Domhnall Gleeson

A24

Alex Garland is an excellent writer. The screenwriter behind Never Let Me Go, 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Dredd has tremendous range, and the fact that he can go from breaking your heart with a tragic Kazuo Ishiguro adaptation to writing a ridiculously good action movie shows he has discovered few limits so far. Some may argue he has a problem landing third acts, but those final 30 minutes of Sunshine are completely built up to and valid. Seriously. Garland tackles high-concepts with real humanity, and his characters are generally as fascinating as his big ideas. He may strike that balance once again with his directorial debut, Ex Machina. The sci-fi film stars Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Domhnall Gleeson (In Time) and Alicia Vikander (Anna Karenina). Gleeson plays Caleb, a coder who wins a contest to spend time with a private CEO, Nathan (Isaac), and his A.I. creation. When Caleb arrives at Nathan’s home he’s awe-struck by what he finds… but that sense of wonder soon turns to horror. Checkout the trailer released by A24 to see why.

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Maggie Gyllenhaal in FRANK

Frank is full blown indie quirk. That heightened sensibility is often insufferable to sit through, but what makes potentially grating quirks work is what director Lenny Abrahamson and screenwriters Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan say with each of the film’s eccentricities. While certain oddities may appear fun and harmless at the start, they turn into real pain by the end. Our eyes and ears in Frank is Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), a young musician who may not have the talent to make a career out of it. He dreams of making it big, so when he’s asked to play the keyboard for the band Soronprfbs, he jumps at the chance. No money is involved, just the chance to play music with a group Jon thinks could be the next big thing. The problem is, Soronprbs is made up of a group of unreliable hipsters, led by the charming, kind, and likable Frank (Michael Fassbender), who happens to wear a big paper mache head, which he never takes off. The other members of the band, besides Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), aren’t given much personalities, beyond their annoyance of Jon.

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Oscar Isaac in The Nativity Story

If you saw today’s Star Wars: Episode VII casting news and said “who?” more than once, this guide is for you. But even if you saw the names and were mostly familiar with them, this guide is also for you. Sure, everyone knows Andy Serkis, but has everyone seen the movie that makes him best suited to work with director J.J. Abrams on a Star Wars movie? Especially if, as I would wish, he isn’t just doing another motion-capture character? And yeah, yeah, there’s the whole Inside Llewyn Davis reunion going on with Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac, but there are other more appropriate, if not better, movies to see in anticipation of the big one. For each of the newcomers, I’ve selected one movie that you can watch right now and one movie that will (hopefully) be out between now and the December 2015 release date for Episode VII. That gives you plenty of time and a fairly small pile of titles to get through. Of course, if you have some extra room for more, you can always add at least 20 more necessities for Max von Sydow. That guy has been in a lot of great stuff. And a lot of bad stuff that’s at least pretty cool.

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Dr. Doom

We already know that the new Fantastic Four movie is going to be really young and hip, and not just more young and hip than the first film, because no matter how nice his hair is, Ioan Gruffudd is not hip, and Michael Chiklis is hip like a hip dad, so the bar is a little low on this one. But, really, just how hip is this thing going to be? The Josh Trank movie already has Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell lined up to play three of the four, with Miles Teller probably on board to lead the cast as the stretchy good time known as Mr. Fantastic, but what about villains? Will there be hip villains? Will there be hip villains? Oh, you. Yes, of course there will be. Well, at least if a news bit from The Wrap is to be believed, as the outlet is now reporting that four actors (all with accents! Hip!) are currently on the shortlist of possible candidates for Dr. Doom. Will one of them take to the silver screen to battle the pure fantastic-tivity that is our four good guys? Maybe, but it’s hard to get too excited about the possibilities, because said list includes some pretty fresh talents that plenty of comic book fans might not recognize.

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frank

When it was first announced that everyone’s favorite actor, Michael Fassbender, would be appearing in an Irish indie film called Frank, it was said that he would be playing an “eccentric front man” who leads a band that gets joined by an aspiring musician played by Domhnall Gleeson. While that sounded interesting enough on its own, it turns out that description undersold the film a bit as far as its weirdness factor goes. You see, when the title character that Fassbender is playing here was initially described as being “eccentric,” what they really meant is that he’s a complete lunatic who wears an absolutely bonkers mascot head everywhere he goes while waxing on philosophically about music and the universe and whatnot. Fassbender is basically the most charismatic man ever, but can even he give an engaging performance while having his head completely covered by such an outlandish distraction? Of course he can. Duh. Click through to watch a clip from the film [via The Playlist] which proves just that.

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About Time

Romantic comedy fans have long been starving for satisfying genre fare to hit the box office, all the Valentine’s Days and New Year’s Eves and Arbor Days (surely, the next one, right?) notwithstanding, and it’s long seemed as if the When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail glory days (we loved Nora Ephron, what can we say?) were far gone. Yet, with Love Actually writer and director Richard Curtis finally returning to the sort of films he excels at crafting, it’s perhaps a bit early to consider the entire genre dead. Maybe it’s just sleeping. Curtis’ About Time certainly comes with an enviable pedigree (any film that features Curtis directing Bill Nighy is cause to celebrate), but it’s the film’s charming cast and cleverly tangled plot conceit that keeps it ticking right along. About Time centers on hapless young Tim (Domhnall Gleeson, who is utterly adorable in every frame of the film), a sweet guy who has never been very lucky in love. Tim’s been lucky elsewhere, however, as he had an exceedingly idyllic childhood in the arms of his “sturdy” mother Mary (Lindsay Duncan), deeply bookish dad (Nighy), heartbreakingly sweet Uncle Desmond (Richard Cordery), and whimsical sister Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson) and he’s soon to embark on an exciting (well, somewhat) legal career in London. Before all that, however, he’s got some time to kill at his family home, and it’s only after one of his family’s rip-roaring New Year’s Eve parties that dear old dad shares an […]

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About Time

What if your dad said that you could travel through time? Would you believe him? Would you be hesitant? Would you have him hauled away to a mental institution? About Time shoots for the middle ground between those first two, and builds a very Groundhog Day-esque romantic comedy on the idea that time travel is in fact a real thing. Watch a new international trailer for the film below (although be advised there’s a smidgeon of salty language in there).

