Outstreched arm

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Ex Machinist

Brad Anderson's The Machinist is a very pleasant surprise, in that I never got to see it in the theater nor did any of my friends (suck it, AMC), so the hype I was exposed to was marginal. Now that I think about it, I probably shouldn't use the word "pleasant" in connection with this movie; in case you missed it, Christian Bale went down to 120 skeletal lb to play Trevor Reznik, an insomniac whose troubles never seem to end. On a side note, Bale then had only 3 months to get up to Batman weight - I eagerly await this week the results of this under Nolan's direction.

Reznik is a machinist (duh), as in, one who operates heavy and extremely dangerous machinery. I could relate to the shop scenes in the movie as I've worked in a company just like that, running saws and mills - it's dirty, scary, and pays crap. After a few months, despite sticking to OSHA's safety rules (which came in a Tolstoy-sized book), I had acquired enough bruises, cuts, scrapes, and other skin damage to dislike the environment severely.

Anyway, back to the movie. Anderson had Bale lose the weight for a reason, so you'll get to see lots of his skin-over-bone figure, and it doesn't get much better when he's wearing clothing either. As his girlfriend points out, "I don't have any size 26 pants" - he looks like a wire hanger. Ah, the girlfriend - she's played by a lovable Jennifer Jason Leigh, and I would nominate the scene of her and Bale in bed together - bare nipples on both and all - for David Edelstein's Unreconcilable Actors in The Same Scene contest if the disturbing juxtaposition here wasn't inentional.

Overall, I thought the movie was disturbing in the right places, and not entirely predictable, though I actually could have done without the somewhat literal ending. Remember, great art invites you to come in and play; it doesn't just serve you its point on a plate, cooked and predigested. This may be where art and entertainment part, though it's hard to see anything in this generally bleak movie as entertainment. So how about it, non-Hollywood: make it more difficult. We've been primed enough by injections of headiness into popular entertainment; we can take it.

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