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)
Wow, I’ve done ten editions of “What’s Their Best Film?” already. In that time I have received great response from some of my regular and my non-regular commentators. I’m sure that a lot of you have voiced your opinion of not what you thought a particular filmmaker’s best movie was; but listed your favorite film from said director instead. Hey, that’s cool; because in order to accurately give an opinion of a director’s best movie you would have had to have seen every film in their catalog. I love movies, but I will not and cannot watch movies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are more important things such as work, supporting a family and figuring out ways to get Honey Boo Boo off the air. Damn what an annoying kid and her equally annoying mother!
So why am I babbling on and on? I shall tell you. In the last ten editions of “WTBF?” it has been you, dear reader, who has voiced your humble opinion. Now it’s my turn to give you my opinion. I will list each director below and I will tell what I think is their best movie or my favorite movie; whatever you want to call it.
Is it any surprise that I’m going with Goodfellas for this one? In my opinion it’s the greatest gangster flick ever made.
Runner-up: Taxi Driver
Most of what Bay puts out is complete shit; but if I had to choose a movie of his to watch I’d go with Armageddon . At least it got the Criterion Collection treatment.
Psycho. It’s my favorite “Hitch” film and in my humble opinion it is also his best. The shower scene alone is worth the price of admission.
Runner-up: Rear Window
Two words: Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2, Okay, so that’s six words. That’s because these movies rock so hard they blow up two words and turn them into six!
Runner-up: Pulp Fiction
I loved Magnolia and watch it at least three times every year. There are just so many great performances in this film from Julianne Moore to John C. Reilly. Tom Cruise was robbed of an Oscar for his role as informercial sex guru Frank ‘T.J.’ Mackey.
Runner-up: Boogie Nights
Do you honestly think I would choose anything other than The Thing?
Jeff Goldblum had the role of a lifetime in Cronenberg’s vision of the George Langelaan short story The Fly. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Runner-up: The Dead Zone
BRIAN DE PALMA
Some might say Carrie, some might say Scarface; I’m going with Blow Out as De Palma’s best. Travolta’s performance is one of the key reasons Tarantino wanted him for Pulp Fiction.
Runner-up: Carrie or Scarface (tie)
I loved Short Cuts the first time I saw it and every time after that. Fantastic ensemble acting.
Not only is Sin City Rodriguez’ best film; but it is also the single most faithful adaptation of a graphic novel from page to screen that I have ever seen in my entire life. It’s also the movie that once again made a contender out of Mickey Rourke.
Runner-up: From Dusk ’til Dawn
Unforgiven is one of the greatest westerns ever made. It was directed by Clint Eastwood; who in turn learned a few tricks from one of the greatest filmmakers, Sergio Leone.
Runner-up: Million Dollar Baby or Mystic River (tie)
This is cheating, but I’m going with the entire Evil Dead trilogy for this one. Who needs Spider-man when you’ve got Ash? Bruce Campbell rocks!!
Runner-up: Spider-man 2
To be honest, I’ve only seen three Argento films: Suspiria, Mother of Tears and Opera. Of the three of those I suppose my choice for his best would be Suspiria. What a creepy and atmospheric film.
I have to go with The Wrestler on this one. I’ve been a fan of the squared circle for quite a long time and it’s the first film to take the subject matter seriously. Mickey Rourke was amazing as Randy “The Ram” Robinson.
Runner-up: Black Swan
I could be a complete asshole and go totally against the popular choice of A Nightmare on Elm Street as Craven’s best; but that would just be stupid. He gave us Freddy Fucking Krueger with this one, for crying out loud!
Runner-up: The Last House on the Left or Scream (tie)
Just as Craven brought usFreddy Krueger with his greatest film A Nightmare on Elm Street; so did Tobe Hooper bring us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Leatherface 10 years prior. Watch this movie and you’ll think twice about picking up hitchhikers and eating Texas Bar-B-Que.
It may seem like a strange choice, but I pick his remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes over High Tension (aka Haute Tension aka Switchblade Romance) as Aja’s best film. It’s close though; both movies are fucking brutal.
Runner-up: High Tension
Some people seem to love Rob Zombie’s films and other people seem to hate his films and his fucking guts. There’s no middle ground. What’s his best film? That’s easy: The Devil’s Rejects.
What have I said before? The Howling is the greatest werewolf movie ever made; so the choice here is a no-brainer.
Re-animator, of course. Those of you who disagree can get a job in a sideshow. This film brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘giving head.’
