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December 06, 2004 - Image 10

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20A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 6, 2004

ARTS

I

"Do I look fat in this?"

Christian
Bale wins in
dark thriller
By Jennie Adler
Daily Arts Writer
Weighing in at a mere 130 pounds, Christian
Bale ("American Psycho") is grotesquely thin in
Brad Anderson's new film "The Machinist." Bale
lost more than 60 pounds for the role of Trevor
Reznik, putting to shame Tom Hanks's startling
weight loss for 2000's "Cast Away." The inflated
amount of media attention directed at Bale's bla-
tant and masochistic disregard for personal safety
may seem a gimmicky attempt to generate expo-
sure for the independent film,
but Bale's skeletal protagonist
has a good reason to look like The
the walking dead - he hasn't Machinist
slept in a year. At the
A tormented and paranoid Michigan Theater
insomniac, Reznik spends Paramount Classics
most of his days at work as a
lathe-operator, occasionally
breaking from his job in order to flirt with diner
waitresses or fall into a call girl's meaty arms.
Reznik's mysterious inability to sleep is the back-
bone of the simple plot, but the answer to this
puzzle becomes irrelevant once the film's dark
mood is established.
Director of photography Xavi Gimenez and art
director Alain Bainee employ a bleak industrial'
setting and muted, monotone lighting to comple-
ment the grim, emaciated figure of Reznik. The
movie's surreal, murky colors, complemented
by Roque Banos's creeping musical score, emits
chills. The grainy image quality of the film also
adds to this detached, surrealist atmosphere.
Not only is Anderson's constructed mood note-
worthy, but the acting is engaging and consistent-
ly interesting. With "American Psycho" under his
belt, Bale adds to his resume of unhinged char-
acters. Bale's use of his eyes as well as his body
language creates Reznik's sympathetic yet haunt-
ed character. His acting is just as striking as his
physical figure - maybe he deserves a sandwich
for the accomplishment.
Though tagged as a horror-thriller, "The
Machinist" is primarily a film about the human
mind. On the screen, guilt, remorse, longing and
loneliness are portrayed as debilitating emotions
that can subjugate even the most unsuspecting
of victims. Anderson's focus is the method and
madness of the human psyche, and the director's
most successful achievement is his ability to use
a simple plot in order to raise bigger questions
about the fragile nature of the mind.
every.perceptible and.possibly- distracting
problem that arises in "The Machinist" is eventu-
ally cleared up by the film's tight internal logic.
The screenplayincludes :host of obscure and
challenging references that serve as clues for the
finale. But despite these hints, the conclusion is
both surprising and clever, and the film is well
worth watching a second time.

