Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK VS. FIGHT CLUB (AND THE WORK OF DAVID FINCHER?)

Hulk tackles Fincher and FIGHT CLUB.

Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK VS. FIGHT CLUB (AND THE WORK OF DAVID FINCHER?)

PLEASE NOTE: IT IS COMPLETELY NO FUN TO WRITE AN ESSAY LIKE THIS. REALLY. HULK LIKES WRITING ESSAYS THAT BUILD TO ACTUAL POINTS AND HAVE SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE TO SAY. WHEREAS AN ESSAY LIKE THIS IS MORE PICKING A PROBLEM APART AND SCATTERING IT TO A HUNDRED PIECES. SOME PEOPLE DELIGHT IN WRITING AN ESSAY LIKE THIS. HULK DOES NOT. SO JUST KNOW THIS ESSAY ISN'T MEANT TO SKEWER SOMETHING YOU LIKE, BUT IS FAR MORE INTERESTED IN DELVING INTO THE IDEAS BEHIND THE FILM, AND HULK WANTS YOUR HELP POSSIBLY FIGURING IT OUT ...

PART 1 - THE PROBLEM

WHAT IS THE POINT OF FIGHT CLUB?

... OKAY, THAT'S  A TERRIBLY LOADED QUESTION FILLED WITH ALL KINDS OF UNFAIRNESS, BUT HULK JUST WANTS YOU KEEP IT IN MIND AS YOU READ THIS SUCKER.

THE FIRST TIME HULK SAW FIGHT CLUB, HULK KNEW HULK HAD SEEN SOMETHING... SIGNIFICANT. IT PROVOKED. IT FELT ASSURED. IT WAS ABNORMAL. BUT MOST OF ALL IT SOUGHT TO ADDRESS THIS DEEP, INTRINSIC FEELING THAT WAS BUBBLING UNDER THE SURFACE OF AMERICAN CULTURE. IN CASE IT IS NOT CLEAR, THESE ARE GOOD THINGS. REALLY. TO HAVE A MAJOR STUDIO FILM RELEASE BE SO DISTINCT, SO VIBRANT, AND SO AGAINST THE GRAIN IS ABSOLUTELY A VALUE UNTO ITSELF. BUT FOR HULK, THE RELATIVE MERITS OF THE CULTURAL SUCCESS OF THE FILM STILL COMES BACK TO THAT SINGULAR, CENTRAL, PESKY LITTLE QUESTION: "WHAT IS THE POINT?

... AND HULK HAS BEEN THINKING ABOUT THAT ONE QUESTION FOR OVER A DECADE.

NOW, HULK WOULD NOT WANT TO IMPLY THAT A MOVIES ARE IMPLICITLY REQUIRED TO HAVE SOME KIND OF COHERENT THESIS OR SOMETHING. THAT WOULD BE SUPER LAME. MOVIES CAN TOTALLY EMBRACE THEMATIC AMBIVALENCE IF IF THAT IS INDEED THE VERY POINT (AND THIS FILM IS CERTAINLY AT ITS BEST WHEN IT IS GIVING OFF THE TRUE PUNK-ROCK FUCK-YOU VIBE). BUT THE PROBLEM WITH FIGHT CLUB IS THAT IT SEEMINGLY TRIES TO CONSTRUCT A CENTRAL THESIS AROUND ITS EVENTUAL MORAL COMPASS. HULK HAS USED THE PHRASE "THE ENDING IS THE CONCEIT" MANY TIMES BEFORE , BUT THAT'S JUST A PRETTY WAY OF SAYING SOMETHING RATHER SIMPLE. THE ENDING ISN'T JUST WHAT WHAT HAMMERS HOME THE FINAL MESSAGE OF YOUR FILM, IT IS THE MESSAGE OF YOUR FILM. AND SO THE ENDING OF FIGHT CLUB IS, QUITE CLEARLY, TRYING TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT ABANDONING THE TRAPPINGS OF YOUTHFUL NIHILISM AND GROWING THE FUCK UP (READ: KILLING THEIR INNER-TYLER AND ABANDONING "PROJECT MAYHEM"). AND HULK FINDS THIS CONCEPT TO BE INCREDIBLY VALID, UTTERLY PERTINENT, AND PRECISELY THE KIND OF MESSAGE ONE NEEDS TO INVOKE AT THE END OF A FILM THAT TACKLES THESE SUBJECTS... BUT WHEN HULK CONSIDERS THE TONE AND DEPICTION OF EVERYTHING THAT HAS COME BEFORE THE ENDING, IT LEAVES HULK WITH ONE LINGERING QUESTION...

... IF THE POINT IS TO ULTIMATELY REJECT THE INNER-TYLER, WHY THE FUCK DOES IT SPEND TWO HOURS MAKING YOUTHFUL NIHILISM AND NOT-GROWING-UP AS SEDUCTIVE AND PROFOUND AS FUCKING POSSIBLE?

THAT MAY SOUND STRANGE BUT CHANCES ARE YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HULK TALKING ABOUT. EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT THE FIRST TWO HOURS OF THE FILM, WITH TYLER SUCKING ED NORTON INTO THAT NIHILISTIC WORLD THEY CREATE ON PAPER STREET IS EXECUTED WITH OUTRIGHT ASSURANCE. IT'S MADE SO COMPELLING THAT IT DOESN'T JUST CONVINCE EDWARD, BUT THE AUDIENCE TOO. IT MERELY STARTS WITH LOGICAL COUNTERPOINTS TO OUR CONSUMER ENNUI, STRETCHES THEM INTO A KIND OF OUTRIGHT PUNK ATTITUDE OF BASKING IN ANTI-SOCIETAL NORMS, THEN MORPHS INTO A KIND OF UNEASY MILITANT CONTRARIANISM, AND FINALLY TAKES IT TO ITS FURTHEST POSSIBLE POINT OF PURE ANARCHISM. IT IS PRESUMABLY AT THIS POINT THAT WE ARE MEANT TO REACH A KIND OF BREAKING POINT WITH OUR INNER-TYLER AND TRY TO SNAP OUT OF IT LIKE EDWARD NORTON DOES... ONLY THAT'S NOT WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS WITH US, IS IT?

IT DOESN'T HAPPEN BECAUSE ED NORTON'S TURN DOESN'T FEEL EARNED OR EVEN RIGHT FOR THE TONE OF THE FILM THAT CAME BEFORE IT. IT FEELS LIKE A DISINGENUOUS, PRETTY LITTLE BOW ON TOP OF A MOVIE THAT SEEMED LIKE IT WANTED SOMETHING VERY, VERY DIFFERENT FROM US. BECAUSE HULK TRULY BELIEVES THAT THE FIRST TWO HOURS OF THE FILM TRULY WANTS US TO FALL IN LOVE WITH TYLER AND BECOME ANOTHER PROJECT MAYHEM MINION. WHY? DOES IT WANT THAT? HULK WILL EXPLAIN IN DETAIL, BUT ASSUMING IT'S TRUE, THEN THE AUDIENCE, WHO HAVE BEEN TAKEN ON THIS WONDERFUL PLEASURE CRUISE OF NIHILISM, RESPONDS TO THE ENDING NOT WITH A "YOU'RE RIGHT! WE HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY!" BUT INSTEAD A "FUCK! WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR PLAN, MAN?"

