Category Archives: Psychological Thrillers
Directed by Brad Anderson
Written by Scott Kosar
The last time I watched The Machinist was maybe three years ago, give or take a month or two. I know that it was before I started blogging; I started blogging two years ago in late November. I also know that if I had watched it and tried to blog on it back then it would have been a completely chaotic review because I would have no idea what to say. The trouble with that last sentence is that now that I’ve re-watched the film I still don’t know what to say about it. How do I describe this movie without giving away plot points and littering it with spoilers? I can’t. I’m not going to. The Machinist is too good a movie than to suffer it the indignity of my giving away every detail and having you, reader, say “Oh, well there you go. No need to see it now.” I will tell you what I can and nothing more; this film deserves viewing, perhaps even multiple times.
Trevor Reznick (Christian Bale, American Psycho, and The Dark Knight Rises) hasn’t slept in over a year. His body is so thin that he calls to mind the photographs taken of the prisoners at Auschwitz during World War II. His eyes are haunted; his ribs and backbone stick out through skin that resembles tissue paper. He works as a machinist. He meets a mysterious fellow named Ivan (John Sharian, Saving Private Ryan), a jovial, grinning fat man in sunglasses and cowboy boots who seems to know more about Trevor than he knows about himself. The only friends Trevor seems to have is a waitress named Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, A Walk in the Clouds) and her son; and a prostitute, Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Road to Perdition, Fast Times at Ridgemont High), for whom he goes for sex and comfort. After a horrible accident at the shop where he works, Trevor’s life begins to take a downward spiral; as what we think is paranoia by proxy of his insomnia begins to sink in on him. Who is Ivan? Why is Trevor so drawn to Marie? Why does he find a Post-it note of a game of hangman on his refrigerator with the head and the body drawn in and the clue _ _ _ _ e r filled in? There’s not much more I can tell you than that.
The Machinist is directed by Brad Anderson. Anderson is also the director of Session 9, another film that requires repeat viewing and that suffers when third parties attempt to explain it away. Anderson seems to have an immense talent for making films that requires a bit of thought on the part of the audience. Unfortunately that talent is sorely lacking in the resumes of the majority of today’s filmmakers.
Christian Bale is one of the most dedicated and reliable actors working today. A person only has to look as far as The Machinist to understand that. Jennifer Jason Leigh is delicious in the role of Stevie, the call girl. I find it hard to believe that she’s over 50. John Sharian is all oily charm in the role of Ivan and Michael Ironside is good in a small role as a co-worker of Trevor’s.
Watch The Machinist. It’s too good film to pass up.
The producers of the film claim that Christian Bale dropped from about 173 pounds in weight down to about 110 pounds in weight to make this film. They also claim that Bale actually wanted to drop down to 100 pounds, but that they would not let him go below 120 out of fear that his health could be in too much danger if he did. His diet consisted of one can of tuna and an apple per day. His 63-pound weight loss is said to be a record for any actor for a movie role. He regained the weight in time for his role in Batman Begins.
Trevor’s landlady is named Mrs. Shrike. This is a reference to Nathanael West’s novella “Miss Lonelyhearts” in which the main character suffers a spiritual dilemma and is antagonized demonically by Shrike, his editor.
The time of 1:30 AM is significant throughout the movie. Trevor often notices something out of the ordinary at this time. During the 1 hour 30 minute mark in the movie, the major plot twist is revealed.
- The Machinist (2004) – 3/5 (allenwatcheseverything.wordpress.com)
- Christian Bale Biography Authors at Comic-Con San Diego on July 13, 2012 (prweb.com)
- Halloween Horror Movie Month: Session 9 (2001) (dtmmr.com)
- What’s The Reason For Matthew McConaughey’s Weight Loss? (contactmusic.com)
- Matthew Fox Covers ‘Men’s Health UK’ (justjared.com)
- AFM: Millenium Films Acquires ‘Eliza Graves’ (m.deadline.com)
- Stars Who Packed On The Pounds For Movie Roles (huffingtonpost.com)
- The 10 most shocking method acting performances (macleans.ca)
- Matthew McConaughey Has Lost 50 Pounds for His Role as Ron Woodroof in ‘The Dallas Buyers Club,’ Says Nutrition Expert (celebuzz.com)
- Christian Bale Bails On Ridley Scott-Produced Project Child 44 (contactmusic.com)
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Written by Andre Bijelic, Vincenzo Natali and Graeme Manson
One man (Julian Richings, “Wrong Turn“, “Supernatural”) is in search of an exit. He is in a cube shaped room with no furnishings; only an opening on the sides, floor and ceiling. He proceeds through an opening and is killed before he can take two steps.
