American Psycho

Natter CastNatter Cast San Francisco, CA
Great cast .. notes ..

This is one of my favorite movie adaptations because it's a rare case of a movie being both loyal to the book and much, much better. I read the book when it came out and didn't think much of it. There was a lot of controversy around the violence and misogyny, but it was ultimately just the usual debate about whether satire encourages the things it satirizes.

What I didn't like about the book was that it's a mess. It's very repetitive. There are numerous clubbing, dinner, party and work scenes that just meander out. I see that it is part of what Ellis was trying to say, but I felt like I got the point well before he got to the point. The music reviews, however, are in the book and I remember thinking they were the best part.

For the movie, Mary Harron took the book and literally tore chapters out by chunks and laid them out in groups. She condensed a good deal of material. The "liberal rant" dinner scene that Bateman has in the movie comprises dinner stuff that's spread throughout the novel. So the movie felt more sharp and focused and the satire came through better and more clearly.

My $0.02 is that Patrick Bateman isn't a real psychopath. It's just that he's surrounded by people that he finds it impossible to relate to even though they share many things in common. He says "you may shake my hand and you may sense that our lifestyles are probably similar...but I simply am not there."

The reason everyone from his coworkers to his fiance are impossible to empathize with is because, like him, they are products of a mass produced high taste. The absurdist dinner offerings in the opening sequence, the John Paul Gaultier overnight bag, the Cillian Braille business cards...all of them are expensive, tasteful, superficial, mass-produced, one-size fits all luxuries. Once you become obsessed with defining yourself by these kinds of products...you simply are not there. You're just a billboard.

Basically, these are the people who would be joining fight clubs 10 years later for that same reason: they aren't happy on Planet Starbucks .. they want to breathe smoke .. they want to destroy something beautiful.

That's what Bateman is doing here...that's the nature of his violent rage. 

His problem is that he's NOT a psychopath..he's not able to live in the world comfortably without meaning or emotion..so even if his pop music criticism is a bit derivative, it reflects a desire on his part to invest importance into something, anything, that seems to have meaning. He sees himself as both hip and square. He wants to both fit in and stand out, like Phil Collins. He recognizes that he's (at best) only really capable of loving himself, but then again, that's The Greatest Love of All.
A_Ron_HubbardvoodooratCogentxx

Comments

  • MrXMrX CO
    edited January 24
    This was a great episode for fans of @A_Ron_Hubbard saying names wrong - I believe for the main character I counted three variations; "Patrick Bateman", "Jason Bateman", and "Justin Bateman."
    DeeDummyA_Ron_Hubbardmwspiakneal2manyboogersOliviaDFlukesalexander.klassenMsAnneand 1 other.
  • Natter CastNatter Cast San Francisco, CA
    MrX said:
    This was a great episode for fans of @A_Ron_Hubbard saying names wrong - I believe for the main character I counted three variations; "Patrick Bateman", "Jason Bateman", and "Justin Bateman."
    Now I'm picturing Justine Bateman in that rain coat and I need a moment.
    ChinaskiMrX
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    edited January 24
    MrX said:
    This was a great episode for fans of @A_Ron_Hubbard saying names wrong - I believe for the main character I counted three variations; "Patrick Bateman", "Jason Bateman", and "Justin Bateman."
    This comment made me laugh so much. Bless A.Ron, he’s such a smart guy so I think having that one foible is forgivable, and so entertaining for the rest of us. :-D
    Natter CastA_Ron_HubbardMrXFlukes
  • Yeah the book can be a hard read at times. I always took the movie as we see Patrick Bateman going down the path of eventually killing pepole. For me it's in his last narration at the end of the movie.
  • emnofseattleemnofseattle Mason County, Washington USA
    I saw this movie a few years ago and it was “wtf?!” I rewatched it and it was still wtf. The sad thing is, the only reason I saw it is because my boss at the time made a remark I should see it, because In some dumb workplace conversation I mentioned I rack my kitchen spices in alphabetical order and he said “way too much attention to detail, see American Psycho” so I watched it.

    i think none of the killings were real. You couldn’t get into a shootout with cops and have that brushed under the rug. The chainsaw wouldn’t operate while falling because you have to be holding it to trigger it, the shifting timelines on Paul Allen, he’s in London? No he’s not? Detectives looking for him? He was alive the whole time? 

    Like if I had to decide what had happened I would say Bateman is institutionalized and every single part of the movie is fantasy. 

    Despite the common belief that busienss people are emotionless, building relationships is important to ones success in business and so I don’t know that I believe the idea that these people are emotionless because of the Wall Street setting 
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    the Bale breakdown was top notch. Batman? Bateman? Tomato. Tomahto.
  • davemcbdavemcb Melbourne
    When I saw Tyrell Wellick in Mr Robot S1 I think Esmail is aping Bateman  but I also might be alone with that one. Beating up the homeless guy, being charming when he needed to as well as killing his rivals wife. 
    Cogentxx
  • edited January 25
    I'm not a huge fan of the film, I really liked about the book that it lures you into Batemans daily harrowing routine and suddenly you realize wait what was that about the dog and the homeless man and the soldering iron two pages before ?  

    Cogentxx
  • Chinaski said:
    the Bale breakdown was top notch. Batman? Bateman? Tomato. Tomahto.
    It made me wish Bruce Wayne's actual name was Bruce Bateman.  Missed opportunity by DC?   

    I liked the Bale breakdown too - imo, I thought Bale  "disappeared" into his role in the Prestige.  I really like that movie and actually thought of him as the character and not Bale's version of the character.  But these things are subjective.  
    ChinaskiReni
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    i loved the Prestige. in fact, 2 of my favorite Nolan flicks were the in between Batman ones which was that and Inception.
  • This book joined The Hot Zone as the only books that made me feel physically ill while reading it. Some of the shit is truly horrifying. 
    Schlupp
  • I think AAron got Chloe Sevigny mixed up with Mira Sorvino. Mira was the one who got blackballed for an early call out of Harvey Weinstein.
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    ncat said:
    I think AAron got Chloe Sevigny mixed up with Mira Sorvino. Mira was the one who got blackballed for an early call out of Harvey Weinstein.
    yeah she's (Sevigny) been in several things since too. like Big Love in which 'Gavin Belson' was also in.


  • Chinaski said:
    ncat said:
    I think AAron got Chloe Sevigny mixed up with Mira Sorvino. Mira was the one who got blackballed for an early call out of Harvey Weinstein.
    yeah she's (Sevigny) been in several things since too. like Big Love in which 'Gavin Belson' was also in.


    Sevigny is so talented, I wonder how famous she could have got if she didn't do the Brown Bunny. Giving an uncensored BJ on camera was not a great career move for her. That basically killed her career for four years until Fincher cast her in Zodiac. 
    voodoorat
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    ncat said:
    I think AAron got Chloe Sevigny mixed up with Mira Sorvino. Mira was the one who got blackballed for an early call out of Harvey Weinstein.
    She got her start on a Weinstein film (Kids / Miramax), and talked a year ago about how three different producers and directors crossed the line in their behavior with her, that she refused to comply with and lost the parts, but you're right, I think I did confuse her and Sorvino as far as the black balled comment went.  Although it also wouldn't surprise me if her career didn't take off like it could have, but I'm probably straying into internet conspiracy territory here.
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    She did some fantastic work on Big Love, Bloodlines And also in smaller indie stuff like Kids...oh god....Kids was a hell of a way to get your start. 
  • Kids is still one of the most fucked up movies I've seen to this day.  I've seen Bully and a couple other Larry Clarke movies and he definitely has... a style.
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    Jim said:
    Kids is still one of the most fucked up movies I've seen to this day.  I've seen Bully and a couple other Larry Clarke movies and he definitely has... a style.
    One of my first babysitting gigs (I was all of like 13) and the children I was babysitting convinced me to let them watch Kids, because...they thought it was about Kids. That didn't last long. 
  • Jim said:
    Kids is still one of the most fucked up movies I've seen to this day.  I've seen Bully and a couple other Larry Clarke movies and he definitely has... a style.
    One of my first babysitting gigs (I was all of like 13) and the children I was babysitting convinced me to let them watch Kids, because...they thought it was about Kids. That didn't last long. 
    Haha.  Well, they weren't wrong!
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    Jim said:
    Jim said:
    Kids is still one of the most fucked up movies I've seen to this day.  I've seen Bully and a couple other Larry Clarke movies and he definitely has... a style.
    One of my first babysitting gigs (I was all of like 13) and the children I was babysitting convinced me to let them watch Kids, because...they thought it was about Kids. That didn't last long. 
    Haha.  Well, they weren't wrong!
    That's true. I should have just let them watch it. It'd have been the earliest and best form of contraception they'd ever receive.  
  • Natter CastNatter Cast San Francisco, CA
    For outstanding achievement in vertically fornicated storytelling, the nominees are:

    Salo, The 120 Days of Sodom
    Birth of a Nation
    Triumph of the Will
    I Spit on Your Grave
    Beaches
  • For outstanding achievement in vertically fornicated storytelling, the nominees are:

    Salo, The 120 Days of Sodom
    Birth of a Nation
    Triumph of the Will
    I Spit on Your Grave
    Beaches
    Don't forget A Serbian Film, Irreversible and Martyrs
    Natter Cast


