The Machinist (2004)

Holy emaciation, Batman! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Christian Bale, my favorite neo-expressionist hunk o’ man, turns himself inside out in this chilling, thrilling study of sleep deprivation. Directed by Brad Anderson (Session 9, Next Stop Wonderland), this small movie shot in Barcelona (an impeccable double for L.A.) deserves major kudos. Bale in particular is outstanding as Trevor Reznik, a man who hasn’t slept in a year and whose mental state has degenerated right along with his physical form. The scenes where he’s clad in only boxers were almost too painful to watch, with every rib and vertebra poking out in high relief. Of note: a character named Ivan whose left hand/big toe combo seriously creeped me out, blood dripping out of freezers and a game of hangman whose resolution was exactly as I expected… and yet not. A prime movie to watch on a dark and stormy night, this one takes you deep into psycholand, all the better to freak you out.

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