Sunday, February 27

DVD Weekend: The Machinist

As of the time of writing, I am still reeling from 8 episodes of 24 back to back. Something tells me that when I finally grow up, I want to be Jack Bauer.

(although I'd prefer to have Kim Bauer as a possible love interest, not as a daughter..but then again..oh no I'd better stop)


So anyway. I managed to snag Christian Bale's latest, The Machinist on DVD after nearly a year of waiting; and as I'd expected, Bale shines in this Brad Anderson (Session 9) directed effort. It's intriguing to find out that Anderson had to shoot in Spain to cover costs since no one would finance the shoot in the US. Shows us where the studios are aiming for in good old Hollywood.

In any case, The Machinist is one of those movies that's impossible to review without giving away major spoilers, so I'll just try and put in the main details. Trevor Reznik (insert NIN reference here, played by Bale) has a problem. He hasn't been able to sleep in a year. The insomnia affects his appearance as well - he has lost so much weight that he looks like a bag of bones. The only refuges he has from his sleepless condition comes from the town hooker Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh, and yes you get to see her boobs) who secretly is in love with him and Maria, the waitress at the diner in the local airport where Reznik goes for his late night coffee.

As he alternates between microsleeps and his somnambulistic waking condition, things get bad when he is partly responsible for a workplace accident that costs his colleague (Michael Ironside!) an arm (shades of Starship Troopers). Reznik begins to feel persecuted by his workmates, a problem further compounded by the strange, teasing little notes he finds taped to his refrigerator. And then there's the problem of the big bald guy who pops in and out of the picture, but who no one seems to know..

The Machinist basically boils down to a story about guilt, conscience and accountability, but it is never heavy handed in its delivery of the message. The taut direction helps keep the pace brisk when the whole thing seems almost to teeter on the brink of being slow - and if it's one thing about Brad Anderson he milks atmosphere for everything he's worth. Without resorting to be overly symbolic he paints scenes that individually may seem stilted, but taken in the context of Trevor Reznik's life, make sense, and help propel the viewer along to the denouement, which I promise is well worth the ride.

Kudos has to go to the actors with Bale once again proving he can take anything they throw at him and make it work. His emaciated frame (which weighed in at 120 pounds during shooting) was almost too painful to watch, but he manages to make Reznik work so well as the tortured soul. The supporting actors are just that - they provide the context and background for his trials, and when the end finally comes, well you can be sure that you won't be in a hurry to lose any sleep.

In short, if you liked Identity, Session 9 or any other twist-y flick, give this one a try. You might even sleep better at night.

4 out of 5


Saturday, February 26

Good Morning, Bukit Bintang

I had to write: the smell of the mess in my head was driving me crazy; and the voices were broadcasting their weekend song on every channel on every other frequency, up to the point where I couldn't even think.

So you see, I had to write.

I woke up at 730 am in a hotel room somewhere on Jalan Bukit Bintang. Alone, yes, but not clutching the sweat-soaked sheets (simply because they weren't) not because some unnameable horror from my past decided to run its spiky little nails on my chest, but because it was morning.

Faintly, I heard the cars and the bustle somewhere downstairs. I dragged my half naked arse (who cares when you're in an anonymous hotel room in an anonymous hotel?) to the window and cleared a spot on the foggy mass of grey.

It struck me then: I remembered thinking fuck, it's cold, and then I also remembered that I set the thermostat to 15 degrees before I got into bed, and that Pirates of the Caribbean is still a bloody good flick. I saw that everything else was grey - the sky, the rooftop of the buildings next to me (where I could swear I saw some action going on last night), the road - and the first thing I could coherently think of was

good morning, Bukit Bintang.

I have a secret.

I do this, sometimes; when I can't take the heat, or the noise, or the voices. I check in somewhere, spend the night and check out. Usually I bring my Standard Travel Kit: toiletries, a change of clothes, books, my Xbox, some protection (hell you never know). I love hotels, you know? They're like single serve oases of quiet (or noise, depending on which you prefer but mostly the former) where the sheets are clean and smell nice, you always get hot showers and no one really makes any noise if you make a mess.

Lovely place, hotels. This particular one held some interesting memories for me. Some years ago I walked in slightly younger, bubbling with excitement and infinitely optimistic.

It's amazing what a change in the seasons does to you.

Last night I took a walk; I needed to soak in the sounds and smells. If there's one thing about Jalan Bukit Bintang on a Friday night, it's that you can never really be sure of what you'll see, hear or do eventually. Like Barbossa in that Pirates movie I knew I was thirsty for something - something that even my escapes like this one may not satisfy for long. So I breathed. I breathed in the stale stench of the sewers, the greasy aroma of deep fried something (duck? chicken? pork?), beer, sweat-soaked perfume, the smell of conversations (I love you, okay or what the fuck? or something else in Mandarin I couldn't really tell what at the DVD shop downstairs) and the thousand other things that at any moment could mean the world and at the same time mean absofuckinglutely nothing at all.

I took a bite of out of KL last night: just a little one, but I'm sure she won't mind.


This morning as I started my car, Robbie Williams came on the MP3 playlist, singing a cover of Ella Fitzgerald's One For My Baby. You know, I couldn't think of a single track that would have suited the past 24 hours any better. Morning jazz - I wonder what I'll think of next.

I could tell you a lot, but it's not
In a gentleman's code
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

Robbie Williams, One For My Baby, Late Night Moods aka Jazz In The City

Have a good one, folks.


Tuesday, February 22

InsaneOx is Down (Again)

Dear Readers:

As of today some of you may have had trouble accessing my new blog at That's quite understandable. You see, my hosting company, Mercumaya, experienced the latest in a series of debilitating "occurrences" with this final one totally wiping out the contents of my account and domain (as of 5 pm) and of several others, including and According to the company, the databases are still intact, although having been through what I have with them these past few weeks, I am disinclined to believe them.

As of today I haven't even owned the domain for 30 days, and of that time the site has probably been up for about two weeks in total. I would link you to the posts I made during the intense period that was last week as I cajoled them into doing what would be standard for other hosting providers; but sadly those too have been wiped out except for a backup copy currently residing in my hard disk, and even that ends on the 17th, leaving 5 days' worth of entries gone in the ether (if we're inclined to ignore their promise).

Having blogged hassle free via blogger (and then Typepad) I feel I am more than within my rights when I say if you know of anyone considering to purchase hosting from this company, please dissuade them. If it takes me a month for them to install the DBD::SQL drivers, think of the time (and money) they could ultimately cost you.

In the meantime, I apologise. As of the time of writing there is little indication as to when the servers will be online again, and even less as to the condition of the contents of my site. At this point in time I am more than ever tempted to stop this sorry exercise altogether, cut my losses and run, although this remains to be seen.

I'm sure that meanwhile my readers will be able to find themselves new and interesting things to read on or off PPS, and I hope we can meet again sometime.

Thank you, and goodnight.