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Fight Club

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No, it won’t corrupt your sensibilities. It won’t turn your sons into testosterone-fueled, brass-knuckled thugs. It won’t make your daughters pine for a Marla makeover, that abuse-me-please look personified by Helena Bonham Carter as she ping-pongs between the pasty office-dweeb hero (Edward Norton) and his out-of-the-id confrere Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). What Fight Club will do is cause you to marvel at Norton’s performance — the flesh hanging on the barbed wire that is the plot — gasp at director David Fincher’s hellacious filmmaking technique, scratch your head as the movie disappears down its own rabbit hole in the final 20 minutes, and, with any justice, make you want to seek out Chuck Palahniuk’s novel.

The most bashed movie of 1999 (by prim guardians of the Left and Right) as well as the most lionized (by starry-eyed angry young men), Fight Club is neither that bad nor that rockin’. Certainly, it touches a frazzled raw nerve ending among audiences growing up in a brand-name world that fills them with disgust. Just as certainly, it mines cheap shock out of Holocaust ”humor” and a no-hope posturing that is, finally, as hollowly trendy as any Gap ad. Rent it for its style, and for the second-best plot twist of 1999, and savor the pieces. B

WHAT WE SAID THEN: ”[A] dumb and brutal shock show of a movie…” D — Lisa Schwarzbaum

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