Thursday, February 07, 2008

Commentary Commentary: Fight Club

So there was no new commentary track this week (I was distracted by a sudden addiction to "Heroes" after my roommate plugged his portable hard-drive containing the first and second seasons into my Xbox), which is sort of good, as I'm a little bit behind in writing about the commentary tracks in general, so I've got a (brief) opportunity to get myself caught back up again.

So, *last* week's commentary track was on the film Fight Club, one of my favourite movies, and, I think, the best movie about the feelings of meaninglessness that were such a part of the 90s, as well as the frustration those feelings bred. It's not the best film of the 90s (for my money, that's Paul Thomas Anderson's "Magnolia"), but, I think, definitely the best film *about* the 90s.

In my ever-not-so-humble-opinion.

This viewing of Fight Club's commentary followed the previous week's theme of listening to writers talk about their work. We skipped the director and cast commentaries and spent two hours with the novelist and screenwriter for the film.

And it was...well, less than compelling, to say the least.

Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club (and a hell of a novelist) is clearly excited by the opportunity to talk about his book, about the adaption, and about the film. And would wouldn't be? It has to be overwhelmingly exciting for any novelist to have a book made into a film for the first time. And to have it turn out as brilliantly as "Fight Club" would be an even better experience.

Unfortunately, all of Palahniuk's efforts to spark up conversations with screenwriter Jim Uhls are just words bouncing off the man like a tennis ball bouncing off a brick wall. Uhls simply doesn't want to talk. And when he does break the silence, it's generally to praise a particular moment from his own screenplay. He has almost nothing positive to say about other facets of the film, or about the novel the film was adapted from, and you almost get the sense that the man is frustrated novelist only working in Hollywood to pay the bills, and frustratingly jealous of the success that Palahniuk has had as a novelist.

Or maybe he's just not the talkative type. Though dropping someone like that into a commentary track is, perhaps, not the best idea.

It's unfortunate, as I think a commentary track with Pahlaniuk and someone more conversational would be interesting. The man's a great writer, and giving him the opportunity to talk about the changes from the book to the film, the things he didn't like, the things he did, would be an interesting few hours. It's just that these few hours spent with "Fight Club" weren't those interesting few hours.

Maybe next time.

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