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The Machinist (2004)
Involving thriller with a weak resolution
My first screening at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival was The Machinist. It's a taut, slow-paced, involving thriller about a man (Christian Bale) who states that he hasn't slept in a year. He's beginning to show strain at work, in his relationships, and with himself when he begins to see things that might not really be there. Bale is good, and his weigh loss here (staggeringly shocking) puts Tom Hanks in Cast Away to shame. The music score is excellent, and reminds one of Bernard Herrmann, and the muted gray colors throughout keep one in an insomniac's limbo like its main character. If the resolution to the film's mystery and involvement hadn't been so weak, I would recommend it to those who liked Fight Club or Memento, but alas, it barely gets a recommendation at all, and only to those who are undemanding seekers of mysteries. B- *** out of ****
The Bad Man (1941)
Give this one a try!
Smooth rough and tumble character western with a great grizzled performance from Lionel Barrymore, but a grating one from Wallace Beery. This one has a great closing scene of Barrymore trailing behind a horse on his wheelchair through the desert.
Misery is a dark, but witty venture into Stephen King territory. It's about a popular novelist who crashes his car on a snowy mountain road and is rescued by a nurse who claims she is his number one fan. As the time goes by, he realizes she has no intention of letting him leave.
The film moves with a brisk, taut pace thanks to director Rob Reiner, who helmed another excellent Stephen King film, Stand By Me. Tension is kept mostly throughout (there are some predictable moments...but who cares?) And the performances are also a major plus. James Caan is very easy to empathize with, and he manages to keep his cynical sense of humor. Richard Farnsworth, as a grizzled sheriff was a nice addition to the film since his character didn't exist in the book. He also has a nice sense of humor, and he's the kind of guy who you want to root for. But the most amazing performance is from Kathy Bates, who treads a fine line alternating between sweet and lovable to amazingly evil. She won an Oscar for this movie, and whole-heartedly deserved it.
Side note: This is one of the few films which took an Oscar, that you can actually say the Academy had the guts to give out. Can anyone name another horror film which won such a notable prize?
ANyway...by the end, the novelist and the viewer or put through some torturous activity. We sometimes feel his pain, and it is so much fun to hate this woman................the book is excellent.....the movie is just as good in about 1/6th of the time it would take to read. Either way, enjoy!
Enough with the Blair Witch comparisons!
SLIGHT SPOILER WARNINGS: WHAT FOLLOWS MAY RUIN A MOMENT OR TWO!
First of all, this is not The Blair Witch Project. It is a movie all in its own. And it falls somewhere in the middle of being cheesy and overdone & fairly chilling.
You have to admit the hairs on your arms and neck stand on end at times, especially if you watch it alone. I'm one of those skeptics that never get scared, especially when I'm with someone else. Well, I watched this one alone, and I must admit that between the talky bits there was some good stuff there. How can you not tense up during the parts where they split up?
Yes, there was some laughable stuff as well. Are we supposed to believe Ryan (the blonde girl) really bit into the bug (heaven forbid it could've been a pickle or something in the sandwich)? And notice in that same scene how she spits out a mouthful of food into her hand, but when the camera shows her screaming, she's only holding onto the bug. Yeah, what did she do, drop the food and grasp tightly to the crunchy insect? Another laughable moment happens when Ryan is damned scared of being in the house, but she doesn't hesitate for a second to stick her head inside a fireplace that might hide a terrible secret.
I liked the atmosphere...the house was pretty darned interesting with its endless hidden corridors and doors upon doors upon doors. But the overacting of Ryan, the too-committed Madison with her serious chanting and talking to the ghosts like they were gangster teenagers (later man), and the fact that there was no aftermath (interviews with the shaking teens or a slight explanation from the two that ended up trapped inside a room on who tied them to the wall and table.) These things were only trivial complaints. We all know there can never be a perfect movie....Also, how did the cameras end up all over the place when no one was carrying one, and so perfectly placed. At least one of the guys in this movie wasn't annoying. I actually felt Tim really believed he was giving a believable performance. Especially when he was split up from the others and had to investigate a more than strange discovery that involved a series of closet doors and a dark corridor.
Your best bet...watch this alone, in the dark, late at night. When not to watch it....with a bunch of friends in the daytime. At least give it a chance to give you the chills. Who watches a horror film in the daytime?