Daily Archives: October 11, 1999

Fight Club

This exercise in mainstream masochism, macho posturing, and designer-grunge fascism (1999) is borderline ridiculous. But it also happens to be David Fincher’s richest movienot only because it combines the others (Alien3, Seven, The Game) with chunks of Performance, but also because it keeps topping its own giddy excesses. Adapted by Jim Uhls from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, this has somethingbut only somethingto do with a bored Edward Norton encountering a nihilistic doppelganger (Brad Pitt) who teaches him that getting your brains bashed out is fun. Though you’re barely allowed to disagree with him, your jaw is supposed to drop with admiring disbelief at the provocation, and the overall impression of complexity might easily be mistaken for the genuine article. In other words, this is American self-absorption at its finest. With Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, and Jared Leto. 139 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Straight Story

A welcome change of pace (1999) from David Lynch, based on the true story of Alvin Straight, a midwestern septuagenarian who rode 240 miles on a lawn mower to visit his estranged brother after the latter suffered a stroke. The wonderful Richard Farnsworth plays the lead, and he was clearly born for the part; the script is by John Roach and Lynch’s editor and coproducer, Mary Sweeney. Lynch’s imaginative and heartfelt direction falters only when he tries for some of his relatively familiar weirdo effects. Otherwise this is a highly affecting and suggestive spiritual odyssey with plenty of all-American trimmings and reflections about old age. If some of the imagery suggests very-high-level calendar art, Lynch’s use of the ‘Scope frame is even more attractive than in Blue Velvet, and the film’s reflective rhythms are haunting. With Sissy Spacek. G, 111 min. (JR)… Read more »

Boys Don’t Cry

Kimberly Peirce’s first feature (1999, R, 118 min.), written with Andy Bienan, tells the disturbing story of Teena Brandon (Hilary Swank)raped and murdered in late 1993 for impersonating a manas harrowingly effective agitprop against sexual intolerance and hate crime. It’s a film with all the earmarks of earlier work by American independent producer Christine Vachon (Poison, Swoon, Safe, I Shot Andy Warhol, Go Fish). In some ways the story is about class as much as sexuality, and within this framework the actors do a fine jobespecially Chloe Sevigny as Teena’s girlfriend Lana. (JR)… Read more »