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The Machinist


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#1 Jason Bortz

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Posted 31 May 2004 - 10:23 PM

Teaser Trailer.

WARNING: THIS TRAILER CONTAINS BRIEF NUDITY AND STRONG LANGUAGE.

Christian Bale has outdone himself, losing 60 lbs for the role--1/3 of his body weight--and turning in what looks to be yet another intricate and psychologically complex performance...

The piece looks intriguing, to say the least--and hey, Michael Ironside AND Jennifer Jason Leigh!!!


Actor dedication has, of course, always astounded me. I've gained and lost in the area of 15 lbs at a time for a role (gaining weight is much easier) but this type of body alteration just amazes me.

What do you think--too far?

Personally, hey--it's the role. But I'd like to hear others' thoughts on it--cuz I know a few people who say "Good Lord, WHY would anyone do that to themselves..."



------

Edited by Jason Bortz, 31 May 2004 - 10:24 PM.


#2 John Drew

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Posted 31 May 2004 - 11:40 PM

I guess that means you got my e-mail, Jason.

I can only hope that this weight loss was constantly monitored by a physician. Even then, there are long range risks that may be costly. That was one of Dennis Quaid's constant worries when he lost the weight for his role as Doc Holliday in Wyatt Earp, but he didn't come close to losing a third of his body weight. I only hope the role was worth the effort for Bale.

#3 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 03:48 AM

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

I hadn't seen the trailer, so I was totally unprepared for just how skeletal Bale had made himself for this film -- and just to drive the point home, there is a single flashback shot in which we see him at his normal level of body fat. Seeing Bale in bed with Jennifer Jason Leigh (who plays yet another hooker), one cannot help but think that the rather modestly proportioned actress looks darn near voluptuous next to this guy. And when Leigh (and several other characters) express concern that Bale is too thin for his own good, you find yourself in vigorous agreement with them. This film is almost, I dunno, eating-disorder porn or something.

At least one guy asks Bale if he is on drugs -- he does look like a junkie in the extreme -- but he isn't. He tells Leigh at one point that he has not slept for an entire year, and I guess we're supposed to think that the sheer lack of rest -- i.e., the fact that his body requires fully-awake levels of energy 24 hours a day -- is supposed to account for how incredibly emaciated he looks. (Anyone here know human physiology well enough to know if this is plausible?)

Exactly what happened one year ago to make him such an insomniac is, of course, not spelled out right away -- there has to be some mystery -- but we ARE tipped off pretty early to the fact that Bale is hallucinating some things. (This is suggested both by the fact that Bale's bosses don't recognize the name of the new employee that he says works there -- an employee who is never seen talking to anyone but Bale -- and also by the Roque Banos score, which is reminiscent of Bernard Hermann's music for Psycho and other Hitchcock flicks.) When Bale finally realizes that these things are hallucinations, the point is NOT to pull the rug out from under the audience, a la Fight Club or something -- rather, because we knew all along that SOMEthing was amiss, the revelations at the end of the film do not shock or unnerve us the way so many films have tried to do in recent years (though they do shock and unnerve the character), but rather, they clarify and explain and bring the many threads of the film together into a united whole.

The film also has some nicely macabre bits of humour. When Bale confronts one character early on and says, "The guys at work don't even think you exist," the person replies, "THAT'S why I can't get a raise." And when Bale says to Leigh, "You know so little about me. What if I turn into a werewolf or something?" she replies, with a sly grin, "I'll buy you a flea collar."

So, overall, yeah, I liked the movie. Really unsettling, but in a good way, I think.

Interesting trivia sidebar: This is at least the third film (following Total Recall and Starship Troopers) in which Michael Ironside plays an amputee. I trust HE didn't have to commit himself to his role in the extreme way that Bale commited himself to his!

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 25 September 2004 - 03:50 AM.


#4 Persona

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 12:46 AM

CIFF. Friday October 8. 11:30 pm. What a perfect, late-night, Friday night film. I am there.

-s.

#5 twitch

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 10:39 AM

Four of us Twitch people saw this at the Toronto Film Festival and were all a little underwhelmed. I liked it a bit better than Opus but still found the central concepts pretty derivative. Well made and well acted but we all knew exactly where it was going well before it got there ...

#6 opus

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 10:40 AM

Here's my review. Like Twitch said, I found this film fairly underwhelming. Bale is great as always, and I did like some of the macabre humor, but I just found myself thinking how cliched and predictable it was all becoming. Oftentimes, I found the rabbit trails and red herrings thrown at the audience far more interesting - and believable - than the central premise once it was all spelled out.