IT'S NOT REALLY EVEN THE ENDING'S "FAULT." FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES IT MADE ALL THE RIGHT CHOICES. IT'S JUST THAT EVERYTHING IN FIGHT CLUB'S PRE-ENDING NARRATIVE IS SO DAMN COCKSURE AND EMPOWERING THAT THERE'S NO REAL WAY TO RECTIFY IT (OTHER THAN PERHAPS HAVING IT CRASH IN ON ITSELF WITH FALSE, SATIRICAL BRAVADO). FOR ONE, THERE'S NOTHING TELLING THE AUDIENCE TO KEEP THEIR DISTANCE. FINCHER SEEMS SO CAUGHT UP IN MAKING EDWARD NORTON GET CAUGHT UP IN TYLER, THAT THE AUDIENCE DOESN'T KNOW NOT TO EMBRACE HIM EITHER. AS A RESULT, LEGIONS OF PEOPLE WALKED OUT OF THAT MOVIE AND SAW IT AS STRAIGHT TAKE. THEY SAW THE ENDING ONLY AS SOME WAY OF STOPPING WHAT "WENT TOO FAR" BUT MORE INCONSEQUENTIAL INJECTION OF OBLIGATORY HOLLYWOOD MORALISM. THEY DIDN'T SEE IT AS THE ACTUAL POINT BECAUSE "DAMMIT, TYLER DURDEN WAS RIGHT! LOOK AT OUR PERFECT LITTLE LIVES WE FUSS SO MUCH OVER! I WANT TO GET IN TOUCH WITH MY MOST PRIMAL, NIHILISTIC SELF!"

AND THUS PEOPLE STARTED MAKING THEIR OWN FIGHT CLUBS...

REALLY. THIS HAPPENED A LOT MORE THAN YOU'D THINK. SURE, SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO PARTICIPATED DIDN'T TAKE IT THAT SERIOUSLY OR ANYTHING, BUT THIS ONLY HIGHLIGHTS THE ALLURE OF THE "COOL" NATURE TO WHAT WAS DISPLAYED. BUT THEN THERE WERE THE OTHERS WHO DID TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. MAKE NO MISTAKE FOLKS. SOME PEOPLE REALLY TOOK THE PRE-ENDING OF THIS MOVIE AS GOSPEL. IT FED THEIR DISPOSITION AND SHAPED THEIR OUTLOOK. HULK KNOWS BECAUSE HULK WATCHED A BUNCH OF IMPRESSIONABLE PEOPLE REALLY EMBRACE THEIR INNER-TYLER. HULK KNEW PEOPLE WHO TOOK TO BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER. SOME EVEN STARTED THEIR OWN PROJECT MAYHEM.

NOW, HULK JUST HAS TO MAKE IT CLEAR AND STATE THAT, OF COURSE, IT'S THE VIEWERS RESPONSIBILITY NOT TO BE AN IDIOT. THE PEOPLE WHO EMBRACED THE FILM'S EARLY MANTRA WHOLE-HEARTEDLY ARE OBVIOUSLY OVERLOOKING THE POINT MADE IN THE END AND THUS, IT'S TOTALLY THEIR FAULT. AND EVEN IF THE FILM OUTRIGHT ENDED IN A MONOLOGUE TELLING PEOPLE TO START THEIR OWN PROJECT MAYHEMS IT WOULD STILL TECHNICALLY BE THEIR FAULT. HULK JUST USING THIS AUDIENCE REACTION TO SHOW THE PROBLEM WITH THE MOVIE'S CONSTRUCTION. WHEN EDWARD NORTON PLEADS WITH THE OTHER MEMBERS OF PROJECT MAYHEM THAT IT HAS "GONE TOO FAR," THIS SHOULD BE THE CUE TO THE AUDIENCE TOO... BUT IT SO DOESN'T CATCH. AND THE REASON IT DOESN'T CATCH IS BECAUSE ED NORTON'S TURN DOESN'T FEEL CATHARTIC IN THE SLIGHTEST. IF ANYTHING, THE AUDIENCE IS MORE UNSURE AND UNEASY GIVEN THEIR ENTIRE STATE OF NARRATIVE CONFUSION AT THE MOMENT. BUT MOSTLY THEY'RE INSTINCTIVELY WONDERING, WHY CAN'T WE SEE THIS THING THROUGH?

SUCH IS THE SEDUCTION AND ASSURANCE OF TYLER'S LURE. THE TRUTH IS THAT THE AUDIENCE SHOULD OBVIOUSLY RECOGNIZE THAT THINGS WENT TOO FAR (IN "REAL LIFE" TERMS) THE MOMENT GROWN MEN STARTED PUNCHING EACH OTHER IN THE FACE BECAUSE OF... YOU KNOW, SOCIETY OR SOMETHING. BUT THEY DIDN'T. NONE OF US DID WITHOUT OUR CONSCIENCE OVER-POWERED BY OUR NATURAL, VISCERAL-VIEWING EXPERIENCE.

AND THE FAULT ULTIMATELY LIES WITH DAVID FINCHER.

2 - FINCHER & TONE

FINCHER THOUGHT PEOPLE WOULD UNDERSTAND FIGHT CLUB WAS A SATIRE. WE KNOW THIS BECAUSE HE SAID "I thought that people would understand it was meant to be satirical." AUDIENCES CERTAINLY UNDERSTOOD THE FILM WAS FUNNY, BUT THEY LOST THE SATIRICAL INTENTION IN DROVES. WHAT IS RATHER TELLING IS HOW AFTER FINCHER MADE THAT COMMENT IN THE INTERVIEW, HE THEN JUST SORT OF SHRUGGED IT OFF (POSSIBLY SURMISING THAT PEOPLE ARE KIND OF STUPID) AND THEN CLAIMED IT WAS MARKETING THAT ACTUALLY THREW PEOPLE OFF. TO A CERTAIN POINT HE IS RIGHT, NOT THAT PEOPLE ARE STUPID OR THAT WAS THE MARKETING (THOSE ARE BOTH TRULY LAME ARGUMENTS, ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THE PEOPLE NOT UNDERSTANDING IT WAS A SATIRE OFTEN SAW IT LATER ON AND LOVED THE MOVIE), BUT HE IS RIGHT THAT THERE IS A HUMANE WAY TO LOOK AT EVERY SINGLE EXTREME MOMENT IN THIS FILM AND SAY "YES, OF COURSE THAT'S RIDICULOUS, THIS HAS TO BE SATIRE AND HOW COULD ANYONE THINK OTHERWISE?" THAT IS ABSOLUTELY THE PROPER WAY TO REACT WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE SPECIFICS OF THE DETAIL AND PLOTTING IN FIGHT CLUB. BUT THAT IS JUST SANS PRESENTATION. THE TONE OF THE FILM AND IT SAYS SOMETHING RATHER DIFFERENT. IT PRESENTS THESE IDEAS AS ALLURING. IT MAKES YOU GENUINELY WANT TO LIVE IN A SHITTY APARTMENT, FIGHT DUDES, AND MAKE SOAP OUT OF BODY FAT. AND TO SUCCUMB TO THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT PEOPLE ARE STUPID, IT JUST MEANS THEY WATCH MOVIES VISCERALLY. AND GUESS WHAT? A PART OF EVERYONE WATCHES MOVIES VISCERALLY SO IT'S NOT EXCLUSIVE AT ALL. AND BY WATCHING MOVIES VISCERALLY, ONE THING BECOMES CLEAR:

FINCHER HAS NO IDEA HOW TO MAKE A SATIRE.

FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES (HULK KNOW THEY DIFFERENT MEDIUMS), LET'S COMPARE FIGHT CLUB TO THE MOST FAMOUS SATIRE OF ALL TIME: JONATHAN SWIFT'S ESSAY "A MODEST PROPOSAL" IN WHICH HE ARGUES THE POOR CHILDREN OF IRELAND SHOULD BE TURNED INTO A FOOD SOURCE TO BE OF SOME VALUE TO THE POOR ENGLISH. EVERYONE EITHER REACTS TO THE ESSAY BY GOING A) "HOW FUNNY! HE'S SENDING UP THE DETACHED VALUES OF HOW GOVERNMENT APPROACHES HUMAN BEINGS" OR B) "I CAN'T BELIEVE SOMEONE WOULD WRITE THAT! HOW HORRID!" THAT'S IDEALLY HOW A TRADITIONAL SATIRE SHOULD WORK. THERE'S SHADES OF GREY TO HOW MUCH THE SATIRE NEEDS TO FIT THAT EXACT KIND OF DUAL REACTION, BUT WHAT TOTALLY SHOULDN'T HAPPEN IS PEOPLE GOING "HE'S RIGHT! LET'S TOTALLY EAT THOSE CHILDREN!"

OKAY... OBVIOUSLY, HULK ONLY TALK ABOUT TRADITIONAL SATIRES HERE, PLUS THE FACT THAT SWIFTS ESSAY IS ABOUT EATING BABIES AND FINCHER'S FILM IS ABOUT DUDES HITTING EACH OTHER IN THE FACE AUTOMATICALLY MAKES THE FORMER A MORE-OBVIOUS JOKE, BUT YOU GET HULK'S DRIFT HERE. HULK MEAN, WHAT IDEA IS FINCHER ACTUALLY SATIRIZING? THE FILM MAY BE ABOUT A LOT OF DIFFERENT CONCEPTS, BUT IF HE'S TRYING TO GO ALL SWIFTIAN ON US WITH THIS SKEWERING OF THE DILEMMA OF THE MODERN MAN (ENNUI VS. NEANDERTHAL-ISM), THEN WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE IT CAN'T MAKE UP ITS MIND BETWEEN THE TWO? IF IT WAS A MEDITATION ON THAT DILEMMA IT WOULD BE ONE THING, BUT THAT'S NOT THE FILM AT ALL. WHY DOES THE NEANDERTHAL-ISM REALLY COME ACROSS LIKE A VIABLE ANSWER TO OUR CONSUMERISM BULLSHIT? MEANING WHY DOES IT SEEM LIKE FINCHER'S HEART IS REALLY, REALLY IN "EATING ALL THE BABIES" SO TO SPEAK? YOU COULD CERTAINLY ARGUE THAT THAT WASN'T FINCHER'S INTENT (BECAUSE IT TOTALLY WASN'T) BUT THAT IN TURN LEADS US TO THE BIGGER ISSUE.

THE MAJORITY OF FINCHER'S WORK OFTEN SEEMS TO LOSE THE OVERALL TONAL "POINT" IN A SEA OF CONTRADICTORY AESTHETIC CHOICES.

... OH HELL NO HULK! THEMS FIGHTIN' WORDS!

SORRY. THAT MAY SEEM LIKE A REALLY, REALLY UGLY CRITICISM OF AN ACCOMPLISHED-AS-SHIT DIRECTOR, BUT HULK THINKS IT'S TRUE. A GREAT DEAL OF FINCHER'S WORK SEEMS OUT TOUCH WITH ITS OWN OVERALL INTENTION OF TONE. HULK MAY GET A LOT OF CRAP FOR THIS BECAUSE FINCHER IS SUCH AN INTERESTING, SMART, VIVID FILMMAKER, WHO NOT ONLY MAKES THE MOST AESTHETICALLY BEAUTIFUL COMPOSED FILMS AROUND, BUT CAN FILL SCENES WITH THESE FANTASTIC LITTLE, PERTINENT THEMATIC DETAILS... BUT THE SUCKY PART OF THAT IS HE STILL SEEMS TO GET LOST IN A MOMENT-BY-MOMENT SPECIFICITY OF THOSE DETAILS. HE WILL TELL A BEAUTIFUL LITTLE STORY WITH A SINGLE LOOK OR INTERACTION WITH AN OBJECT, BUT IT CAN OFTEN BE OUT OF PLACE WITH THE OVERALL COHERENCY. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE INTENTION OF THAT OVERALL AFFECT IS LOST. MOST SPECIFICALLY, FINCHER HAS THIS WEIRD, ONGOING PROBLEM WHERE HE DOESN'T SEEM TO KNOW WHEN HE'S MAKING SOMETHING ALLURING, OR DISTANCING, OR DOWNRIGHT REVOLTING.

AND IT'S AFFECTED HIS ENTIRE CAREER.

... HULK SHOULD PROBABLY QUALIFY THAT STATEMENT. THE FIRST PROBLEM WITH CRITICIZING FINCHER ON A THEMATIC LEVEL IS THAT HE DOESN'T ACTUALLY WRITE HIS MOVIES. SO HE'S NOT REALLY AN AUTEUR IN THE TRADITIONAL SENSE, HE "JUST" DIRECTS. HECK, YOU COULD EVEN ARGUE HE'S THE BEST JOURNEYMAN DIRECTOR WORKING TODAY, BUT THAT WOULD ALSO IMPLY HE ADAPTS HIS STYLE TO APPROPRIATELY FIT A PROJECT. BUT FINCHER DOESN'T REALLY ADAPT EITHER. HULK FEELS LIKE HE SIMPLY PLACES HIS IMMACULATE AESTHETIC OVER THE CONTENT. SOMETIMES IT'S PERFECT. SOMETIMES IT'S NOT. BUT HULK WOULD ARGUE THAT IS STILL A CHOICE. HE CHOOSES WHICH PROJECTS TO DO AND HE CHOOSES TO MAKE THEM A CERTAIN WAY. HE DOES NOT HAVE TO DO ANYTHING. SO WITH THAT COMES THE IMPLIED AGREEMENT THAT AS A DIRECTOR YOU ARE UTTERLY RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOUR FILMS SAYS ON A TONAL LEVEL. AND WHAT FINCHER SAYS WITH HIS FILMS HAS A HISTORY OF BEING... SOMEWHAT OUT OF CONTROL.

