I am back. I could go on and on and on about why I am back. I’ve been reading a lot, reading writers a lot and looking at how writers are writers and you have to write to be a writer. So I am writing. Blogs are blogs that people blog on. I am blogging. Ah yes. Were gonna stick with mostly the same format we had for a while. Talking about music. But also books and writers and movies. Today we are gonna talk about Choke. The movie version and the book version. Because it’s one of my favorite books and the movie version was well worth the viewing.
If you are not familiar with Chuck Palahniuk, and I am not advocating that you should be because I do not believe that he is for everyone, he is the author of Choke. He also wrote Fight Club which seems to be what everyone knows him for. I like his work. I’ve read most of his books. He has a very unique style that he applies to all his stories. He uses the art of repetition as a means of conveying his universe and he is pretty successful about it. He can’t however really end a story. This isn’t to say that the outcomes are ever unsatisfying, because Chuck is good about leading you astray, which always makes the story great, especially because the ending inievitably brings you back to some small coda you may have missed, or thought was insignificant. But somehow the man always seems to put on a bit of an awkward post script. Basically resolution of the story (what he is trying to say) = good, resolution of the narriative (how he says what he says) = a bit awkward.
This was deffinately true of Fight Club. The movie narrative was a much better way of ending the story. It made sense, it felt right, it said the exact same things and it was much cleaner. Choke is similar. Although I must stress that I really really really enjoy the resolution of the book. It’s one of my favorites actually. It’s cooky and weird and totally so far away from what you expect, but it’s so satisfying and it makes sense. The movie is a bit more of a twist, and I must comend writer and director Clark Gregg for his vision. I must also give big props to our man Chuck for being so supportive. Chuck likes changes to his narrative. He likes the way other people interpret his stories and he supported Clark Gregg in this film. That alone gave me a lot of comfort, because Choke is my favorite novel of his.
The movie is brilliantly executed. Gregg really brings the dirt and desheveld Victor Mancini to life with the world around him. Everything seems to be falling apart while Victor’s life unravels. Nothing looks new, or fixed up, or precious at all. The paint is chipping on the walls, houses are crumbling, even the people in his colonial amusement park are dirty and grimey. Things are never going to turn out okay it seems for Victor Mancini. Sam Rockwell was a spot on casting choice for Victor as well. Sam knows how to play fucked up charechters, people that are outside the norm, not because they want to rebel or be special, but just cuz they are fucked up by life. His defeated, impersonal, sad face through the film is everything you beleive Mancini is. His crucial scenes are just spot on and he becomes Victor with such eloquence, as much eloquence who a sex addicted, fake choking loser can be.
And of course there is Anjelica Houston. Fuck it man, she is beautiful. Even playing a sick, dying delusional woman who wrecked her mind on coke, Anjelica is just goregeous. The flash back scenes where they make her age appropriate to be young Victors mom are awesome. In fact it is only the first one where they don’t pull it off. It looks as if maybe it was a re-shoot. But continuity aside they bring Anjelica back twenty years and WOW, just WOW. She’s a brilliant actress, she is a beautiful, graceful woman, and she makes Ida Mancini perfectly. She was key to this movie being succesful and I don’t know how Chuck and Clark got so lucky to get such a well respected actress for this odd ball story, but they got it right and she nailed it.
So yes, for die hard Chuck fans who might be timid about this adaptation, go see it. IT remains very true to the story. The ending is not that scary and works perfectly in the narrative and isn’t really that radical of a departure. For me it even redeemed the narrative failure of Snuff that I recently read. Chuck’s a weird dude, he writes very different stories and when he lends his craft to other mediums he lets them take it to new places. Choke gets there. If you aren’t a Chuck fan, this movie is still very funny, if you have that off beat sense of humor. It’s not a pretty story, the comedy is dark and gross. Also be warned if you see it in an audience of Chuck fans, they are going to laugh loudly (I want to give a fuck you to the woman sitting next to me who actually tried to quiet me during the film) they will talk about the movie while it is going on, they will yell shit at the screen and stomp their feet. Because there is world out there, it’s not like your world. It’s not made up with the same sad moral compass and courtesy as yours. It is human nature, at the bottom. Choke takes you there.