The Rules

Posted in Uncategorized on May 20th, 2013 by chris88wong

The Rules

Stam’s response

Posted in Uncategorized on May 2nd, 2013 by chris88wong

Mise-En-Scene Analysis

Posted in Uncategorized on March 19th, 2013 by chris88wong


Mise-en-scene analysis
For there to be a mise-en-scene analysis of Fight Club, there must first be an understanding of the underlying plot twist of the film and that is, Tyler Durden is not real. In this scene, the narrator played by Edward Norton, is handing Tyler Durden, whom is played by Brad Pitt, a bottle of beer.

Where is our eye attracted first? Why?
Our eyes are immediately attracted towards Norton because of the color of his white shirt in an otherwise dark scene. Norton also takes up a fair share of the center of the screen. Other than that, both Norton and Pitt’s characters are the focus of the shot. They are both lit equally by the overhead street light as they sit on the curb. Nothing else is in focus, such as the neon sign in the background nor is the label of the beer in the foreground.

Lighting Key
High key? Low key? High contrast? Some combination of these?
This shot, like much of the movie is presented in low key lighting. Both characters are sitting under a streetlight draped by its light which casts shadows on their faces and clothing.

Shot and Camera Proxemics
What type of shot? How far away is the camera from the action?
Although they are seated, this scene is a medium shot, showing their knees and upward. Some of the background is presented to show that the two are indeed alone.

Camera Angle
Are we (and the camera) looking up or down on the subject? Or is the camera neutral (eye level)?
The camera is set at eye level as both characters are sitting relatively equal to each other. No power relations are being conveyed but perhaps that is the point since they are the same person.

Color Values
What is the dominant color? Are there contrasting foils? Is there color symbolism?
In the film when we flash to the narrators everyday life we see him wear a white shirt and tie. However, in this scene his clothes are disheveled due to his fight with Tyler. His light has become dirtied and scuffled since he has stumbled into Tyler’s world.

How do these distort or comment on the photographed materials?
This scene is probably shot in a wide angle lens because the two characters are out in the middle of a parking lot, but nothing is really in focus other than the two characters. Our attention should not be drawn away from the two and so the neon sign in the background is out of focus providing a contrast of depth. A slow film stock was used because the scene is lit by the streetlight above the two characters providing little light in a dark scenario.

Subsidiary Contrasts
After taking in the dominant, where does the eye go next? What are the other main objects in the shot besides the dominant?
Since Norton is dominant in the shot, then Pitt’s character is the subsidiary contrast. He is the only other character in focus and seen conversing with the main character. The beer bottle that Norton hands to Pitt is also in focus due to them exchanging possession of an object.

How much visual information is packed into the image? Is the texture stark, moderate, or highly detailed
There is not much density in this shot of the film, probably because viewers are encouraged to remember this scene as two characters speaking together (this scene is important to remember later for the reveal). Our view is limited to the two characters and the unmarked beer bottle.

How is the two-dimensional space segmented and organized? What is the underlying design?
This shot has a horizontally binary composition. Norton and Pitt are sitting crouched on the side walk at equal height and almost in the same position.

Is the form open or closed? Does the image suggest a window that arbitrarily isolates a fragment of the scene? Or a proscenium arch, in which the visual elements are carefully arraigned and held in balance?
This shot is an open form. Although there are only two characters in the shot, it does not suggest that everything is arraigned. They are merely sitting in the back alley of a bar, and if the scene were to incorporate a stranger walking in the background or a maybe an alley cat, it would disrupt the scene.

Is the framing tight or loose? Do the character have no room to move around, or can they move freely without impediments?
The framing in this shot is loose. They are sitting outside on the curb so they obviously have plenty of room to move around and they are not confined by the frame.

Depth of Field
On how many planes is the image composed (how many are in focus)? Does the background or foreground comment in any way on the mid-ground?
This shot is shallow. There is an apparent foreground where the characters are and a background where the scenery is. Everything around and beyond the two characters are out of focus where as you can see the fine details of cuts and bruises on both the characters.

Character Placement
What part of the framed space do the characters occupy? Center? Top? Bottom? Edges? Why?
Both characters occupy the center of the frame. Viewers don’t know much about either character, so neither is presented more or less different.

Staging Positions
Which way do the characters look vis-a-vis the camera?
Norton’s character is shown at a quarter turn towards the camera as he is speaking to Pitt while Pitt is shown at a profile, kind of ignoring the camera. This scene shows Norton kind of admiring Pitt as Pitt feigns interest from Norton as well as the camera.