GOING THROUGH HIS FILMOGRAPHY, HULK'S WOULD ARGUE THAT ZODIAC IS ABSOLUTELY FINCHER'S MOST ACCOMPLISHED, COHERENT WORK.(1) THE FILM IS A PIECE OF JOURNO-CINEMA THAT TELLS ITS STORY THROUGH PERTINENT DETAILS AND THE MEANINGS DERIVED FROM THEM. IT'S ABOUT FIXATION, THE NUANCE OF SAID DETAIL, OPERATING IN THE MACHINE OF BUREAUCRACY, AND PROFESSIONALISM IN THE FACE OF PUBLIC TERROR.  OUTSIDE OF GENERAL ATMOSPHERE AND THE SPECIFICITY OF THESE DETAILS, THERE IS NO SINGULAR TONE OR INTENTIONAL "VOICE" WHICH SKEWS THE IDEAS PRESENTED IN THESE SPECIFIC DEDUCTIONS. THE DETAILS ARE THE STORY. WHICH, IN HULK'S HUMBLE OPINION, MAKES IT A PERFECT FILM FOR FINCHER'S AESTHETIC.

AND AT FIRST, THE SOCIAL NETWORK SEEMS TO BE THE SAME EXACT KIND OF DEAL. IT'S A REAL-LIFE EVENT WHICH DERIVES SO MUCH MEANING FROM THE WAY IT PRESENTS DETAIL (NAME IT: MARK'S FIXATION ON FINALS CLUBS, THE TWINKLEVII STATICALLY ROWING IN A POOL, CASUAL GEEK SEXISM, ENDLESS COMMENTARY ON CLASS, AND LOADS MORE). TO BE FAIR, ALL THIS COMES FROM A THEMATICALLY-RICH SORKIN SCRIPT, BUT IN MANY SEQUENCES THE LAYERING OF FINCHER'S AESTHETIC ELEVATES THE FILM INTO RAREFIED AIR. THE COMBINATION REALLY MAKES FOR AN UNLIKELY, BUT BEAUTIFUL MARRIAGE. SORKIN'S VOICE IS SO POINTED YET UN-REALISTICALLY "HEIGHTENED," THAT IT'S ACTUALLY FINCHER'S AESTHETIC THAT MUTES IT INTO THIS SUBTLE, SLY PIECE. AND TONALLY SPEAKING, FINCHER'S ATMOSPHERIC GLOOM ABSOLUTELY PULLS THE POSSIBLY-TWEE FEELING OF SORKIN'S WORDS DOWN INTO THIS WEIGHTY AND SOMEWHAT SAD SENSIBILITY. THE NET RESULT BEING FILM THAT FEELS PROGRESSIVE, VIBRANT, SORROWFUL, AND YET TOTALLY COMPELLING... BUT ALONG THE LINES OF FIGHT CLUB, HULK BELIEVES A SIMILAR (THOUGH NOT NEARLY AS SIGNIFICANT) PROBLEM EMERGES FROM FINCHER'S TONAL CHOICES. SINCE THE SOCIAL NETWORK'S SO COMPLETELY GLORIFIES THE "ANTI" OF ANTI-HERO MARK ZUCKERBERG'S ABILITIES, IT WORKS AS AN ACTUAL DISSERVICE TO THE FILM'S THEMATIC MESSAGE. FINCHER TAKES ZUCKERMAN STICKING IT TO TWINKLEVII AND SHOWING OFF HIS GENIUS FROM THE POINT OF MERELY BEING A FUNCTIONAL PART OF HIS HUBRIS AND, IN AN EFFORT TO MAKE IT COMPELLING, HE TURNS IT INTO SOMETHING UBER-CINEMATIC AND SEDUCTIVE. ZUCKERBERG, IN ADDITION TO BEING AN ASSHOLE, BASICALLY COMES OFF AS COOL AS SHIT. LIKE WALL STREET DID SOME YEARS BEFORE IT, THIS HABIT CREATES A KIND OF PROLONGED "GOOD TIME SEQUENCE" THAT FEELS SO EMPOWERING THAT LOTS OF PEOPLE WALKED OUT OF THESE FILMS WITH THAT ALLURE BEING THE MOST RESONANT ASPECT. WHICH MEANS THESE FILMS SECRETLY WANT  YOU TO BE THE FUCK-IT-ALL SOLIPSISTIC DIP-SHIT. THEY WANT YOU TO BE THE CEO, BITCH.

IS THIS FINCHER'S RESPONSIBILITY? THE SCRIPT AND STORY OBVIOUSLY DON'T ARGUE FOR THAT, SO WHY DOES HIS FILM? IS MAKING THESE SEQUENCES HYPER-ALLURING THAT VALUABLE? HULK KNOW YOU WANT TO FOLLOW YOUR (ANTI)HERO BUT IS IT ULTIMATELY A THEMATIC DISSERVICE? AGAIN WE GET INTO THAT PROBLEM OF FINCHER'S INDULGENT SEDUCTION FAILING TO KEEP THE AUDIENCE AT A PROPER DISTANCE. AND DON'T GO SUGGESTING THAT IT'S JUST THE NATURE OF CINEMA THAT AUTOMATICALLY ADDS THE SEDUCTIVE LAYER. AS A POINT OF COMPARISON, PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON IMPLICITLY UNDERSTOOD THAT IN ORDER TO UNDO THE SEDUCTION AND ALLURE OF HIS PORNOGRAPHIC INCLINATIONS IN BOOGIE NIGHTS, HE ESSENTIALLY HAD TO SPEND HALF THE LENGTH OF THE FILM COMPLETELY UNDOING THAT. HE CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD THE HUGE RESPONSIBILITY TO NOT BEING INDULGENT.(2)  SO FINCHER SEEMS SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT TOO... RIGHT?

RIGHT??? ... HULK JUST HAS TO ASK: IS FINCHER REALLY EVEN AWARE OF THESE INDULGENT TONES AT ALL?

IT MAY SEEM RIDICULOUS FOR HULK TO ARGUE THAT HE WOULDN'T BE AWARE OF HOW HIS FILM IS COMING OFF, BUT THERE ARE SOME PRETTY GOOD INDICATORS. FOR ONE, HULK HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE FUCK BENJAMIN BUTTON IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT. THE FILM IS AN ATONAL NIGHTMARE. FINCHER'S GLOOMY PRECISION JUST FEELS DOWNRIGHT FUCKING WEIRD OVER A TWEE, GUMP-IAN STORY LIKE THAT (UNLIKE THE SOCIAL NETWORK WHICH ISN'T NEARLY AS BAD AND FINCHER DOES IT AN OBVIOUS SERVICE). SOMETIMES THE BUTTON JUST FEELS LIKE A REALLY COOL TECHNICAL EXERCISE, BUT HONESTLY HULK HAVE NO IDEA IF FINCHER UNDERSTOOD WHAT KIND OF MOVIE HE WAS MAKING WHATSOEVER. SURE, THE SCRIPT IS OFTEN JUST AS SCATTERED IN LIGHT / DARK ALTERATIONS, BUT FINCHER TOOK WHAT NEEDED A ZEMEKIS-LIKE BENT AND TURNED IT INTO THE WEIRDEST, MOST DOUR FAIRY TALE HULK HAS EVER SEEN. SO YEAH... HULK HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON THERE, BUT THE INDULGENCE/ATONAL PROBLEM SHOWED UP RECENTLY ONCE AGAIN, AND IN A BIG WAY, WITH THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. SO OFTEN THE FILM SHOOTS LISBETH AND IT COMPLETELY DOESN'T KNOW WHEN IT IS FETISHIZING, INDULGING, DISTANCING, EMPOWERING, OR CRITICIZING HER. TO BE FAIR, THE BOOK DOES THE SAME THING SO MAYBE IT'S JUST A PERFECT MARRIAGE OF CONFUSED CHARACTERIZATION, BUT HULK FEELS LIKE SO MUCH OF WHAT IS BEING SAID IN THE FILM FEELS COMPLETELY TONE DEAF.

