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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Michael Fassbender

'Prometheus' offers oozing sci-fi spectacle, early reviews say

May 31, 2012 |  5:30 am

Noomi Rapace in Prometheus

Stateside sci-fi fans will have to wait till June 8 to see "Prometheus," Ridley's Scott's long-awaited oblique prequel to the "Alien" franchise, but some early and international reviews are already in. The story, which involves a space mission investigating the origins of human life going predictably awry, has met with mixed reviews, but critics agree that Scott's film is visually stunning and that Michael Fassbender delivers a scene-stealing performance.

In the Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy writes that "Prometheus" "won't become a genre benchmark" like classics "Alien" and "Blade Runner" "despite its equivalent seriousness and ambition, but it does supply enough visual spectacle, tense action and sticky, slithery monster attacks to hit the spot with thrill-seeking audiences worldwide." Stars Noomi Rapace (of the Swedish version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and Charlize Theron perform admirably, and Fassbender, playing a genteel android, "excels as he's allowed to begin injecting droll comedy into his performance."

Variety's Justin Chang says the film "remains earthbound in narrative terms, forever hinting at the existence of a higher intelligence without evincing much of its own." Chang also takes exception to the "stock wise-guy types who spout tired one-liners" and the "orchestral surge of a score," which undermines the film's tension. On the other hand, "Scott and his production crew compensate to some degree with an intricate, immersive visual design that doesn't skimp on futuristic eye-candy or prosthetic splatter."

Like McCarthy, the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw also invokes "Alien" and calls "Prometheus" "something more grandiose, more elaborate — but less interesting." It's also, he suggests, less frightening. On the bright side, it does have Fassbender, who turns in a "terrifically creepy performance" and "steals the film." Ultimately, Bradshaw says, "Prometheus" is "a muddled, intricate, spectacular film, but more or less in control of all its craziness and is very watchable."

The Telegraph's Tim Robey writes that "thanks to richly-designed planetary environments with plenty of H.R. Giger's original art in their DNA, the build-up to inevitable horrors is the most smoothly compelling part of Scott's movie." The movie isn't free of cliches, but Fassbender is "amusingly creepy and constantly interesting," and Rapace "gets better as she goes along."

Total Film's Jonathan Crocker also praises Fassbender's character as "brilliantly constructed" (pun presumably intended). Scott once again proves to have an impeccable eye for sci-fi surfaces ("the movie is "flawlessly designed"), although he's more adept "with Big Spectacle than Big Ideas." All told, "Prometheus" is "exciting, tense and fully impregnated for sequels."

As a touchstone for the "Alien" mythos and a potential new film franchise all its own, it looks as though "Prometheus" could be just the beginning.


'Prometheus': Damon Lindelof promises an epic

R rating for 'Prometheus': Will it hurt the film commercially?

Meet David the android from Ridley Scott's upcoming 'Prometheus'

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Noomi Rapace in "Prometheus." Credit: Kerry Brown / 20th Century Fox

Oscars 2012: 'Snubbed' Albert Brooks, Patton Oswalt tweet woes

January 24, 2012 | 10:55 am

Click here for more coverage of the Oscar nominations

"You don't like me, you really don't like me," Albert Brooks tweeted Tuesday, a few hours after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to recognize his performance as brutal gangster Bernie Rose in Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" with an Oscar nomination. Those nine words were all that fellow rejected actor Patton Oswalt ("Young Adult") need to get him going on a Twitter rant that pretty much encompassed every overlooked actor in this year's Oscar race.

It began with Oswalt asking Brooks to join him for a drink at the Drawing Room. "Me and Serkis have been here since 6 am," he tweeted, referring to Andy Serkis and his failure to obtain an acting nod for his motion-capture work in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

FULL COVERAGE: The Oscar nominees

"See you later tonight," he continued. "Serkis has Pogues on the jukebox and Fassbender just showed up in a pirate hat." Michael Fassbender was also ignored, with academy voters not recognizing him for his role as a sex addict in the harrowing drama "Shame."