Runner-up: From Beyond
GUILLERMO DEL TORO
I haven’t seen everything by Del Toro, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Devil’s Backbone. It was an amazing little ghost story.
There is no question that Night of the Living Dead is Romero’s greatest film; the trouble is that Dawn of the Dead is every bit as awesome. Folks, we have a tie! Zombies everywhere have Uncle George to thank for their popularity.
Runner-up: Day of the Dead
I loved Session 9 and The Machinist on equal terms; but if I had to choose I’d have to go with the latter based simply on the strength of the performance from Christian Bale. The Machinist is a brilliant film about guilt and how it can affect us so deeply.
Runner-up: Session 9
The Exorcist. Nothing else need be said.
Runner-up: The French Connection
I choose May as McKee’s best for one simple reason: the deliciously disturbing performance from Angela Bettis. She deserved an Oscar for that movie.
Runner-up: The Woman
It’s going to take Sanchez a long time before he gets out from under the shadow of The Blair Witch Project. He’s been making heavy strides with films like Altered and Lovely Molly. Still, it is the witch who holds sway over all.
I’ve only seen one Bava film and that is Black Sunday. I do want to see more.
The same goes for Lucio Fulci and Zombie. I know, I know I need to watch more Fulci and Bava.
The man who gave us The Man with No Name. It’s hard to pick one great Leone film. A Fistful of Dollars? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? Once Upon a Time in the West? Once Upon a Time in America? Nope, I just can’t do it.
There you go; my choices. Some are your choices as well and some are not. Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one and they make the world go ’round.
- Criterion Collection Coming to Hulu Plus (savings.com)
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- RU? Instant Reaction Review Podcast Ep. 33 – Wreck-It Ralph And Giveaway (areyouscreening.com)
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THE PRESTIGE-United States/United Kingdom-2006
Note: For reasons known only to WordPress, I cannot list the actor’s name below the photos as I normally do. Hopefully this will soon be resolved; but until then here are the actors’ names and the names of the characters that they portray listed below.
Christian Bale as Alfred Borden
Michael Caine as Cutter
Scarlett Johansson as Olivia Wenscombe
Piper Perabo as Julia McCullough
Andy Serkis as Alley
Rebecca Hall as Sarah Borden
David Bowie as Nikola Tesla
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Based on the novel by Christopher Priest
I’m going to be honest with you; I had no intention of even reviewing this movie. I was just going to sit back, munch on popcorn and draw from the well known as Natural Light and just enjoy this movie for what it is, a damn good movie. But then that all too familiar bug bit me on my ass; and I began to think about the film in terms of the subject of my next post. So, here I am once again. I think the reason I feel so compelled to review this is that it is such a compelling film to begin with. This may sound strange, but The Prestige made me think of the Spy vs. Spy stories that were so prominently featured in each and every issue of Mad magazine. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are rival magicians, once friends, but now bitter enemies after a tragic accident occurs during an illusion that they’re assisting with. After that, their lives become a maze of deception and sabotage as each tries to ruin the others life and career. Ah, but there is much more. The tagline of this film is “Are you watching closely?”, and though not as intricately woven as his earlier film, Memento, The Prestige is still a film that one can easily see requires repeated viewing. I followed along with the plot of the film fairly well, but I still found myself scratching my head when it was over. At the beginning, Michael Caine narrates about the three components of a successful magic trick. They are The Pledge, in which the magician shows us something ordinary; The Turn, in which the magician makes the ordinary ‘extraordinary’; but make something disappear and you have to bring it back. That final component is known as the Prestige. Watching the film, from start to finish, I realized that the entire story was just that: Pledge, Turn, and Prestige.
Christopher Nolan is fast becoming one of my favorite directors. His work has become consistent with that of an intriguing story with meticulous attention to detail and a plot that reaches far beyond what we see the first time we watch. With that last statement said I can assure you that The Prestige is no exception.
- Dark Knight/Prestige trailer mashup explains Nolan’s three-movie magic trick [Video] (io9.com)
- THE PRESTIGE-style Trailer for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Is Surprisingly Cool (collider.com)
- ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Cinematographer To Make His Directorial Debut (screenrant.com)
- THE DARK KNIGHT RISES – Cool Promo Image of Batman (geektyrant.com)
- ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Concept Artist Says Christopher Nolan Has Made It ‘A War Film’ (screencrave.com)
- Christopher Nolan’s Cinematographer Wally Pfister to Direct First Feature (slashfilm.com)