Five people are in search of an exit. A cop (Maurice Dean Wint, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”), a student (Nicole De Boer, “The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy“), a doctor (Nicky Guadagni, David Cronenberg’s “Crash”), a nihilist (David Hewlett, “Splice”), and a fugitive (Wayne Robson, “Wrong Turn 2: Dead End“, “The Red Green Show”). They don’t know why they are there. They don’t know who put them there. They know that they must escape. Working together, they find a way around the traps; but only for a while. One down, four remain.
Four people in search of an exit meet one more in search of an exit. An autistic (Andrew Miller, “Last of the Dogmen”), he is innocent. Why is he here? What did he do to deserve this punishment? Questions, questions and more questions and not an answer to be found.
As a movie, “Cube” goes against the grain of what I believe makes a movie entertaining. I believe that a movie should at least try to answer some of the questions that arise from it and “Cube” doesn’t even try to do this. We know nothing about the characters except what they tell us and what their personalities reveal. We have no idea who built the cube or for what, only that one of the characters was responsible for the outer design. Was entrapment and death its initial purpose? “Cube” is truly a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
Yet, as I was watching “Cube” I found myself holding my breath at certain moments in the film. I began to care for the characters; some I liked and some I loathed. The charm of “Cube”, for lack of a better term, lies not in its refusal to provide easy answers; but in its refusal to provide any answers at all. At least that’s what I get out of it. You want anything deeper and more profound than that then you need to see a psychiatrist or something. This is the best that I can do.
All of the characters are named after prisons: Quentin (San Quentin, California), Holloway (England), Kazan (Russia), Rennes (France), Alderson (Alderson, West Virginia), Leaven and Worth (Leavenworth, Kansas).
Not only are the characters named after prisons but they reflect the prisons themselves. Example: Kazan (the mentally challenged character), in Russia is a disorganized prison. Rennes (the “mentor”) was a jail that pioneered many of today’s prison policies. Quentin (the detective) is known for its brutality. Holloway is a women’s prison, and Alderson is a prison where isolation is a common punishment. Leavenworth runs to a rigid set of rules (Leaven’s mathematics), and the new prison is corporately owned and built (Worth, hired as an architect).
Director Vincenzo Natali directed a follow-up short film in which we see what is outside the cube. Natali has made a solemn vow never to reveal what was outside the cube, and destroyed the video years ago.
- Lancome’s Destiny Cube (fabsugar.com)
- What do Rubik’s Cubes and car insurance have in common? – Confused.com (confused.com)
- Literary-Inspired Sweets – These Strange Halloween Treats Revive Salted Tears and Cubed Earwax (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- Percussa Audio Cubes (traktortips.com)
- Monster Cube (behance.net)
- Neuromancer Movie to be Directed by Vincenzo Natali of Splice and Cube Fame (izabael.com)
- Buckyball Cube (dustythane.wordpress.com)
- Cube World: Now With More Hang Gliders (And Cubes) (rockpapershotgun.com)
- Rubiks Cube for blind People (behance.net)
- Film Review: The Avengers (2012) (ddmboss.wordpress.com)
Directed by Rob Reiner
Screenplay by William Goldman
Based on the novel by Stephen King
“Misery” is a movie that I’ve watched only twice in the twenty-two years since its release. I don’t hate the movie; in fact I thought it was actually one of the best adaptations of a Stephen King novel at the time of its premiere and I still think that’s true. I believe that King played off of his own fears as a best-selling author in meeting his fans. There are people out there who are very much like Annie Wilkes; people who take everything that is written to heart and don’t take too well to drastic changes in their favorite characters. Some even go so far as to not understand the line between reality and fantasy.nuttymadam3575 and her “H0w could you do this, Kristen?” rant comes to mind. If you don’t believe me just check out her YouTube channel. Trust me, she’s not the only fan (atic) and “Twilight” is not the only movie with fans who have more crackers and less cheese.
