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
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.
The two movies I’m most excited to see at Sundance this year are Morgan Spurlock’s Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden and the big screen adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk‘s (author of Fight Club) novel Choke. Collider has gotten their hands on eight new production photos from the film. Check out the photos after the jump. As always, click to enlarge.
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The line-up for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival was announced earlier this week. I just got my hands on a boat load of photos from the films in this year’s festival. We actually have too many photos to feature in just one posting, so we have divided this feature into a few parts.
Our second segment in the series takes a look at the films in the Dramatic Competition category. This year’s 16 films were selected from 1,068 submissions. Each film is a world premiere. The list of films includes: American Son, Anywhere USA, Ballast, Choke, Downloading Nancy, Frozen River, Good Dick, The Last Word, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, North Starr, Phoebe In Wonderland, Pretty Bird, Sleep Dealer, Sugar, Sunshine Cleaning, and The Wackness.
Also be sure to check out our Sundance 2008 Photo Previews for the Spectrum and Premieres.
Check out the photos after the jump. Click on the images to enlarge.
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David Fincher’s big screen adaptation of Fight Club is one of my favorite films of all time. The book and author behind the book are even better than that. I’ve been waiting for years for Chuck Palahniuk‘s Survivor to become a film. If there were a top 10 list of unadapted novels, Survivor would probably be in the top five, somewhere close to Catcher in the Rye.
The film rights to Palahniuk’s Fight Club follow-up were sold quickly, but the film will likely never be produced. September 11th happened. You see, the protagonist of the novel hijacks a civil airplane with plans to crash it. The book is about much more than that, but the hijacking is a main part of the climax of the story. Chuck recently announced during his most recent book tour that a film adaptation is still in the works, however I’m still very doubtful.
My third favorite Palahniuk novel is probably Choke. If you never want to read Choke, than don’t pick it up in a book store and start reading the first chapter. It might very well be the best opening chapter in terms of sucking you in.
In Clark Gregg‘s directorial debut, Sam Rockwell plays Victor Mancini, who grew up going from one foster home to another after Victor’s mother (played by Angelica Huston) was found to be an unfit mother. Several times throughout his childhood his mother would kidnap him from his foster parents. But they would eventually be caught.
“Victor is now a man in his mid-twenties who left medical school in order to find work to support his mother who is now in a nursing home. He cannot afford the care that his mother is receiving so he resorts to being a con man. His “con” is to go to restaurants and midway through his meal, he forces himself to choke on his food. When some good Samaritan comes over to perform the Heimlich maneuver, he spits the food out and thanks them for saving his life. He keeps a detailed list of everyone who saves him and sends them frequent letters about fictional bills he is unable to pay. The people feel so sorry for him that they give him money, send him cards and letters asking about him how he’s doing, and even continue to send him money to help him with the bills.”
Choke will premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. The first look photo above shows Victor sitting with his best friend Denny (played by Brad William Henke).
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