Michael Fassbender

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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Prometheus 2

Prometheus, are you reading this? No really, are you reading this? According to The Wrap, the “Untitled Ridley Scott Project” slated for 2016 that has been such a mystery for so long now is Prometheus 2. After 20th Century Fox announced a whole slate of movies through 2018, with a blip in the schedule for 2016 for Scott’s mysterious film of the unknown, speculations were ablaze at what the director could be cooking up as his next move. Another Blade Runner movie to follow up the reboot he’s currently working on? That would’ve been cool, wouldn’t it? A completely new film unconnected to a franchise without any expectations? Real rad. Instead, we’re getting the sequel to the unofficial prequel to the Alien franchise. It’s not as if this news wasn’t coming sooner or later; In 2012, Prometheus was a box office hit, raking in $400m worldwide. But what it wasn’t was a critical darling. The film was a bit of an all-around mess — let’s not kid ourselves. Spoilers ahead.

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frank-movie

This is Frank. He’s the lead singer of the band Soronprfbs. He’s played by Michael Fassbender in the film of the same name. And he’s based on an actual person (or character – depending on how you see things). A man who never takes off a papier-mâché head is a situation that seems made for the big screen, especially when that same man lives his life in the spotlight (rather than staying the shadows). Fassbender’s Frank in Frank is based on the real-life creation of comedian and musician Chris Sievey – Frank Sidebottom. While both Franks are aspiring musicians, they attempt to capture success in very different ways.

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frank-movie

Sundance 2014 had a loaded schedule of top notch films, Lenny Abrahamson’s pleasantly weird dark comedy Frank, among them. Frank is the story of Jon, played by Harry Potter alumn Domhnall Gleeson, a young songwriter brought into the fold of a quirky noise rock band called Soronprfbs, led by singer Frank (Michael Fassbender), who perpetually wears a giant papier-mâché head. Quirky and whimsical as he is, the talented Frank is saddled with some pretty heavy issues. Jon moves to Ireland to record an album with the band, posting rehearsal videos on social media, with the aim of getting Frank and his musical cohorts a spot at Austin’s South by Southwest. Check out the trailer below.

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Supporting Actor

The Best Supporting Actor category at this year’s Academy Awards is a tough race, because there isn’t a single nominee who doesn’t deserve to be there. All five men brought vastly different roles to the table, and it’s clear that they’re playing to win. But couldn’t the Academy have, just for a minute, thought to consider that shit and nominate James Franco for Spring Breakers? Franco’s controversial role as Alien in the equally controversial Harmony Korine film was divisive to say the least, but it’s his strongest to date. Plus, wouldn’t it have been wonderful to see that Oscar campaign go on just a little bit longer? Daydreams of what might have been aside, the talent that made the cut is tremendous. Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Supporting Actor along with my predicted winner in red…

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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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The Bent Bullet

Fifty years after his assassination, the circumstances behind the death of President John F. Kennedy has yet another conspiracy theory that can be added to the pile thanks to Bryan Singer and the gang behind X-Men: Days of Future Past. Forget a second shooter or even Lee Harvey Oswald’s true guilt: a new viral video and website entitled The Bent Bullet claims that Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto (Michael Fassbender), is the man behind Kennedy’s murder back in 1963. The Warren Commission determined, after placing Magneto at the Grassy Knoll, that he bent the trajectory of Oswald’s bullets and manipulated the assassination, making him the true killer. While it might be easy to implicate the mutant for the crime, the report suggests that maybe it was too easy — making Magneto a patsy in a time where a nation was struggling to find someone, anyone to blame for the assassination, and already experienced a deep-seated fear and prejudice toward those with mutant abilities. Could it be that Magneto was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, or did he really kill JFK?

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review the counselor

The Counselor is one of the most cinematic and uncinematic movies of the year. It’s the former because director Ridley Scott used  the production to craft a beautifully uncomfortable atmosphere, truly evoking the themes, ideas, and visuals of scribe Cormac McCarthy‘s writing. Yet, it’s uncinematic because, to no one’s surprise, McCarthy loves to do things his own way. The movie doesn’t give you conventional exposition, backstory, or whatever else audiences might expect from easily digestible and normative filmmaking. The lead, The Counselor (Michael Fassbender), isn’t given a name. Why? Because he doesn’t need one. But the film isn’t vague – it tells you everything you need to know. The script itself is a slightly different matter. The people who loathed The Counselor, of which there are many, based on its D Cinema Score and a current rating of 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, would have torn the screen apart if  Scott used everything that McCarthy provided for him on the page. The script is just that good. Scott’s final product contains both minor and major deviations in McCarthy’s script (which reads more as a novel than a traditional screenplay), and following are ten of the most notable changes.

