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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

The Machinist aka El maquinista [Blu-ray]

 

(Brad Anderson, 2004)

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz and Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Julio Fernandez & Castaleo Productions

Video: Paramount Home Entertainment vs. Palisades Tartan (UK)

 

Disc:

Paramount is Region FREE! / Palisades Tartan (UK) is Region 'B'-locked

(as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:41:55.901 / 1:41:55.901

Disc Size: 43,172,559,259 bytes / 34,854,395,673 bytes

Feature Size: 31,742,693,376 bytes / 30,565,539,840 bytes

Average Bitrate: 36.52 Mbps / 33.76 Mbps

Chapters: 15 / 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 19th, 2009 / August 16th, 2010

 

Video (same on both):

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 2159 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2159 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 2159 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2159 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English, English (SDH), French, Portuguese, Spanish, none

None

 

Extras

• Audio Commentary by Director Brad Anderson

• Manifesting the Machinist - in HD (23:00)

• The Machinist: Hiding in Plain Sight – in HD (13:58)

• The Machinist: Breaking the Rules – in SD (25:19)

• 8 Deleted Scenes in SD  (12:15)

• Theatrical Trailer in SD

 

• Audio Commentary by Director Brad Anderson

  Interview with Brad Anderson in SD (25:35)

• The Machinist: Breaking the Rules – in SD (25:19)

• 10 Deleted Scenes in SD  (one with optional director commentary)

• Theatrical Trailer in SD (2:32)

 

Bitrate:

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: El maquinista is the story of Trevor Reznik, a machinist who hasn’t slept in over a year. Working in a machine shop, Trevor faces the usual occupational hazards, yet his extreme fatigue only makes them worse, causing him to accidentally cut off a co-worker’s hand. What Trevor suffers from clearly isn’t a typical case of insomnia…

 

 

The Film:

Between two horrible bad screenplays, ”Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and ”Amityville Horror”, Scott Kosar managed to write a decent one, which became “The Machinist” and which looks like Roman Polanski and David Lynch blending with “Memento”, “Fight Club”, “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Angel Heart” and other influences.


But one thing is what’s on paper, another thing is what it will be on film, especially when being directed by one of the most interesting new directors around, Brad Anderson. As most, I got introduced to him thru “Session 9”, one of the most impressive sleepers of the last decade. Both in that, and in “The Machinist”, Anderson displays a unique sense of building tension. Even though we might have guessed the clues, we are still caught up in this mise-en-scene. Deeply influenced by the great masters, especially Polanski’s early films, he, as a spider, creates a sticky net of images in which we are stuck. In a lesser directors hands, the story would have collapsed into clichés, but Anderson translates the script and makes it not only work, but makes us sit on the edge of the seats.

Another hugely important factor for the films substance is Christian Bale, who here gives the most disturbing performance of his career, reducing his weight by 63 pounds to about 110 pounds, pushing the limits of what acting is. Bale has a bad rep because of some of the films he accepted, like “Shaft” and “Batman Begins”, but make no mistake; He is one of the best actors today, an actor who even in commercial parts never stops thinking about what it is he plays.

The story deals with Trevor Reznick, who don’t eat and hasn’t slept for a year. When he doesn’t work as a machinist, he either compulsive cleans his home or drives around. One day a note hangs on the refrigerator door, displaying a hangman with two letters to it and at the same time Ivan begins to show up at work. Trevor thus begins a journey to find out what is going on.

As I said to begin with, there is nothing original about the story. Most viewers will have guessed what the hangman riddle is within five minutes, and one could say, that the story has lesser meat on it than Bale on his body. But Anderson has realised that ignores the weak plot. Thanks to the amazing portrait by Bale and some stunning cinematography by Xavi Giménez, Anderson creates a haunting visual maze, a surreal reflection of Reznick’s state of mind, where he never misses an opportunity to give us hits by referring to Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Polanski and Hitchcock. “The Machinist” is a seductive journey beyond the borders of sanity and reality.

