Tag Archives: Michael Fassbender

Quick ‘n’ Dirty: January at home

Here’s my second post devoted to speedy reviews of films I watched on my comfy couch at home during the past month. It’s a very eclectic selection that well reflects the wide range of movies I end up seeing.

A.C.A.B (All Cops Are Bastards): tough and unflinching look at the life of four cops in Rome: three veterans and a rookie. They are part of a riot unit, usually deployed for security at the stadium during football matches, and their job ain’t pretty! Stefano Sollima doesn’t spare any detail in showing how these people live, think and react to various situations. The compelling performance of all the cast, especially Pierfrancesco Favino, carries the viewer along and sells the story effectively. Intense —7/10

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Pawn sacrifice: the story of Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire), wunderkind of the chess world, and his epic battle of wits with Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) in 1972 for the title of world champion. Notwithstanding Maguire’s solid performance, this is a run of the mill drama, formulaic and with no bite or surprises. Fisher’s egotism and paranoia make it even harder for the viewer to root for him, which turns the whole story in a rather pointless exercise.  Off-putting —5/10

 

Clueless: Emma meets Mean Girls with a very poor outcome! Popular and beautiful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) decides to help Tai (Brittany Murphy), a new and very naive student, to fit in and navigate the ups and downs of high school life. Her plan is a little too successful and has some unexpected and unwanted results. Of all the high school themed films I’ve seen, this is a real miss: no sass, no heart, no epic or quotable scenes. The characters are neither relatable nor endearing enough, even a very young Paul Rudd. Lame —4/10

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Chasing mavericks: my soft spot for surfing flicks led me to watch this one.  A scruffy-looking Gerard Butler plays Frosty Hesson, Santa Cruz surfing legend, who reluctantly become mentor and father-figure to young Jay Moriarity. The boy is a surf prodigy and wants, more than anything, to ride mavericks: the biggest waves on Earth. What immediately came to mind was this quote from Point Break: “Big-wave riding’s for macho assholes with a death wish.”, however this film is an inspirational tale of giving everything one’s got to realise one’s dreams (based on a true story). The surfing scenes are thrilling and brilliantly shot. Enthralling —6.5/10

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Jane Eyre: to get my regular fix of period drama I’ve re-watched the 2011 adaptation of this classic novel, helmed and beautifully shot by Cary Fukunaga (before he went on and showed the world his mettle with True Detectives). Poor, plain Jane (skillfully played by Mia Wasikowska) finds home and love in the old manor of Mr. Rochester (Fassbender), only to have everything taken away by a cruel destiny and deceit. Fassbender fits well the shoes of the doomed, romantic hero and, of course, we know that there’s a happy ending to warm the cockles of our heart. Soothing —7/10

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Narc: a dark and gritty tale of undercover cops in Detroit; Joe Carnahan does not pull punches and takes the viewer into a harsh world, aptly shot in hues of blue and gray. Jason Patric and Ray Liotta truly inhabit their characters and play off of each other very well. The adrenaline-fueled opening scene is a gem of camera work and perfect introduction to the story, that alone makes worth watching this film. Uncompromising —7.5/10

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Death proof: I have finally sat down and watched the lesser film of Tarantino’s oeuvre from start to finish, having seen bits and pieces throughout the years. What can I say? It’s a self-indulgent homage to B-movie/horror flicks of the seventies, chock-full of pop culture references, muscle cars and foot fetish. As expected, there are some tough-as-nail ladies who will take matters in their own hands and then there’s Kurt Russell…who is having a blast as a sociopathic stuntman who stalks girls and takes them on their last ride. You need to be in the right mood for this one. Crackpot —6/10

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12 Years A Slave

Director:  Steve McQueen, Main Cast: Chiwetel EjioforMichael FassbenderLupita Nyong’oBenedict CumberbatchBrad PittPaul Giamatti;

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Steve McQueen likes to deal with complex material. After Shame, he decided to “lighten up” by telling the story of Solomon Northup, a free-born african-american from Saratoga NY, who was kidnapped in 1841 and sold as a slave. As you can guess from the title, after years of tribulation and pain, he manages to get back to his family. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon is intense and carries the film on his shoulder, aided by a very strong supporting cast: Paul Giamatti as slave dealer, Paul Dano as creepy, vengeful carpenter (is it my impression or does he seem to play more and more creepy characters lately?), Benedict Cumberbatch as the sympathetic and kind master, Michael Fassbander as the harsh and unforgiving master and Lupita Nyong’o as prized slave. Good acting notwithstanding, the pace of the film is uneven, it tells the beginning of the story as a flashback but the director can’t wait to get to the cotton fields and the lashing. There are also the long scenes to drive home the brutality and the hopelessness of Solomon’s situation, which are quite effective but still feel a bit disjointed from the narrative. On top of all this we have the villain, master Ebbs (Fassbender) who is cruel, unrelenting, possessive and utterly controlling… basically there is not a speck of decent human qualities in him, and this is what really makes me lose interest in the story: it’s too black and white (pun intended!), too linear and uncomplicated, it seems such an easy solution to paint all the slavers black, even the supposedly “good” master (well… except the carpenter who helps Solomon but he doesn’t count being Canadian).  I understand, the film is based on Solomon’s view so we do see the world through his eyes but it left me a little detached and I’m sure that’s not what McQueen was going for, especially considering how emotionally taxing and absorbing was Shame. I was expecting much more —7/10

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The Counselor

Director: Ridley Scott, Main Cast: Michael FassbenderPenélope CruzCameron DiazJavier BardemBrad Pitt

Cormac McCarthy’s second attempt as a screenwriter leaves me with mixed feelings. It’s a dark tale of choices and consequences, somewhat between a Shakespearean tragedy and a Coen’s film. Michael Fassbender is our anti-hero, involved with unsavory people due to his profession as a defense lawyer. He decides, out of need and greed, to enter the risky but highly remunerating  business of drugs with the help of two longtime associates (Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt), who are quite savvy when it comes to dealing with Mexican drug cartels. Someone else’s greed and fate will throw a wrench in his plan and tragedy will ensue. The dialogues and all the scenes with the main characters are more suited for a play than a movie, so much that the stunning cinematography, typical in a Ridley Scott’s film, seems wasted. There are gruesome deaths and a very cynic view of the world but the film lacks conviction about its grittiness, maybe in the hands of the Coen brothers we would have seen something grimmer but more cohesive. Anyway the acting is top-notch and it is a pleasure to watch.  —7/10

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