Fight Club Changed My Life


Consumerism is defined as being “the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods.” It is said to be the America is a consumer driven society; that people only work to buy goods that they don’t need. Our sense of what we need to survive is skewed because of the advertising agency coupled with the tactics of big business. This all seems so sad and depressing. To work towards a material driven life is the most dismal thing I can think of. That’s not life. That is feeding into the pockets of consumerism. Now, how I got to this conclusion is from my favorite movie, Fight Club.

Directed by David Fincher, Fight Club has many underlying themes, of which, consumerism is noted boldly in the film. I could be a copout and say I love this movie because of the star-studded cast, or interesting aesthetics, but the main reason I love this film is for the lessons it conveys. Don’t get me wrong; Fight Club is one of my favorite movies for aesthetics (in particular, the montage theme is presented throughout most of the movie and it brings a strong feeling to it). It also features my favorite actor, Edward Norton. All of these things tie into why it is my favorite movie, but the messages that the script and the actors get across are breathtaking.

I’ve touched on consumerism within the film, but I’d also like to mention the theme of self-exploration. Never in my life of movie watching have I seen a film take one character and build so much from nothing.

From the beginning of the movie, you are taken into the life of the character of Edward Norton, who remains unnamed until almost the end of the movie. His character is a depressed, upper-middle class, office worker who spends his time on earth working to buy things that he doesn’t need. He has no close relationships with anyone. He simply goes to work to buy more things.

After having his apartment blown up and losing everything, he starts to try and reinvent himself. He seeks refuge with Tyler Durden, his acquaintance he met on one of his business trips. Their friendship re-shapes Norton’s character into something completely different from where he was. He is happier this way. Somewhere in the middle of the friendship they create what is called “fight club.” He says that fight club saved his life. He is able to let go of everything and be saved. This movie has created such a journey within this character that draws me towards it.

Fight Club

The script and the way this film pans out is the reason why I keep coming back to it. This film was based off of the Chuck Palahniuk book. The screenplay was written by Jim Uhls and the director of photography was Jeff Cronenweth.

Fight Club has changed my life in a few ways. It changes the way I look at being a consumer. Though I cannot avoid being a consumer, I am more aware of the fact that these choices affect how I live life. I am less apt to go clothes shopping unless I am in dire need of new clothes. I am less willing to buy a brand name food item if the off brand costs less. I am more aware of myself and what my true needs are.

As Tyler Durden says in the film, “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

Posted in Aesthetics, Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 3 Best Sites for Movie Reviews: Save Your Money!

Want to see that big name movie coming out with all the famous actors in it? The plot looks bad, but Nicolas Cage is in it! So you go see the movie, and it’s terrible. You’re upset because you dropped $25 dollars on a date to see this movie. Then, you realize that there’s nothing more frustrating than wasting $10 of your hard earned money on a movie that you predicted within the first 10 minutes.

I know I don’t have that kind of money to spend at the over priced theaters. That’s why I rely on word of mouth, friends, and movie review sites.

My top 3 review sites:

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes is a public voting system, as well as a critics choice website for movie reviews. Anyone can go on to Rotten Tomatoes and do the “star rating” for any film. People can also send in critiques for everyone to read when they go to the page of the movie they are searching.

The reason why I love this site is because I have never had mixed feelings about a review. People are so brutally honest on this site, which makes the movie reviews authentic and true.



The thing that sets Metacritic away from Rotten Tomatoes is their way of organization and stats. While you are able to find accurate movie reviews and ratings, you are able to browse by genre of movie, new releases, coming soon movies, and the possibilities are endless.

Another cool thing about Metacritic is that you can compare different movies if you are stuck deciding on which one to watch. The stats and organization of this website are amazing.

Bad Movies

Bad Movies

Even though I love seeing wonderful pieces of art, I also enjoy terribly bad movies as well! Who doesn’t like to sit down to watch a movie that you can laugh at even though it’s sad, or figure out the whole plot within the opening scene, or cringe at the horrible acting? That is why I go to Bad Movies to find reviews on bad movies!