Oswalt was not content to settle with the actors. "We're definitely going to run out of booze. Charlize & Tilda just pulled up in a stolen police car." Neither Charlize Theron nor Tilda Swinton was rewarded for her work in such prickly films as "Young Adult" and "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

His absurdist scene continued, begging Brooks to meet him. "Dude, get down here. Gosling is doing keg stands and Olsen and Dunst literally just emerged from a shower of rose petals."

Ryan Gosling received no love for either of his compelling roles in "The Ides of March" and "Drive." Elizabeth Olsen ("Martha Marcy May Marlene") and Kirsten Dunst ("Melancholia") were unable to crack the competitive lead actress category.

Oswalt then invoked Dunst's controversial director Lars von Trier, who made waves in Cannes last year with some ill-considered remarks on Nazism: "Von Trier just pulled up in a pass van dressed as Goering. 'Let's go to Legoland! With a boozy hurrah, we're out."

Looks like Brooks missed his chance to accompany his fellow snubbies with Oswalt's final tweet. "Oh. My. God. Just pulled up to Legoland. DiCaprio's rented the park for the day. Dibs on the Duplo Gardens!"

It's a shame we won't get more commentary from Oswalt. His voice on the campaign scene was, to say the least, quite refreshing.


And the nominees are...

Oscars 2012: Who was snubbed? Who surprised?

Oscars 2012: Surprises? Getting naked doesn't guarantee a nod

 -- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Patton Oswalt during the 17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 12 in Los Angeles. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images.


Golden Globes: A hunk of hot men for dramatic actor [poll]

December 15, 2011 |  8:45 am

The 81 voters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. may work for obscure publications and make any number of bizarre Golden Globe picks, but they seem united in their selections for best dramatic actor -- the hotter the better.

In a field that will have women and any number of gay men swooning along the red carpet, the HFPA's picks for the 69th annual awards were more than a little hunky-dory: George Clooney ("The Descendants"), Leonardo DiCaprio ("J. Edgar"), Michael Fassbender ("Shame"), Ryan Gosling ("The Ides of March") and Brad Pitt ("Moneyball").

Gosling also was nominated in the comedy or musical lead actor contest for "Crazy, Stupid, Love" in a category that isn't nearly as easy on the eyes (sorry, Brendan Gleeson, who was nominated for "The Guard") but does include Jean Dujardin from "The Artist."

Clooney was nominated three times -- for starring in "The Descendants," and directing and co-writing "The Ides of March." So expect the NBC cameras to be trained on the actor/filmmaker for much of the ceremony on Jan. 15.


Golden Globes: The complete list of nominees

Golden Globes: Cable shows dominate TV nominations

More coverage of the Golden Globes and SAG nominations

--John Horn

Photos: From left, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. Credits: From left, Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times; Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press; Dave Hogan/Getty Images;  Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times; Evan Agostini/Associated Press


'Hugo,' 'The Artist' top nominees for Critics Choice Awards

December 13, 2011 |  3:00 am

The Artist

Martin Scorsese's lavish 3-D family film "Hugo" and the black-and-white ode to silent cinema "The Artist" topped the list of nominees for the 17th Critics Choice Awards, earning 11 nominations each from the Broadcast Film Critics Assn., the organization announced Tuesday. Both films were nominated for the best picture prize, along with "The Descendants," "Drive," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Help," "Midnight in Paris," "Moneyball," "The Tree of Life" and "War Horse."

Scorsese and "The Artist's" Michel Hazanavicius also will face off in the directors' race, where they will be competing against Stephen Daldry for his Sept.11-themed literary adaptation “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” Alexander Payne for the George Clooney-led family drama “The Descendants,” Nicolas Winding Refn for the modern noir thriller “Drive” and Steven Spielberg for his World War I-era film “War Horse.”

