The ending of “Fight Club” (1999) dir. David Fincher

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This has to be the strangest “happy” ending in film history … a declaration of mature love amidst massive destruction and mayhem … while the Pixies’ legendary “Where Is My Mind?” plays in the background. I realize this is a perverse selection here given my last entry about “United 93,” but to be fair, “Fight Club” was written / filmed pre-9/11. And just because some of the angst of “Fight Club” was rendered obsolete by the subsequent “war on terror”  doesn’t mean that “Fight Club” still doesn’t raise several excellent issues about our culture. If there’s a film that summarized my mental state in my early 20s, this is it. Fortunately, I saw this in my late 20s after I was married and settled down … so the film left me with the weirdest, most perverse grin on my face I’ve ever had watching a film. Especially during the “Sixth Sense” – level plot twist that occurs 3/4 of the way through.  Between this and David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome,” my all-time favorite film.

Sorry ladies … and maybe some gents … the infamous subliminal “pickle” shot has been edited out.

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Opening Credits to “Se7en” (1995) dir. David Fincher, scr. Andrew Kevin Walker

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This legendary and infamous opening credit sequence to director David Fincher’s classic serial murder thriller “Se7en” may not seem particularly innovative in 2003. But in the fall of 1995, this completely blew we away (and I must say, still does to this day). This credit sequence told you all you needed to know about how different this film would be from all other detective / serial killer films before it.

“Se7en” is one of the most influential pieces of pop culture in the past twenty years. However, most of its impact has arguably been on TV. Without it, we would never have had shows like “CSI” and “Dexter,” or even “24” and “House.”  I distinctly remember seeing this credit sequence on a huge screen with booming digital sound that was so bass heavy I felt it in my bowels.

Extremely creeping and unnerving. Probably not safe for work. Major credit should be given to Harris Savides, who shot the sequence, and Angus Wall who edited it.  The music is remix of Nine Inch Nails’ classic “Closer” by the band Coil.

“Creep” – Scala and Kolacny Brothers

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A transcendent cover of my favorite Radiohead song, done by a Belgian girls choir. Beautiful, depressing, and hilarious. I don’t know about you, but there’s something very cool about hearing the F-bomb dropped by an angelic choir. Used VERY VERY effectively in the trailer for David Fincher’s “The Social Network.”

2. “Fight Club” (1999) dir. David Fincher

Number 2 on Dave’s Strange World’s all-time favorite films is director David Fincher’s infamous, hyper-violent, extremely funny, anti-consumerist satire “Fight Club.” Sometimes, the greatest films aren’t made or released … they escape. To this day, I still find it shocking that a major corporation (in this case News Corporation who owns 20th Century Fox … and Fox News) financed and released this big-budget rock to the bloated head of consumerism. Wait, this stars Brad Pitt … so … I guess this means that if the star is big enough (ala Warren Beatty’s “Reds”), major studios will write a check for anything. By the way, no disrespect to Pitt. He’s absolutely perfect in the role of Tyler Durden and the fact that his star power got “Fight Club” made, makes me even more grateful for his presence here.

Anyway, star Ed Norton once referred to this as Generation X’s “The Graduate,” which I thought was ridiculous back in 1999, but the more I’ve grown to love and appreciate “The Graduate” over the years, the more I’ve realized that Norton’s statement is a very astute and accurate observation.

Coincidentally (or not coincidentally), “Fight Club” was released around the same time as Susan Faludi’s terrific book about the plight of modern manhood “Stiffed.” Both “Stiffed” and “Fight Club” have taken on more resonance post 9-11. Arguably, the men in both texts finally got the test of manhood their generation was waiting for and, as they say, “Be careful what you wish for …” However, I don’t think “Fight Club” promotes this attitude at all. It identifies and plays with it, but it rejects the mindless macho BS that many in our society think defines manhood, as much as it rejects the consumerism that replaced the macho BS. I’m not sure what the solution is (and I don’t think the filmmakers know either), but there is something better than beating the snot out of each other or buying objects. What that is, is up to you, your sense of intelligence, and your sense of courage to be yourself.

“The Social Network” dir. David Fincher (2010)

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In an otherwise laudatory review of David Fincher’s 2010 film “The Social Network,” Garry Mulholland offers this astute observation: “… (the film) plays one of the oldest Hollywood tricks in the book: the capitalist comfort-food trick. You know the one. You’ve spent your last pennies entering the cinema. All you can think about is your s–t job and whether you can afford the mortgage and you kids’ new shoes this month. And the next couple of hours of pictures puts an arm around you and tells you what you need to hear in order to just keep going until someone finally pays you a pitiful pension and consigns you to final years of visiting stately homes and being horrible to your family. It tells you the Rich aren’t happy. That they’re not as nice as you. That the reason that they have everything is actually because they’re not as nice as you … And this one has real legs, because it’s about real millionaires who are still alive and didn’t sue anyone when they were portrayed as bitter, greedy, elitist, misogynist a–wipes. So it must be true. Ergo, the reason you must accept your lot and play the game is because people don’t get money and power in this world unless they are soulless monsters. So accept your place, and like it. Because you’re nice.” Ouch!

By the way, Mulholland’s book on teen films (where this observation comes from), “Stranded at the Drive-In” is one of the most brilliant collections of cultual criticism I’ve seen in a long time. If you have any remote interest in this subject, pick this up IMMEDIATELY!!! And (yes, yes), it’s available in Kindle format.