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HTF Blu-ray Review: The Machinist



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#1 of 2 PatWahlquist

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Posted May 13 2009 - 10:40 AM

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The Machinist (Blu-Ray)

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: R (for violence and disturbing images, language and sexuality)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; English SDH+
Time: 101 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD 50
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 2004
Blu-ray Release Date: May 19, 2009

Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) has had a tough time sleeping, in that he hasn’t slept in a year. He has consistently lost weight and by the time we meet him, he’s down to a gaunt 120 lbs. He keeps the company of his hooker neighbor Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh- always better playing trashy) and they partake in a tentative relationship. Trevor works at the local machine shop, and while helping a co-worker one day, he’s becomes distracted and said co-worker is caught in a machine and loses his arm. Trevor’s distraction was a man he met earlier, Ivan (John Sharian), who now is throwing murderous signs his way. Trevor begins to find notes in his apartment, leading him to further believe Ivan is stalking him. A meeting with Ivan at a local bar proves, at least to Trevor, that Ivan is complicit with his co-workers to get their revenge for the accident. Trevor’s paranoia continues to build, and hallucinations grow in their size and intensity, and Trevor will have to confront the past if he’s to have a future.

The Machinist is perhaps most startling because of Bale’s DeNiro-esque weight loss, and any fan of his will be shocked by his physical transformation. Bale did as he needed to make this role as believable as possible, and he succeeds on many levels, not only with the weight, but his speech, his actions and his physicality in the role. Director Brad Anderson isolates Trevor in his paranoid world where he is seen as a man out of time, stuck for a year between the seconds of the clock. Anderson turns his picture into a modern day, grittier Hitchcock picture, where paranoia, guilt and queer characters inhabit some small, bleak world of our protagonist. The music from Roque Banos evokes the classic themes of Bernard Herrmann, with its banging minor piano chords and screeching strings. The story itself is fairly predictable, but Anderson takes us for a fun ride and Bale holds your attention.

Movie: ***.5/*****


Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

The Blu-ray disc is encoded in the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The picture has been de-saturated to the point that very little color exists in it anymore. It’s all stark white with subtle green tints making it look like it was shot in an operating room. The only bold color is in the red of Ivan’s car making it stand out as it should. Flesh tones evoke a feeling of cadavers, as everyone is almost ashen and grey. Black levels are good but flat and miss some of the detail which should be present. Sharpness is soft but it works well contributing to the dream-like state Trevor is in. Detail is fair. Edge enhancement is noticeable throughout, as is minor print dirt.

Video: ***/*****


Audio:
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.

I watched the disc with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track engaged. The track is very front heavy but it provided for a nice sound field. Surrounds open up to enhance the environmental effects, especially in the machine shop and to enhance the music, and provide a level of eeriness to the story. The score is very well represented here and it becomes the star of the show at times. LFE’s are present but not overused. The track is clean and free from any dirt, hiss or distortion.

Audio: ***/*****


Bonus Material:

Commentary by director Brad Anderson: Anderson discusses the usual type stuff here: beginning of the project, the shoot, actors, story, etc. He also discusses the location shooting in Barcelona, the various Easter eggs in the plot and more on the themes. This is a fair commentary but I got most of what I needed to know out of the feature itself and the other docs.

Manifesting The Machinist (23:00, HD): Screenwriter Scott Kosar, Anderson and others discuss how this small, strange project came to be. There are also a couple film critics and historians who discuss the global themes and whether or not it’s film noir. They discuss the bleakness of the story and setting, the music and the shoot. It doesn’t add much to your enjoyment of the picture itself, but you get inside the filmmakers heads.

The Machinist: Hiding in Plain Sight (13:58, HD): the same participants from above explain the structure of the script, symbols and the puzzle-like story. Again, an attentive viewer should pick out most of this in the feature without them telling us outright.

The Machinist: Breaking the Rules (25:19, SD): this behind the scenes video footage finally gives us interviews with Bale and Leigh and shows the shoot from behind the camera. There are some more interviews with Anderson and Kosar and the Spanish producers. We also get to see the shooting of the accident in the machine shop and the location shooting in sweltering Barcelona. This is not a terribly interesting piece but it does show how involved even a small movie can be.

Deleted Scenes (12:05, SD): eight deleted scenes, some with director’s commentary.

Theatrical Trailer.

Bonus Material: ***/*****


Conclusions:
A not-too-bad flick is enhanced by Bale’s extreme method acting and a great soundtrack. The disc itself looks and sounds good with a fair amount of repetitive extras.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 2 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted May 13 2009 - 11:02 AM

This film has become one of my favourite film - incredible performance from Bale, terrific cinematogrpahy and a depressed ambience makes this film stand-out for me. Thanks for the great review, Pat.
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