THAT MAY LIKE A WEIRD STATEMENT, BUT IT'S TRUE. NO MOMENT SO CONFIRMS FINCHER'S LACK OF UNDERSTANDING THAN ONE SINGLE DECISION. NOW THE OBSERVATION MAY BE SMALL, BUT IT'S ALSO VERY DEBATABLE. HULK WAS SO WORRIED ABOUT BRINGING IT UP IN THIS COLUMN THAT HULK HAD A SERIES OF LONG CONVERSATIONS ABOUT IT JUST TO BE SURE. (SPOILERS AND SUCH). THE MOMENT HAPPENS DURING THE ANAL RAPE SCENE.  NOW, THE TONE OF THE SCENE IS GENERALLY GROTESQUE, HARROWING, ANGERING. ALL THE THINGS IT'S MEANT TO BE. BUT THERE ARE TWO ELEMENTS THAT COMPLICATE IT. THE FIRST IS THE WAY AUDIENCE CAN FEEL "ALLEVIATED" BECAUSE THEY LIKELY KNOW THAT HER CAMERA IS FILMING IT AND THUS SHE HAS EVIDENCE. IN SOME WAYS THIS MIGHT BE A GOOD THING AS TO NOT "LOSE" THE AUDIENCE, BUT THERE IS A SMALL ELEMENT OF IT THAT IS TONALLY TROUBLING. BUT IT'S REALLY THE SECOND PROBLEM THAT MORE INDICATIVE OF WHAT HULK TALKING ABOUT WITH FINCHER. THERE IS A POINT IN THE SCENE WHERE THE RAPIST REMOVES LISBETH'S PANTS AND IT EXPOSES HER BUTT. IT IS A SINGLE WIDE SHOT THAT DOESN'T SEEM PARTICULARLY ALLURING OR ANYTHING, BUT THERE IS A WAY THE SCENE STAYS STATICALLY ON THAT FOR A MOMENT (AND EVEN RETURNS BACK TO IT FOR A SECOND IF HULK NOT MISTAKEN) THAT STRIKES HULK ODDLY. NOW, HULK IS THE KIND OF HULK WHO NOT ONLY HAVE A CENTERED MORALITY (SEXUAL OR OTHERWISE) AND HULK WHO OBVIOUSLY UNDERSTANDS THE PERCEPTION OF TONE AND WHAT ONE SUPPOSED TO BE FEELING IT,  BUT IN THAT MOMENT HULK, FOR THE SPLIT-EST OF SECONDS, DOESN'T THINK ABOUT THE HORROR AT HAND AND SIMPLY REACTS "OH... THAT'S ROONEY MARA'S BUTT." ... THAT'S OBVIOUSLY NOT THE INTENTION, BUT IT'S PRECISELY WHAT PLAYS OUT.

SO REGARDING ALL THOSE CONVERSATIONS HULK HAD? HULK ASKED 5 MEN AND 5 WOMEN AND TALKED ABOUT THE SCENE THE SAME WAY HULK JUST DID NOW. ONE GUY HAD RECOGNIZED THE SAME EXACT PROBLEM AND WAS REALLY BOTHERED BY IT. ALL 5 WOMEN WERE BOTHERED ABOUT SOMETHING IN THAT SCENE, BUT COULDN'T PUT FINGER ON IT TILL HULK EXPRESSED THAT PARTICULAR SHOT. 2 OF THE OTHER MEN HAD AGREED THAT WAS THEIR REACTION THE MOMENT THEY SAW THE SHOT, BUT JUST PUT IT OUT OF THEIR MINDS IN A HURRY AND HADN'T THOUGHT ABOUT IT SINCE. AND THE LAST GUY SAID HULK WAS INSANE. BUT IT SHOULD BE NOTED HULK HAD PREVIOUSLY ASKED IF HE FOUND LISBETH SALANDER ATTRACTIVE BEFORE EVEN BRINGING UP THAT SCENE AND HE SAID THAT SHE WAS "SUPER HOT" ... AGAIN, THIS JUST A SAMPLING, PERHAPS APROPOS OF NOTHING, BUT HULK FEELS LIKE ALL OF THE RESPONSES SPEAK TO SOMETHING PROBLEMATIC ABOUT THE WAY FINCHER STAGED THE ENTIRE THING. THAT WHEN MAKING A SCENE THAT GRIZZLY AND HARROWING, WITH SUCH A SPECIFIC POINT, THAT ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY SEDUCTIVE OR ALLURING SHOULD BE THE LAST THING ON THE FILMMAKERS MIND (EVEN IF THE AUDIENCE CAN JUST QUICKLY DISMISS IT LIKE WE ALL DID).

AND YET. THERE IT WAS.

HULK FOUND THESE KINDS OF MOMENTS (IN LESS EXTREME FORM) TO BE LITTERED AROUND THE ENTIRE MOVIE. HER SUDDEN CHANGES FROM HER LESBIAN AFFAIR (SOMETHING OF MUCH GREATER SIGNIFICANCE IN THE BOOKS), HER SEXUAL ENCOUNTER WITH BLOMKVIST. HER POSING. THE FESTISHIZING AS SHE LOUNGES ABOUT. HER PRESENTED NUDITY. HER ON-SCREEN ORGASM. WHAT IS CLUMSILY, BUT PERHAPS ADEQUATELY EXPLAINED ON THE PAGE AS WAY OF BASICALLY TAKING BACK HER SEXUALITY IS AN ABSOLUTE CONFUSED NIGHTMARE ON SCREEN. AND TO HULK, IT'S JUST INDICATIVE OF EVERYTHING THAT'S WRONG WITH FINCHER. HE THINKS HE'S BEING CLINICAL AND DISTANT WHEN REALLY HE'S DRAWING YOU IN. WITH DRAGON SPECIFICALLY, WHO KNOWS. IT MIGHT JUST BE A CASE OF HIM BEING TOTALLY DISINTERESTED. IN INTERVIEWS FINCHER SEEMS LIKE HE HAD NO IDEA WHY HE WANTED TO MAKE THE MOVIE. AND HE SIGNED ONTO THE FILM PRE-SOCIAL NETWORK GLORY SO WHO KNOWS.

