Fox Searchlight has released the teaser poster for the Clark Gregg‘s big screen adaption of Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk‘s Choke. The poster features a silhouette of Sam Rockwell choking on either Kelly Macdonal or Anjelica Huston. Either way I’m not sure I get the symbology, but it’s certainly a cool looking image.
You can read my fanboy review from Sundance or Mel Valentin’s review from SXSW. Fox Searchlight told us that Mel might actually be quoted in some of the pre-release advertising (“vulgar, crude, profane, blasphemous, obscene, and, best of all, hilarious” â€“ Mel Valentin, SLASHFILM.COM).
Official Plot Synopsis: Victor Mancini (Rockwell), a sex-addicted med-school dropout, who keeps his increasingly deranged mother, Ida (Huston), in an expensive private medical hospital by working days as a historical reenactor at a Colonial Williamsburg theme park. At night Victor runs a scam by deliberately choking in upscale restaurants to form parasitic relationships with the wealthy patrons who “save” him. When, in a rare lucid movement, Ida reveals that she has withheld the shocking truth of his father’s identity, Victor enlists the aid of his best friend, Denny (Henke) and his mother’s beautiful attending physician, Dr. Paige Marshall (Macdonald), to solve the mystery before the truth of his possibly divine parentage is lost forever. The film is adapted from the best-selling, critically acclaimed novel by Chuck Palahniuk.
Choke will open in theaters on September 26th 2008.
source: Fox Searchlight via IMPAwards
Fox Searchlight has just informed us that the big screen adaptation of Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk‘s Choke has been pushed back to September 26th 2008. When the company snapped up the film for a hefty $5 million at Sundance, they immediately announced an August 1st release date.
The last Friday of July/first Friday of August is Fox Searchlight’s magic date. They opened films like Little Miss Sunshine and Garden State in that calendar spot to much success. The plan usually is to open the film in a couple markets, slowly expand throughout August, and open wide in September. But for some reason, Searchlight has decided to move the release back to late September. And this might not be a bad move. This will give Choke breathing room from the other high-buzz late Summer indie releases like American Teen, Towelhead and The Wackness. Palahnuik also has a huge young adult following, so opening the film up right after College is back in session might help the film’s marketing strategy.
Official Plot Synopsis: Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell), a sex-addicted med-school dropout, keeps his increasingly deranged mother, Ida (Anjelica Huston), in an expensive private mental hospital by working days as a historical reenactor. At night he runs a scam where he deliberately chokes in upscale restaurants to form parasitic relationships with the wealthy patrons who “save” him. When, in a rare lucid moment, Ida reveals that she has withheld the shocking truth of his father’s identity, Victor must enlist the aid of his best friend, Denny (Brad William Henke), a recovering chronic masturbator, and his mother’s beautiful attending physician, Dr. Paige Marshall (Kelly Macdonald), to solve this mystery before the truth of his possibly divine parentage is lost forever.
After watching Choke, an adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s (Survivor, Fight Club) novel directed by Clark Gregg, the words vulgar, crude, profane, blasphemous, obscene, and, best of all, hilarious, all come to mind. A sharp critique aimed at our self-centered, self-absorbed culture, with a few digs at group therapy, psychiatry, and dysfunctional parenting, Choke is the kind of film that can be only made outside the Hollywood system, then gets picked up by a Hollywood-based distributor after it becomes a hit with festival audiences and critics, as Choke did at the Sundance Film Festival two months ago. Choke was picked up by Fox Searchlight, with a released planned for late August, a lucky month for them (Napoleon Dynamite, Little Miss Sunshine were both released in August).
Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) has a problem, actually many, many problems. Victor numbs himself with meaningless sex with a random assortment of women, young, middle-aged, beautiful, and not-beautiful, then shows up for his weekly group therapy for sex addicts. When he’s not pursuing women with his fellow sex addict and best friend, Denny (Brad William Henke), he’s working as a “historical interpreter” (i.e., tour guide) at a Colonial-era amusement park. Frequent run-ins with his boss, Lord High Charlie (Clark Gregg), who takes the Colonial experience far too seriously, don’t help much. Worse, Victor’s mother, Ida (Anjelica Huston), a former grifter who made Victor’s life extremely difficult, has been hospitalized with Dementia and the prognosis is far from good.
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Chuck Palahniuk fans rejoice!
Fox Searchlight, who just picked up the rights to Clark Gregg‘s big screen adaptation of Choke for $5 Million, has announced that the film will hit theaters on:
August 1st 2008
Yeah, I know, seven months is a long time to wait. But hey, look on the bright side, it’s getting a release by Fox Searchlight. That almost guarantees that the film will platform into your neck of the woods sooner or later.