But I digress a bit. Let’s get on with the story. Paul Sheldon (James Caan, “The Godfather”, and “Rollerball”) is a highly successful novelist of the Misery Chastain Victorian romance novels. You’ve seen the type of books; a heaving beauty of bodacious décolletage graces the cover and inside is a plot that is interchangeable with any of the other books in the series. Sheldon crashes his car, and himself, and is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates, “Primary Colors”, “About Schmidt”), a former nurse who takes Paul in to her home because she’s his ‘number one fan’. Every time Annie says this you can see that there are lot of big honking bats in that belfry of hers. She’s not so much a fan of Paul Sheldon as she is of his creation, Misery Chastain. In fact, when she discovers that Paul has killed Misery off; she goes completely over the edge. She wants him to bring Misery back and will stop at nothing to see that he does just that. Do you remember I said I’ve only seen this movie once? There’s a reason for that; I happen to like my ankles and do not wish to cause them harm, imaginary or otherwise. If you’ve seen the movie you know exactly what I’m talking about.
“Misery” succeeds as an adaptation for two reasons: strong performances from the leads and a strong adaptation of the novel from screenwriter William Goldman (“Marathon Man”). James Caan is excellent as Paul Sheldon. I’ve liked the guy ever since he was Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather” and he has never disappointed me since.
But it is Kathy Bates who is the centerpiece of this film. A relative unknown when the film was released, Bates made Annie Wilkes her own character and gives one of the most terrifying performances in the history of cinema. No character she has portrayed since then has held a candle to Annie Wilkes. The Oscar for Best Actress wasn’t given to her, she earned it.
I also must give mention of Rob Reiner and the admirable job he does behind the camera. “Misery” is a movie that could have easily slipped into parody and Reiner never allows that to happen. Also, Richard Farnsworth is good as Buster, the near-solitary voice of reason and sanity in the film.
Revisiting “Misery” brings a smile to my face. That seems weird to say, but it’s true.
- Misery – Stephen King (bridgetsbooks.wordpress.com)
- Kathy Bates recovering from double mastectomy (metronews.ca)
- Writing with Emotion: Horror vs. Terror (melodiesoflife.net)
- Stephen King’s 10 Greatest Novels (horrornovelreviews.com)
- Watch 12 Of Cinema’s Most Memorable Criminals (businessinsider.com)
- “Misery”: A Good Lesson for Writers (selfpubauthors.com)
- Book of the Week: A little review… Misery (quenchmydesires.wordpress.com)
- 11/22/63 by Stephen King (eatsleepreadlove.wordpress.com)
- Stephen King ‘The Thing at the Bottom of the Well’ Review (horrornovelreviews.com)
- Serato Artist Series Control Vinyl – R.I.P. Misery (serato.com)
MOTHER’S DAY-United States-2010
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Screenplay and Screen story by Scott Milam
I haven’t seen the original “Mother’s Day” from 1980, so I can’t use it in comparison to this, the 2010 remake. From what I do understand the original was more of a gore fest. Although there is gore in the remake it’s more of a psychological thriller. To be honest I must say that it was better than I anticipated.
Three brothers are involved in an (off-camera) robbery. One of them is shot and is taken back to the family home until the other two can decide what to do with him. The only catch is that it’s no longer their home. ‘Mother’ wasn’t able to get a message to them to tell them the house had been foreclosed on. The place had been purchased 2 months prior; so at the same time that the brothers burst through the door the new owners, Beth and Daniel (Jaime King and Frank Grillo) are throwing a house-warming party with a small group of their friends. I’ll give you a moment to imagine how that goes over with the three brothers. I’ll give you a hint: not too fucking good. Pretty soon ‘Mother’ (Rebecca De Mornay) arrives and the fun begins. By ‘fun’ I mean the psycho head games, beatings, burnings, shootings and all that jazz.
