Finite Focus: That’s Bone. (American Psycho)

American Psycho German One SheetIt is Bret Easton Ellis adaptation week in the Finite Focus offices. A rare movie that actually trumps the novel (which gets bogged down in the language which is a branding-name orgy, fitting to the point of the book, but tiresome after several hundred pages), particularly due to savvy casting of Christian Bale and Reese Witherspoon (this is pre-Legally Blonde when she used to do edgy and interesting roles in films like Election, Freeway and Pleasantville) and personal favourite, Chloë Sevigny (in a small but important role). As seen with The Rules of Attraction, dark-edged satire does not sell in America, and American Psycho was short-lived during its spring 2000 release. Never the less it was one of the great joys of that year, a film that you can feel sweat while you are watching it, a film that mocks the alpha-male ego and self image mercilessly (fittingly written for the screen and directed by Mary Herron).

OK, the scene is a minor classic, as it is one of the great on-screen displays of testosterone and competition. Except the kick here is that it is using the most mundane type of subject matter: business card stock and typeface. (An able demonstration that in human social interaction, what things are about are rarely what is on the surface). The way each of the men at the table fetishize their card and all the details around it. (Note that in the card-case, there is only a single card. As if each one is a celebrated object). The scene delights in showing that men (and in particular high-powered wall street types) will compete at anything and everything. Forget Oliver Stone‘s goofy over the top Wall Street. This conference room feather ruffling is the real deal.

Check the video out behind the cut.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
_ram-jaane'
Guest

Too right .. it's the real deal! It's all about the pale nimbus & the embossed gold lettering .. If it has no watermark, what's the point??? 😉

Marina Antunes
Guest

I absolutely adore this scene. Brilliant. I must get this back – it now needs to be re-watched immediately.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Jesus Kurt, this is really super. How did a nit wit like you get so tasteful? 😉

Rusty James
Guest

This movie is too… something for my taste. Also, the end is just terrible. Although to be fair it's not the movie's fault that FIGHT CLUB came out 2 months earlier.

I don't remember Willem Defoe in this movie at all.

Henrik
Guest

I was very disappointed with this film. Christian Bale's grimacing does nothing for me (in this, or most any other film he is in), and the confusing crime-plot is given way too much attention.

Mercurie
Guest

American Psycho I think will be regarded as a classic one day. And, sadly, I think it captures the Eighties all too well.

Andrew James
Admin

Two films that capture opposite ends of the 80s spectrum perfectly:

American Psycho

The Squid and the Whale

Marina Antunes
Guest

Mercurie & Andrew: I think you guys nailed it.

I'd always heard the book praised and I can't begin to iterate the difficulty it took to get through it. I finally just gave up with all of 50 pages left, I couldn't force down another 10 pages of 'waxing poetic' on the colour, fabric, make and striping of a suit. The film, for me at least, was a perfect mix of Ellis' observations on violence and opulence and Bale fits the Bateman role perfectly – with all the grimaces and sly looks and general over-overplay.

I am surprised and rather disappointed that director Mary Harron hasn't made any films since then because I think her screenplay and direction didn't just capture key moments of the novel but also Ellis' message and she does so without dumbing down the material. I really think this is seriously underrated work.

Marina Antunes
Admin

Oooo. Horrendous oversight on my part.

I did see Bettie Paige and I thought it was alright. I must admit I didn't even realize that was directed by Harron. I thought Gretchen Mol was great but I didn't really care much for the film. It felt flat and maybe that's because of the choice to show us the private side of Paige and frankly, her private side was pretty boring (if the film's portrayal of it was accurate since I know NOTHING else about Paige). Not sure how accurate it was but I expected a bit more excitement from a film about the world's most popular pinup.

Jonathan
Admin

I'm pretty sure this is already well on its way to being considered a classic of this decade. Misunderstood at its release (the awful advertising campaign was probably a big part of that), but now after 8 years out, people are really starting to recognize the brilliance of it. Even I, after initially watching it when it came out, hated it (note: I was also 14 and expecting a horror movie) and I didn't rediscover it until about 2004 and with each consecutive viewing I love it more and more.

Andrew James
Admin

I also admit to not liking this film when I first saw it in theaters – or at least I was luke-warm on it. Now it's in my top 25 of all time.

Andrew James
Admin

I love the uncomfortability in the room when Bateman asks to see Paul Allen's card.

Marina Antunes
Guest

It's weird though because I can't put my finger on what makes it so uncomfortable. It must have something to do with the repeated focus on the cards which highlights their importance and the fact that it takes a few extra seconds for the retrieval of Allen's card….and the music…I don't think it goes too far to say that that scene is near perfection.

wpDiscuz