‘Fight Club’ to re­ceive 20th an­niver­sary screen­ing

The Morning Call - - GUIDE - By Amy Longs­dorf

Were the 1990s the best decade for movies in the his­tory of Hollywood?

The 1930s, the 1940s and the 1970s were golden ages, too, but the 1990s did pro­duce a re­mark­ably vast num­ber of pic­tures that were both crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial hits, in­clud­ing “Pulp Fic­tion,” “Shaw­shank Redemption,” “Ti­tanic,”

“For­rest Gump,” “Fargo,” “Good Fel­las,” “Schindler’s List” and “Si­lence of the Lambs.”

One of the most provoca­tive fea­tures from that decade is 1999’s “Fight Club,” which is re­ceiv­ing a 20th An­niver­sary screen­ing at the Frank Banko Ale­house Cinemas on Aug. 17.

For those who haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced its punch, “Fight Club” piv­ots on a trav­el­ling sales­man and in­som­niac (Ed­ward Nor­ton) who be­friends a slip­pery soap sales­man named Tyler Dur­den (Brad Pitt). Un­sat­is­fied with his life, Nor­ton winds up join­ing Dur­den in un­der­ground fight clubs, where men chan­nel their emo­tions by beat­ing the crap out of each other.

Even­tu­ally, fight clubs be­gin spring­ing up all over the coun­try, with Dur­den push­ing an anti-ma­te­ri­al­ism and anti-cor­po­rate agenda. As the re­sult­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion, dubbed “Project May­hem,” edges closer to vi­o­lence, Nor­ton and his some­time-girl­friend (He­lena Bon­ham Carter) at­tempt to halt the group’s progress.

There’s a hell of a twist that in­stantly el­e­vates “Fight Club” into the pan­theon of great films. And the movie’s themes, which deal with alien­ation and the harm­ful ef­fects of advertisin­g, still feel rel­e­vant to­day.

In the end, though, “Fight Club” emerges as a par­tic­u­larly res­o­nant com­ing-of-age film, which is why it is of­ten de­scribed as a mod­ern-day

“The Grad­u­ate” or “Rebel With­out A Cause.” Es­sen­tially, it is about re-in­ven­tion, or “self-em­pow­er­ment through dras­tic means,” as screen­writer Jim Uhls once noted.

Pro­ducer Ross Gra­son Bell ad­mits that, at the heart of the movie, is a mes­sage about the im­por­tance of grow­ing up. “What re­ally drew my at­ten­tion was the un­der­ly­ing theme that you have to break your­self apart to build some­thing new,” he noted when the film was re-re­leased on DVD in a spe­cial-edi­tion pack­age.

“It’s only when you re­al­ize that you’re not your lousy hair or your bad debts or your fears that you’re not good enough that you can ac­tu­ally cre­ate a new life for your­self.”

Tick­ets are $10 for reg­u­lar ad­mis­sion, $8 for se­niors and stu­dents and $7.50 for Art­squest mem­bers. For more info, go to https://www.steels­tacks.org.

New on DVD: In the doc­u­men­tary “To A More Per­fect Union: U.S. V. Wind­sor” (2018, First Run, un­rated, $20), you can ex­pe­ri­ence Philadel­phian Edie Wind­sor mak­ing his­tory. When the Supreme Court over­turned the De­fense of Mar­riage Act, set­ting the stage for the le­gal­iza­tion of gay mar­riage, the he­roes of the day were two les­bians: Wind­sor, who ini­tially sued when her mar­riage to her part­ner of 40 years was not rec­og­nized by the IRS, and Edie’s tire­less lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, who ar­gued the case.

Di­rec­tor Donna Zac­caro ex­pertly tells the story of both of these women, while also of­fer­ing a thumb­nail sketch of gay rights his­tory from the Stonewall Ri­ots and the AIDS cri­sis to Pres­i­dent Obama call­ing the Supreme Court de­ci­sion “a vic­tory for Amer­ica.”

Amy Longs­dorf is a con­tribut­ing writer.


Ed­ward Nor­ton and Brad Pitt in “Fight Club.”


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