I think another reason for my lukewarm reaction was that I saw it as part of TIFF's Midnight Madness program, which does lend a certain level expectation to a film (i.e. that it's outrageous, mind-blowing, freakish, etc.). In that regard, The Machinist did not a good Midnight Madness film make.

Interestingly enough, one other movie I caught at TIFF dealt with very similar subject matter, but in a completely different and far more contemplative (and wierder) manner - After The Day Before.

Edited by opus, 28 September 2004 - 10:41 AM.


#7 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 11:07 AM

twitch wrote:
: Well made and well acted but we all knew exactly where it was going well before
: it got there ...

Care to flesh this out? Like I say in my comments above, I liked the fact that the movie let us know from the beginning that the guy was having hallucinations etc. -- having a sense of where it was all going was kind of the point -- but I can't say I could have predicted EXACTLY how the truth would turn out. (Granted, the bit with the carpet, which seemed so ominous at the start of the film, kinda went nowhere once we returned to that scene near the end, but that wasn't too big a deal for me.)

#8 twitch

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 02:18 PM

Okay ... here comes something rather spoilerific ... big ol' spoiler ... largest spoiler possible, actually ...

spoilers1.gif

I just clued in fairly early that he was pursuing himself. And once the film breaks down to 'man with split personality brought on by extended bought of insomnia; split sides at war with each other' I was just like, "Oh. It's Fight Club." But it's just not as good as Fight Club, not as compelling, and I don't think it has the same depth of subtext. It's still fairly well made and well put together, but it suffered a lot by comparison.

#9 run

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Posted 03 October 2004 - 11:20 PM

http://www.christian.../empire2004.htm

1st time watching the trailer. On My.

I heard this was before Bateman...oops, I mean Batman. And he gained all the weight back and looks all buff for the role. Sick. Just sick.

I'm heading to the gym.

#10 John Drew

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 10:41 AM

nosmile.gif

QUOTE (IMDb)
Bale in Trouble As He Piles on Weight

American Psycho star Christian Bale was so determined to beef up to play Batman just six weeks after playing an emaciated machine operator in The Machinist he made himself sick by gorging on pizza and ice-cream. The actor lost a third of his body weight for The Machinist and only had a few weeks to bulk up to impress producers as a potential Caped Crusader in Batman Begins. He recalls, "It was only about six weeks between finishing The Machinist and doing the screen test for Batman Begins. The director, Christopher Nolan, asked me to try and put on as much weight as I could because he would find it very difficult to convince the studio to cast me if I was a beanpole. In doing so I overdid it because I was enjoying gorging. I was ignoring advice about taking it slowly because my stomach had shrunk, and I should just go with soups. I was straight into pizza and ice-cream and eating five meals in a sitting. My stomach expanded really quickly. I got very sick during that time but I enjoyed getting sick. I didn't mind it at all. In that short amount of time I did actually go from 121 (pounds) right back up to 180 (pounds) which is way too fast so that resulted in some doctor visits to get things sorted out."



#11 Persona

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 10:52 AM

I was very excited to see this on Friday, October 8 at 11:30 pm. It sold out and stuffed to capacity. I cried. I will see it with the commoners.

-s.

#12 Jason Bortz

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 11:50 AM

121. He was at 121 lbs. and 6'2" tall.

Wow.

Edited by Jason Bortz, 20 October 2004 - 12:14 PM.


#13 Darrel Manson

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Posted 13 November 2004 - 09:46 PM

Got there today. Yeah, it's easy to see what is going on, but there is still the fun of figuring out why.

The skeletal Bale added to the creepiness of the movie. I've seen various reviews that focus on the 65# weight loss, now I see why. The mood really evokes a certain suspence, aided by the blue lighting, and the 50ish suspence music (complete with Theremin - but used a bit more subtly than in the 50s/60s.)

#14 Darrel Manson

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Posted 19 November 2004 - 10:34 PM

Did anybody notice the use of red in the film? In the midst of all the blue lighting, there is a prominent place for red (a la Sixth Sense). I'd like to give this another look to pay particular attention to the use of red in the film. (Maybe this will alert someone who's going to keep this in mind when they see it.)

