Tonight: Yes, You May Talk About Fight Club at the Mink

Tonight, Rocks Off presents Fight Club in all its full-blown quasi-fascist glory, upstairs at the Mink, where the movies are always free, the company is forever warm and the front room is always spinning George Strait (really).

In the fall of 1999, the advance buzz running rampant about Fight Club was that it was a misogynistic, violent piece of tripe from a director who should have known better, starring actors who were dreadfully miscast. As always happens in Hollywood, what is their offensive, politically incorrect trash becomes a cult in some parts of the world. Fight Club became sort of two-hour shorthand for all the social ills and mental hunger pangs that were prevalent at the end of the 20th century.

Based on Chuck Palahniuk's stellar novel, Fight Club ended up speaking for a broad section of society, and the film pointed out things that most of us had gone decades noticing but not intimating. It took the keen insanity of director David Fincher and screenwriter Jim Uhls to help convey all the devastating irony in Palahniuk's text. The film's cast, just arriving at the meaty part of their careers, expertly dug into their characters like vultures into a carcass.

Brad Pitt played the imaginary "Tyler Durden" like the sinewy and dangerous mental manifestation the book only hinted at. Aside from beleaguered Everyman Edward Norton, Pitt's sadistic grin and thrift-store-hustler wardrobe will always be the film's lasting hallmark. Pitt may never find a role that suited him physically and as much as this one.

Likewise, Helena Bonham Carter's "Marla" became the template for every dirty-girl cliché to come, even sparking a mini fashion trend with her sloppy make-up and tattered clothing. Fight Club also cemented the term "bitch tits" solidly into the social lexicon. Plus, who doesn't get a sick joy out of watching Jared Leto's face getting beaten into a bony mass of blood and flesh?

The film's soundtrack also brought the welcome resurgence of the Pixies. "Where Is My Mind?", from 1988's Surfer Rosa, was the film's ending theme, soundtracking what Rocks Off believes is the most romantic moment in modern movie history. Many listeners may not have caught the industrial clamor of Tom Waits' "Goin' Out West" during one of the early fight scenes at Lou's Tavern; look quickly and you can also notice Live's Ed Kowalczyk as the "clean food" waiter in a later scene with Norton and Carter.

The film's electronic score was created by the Dust Brothers, who produced the Beastie Boy's Paul's Boutique, Beck's Odelay, and the song that bought them both new houses, Hanson's breakthrough "MMMBop" single. Their score is twitchy and claustrophobic, with elements lifted from South Asian instrumentals to the sparse ambient tones that frame the film so well. It's definitely recommended listening for anyone interested in No Wave and the monumental band Suicide and even the Screamers.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty