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July 28, 2017

AMERICAN PSYCHO — MARY HARRON

Mike picked up INDUSTRIAL ARTS POWER TOOLS IPA for our discussion of Mary Harron's unforgettable adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis's AMERICAN PSYCHO. Pull a chair up to the banquet table and join us for one hell of a feast for one hell of a movie!

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Here's my review just for the record...

American_psycho“American Psycho” (made at the turn of the 21st century) is a significant connecting link between the ruthless culture of corporate greed revealed in Oliver Stone’s seminal film “Wall Street” and the ascendency of Donald Trump to the throne of United States President. It’s notable that Stone was temporarily slated to direct “American Psycho,” with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to play the lead, before Mary Harron won the gig with her more perfect casting choice of Christian Bale as the soulless Wall Street narcissist Patrick Bateman. Coincidentally, “American Psycho” is set in 1987, the same year that “Wall Street” was released on elite American males all to ready to mistake the film’s satire for economic and political doctrine.

With his perfect swimmer’s bod, Patrick Bateman masks his crippling inferiority complex with money and all of its commercially induced trappings. Patrick is a misogynist bully leaked from Donald Trump’s putrid mold.

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Something as simple as looking at the (superior) business card designs of his three-piece-suit-wearing Wall Street pals sends our obsessively groomed metrosexual Trump-admirer into a mental breakdown that makes up the meat of the movie. Patrick’s affinity for inane pop music allows Harron to ingeniously show the character’s fractured relationship with society and with his own identity. Before attacking his [perceived] biggest rival Paul Allen (Jared Leto) with an axe, Patrick allows himself some editorial commentary in the form of a running dialogue with himself that could just as well be memorized lines from an unnamed music critic’s review.  

American Psycho

“He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Distorting reality is the name of the game. “Facts do not matter. Facts do not exist. Reality is a liar, and information is your enemy.” That quote, taken from a Zach Schonfeld piece for Newsweek about how Donald Trump distorts reality, exquisitely pinpoints the mindset of “American Psycho’s” anti-hero Patrick Bateman (Bale).

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More than anything, entitled Patrick wants to “fit in,” namely by inflicting his inflated sense of status on all people he comes in contact with. “His father practically owns the company” he works for. Bateman’s name is an obvious nod to Norman Bates of Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” Like Norman Bates, Patrick Bateman suffers from a dissociative identity disorder. At times he introduces himself as Pat, or as his perceived rival Paul Allen when opportunity serves him. He gets mistaken for his similarly blank-personality Wall Street associates.

Our reliably unreliable narrator/anti-hero isn’t a human being, he is a product, a false and invisible product of all that is wrong with America.

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Bale’s disconnected persona keeps a running inner dialogue of political correctness that enables him to speak up for defending Jews when a colleague makes an anti-Semitic remark. But deep down Patrick wants to humiliate, mutilate, and kill minorities and women in the most brutal ways imaginable.

Harron weaves feminist commentary through two female victims of Bateman’s deep seeded self-hatred. His secretary Jean (Chloë Sevigny) and Christie (Cara Seymour), a street-walker prostitute, serve as opposite sides of the same oppressed female coin. The two women also represent the film’s true protagonists, allowing the audience to empathize in a narrative landscape seemingly devoid of compassion.

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Co-screenwriter/director Harron composes the film with Hitchcock-inspired compositions to charge the script’s paper-dry wit with a palpable combination of pulsing suspense and pitch black comedy. Like all great films, “American Psycho” is one you can discover something new in regardless of how many times you’ve seen it.

Rated R. 102 mins. (A+) (Five stars — out of five / no halves)

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