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The same-old-same-old outdated zombies are long dead to you?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.

A still frame from the film “The Machinist” by Brian Anderson

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[1] 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…

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TheMachinist7-1024x427.png
If only a still frame could catch the micro trembling of the facial muscles.

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.

[1] a Madison-based community services administrator, not the actress, we repeat: not the actress!!!

Johnny Boogieman

About Johnny Boogieman (né Johnathan Boogiemanovich Goode) is an American comedy reviewer and a self-proclaimed cinema connoisseur, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. … Johnny grew up on a farm in Louisiana, as the only child of a Louisiana-based field worker, dressmaker, dog hairstylist, dog collar jewelry designer, dog walker for the elderly (dogs and owners), disabled and elderly dog walking aids creator-in-attempt, and homemaker, Dutch single mother. As large a clientele as dogs were for the barely-gasping-for-air family business, they were the proud owners of a single tabby cat alone, a streetwise and self-dependent hunter known by either of the street names Stringer Bell and El Capo (sometimes referred to as El Cato). … Having been amazed by the crazy wild early readings of Jules Verne, Johnny’s school days were spent dreaming he’d someday make for a good storyteller. Hence, as early as fourth grade, eager to prove himself to the world, he went for it and constructed a well-balanced heartbeat-skipping thrilling essay, pointing out to some well-reasoned critique of society and solid character arcs, committing to his talents to the fullest and diving right into that pool of majestic phrasing and complexity of thought, confident he’d soon get bejeweled with a spotless A and a pretty clap by the teacher, with gradually having the whole class join in looking up to him as he emerges from his seat to receive his essay evaluation. When results day came, though, little Johnny not only got a D, but he was mocked by the teacher and class for the gullible overexposure of his fragile overambitious mutating childish writing skills of questionable taste and poor poor quality. It was the “you’re tearing me apart, Lisa” equivalent of a child’s essay. He was rather massacred. He never got that brave ever again. … Anyway, Johnny mainly spent his summers field-working on a sunflower field with his uncle Berry under the widespread wings of the storks and the chesty white doves and clever black crows who all flew right under the neighbor’s umbrella caps patio ceiling installation thingy as soon as the first raindrop was godshed over the one-eyed monsters battalion that the sunflower sea was to Johnny. It drove the unwilling bird host nuts, and he’d storm right out yelling and cursing at the birds, “we’re going, we’re going” they went, and flew a semi-circle over the umbrella caps as to fool him and came right back the other way around pretending to be some fresh arrivals of clueless law-abiding American birds not yet acquainted with the police system of the patio. The guy wouldn’t take it out as it took ages to plant and he and his wife thought it made them look like fancy DIY people who had some ideas worthy of admiration. Oh, the bird manure, though, oh the bird manure. “Work your time, boy” – staring Johnny’s uncle frowned, his eye twinkled. … Cinema was to Johnny what he made plans for, what he made time for, what he looked up to all his life, and as he became a young adult, what he fancied himself to have a special talent to understand. It was the sort of a sixth sense, an intuition, a gut sense. He was the squad movie buff and a film whisperer. “No”, it whispered, “Fight Club ain’t no bueno. Mark my words and don’t ask why ‘cos you ain’t schooled enough to know why, boy.” He tried, though, he debated and disputed over a glass of scotch-on-the-rocks and under the jibe of a saxophone jazz, but it was as fruitless and dull as the poetry he wrote - unclean, uneven, and too abstract - as if he hadn’t found a voice to speak in yet. He did his part for years to come, reading as all writers ought to, writing and not publishing until he found out what he had to say with the peculiar piece of work. As for cinema, it happened one evening as he discussed legs-up-a-recliner their plans for the future with his lover-cum-best friend in their rented one-bedroom living space in New Jersey, that his lover casually contributed: “And then I thought we could start a film blog and you could do the content writing” – words that sunflower field Johnny with his gangster cat and his dewy eyes staring at the rainy-day con birds thought he’d never hear.

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