OR PERHAPS THERE'S ANOTHER ANSWER, WHICH GETS BACK AROUND TO THE SECOND PROBLEM WITH CRITICIZING FINCHER (SORRY IT TOOK SO LONG). MAYBE THE SEDUCTION OF THE AUDIENCE IS THE POINT. MAYBE HE'S JUST TRYING TO MAKE SOME SORT OF POST-MODERN EXAMPLE ABOUT HOW THE AUDIENCE'S "GO ALONG" REACTION IS INDICATIVE OF CONFIRMING THE VERY THEMES OF THE FILM: ROOTING FOR ZUCKERBERG JUST REVEALS OUR OWN INNER ASSHOLE. BEING ATTRACTED TO THE FETISHIZED LISBETH SALANDER JUST REVEALS OUR OWN INNER SADIST. AND WITH THE FILM IN QUESTION, PERHAPS OUR DESIRE TO ENLIST IN PROJECT MAYHEM JUST REVEALS OUR OWN INNER-FUCK-IT-ALL ANARCHIST.(3)

WELL... IT'S A NICE THEORY, BUT THAT VIEW JUST FEELS AS WRONG WITH SO MANY OF THE OTHER CHOICES THAT COME ALONG IN THESE FILMS. FOR ONE, IF THAT WERE THE APPROACH WE SHOULD BE WALKING OUT OF THE FILMS FEELING SHAMED BY THE ENDINGS, BUT INSTEAD WE OFFERED THOSE HALF-HEARTED TURNS AS A MERE COUNTER-POINT. AND BESIDES, THAT KIND OF ANTI-AUDIENCE FILMMAKING IS SOMETHING HULK FINDS... SORT OF DISHONEST? (READ: HUMAN CENTIPEDE II) OR AT LEAST IT'S "SMART" IN A WAY THAT HULK FINDS NOT THAT SMART OR EFFECTIVE AT ALL. BUT SHIT, THAT'S ANOTHER DISCUSSION.

THE REAL EVIDENCE FOR THIS BEING THE CASE IS FINCHER WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN GENUINELY SURPRISED TO THE REACTION TO FIGHT CLUB IF HE ACTUALLY WANTED THAT REACTION. AGAIN, YOU SIT DOWN AND LISTEN TO THE GUY AND YOU KNOW HE'S SMART, BUT THERE IS SOMETHING HE INHERENTLY MISJUDGES ABOUT HIS MOVIE'S OVERALL AFFECTATION. WHICH ISN'T SOME CARDINAL SIN OR ANYTHING, BECAUSE IT'S KIND HARD TO UNDERSTAND... UNLESS YOU'RE A GREAT FILMMAKER... UGH, SORRY THAT WAS A POT SHOT.... HULK DIDN'T REALLY MEAN IT... THOUGH HULK NOT THINK HE A GREAT FILMMAKER... YET.

LET'S GET BACK ON TOPIC FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND PURE.

PART 3 - FIGHT CLUB / CONTEXT

YOU EVER THINK ABOUT THE WAY THAT SOME PEOPLE DESCRIBE THEIR PROBLEMS WITH THE LAST ACT OF FIGHT CLUB?

THE ASPECT A LOT OF PEOPLE DO NOT SEEM TO LIKE IS THE NOW-INFAMOUS "THEY'RE THE SAME PERSON!" DEVICE. THE REASON IT IS OFT-MALIGNED IS BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MAKE A LICK OF LOGICAL SENSE. AND THAT'S LARGELY BECAUSE THE "REVEAL" SCENES OF ED NORTON BEING TYLER ARE REALLY JUST THESE NONSENSE, FUNNY, WINKING CAMERA TRICKS THAT SAY "WE DON'T REALLY CARE ABOUT THE LOGIC OF THIS, WE'RE GOING SOMEWHERE ELSE WITH THIS MOVIE NOW SO YOU BETTER COME ALONG." PEOPLE HATE THAT SORT OF THING BECAUSE IT FEELS LIKE "CHEATING," BUT HULK IS TOTALLY FINE WITH IT HERE BECAUSE THE SAME-PERSON DEVICE WORKS SO COMPLETELY ON A THEMATIC LEVEL. TYLER DURDEN, AND WHAT HE REPRESENTS, IS A PERFECT MANIFESTATION OF THE MODERN MALE SUBCONSCIOUS. AND IT ABSOLUTELY RAMS HOME THE THEMES OF THE FILM.

SO HULK COULD JUST BE A JERK AND SAY" THEY DIDN'T GET IT" JUST BECAUSE IT TOOK A WILD, PLOT-ILLOGICAL TURN, BUT THAT WOULD BE WRONG. BECAUSE THE PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE THE ENDING SUCKS ARE NOT ACTUALLY REACTING TO LOGICAL PROBLEMS AT ALL. HULK ARGUES ALL THE TIME THAT PEOPLE WATCH AND UNDERSTAND MOVIES VISCERALLY, WHICH MEANS THEY'LL FORGIVE POOR LOGIC IN THE FACE OF GREAT STORYTELLING ALL THE TIME, BUT THEY ARE EXTREMELY SENSITIVE TO TONAL SHIFT. AUDIENCES INSTINCTIVELY UNDERSTAND WHEN A MOVIE CHANGES HOW IT PRESENTS ITSELF. THEY UNDERSTAND WHAT IS POSSIBLE IN A MOVIE AND WHAT IS NOT. THEY UNDERSTAND WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO THE STORY BEING TOLD AND WHAT IS NEEDED... SO WHAT REALLY BOTHERS THEM ABOUT THE ENDING?

... THEY'RE INSTINCTIVELY DISAPPOINTED WITH ENDING BECAUSE TYLER DIDN'T WIN.

SURE, THE BUILDINGS COME CRASHING DOWN AND OUR COLLECTIVE CREDIT IS WIPED OUT, BUT THERE'S NO TYLER TO STAND THERE VICTORIOUS. OUR FAVORITE PERSON IN THE FILM IS COMPLETELY KILLED OFF. EVEN AS THEY FIGHT IN THE END, NORTON DOESN'T FEEL LIKE THE LONE VOICE OF REASON ARGUING FOR HIS / THE AUDIENCE'S SANITY. HE FEELS LIKE A FUCKING BUZZKILL. THE MOVIE (AND FINCHER BY ASSOCIATION) JUST DOESN'T SEEM TO WANT TO GROW UP EITHER. THE FILM REALLY SEEMS TO THINK THAT TYLER IS PROFOUND. SO THE AUDIENCE DOESN'T LIKE THE END BECAUSE THEY DON'T GET TO SEE TYLER WIN. HULK JUST CAN'T GET OVER THE WAY THEY HANDLE THIS TONAL SHIFT AND WHAT IT SUPPOSEDLY MEANS. HULK REALLY CAN'T.

BUT THEN AGAIN, THE FILM ENDS ON A BRECHTIAN COCK-FLASH.