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assbender

We’ve recently seen him play an unhinged plantation owner in 12 Years a Slave and a morally compromised lawyer in The Counselor, and now it’s looking like Michael Fassbender is going to make his next role that of a reluctant gangster in a movie called Trespass Against Us that’s coming from screenwriter Alastair Siddons and first time dramatic feature director Adam Smith. A report from Variety says that Fassbender is currently in negotiations to play one of the lead roles of the film, that of a character named Chad Cutler. Trespass Against Us is set to detail the lives of three generations of a family full of law breakers, with Fassbender’s character being the young black sheep who wants to turn his back on the brood’s rowdy ways in order to become more respectable. Due to the Cutler family’s lives being so out there, Siddons’ script is said to be “infused with action, crime and a strong sense of humor,” but it’s nice to hear that Fassbender would be joining as a more conflicted character. He’s too much of an actor’s actor to be stuck playing a one note devilish rogue. Why not give him the chance to add some pathos to his sly grin?

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X-Men Days of Future Past Trask

X-Men: First Class was a genuine shock — not because of the people involved or the story they chose, but because Fox managed to get out of its own way to deliver a solid comic book movie. X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006 had been cringe-worthy, they’d punted on X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009, and going back in time for a prequel seemed desperate. Fortunately, the clean slate worked. The anticipation leading to X-Men: Days of Future Past is now completely different. No longer the slumping underdog, Xavier’s gifted students are coming off a hell of an introduction, and the latest Wolverine-focused installment was a success at the box office, while 5/6ths of it was a triumph of storytelling. Bringing in old faces like Ellen Page and Hugh Jackman alongside new players like Peter Dinklage to share time with Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy is a potent power play that has stacked the cast being led by director Bryan Singer. It’s still only potential at this point, though. This was a massive undertaking, so the question still looms large as to whether they’ve pulled off a difficult, fan-loved story, but the first full trailer might just have an answer:

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review the counselor

The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is a man in love, but he is also a man who may have gotten himself in over his head when it comes to some of his more “off the books” business dealings. A lawyer by trade, The Counselor (who is only ever referred to as that) has also teamed up with some interesting partners and gotten himself involved in the business of drug smuggling, and nothing goes as it should. From its very first moment, The Counselor brings its audience into a world where nothing is shied away from. Director Ridley Scott creates a highly-stylized environment where every detail is accounted for, and this is also a world where the characters are as compelling as their surroundings. The Counselor is a man who can make even the most mundane conversation, whether talking about the clarity of diamonds or the fabric of lingerie, feel vital and important. Unfortunately, Cormac McCarthy’s script fails do the same. Fassbender’s Counselor has an almost rhythmic cadence when he speaks that makes you want to hear more, but McCarthy’s script keeps him from saying anything of real substance or helping to paint a clearer view of who this man truly is.

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tumblr_mb2f9cQuQm1qcx3szo1_1280-1

Watching Hunger for the first time is not an experience that I’ll soon forget. British video artist-turned-director Steve McQueen imbued this vision of the 1981 IRA hunger strike with such a potent visceral sense, with such a rich and detailed tapestry of sound and image, that watching it is truly a corporeal endurance test of stark immediacy. McQueen’s approach didn’t require traditional methods of character identification and narrative pathos – he simply used the reality of shared flesh and blood to connect the viewer with the events depicted onscreen. The result of McQueen’s efforts carries a profoundly haunting, disturbing, and ultimately revealing insight into the politics of the body, told through a symphony of blood, shit, and urine. McQueen’s latest reportedly doesn’t pull its punches. I have yet to see Twelve Years a Slave, but it is hardly surprising that an artist whose life of work has been so invested in exploring the human body’s use as a device for subjugation, domination, and othering has created such an affecting vision of the horrors of American slavery and institutionalized racism. While Twelve Years a Slave is by most accounts McQueen’s most “accessible” work to date, he doesn’t seem to have lost the touch that made his museum-based work so unique during his quick rise in mainstream critical consensus. So here’s some free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from not that Steve McQueen.

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12 Years a Slave

Editor’s note: Our review of 12 Years a Slave originally ran during this year’s TIFF, but we’re re-posting it as the film opens today in theatrical release. In certain circles, the excellence of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave has just been assumed for months now – after all, how could a film that features such a talented cast, a gifted director, and a dramatically ripe true life tale not be a masterpiece? It’s a dangerous business, the kind of prognostication and hype that can exist before even one frame of a film is shot, but McQueen’s latest is the rare bird that lives up to its hype (and then some).

