Volume 74, Number 31 | December 08 - 14, 2004

koch on film

By Ed Koch

“The Machinist” (-)
From a technical point of view, this movie may accurately be described as a tour de force by the principal actor, Christian Bale.

Bale portrays Trevor Reznik, a delusional character. The film opens and closes with scenes of his delusional behavior, and everything that occurs in between is one long nightmare for the audience. Several times during the film I felt nauseous, one reason being that Bale lost over 60 pounds for the role and looks like a concentration camp refugee.

Trevor is a machinist in a factory. Due to his negligence, a coworker loses a hand, and he is fired. He imagines a fellow worker is bent on killing him. Trevor runs through a subway sewer when fleeing from the cops after filing a false police report. I was thankful that the sewer contained no rats since I didn’t think I could take anymore. The story includes two kind women: Maria (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) a waitress, and Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) a prostitute. Their superb acting did not make the movie any more bearable.

There were only five other people in the theater when I saw this flick. The management of the movie house had set aside two theaters in which to present the film evidently expecting large audiences. The public, except for me, was not to be duped into seeing this flick. You shouldn’t go either.

“You I Love” (-)
This is a Russian film with a gay theme. It depicts a heterosexual relationship, then a homosexual one, and then the parties become a threesome.

Vera (Lubov Tolkalina) is an attractive television news reader in Moscow and her boyfriend, Timofey (Evgeny Koryakovsky), is the equivalent of a Madison Avenue advertising executive who lives in an elegant apartment. The third person eventually involved in their relationship is the youthful Uloomji (Damir Badmaev), a Kalmyk laborer who works and lives at the zoo. The movie contains no soft or hard-core material. There is one orgy scene but with toweled participants.

The travelogue aspects of the film set in Moscow are interesting, and the actors provide good performances, but the material, described by some critics as a comedy, is far too skimpy and unconvincing.

I came away with the feeling that the Russian artists thought, whatever they can do in the U.S., including the making of gay films, we can do better. Well, it was a brave try, but it did not result in an absorbing film. They have a long way to go before they catch up with their American counterparts. However, since there are so few Russian films exhibited in American theaters, this one will be of interest to some.

In Russian with English subtitles.

- Ed Koch

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