04 November 2010
I had a weird meta moment tonight while watching Fight Club, which sounds more appropriate than it was. I've been sick for a couple of days, all head-foggy and hot-cold flashes, and we put this on as a kind of familiar, non-challenging thing to watch together, my girlfriend and I, and while I watched I had the thought, "Oh man, I don't want to have to blog about this." There was a period where I probably watched this movie once or twice a month, minimum, for about a year or two. I read the book two (or is it three?) times, and I can quote most of the commentaries, let alone the dialogue. Even the soundtrack I've exhausted the ability to hear objectively.
The thing is, Fight Club came out at an appropriate time for a young dude who needed to latch on to a kind of intelligent, retaliatory nihilism -- which is what I was in my early twenties (and clearly I was not alone). The freedom of not caring has always been a powerful idea to me. Until tonight I don't think I've seen the film in six or seven years, but there was a point where it was my keystone. It's difficult to be critical of something so ingrained into you, so crucial to a certain point in your life. It's also a film about which I've read too much supplemental trivia and analysis, and it's hard to separate original thoughts from the mindweb of data I've taken in. All of which adds up to, I don't know what I can say about it, as there is hardly a "first impression" left for me to have.
But I will say this. It's interesting to see how many elements of this have bled unconsciously into my stories over the years. My first short film (a trainwreck I won't show anybody anymore; that's a rule) was basically ripping off the pseudo-philosophy from Fight Club and the basic plot outline of Christopher Nolan's Following -- both accidental but undeniable. Another script of mine is about a man and his doppelganger, and a couple of scenes or settings from it feel like they were lifted wholesale out of Fight Club, pushed deep into my subconscious for a while to mix around with whatever else was down there, and brought back out as something like a fresh new concept. I guess that's how ideas form, in lots of cases, but it's curious to recognize the seed. Hopefully I've strayed far enough from the source material that it's not plagiarism (I'm reasonably sure I have), but it's still a strange sensation.
But how about I say something about the movie, instead of myself? I can do that. Fight Club is a good movie. It holds up. It's a curious mix of deadly serious meta-drama and tongue-in-cheek nihilist/fascist rallying cry, and it's got a sort of Looney Tunes quality to the violence, action, and dialogue. It's also a puzzle of a movie, maybe more than a drama (though it still holds up well as a drama), but it's smart enough to justify itself. I'd been putting it off, I think, half out of fear it would come off gimmicky or a little hokey in light of everything that followed, but I am pleased to report that it actually ages pretty well.