Cinema Insomniacs, Part I: The Machinist
Quality sleep is like a box of chocolate – Christian Bale wouldn’t have any
The same-old-same-old outdated zombies are long dead to you?
You couldn’t care less for spineless directors who won’t settle for a mystery resolution?
Wonder if an apple a day would really keep the doctor away?
Well, do we have the mystery chill-chill-chiller for you.
“The Machinist” – A story about a guy (Christian Bale) who couldn’t sleep for a year. He also got the first-hand knowledge that a lot of things taste as goode as, if not way better than what skinny feels.
1. The first point be all about the modern zombie.
Here’s a mystery for you.
What is the one line that sold you on horror films such as “The Blair Witch Project” or “The Conjuring”?
Hey, they were brilliantly made, but quality filmmaking don’t turn your electricity bills into your Snoop electricity bills.
Furthermore, what cheap trick has popularized footage horrors?
What makes the greatest plague of all times, The Bubonic Plague the spookiest horror on earth?
And, here’s a mystery resolution for you: It’s the idea (illusion or otherwise) that it’s BASED ON A TRUE STORY.
Boom. We just made a better film than “It Follows”. And we don’t even have a visual.
Anyway, the alleged trueness of a story, sometimes in the form of non-supernatural narratives, i.e. the lengths that a human would go to ease the horrors of their mind is what makes up the horror of a psychological chiller.
And what is way scarier than a zombie apocalypse is a real human who looks and acts like a real-life zombie for real human reasons; a zombie = a mind-eaten crocodile that has taken the place of where the man was before. Or as our boy Dostoevsky likes to put it:
“What is the fundamental characteristic of the crocodile? The answer is clear: to swallow human beings.” – F. M. Dostoevsky, “The Crocodile”
And, worry not, for there’s a solid reason why we’ve chosen to quote “The Crocodile”, and not the much more referenced in the movie “The Idiot” or “Crime and Punishment” and hear us out: it was way shorter to read.
Oh, yes, “The Machinist”, or any film for that matter, plays as heavily upon Dostoevsky references as a child plays upon her golden locks on recital day, equally as eager to show off what they’ve read.
2. The second play-maker is the filmmaker.
To be honest, Brian Anderson, will he rock your world? Meh.
Personally, we’d make Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale’s character) an American resident of Barcelona (Brian’s movie was rejected by the children devou… by Hollywood and he went on to shoot in Barcelona pretending it was L.A.) and thus assess the cinematic and scenic richness way higher. What a waste of opportunity.
Why on earth would someone strip beautiful gothic Europe down to, you know… an inconvenience.
Having said that, can he tell a story? – Yes, he can.
Can he work out a mystery? – Yes, he can.
And, above all, can he cast? – Oh, you bet he can.
Your textbook success story, this director: as the proud son of beautiful Pamela Anderson he left London film school after having completed his first year, going on to pursue his gut feeling that the time has come to start making movies.
Some say he is somewhat of a successor to Hitchcock, others dwell on his genre-expertise, but let us get it together and call him for what he really is: a dropout.
3. The third case is all about that treble, no bass!
Let’s call out the starved elephant in the room here: the one thing that got everyone talking about this film is how Christian Bale went full-on method acting and lived off an apple a day, going for the fragile bodily projection of a person being eaten alive by inner chaos, i.e. the man is so passionate for acting that he literally starved himself for the film even though nobody asked him to.
Was he being stupid? Everyone knows the wonders they can do with make-up and lighting nowadays. We’ll go with – no, he wasn’t. There is a certain finesse to method acting no props or CGI can ever dream of reaching, like for instance, the delicate degree at which an underweight person goes panting when doing a mundane physical activity.
Consequently, he got that far that as you are looking at him you are really being served the visual horrors of how morbidly the flesh is wedded to the soul for a lifetime; but while the flesh he can always starve away (not recommended) – the soul he must carry.
And while you’re out there hoping he doesn’t break before your eyes, Christian Bale is truly performing his role of a lifetime, the Beksiński in the art of acting, the one enigma behind “how do they do that?”, how indeed do they do it this convincingly…
And here we are at the very end with the promise of an enjoyable cinema, when we suddenly realized we were the first to realize
The movie’s title is a play on etymology:
Il Macchinista is Italian for “The Driver”.
Coincidence? We think not.
And, yes, you guessed it, we’re board leaders in Italian on Duolingo. But, please, keep on your fedora.
 a Madison-based community services administrator, not the actress, we repeat: not the actress!!!