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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Pick Six- Christian Bale


Pick Six- Christian Bale

So with the film of the year just a little under a week away, I figured I would do my second Pick Six with its star, Christian Bale. The Dark Knight Rises is possibly the most anticipated movie of this decade and, while so many other blogs are talking about the best Batman movies and what not, I wanted to focus on the man underneath the cowl. Keep in mind, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are givens on this list, so I wanted to pick my six other favorite films by the Welsh chameleon. 

Directed by: Mary Harron, Rated: R, 102 minutes

Some can argue that American Psycho is the film that really put Christian Bale on the map. His portrayal of the sex-crazed, self-obsessed, Patrick Bateman tapped into the dark fantasies that few people have and most of us are afraid of. It's a twisted tale of a man possibly going insane (the ending is rather ambiguous)  and features some incredibly graphic scenes of both violent and sexual nature. Even if you're not a fan of the film, it's something you won't forget (mostly because of how phenomenal Bale is). It also teaches us that a business card is much more than a tiny piece of paper and that it's hip to be square. 

Directed by: Kurt Wimmer, Rated: R: 107 minutes

Equilibirum is hands down one of my favorite action movies of all time. It's got the style of The Matrix, the setting of 1984, and a fighting technique completely unique to the film (gun kata). Bale plays John Preston, a government agent whose job it is to find and destroy anyone or anything that elicits emotion. After Preston decides against taking his daily dose of Prozium, a drug that inhibits emotion, he slowly unravels the secrets of the world and stands against those he used to work for. This is one of the first times we see Bale in an action role, and he kicks so much ass you can't help but wonder when he'll play a superhero. The movie also features incredible fight sequences and has one of the largest body counts in any film I've seen. 

Directed by: Brad Anderson, Rated: R, 101 minutes

The Machinist is an incredible low budget film that shows how far Bale will go for a role (he lost over 60 pounds to play the lead). Bale plays Trevor, a man who struggles to find any sort of sleep, and whose insomnia slowly begins to destroy his life and his grasp on reality. The Machinist is a thinking man's film, and at first, seems like your run of the mill drama, but quickly turns into an emotional ride of seeing a man lose his mind and fall into a ghastly nightmare that blurs the lines around what is real and who he is. Completely underrated and under-watched, The Machinist is a must see for any fan of Bale (in one of his finest performances). 

Directed by: Christopher Nolan, Rated: PG-13, 130 minutes

The Prestige is every bit as magical as it is mysterious and dramatic. It's an absolutely fantastic film, directed by the masterful Christopher Nolan, that tells the story of dueling magicians (Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman) who keep one-upping each other with new tricks. As the illusions become grander and the stakes higher, the game between the two escalates to places you'd never imagine. Bale is terrific as Alfred Borden and his cat and mouse routine with Jackman is the highlight of the film. The two powerhouses go at each other with no qualms about crossing the line and it explodes into an incredible finish. Who knew magic could be so ruthless?

Directed by: James Mangold, Rated: R, 122 minutes

3:10 to Yuma is not the first film you think of when you think of Bale. In fact, it was practically swept under the rug after its release in 2007. It's a film I feel has not gotten the love it deserves as it really is one of best westerns of all time. Bale plays Dan Evans, a rancher who takes on the task of escorting the notorious criminal, Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to a train that will take him away to prison. Bale and Crowe are great together, both playing completely different characters than the other. As the film progresses, a game of wits ensues between the two and the line that divides them begins to blur. With terrific action sequences (including a handful of memorable chases) and a dramatic story at its core, 3:10 to Yuma is both brutal and beautiful. 

Directed by: Steven Spielberg, Rated: PG, 152 minutes

Last, but certainly not least is Empire of the Sun, a film that proves not only how masterful a filmmaker Steven Spielberg is, but also his ability to cast incredible young actors in heart-wrenching roles. Bale, only 12 at the time, gives a better performance than most adult actors can dream of. He stars as Jamie Graham, a boy who's struggling to survive during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai, and his journey to find his parents and his home. Empire of the Sun is both beautiful and haunting and shows the horrors of war and how innocence can be lost, literally overnight. Without Empire of the Sun, Bale would not be where he is today, and unlike most child actors these days, he has earned everything he has. 

Just missed the cut:
The Fighter- while Bale's performance is worthy of an Oscar, I did not like the film as much as the ones on the list
Rescue Dawn- another body-changing role for Bale and dramatic look at the brutality of war, I found this to be too similiar to The Machinist and Empire of the Sun to include
Howl's Moving Castle- the magic of this film is attributed to the director, Hayao Miyazaki, and Bale just supplies the voice to the title character

Christian Bale Rundown:
I have reviewed:

Average Rating: 9.00/10

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At July 15, 2012 at 10:45 AM , Blogger said...

Nice choice for a pick six. I actually have not seen either Equilibrium or the Prestige going to have to add those to my enourmous and ever growing list of films to watch.
Also good job pointing out his Welshness probably has an impact upon his greatness. ;-)

At July 15, 2012 at 10:48 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Thanks! I've loved Bale forever so picking just 6 was incredibly hard. He only has a few really big duds in his career. And yes, his Welshnessity is what makes him great. Half the time no one knows what nationality he is because he disguises his accent so well. In fact, during the press tour of a particular movie, he tends to use the accent he used in the film, as to not confuse viewers. I think he's dropped that technique more recently, as Batman requires a crap ton of interviews and such.

At July 15, 2012 at 4:06 PM , Blogger buddy2blogger said...

Bale is my fav actor as well. I love 3:10 to Yuma and The Machinist. I need to see Empire of the Sun and American Psycho. Have you seen Harsh Times - Bale is terrific in this one as well.


At July 15, 2012 at 4:08 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yep, I've seen Harsh Times as well. He's amazing in it but the movie as a whole isn't the greatest. He tends to elevate even the crappiest of films to sub-par greatness lol.

At July 18, 2012 at 8:08 PM , Anonymous Eric said...

You pretty much nailed my favorite roles from Bale. His take on Patrick Bateman made me a fan for life. Great spotlight!

At July 18, 2012 at 8:31 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Thank you. It's a little tricky narrowing his career down to six performances, but I'm glad you like my list!


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