Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Machinist. B+

Before Christian Bale starred as Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's re-creation of Batman, he was actually an actor. While he still chooses good roles, I have to think his pre-stardom days are more of an indication of what sort of a performer he really is. I guess venturesome would be a fitting word to describe him. Just see The Machinist and you'll see this is someone who takes acting seriously. Not only did he drop over 60 pounds to give his physique an almost phantasmal look, but he plays a character who's emotions are constantly shifting-always a difficult task for an actor to pull off. The movie is directed by Brad Anderson. Not only is he a filmmaker I greatly admire, but I think he's one of the closest things we have to a modern Hitchcock. If his 2008 film Transsiberian played like Strangers o a Train/The Lady Vanishes, then The Machinist would probably fit in with Psycho. Anderson weaves a creepy tale that is deeply psychological and suspenseful, but also surprisingly personal in the way it connects us to the characters. Bale's character, whose physical state alone indicates he has problems, shows a human side in his relationship with a friendly waitress. He also allows us to relate to him slightly by trying to figure out strange things that are happening in his life-as anyone naturally would. The Machinist came out less than a year before Batman Begins, and I'm afraid it was somewhat overlooked due to the hype around that film. But really I think it might be the best work Bale's ever done-and definitely the most courageous. And overall I think the best thing about it was the way it wrapped up its story. That there will be a twist at the end is pretty discernible early on, but the way the twist plays out is what's really both surprising and amazing. I loved the way it shows us the way things really are and the way things throughout the movie connect to the main character's old life. And really the movie then becomes a tragedy. And also quite real.

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