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Lust of the Dead

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Jonah Hex

Not much is yet known about a new Western that’s in the works called Slow West, but when one of the only things that’s known about it is that its cast is going to feature a trio of talented actors headed up by the current master and ruler of all our acting affection, Michael Fassbender, then that’s really all you need to know to be on board—especially coming so soon after the disappointment of hearing that Fassbender was going to do a Western with Jane Got a Gun, and then having him drop out and nearly doom the project when everyone else started following suit due to heartbreak. News of Slow West’s existence comes from The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye, who says that the project was brought up to him by Fassbender during a conversation they were having at the Telluride Film Festival. While it’s true that the story was likely published just so the journo could rub it in all of our faces that he got to hang out with Fassbender while swilling some no doubt expensive hooch, his report contained too many other details to be seen as just hearsay. Bamigboye was also able to get the name of a director and two of Fassbender’s co-stars, for instance.

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12 Years a Slave

It feels a bit like the broader movie world is about to learn who Steve McQueen is. After they have the same chuckle over his name most hardcore prestige fans had several years ago, they’ll marvel at his abilities as a dramatic filmmaker. With 12 Years a Slave, he’s partnered once again with Michael Fassbender, dragging the actor through an arduous role to come out clean on the other side. He’s also got Chiwetel Ejiofor bringing staunch prowess to the lead role of a free Northerner named Solomon Northrup who is captured and sold into slavery. In the early reviews from Telluride, critics are standing outside Ejiofor’s house with a sign that says, “To me you are perfect.” Greatly encouraging in the same vein as the early Gravity responses from Venice, this film looks poised to punch awards season in the gut and plant an accomplished yet still budding auteur into more mainstream ground. Here’s what people are saying:

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cotillard

Seeing as Lady Macbeth is one of the most infamous and memorable characters who has appeared in all of Shakespeare’s works, and she’s a domineering woman who leads her confused husband down a dark path of ambition-driven bad decision making, any successful production of the story needs to find as powerful an actress as it can possibly acquire to play her. That includes director Justin Kurzel’s (The Snowtown Murders) upcoming film adaptation of the story, which currently has Michael Fassbender attached in the lead role of the would-be King of Scotland. Kurzel’s first move when it came to filling the Lady Macbeth role was to sign up Natalie Portman, but when she had to eventually drop out of the project he suddenly got sent back to the drawing board. Well, Deadline is reporting that another round of searching for an actress with that certain je ne sais quoi needed to pull the role off is over, and this time around he’s decided to sign up bewitching French actress Marion Cotillard.

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The Counselor

After a puzzling teaser trailer left us scratching our heads and a first full-length trailer that gave us few details as to the film’s actual plot, the new trailer for Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor is offering the most cohesive look at the film so far. From previous material, we know that Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt have ridiculous costumes, Cameron Diaz writhes around on top of a car, and Michael Fassbender is in way, way over his head after making a massive drug deal. This time, we have a lot more to work with, plot-wise. Fassbender, as the eponymous counselor (or Counsellor, as the international trailer calls it), has grown accustomed to a lavish lifestyle with his fiancée, played by Penelope Cruz. But when legal work can’t keep it up, he turns to Bardem on the other side of the border to help him get into the drug business for some quick, hard cash. Easy, right? Of course, as you’ll see in the trailer below, his totally well-thought-out plan devolves into a violent catastrophe of explosions, bloodshed, and Fassbender tears when the drugs get stolen en route to the trade.

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The Counselor header

There’s a definite formula going for Javier Bardem. The wackier his haircut and outfit, the better the man’s performance. Think of that Dorothy Hamill ‘do in No Country for Old Men. Or his oh-so chic cream ensembles and bleached brows in Skyfall. Now gaze at these stills and tell me why I’m so excited to see The Counselor. The Ridley Scott film is an all-star ensemble that pairs Bardem with heavy-hitters like Cameron Diaz, real-life wife Penelope Cruz, Michael Fassbender, and Brad Pitt, as seen through these newly released stills. While the beautiful people are clearly beautiful, Bardem and Diaz are the most interesting to look at; the couple knows how to dress. Flowing caftans, rose-tinted glasses, printed silk shirts – it’s like Hunter S. Thompson was a billionaire drug lord and not just a normal drug user. The film, from a Cormac McCarthy script (No Country for Old Men) centers on a lawyer (Fassbender) who is under the impression that he can make some quick cash by getting involved in the Mexican drug game, and then getting out just as easily. Check out the rest of the new stills after the break.

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teaser counselor

Of the many high profile films opening later this fall Ridley Scott‘s newest has seemed to exist in a rather quiet little bubble. It’s strange considering the director’s pedigree as well as that of his very recognizable and accomplished cast. Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem are marquee names, and more than that they’re also considered to be some of Hollywood’s sexiest stars. The most impressive selling point for me though is that they’re all over 35 years old, meaning this just may be that rarest of Hollywood films… a big, dramatic thriller for adults. The Counselor comes from the pen of Cormac McCarthy, but unlike The Road or No Country for Old Men, this represents a departure for the writer in that it’s an original screenplay. The story follows a lawyer who finds himself involved in the dirty world of drug dealing millionaires who own cheetahs. Check out the first teaser below.

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