Character Proxemics
How much space is there between the characters?
This shot shows that the characters are at an intimate distance. They had just engaged in a fight with one another, and are now sharing a beer. It’s as if after that fight they have been able to share a very intimate moment with each other.

This scene shows the two characters rejoicing after their fist fight. Norton’s work clothes are disheveled, his tie is undone, and his face is scuffed up. Pitt seems to be laying out comfortably smoking a cigarette, which is a common cliché after sex. It’s as if they have just shared an intimate moment and are now basking in the results over a beer.
The general lighting of this scene has many undertones that can be interpreted. First, the setting is a dark and dreary back alley behind a bar. There are only dull street lights and an out of focus neon sign of a bar. Norton and Pitt are crouched under a single streetlight seemingly basking under its rays. It’s as if they are now drenched in the light after being able to relieve themselves. However, the overhead light also casts intense shadows on both Norton and Pitt. Shadows are generally conceived as distortion, mischief, and darkness.
After the narrator realizes that he and Tyler are the same person, the film flashes back to this scene in particular but with a startling twist, Norton is speaking to himself. With that revelation, the mise-en-scene of this shot is completely altered and has to be re-evaluated. Norton is no longer speaking to Pitt, rather he is speaking to himself. He is handing a beer to no one.

Plot Segmentation of Fight Club

Posted in Uncategorized on March 14th, 2013 by chris88wong

Fight ClubI Ground Zero
a. A man is sitting down in a chair while another man holds a gun to his head.
b. Narrator describes that there are ten vans parked in ten buildings with dynamite.
II Cornelius
a. Title character flashes back to a testicular cancer support group where he meets bob. They cry and embrace allowing narrator to feel better.
b. Narrator hesitates and says the story begins before Bob. Describes insomnia.
c. Portrays everyday life and numerous references to consumerism. Ikea rant.
d. When narrator asks for medical help, the doctor tells him to visit support group for pain.
e. Narrator and Bob meet and cry allowing narrator to sleep.
f. Montage of narrator visiting various support groups.
g. Reference to allegorical “cave” and power animal.
II Marla Singer
a. Marla Singer enters with a cloud of cigarette smoke.
b. Montage of her sitting in on various support groups as narrator becomes irritated.
c. Insomnia returns. He stays up all night on his coach watching infomercials.
d. During cancer support group where they discuss the cave, Marla appears in the cave.
e. Narrator confronts Marla about fraud. He tells her he needs them to sleep.
f. He follows Marla down the street as she takes clothes from Laundromat and sells them at thrift shop.
g. They negotiate a schedule in which they split the support groups so they do not see each other. They exchange phone numbers.
III Single Servings
a. Narrator describes how his life has become single serving size.
b. Montage of him traveling and living in and out of hotel rooms.
c. Describes his job as a recall coordinator as he inspects a car.
d. Imagines himself being involved in airplane accident.
IV Tyler Durden
a. Wakes up to a man named Tyler Durden, telling him how oxygen masks on airplanes are used for relief.
b. Narrator arrives to airport security where he and guard discuss why his luggage is missing.
c. Narrator takes cab and arrives outside his apartment building where there has apparently been an explosion in his apartment.
d. He calls Marla but hangs up. Then he calls Tyler but there is no answer. Tyler calls back explaining that he screens calls.
e. The two meet at a bar where they converse about consumerism.
f. Narrator asks to move in with Tyler but he only agrees if he punches him.
g. Narrator speaks to audience about what Tyler does for a living. (projectionist/ waiter)
V Paper Street
a. Narrator arrives at Tyler’s run down house. He shares his disgust for how everything seems to be falling apart.
b. Tyler and narrator seem to be fighting outside the bar again where they have drawn the attention of others.
c. He shows up to work with a black eye.
d. It is another night and this time it seems that the two have drawn a larger crowd. This time with a stranger.
e. They shoot golf balls on their front lawn.
f. Narrator goes through the previous owner’s journals and find’s the “jack” series.
g. He shows up to work with bruises and lowered sense of hearing.
h. Tyler and narrator ask each other about their fathers. Comparing their childhoods.
i. They are outside the bar again, this time narrator and Tyler are watching others fight.
j. Narrator walks past Marla at a support group but does not stop.
k. Narrator shows up to work, uninterested.
VI Fight Club
a. Tyler and the narrator lead group of men down to basement of bar. Tyler lays out the rules of fight club.
b. Scene of two men fighting and then those two men as everyday people working.
c. Narrator and Tyler see an ad on the bus and make fun of male models.
d. More fights ensue.
e. Narrator is getting stitched up while Tyler tells him to say to the doctor that he fell.
f. Marla calls the house but narrator ignores her.
g. Hazy sex scene occurs but only Marla is visible.
h. Next morning Marla encounters narrator in kitchen. He tells her to get out of the house.