#15 Persona

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 02:43 AM

spoilers1.gif

Good tip, Darrel. Things that were red: the title of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, which Trevor was seen reading and the film alluded to more than once; Ivan's car; the sign for the funpark ride, "Route 666"; a stop light; a Stop sign; the blood leaking out from the freezer. It also occurred to me that Ivan, when supposedly killed via the jugular slashed open, bled all over the bathroom floor, his blood was not depicted as red as the other things listed, rather, Ivan's blood was depicted in the same cold color scheme as the rest of the film.

Going over the above list it looks to me like things that offer travel, or directions for travelling, or perhaps the essence of escape, are highlighted in red through the course of the story. Could just be my reading but I like it.

The comparisons to Fight Club are unfair. This is a morality play in which we discover a simple truth about living a life of shame, and the lengths guilt can plummet one into. The emaciated character with blood on his hands is a supreme example of a life wracked with fear -- fear of his discovery, fear of his past action, fear of even remembering exactly what it was that started this mess. We respond to him even before we know "the why" of his condition because we've all been there in one way or another before. We see the character and assume something is wrong, because indeed, there is a similar fusion in all of us, though at times we force our darker side to invisibility. It might be there and it might wrack us with guilt, but as long as no one else sees, everything is all right.

It just seems to be a more noble truth than Fight Club, much as I love it, was.

-s.

#16 Crow

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Posted 14 December 2004 - 01:28 PM

I was very impressed by the look and feel of the film. There was a real sense of foreboding that drew you in to the haunted world of Christian Bale's character. His freakishly thin physique was more of an indicator of his extreme torment than lighting or music could ever provide, and it made me uncomfortable watching him. His emaciation was a chilling manifestation of the "stress" he was experiencing, how it ate at him literally as well as figuratively.

This does make one wonder if this level of self-torture is really worth it for either the actor or the viewer. Maybe Christian Bale and James Caviezel can compare notes.

After the film, I was talking to someone who worked at the theater at which the film was shown. He mentioned that the movie wasn't drawing particularly well in other markets. I wonder if the emaciated figure of Christian Bale in the trailer was too much of a turn off for people?

#17 benjaminandrew

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Posted 12 July 2005 - 07:14 PM

QUOTE(stef @ Nov 26 2004, 03:43 AM)
The comparisons to Fight Club are unfair.  This is a morality play in which we discover a simple truth about living a life of shame, and the lengths guilt can plummet one into.  The emaciated character with blood on his hands is a supreme example of a life wracked with fear -- fear of his discovery, fear of his past action, fear of even remembering exactly what it was that started this mess.  We respond to him even before we know "the why" of his condition because we've all been there in one way or another before.  We see the character and assume something is wrong, because indeed, there is a similar fusion in all of us, though at times we force our darker side to invisibility.  It might be there and it might wrack us with guilt, but as long as no one else sees, everything is all right.

It just seems to be a more noble truth than Fight Club, much as I love it, was.

-s.

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THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

I just can't understand why this film didn't get more 'buzz' (especially amongst people of faith and intellectual whimsy). I really liked it and have been thinking about it and trying to decipher the film's subtleties for a couple of days now.

I also was thinking that it ends-up being quite the 'morality play' and has the ring of a Flannery O'Connor or a certain Edgar Allen Poe story. Throughout my DVD-viewing of the film a couple of days ago, I was thinking "Memento" meets "The Tell-Tale Heart"; that's not a perfect comparison, but it'll do for now.

I personally didn't find it as obvious as apparently many others did, but even if I had, it looked great and had a rare and valuable message compared to most films I see.

Anyway, kudos for your thoughts about the film. Your critique was pretty much dead-on as far as I'm concerned.

-Benjamin Andrew



#18 Cunningham

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 11:05 PM

I just watched and blogged this film, and I have an idea that I wanted to bounce off some of you all.

SPOILERS GALORE!!!!

My thought is that this movie has a mystical element that the reviews I've seen have overlooked. The movie isn't just about a soul tormented by guilt, but is a man who's given a second chance on life to allow for confession.

See, I think that Trevor goes over the cliff and dies in the last scene when the screen fades to light. Here's my support:
1. The cop says that the red sports car had been totalled.
2. That location is important. This is the road that Ivan led him on when he ran out of gas.
3. Two duplicate comments: "if you were any thinner you wouldn't exist."
4. The choice of heaven and hell appears 3 times, and he finally chooses heaven on the third appearance, upon which the film ends.