It’s not the flashiest website, but it does have a lot of content and reviews. It’s kind of hard to sift through all of the bad movies that have been made, but it’s so interesting that I’m drawn to this website. If I’m looking for a horribly made movie to brighten my day, I find out what’s the worst from this site.

Posted in Movie Reviews, Top Lists | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dear Johnny Depp, Please. No More.

Pirates, Johnny Depp

Directed by Rob Marshall

If you’re looking for a forced, bland, pirate movie, look no more. The fourth installation of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides hit the box office this weekend.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) rounds up a shabby team of pirates on his quest to find the fountain of youth. He isn’t alone in this quest. He battles the Spanish as well as the British (led by ex pirate Captain Barbosa [Geoffrey Rush]).

If you want my advice, do not go see it. You will be confused and bored the whole time. The two main reasons for the confusion and boredom are as follows: the script and the editing of the film.

The writing and delivery of the lines was so awkward it took away from the whole film. The humor throughout this whole film was terribly placed and not like what it used to be. I will note, however, that Penelope Cruz did a fine job at her part as Angelica (daughter of Black Beard). She was the only character I thought had an alright performance.

The film editing was done so unbelievably bad I almost fell asleep. Rule number one of fight scenes and editing: quick clips, quick edits. Every single action scene was very slow paced and mapped out. I think this ruined the whole movie. Being a pirate movie, you think it would have followed this rule. Nope.

The landscapes in this film were absolutely breathtaking, but the editing ruined them. Though there are some pretty shots in the film, don’t let that be your deciding factor on seeing it. The director of photography for this movie was Dariusz Wolski. This movie was edited by David Brenner.

All in all, if I were 7 years old I would have loved to see this movie. I can see why Disney is trying to revive this series. It does make a pretty penny. However, I feel like enough is enough. So please, Johnny Depp, just say no.

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Once Upon a Time in the Movies Episode 6

On May 8th, Once Upon a Time in the Movies had the 6th episode on Thor and Comic Book Movies! Click the link to go to the podcast.

Listen here!

Want to hear us live? Listen every Sunday from 12pm-2pm Eastern Time on Bearcast Radio.

Once Upon a Time in the Movies

Posted in Movie Reviews, Podcasts | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 3 Most Beautifully Shot Films

My list of most beautifully shot movies spans from the years 1967 to 2010. I have here three very different movies from three very different decades. All three movies and directors of photography brought something different to the table when it came to cinematography.

Number three is from 2010. You might have seen it win a few Oscars this past year, best achievement in cinematography, best achievement in sound editing, best achievement in sound mixing, best achievement in visual effects, to name a few. The director of photography for this film was Wally Pfister.

Still don’t know what film I’m talking about? Inception is my number three best shot film of all time. The cinematography is breath taking. Inception is not only shot beautifully and interestingly, but it teams up with some amazing visual effects.

Taking an audience into a dream sequence movie is an interesting concept and Pfister got the job done.

Inception set the bar for filming and effects for movies to come. My favorite shot from the movie is as seen below:


Number two is from 1999. You also might have seen it win quite a few Oscars that year as well. It took best leading actor, best director, best picture, best writing, and best cinematography. It was also nominated for three more categories as well. The director of photography for this film was Conrad L. Hall. This film is the inspiration for the name of my blog.

American Beauty is on my top three list for a number of reasons. The main reason is all of the breath taking shots. The way this film is shot takes you into the lives of two families to such a level, that you are attached to each and every character. The cinematography couples the character development within the film.

It also takes us into the suburban life of struggling families. The title of this movie sets the stage for what you are going to see.

My favorite shot from the film is seen below:

American Beauty

My number one, most beautifully shot film, is from 1967. It is currently number seven on the American Film Institute’s top 100 movies of all time, in between The Wizard of Oz and On the Waterfront. Though it sweep the Oscars like my number two and three movies, it did win over critics. It only won best director for the 1968 Oscars and it was nominated for 6 more. Robert Surtees was the director of photography for this film.