What impressed me the most about “Mother’s Day” is the way that it not only pits ‘Mother’ and her boys against the hostages; but it also puts the hostages against each other for reasons that become more evident as time passes. The expression ‘you are your own worst enemy’ reverberates quite heavily with this group.
The last time I saw Rebecca De Mornay was in “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle“. I honestly didn’t recognize her when I first saw the trailer for “Mother’s Day” and was pleasantly surprised at her performance. Her character is to me what Kathleen Turner’s role as Beverly Sutphin would have been if John Waters had decided to make “Serial Mom” a straight up horror film.
“Mother’s Day isn’t a perfect movie. It drags in the final act and I found myself checking the time quite a bit. All told, though, I would have to say that I recommend it for one of those evenings when you have nothing better to do. ‘Mother’ and her boys will certainly do their best to keep you captivated.
The first cut of the film was completed on December 11, 2009.
The story is loosely based on a true life home invasion, The Wichita Massacre, also known as The Wichita Horror, where brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr perpetrated a murder/assault/rape/robbery spree against a home owner and his guests in 2000. It remains one of the worst crimes in Kansas state history.
During the filming of a scene that involved guns, the actors were pulled over and held at gun point by the police after mistaking them for people that actually robbed a bank not too far from where they were filming. After realizing that it was all a big misunderstanding, the police and the film team all had a good laugh about it.
- Official Trailer for Horror Thriller MOTHER’S DAY (geektyrant.com)
- New Trailer for Darren Lynn Bousman’s Horror Remake MOTHER’S DAY (collider.com)
- The Cops Come Calling in Latest Clip from Mother’s Day (dreadcentral.com)
- Win a Signed Copy of Mother’s Day on Blu-ray! (dreadcentral.com)
- Fifth Mother’s Day Clip Shatters a Cardinal Rule (dreadcentral.com)
- AICN HORROR: Ambush Bug talks with Darren Lynn Bousman about MOTHER’S DAY, 11-11-11 and THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL! Plus reviews of all three!!! (aintitcool.com)
- Exclusive Interview: Darren Lynn Bousman Talks Remakes, Moral Ambiguity and More for Mother’s Day (dreadcentral.com)
- Mother’s Day Preview (scifitalk.com)
- AICN HORROR: Ambush Bug talks with Darren Lynn Bousman about MOTHER’S DAY, 11-11-11 and THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL! Plus reviews of all three!!! (aintitcool.com)
- Mother’s Day (2010) (journeysinclassicfilm.com)
- Mother’s Day 2012 or Cat in the Hat! And 7 Month Photos! (adventuresofthelopezs.wordpress.com)
- Celebrate Mother’s Day with a New Trailer (dreadcentral.com)
- Exclusive Interview: Patrick Flueger Talks Mother’s Day, The Tell-Tale Heart and More (dreadcentral.com)
- Swedish, French and Polish Mother’ Day soon. (glassbloggery.com)
- Official Artwork and Details for Darren Lynn Bousman’s Mother’s Day (dreadcentral.com)
BLACK SWAN-United States-2010
Watching this film is like watching an optical illusion. You look at it one way and it does something completely against what you have perceived that it should do. There is enough trickery, treachery and tragedy in this film to fill 100 films. Natalie Portman is Nina, a young dancer spiraling into insanity at the hands of her domineering mother, a woman who still sees her as 12 years old with stuffed animals and music boxes, and her forceful and controlling director, who sees her as another in a long line of ‘little princesses’ to seduce. Vincent Cassel based the characted of Thomas Leroy on the real life dance director George Balanchine, who was not above using control and sexuality to get what he wanted from his performers. Add Mila Kunis to the mix as Lily, a mysterious young dancer who may or may not be attempting to sabotage Nina in her role as the Swan Queen. I’ll be honest with you; there were moments in this film that I wasn’t truly sure what was going on. But then I realize that’s exactly what director Darren Aronofsky was striving to achieve. He wants us to feel the things that Nina is going through; to go through the changes that she goes through. Her character is chosen to play the Swan Queen, a role that requires that she play the innocent White Swan. But alas, the good in her must give way and she must embrace the evil that is the Black Swan. Again, I will say that there were times that I felt lost and that’s perfectly okay. I’m a guy and to be honest I’ve only been to the ballet one time in my life. The point I am trying to make here is that the film may be about ballet, but it sure as hell isn’t about ballet. What I see this film as being about is this one thing and that is how much of a fucking bitch is a person willing to be to get what the hell they want in life. But then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it really is about ballet. Hmm, maybe.
