Two Movies that Rang in the Decade

OK, I am going to move away from the horror aspect of things for a bit and take a look at two films, that, in my humble opinion, ushered in this odd little decade that is just now coming to an end.  While neither of these films can rightly be called "horror" , they do contain some horrific, as well as, fantastic elements ; but most importantly they seemed to be omens of things to come - not just on the screen, but in real life as well.

Just before the dawn of the 2000's a little movie called Fight Club came on the scene.  With its nihilistic vibe all dressed up in homoerotic overtones (buff  boys beating each other into a bloody mess because what they really wanted to do is fuck each other), imaginary alter egos, acts of  terrorism that occur in hopes of crippling the economy; Fight Club spat in the face of polite society and seemingly aimed a clenched fist at a sleeping populace lulled into complacency via Ikea, Martha Stewart and the overall lack of anything meaningful in the life of a consumer driven Idiocracy.

When The Narrator (Edward Norton)  chooses to beat up Angel Face (Jared Leto) because he felt like "destroying something beautiful", it spoke volumes about where we were as humans.  With nothing left to fear, it was time to attack what we loved or admired or even desired.  Obviously The Narrator wanted to remove all sorts of comfort and beauty from his life (as he did by blowing up his condo earlier, as well as leaving his job), - what he desired and what disgusted him seemed to be the same thing - and when he opts to fight Angel Face, he is also attacking someone (something) he probably lusts after.  And in those Metro-sexual years of the late 90's it was hard to tell what guy was playing for what team, so it seems that the line between desire and disgust really was blurred.

Consider then, the final scene of the film when The Narrator and Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) stand holding hands while watching two office buildings come crumbling down.  It's as if we were given a view into the not too distant future when we'd all be sitting passively watching office buildings crumble into a cloud of dust in mid-town Manhattan.  

But were we finally shaken out of our complacency?


Early in 2001, David Lynch released his nightmarish attack on Hollywood in the guise of Mulholland Dr.

What starts as a twisted Nancy Drew-like tale of a bright eyed ingenue trying to solve a mystery while she attempts to break into films, soon degenerates into a Wizard of Oz-on-acid trip populated by tortured souls in brightly lit diners, monsters living behind dumpsters, movie studio mobsters, hit-men who are not particularly good at their chosen profession, and an old couple who become miniature cackling daemons.

Like Fight Club, Mulholland Dr. gave us a world where the main character creates an imaginary other she can hold responsible for her misfortune.  While The Narrator in Fight Club could accuse Tyler Durden for everything,  Diane (Naomi Watts) cooked up an alter ego (Betty) as well as a dream world where she could place blame at the feet of everyone except herself for what was wrong in her life (namely that she paid someone to kill the woman she was in love with).

For my money, Diane was the perfect character to usher in a decade that would give us eight years of George Bush and his ilk.  She was the Jane Q. Public who pulled the lever that brought the Village Idiot into power,  twice!  And then sat at night,  nodding her head while watching Fox News, sure that a grand conspiracy was in place -sure that the monster was indeed not only behind the dumpster, but waiting to strike again.



Matt-suzaka said...

Awesome post Pax...your thoughts on Fight Club are very thought provoking and you are a much more observant person that I!

Pax Romano said...

Thanks Matt. But I doubt I am more observant than anyone

Michelle said...

P.R. ~

I have seen fight club numerous times, and also read the book. And where I think you are hitting (tee hee my attmepts to be clever lol :) on important note with your analysis on its idolitry of consumerisum message as well as the escapisum it provides for individuals. I think the film is displaying the difficulty men are having with their new role as they have been requied to relinsquish some measure of power to females. Especially in the absence of father figures.
As Tyler attends support groups and they give him a false sense of gratification and ability to get in touch with his emotions. The fact that Marla was also showing up at these groups would have indicated their compatiblilty. As who else in the world would be "Faking" like him and not be very possibly a perfect compainion. She was a threat to his circumstance as how can he explore independend manhood or the quest for male identified males if he "NEEDED" a woman. Wanting needing its a fine line. :) I love this film and could deliberate on it for hours. It has far more to do with masculine and feminine powers and what we do with those forces I feel

Pax Romano said...

Michelle, absolutely, I see exactly what you mean. And I see your points.

There is so much that can be read into Fight Club it might take a book the size of War and Peace to cover it all.

My point was only to look at FC (as well as Mulholland Dr) as some sort of prophetic look at the future...

That said, I'd love your take on Mulholland Dr.

Michelle said...

P.R. ~

I am like one of the biggest Lynch Aholics. I own all the episodes of Twin Peaks, and if you have not checked out Interview Project you really ought to. I saw your link on B.J.C.'s Day of the Woman and it interested me because of the Fight Club pic. Then when you drew a parralle between F.C. and Mulholland Dr. that doubled the enjoyment. I never thought of M.D. as a depiction of escapisum.

I kind of think of Lynch as the errotica of torchure porn. With his dream like sequences, and mysterious story lines that always center around sexual obsession, and crimes of passion.

I think he capitolizes on Americans ageisum and our deep set fear of growing old, and always has age or in Lost Highway escape from age by reverting to youth as central themes in his work. He also generates disorrientation by making it difficult to gauge the time frame of the pice is this happening in the present or 25 years ago. It makes it seem like the elderly should have the take or the market on the situation, but thier always unhelpful or worse the culprits.