F.I.L.M. of the Week (February 4, 2011)

4 02 2011

Surely I can’t be the only one who’s a little shocked that Christian Bale is just receiving his first Oscar nomination, and if there’s any justice in the world, his incredible performance in “The Fighter” will earn him a statue on his first time to the big dance.  Bale is one heck of an actor who really can do it all: headline blockbusters like “The Dark Knight” and “Terminator: Salvation” but also step into unconventional leading man roles in independent movies such as “Rescue Dawn,” my pick for the “F.I.L.M. of the Week.”

Bale plays real-life Dieter Dengler, a U.S. military pilot shot down over Laos in the early years of the nation’s involvement with Vietnam.  He survives the crash and attempts to run to safety, but he gets caught by hostile militant forces who take him to a P.O.W. camp.  There, Dieter meets other prisoners, including Duane (Steve Zahn) and Gene (Jeremy Davies), all gaunt from their extended stays.

Dieter won’t be held back or held in and almost instantaneously begins plans for escape.  After getting the lay of the land, it takes him a while to find the perfect way and the perfect time.  He and Duane manage to get away unscathed, but that leaves the two of them with very little food in the middle of the jungles of Laos.  Lost and desperate, the two embark on a journey for survival that is both harrowing and inspiring.

Sure, Bale makes another one of his trademark physical transformations to make the role believable; however, this is not what makes “Rescue Dawn” such a fantastic watch.  It’s his emotional transformation that’s so gripping. Bale’s stripping away of all acting instincts to portray the most primal instincts with such raw power is nothing short of astonishing.  (And on a lesser note, will someone give Steve Zahn his own movie?  The guy kills every supporting role has gets – it’s time for him to move up to the big leagues.)

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2 responses

7 02 2011
Castor

One of the most underrated film of Bale’s career so far IMO. I thought Rescue Dawn was a very solid movie but it obviously didn’t make much of a ripple. Let’s hope he gets his well deserved Oscar this time around.

9 02 2011
Andrew

Bale hasn’t won an Oscar yet for a reason opposite to how you describe him: he can’t do it all. His entire career has been built up on playing one range containing the same notes of dourness and seriousness, with few exceptions in between; on top of that the guy’s not exactly been in any roles that cry out for an award, even Rescue Dawn, in which he’s admittedly quite good. What should he have received a nom for? The Prestige? The Dark Knight (in which he was consistently outshone by his supporting cast)?

That said, he would have fit in more with Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Viggo Mortensen, and George Clooney than Johnny Depp did considering the role he got nominated for. He still would have been out of his league, of course, but not so much this year. Will he win? If The King’s Speech doesn’t dominate, yes, but if it does, he’s likely to lose to Rush.

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