Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Christian Bale: The Fighter, The Machinist, Henry V

So I happened to watch some old Charlie Rose shows on auto-play on Hulu this weekend, and eventually the episode with Mark Wahlberg, David O'Russell, and Christian Bale talking about The Fighter started playing.  I was half paying attention as I worked on other matters, but then I started listening to Christian Bale, and turned to watch him as he discussed the film.  I haven't seen or heard many interviews with Bale, but it occurred to me that he might be doing the interview in character.   Take a look for yourself in the embedded video below.

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I'll leave it up to you to decide whether this is great or pretentious (and you can look at other Charlie Rose interviews with Bale for contrast).  But there's no denying that Bale has been willing to completely dedicate himself to his craft and to his roles.  In that spirit, it might be a good time to look back at both The Fighter, and another role which took a physical toll on Bale, The Machinist.  And to round out today's entry, we can go back to a film that very few of us probably remember that he was in at the age of 15, Kenneth Branagh's Henry V.

The Fighter (David O. Russell, USA, 2010, 115 minutes)
Netflix: After a string of defeats, Mickey Ward rediscovers his fighting will with help from trainer and half-brother Dicky (Oscar winner Christian Bale) -- a once-talented pugilist and small-town hero now battling drug addiction.  Netflix link.

The Machinist (Brad Anderson, USA/Spain, 2004, 101 minutes) 
Netflix: Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) hasn't slept in a year, and his physical and mental health have eroded. So when cryptic notes pop up in his apartment and he has visions of a co-worker nobody else can see, is it reality -- or just the next level of insomnia? His call-girl girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) seems to be the only bright spot in Trevor's quickly deteriorating world. And he, too, seems to be breaking down.  Netflix link.

Henry V (Kenneth Branagh, UK, 1989, 137 minutes)
Netflix: Kenneth Branagh received Oscar nods for both directing and starring in Shakespeare's homage to the English king who united France and England, featuring Emma Thompson in a funny and sweet-natured turn as the French princess. Bold, realistic battle scenes and impassioned speeches that uncover the treachery of the king's advisors and unite a heavily outnumbered army keep even the iambic-pentameter-phobic engrossed.  Netflix link.

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