Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Without access to true chaos, we'll never have true peace. Unless everything can get worse, it won't get any better."

Choke-2008-Clark Gregg


"There is none righteous, no not one" Romans 3:10

It's interesting to note, how utterly different and totally similar an author's works can be. Chuck Palahniuk is one of the more famous modern authors around, mainly from the success of the film Fight Club(based on his debut novel). He has gotten to a generation that believe reading is for old people, and made reading something fun to do, as it should be. I praise him for this, and for his keen sense of knowing how to portray characters that are in any case abhorrent and in no way charming. Yet, somehow Palhniuk does it time and time again. It's no wonder so many people want to adapt his books (as I typed this there are talks of an adaptation of his novel Survivor). The main question anyone might be asking is, do they need to be made into films, will the message still work? In the case of the latest adaptation of his book Choke I would have to say yes and no.

Choke is about Victor Mancini. He is a sex addict. An unrepentant sex addict that is. He works a dead end job at some sort of old times amusement park of something. He is a med school drop out, and a con artist. He has a mother who is in a psychiatric ward and doesn't even know who he is(constantly referring to him as lawyers who are now dead, that she has had in the past). We follow Victor and his friend Denny through a journey of realizing what love really is. Victor's con that he pulls is an interesting one to say the least, and where the book/film derives it's name. Victor will eat out at a restaurant and force himself to choke on his food only to be saved by a stranger. Usually, he lies and gets some sort of money in the mail afterwards from his savior.

What I find most striking is Choke's unbelievably heart warming tale, amidst all of the vulgarity and dirtiness. Victor is a basket case. He wants love so much that he looks for it in all the wrong ways. His sexual exploits prove to be empty and void throughout, and he is able to acknowledge this. When Victor finally meets someone he actually has feelings for he is unable to perform, not because he doesn't want to, but simply because of the misconceptions he has placed around sex. It almost seems that throughout the story sex is a metaphor for love.

Now Victor has more reason's for doing the things he does than for mere personal gain. He reveals to us the rush he gets from choking and his favorite part(being held after being saved) shows his true need for love.

Denny, Victor's best friend, is a chronic masturbater. This could be used as a crotch for comedy, and occasionally is, but ultimately Denny is Victor's better half. He finds himself working through the problems and going through the steps that he learns from the sex addicts anonymous class victor and he takes.

Along the way, Choke reveals more and more about Victor's character. I was fascinated by the depth's a which his character dove, and Sam Rockwell's great performance also played a factor in that. It was clear that Clark Gregg, who is an actor himself (he plays Charlie in this film, hilariously I might add) knew how to direct the actors, but any depth or true film making technique is pushed aside. He simply pointed the cameras at the actors and said "okay guys now quote the book". Which is surprising because Tim Orr, one of my favorite cinematographers, shot this film, and it looks so bland.

Another fault I find in Choke, actually lies within the marketing of the film. It really isn't about the sex and tits and anal beads (although all are sadly present), it is about being able to love the unlovable, and that true love only comes when you are able to show love yourself.

In the picture above we see Victor and Denny trapped in a cage, but really they are outside of it, about to go in. What we don't know is how this marks the true change for Victor. Denny has a rock collection, to keep him from masturbating. Victor finds this stupid until one of the final moments, inside this cage where something happens that reveals exactly what the story is about.

It seems that Choke, has an interesting story that Clark Gregg realizes, but occasionally tries to exploit for the gain of who knows what? I guess sex sells better than stories of redemption and love. If you like either, this film could be right up your alley.


Fletch said...

"I guess sex sells better than stories of redemption and love."

Isn't your issue then really with Chuck? The movie was pretty faithful to the book, so I don't see where the problem with the marketing was. It's not as though Victor is a chronic gambler and they still showed a ton of sex in the previews; it was all relevant.

That said, I felt that compared to the vibe I got from the trailers, the film wasn't nearly as raunchy as I thought it would be. All those flashes of Victor effing someone turned out to be...just flashes.

And as you know, the anal beads played an important part in the story...

Dead Pan said...

I realize that the film was very close to the book. What I didn't like and was criticizing was the marketing for making it seem like the film was only about the sex and not the underlying message of realizing no matter how terrible of a person you may be, you can still do good in this world.

I do think all the sex in this film was relevant and not really gratuitous, it all served its purpose, but the previews make it out to be a porno with a better story or something and that's what I'm talking about with the marketing and such.

As it is, I think that in a book you can have more sex because it is not being seen by the viewer, but in a film there has to be ways that you can get across the sex and the like without always showing it because for some viewers it can be distracting. For the most part, I think the film succeeded here.

And I'm sure the anal beads did have some sort of significance, but I could never really figure out. While watching it it seemed like some dumb joke.

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