THIS GESTURE COMPLETELY INVERTS ANY AND ALL MEANING AND IMPLIES TYLER IS EVEN FUCKING WITH THIS MOVIE. IN ONE WAY THIS GESTURE GOES BACK TO IT POSSIBLY BEING A "FUCK YOU" TO THE AUDIENCE, BUT HULK ALREADY DISMISSED THAT PUNK ROCK INTENTION GIVEN THE NATURE OF EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE ENDING. SO MAYBE THE COCK-FLASH IS MEANT TO IMPLY THIS IS JUST ALL EMPTY SPECULATION IN THE FACE OF NIHILISTIC GLEE? IN FACT, THE COCK-FLASH IS THE SORT OF ALLEVIATING PUNK GESTURE THAT HULK CAN ACTUALLY RALLY BEHIND (HULK MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING THAT HULK CAN TOTALLY RALLY AROUND AMBIVALENCE IF AMBIVALENCE THE POINT). BUT, AGAIN, THAT JUST DOESN'T FEEL LIKE THIS MOVIE. THERE'S TOO MUCH WEIGHT. TOO MUCH INVESTED. TOO MUCH BRAVADO. IN THE END, THE COCK-FLASH IS JUST AS COMPLICATING AS ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE ENDING.

EVEN FOR PEOPLE WHO MAY LOVE THE MOVIE, HULK FEELS PRETTY COMFORTABLE SAYING THAT MOST PEOPLE HAVE A SOMEWHAT A COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP TO THE LAST 20 MINUTES. THIS IS TRUE OF EVEN ROGER EBERT, WHO (HILARIOUSLY?) THINKS IT "RUINS A MASTERPIECE." HE'S RIGHT IN THAT RUINS THE NARRATIVE DIRECTION AND PRO-MAYHEM THEMATIC BENT OF THE BEGINNING, BUT... IT'S LIKE HE'S NOT THINKING ABOUT WHAT KIND OF MOVIE IT WOULD BE IF TYLER STAYED. UNLESS IT WENT THE GENUINE SATIRE PATH (WHICH IT DIDN'T), HULK MEAN, WHERE ELSE COULD THE MOVIE REALLY GO?

BUT EBERT'S CERTAINLY NOT ALONE. PEOPLE MISSED THE SUPPOSED POINT IN DROVES. FIGHT CLUB BECAME BELOVED BY A WHOLE GENERATION OF YOUNGISH PEOPLE WHO WERE REALLY PISSED OFF TOO (EVEN YOUNGER HULK WAS SOMEWHAT TAKEN BY THE ALLURE). AT ITS WORST, THIS IDEA OF THE FILM SPEAKS TO A KIND OF BAT-SHIT PRECURSOR TO BRO-ISM, A PROTO-FRATTY THINK-PIECE THAT, AGAIN, INSPIRED ACTUAL FIGHT CLUBS. ALSO AGAIN, IT'S NOT THE FILM'S FAULT FOR THESE SORTS OF BEHAVIORS, BUT HULK ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE THE SEDUCTION IS COMPLICIT IN ADVOCATING THE MINDSET.

BUT HOW DID THINGS GO SO FAR? PERHAPS THERE'S A SOCIETAL CONTEXT TO ALL OF IT.

PART 4 - FIGHT CLUB / FALLOUT

PERHAPS A DECADE OF DISTANCE FROM THE FILM IS GOOD THING.

BECAUSE WHEN THE FILM WAS RELEASED HULK FEELS LIKE THERE WAS A PARTICULAR CLIMATE WHERE THE FILM MAKES MUCH MORE SENSE. OR AT LEAST MAKES MUCH MORE DIGESTIBLE.  FOR ONE, IT CAPTURES THIS PITCH PERFECT AIR OF CONTRARIANISM THAT SHOWCASES THE STATE OF AMERICAN MALE IN 1999. THE INCOMPARABLE DAMON HOUX CALLED IT TRUE "PRE-9/11 MOVIE" WHICH IS COMPLETELY APT. THE MOVIE TAKES DEAD AIM AT A UNIQUE BRAND OF AMERICAN MALAISE THEY ASSUME IS PERMANENT AND HECK, THE MOVIE EVEN PUTS FORTH THE IDEA THAT "DISASTROUS EVENTS" WOULD WAKE PEOPLE UP (THINK ABOUT THE PLANE, BUILDING EXPLOSION IMAGERY). IT'S EERIE. BUT THE IDEAS ARE ALSO RATHER JUVENILE. FOR TWO, IT IS A MOVIE THAT MAKES WAY MORE SENSE IN BOOMING ECONOMY, WHERE THE GUISE OF AMERICAN CAPITALISM IS PERCEIVED AS THIS A-OK THING THAT CAN NEVER BREAK AND THUS WE MUST TRY TO SHATTER IT. YOU HAVE BORING, GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT? WELL THE FILM IS ALL LIKE "FUCK JOBS! WE DON'T NEED THAT SHIT!" ... ACTUALLY WE DO, BUT UNDERSTANDING THAT WE DO MAKES WAY MORE SENSE IN TODAY'S CRAPPY ECONOMY. (IT SEEMS LIKE ONLY THE PERVASIVELY RICH, LIKE THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THIS MOVIE, TEND TO MAKE THESE CONSTANT "FUCK POSSESSIONS" ARGUMENTS ANYMORE... JUST SAYING). BUT ADMITTEDLY IN 1999, WHEN AMERICA SEEMED INVINCIBLE AND HYPOCRITICAL, ALL THESE IDEAS CERTAINLY SEEMED MORE VIABLE... OR WHO KNOWS... MAYBE IT WASN'T. 12 YEARS A LONG TIME AND YOUNGER-HULK MAY HAVE HAD A JUVENILE LENS ON TOO.

AND DID THE FILMMAKERS? DID THE STARS? DID TYLER DURDEN HIMSELF? THERE'S THIS EXCEPTIONALLY WEIRD MOMENT IN ONE OF THE DVD COMMENTARIES WHERE BRAD PITT SAYS ONE OF THE DUMBEST, MOST CONTRARIAN, SELF-INVOLVED, UNRELATE-ABLE, BULLSHIT THINGS HULK HAS EVER HEARD AN ACTOR SAY. THEY ARE WATCHING THE SCENE WHERE EDWARD NORTON HANGS OUT PRETENDING TO BE ONE OF THE "HEALING BALL OF LIGHT" CANCER PEOPLE. THEN BRAD PITT BASICALLY STARTS CHIMING IN ON THE WHOLE PRACTICE OF CANCER SELF-HELP CALLING IT BULLSHIT AND ACCUSING THE PEOPLE WHO DO IT AS NOT "GETTING IT."... IT'S CRUDE. JUVENILE. BULLSHIT. IT TYPIFIES THE WORST OF CULTURE WHERE WE ARE SO PREOCCUPIED WITH TEARING DOWN NICETIES (THAT HAPPEN TO BE LIES) IN THE NAME OF "TRUTH" THAT WE'LL COMPLETELY SHIT ON ANY OF THE TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE AND CONSTRUCTIVE THINGS THAT GO ALONG WITH IT.  IT IS THE DUMBEST THING THAT HULK HAS HEARD A GROWN-ASS 36 YEAR OLD MAN SAY. HE MAY HAVE DONE A LOT OF GROWING UP IN THE LAST 12+ YEARS WHAT WITH KIDS AND FAMILY AND WHAT NOT, BUT EVERY TIME HULK THINK OF HIM HULK THINK OF THAT RIDICULOUS JUVENILITY.

