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Entries in Michael Fassbender (80)

Sunday
Apr192015

Tribeca: Go Slow West, Where The Skies Are Blue

The Tribeca Film Festival 2015 kicked off this week and we'll be bringing you our screening adventures. Here's Jason on Michael Fassbender's new Western.

Jay Canvendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) sees the world through rose-colored lenses - that is to say, the name of his on-the-lam paramour is Rose and he sees the world colored by his love for her. In flashbacks we come to sense that Rose's feelings towards Jay are somewhat different, but that's not slowing him down. He will find her and everything will be fine, for their love is a grand and true thing.

Slow West ekes its enviable tension out of dropping Jay's love-dumb perspective down into the Movie Wild West we all know only too well - or think we do, until this movie gets to toying with it - with its brutes and indifference to beauty; what bubbles up is a bizarre, Coen-esque journey of colorful characters marching tho their own drumbeat... usually right across the open wound of Jay's ever-singing heart. 

Nobody more than his protector and companion Silas (Michael Fassbender), who signs up for a hefty price (namely every last cent in Jay's designer wallet) to get him safe along the long road westward to his lady love and spends the the first half of the trip trying to carve some hard sense into the boy. Jay's romanticism, which infects every frame of director John Maclean's gorgeously lensed film (New Zealand stands in for Colorado and it shows in the fantastically-spiced landscape - if Tolkein had dreamed up Shane this is what we'd maybe have seen), eventually proves too much for Silas to true grit his teeth against though, and even the hardened gunslinger softens a bit in the face of such steely porcelain sweetness.

Fassbender and Smit-McPhee have an appealing oddball chemistry, two lanky scarecrows bouncing along on horseback - one china-doll clean, the other bronzed and whittled down by the desert winds. They could be brothers, from another alien mother. The actors find unexpected ways to play off each other, keeping the film's main relationship surprising at every turn, much like the fascinating and arch world around them keeps us guessing at what's coming around every bend. By the time Ben Mendelsohn shows up in his foot-thick bear coat waving around a bottle of absinthe it's pretty clear we've all signed on to a gorgeous but deadly fever dream.

Tuesday
Apr072015

Best Actor. April Foolish Predictions

It's that time of year. But judging on your semi-quiet response maybe you weren't quite ready for it yet? Anyway. Light a fire. Whoohoo. It's time to pull out the crystal balls and make stupidly early Oscar predictions.

There are so very many questions to ask about the forthcoming Best Actor race. These are just 8 of them:

• Can Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl) be the first back-to-back acting winner in 21 years?
• Will Tom Hiddleston (I Saw the Light) & Don Cheadle (Miles Ahead) do their musician legend biopics proud?
• Will Michael Fassbender prove Michael Fassbender's undoing (5 leading roles this year)?
• Same question for Jake Gyllenhaal (3 leading roles this year)?
• Perennial Write-In Question from Leo "when will it finally be my turn?" 
• Can money-grubbers Will Smith (Concussion) & Johnny Depp (Black Mass) find artistic redemption and thus Oscar favor?
• Can Bryan Cranston (Trumbo) triple-crown by February next year? He's already got the Tony & the Emmy 
• Will any of the old guard (Warren Beatty, Tom Courtenay, Sir Ian McKellen) rise up?
• Will Beasts of No Nation sort out its theater vs online situation so that Idris Elba has a shot?

SEE THE NEW CHART. Discuss.

Wednesday
Mar182015

We Can't Wait #3: Macbeth

Team Experience is counting down our 15 most anticipated for 2015. Here's David to kick off the top 3...

Who & What: Yes, there have been countless Shakespeare adaptations through cinematic history, although the Scottish play is one of the Bard’s biggest plays that (perhaps) hasn’t landed a definitive English language adaptation as of yet (Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood will admittedly take some beating) – and that’s with auteurs as legendary as Orson Welles and Roman Polanski having taken a crack at it. Justin Kurzel, the Australian newbie who was much admired for the jagged savagery of his debut feature The Snowtown Murders, is in the directing chair, and has the awesome pairing of Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard as his royal Scottish schemers. 