Let me take a sec to elaborate on (4). When Trevor takes Nicholas on Route 666, there's a point where the ride-road splits, with heaven on the right and hell on the left. Though they turn the wheel towards heaven, the ride forces them into hell, where Nicholas has his seizure. Later, when Trevor is running from the cops after finding out the red sports car is his, he's underground and is confronted with two tunnels: left is darkness and right is light. He goes left. Finally, in the last bit of the film he's driving down the highway and is confronted with The Airport (continuing to run from his guilt/hell) to the left, and Downtown (confession/heaven) to the right.

I'm not proposing that he's a ghost or anything, or even that the story takes place in actual space/time. It's more like a moment plays out at his death where he experiences the years of guilt that his crime owes him, and finally is driven to confession (and forgiveness) before his final doom.

So. Am I nuts?

#19 MichaelRay

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 10:40 AM

spoilers1.gif
QUOTE(solishu @ Aug 14 2005, 11:05 PM)
4.  The choice of heaven and hell appears 3 times, and he finally chooses heaven on the third appearance, upon which the film ends.

Let me take a sec to elaborate on (4).  When Trevor takes Nicholas on Route 666, there's a point where the ride-road splits, with heaven on the right and hell on the left.  Though they turn the wheel towards heaven, the ride forces them into hell, where Nicholas has his seizure.  Later, when Trevor is running from the cops after finding out the red sports car is his, he's underground and is confronted with two tunnels: left is darkness and right is light.  He goes left.  Finally, in the last bit of the film he's driving down the highway and is confronted with The Airport (continuing to run from his guilt/hell) to the left, and Downtown (confession/heaven) to the right. 

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I also noticed these three instances but didn't put them together until reading this. I would take it more literal in that sense that Trevor has the option to continue running and each time he chooses "hell" he essentially descends further into it.

The first time he doesn't have a choice because it's a replay in his mind, he doesn't literally go to the park. I took this as the past event, he had been in the car, hit the child, and chose hell by running. He couldn't change this if he wanted to, hence the inability to change the direction of the car in the ride.

The second time he has a choice in the present. He was running through a sewer and this time has the power to choose and he still took the dark path and that's what the bulk of the movie is about, his continual denial and insanity because of the darkness. It's also important to note that he's not in a car at this point, he's running away from the cops.

The third time is his future. Given where he's been and what he's seen he can choose to live the rest of his life in this hell or he can finally choose the way of repentance and peace. He's back in the car and he chooses to turn himself in. Even though he's in prison he finally gets to sleep.

I also found it interesting that he continually goes to the airport for coffee even though it's out of the way. I haven't quite figured out the significance of this but it seems important as the final option is to return to the airport or turn himself in.

Edited by MichaelRay, 15 August 2005 - 10:42 AM.


#20 finnegan

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 01:35 AM

QUOTE(twitch @ Sep 28 2004, 11:39 AM)
...we all knew exactly where it was going well before it got there ...

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I object to this sort of knee-jerk criticism of "twist films" like this. I thought this was a wonderful little film and I too knew where the plot was going long before the reveal.

Spoilers (duh)

It seems crystal clear to me that the twist is not the point of this movie. This is a guilt story on par with "Crime and Punishment" (film and literature, apples and oranges, I know, but hear me out).

First of all, it's painfully obvious to even the most oblivious viewer that Ivan is a figment of Trevor's imagination. The filmmakers made no attempt whatsoever to lend any credibility to Trevor's sanity. If they had wanted to, Trevor wouldn't have said at the beginning of the film, "I haven't slept in a year." I know that if I don't sleep for two days, I start to see things. That's not a clue, that's character exposition: From frame one we all know that Trevor is nucking futs.

The true test to see if a twist film is valid is this: If you remove the twist, is there still a point to the story? Are the characters still interesting? Is there still a moral punchline? My answers to those questions regarding The Machinist are yes, yes, and yes. If we knew at the onset of the film that Trevor had killed that little boy, it would still be compelling to watch him deteriorate with guilt over the period of a year and lose it.

The are several such "twist films" that I can think of where the reveal is not the point of the movie. In The Sixth Sense, take the twist away and you still have a compelling story about a ghost helping a little boy use his supernatural abilities for good, rather than living in fear all the time. In Eternal Sunshine, for me, the point of the story is not the loop, but the fact that Joel and Clementine accept each other in the end, despite all their crazy eccentricities and foibles.

I can think of others, but it's 2:30am and I really must get some sleep before I end up seeing things.