  • Despite the common belief that busienss people are emotionless, building relationships is important to ones success in business and so I don’t know that I believe the idea that these people are emotionless because of the Wall Street setting 
    It's not that they are completely robotic people, but rather that Wall Street attracts certain personality types that are driven mostly by greed, success, or power.  They have emotions, yes, but they are grossly devoted to the immoral ones.  This is why you get this archetype in Wall Street movies.  
  • Natter CastNatter Cast San Francisco, CA
    ghm3 said:
    For outstanding achievement in vertically fornicated storytelling, the nominees are:

    Salo, The 120 Days of Sodom
    Birth of a Nation
    Triumph of the Will
    I Spit on Your Grave
    Beaches
    Don't forget A Serbian Film, Irreversible and Martyrs
    Irreversible is difficult to watch, but it's no Beaches.
  • Natter CastNatter Cast San Francisco, CA
    edited January 30
    Cogentxx said:
    It's not that they are completely robotic people, but rather that Wall Street attracts certain personality types that are driven mostly by greed, success, or power.  They have emotions, yes, but they are grossly devoted to the immoral ones.  This is why you get this archetype in Wall Street movies.  

    The Wall St setting felt like it had more to do with warehousing fashion victims than real hustling. Contrast American Psycho with Wall Street, where you see Charlie Sheen's character putting in long hours and trying to hustle to join the millionaire boys' club. For all the moral failings of the characters in that film, they work hard at what they do and the focus on the bottom line.

    In American Psycho, nobody actually does any work. They're all legacies of wealthy families. They got into college because their dads went there. They work at jobs their dads got them. They're much more like decadent princes of a failing civilization, where Gekko and Bud Fox are the barbarians at the gate.

    As the guys mentioned, we see that everyone around Patrick is a vain phony of one sort or another, but they're not killers. What they are is incredibly superficial. Their tastes all come out of a catalog. Their opinions all come out of magazine articles. They have no sense of who they really are. No actual personal integrity. 

    The thesis of American Psycho seems to be that Patrick's mania, his inability to focus any emotion on the people around them, stems as much from their lack of any real sense of self as it does from his own darkest impulses. We're not seeing the effect of being ruthless in business...because they aren't ruthless in business. They appear to only be dimly aware of it. We're seeing the effect of being a completely artificially constructed person.

    He sees the people around him the way we see NPCs in a video game. Or the way the characters on Westworld see the hosts.

    It's briefly mentioned in the movie, but the book goes in to more detail on the idea that Bryce (Justin Theroux) is the only one of them who has anything interesting to say, the only one who ever speaks his own thoughts or makes his own choices. Not all the time...he's a superficial twat like the rest of them...just a little bit less so. I mean, he thinks the Israelis are massacring Sihks in Sri Lanka. Let's not get the Nobel committee too excited about him.

    It's pretty clear that Ellis doesn't have a singular, coherent idea for what happened in the book. That's not necessarily a failing. He's dealing with an unreliable narrator and sometimes it's just best to not even know as an author what really happened. There are obvious pitfalls to that, but my takeaway is that Patrick Bateman's identity is far from well understood.

    He clearly exists within the Eliisverse, as his cousin appears in The Rules of Attraction. And there's clearly a theme of people who only know each other superficially not being able to distinguish each other because they all dress and groom the same.

    But my sense is that Patrick is actually Bryce. Or maybe just metaphorically. In the book, Bryce disappears literally down a dark tunnel (at Tunnel) and it's a rare moment in the book where Patrick takes an active interest in the experiences of another human being.

    I've always taken that as the idea that even a marginally rational person would do whatever he can to escape this situation, thus justifying Patrick's impulse to murder anyone dumb enough to stick around...including himself.

    But does Bryce literally decide to project all his self-loathing onto Bateman and frame him for murder? Fuck if I know. It's Ellis. But I will say this: it is impossible for two grown-ass men to both do coke in the same toilet stall. Not gonna happen, broheim!
    A_Ron_Hubbard
  • ZesderZesder Tasmania
    The Book was Banned for a while in Australia. Due to a massacre that was blamed on the last book he read.
  • Haven't watched this movie in a LONG time, but I did after listening to the podcast.  The comments here are much deeper than my own experience with the film.  It's hard for me to see past the obvious commentary on materialism and mysogyny.  I generally don't like "unreliable narrator" stories, so I can't even really care about the question of what he did or didn't actually do, but I gotta say Christian Bale's performance in that phone-call confession scene is pretty harrowing.  Good performance, good dark comedy, but not something I need to watch for another 10 years or so.
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