People getting in the way of their bloodthirsty lust for power include David Thewlis’ Duncan, Paddy Considine’s Banquo, rising star Jack Reynor as Malcolm and The Great Gatsby’s Elizabeth Debicki as Lady MacDuff. Behind the camera, talent includes cinematographer Adam Arkapaw (Snowtown, Animal Kingdom), production designer Fiona Crombie (Snowtown, Top of the Lake) and our beloved costumer Jacqueline Durran.


Why we're excited about it: Ever since it was announced, Kurzel taking on what might be the Bard’s most gruesome pieces of work has seemed like a delectable proposition, with Snowtown’s eerie form promising a take on the greed, manipulation and psychological demonics of Macbeth that doesn’t skimp on the utter blackness at its heart. Add two of the world’s finest – not to mention most beautiful – performers at the centre, plus all of that additional talent, and this apparently ‘gothic’ take on the material can hardly fail.

What if it all goes wrong?: Well, it’s been a long wait – is that something to be worried about? Hopefully not; a preview at Cannes last year seemed to impress, and Kurzel probably didn’t want to rush it out of the editing room just for awards. Natalie Portman’s exit from the project was never explained, but it doesn’t seem to have augured any rumours of trouble in the production.

When: What with those Oscar rumblings last year, we’d wager it’ll be a long, impatient wait until some time near the end of the year, ready for next Oscar season, especially with The Weinstein Company involved. IMDb lists November and December dates for France and Sweden, but every other country is still awaiting news of when the latest take on the Bard’s most infamous play will arrive.

Previously...
Thursday
Jan292015

Sundance: Fassbender Wanders The Frontier In The Unsatisfying "Slow West"

Michael C here reporting from an unseasonably warm Park City

John Maclean's Slow West is an ambitious western that falls short of its lofty aspirations because of its thin execution and its dud of a protagonist. The protagonist is 16-year-old Jay Cavendish played by Kodi Smit-McPhee as a naif spectacularly ill-equipped to deal with the dangers of frontier travel in 1870. The voice over from Michael Fassbender's tough guy bounty hunter opens the film with the observation that it's a miracle Cavendish made it as far he did without getting murdered. We in the audience size him up with his innocent doe eyes and his still-waiting-for-puberty physique and we quite agree. He would surely have been doomed had Fassbender's Silas not taken him under his wing as a travel companion. 

This all would be a fine dynamic for a film, the weathered cowboy dropping a cold dose of reality on the young fool with his romantic ideas about true love and the West. Unfortunately, Slow West tries to push the idea that Jay is some kind of pure soul with poetry in his heart who can impart a lesson to the brutes like Fassbender about aspiring to something higher. Actually I thought the kid came off like a dope...

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Saturday
Jan032015

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Friday
Aug222014

Review: Frank

Michael C. here.  The audience can be forgiven if it assumes that Lenny Abarahamson’s Frank will be another cookie cutter indie quirkfest. The title character certainly seems at first glance like a contrived package of screenwriting conceits. Played by an actor we have to take on faith is Michael Fassbender, Frank is an artist who, despite a recent stay in a mental institution, still wears at all times a beach ball-sized fiberglass head with a smiling Howdy Doody face. Frank is the lead singer of an avant-garde band with an unpronounceable name (the Soronprfbs) and an unlistenable sound. When they perform it looks like five people having a synchronized nervous breakdown. With this shooting gallery of easy targets we sit back and wait for the movie to rain down mockery on its characters, sort of like a Napoleon Dynamite for hipster musicians.

The great surprise of Frank is that it avoids the easy jokes, aiming for something altogether more interesting. Abrahamson accepts these bizarre characters at face value and follows them with thoughtfulness and an open mind, often to funny places, sometimes to bracingly dark ones. It’s a tricky tonal balancing act, but the film rarely steps wrong. In passing up the cheap shots, Frank finds unexpected depth beneath the weirdness. 

We first meet Frank and company through Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) a would-be songwriter who spends his days wandering the streets hoping to find the inspiration to jumpstart his dormant creative engine. [More...]

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