***/**** Image A Sound A+ Extras A
starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf Aday
screenplay by Jim Uhls, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk
directed by David Fincher
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. My on-again/off-again love affair with David Fincher began with a PREMIERE article I read about how much of an asshole he was on the set of Alien3, dumping a few-hundred baby crickets on a pretty surprised, pretty pissed, pretty skivvies-clad Sigourney Weaver. But I didn't really prick up my ears until his urban/ecclesiastical serial killer masterpiece Se7en revealed to me a key to unlocking the Coens' Barton Fink--being, as they were, thematic doppelgängers. Soaked in wet and Hemingway, Fincher declares the world a scam and appoints himself the snake-oil barker shilling from the proscenium on the wagon; Barton Fink, also stained sepia brown, also ostensibly engaged in the pursuit of a serial killer and the excoriation of deadly sins, is the spirit to Se7en's flesh. Even as he flounders at the heartbeat, Fincher finds the headlong of his carnal lather again in his adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club, establishing his mission statement as subterranean explorations of masculine aggression and explaining to me my tendency to confuse Fincher's films with those of Michael Mann. Focusing on the testosterone in Fincher's pictures offers partial explanation of the movies in his oeuvre that don't work (and, within those failures, the parts that do). Too, it's explanation of why it is that Fight Club's ending is so jarringly unsatisfying--"You met me at kind of a strange time in my life" the nancy punchline to two-plus hours of quintessential asshole cinema.