The Graduate is a film about a college graduate who is uncertain about his future. He get’s mixed up in a love affair with the wife of his dad’s business partner, then he begins to fall in love with her daughter, Elaine.

I’m going to be bold and say that The Graduate is the most beautiful movie ever made. The different camera angles and the orientation of each and every shot is breathtaking. The most famous sequence of shots is one of the end scenes when Benjamin is in the church at the wedding.

This film set the stage for all movies to come. American Beauty takes a lot of it’s techniques from The Graduate.

My favorite shot from The Graduate is seen below:

The Graduate

Posted in Top Lists | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Silhouettes in Edward Scissorhands Tap into the Emotion Function of Chiaroscuro Lighting

Directed by, none other than, Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands is a 1990s movie with a lot to offer. Though there are many breathtaking aesthetics in this film, I am going to focus on one scene that takes the cake of aesthetics.

The specific scene that I am alluding to is when you first meet Edward Scissorhands (Johnny Depp), in the attic of his mansion. The attic of the mansion itself has very high contrast falloff as well as very low key lighting ratios. Falloff is the brightness contrast between the light and shadow side of an object. The term also refers to the relative rate of change from light to dark (the rate at which it goes from light to shadow).

First, let me show you the sequence of shots I want to discuss:

This whole sequence of shots is very crucial to the lighting techniques used in Edward Scissorhands. In the very first shot, you have a silhouette of Edward coming out from the shadows. This is, by far, my favorite shot in the whole film. The art of silhouette lighting* is very interesting. Silhouette lighting is a form of chiaroscuro lighting. Chiaroscuro lighting is this type of low key, fast falloff lighting. Silhouette lighting only reveals a contour of a character or object within the shot.

As for the first picture, you see a man walking at you with, what looks like, knives and blades for hands. This creates a sense of horror in the viewer as well as the other characters within the scene. Picture two is also a great screen shot of Edward coming out of the shadows. Even though it isn’t a silhouette, the contrast between light and shadows is great enough to keep the sense of horror flowing through the viewers. However, once Edward continues out of the shadows (pictures 3 and 4), you can tell that he is just as frightened and harmless as we are.

Tim Burton’s use of the silhouette in this scene definitely taps in the emotional aspect of lighting. Lighting effects our feelings directly, regardless of the scene.

* This link shows you how to photograph a silhouette in a picture, as well as uses of silhouettes.

Posted in Aesthetics | 2 Comments

Volume Duality Aids Horror Films

0.00s – 0.50s : Definition of Volume Duality

0.50s – 0.59s : Definition of Positive Volumes

0.59s – 1.13s : Definition of Negative Volumes

1.13s – 1.32s : Uses of Positive Volumes in Film

1.32s – 2.01s : Uses of Negative Volumes in Film

2.01s – 3.25s : Framing With Film Using Negative Volumes

Click the link to go to the podcast!

Posted in Aesthetics, Podcasts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Artless Fast Five Hits the Box Office This Weekend

Fast Five

Directed by Justin Lin

If you’re looking for an artless, “bro” movie, I have one for you. Fast Five is the fifth movie to the Fast and the Furious series. Ex-con Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) teams up with ex-cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) to do one last job.

I asked myself before I went into the movies to see this with my co-host: why make a fifth movie to a series that should have ended with the first movie? My question was surely answered with stats from opening night of this film. Making over $30 million on opening night, Fast Five has its fan base, which is all it needs to make money ( Who cares if there is little to no character development or plot? People want to see muscles, cars, and the boring takes of Rio on the big screen. (The third one is a joke; believe me I’ll get back to this point.).

This film also features Toretto’s and O’Conner’s ragtag team of characters from past Fast movies. From Tyrese Gibson to Chris Bridges (Ludacris), this film features them all. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in this movie as well. He plays Dobbs, a determined police commander set out to find these fugitives. Johnson gives a forgettable, over the top performance.