BUT WAS IT JUST SOMETHING WHOLLY INDICATIVE OF THE 1999 CULTURAL MINDSET? WHICH IS JUST TO SAY A JUVENILE MINDSET. A KIND OF FLIP AMORALISM THAT FOLKS USE TO EXAMINE FLAWS IN PRODUCTIVE THINGS. AND THEY EXPOSE THESE FLAWS WHY? BECAUSE THE PRODUCTIVE THING IS PRETENDING TO BE PERFECT? OR EVEN JUST AN ANSWER? HULK SEES THE WHOLE APPROACH AS A NONSENSICAL FORM OF ITS OWN ENTITLEMENT. AND IT REEKS OF JUVENILE BULLSHIT.

SO IS THAT WHAT FIGHT CLUB IS TOO?

IS THIS WHAT IS ULTIMATELY BEING ADVOCATED? DRESS IT UP IN LEGITIMACY ALL YOU WANT BUT THE MOVIE INDULGES IN, AND TONALLY ADVOCATES THE VERY THING IT ULTIMATELY TRIES TO CRITICIZE.

HULK FEELS LIKE A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE FINALLY STARTING TO SOBER UP TO WHAT THE FILM ACTUALLY "IS" TO A CERTAIN DEGREE. THEN AGAIN, WHEN EXPLAINING THAT REACTION HULK STILL WORDS LIKE "OVERRATED" WHICH TOTALLY NOT THE POINT. HULK DOESN'T CARE ABOUT WORTH. HULK CARES ABOUT WHETHER IT IS MISUNDERSTOOD OR PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD... OR EVEN IF IT CAN BE EITHER OF THOSE THINGS.

AND EVEN WITH ALL OF HULK'S MISGIVINGS, THE MOVIE IS STILL WORTH A GREAT DEAL. IT'S BENT, DARK, AND DEPRAVED IN ALL THE BEST WAYS, IT'S JUST THOSE THINGS IN SOME OF THE NOT GOOD WAYS EITHER. IT'S A FILM THAT WAS DEEMED PERFECT FOR ITS TIME AND PLACE AND REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT HULK "AGREE" WITH THE SENSIBILITY IT SURE AS SHIT TAPPED INTO SOME ZEITGEISTYNESS. WHILE TALKING ABOUT IT, QUENTIN TARANTION FAMOUSLY INVOKED THE KURTZIAN PHRASE "A DIAMOND BULLET TO THE BRAIN."

AND LASTLY, AND CERTAINLY MOST IMPORTANTLY, HULK HAS TO ADMIT THAT HULK IS 100% OVERVALUING COHERENCY. HULK WOULD HAPPILY LISTEN TO SOMEONE MAKE A CONVINCING ARGUMENT FOR HOW IT ALL ACTUALLY  WORKS AND MAYBE HULK JUST MISSING IT ALL. BUT EVEN IF YOU MAKE AN ARGUMENT AND HULK NOT CONVINCED, HULK WOULD ALWAYS RATHER HAVE A SINGLE, INTERESTING MOVIE THAT MAYBE FAILS OVER EVERY SINGLE KIND OF HALF-ASSED, NO-ARTISTIC-INTENTION STUDIO EFFORT IMAGINABLE.

THE MERE FACT THAT HULK HAS TAKEN THIS PROVOCATIVE AND PERHAPS INCONSISTENT LITTLE FILM AND BEEN THINKING ABOUT IT FOR THE LAST 12 YEARS, SAYS EVERYTHING.

YOU CAN PLACE NO VALUE ON A GREAT DISCUSSION.

AND THAT'S WHAT FIGHT CLUB GIVES US.

<3 HULK

THIS GREAT DRAWING DONE BY BEVIN BRAND! FIND WORK HERE  AND FOLLOW HERE .

ENDNOTES!

(1) IN ALL FAIRNESS, IT'S BEEN FOREVER SINCE HULK SAT DOWN TO WATCH SEVEN AND HASN'T SEEN THE GAME SINCE THE THEATER. HULK HAS HAD NO IDEA HOW EITHER HAS AGED, BUT HULK SEEM TO THINK THAT SEVEN A RATHER TIGHT LITTLE THRILLER, THAT AVOIDED ANY OF THESE ISSUES, SO LET'S JUST ASSUME THEY'RE FINE. HULK WOULD REALLY NEED A SECOND LOOK TO SAY OTHERWISE.

(2) - THERE'S A STORY IN THE BOOGIE NIGHTS DVD THAT SPEAKS PERFECTLY TO PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON'S UNDERSTANDING THE DANGERS OF CINEMATIC SEDUCTION. THERE'S A PART WHERE HE TALKS ABOUT AN EARLY SCREENING OF THE FILM AND HOW PEOPLE BEGAN TO CHEER DURING THE "LITTLE BILL" REVENGE MOMENT HALFWAY THROUGH. HE SAID THE WAY THE AUDIENCE STARTED REACTING MADE HIM FEEL SICK TO HIS STOMACH, AS IF HE GENUINELY FUCKED UP THE NON-ALLURING ELEMENT OF THE SCENE, BUT WHEN LITTLE BILL IMMEDIATELY TURNED IT ON HIMSELF, THE AUDIENCE WENT DEADLY QUIET. ANDERSON SAID HE FELT LIKE THE MOMENT CORRECTED THE SCENE'S INTENTION WELL-ENOUGH, BUT HERE IS A FILMMAKER UTTERLY WORRIED ABOUT THE ALLURE OF WHAT HE SAYS. ABOUT THE AUDIENCE CONSEQUENCES. ABOUT THE INTENTION AND MEANING IF SOMETHING IS COMING OF SEXUAL OR FUN OR WHAT NOT.... HULK JUST NOT SURE HOW MUCH THAT WORRY IS IN FINCHER.

(3) - HULK BEEN TALKING ABOUT ANARCHISM A BUNCH LATELY, OFTEN NOT IN GLOWING TERMS. HULK KNOW THERE A LOT OF RANGE TO THE IDEA OF ANARCHISM AND HULK BEEN GETTING A GOOD DEAL OF HULK-MAILS ABOUT THE SUBJECT. BUT PLEASE KNOW THAT HULK MEANS TO USE IT HERE IN ITS MOST EXTREME SENSE, NOT THE WAY MOST OF YOU ARE DEFINING IT. AND HULK GET THAT USING THE WORD IN THIS EXTREME WAY IS DESTRUCTIVE TO THE CAUSE OF TRYING TO GET SOCIETY'S UNDERSTAND WHAT ANARCHISM IS ACTUALLY, BUT HULK THINK THE WORD CHOICE TRULY ILLUSTRATES THE POINT THE BEST, SPECIFICALLY WHEN DISCUSSING THE INCLINATIONS OF A MOVIE LIKE FIGHT CLUB. PLUS, HULK HAS SOME PROBLEMS WITH THE OTHER RANGES OF ANARCHISM AND HOW THEY UNINTENTIONALLY LEAD TO THE SAME PROBLEMS, BUT THAT'S SO NOT THE POINT AND BEST DISCUSSED AT A LATER DATE. COOL? COOL.

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
t