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Assorted Clutterbuck - Which witch?
by Tabitha Clutterbuck

It's starting to get a little warmer. The rain's thinning out; your butt's probably not, but if you're anything like most of the Sydneyites that live near me, that probably won't stop you hauling it up and down the beach in an ill fitting swimsuit, will it? Hell no! Summer is definitely on its way, as is the great tradition of loading up the Valiant to bursting point and heading off camping. Yes, camping. Now, here's a tip. Unless your children are severely accident prone, and you're planning an amusing win on Australia's Funniest Home Videos, leave your video camera at home. Of course, if you're a camera loving yank like our friends in Burkittsville, Maryland, you can get out there and shoot a few hundred hours of trees, piles of rocks, trees, some more trees and a few close up sobbing shots and expect to pick up a cool $200 million.

The Blair Witch Project. It's marketing genius. I loved the website, loved the phoney documentary idea, but geez, I really wanted that chick to die. Heather Donahue, class bossy boots. Minor gripes aside, this movie has been credited with re-inventing the horror genre, taking audiences back to the days of hinted terror, off screen violence, or, as the directors put it, 'more with less'. Less in this case being a tiny $US 22,000 budget. Power to them.

Despite the 'New Wave Horror' tag, the actors in The Blair Witch Project succumb to every horror cliché in the book: they lose the map, they argue, they split up to go look for the monster, and, when they finally think they've found the witch's place, they investigate the basement. Shit. In my book, they had it coming, and not fast enough. I do love the idea that a fictional feature film shot entirely by actors with hand held cameras can be successfully marketed as a documentary. And whilst watching The Blair Witch Project, I did have some feelings of mild stress. The disintegration of relationships between the three students is harrowing to say the least. But is anyone really surprised at the success of this movie? Let's be honest; horror is all about cute, dead, college students. Always has been, probably always will be.

If you think Brad Pitt is cute, best check yourself in to a session of Fight Club for immediate rehabilitation. Not being a Brad Pitt fan, I was able to enjoy his performance in all its twitching, psychopathic glory. Ed Norton is the real star here though. He plays Jack, a repressed individual, castrated by his fetish for Ikea and organisation. As an interesting aside, in real life, Ed Norton's architect grandfather James Rouse is credited with inventing the modern shopping mall. Anyway, in order to exorcise some kind of emotional connection, Jack attends support groups for the terminally ill. Here, he meets Marla Singer, (Helena Bonham-Carter), a chain smoking, sexually fixated nutcase whom he describes as being "like a little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal if only you could stop tonguing it". Look out for Meat Loaf Aday as Robert Paulson, an hysterically mixed up individual who, along with Norton, stumbles across Tyler Durden (Pitt) and his underground Fight Club. It's not surprising then that this "Fight Club", a regular meet and beat down at the local carpark, becomes an all-consuming outlet for Jack and his demons. As his relationship with the unbalanced sociopath Tyler advances, we learn what Jack is really made of. Fight Club addresses themes such as urban terrorism, loneliness and what it means not only to be a man, but to also function in what is an increasingly repressive society.

This film is pacy, well scripted, and visually surprising. David Fincher's direction is superb, and he flaunts every trick in the book to keep his audience, and actors, on their toes. The script is based on the debut 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk. You can tell he's studied his Kerouac and this script moves along fluently. Read the book, see the film, laugh your arse off. Oh, and that crazy bar of soap on all the advertising material? Well...I'd love to reveal what it is, but that would be like standing outside Mann's Chinese Theatre in 1973 and yelling "Soylent Green is people". Now no one would want that, would they?

link directly to this feature at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=144
originally posted: 12/09/99 02:34:17
last updated: 12/09/99 02:35:02
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