Fight Club

Every lame buddy flick features a ritual fist fight that bonds its two male leads, and that clichéd meta-scene is the inspiration for David Fincher’s dark, gleefully incoherent 1999 comedy Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Office drone Edward Norton receives his first beating from Brad Pitt, along with a whole nutty philosophy of male liberation—but just ignore it with the other manifestoes. Fincher employs an elliptical structure of multiple flashbacks and fantasy sequences, digressing frequently to prowl the sordid details with slo-mo computer-generated camera trickery. Early on, Norton compulsively attends disease survivor support groups—without being sick himself. It’s a fresh, funny, fast-paced beginning, and the next two acts do sag by comparison. (Not unlike Norton’s buddy Meat Loaf, for that matter.) Helena Bonham Carter barely dignifies her klepto-nympho role, but Fincher makes better use of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” on the soundtrack. (R) BRIAN MILLER

April 29-May 4, 9:30 p.m., 2011

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