which film is more "dated" as late-nineties social critiques go. I say it's American Beauty, which I cannot watch anymore because it of how fixed in time it is. He disagrees, and believes that Fight Club is a product of the late nineties, and that it doesn't hold up anymore. I'm not going to decide for you folks, but if you have any other suggestions (*coughChasingAmycough*), let me know.

What I do know is that the chunk of Fight Club I watched on Blu Ray this afternoon still held up pretty well a decade later. If you remember correctly, the dvd opened with the normal "Warning / Attention" red screens, followed by a "Warning" from Tyler Durden, one that broke away to the dvd title screen. Fincher and company haven't forgotten the simple joys of messing with our expectations, so the Blu Ray has a new trick: when you put the disc in, the normal "Warning" ad pops up, then a "The interviews blah blah blah do not represent..." screen, and then something fun happens.

The menu for Never Been Kissed, another ten year old 20th Century Fox movie, starts up. Sappy music, static picture of Drew Barrymore, lipstick cursor selection. For just a second, you wonder what's going on here. Then I chuckled. It's a good one, and before long it skips like a scratched dvd to reveal a rotating screen with furniture descriptions, ones that get more interesting as you move from the narrator's apartment to Tyler's house. So yes, Fight Club is still toying with your brain, particularly the addled minds of people who caught the film many years after its theatrical run.

For me, that's kind of weird. I don't know why, since that's how I experienced many movies people much older than me saw the first time on big screens, but the audience for Fight Club now consists of people who would not have possibly been old enough to see it at the Janus with us in October of 1999. Like the Cap'n did with so many "cult" films, many of the Space Monkeys buying this Blu Ray were introduced to Fight Club in dorm rooms hazy with bong smoke, probably on a double bill with *shudder* The Boondock Saints.

That may be, for me at least, why Fight Club still holds up. There's an audience for the movie that doesn't see why being a Space Monkey is a Bad Thing, and why nobody should really want to be like Tyler Durden (or Patrick Bateman, although that is another discussion for another time), and so quite unintentionally, the movie perpetuated its own misguided followers. While some might be inclined to blame Fight Club for the presence of the mooks, I would point instead to the central message of The Life of Brian: "It's not Jesus' fault you idiots misinterpreted the message!"

So happy 10th anniversary, Fight Club. And, since it's only a week away for their dual release (also at the Janus), Happy 10th anniversary Being John Malkovich and Dogma. That was a strange double feature...

Oh, and Happy 15th Clerks. What the fuck, Clerks? I was fifteen when you came out the first time, so now I feel really old. Stupid movies from my teenage years becoming teenagers themselves...

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