Directed by: Clark Gregg
Written by: Clark Gregg, adapted from the novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Kelly Macdonald, Brad Henke, Clark Gregg
Plot Synopsis: Victor Mancini, a sex-addicted med-school dropout, keeps his increasingly deranged mother, Ida, in an expensive private mental hospital by working days as a historical reenactor. At night he runs a scam where he deliberately chokes in upscale restaurants to form parasitic relationships with the wealthy patrons who “save” him. When, in a rare lucid moment, Ida reveals that she has withheld the shocking truth of his father’s identity, Victor must enlist the aid of his best friend, Denny, a recovering chronic masturbator, and his mother’s beautiful attending physician, Dr. Paige Marshall, to solve this mystery before the truth of his possibly divine parentage is lost forever.
As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of Chuck Palahniuk, best known as the author of Fight Club. I’ve attended, god knows how many of his public events over the years, and got the chance to sit down with Palahniuk in Park City Utah at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival to talk about the big screen adaptation of his novel Choke. The photo above was taken at the Choke premiere, the night before this interview. Palahniuk leaned his head across mine right before the flash. “Congratulations, now you have syphilis.” he added. Fans of the author will surely recognize his patented sense of humor.
Palahniuk chats with me about the big screen adaptation of Choke, Heath Ledger – who had died hours earlier and had been at one time attached to the project, the progress of future big screen adaptions including Survivor, Invisible Monsters, Diary and Lullaby, some of the stuff he loved from the film, an idea he wish they had used, and his upcoming book Snuff. Enjoy!
Peter Sciretta: I loved the movie, could you talk a little bit about the process of getting it made. I know it was a really long strugle.
Chuck Palahniuk: Yeah. They had the option for a long time. I talked to Gregg Clark on and off about what he might put into the screenplay, what he might cut. And having a screenplay is like having another draft. So all the sort of spirit of the stairway things that you wanted to put in, but you didn’t think of them until a month after the manuscript went to press…
Peter: Well you said that about the ending of Fight Club, didn’t you?
Palahniuk: You know, I had the back and fourth but the ending was entirely David’s. But I knew that David had to bring up the romance at the end so I could understand why he did. In the same way I can remember why Clark left the stone house stoning scene out. Because there is only so much that can go in a movie before it becomes overload.
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The production notes for the big screen adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk‘s Choke includes an extensive interview with director/screenwriter/co-star Clark Gregg. Read the interview below. Check back tomorrow for my exclusive interview with Chuck.
What exactly drew you to the book?
When I was given the book I was aware of Chuck.Â I had loved Fight Club.Â When I read Choke, I couldn’t put my finger on it.Â My mother is not Ida and I never worked in a colonial village, but there was something about it that felt painfully familiar and really unusual in the way it represented sexuality as another thing — that is a consumer obsession in this country — and it worked for me on those political levels.Â Â At the same time I found it to be a really heartbreaking story about how people recover from emotional trauma in their lives and that makes them able to give and receive love.Â I think in retrospect I didn’t realize how difficult a balancing act it would be to adapt something and make it work on those trenchant dramatic levels and still have it be funny, because the other main thing that I loved about it was I never read anything that I found so painful and yet also so funny.Â I think this guy’s got more clever, brilliant, satirical ideas and his finger on the pulse of what works and doesn’t work in this country.Â There is something about the compassion in his disaffected voice that really strikes a chord for a lot of people.
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In my review of Clark Gregg’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel Choke (which was posted just minutes ago), I nervously wrote a plea to distributors, hoping that this film would get the big screen release that it deserves. Choke is not an easy film to market. It contains a lot of nudity and sex, and most distributors might not want to be associated with a Da Vinci Code-esque controversial subplot. Well good news Palahniuk fans, Choke was purchased for $5 million by…
Fox Searchlight is by far my favorite studio in terms in independent releases. Searchlight knows how to market a little film, and they know how to execute the platform release. Searchlight is the company behind the success of Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Garden State, Once, Napoleon Dynamite, Thank You For Smoking, and Sideways.
I’m in line to see the new Morgan Spurlock movie, than after I will be off to interview Chuck Palahnuik. So please check back for that interview later tonight or tomorrow.
Official Plot Synopsis: Actor-turned-director Clark Gregg shows he is as adept behind the camera as in front of it with CHOKE, a wickedly colorful dark comedy about mothers and sons, sexual compulsion, and the sordid underbelly of Colonial theme parks.
Victor Mancini, a sex-addicted med-school dropout, keeps his increasingly deranged mother, Ida, in an expensive private mental hospital by working days as a historical reenactor. At night he runs a scam where he deliberately chokes in upscale restaurants to form parasitic relationships with the wealthy patrons who “save” him. When, in a rare lucid moment, Ida reveals that she has withheld the shocking truth of his father’s identity, Victor must enlist the aid of his best friend, Denny, a recovering chronic masturbator, and his mother’s beautiful attending physician, Dr. Paige Marshall, to solve this mystery before the truth of his possibly divine parentage is lost forever.
Adapted from the acclaimed novel by Chuck Palahniuk, CHOKE tickles the funny bone as it dives into darker areas of human behavior. At the heart of the film is yet another staggering performance by Sam Rockwell as Victor. He fully inhabits the character and nails both the comedic and dramatic aspects with indelible timing and delivery. A delicious blend of fresh writing, juicy performances, and sharp directing, CHOKE is actually quite easy to swallow.
I liked the last two Harry Potter films more than people who hadn’t read the books. I’ve also noticed that the only people that seemed to like The Da Vinci Code were those who had read the Dan Brown books. Is it because they were hardcore fans with too much time invested, or is it that they could fill in all the wonderful blanks which were cut to take the story to screen?
Chuck Palahniuk is my favorite author, and I’ve been waiting a long time to seeÂ Choke adapted to the big screen (and even longer for my Palahniuk favorite Survivor). Most people know Palahniuk as the author of Fight Club, which was adapted to the screen by David Fincher. A favorite of many people of my generation, Palahniuk has developed a huge cult following among young men and women. Choke is probably my fourth favorite book of the bunch, yet I’m shocked that this is the second movie adaptation. Especially considering the dark nature of the book which includes sex addiction and religious themes that is likely to upset any serious catholic.
Truth is that you couldn’t make Choke into a movie unless you did it independently on a small budget. And that is what they did. Made for $3.4 million, and filmed over the course of 25 shooting days in New Jersey, Choke looks nothing like Fincher’s film. I must admit, it doesn’t look like anything I ever imagined it would be, probably due to the budgetary limitations. That said, I loved every minute of this movie.
Sam Rockwell is everything I imagined Victor Mancini would and could be. He plays the part perfectly, and is the reason why this film works so well. Kelly Macdonald is wonderful as Paige Marshall. The cast is the best it ever could have been.
As a fanboy of the book, I’m finding it easier to voice my minor nitpicky complaints over offering up praise. So let me get through a couple of my issues. The book’s opening chapter is one of the best opening chapter’s I’ve ever read. The narrator attempts to convince the reader not to read the book. That his life is not worth reading about. I think they missed a huge opportunity by not translating this into a “Leave the theater now, shut off the DVD, this movie isn’t worth watching” opening voiceover. Also, writer/director Clark Gregg decided to abandon use of the voiceover shortly after the first act. I think this is a big mistake as the voiceover in the novel is one of the reasons it was so great. And this is evident in the sequences which involve voice over early on in the film. I’m not quite sure that the flashback sequences to Vincent’s childhood was well explained for those who had not read the book. And I also found some of the musical score (not soundtrack) to be too loud and corny. I hope they also get rid of the interstitial they use between flashbacks and flashfowards, as it seemed way too cheesy for this type of movie.
Choke shocks, offends, entertains and might even make you cry. Clark Gregg’s adaptation will please fans and non-fans alike. At only 85 minutes, I only wish the film could have been longer. I hope that some distributor has the guts (no pun intended) to pick this film up and give it a proper release.
/Film Rating: 8 out of 10
Cool Posts From Around the Web:
My editor, Peter, has the Chuck Palahniuk adaptation Choke stashed in a lil’ box inside the fridge that is /Film, but he’s givin’ ‘er at Sundance (yep, it’s premiering there), so I’m raiding it. A “Meet the Filmmakers” Sundance Channel video with Choke‘s first-time director, Clark Gregg, can now be seen after the jump.
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The big screen adaptation of Chuck Palahnuik‘s Choke is my second most anticipated movie of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The first Palahnuik film adaptation, Fight Club, had a great electronic score by The Dust Brothers, backed up by the powerful Pixies climax of “Where is My Mind”. So what will Clark Gregg‘s film bring in terms of a musical sound? Here is a sneak peak:
- Radiohead – “Reckoner”
- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! – “Satan Said Dance”
- The Fiery Furnaces – “Navy Nurse”
- Ben Kweller – “The Rules”
- The Twilight Singers – “There’s Been An Accident”
- Rogue Wave – “Lake Michigan” (which plays out in the film’s final credits)
- Nathan Larson (Boys Don’t Cry, Palindromes) composed the film’s score
- Alap Momin (a.k.a. The Oktopus) from the outrÃ© New Jersey hip-hop group, DÃ¤lek also scored one musical cue in the film.
Choke premieres on January 21st at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. I’ll be in Park City covering the festival, so check back for a review. No distribution deal is in place, but with the writers strike in full effect, I don’t expect any remotely marketable film to leave Park City without a studio deal.