Anton Corbijn

review a most wanted man

The 9/11 attacks were planned from the beautiful, immigrant-friendly city of Hamburg, and Germany swore afterwards that it would never happen again. In addition to tightening security for those coming into the country, part of their efforts to stop terrorist cells from operating so freely within their borders included the creation of a small intelligence unit whose sole purpose is prevention. Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) heads up the team (which also includes Daniel Brühl and Nina Hoss), but his latest mission challenges more than his skill-set and determination. It shakes his drive, moral compass, and dedication to “making the world a safer place.” A Most Wanted Man is exactly what you’d expect from the director of The American, and while that assessment will mean different things to different people the film remains a meticulously crafted adaptation of John le Carre‘s bestselling novel.

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U2, Nirvana, Depeche Mode, Arcade Fire, Joy Division, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds isn’t a shabby list of names to be associated with in any capacity, and those are just a few of the bands that Anton Corbijn has directed iconic music videos for. The renowned photographer and filmmaker has always presented his subjects through a vision of his own, leading to a long history of famous images. His feature films haven’t been huge hits with the public though. So far Corbijn has only made two pictures – Control and The American – and, by their own accord, they’re not for everybody. The American even downright angered some filmgoers expecting a more action-heavy Clooney picture, but those aren’t the viewers Corbijn is aiming to please. The director is the subject of a new documentary, Anton Corbijn Inside Out, and for the digital release of the film, Corbijn made the time to speak with us. Here’s what he had to say:

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A Man Most Wanted

Back in February it was reported that there was a new adaptation of a John le Carré novel being developed, and that it was looking to put Philip Seymour Hoffman in a leading role. It all sounded very exciting, but Hoffman’s involvement wasn’t official. Well, some time has passed since then, details on the project are starting to solidify, and the crew has even started to put together a cast of familiar faces to join Hoffman in supporting roles. But first, let’s recap exactly what this project is. A Most Wanted Man is a story about a half-Russian, half-Czech immigrant who comes to Germany—scarred and starved—looking for his father’s lost fortune. His past is mysterious, his motives are suspect, and eventually his pursuits get the attentions of a British banker and a young female lawyer, who both try to help them in their own way, and who end up forming a strange love triangle in the process. There’s no time for romance, however, as the man’s arrival also gets the attention of a group of spies from three different nations, and soon all of the players converge in ways that are likely steeped in intrigue and double crossings.

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Now that John le Carré’s spy novel “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” has been adapted into a highly acclaimed film of the same name that made a bunch of money on a worldwide level, we can probably expect to see a flood of his other works suddenly making their way to the big screen. And at the head of that pack is director Anton Corbijn, who plans to make an adaptation of Le Carré’s “A Most Wanted Man” the followup to his 2010 film The American. The screenplay has been adapted by Edge of Darkness writer Drew Bovell, and tells the story of a mysterious Russian immigrant in Germany. Or, as the book’s Amazon description puts it: “A half-starved young Russian man in a long black overcoat is smuggled into Hamburg at dead of night. He has an improbable amount of cash secreted in a purse round his neck. He is a devout Muslim. Or is he? He says his name is Issa. Annabel, an idealistic young German civil rights lawyer, determines to save Issa from deportation. Soon her client’s survival becomes more important to her than her own career. In pursuit of Issa’s mysterious past, she confronts the incongruous Tommy Brue, the sixty-year-old scion of Brue Freres, a failing British bank based in Hamburg. A triangle of impossible loves is born. Meanwhile, scenting a sure kill in the so-called War on Terror, the spies of three nations converge upon the innocents.” The big news about this film is that the […]

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You know what former MI6 operative writes ridiculously great spy thrillers? John Le Carré. Did you know his real name is David John Moore Cornwell? Can you see why he’d change it to sound more spy-like? Of course you do. His seminal novel “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold” allowed him to start writing full time, stands as an icon of the genre, and was adapted into a wickedly good film starring Richard Burton. Now, another one of the author’s books will see the big screen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Anton Corbijn will live a bit longer in the world of secretive killers by directing A Most Wanted Man with a script from Edge of Darkness writer Andrew Bovell. Corbijn last directed George Clooney in The American, but unless Clooney can become a convincing Chechian Muslim man, it’s unlikely that he’ll star here. The story follows said Chechian Muslim, named Issa, who illegally enters Hamburg with a mysterious mission and falls under the eye of the German intelligence service. This pairing is fantastic, because even though there will be similarities in tone compared to other Corbijn films, the story sounds like something completely different. With one foot in the wheelhouse and another outside of it, he sounds like the perfect choice for the job. The book has received healthy praise since its publication in 2008, and you can watch a trailer for it here:

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Culture Warrior

Considering the history of early September releases, this was an unusually eventful weekend for movies. The champion of the box-office was a slow-paced, meditative art film disguised as a spy thriller, and its major competition was a grindhouse tribute based on a movie trailer and starring a longtime character actor. On the surface, it seems that Anton Corbijn’s The American and Robert Rodriguez’s Machete couldn’t be any different, but upon closer inspection it becomes clear that these are two stylistically disparate explorations of virtually the same theme; that is, both The American and Machete are about crises in national and cultural identity that occur when one enters another country and becomes an “other” within their culture.

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Two sub-genres well known in the world of action films are hit men and the concept of “one last job.” But what happens when these tropes are applied to a film that forgoes the action element almost all together? Can they work in a film that’s more of a drama and character study? Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits Of Control would seem to imply the answer was no, but a counter-argument hit theaters this past week that actually proves otherwise. Of course, it helps that Anton Corbijn’s The American also features an interesting plot, an actual narrative, and a silver-haired fox that oozes charisma in the lead role. (Happily, they both feature a beautiful, wise, and frequently nude woman too.)

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr jumps feet first into the world of exploitation pictures. He rips off his shirt to show his prison tats when he sees Machete and then becomes a weapons expert to go head-to-head with George Clooney in The American. Finally, he cringes and rolls his eyes at yet another crappy real-life couple love story with Going the Distance. It’s sad when the highlight of his moviegoing weekend is a Lindsay Lohan nip slip.

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There’s a new trailer online for one of our most anticipated movies of 2010. Just when you thought George Clooney was out…

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theamerican-header

More updates are coming down the pipe from the American Film Market in Santa Monica, with our friends at Collider uncovering a first look at George Clooney in Control director Anton Corbijn’s The American.

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A biopic about Ian Curtis, the long lost lead singer of British rock group Joy Division, could easily be named “Love will tear us apart”, go for the easy tear, build another rock myth and get the easy buck. Photographer Anton Corbijn instead, names it Control and makes a movie about gradually losing exactly that. Until there is no myth to hang on to.

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