The Art of Self Defense

Fight Club has been in my top ten basically since I first saw it (it held #2 for the longest time, but has slipped down a bit). One thing I love about that film is how its meaning has changed for me over time, and that it has different meanings for different people. The theme that people talk about most with the film lately is toxic masculinity, especially since it’s like that thread was sort of hidden in the film. No one brought it up 20 years ago, but now it’s so clear that it’s a big part of the movie. Anyways, if a shiny new movie is being compared to that masterpiece, I’m at attention. After spending the day at The Met while on my NYC vacay, I headed down to the East Village for one of hte few screenings available on The Lion King release night (I prolly shoulda gone further down to Brooklyn to see it at Alamo Drafthouse, but I felt lazy)

Jesse Eisenberg stars as a very Jesse Eisenberg type of character. When he’s mugged after a late night run for dog food, he searches for a way to feel empowered. That search leads him into a dojo with a hyper masculine sensei willing to train him how to fight and be a man.

I loved the first act or so. It had a very subtle humor with incredibly literal dialog (think Yorgos Lanthiimos). I love that tone and it’s not often done. But it eventually lost me. It slowed down during the second act, and then the third act just became a little too much for me.

Now I think the film was meant as a condemnation of toxic masculinity, highlighting how ridiculous some of it really is (Get a German shepherd not a dachshund! Don’t learn French!). However, it got so deep into that and frankly things seemed to be working out well enough for certain characters, that over time I couldn’t tell if it really was condeming and not condoning. I get that it was meant to be satire, but at some point it just wasn’t very funny any more. Honestly, it got very uncomfortable, and I wasn’t enjoying it any more.

The Art of Self Defense – \m/ \m/ \n

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