I don’t think I really need to go into the plot so much. Just watch the first four movies and you’ll have an idea of what this movie is about.

I said I’d get back to the aesthetics of this film. Well, there isn’t any. I promised myself during the movie if I saw one more take of the “Jesus the Redeemer” Statue, I would leave. There was three takes of the statue, along with about 10 takes of Copacabana Beach, and countless takes of the hillsides in Rio. If you didn’t understand that you were in Rio by then, I feel sorry for you. I think Justin Lin could have cut these shots down to, let’s say, one of each and it would have been better. Also, it would have cut down the running time of the movie by a good 20 minutes. There was absolutely nothing in this film that jumped out at me as being an aesthetic take on the scene. Nothing. The most interesting shot I can remember in the whole movie is as seen below:

Fast Five Aesthetic

That’s not saying much. This movie does nothing to try and change the history of chase movies, or historic chase scenes within film history. I did not expect it to, either. Which is the mindset I hope you have when you go to see this movie.

If you’re looking for action, cars, muscles, and a secondary plot line and little to no character development, Fast Five is the movie for you!

Posted in Aesthetics, Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Aesthetically Pleasing Movies Use Golden Section

I am dazzled by magic as well as how aesthetically pleasing The Prestige is. The secret of its aesthetics is the Golden Section, which was used throughout the whole movie. The Golden Section helps you focus on one character, while seeing all of the action and detail of the scene.

The Prestige relies on this clean layout so the viewer can see, literally, the magic happen before their eyes. The fast-paced nature of the film, along with the amount of detail in each scene, forces the viewer to pay attention to everything.

A few examples of the Golden Section in The Prestige:

The Prestige

The Prestige

The Prestige

The Golden Section is a classical way of creating dynamic balance by dividing the screen into 3 by 5 units. As you can see in the pictures above, the character is placed on one side and is balanced by something less important. This increases dynamic energy and pictorial tension by overloading one side of the frame with the main character. The viewer perceives this shot as high energy, and it is more intriguing than seeing the character in the center of the frame.

The opening line of this movie is, “Are you watching closely?” So, right from the beginning, you are told to pay attention, and you expect this golden section to continue throughout the whole movie. You need it to continue throughout the whole movie, or the fast paced nature of the film would confuse you.

Posted in Aesthetics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Tension With Magnetism of Frame

If you’ve seen Step Brothers, you probably felt some awkward tension between the two main characters, Brennan and Dale. You may think this tension comes solely from the actors themselves, but it also comes from cinematography.

The Director of Photography of Step Brothers, Oliver Wood, used one main rule to increase tension: magnetism of the frame.

There are many forms of magnetism of the frame, but the one used most in this film was magnetism of the side edges. A good example is the title scene of the movie (below).

Step Brothers

There is a strong magnetism of the frame on the left and right sides of the scene. It emphasizes the distance between the characters and their feelings for each other—the movie title pushes the stepbrothers away from each other.

Another great shot in this movie that depicts this magnetism of frame is when Brennan gets out of the car to meet his in-laws.

Meeting the In-Laws

The distance between Brennan and Dale in this particular shot, sets the mood for the dialogue to come.

As the movie progresses, the rival step brothers slowly begin to become friends. As this is happening, the extreme shots of Brennan and Dale become more subtle, as seen below:

Best of Friends

Shark Week

In picture one, the characters are still at the edges of the frame; however, they are brought closer together. Even though there is magnetism of the frame, it is not the same magnetism we see in the beginning of the movie.

Picture two is a different type of magnetism of the frame. Brennan and Dale become best friends at this point in the movie. The way that this friendship scene was shot is brilliant because the characters are close together with equal magnetism on each side.

Will Ferrel and John C. Reilly put on an unforgettable, awkward performance. Their spot-on acting is amplified even more with the beautiful cinematography in this film.

Posted in Aesthetics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment