Choke Clark Gregg

Choke Clark Gregg
Thank the studio gods that someone was willing to tackle the adaptation of another Chuck Palahniuk book. Never mind that Choke was barely released in theatres and was quickly swept under the rug to await its true life on DVD. It makes sense to ignore the commercial prospects of a film about a sex-addicted colonial theme park worker who purposefully chokes on food at restaurants to scam money and more importantly, affection from his saviours while trying to solve a genetic mystery involving a holy foreskin. With a premise like that, and Sam Rockwell as its most bankable star, the smell of box-office poison was potent. Any audience Choke accrues will grow out of Palahniuk's cult following and any sick bastards who like their comedy as black as a 90-year-old smoker's lungs. Clark Gregg's surprisingly warm-hearted take on this nihilistic tale of helplessness and salvation shifts around, or omits, enough crucial plot points to obscure the heavier allegorical religious elements from the book, thus changing the focus of the story to Victor's discovery of his capacity for love behind his emotionally crippling lust. Kelly Macdonald is subtly fantastic, once again disguising every trace of her thick Scottish accent and fully inhabiting the character of Paige Marshall. The deleted scenes are more worthwhile than usual to the understanding of the film, often answering the question of "what happened to that part of the book?" A couple key omitted scenes with Anjelica Houston establish the toll Ida Mancini's half-baked anarchism had on her son Victor, and include some of the picture's finest acting, which in the optional commentary, director Clark Gregg can't seem to figure out why he cut, blaming it on being a first time director. More importantly, there are two versions of the missing "Rock House" stoning scene, the most glaring omission from the original story, which Palahniuk made Gregg promise he'd include. Palahniuk's frequent involvement is by far the greatest strength of the special features. His insights into cross-medium storytelling in "A Conversation with Clark Gregg and Chuck Palahniuk," as well as his explanation for Choke's inspiration, are invaluable. A "Making Of" feature relies too heavily on stock footage but a quality "Gag Reel," "Casting Session" special, an interview with Anjelica and an amusing feature commentary from Clark Gregg and Sam Rockwell make up for that slight oversight. (Revelation)