MAKING 'THE MACHINIST
BRAD ANDERSON'S INDEPENDENT VISION COMES TO LIFE
By Amanda Andrade rary Hollywood films would stop. He shied away from noting like-
Daily Arts Writer nesses to 1999's "Fight Club," saying "the intention with this film is
to be more character-driven than straight-up Hollywood films." He
When Robert DeNiro piled on the pounds for Martin Scorsese sees "The Machinist" more in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley
for "Raging Bull," it was called "genius." These days when celeb- Kubrick and Roman Polanski, adding "they were masters." Ander-
rities fluctuate their weight, it's called a poor substitute for acting son is loath to classify his film into any of the conventional genres.
talent - most of the time anyway. But Christian Bale ("American While admitting it shares many aspects of traditional horror films, he
Psycho") brings art-dieting to a new high (low?) with his astound- insisted "that gives the wrong impression," and groping for descrip-
ing 63-pound weight loss for director Brad Anderson in the psy- tion, offered, "I'd call it more of a psychological mystery."
chological thriller "The Machinist." And though Bale has received And while this means that Anderson is about as lousy a Holly-
praise for his harrowing performance and reckless disregard for wood pitchman as they come, it makes the warmth he effuses for
mortality, it is Anderson who has perhaps given the most for his his talented cast radiate all the more genuinely. "I always wanted
art. Anderson sat down with The Michigan Daily to discuss his new to work with Jennifer (Jason Leigh)" he said before hailing her per-
film and his directorial style. formance as the street-wise prostitute who shares a special bond
Breaking onto the film scene in 1996 with the low-budget indepen- with Bale's character. Anderson joked about supporting actor Mike
dent release "The Darien Gap," which he wrote and directed, Ander- Ironside and his propensity to lose limbs in films, laughing, "He
son went on to serve double-duty again in "Next Stop Wonderland," probably looked at the script (in which he loses his arm) and said,
"Happy Accidents" and "Session 9." "The Machinist" marks his first 'I'll take it.' " Anderson also praised Bale for going above and
time directing a film script he didn't write, a prospect, he said, that beyond the call of duty in the 6-foot actor's descent to 130 pounds.
did not worry him. "I was seeking a script I could direct," he said. "I He joked that although there was no doctor on set, "there probably
really loved it. It was really creepy and really intriguing." should have been."
There's one thing "The Machinist" does have in common with Anderson noted several times that "The Machinist" was shot in
,all of Anderson's other films: It's not financed by a major studio.. Barcelo-and financed by Spanish investors, rather than Ameri-
Anderson's open and friendly demeanor turns chilly when it comes can studios. While he struggled for years to find money free from
to dealing with big studio projects. "We didn't test screen," he said the profit-minded studio system he despises, he is clearly happy
with disgust. "It kills the creative, artistic vision." He proceeded with the u imateareedom the choice provided him.Andwhen talk
on a short rant about the pathetic, angry film students purportedly turns to his upcoming projects, Anderson is full of spirited realism.
making up the audience of such screenings before regaining his Willing to accept that some ideas fall through, he is nonetheless
cool. If people don't like his films, he said nonchalantly, that's fine. determinedly and decidedly resolute when it comes to his artistic
But ultimately he feels responsibility only to his own vision. integrity. "I'm not going to compromise the vision I have just to get
Anderson would also appreciate if the comparisons to contempo- it through," he said.

Linkin
Park and
Jay-Z mix
styles
By Brandon Harig
Daily Arts Writer
Jay-Z marked his retirement with th
critically lauded Black Album, but he
may be the most active retiree this side
of Florida. After re-collaborating with
R. Kelly on a disappointing effort aptly
titled Unfinished Business, Jigga also
advertised that a second joint project
would be released. That album, Collision
Course, is a blend of some of Linkin Park
and Jay-Z's most
successful tracks
into an odd concoc- Jay-Z and
tion that somehow Linkin Park
works. Collision Course
The album Coll
begins with the toekaleta
screaming guitar
rock of Linkin Park grating behind the
hip-hop rhythms and melodic lyrics of
Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and
LP's "Lying From You." The track is a
tight synthesis of both originals, and the
result is energetic and original. Produced
by Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda, the
album hits its stride when the energy of
electric rock meets Jay-Z's lyrics - the)
predominant theme of the collaboration.
At times, the album comes across as
merely Jay-Z's rhymes over a Linkin
Park song. "Big Pimpin'/Papercut" is
identical to the original "Big Pimpin'
" with no variation of the original lyrIo
or chorus, as Jigga reassures everyone
that he's a "pimp in every sense of the
word." This sort of exactness does note
hinder Linkin Park, though, as every.
track stretches their lyrics onto a format
well beyond what they were intended.
Songs are sped up and-slowed own,
each forcing a different delivery from
Linkin Park's Chester Bennington and
Mike Shind s- acha ng.t y argu
for in each event. This includes Shinoda's
singing attempt at singing the first verse
of "99 Problems." Delivering Jay-Z's
lyrics without the trademark Jigga slur,
Shinoda manages to make the song his'
own all. At the same time, Jay displays
mastery when he pushes himself, laying
down an amazing lyrical delivery during
"Jigga What/Faint" as the background
delivers a double-time tempo for him to.
sing against.
Though Collision Course is a collab-
orative effort, itsis obvious that Jay-Z is
the focus. Linkin Park often fall into
a background vocal to Jigga or jump in
for the second half of the song, playing
second fiddle to one of rap's living leg-
ends. This also seems to be the case on
the accompanying DVD, which features
an MTV performance with all of the
tracks from the collaboration. Visually,
Bennington and Shinoda seem to fade
into the background while Jay-Z takes
center stage.
With their seven-track release, JayZ
and Linkin Park don't seem to take many
chances, though it is an experiment all
the same. While some songs like "Izzo/
In the End" come off as almost bor-
ing, the up-tempo tracks from Colli-
sion Course more than make up for itL
Though "Numb/Encore" has been the
featured release from the album, there
are numerous tracks from the record that
can be lauded for their quality. With Col
lision Course, Shinoda was able to make

