Tag Archives: Michael Fassbender

Slow West (2015 Sundance)

9 Feb

A 19th century western set in the great nation of New Zealand? Sure, why not? Slow West tells the story of Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Rose (Karen Pistorius), two lovers separated by tragic circumstances. Jay, a proper british aristocrat decides he will journey solo out west in order to be reunited with his true soulmate. What he doesn’t know is that he isn’t the only one looking for Rose, as she is wanted by the law and has a large bounty on her head.  Michael Fassbender plays Silas, a lone wolf frontiersman who agrees to help escort Jay to California – for a price of course. Along the way the duo runs into thier fair share of obstacles, treacherous characters and drunken adventures.

It’s a small-scale indie film, but there is still a quality to Slow West that makes it feel like a full blown epic. We see our heros traverse a wide array of terrain that only New Zealand can offer – from harsh desert landscapes to wheat fields so picturesque they’re surreal – and every frame is shot in vivid detail from cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Philomena, Fish Tank).  Fassbender is great as always, and he totally dissolves into his machismo mountain-man character. Smit-McPhee is different. Playing the brooding and plain-faced adolescent, he never is quite expressive enough to convincingly play the part; you get a sense Smit-McPhee was cast more for his eye candy appeal than his dramatic chops. Thankfully, most of the film he keeps to himself and lets Fassbender do all the talking.

In the way of narrative, Slow West is fairly simple film that borrows heavily on various genre influences. You get an adventurous touch of Sergio Leone mixed in with the revenge tendencies of Tarantino, peppered with some Coen-esc dark comedy.  These elements work great individually, but as a sum total of its parts, Slow West should be more impressive than it actually is. At a tidy 84 minutes, however, there isn’t much to be complain about, and the film’s latter half far outshines its monotonous first.

Bottom Line: Though it falls short of the epic masterpiece it’s pretenses would suggest, Slow West still provides a wonderful journey for audiences and a much-needed revision to the western genre.

slowwest

Rating: 7/10 

Similar to: True Grit (2010), The Assassination of Jesse James (2007),  Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013) 

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

2 Jun

When X-Men first appeared on the big screen back in 2000, it ushered in a new type of super-hero film. Nearly a decade before Christopher Nolan would give birth to his neo-noir inspired Batman, X-Men proved you could successfully adapt beloved comic book characters and place them in a serious, modern-day context (and make money while doing it). This was a drastic shift from the campy, playful superhero films from the decade before (Looking at you, Batman Forever).

14 years and seven installments later, and this group of mutants is still kickin’. Days of Future Past regroups many of the characters from the first film with the newer income of mutants from X-Men: First Class (2011), directed by the original director, Bryan Singer.  By including such a large cast of characters within a cinematic universe over a decade old, continuity errors are bound to happen. Fortunately, Singer is able to create an interesting and well-developed story that both establishes universality with existing X-Men films, and lays the necessary groundwork for the next installment (X-Men: Apocalypse, due in 2016).

Days of Future Past revolves around Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) traveling back in time in order to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from triggering a set of events which eventually lead to the downfall and imprisonment of mutants and non-mutants worldwide. In order to do this, he must recruit Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender).  The inherint motivations and dynamic of these characters is what provides the lifeblood for most of the film. There is also opposition from Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), a human obsessed with implementing his mutant-hunting sentinel program in order to establish peace for mankind.  While all this is going on in the past, mutants of the future are battling these sentinels, trying to buy time for Wolverine to accomplish his mission.

All this action in both the past and future scenarios is cleverly displaced over the course of the film, and Singer makes great use of timing to keep the audience interested. With the exception of a lengthy middle segment where early Professor-X meets up with his future self (Patrick Stewart), the film moves along at a pleasantly brisk pace. Singer also makes an extra effort to include many references to the story’s origins, and die-hard comic book geeks will have plenty to talk about when the film ends.

Days of Future Past’s biggest accomplishment is in its characters. These aren’t your stock, one dimensional personalities you typically expect in a blockbuster; all the major players feel fresh and give great insight into their unique outlook and motivations. Specifically the ongoing conflict in the trio between Magneto, Professor X and Mystique is great stuff to watch.  While it does it have its shortcomings, X-Men: Days of Future Past is, so far, the year’s best summer blockbuster and should leave the fanboys and casual filmgoers satisfied.

 

Rating 7/10 

Similar to: X-Men, X-2, X-Men: First Class

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5 Films I’m Looking Forward To In 2013

20 Dec

With a look ahead, 2013 is shaping up to be great. So far, it looks like there are a hearty amount of sci-fi epics planned including Oblivion, After Earth, Elysium,and Pacific Rim. There are also a good amount sequels in the works expanding franchises like Anchorman, 300, The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Scary Movie, Star Trek, The Hangover, GI JoeDespicable Me and Monsters Inc.  And then of course we have the slew of remakes including The Evil Dead, Carrie, Robocob, and the superhero films The Wolverine, Thor 2, Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 all lined up for a 2013 release.

Below are my picks for the five movies I’m most excited about and why they made the list:

1-   Gangster Squad    Why? Originally planned for this year, WB decided to halt the release until after the new year in order to tone down some of the violent content.  If the all star cast (Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin) isn’t enough to reel you in, think of this as sort of the “L.A. Confidential” of the new Millennium.  The trailer looks stunning and with such great talent under a great director, you can’t go wrong. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about an upcoming neo-noir flick.  Release Date –  Jan 11th

2-  Stoker    Why? Mention psychological thriller and Chan-Wook Park in the same sentence and I’m sold.  Nicole Kidman practically guarantees a knock-out performance, but I’m interested in the supporting work from newcomers Mia Wichowski and Matthew Goode. Release Date – Feb 28th

3-  Untitled Terrence Malick Project    Why?  The mysterious director has kept tight wraps under this project – which apparently doesn’t even have a working title yet – but confirmed actors include Christian Bale, Cate Blanchet, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Benicio Del Toro, Holly Hunter, Rooney Mara and Florence Welch – WOW!!  Though Malick apparently has directed four films to come out next year, this one in particular has me overflowing with curiosity.  What we know is that the story is set around the Austin, TX music scene and involves some romantic drama of sorts. The rest is a mystery.  Release Date – Late Summer or Fall 2013

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2062700/

4-  Nymphomaniac    Why? Shia LaBeouf is leaving his Disney and family-friendly roots aside to work with one of the most well-respected art-house directors of our time: Lars Von Trier.  Expect full male nudity in the first installment of Von Trier’s three-part NC-17 project.   Release Date – Fall 2013

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1937390/

5-  A Good Day To Die Hard    Why?  Cause it’s Die Hard 5! When have we ever needed an excuse to see Bruce Willis kick some ass?  Release Date – Feb 14th

This Christmas, I want a pet DAVID

8 Dec