Henrik Sylow

 

 


Image :  9/9  NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.  The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

 

I haven't seen the Region 2 DVD that Henrik reviewed a couple years HERE, but that account Paramount's new Blu-ray is much less troubled by technical problems.  Quite the contrary. The Machinist moves through various levels of desaturation, sometimes to the point of being monochromatic.  At the same time there is a dominant, but shifting color cast, most often cool gray-blue, from scene to scene.  Contrast is high, at times nearly washing out skin tones to the point I wasn't certain if there was DNR.  Grain is visible, but tight. The image is less sharp than your average thriller these days but, on the other hand, it is highly resolved, more so in the early scenes of the machine shop where the sheen of finished parts contrast with the dull aspect of raw materials.  I found no evidence of enhancement or other artifacts from the transfer process.  Dimensionality is high, if one can properly say that about a movie whose protagonist looks like he's just been released from a concentration camp.  Outside of the shop particularly there is a deliberate surreal feeling, as in a psychotic process.  No surprise.

 

 

I can't find significant enough difference between the two transfers that we will assume came from the same source (running time is duplicated to the 1/1000th of second). Technically the Paramount is stronger but not enough so that anyone will make issue. Both are dual-layered and utilizing the AVC encode - the only thing I would say is that the UK release may be marginally greener at times (most notable in flesh tones) which may be something as simple as a slightly older telecine. Both look pretty solid in my opinion and you'd have to have a phenomenal eye to catch the discrepancies viewing in motion.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio & Music : 8/8

In contrast to the surreal image, the Dolby TrueHD audio is exceptionally realistic, if front heavy most of the time, without the usual pumping up of the extreme ends of the frequency spectrum.  Machine shop sounds of metal against metal is realistic – many might find it dull, but I thought it perfectly realized.  Elsewhere, too, realism is the order of the day: check out the dull, muffled sound of the jukebox in the bar.  Most sound editors would have brought that into the foreground.  Our protagonist may be paranoid, but the sound field does not overwhelm, as we might expect in a horror film. The Momitsu has identified the Paramount as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Lossless original English audio appears to be exactly duplicated but the US editions includes a French and Spanish DUB that is absent on the UK transfer. The Tartan Palisades is Region 'B'-locked where the Paramount is region FREE.

 

Operations : 6

The menu is designed as other recent Paramount Blu-ray releases: Bold lettering for the Scenes, Setup and Features, followed by a clear font telling us what we need to know.   Everything works smoothly, if absent any excitement.

 

Simple menu and accessibility for features on the UK disc.

 

 

 

Extras : 6

These are mostly the same bonus features that we found on the DVD, two of which are shown here in what appears to be upscaled high definition. From Henrik Sylow's review HERE: "The extras begin with an audio commentary by director Brad Anderson. A very strong commentary, where Anderson goes into detail with production problems, shooting, set design, influences, references, discusses the script versus film and its plot as well. DO NOT LISTEN TO IT BEFORE HAVING SEEN THE FILM, as Anderson openly talks about what the film is about.

Exclusive for this DVD
, Tartan has made an interview with Anderson. Some questions do overlap with the commentary, but others are more specific like Anderson talking about how Polanski's mise-en-scene has influenced his own way of thinking about how to set up a composition. In contrast to the film and to understand what moves Anderson, this interview is a great addition to the film.

Following this are the basics, a 25-minute featurette (Making of) and 8 deleted scenes. The deleted scenes are quiet interesting, but again, do not watch them before having seen the film.
"

 

Mostly the same again with the solid audio commentary by director Brad Anderson, also duplicated are the 25-minute The Machinist: Breaking the Rules featurette, plus trailer and deleted scenes - we lose the 40-minutes worth of Manifesting the Machinist and The Machinist: Hiding in Plain Sight but we gain a 25-minute interview with Brad Anderson in SD that is on the UK DVD (review HERE) but not available on the Paramount Blu-ray. Only a real devotee would notice the differences and I'll stake this as a draw.

 

Paramount (US) Region FREE - Blu-ray LEFT vs. Palisades Tartan (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

Recommendation : 8

A serious film deserves a serious video presentation, and this Paramount Blu-ray fills that bill.  Recommended.

Talk about starving for your art! - apologies, I guess those jokes are passé now. I really liked The Machinist and was sure the, eventually, 'revealed secret' was a huge part of my appreciation but my repeat viewings were still... enthralling. Bale's physical transformation is one of the most incredible in the history of the cinema. If you let this film touch you - you will never forget it. It's close to a masterpiece - a dark, brooding tale - very well written and amazing performances all round - I loved everything about The Machinist and surely recommend whatever Blu-ray release you can get most reasonably. 

Leonard Norwitz

May 16th, 2009

Gary Tooze

August 30th, 2010

 

 

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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