Meryl Streep was considered to play Erica, Nina’s mother.
The script took around ten years to make it to the screen.
The budget on this film was so tight that when star Natalie Portman had a rib dislocated during a lift and she called the producer for help. She was told that the budget was so low they had no medic. She stated that if they needed to cut items from the budget they could take away her trailer, instead of the medic. The next day her trailer was gone.
Portman’s body and dance double, Sarah Lane, came public shortly before the DVD/Blu-Ray release in March 2011 claiming that the film’s producers asked her not to conduct interviews until after the awards season so Natalie Portman would receive most of the dancing credibility. A promotional video released about the special effects used in the film was also altered so it didn’t include aspects of how Lane’s face was digitally replaced with Portman’s during complicated dance moves Lane was brought in to perform. Choreographer (and Portman’s fiancé) Benjamin Millepied counteracted Lane’s comments by stating, “It was so believable, it was fantastic, that beautiful movement quality. There are articles now talking about her dance double Sarah Lane that are making it sound like she did a lot of the work, but really she just did the footwork, the fouettés, and one diagonal phrase in the studio. Honestly, 85% of that movie is Natalie”. Director Darren Aronofsky also debunked Lane’s claims saying, “Here is the reality. I had my editor count shots. There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80% Natalie Portman.”
- Breaking News: Mila Kunis is the new face of Christian Dior! (myfashionlife.com)
- The Wachowskis Courting Natalie Portman to Star in Sci-Fi Movie JUPITER ASCENDING (collider.com)
- A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Makeup of Black Swan (bellasugar.com)
- Top 10 Actors We Stalk on IMDb (newser.com)
JOY RIDE-United States-2001
Directed by John Dahl
Written by Jay Tarver and J.J. Abrams
I hate it when I travel to pick up a hot chick and the next thing I know I got to pick up my good for nothing brother who eggs me on to talk on the CB radio (prehistoric internet) like a woman and get this clearly screwed up in the head trucker all hot and bothered. The next thing you know I got the cops knocking at my door making me come to the hospital so I can see what this psycho did to the guy in the motel room next door. Add to that the fact that this trucker, Rusty Nail, is hot on our trail playing a deadly game of cat and mouse. I guess I sounded a little too sexy for him.
I have a confession to make. That didn’t really happen to me. It’s from a movie called Joy Ride and it stars Paul Walker and Steve Zahn as Lewis and Fuller Thomas. It also stars a twelve year old boy named Leelee Sobieski as Lewis’ love interest that he’s not getting any from. Okay, so she doesn’t actually look like a twelve year old boy. I take that back. I’m in a mean mood today. The trucker, Rusty Nail, is actually never seen, a la’ Spielberg’s Duel, but if you listen really hard and think of the Silence of the Lambs you’ll know who’s doing the voice. Here’s a clue: “It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told.”
This is actually one of my favorite Paul Walker films. No, wait, I take that back, too. It’s my only favorite Paul Walker movie. The film is skillfully directed by John Dahl (The Last Seduction, Red Rock West), and there are actually a few genuinely creepy moments. My biggest complaint is the acting. Paul Walker needs to spit before he talks or something because he is just hard to understand. Steve Zahn does a decent job as Fuller, even if he does mug a bit too much. Don’t even get me started on Sobieski. I can sum up her talent, or lack thereof, in two words: no personality.
So, the next time you’re traveling down a lonely highway, don’t use the CB radio. There’s no telling what the guy on the other end will make you do.
Three different versions of the ending were shot.