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Worth A Look: 34.31%
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8 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Machinist, The
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by Erik Childress

"More Than Just One Secret On Display Here"
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Colleagues of mine have been telling me about Brad Anderson’s work for years. His Session 9 about five asbestos workers cleaning up a haunted mental hospital gains notoriety with each DVD rental and Happy Accidents is supposedly one of the great overlooked gems in the sci-fi romantic comedy genre (if such one exists.) After seeing his latest work at Sundance, I was fully prepared to have a little Anderson marathon when I got home. And if they’re as good as The Machinist, then I might be on to finally discovering one of the best kept secrets in cinema.

In The Machinist Christian Bale plays, well, a machinist. As the film opens he’s apparently already unloaded one body into the ocean and it’s safe to assume hasn’t just stolen the flashlight of the man who caught him in the act. There’s something else off about Trevor Reznik though. His nasty bruises are just a gateway to the discovery that this man hasn’t slept in over a year.

Flashback some weeks earlier. Trevor wastes his time away at his job where he’s been increasingly self-isolated from his co-workers (including Michael Ironside, one of filmgeeks’ most beloved character actors) and with his favorite call girl, Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who would consider giving up the life to be with her favorite client. The other woman in Trevor’s life is Marie (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon), a waitress at the airport coffee shop. She can’t understand why this man would drive so out of his way for coffee & pie, but she humors his polite conversation and appreciates his generous tips.

Trevor’s sleep depravity is perhaps having some repercussions on his psyche though. He keeps seeing a hulking bald man named Ivan (John Sharian) that talks with him, yet nobody else seems to think he exists. He’s also puzzled by the game of Hangman that keeps showing up on his refrigerator. Is someone playing a game with him or is this his own way of reminding himself of something other than buying bleach to wash his hands with?

Immediately, one is drawn to Bale’s physical transformation which likens him to the victim of Sloth in Seven. It’s hard to put an exact guesstimate on how much Bale lost for the role (even while his character keeps notepads of his declining scale as if he were in a Stephen King novel) but what are eyes grasp is at first disturbing and then accepted as the work of an undeniably dedicated actor. Everyone lurching onto Charlize Theron’s “give me an Oscar” makeup job in Monster should save their appreciation for Bale, who is just doing it for the role, not for acclaim.

