Friday, December 17, 2004

movies, plus holidays r hell

I went to see The Machinist the other day. All I can say is "wow!". It's kind of a little film, and it's seriously coming in way under the radar. Damn shame. The acting is phenomenal. The one thing that anyone who has heard of this has heard is the job that Christian Bale did. In order to get this part, he lost 65 pounds, going down to 125 pounds. Given that he's 6'2", that's paper thin. Word is, he wanted to trim down to 110, but the director wouldn't let him. Without giving away any plot, I'll just say that it was integral to the part to be thin, but he really went all out. I'm glad to see some "method acting" being employed. Aside from Adrian Brody in "The Pianist", I don't remember hearing about any serious character immersions in recent films. For that part, Brody prepared by losing a lot of weight, learning to play the piano, and isolating himself in a room for months at a time. Charlize Theron also did a phenomenal job of becoming the character in Monster, gaining 30 pounds and looking like hell. Okay, lots of folks learn to play the guitar or piano or whatever to play a part, and lots of folks shed or gain a few pounds, but I think most actors don't want to give their all to a single movie part. They don't want to be out of work while they gain (or lose) the weight to get back to normal. So they use cgi, or fat suits, or any other number of ways to get around actually "becoming" the character. Brody and Theron each won Academy Awards for their performances, but I doubt very much that Bale will even get a nomination. Thus far, there has been very little talk about this movie.
In addition to the great job by Bale, the score is amazing. I've never heard of this guy Roque Banos, but his score was perfect. The film has a slightly Hitchcockian feel to it, and Banos cranked it up a notch by making his score reminiscent of Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrman (whose most famous musical work is the shower scene in "Psycho"). This is a rare instance (these days) of a score actually working with the film. It seems to me like film scores these days are a little to heavy and anthemic, sometimes trying to force an emotional issue. I don't know if I'm explaining myself well, but it doesn't seem artificial in this case.
Anyway, go see the movie, and decide for yourself.
The Academy should but won't recognize Bale and they should and might recognize Banos. Simply because not too many movies are actually scored any more. It's all about soundtrack filling the gaps in dialog. By the way, I hate the way filmmakers do that. Fill every little dialog gap with ear-pounding soundtrack songs.
I have quite a lot of holiday shopping to do. I always wait to the very last second, and it is almost upon me.

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