Tag Archive: michael fassbender


cranston

Here are the nominees for Best Actress in a Leading Role:

Cate Blanchett – Carol

Brie Larson – Room

Jennifer Lawrence – Joy

Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Who Should Win: Cate has been here. You can kind of feel the people are wearing on J.Law.  No more ‘Hunger Games’ helps, but she may need to do the Natalie Portman/Anne Hathaway ‘lay low’ move for a minute (and she’s still really young which is part of it).  Brie should win here.

Who I’m Not Cheering For: Charlotte Rampling.

Who I’m Cheering For and Who Will Win: She’s paid her dues (which actors love) and from the Q&A I went to, she seems to have remain grounded from all the years before this.  Brie Larson.

Here are the nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role:

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo

Matt Damon – the Martian

Leonardo Dicaprio – the Revenant

Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne – the Danish Girl

Who Should Win: By degree of difficulty…it should be Redmayne going back to back right? That might be my Method bias…

Who I’m Not Cheering For: Matt Damon

Who I’m Cheering For and Who Will Win:

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Jennifer Lawrence

Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor:
Barkhad Abdi
Bradley Cooper
Michael Fassbender
Jonah Hill
Jared Leto
Who Should Win
MALIK: Another category that could go a few different ways and not really be ‘wrong’.  I love what Fassie did in 12 Years, but I was really affected by what Leto did in ‘Dallas’. He’s the frontrunner for a reason.
ART: Jonah Hill. Really? Yes. Really….? No. I really liked what Barkhad Abdi did in Captain Phillips. He was great. But, a win ain’t happening. He gets the “it’s great to be here” award. Fassbender was sadistic and electric. But, Leto took his performance to the next level. His may be the only guaranteed win I can see.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Abdi has been making a little more noise, but I still think this is Leto’s to lose.
ART: Leto. No doubt. He hit on all cylinders.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Got to go with Leto.  The extended layoff in between movie roles is just icing on the cake of ‘if you’re one of the guys comfortable enough to take chances, you should be working more.’
ART: Leto. Just a great example of inhabiting a character.
Here’s the nominees for Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins
Jennifer Lawrence
Lupita Nyong’o
Julia Roberts
Jane Squibb
Who Should Win
MALIK: Lupita was the Best Supporting Actress this year. The End.
ART: No doubt. I like Jennifer Lawrence. I respect Jennifer Lawrence. I think she’s great and I get why Hollywood is in love with her at the moment. But, this race isn’t close. Lupita blew everyone away with her performance in 12 Years and also is doubling right now as the person most likely to get away with murder if the jury is made up of African American women.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Look, I love Jennifer Lawrence.  She’s beautiful, she’s talented, she still has that ‘realness’ and a spark to her that we all respond to. But THIS year, for the 20 or so minutes of screen time she had in American Hustle, that’s not the Best Supporting Actress role this year. It just isn’t.  But we shall see…
ART: We’re saying the same thing. I agree. Except, I’ll add this… Nothing against J.Law personally, but her role in American Hustle – I’m not even sure it served an essential purpose in the story. It feels and smells like Oscar bait. She was excellent in Winter’s Bone. Here, she was just a crazy lady in 70s clothes. Nope.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Lupita, of course.  She’s undeniable; I know I’m far from the only person writing parts with her in mind now,  just because we want to see her keep showing up on our movie screens.
ART: Lupita. My only question? Is Hollywood ready to actually use her talents in prominent roles after this awards season? I don’t want to sound cynical, but I am really curious to see.
Tomorrow, we look at Lead Actor and Actress…

 

QuvenzhaneFL12yearsSlavefull5001

Where to begin with this one…

All public record but a little of my own background again: both sides of my family are from rural Louisiana.  Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of my father taking me to visit my great-grandmother and his aunt, and their small (I mean, three room small) house out in the country.  And I have memories of my father and my uncle showing me the plantation where they would pick pecans for spare change.  On the other side, some of my favorite memories are of my cousins and I running through the sugar cane fields across from my grandfather’s house.  And when you’re, you know, 6, the lesson is ‘respect your elders’.  Then you get older and you start connecting some dots.  And if your’e naturally curious like me, you start connecting A LOT of dots…

I open with that to say that I heard ’12 Years a Slave’ was ‘shocking and uncomfortable’, but I didn’t cry or turn away from the screen.  I was visibly moved, maybe…twice?  My overall attitude through the whole thing was pretty much, ‘Yeah, that’s what happened. That was pretty normal.’

BUT THAT’S ME, with my (knowledge of my) legacy and film nerd attitude.  On the other hand, there was a hell of a lot of sniffling and audible gasping and shock running through the rest of the theater.

The ‘based on a true story’ follows a freeman from the North who is sold into slavery and what he sees/endures in the South when his family and all of his humanity is stripped away.  It’s a great script by John Ridley, Steve McQueen directs the story without pulling any punches.  Chiwetel Ejiofor holds it down as the main character, and Michael Fassbender completely nails it as the main villain of this story.