i. Tyler enters describing that he had rescue Marla from suicide attempt and she spent the night.
j. Tyler tells Narrator not to talk about their relationship.
k. Sequence of scenes where Narrator is trying to cope with Marla and Tyler having sex loudly around the house.
l. He becomes disgruntled at work and is sent home.
m. Cops call him about possible arson at his apartment.
n. Marla and narrator encounter each other again in the morning but he tells her off.
o. Tyler and narrator decide to make soap. They sneak into the garbage area of a Liposuction Company.
p. After they steal the fat and start cooking it, Tyler burns narrators hand with chemicals.
q. They sell soap back to cosmetics stores.
r. Narrator at the office becomes increasingly disgruntled and violent.
s. He and Marla meet again but nothing sexual occurs.
VII Homework
a. Narrator runs into Bob outside Marla’s. They discuss fight club.
b. Narrator and Bob fight.
c. Tyler opens next night of fight club with speech that is interrupted by bar owner Lou.
d. After being beaten, Tyler spews blood at Lou begging for them to open club which he does.
e. Tyler tells members to start fight with people and lose.
f. Sequence of scenes where members picking fights with everyday people.
g. Narrator shows up at manager’s office blackmailing him. He then beats himself up before security shows up.
h. Fight club resumes but with more homework assignments.
i. Montage of acts of vandalism throughout the city.
j. Tyler takes a convenient store clerk out back at gunpoint. He tells him to reaffirm his life or else he will be killed. Then takes his wallet as insurance.
k. “All seeing, all knowing…”
VIII Project Mayhem
a. Marla encounters narrator in kitchen again where they start off friendly but he tells her off again.
b. A young man is standing outside their home as Tyler goes out and yells at him.
c. Montage of Tyler and narrator taking turns yelling at recruit and after a few days the recruit yelling at another.
d. More recruits assemble and do chores and work around the house.
e. Narrator comes home to television showing that the recruits had vandalized a building.
f. Members of project Mayhem are seen to be working at a formal function. They then follow the police commissioner to the bathroom where they attack and threaten him.
g. Another scene of fighting occurs, this time between the narrator and a blonde man. The narrator beats him to a pulp.
h. After the fight, the narrator, Tyler, and two other get into a car.
i. Tyler and narrator argue about the meaning of project mayhem and life in general as they play chicken on the highway. The car inevitable careens off the road and flips.
IX Who is Tyler Durden?
a. The narrator wakes up in bed, alive but injured. Tyler sits by his side, but eventually leaves. The narrator passes out again.
b. The narrator awakens again discovering that Tyler has packed his things.
c. The house is now completely run by members of project mayhem and seems to be operating by itself.
d. Marla shows up one night but a drunken narrator tells her that Tyler is no longer there. Irritated, she leaves.
e. A commotion causes the narrator to go back into the house where the body of Bob is brought in. There was an accident when they tried to destroy a piece of art and a coffe house. Arguing unsuccessfully with the members, the narrator storms out of the kitchen and into Tyler’s room.
f. The narrator finds airplane ticket stubs and decides to try to find Tyler.
g. Montage of narrator traveling to bars and basements of other cities.
h. He comes across a bartender that calls him Tyler which leads him to run back to his hotel room. He calls Marla and she calls him Tyler as well.
i. Tyler suddenly appears in the room with the narrator. Through multiple flashbacks, the narrator realizes that he is Tyler Durden. The narrator then passes out onto the bed.
X Changeover
a. Narrator wakes up and checks out of his hotel room. He discovers a bill of telephone calls made while he was asleep.
b. He goes back to the house to find it empty. He goes into the operations room and calls the phone numbers and realizes they are addresses of credit card companies.
c. Marla is walking down the street when a cab drops off the narrator.
d. He brings her into a diner and tries to explain to her that she is in danger.
e. He then puts her on a charter bus where as it leaves shadows of other passengers seem to engulf her.
f. The narrator then turns himself into the police and explains everything inside and interrogation room. When the interrogator leaves the room, the other officers attempt to detain and castrate him. After a scuffle he is able to escape.
g. The narrator now runs through the city towards the credit card company building.
XI Conclusion
a. When he is outside the building Tyler appears. The narrator shoots past him and goes towards the garage.
b. The narrator opens the doors to the van parked in the garage to find a bomb. Tyler appears to confuse him, but the narrator disarms the bomb.
c. Tyler begins to beat the narrator. Scene flashes back and forth between the fight and security cameras showing that there is no Tyler and the narrator is beating himself up.
d. After being thrown down the stairs, the narrator wakes up in the scene that the film had started with.
e. The two argue and the narrator shoots himself in the mouth to kill Tyler. The members of mayhem bring Marla in and he tells them to leave. They hold hands as they watch the other buildings crumble through the window.