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review shadow dancer

Editor’s note: We’re re-running Scott’s review from last year’s Berlinale Film Festival as Shadow Dancer opens this weekend in limited theatrical release. The image of the bomb is an apt one for Shadow Dancer. As a hunk of parts with a timer, there’s nothing naturally threatening about a bomb; it’s the explosion that matters. Hitchcock was right, and in this IRA thriller from James Marsh, incendiary devices are all over the place. Some are literal, most are figurative, and Bomb Theory abounds. It opens with the shocking death of a young boy, surrounded by his family as blood pours from a bullet hole in his chest. It’s a direct insight into the fight the members of the IRA hold as sacrosanct and the guilt that the boy’s sister feels over sending him out into the streets on a simple errand. That sister, all grown up, is Collete McVeigh (achingly performed by Andrea Riseborough). After dropping off a suspicious bag in a tube station, she’s picked up by the authorities and taken to see Mac (Clive Owen) who dangles the promise of hard jail time in front of her until she turns reluctant informant for the MI5. The people she’s betraying forced her into a war, but they’re also her family.

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About Time

Do you feel it in your fingers? Do you feel it in your toes? Love, Actually writer/director Richard Curtis has a new science-fiction romantic comedy on the horizon. And so the feeling grows. In About Time, a young man (Domhnall Gleeson) is told by his father (Bill Nighy) that the men of their family have the ability to travel in time. Naturally, he sets upon using the incredible talent to get lucky Daft Punk-style and sets out to woo a young lady played by Rachel McAdams. There’s a touch of Groundhog Day here, what with the opportunity to call Mulligan and redo specific moments in time, and knowing Curtis’ strengths as a storyteller, it may turn out just as rich and lively. He’s never been one for the surface-level gimmick, and the trailer tilts in that direction (while adhering to the strange rule that McAdams has to run around in her underwear for at least one trailer-bound scene):

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Maggie Gyllenhaal

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that’s been out of work since casting agents seem to be treating the week between Christmas and New Years as one prolonged food coma. If there’s one thing that Jurassic Park taught us, it’s that nature finds a way. Well, casting finds a way too. In a week where there isn’t any news getting leaked to the trades, leave it to Albuquerque Business First to break a new scoop. The eagle eyes over at The Film Stage noticed that, in an article about how that Michael Fassbender-starring rock and roll comedy called Frank is coming to town to shoot, the local source managed to break the news that Maggie Gyllenhaal is coming to town with it. Her involvement in the film sees her joining a cast that includes not just Fassbender, but two of the young MVPs of 2012, Domhnall Gleeson and Scoot McNairy, as well. Which, you know, makes her one of the luckiest ladies in the world.

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Michael Fassbender

The upcoming year looks like it’s going to be a busy one for Michael Fassbender, which probably has something to do with the fact that he’s the greatest (and handsomest) actor currently residing on the planet. He just got done filming Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, he’s now working on the Ridley Scott directed and Cormac McCarthy written The Counselor, he’s been linked to Natalie Portman’s next project, Jane Got a Gun, and there’s always his reprisal of the classic X-Men villain Magneto looming in the future, for the X-Men: First Class sequel Days of Future Past. When you’re a complete stud and acting machine like Fassbender, however, you don’t let something silly like a full schedule stop you from piling more on, so it should come as no surprise that Variety is reporting the übermensch has added another project onto his plate. The latest is an Irish indie called Frank. Coming from a script by Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan, and to be directed by Lenny Abrahamson (whose latest, What Richard Did, is about to debut at TIFF), Frank is the story of an aspiring and naive young musician who gets in over his head after he joins a band led by an eccentric front man. And it turns out Fassbender can carry a tune:

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In what sounds like a very cool (schmoopy romance can be cool right?) project, Richard Curtis is writing and directing About Time – a story focusing on a young man named Tim who finds out that he’s one in a long line of time travelers. That comes with some impressive powers, no doubt. Groundhog Day-like powers. Or the ability to go back and make sure Hitler wasn’t born or something important like knowing all the right questions in class or on dates. According to Variety, the production is looking at Zooey Deschanel as the leading love interest which means the costume department will be searching on ModCloth and she’ll get to sing a song. While we all fall in love with her manic big-eyed dreamgirlness. Right now, Tim the Time Traveler is being played by Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley in Harry Potter, Shadow Dancer and Anna Karenina). All in all, it sounds like a potentially large-hearted project with a sci-fi conceit hiding somewhere in the atria. Plus, Gleeson is a presence with range who is beginning to come into his own after the massive wand-wielding franchise, and even though New Girl is solid comedy work, it’s about time Deschanel returned to film.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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