I’ve deliberately turned off my normal sarcasm so you’ll know I think this is a must see film.  Don’t necessarily hold me to this (yet) but my gut feeling is this needs to be on the very short list with Malcolm X as ‘films that give you a very good sense of the black experience in America’.  Again this is my mind working, but without hitting you over the head with it, I thought the film had elements in there you could point at and say ‘this is why so many of things that black people still get sensitive about, from attacks on Obama (that don’t feel politically based) to interracial relationships to how Islam became an attractive alternative to Christianity in radical black circles, it ALL can be traced back to slavery.  All of it.

And it never feels like ‘a history lesson,’ it’s the story of one man overcoming impossible odds.  Well done.  OK, you can tell I enjoyed this film right?

Viva Prestige Movie Season!

Have a good weekend!

So how did Think Like a Man succeed where Red Tails came up short?  In retrospect, a lot of obvious factors added up:

1. Drama win awards, but comedies do better box office. That’s not a black or white thing, that’s a green thing.  There’s a reason we all know Adam Sandler but only film geeks would immediately recognize Michael Fassbender.

2. Catering to the audience vs. pandering the audience.  Both films threw out the ‘we NEED you to support us’ line (which is very true, but that’s an argument/post for another time).  There were drastically different tones though: George Lucas proactively used his publicity tour to passive aggressively shame us into going (because Hollywood wouldn’t make the film).  The group behind Think used the conceit of the book (relationship advice) to offer their own relationship advice everywhere.  Which leads me to…

3. Unavoidable promotion.  Between the TV show Scandal, and Think Like a Man, I can never remember, ever, two projects with black leads so heavily promoted.  I wasn’t the only one to joke about it but this is true, whether we had interest going in for either project, there was NO doubt we knew they were coming.  As an aside, now that I have watched the first few eps of Scandal, I dig it.  But the point being, the marketing groups behind both projects are the real stars.  I speak from experience, the number one goal isn’t ‘Do you think this is good?’ That’s number two.  Number one (especially in the time we live in) is ‘Are you aware/have you heard of our product?’ Having said that…

4. It’s not bad.  The general consensus for Think Like a Man in the reviews I’ve read and the texts I got over the weekend were the movie was good to great.  At worst, it reminded people of the black comedies that came out in the 90s.  Films that weren’t Hall of Famers, but fun for a couple of hours.  In other words, the audience loved it because it stayed in its lane.  There’s no crime in that.

So there’s a lot to learn from this weekend, and personally I don’t think any of it has to do with the film itself.  Marketing, casting (which I didn’t get to, but I mean, look at that poster), expectations.  Time will tell on who will build on this and who will treat this (yet again) as an anomaly…

Shame

So everyone knows I’m a Brando guy, and I’ve talked about how ‘Last Tango in Paris’ was a major influence on how I built the character I used in “Lady In My Life.” So when one of the first things I heard about ‘Shame’ was that it was on some ‘Last Tango’ type ish, I was instantly like “Oh Really?!?”  I wasn’t going to hold any film to that  standard but I was intrigued.  And, as fate would have it, when I literally went from the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood to the Arclight only a few blocks away to catch a screening, I was really in a “Method” mood.

So let’s start there.  By own scale of 1 to 10 for commitment to a role, Michael Fassbender went for the 10 here; all in surrender of his body and spirit for the character.  Full salute from me for that.  For those unfamiliar, ‘Shame’ is about a young bachelor in his 30s, not a bad looking dude, stable in his job and living situation, who, for reasons never explained, is both unable and frankly uninterested in building and sustaining an emotional relationship with a woman.

(Let me pause this review here because I can here a certain peanut gallery picking up their phones to text me.  To you I say, shut it.)

What the main character of this film does have a passion for is sex.  But as the title implies, his passion for sex is…off.  He doesn’t do it for social status, for pleasure, for procreation, or as noted, for emotional connection.  He just…does it.  As often as possible and in plenty of inappropriate ways and places.  One of the things that director Steve McQueen (a brother from across the pond) gets right in this film is showing you in the first 20 minutes, there is nothing glamorous in this sexual perversion.

Casey Mulligan shows up as the sister of our protagonist. Not as one of the ‘normal sweet, girl next door’ types she’s played in other films, but as a desperate, really desperate for attention seeking little sister.  It was certainly an interesting choice for the audience to get no backstory on these two siblings, one emotionally vacant and one in constant need for approval, but in my opinion at least, it kept the film from maybe reaching its true potential.  If “Last Tango” is the standard, in that film there are little moments here and there where, if you don’t know, you (as the audience) can at least infer “Oh that’s why he’s an asshole.”  The audience of “Shame” doesn’t get that luxury.  For shame. (See what I did there?)

All that said, I think it’s a good film.  And the performances by the two leads are really good.  The film is rated NC-17, which I guess is its own reference to the high degree of sexuality in the film.  But to me all that NC-17 does is remind me how with the US ratings boards you can blow off all the heads and chop off all the arms you want and get an R, but you have one too many penis shots in your film and it’s immediately X-rated.  Another debate for another day…