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The ultimate meaning of life is to embrace that which compels you to act in spite of fear.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Machinist and Me

I've always had a good appetite.

As a child I had no trouble finishing all the food on my plate. When I was in high school, I had the appetite of a full crew of construction workers. And today, I still enjoy full meals AND dessert. Very few dishes disgust me; I'll eat almost anything. Just ask my partner, Louise. She'll tell you. The mere smell of food, particularly succulent meat and rich sauces, awakens my reptilian brain, causing me to cast aside all other concerns and rush to the dinner table.

I eat.

And yet at 5' 10" I am only 165 lbs. I think I have an average metabolism. Don't know. I do move quickly. I do walk a lot. And I worry a lot. I guess that's it. Anyway, I'm not fat. If I miss a meal or two, my pants become loose.

Which is why I took me months of psychological preparation before I could watch The Machinst, which stars Christian Bale and Jennifer Jason Leigh. I watched it this past weekend.

Christian Bale's performance is brilliantly, achingly repulsive, and yet sublimely symbolic of self-detruction and torment. Bale's appearance will startle you. He lost 60 pounds for the role. His character, Trevor Reznik, is clearly at the end of his rope. In The Machinist, we see a man so tortured by existential horror that he is barely eating. He is so wracked with guilt and anguish and so captive to his own twisted assumptions of reality, he can't sleep. It's mind vs. the body. Or mind against matter, if you will. And he hurts others around him, making him unwelcome almost everywhere.

Bale does an amazing job at taking us into his character's dark and moribund world. And we start to realize that we all live within our own assumptions, be they liberating or delusional, good or bad. In this way the film does some fascinating, intriguing stuff here.

It's a real head trip.

And yet, for all the film's virtues, for all the thought it provokes, the most powerful reaction I had to the film was a visceral one. I found myself thinking, for God's sake, man, get some sleep, and eat. Eat! Don't die! Stay with us and get some help.

Maybe that's what writer Scott Kosar and director Brad Anderson were trying to accomplish. If so, they did a darn good job.

...Still, I think I'll go and rent Bale's Batman Begins again, just to see him healthy.

2 Comments:

Anonymous ringgold said...

Good stuff. Thanks for a nice blog.

Sincerely,

Pat
ringgold

2:04 AM  
Blogger oakwriter said...

Thanks, ringgold. Thanks for visiting !

Tom

4:51 AM  

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