BP’s Top 100 Movie Challenge #100: Fight Club, by Sarah Brinks
I’ve decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seems like a good way to see some classic movies that I have tragically never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list has a good number of films I haven’t seen before so it is a good source for my challenge.
You too can join the 2017 BP’s Top 100 Movie Challenge. It’s easy. Just watch each of the 100 films on the BP top 100 list from 100 to 1. It will end up roughly equaling two movies a week from the list each week of the year. It’d be great to hear your thoughts in the comments each week.
Even though it is breaking the first and second rule of Fight Club, I am going to talk about Fight Club. This is a doozy a film to start with, I saw this film back in 1999 when it was released and did not like it. Though I wasn’t in a hurry to see Fight Club again I was curious if my opinion would have changed in the 17 years since I first saw it. I will say the film is improved by two things: knowing the twist ending and time/perspective. David Fincher is an interesting director whose films more often than not work for me, Fight Club is a notable exception. It was a little better watching it knowing that Tyler Durden and The Narrator are the same person and seeing the fun ways they hint at it throughout the film gave me something to focus on while I watched it. Time also helps this film. In one of Durden’s speeches he refers to this generation (my generation) as the “middle children of history.” We do not have a Great War or depression to define us. September 11th and the 2008 recession have happened since then but they still have not united us for or against a single cause. Seeing how men of the 90’s felt impotent in some way as the century was about to change and materialism was rampant was interesting with hindsight.
The film’s rampant misogyny and machismo is still a big problem for me. With the exception of Helena Bonham Carter as Marla and a few women in the various support groups, there are no women in the film. Granted that a chisel-chested, shirtless Brad Pitt is nice for the ladies the film is really targeted to men. The testosterone-driven violence, the abandonment of material possessions, the push-back on society’s mores all feels distinctly male (though I do not claim to speak for all men or women here). The speeches when Durden tells his army that they are not their wallets or that they can find their potential by fighting are not messages that resonated with me in 1999 or now. I agree that materialism is not a good quality but I don’t think abandoning society or fighting will fix the world’s problems or my own.
I can understand why this film works for a lot of people and it is very well made and acted but I really think there was a better film out there to put on the Battleship Pretension top 100 list. I can at least take comfort that it is in the 100th slot.
I have decided to rate each of the films on the list using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier).
Fight Club Battleship Rank: Destroyer (sink away!)