Annotated Fight Club

Posted in Uncategorized on March 7th, 2013 by chris88wong

fight-club-70125468371_xlarge.jpegYou aren’t alive anywhere like you’re alive at fight club. When it’s you and one other guy under that one light in the middle of all those watching. Fight club isn’t about winning or losing fights. Fight club isn’t about words. You see a guy come to fight club for the first time, and his ass is a loaf of white bread. You see this same guy here six months later, and he looks carved out of wood. This guy trusts himself to handle anything. There’s grunting and noise at fight club like at the gym, but fight club isn’t about looking good. There’s hysterical shouting in tongues like at church, and when you wake up Sunday afternoon you feel saved. (p.51)

This quote from Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club” comes from after the creation of Fight Club. The narrator tells us that “you aren’t alive anywhere like you’re alive at fight club.” His experiences during the fights have rejuvenated him. They have made him feel more alive than he ever was. It’s as if he had been dead or asleep for all these years, and now he is awake. And it’s all thanks to Fight Club. Perhaps he is telling us this to make us jealous. To make us want to join the club and be alive as well.
Palahniuk tells us that “Fight club isn’t about winning or losing fights. Fight club isn’t about words.” In fact, as best put by Jim Uhl’s screenplay version, “When the fight was over, nothing was solved but nothing mattered.” These men weren’t beating each other up for a reason other than feeling alive. There were no rewards or prizes. No one was insulted or provoked. It’s as if these men wanted to beat the crap out of each other because their primordial instincts told them to.
When a guy first comes to fight club, “his ass is a loaf of white bread. You see this same guy here six months later, and he looks carved out of wood.” In a comical way, Palahniuk compares normal people to loaves of bread. They are plain and common as well as soft and fragile like white bread. But after six months as he describes, these same men are transformed into wooden boards. They are hard and solid yet subtly, still able to be broken. Palahniuk is smart and careful to compare them to something carved out of wood rather than something harder such as stone because wood is still organic. It can still be snapped in half.
“There’s grunting and noise at fight club like at the gym, but fight club isn’t about looking good.” There is only the raw intensity of two men, beating each other to a pulp. Both the men grunt and moan as they gasp for air or exalt all their energy in a haymaker. Onlookers are cheering, but not for who wins or loses. They cheer for the sake of being alive like the “hysterical shouting in tongues like at church.” And also like at church, when these men “wake up Sunday afternoon [they] feel saved.”

Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New York City, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1996. Print

Fight Club

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14th, 2013 by chris88wong


Saying that David Fincher’s “Fight Club,” which premiered at the 56th Venice international film festival, was met with mixed reviews is an understatement. Equipped with the star power of Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, this film could not be ignored and became the talk of the town when released. Adapted from Chuck Palachniuk’s novel of the same name, Fincher’s film was truly buzz worthy amongst critics. If someone were to ask, “what the movie is about?” even Fincher himself cannot begin to explain. Peeling away the layers of sex and violence that run rampant through the film, the psychological roller coaster takes off into a dark tunnel of philosophical quandaries and sheer madness.
Before watching Fight Club, you must understand that it is rated R for a reason. Best put by Bob Graham of the San Francisco Chronicle, “Look. The name of the movie is “Fight Club.” It’s got bareknuckle fights in it. They’re violent. They’re bloody. Please don’t come out of “Fight Club” whining about how violent and bloody it is. Got it?.” It seems as Graham understands that there is more to this movie once you’ve wiped the blood away.
Janet Maslin of the New York Times writes, “the sardonic, testosterone-fueled science fiction of ”Fight Club” touches a raw nerve” and “it builds a huge, phantasmagorical structure around the search for lost masculine authority, and attempts to psychoanalyze an entire society in the process.” Maslin review mostly compliments the shooting and editing of the film, applauding Fincher’s directional skills. She even compares Fight Club’s climatic twist to the one in “The Sixth Sense.” Maslin writes that we need to pay close attention and perhaps watch it again and again.
Robert Ebert from the Chicago-Sun Times writes that “the movie is visceral, and hard edged, with levels of irony and commentary above and below the action.” But also, “it is a thrill ride masquerading as philosophy- the kind of ride where some people puke and others can’t wait to get on.” Ebert seems to be caught in the middle of all that is going on within the film. It seems as if he enjoys the layers of psychological and philosophical themes that the film presents, but has a hard time digesting the violence and chaos that run amuck throughout the film.

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