The Machinist is a fractured puzzle of a film that continually toys with our expectations, yet never lets us see its entire hand until Anderson wants us to. Most films that deal with psychological mysteries feel the need to always shock the audience or to steer us down the wrong path before revealing that everything we’ve been told is a lie. The Machinist certainly deals with misdirection, but Anderson and writer Scott Kosar have the grace and patience to let the audience pick up the pieces with a mélange of visual clues that for once all come together in the final moments. The Machinist is a challenging, haunting piece of entertainment that rewards an audience who likens thinking to a moviegoing privilege. So tell your friends. The Machinist and Brad Anderson deserve to be more than just a secret.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8511&reviewer=198
originally posted: 01/25/04 14:03:48
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/19/12 posttoastee Bale gives an impressive performance. Good stuff. 4 stars
12/03/08 Crabes Dostoïevsky would have been so proud of this powerful film ! 5 stars
9/29/08 L. Gary Captivating moroseness with a pedestrian ending. Bale shined througout. 4 stars
8/27/08 Alex Thorne A remarkable portrayal of the fragility of human sanity.Should have been oscar nominated 5 stars
5/02/07 Tracey Chambers anything with christian bale is worth a look 4 stars
4/13/07 cindy this is one good fucking movie. I can't believe how much weight he lost for this movie 5 stars
12/28/06 David Pollastrini boring, dull, etc. 2 stars
12/15/06 Minotaur AWESOME! I havent been able to get it out of my head for a week. 5 stars
9/23/06 teofisto great film, lost a lot of weight... true actor 4 stars
9/14/06 Beth Plaxco I can't believe the physical changes to make "the Machinist" after watcing "American "psych 5 stars
8/25/06 james burke Even if you see it coming it's still a fascinating film 5 stars
5/08/06 andy outstanding performances....thmbs up for bale..excellent progression of a wicked tale 4 stars
2/15/06 Carlos Idelone Dream-like like the Carnival of Souls 4 stars
1/08/06 Frenzy Just great 5 stars
12/02/05 sex trade worker christian bale is gorgeous 5 stars
11/19/05 Bestit 'Just an incredible film, no matter how you look at it...one of the best in years. 5 stars
10/12/05 eddiejohns I almost didn't recognize Mr. Bale. He's wonderful and the movie is fantastic! 5 stars
9/30/05 ShabbaRanks Hands down the best film of the year! Amazing!!! 5 stars
9/29/05 Lori Excellent, gripping, unnerving, totally had me in its spell 5 stars
9/15/05 del malliaros this movie is fucking awesome and at the end christian bale is gorgeous 5 stars
9/05/05 Dirk I am a machinist anything about this trade would have to a horror 5 stars
8/31/05 Badhobbit Reznik's experiences are a nightmare come to life. Spellbinding! 5 stars
7/31/05 TheOthersFan AAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CHRISTIAN BALE WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOURSELF?!?!!!!!!?! 2 stars
7/30/05 KOR Indrid: Don't think they were going for the "David Lynch thing." Try Hitchcock or Kafka. 5 stars
7/21/05 Indrid Cold Very well done, but somehow doesn't quite pull off the David Lynch thing. 4 stars
7/18/05 Kankasaur It's refreshing to see a film that impresses both the art-house and artless. 5 stars
7/12/05 Frenzy Great story, great acting 5 stars
7/11/05 paige i dont understand the symbolism everyone is taking about......they speak about symbolism??? 5 stars
7/11/05 Taylor Fladgate Creepy creepy creepy...very good, would have been good except for the untied ending 4 stars
7/10/05 Brian Feiler Great mystery/suspensefull thriller. Bale almost appears to be dissapearing before our eyes 5 stars
7/05/05 Kirsten way overrated gimmicky crapola 2 stars
6/29/05 Phil M. Aficionado Haunting/daunting story, great casting/acting/directing -- just a little "much" in places. 4 stars
6/25/05 malcolm hypnotizing and intense. who woulda thunk skinny-ass Bale could make a great batman? 4 stars
6/21/05 Jim Dennen intense study of Christian Bales' character from a year with no sleep. Great casting! 5 stars
6/20/05 David Hollands A haunting mind-bender. Bale is fantastic. Anderson's direction is incredible. 5 stars
6/14/05 Phil Hunt Interesting...but entertaining 4 stars
6/05/05 John Bale Not since Polanski's REPULSION such a devasting essay into a disturbed mind 5 stars
6/04/05 ANNA unsettling, disturbing, tragic, thought provoking, one of best films i have ever seen 5 stars
6/04/05 Hack-SAW Not too bad... But it reminded me of "Session 9", "The Salton Sea" & "Fight Club"!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/11/05 MCKROB Creepy.. Christian Bale is fantastic... 5 stars
4/20/05 Caiphn Dark, sometimes hard to watch, outcome not as obvious as some of the reviews say. 4 stars
2/17/05 ALDO Only watch it if you liked "Angel eyes" and "Fight club"...Otherwise stay away 3 stars
1/29/05 Tiffany A must see performance by Christian Bale 5 stars
1/21/05 Uncle Phucker Pretty bad ass movie. Not totally original but brilliant looking and fine acted by cast. 4 stars
12/13/04 Lord Durvok 2 Anderson pwns! But this one was kind of... eh. 4 stars
12/06/04 pin Crime and Punishment adaptation - given a nod, no credit 4 stars
11/02/04 f. fendt confession: good for the soul, good for the body 5 stars
10/25/04 Klaus Great movie. Very dark. Definitely one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. 5 stars
10/25/04 P.J. Dunlevy Christian Bale - wonderful, physical performance. 4 stars
10/21/04 natasha Readers' Digest condensed version of Dostoevsky meets Fight Club 3 stars
7/01/04 jeffrey Weird!!! Maybe I'll like it more the 2nd time. A little slow to watch 4 stars
2/19/04 josh christian bale is god. 5 stars
2/08/04 Jake Absolutely wonderful, I am a big fan of Session 9 and this film equals that. 5 stars
2/07/04 CC Bad....to Crappy 1 stars
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  22-Oct-2004 (R)
  DVD: 07-Jun-2005



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