My favorite (probably) capsule review of all time

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 movie—not only because it combines the others (Alien 3SevenThe 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 something—but only something—to 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.

Both Jonathan Rosenbaum and I and many others I’m sure consider Dave Kehr the absolute master of the short-form review, but this capsule by Rosenbaum on Fight Club is probably my all-time favorite. Much of my appreciation for it has to do with how gracefully he moves between describing, mocking, and praising the movie; it’s hard to tell if he even likes it ultimately but he manages to cover all the bases for what was and I assume still is a very divisive film. Every little nugget here, from the taut predicates in the beginning to the final pronouncement, is more affording than the majority of full-length reviews, and the shifts in perspective still give me a head rush.

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