Three of a Kind: Christian Bale

What better way is there to spend a rainy Sunday evening is there than watching three Christian Bale films back-to-back-to-back? I know, no better way at all. So that’s what my trusty partner Kate, who blogs at the spectacular oncefutiledevises.wordpress.com, and I set out upon doing. This will hopefully be the first in a randomly-reoccurring series of triple bills I will be undertaking, and sharing with you lovely lot.

So to start, at 5:15pm we sat down with an…

AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000)

“I’m a child of divorce; gimme a break!”

A Christian Bale triple without the world’s most infamous anti-hero, Patrick Bateman, would just not be complete. The film is an intoxicating mix of intensity, intrigue and horror as Bale’s Bateman fights to control his inner demons. Stuck in a world he simply does not belong in, all that Bateman does is an attempt fit in as an uncivilised being in a civilised society. His interactions with his associates, who all have the same job title, are riveting to watch, most vividly as he frets and obsesses over the quality of business cards. It is not a spoiler to divulge that his blood-lust takes a glorious centre stage as the world he hates, one of greed, gluttony and consumerism, swirls viciously around him. American Psycho’s comment on society’s neurotic cock-measuring and it’s social ignorance are strong criticisms unlike which we would see often today. This all wrapped up with a Willem Dafoe who hasn’t aged for the past fifteen years, and you’ve one hell of a spectacle.

★★★★

 

Almost two hours later and we move swiftly on to visit…

HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (2004)

“Your head’s a turnip! I’ve always hated turnips.”

Though this film doesn’t represent one of Bale’s finest roles, it certainly represents excellent cinema. In the English-dubbed Studio Ghibli picture, Bale assumes the titular Howl, a mysterious man to say the least. With vanity rivaling that of Patrick Bateman, Bale’s gruff vocals help produce a character tired and, once again, fighting his inner contradictions. Bale is not the star of this show, as he is deservedly overshadowed by Ghibli’s trademark; outstanding visuals. Beautiful animated imagery is intertwined with elegant paint strokes to produce a simple but perfect mix of animation and art. It’s story is no let-down either, mixing emotion and distress with the comic-relief of the always amusing Billy Crystal.
Despite being despicably beaten to the best animated feature Oscar by Wallace and Gromit’s Were-Rabbit escapade, Howl’s Moving Castle is without a doubt one of the finest animated pictures that I’ve ever seen.

★★★★ 1/2
Sleepy-head-edness was setting in around nine as I’m a baby boy, but I was more than psyched to finally check out…

THE MACHINIST (2004)

“If you were any thinner, you wouldn’t exist.”

Image taken from Amazon Instant Video

Image taken from Amazon Instant Video

Known for Bale’s ridiculous transformation, The Machinist revolves around the turmoil of Trevor Reznik, who after suffering an extensive period of insomnia, is a husk of a man. A startling contrast to the physical specimen of American Psycho, Bale’s body seems completely sucked dry of life. His skeletal frame is practically alien, portraying both his physical and mental fragility.
The film itself has a very dystopian feel. The grey-scale camera work shows how devoid of vibrancy Reznik’s world is, as his lack of sleep distorts his life. This dystopian feel is combined with several elements I would describe as profoundly creepy rather than scary in this thriller, and is part of the reason that The Machinist is a good rather than a great film. The storyline taken is unfortunately not as shocking as I would have liked, and I was somewhat disappointed to be able to pretty accurately predict where the film was leading. This is not a huge criticism however, as the film is an enjoyable experience. Christian Bale is once again fantastic; his dark and dramatic performance is a highlight and reiterates his undeniable class.

I very much enjoyed The Machinist, I just felt it was slightly lacking in quality and a killer edge that American Psycho, for example, had.

★★★ 1/2

 

And that was it. Started early and finished at a nice comfortable midnight bedtime, that would leave me raring to go the next morning. Unfortunately, the morning was strangely greyer than usual, my inner demons wouldn’t keep to themselves and I couldn’t keep my vanity in check. Not that I’m affected by what I watch or anything.

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