an experimental release that featured the.
best of Jay-Z with a rock accompaniment
worthy of a post-retirement release.

Mixing sardonic humor, honesty, Rugged Man drops debut

By Cyril Cordor
Daily Arts Writer
In 1999, Rawkus Records released
Soundbombing 2, One of the best rap
compilations and displays of turnta-
blism ever. One track on the album,

"Stanley Kubrick," by R.A. the Rug-
ged Man, raised a lot of questions about
who this grim emcee was. Neverthe-
less, Rugged Man himself states that he
"first started getting coverage / Around
the same time Steve Stout was carrying
Kid and Play's luggage." After years of
being screwed by different record labels
for his controversial lyrics, he finally

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convinced Nature Sounds to release his
debut album, Die, Rugged Man, Die.
The most attractive feature of this
album is its mor-
bid and gruesome
sense of humor. R.A. the
As Rugged Man Rugged Man
eloquently puts it Die, Rugged
in the "Make Luv" Man, Die
outro, "This ain't Nature Sounds
no Jesus Christ
rap, this ain't no
Kanye West." The quirky sound effects
and simple production on tracks like
"Dumb" and the title track make a
perfect background to his sloppy voice
and grungy lyrics. The artificial guitar
and scant bass line on "Casanova (Fly
Guy)" help bring out his cynicism as
he describes himself in third-person:
"Look at that fat fuck over there / Ugly
white dude with a big gut and shoul-
der hair / Look at the clothes he wear /
Barefoot, no shoes on, do he even own
a pair? / Smell the odor over there / It's
obvious he don't care, he's a fly guy."
Amid the rampant sarcasm and
humor, many might ignore that Rug-
ged Man is actually a talented lyricist

with a creative edge. The innovative
song, "Black and White," featuring Wu-
Tang affiliate Timbo King, on which
the black and white theme of the album
is epitomized, is the best example. The
boxing ring imagery throughout the
song establishes an interesting setting
that allows the two emcees to rhyme
back and forth. King starts, "Ay yo, we
black macks with black hats and black
bats / Black panthers with black gats, 21
blackjacks." Rugged Man chimes in, "In
the white house, white out, turn the light
out / White boy night out, knock your
white ass right out."
The high points of the album are
when the Rugged Man drops sin-
cere and honest lyrics, as on "Les-
sons" and "Midnight Thud." It is a
refreshing testament to the fact that
he is not bound to only making songs
like "Stanley Kubrick." The nursery
bell chimes and humming children's
voices of "Lessons" set the tone of the
album as he describes his hardships in
life as well as his previous thoughts
of suicide. The humility expressed
on "Midnight Thud" tells his listen-
ers how he wants to be viewed. These

tracks make Die, Rugged Man, Die a
fairly well-rounded album.
Although not a classic, Die, Rugged
Man, Die is lyrically one of the most
interesting albums this year. Rugged
Man is like hip-hop's ugly duckling, a
grimy and raw personality who has real
talent. However, he has no interest in
becoming the mainstream swan. Rug-
ged Man often makes clear that he has
no intention of acting as a positive role
model: "I'm mad negative, if you want
positivity / Buy a Mos Def and Talib
Kweli CD."

R ,

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