A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive partner Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild F.B.I. Agent, Richie DiMaso, who pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and the Mafia.
In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.
Robert Downey Jr.,
With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access one hundred percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.
Trevor Reznik is a machinist in a factory. An extreme case of insomnia has led to him not sleeping in a year, and his body withering away to almost nothing. He has an obsessive compulsion to write himself reminder notes and keep track of his dwindling weight, both scribbled on yellow stickies in his apartment. The only person he lets into his life in an emotional sense is Stevie, a prostitute, although he has an infatuation with Maria, a single mother waitress working in an airport diner. His co-workers don't associate with and mistrust him because of not knowing what is going on in his life that has led to his emaciated physical appearance. A workplace incident further alienates him with his coworkers, and in conjunction with some unfamiliar pieces of paper he finds in his apartment, Trevor believes that someone or some people - probably one or some of his coworkers - are out to get him, using a phantom employee named Ivan as their front. As Trevor goes on a search for evidence as to...Written by
I really wanted to like The Machinist. As this film and his previous effort, Session 9, show, Brad Anderson is one of the best visual stylists working in film today, able to conjure up a dank, eerie, foreboding atmosphere from a budget that would not pay for David Fincher's lunch. He has a great compositional sense, is not afraid to be leisurely, and has a refreshingly uncluttered approach to mis-en-scene. Yet The Machinist, like Session 9, ultimately disappoints. I think there are two reasons for this.
The first is that, absent the conceit of Christian Bale's astonishing transformation, there is very little reason for this film to exist. The Machinist is a character study of a character who has, yes, very little weight. Despite Bale's best efforts, Trevor Reznick is a blank, a cypher, unpleasant and uninteresting. Although the film abounds in Hitchcock references, Anderson, screenwriter Scott Kosar, and Bale fail to assimilate the master's most important lesson: that the film's weirdo should be its most sympathetic and likable character. Anthony Perkins was cast as Norman Bates because of his image as the sweet, sensitive boy next door; Christian Bale, a prodigiously talented, but chilly and distant actor was, most assuredly, not.
As a character, Resnick lacks progression; because he is skeletal and bonkers from the beginning, there is no sense of horror as he is (quite literally) consumed by his own guilt. For this to work, some kind of contrast with normality is needed - the audience must witness a sensitive, precious soul slowly destroyed because of one small dreadful mistake. But Resnick is no Prince Myshkin. Rather, his guilt seems to be the only interesting thing in his otherwise dim, uncomprehending existence. The guilt gives his tedious life drama, meaning, and coherence. The film's final revelation should have been a shattering emotional climax; instead, it is the excuse for Resnick to take a much needed nap.
The second reason for The Machinist's failure is that Anderson seems to have trouble abandoning himself to his chosen genre. His direction of The Machinist, and of Session 9 as well, is detached, clinical, unengaged. There is no sense of love, or of passion, in what he is doing. Anderson seems drawn to horror, tempted by the opportunity it offers him to show what he can do with a camera, but he seems afraid to commit, to give himself over. It's as if he is too good, too cultured, too intelligent, too rational, for this kind of film. Yet he keeps coming back, as his next assignment, a remake of George Romero's The Crazies, shows.
There is no singular vision in Anderson's horror films, as there is in the work of Cronenberg, for example. There is no exuberant celebration of style, as there is in Argento's or DePalma's best works. Nor does there seem to be any political agenda, as there is in Romero's films. But despite the relative failure of Session 9 and The Machinist, I think there is something in Anderson, unformed and embryonic, waiting to burst forth, if only he can let go. He is a late talent, a grower not a shower. I don't think it will be seen in The Crazies, but I'm still waiting.
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