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The Machinist

Ever since I first saw American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000), I have been a devout, card carrying, badge bearing, Christian Bale fan. It was only some time later that I found out he was the kid in the golf shoes in Steven Spielberg’s epic wartime drama, Empire of the Sun (1987). Strangely, J.G. Ballard, the author of the book Empire of the Sun, would later become one of my all time favourite author’s. One can never really be absolutely sure about kid actors, but almost two decades on, there can be no doubt Christian Bale is as prodigious a talent now as he was back then, possibly even more so. He has also not made the mistake of completely selling out and doing big budget Hollywood block busters only. His movie wrap sheet reads like an eclectic schizophrenics DVD collection, at times furrowing the brow slightly to such titles as Reign of Fire and then raising it again in admiration at A Midsummer Night's Dream and Lauren Canyon. More recently he took on the much beleaguered Batman saga and lifted it from the cinematic depths in which it was placed by Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones, to heights previously unknown by the comic-book hero.

Really though, this post is about The Machinist, which I had the pleasure of viewing this past weekend. In short, it may well be Bale’s finest performance ever. He is a true actor with an obvious dedication to the craft. Looking back to Batman and American Psycho, Bale is a man of incredible physical stature. Forget Brad’s abs, Bale’s got it all going on, yet I watched in horror and then admiration as the extent to which Bale had transformed his body for the role became apparent. I had heard he lost a lot of weight for the role, but the extent to which only became apparent a scene or two into the movie when he removes his shirt and all that remains is a grotesque emaciated shadow of a man. He quite literally compares to holocaust concentration camp prisoners. The effect is at once striking and disturbing, to the point that concentrating on the actual story is challenging, yet it is a masterpiece of a story, in a Fight Club kind of way. This for me is Bale’s finest role and a cinematic classic, see it!

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