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'Tyrannosaur' takes top prize at British Independent Film Awards

December 4, 2011 |  3:06 pm

 Peter Mullan in Tyrannosaur

"Tyrannosaur," a drama about a rage-filled man who finds redemption thanks to a charity store worker,  on Sunday was named best film at the British Independent Film Awards. Olivia Colman won lead actress and Paddy Considine also earned the Douglas Hickox Award for debut director for the film.

Michael Fassbender won the lead actor award for his performance as a sex addict in "Shame." 

Best director went to Lynne Ramsay for "We Need to Talk About Kevin," a drama about a woman with a troubled son.

Veteran Vanessa Redgrave was named supporting actress for her role as the lead character's mother in "Coriolanus," based on the Shakespeare classic. 

Michael Smiley won for supporting actor for the horror thriller "Kill List." And Richard Ayoade won for his screenplay of "Submarine," a comedy about a 15-year-old boy.

Best achievement in production went to the gay love story "Weekend."

 "Senna," a documentary about the late Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, was named best British documentary. Iran's "A Separation" earned the award for best foreign independent film. And Tom Cullen, who starred in  "Weekend," won most promising newcomer.

Special awards were also handed out Sunday. Ralph Fiennes, whose feature directorial debut,  "Coriolanus," opened Friday, earned the Richard Harris Award, which recognizes "outstanding contribution to British film by an actor." Kenneth Branagh, currently in "My Week With Marilyn," received the Variety Award, which "recognizes an actor, director, writer or producer who has helped to focus the international spotlight on the U.K."

Other awards handed out Sunday:

Raindance Award: "Leaving Baghdad"

Short film: "Chalk"

Special jury award: Graham Easton

Technical achievement: Maria Djurkovic for production design for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" 

The awards were held at the Old Billingsgate Market in London.


'King's Speech' tops British Independent Film Awards

'Shame,' 'Tinker' lead British Independent Film Award nominations

-- Susan King

Photo: Peter Mullan stars in "Tyrannosaur." Credit: Stran Releasing.


'Shame' can take pride in its performances, critics say

December 2, 2011 |  3:33 pm

Michael Fassbender in Shame
Much ink has been spilled over the rare NC-17 rating of the new drama "Shame," which stars Michael Fassbender ("A Dangerous Method," "X-Men: First Class") as a solitary sex addict whose life is disrupted by the unexpected appearance of his troubled sister, played by Cary Mulligan ("Drive"). After earning praise and sparking debate on the festival circuit, "Shame" opens in select theaters Friday, and so far movie critics are calling it a compelling, if difficult film with powerful performances.

The Times' Kenneth Turan calls "Shame" "a psychologically claustrophobic film that strips its characters bare literally and figuratively, leaving them, and us, nowhere to hide." He commends Fassbender, who brings "commanding magnetism and intensity"; Mulligan, who delivers an unflinching performance; and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, whose minimalist styling complements British director Steve McQueen's vision. Though Turan finds some plot elements unclear or contrived, these are "minor quibbles." In the end, Turan writes, "'Shame' is "difficult to watch but even harder to turn away from."

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National Board of Review names 'Hugo' best picture

December 1, 2011 | 12:52 pm


"Hugo," director Martin Scorsese's family film reflecting his love of cinema, was named the best film of the year Thursday by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. The lavish 3-D fantasy set in a Paris railway station in 1931 also won best director for Scorsese.

Ironically, the black-and-white silent film "The Artist," which won the New York Film Critics Circle honor Tuesday, was shut out of the list of awards, though it was named one of the top 10 films of the year by the National Board of Review.

Lead actor honors went to George Clooney as the father of two in Alexander Payne's Hawaii-set "The Descendants," and Tilda Swinton was named lead actress as a mother of a troubled son in "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

Veteran Christopher Plummer won supporting actor as a widower who comes out of the closet in "Beginners," and Shailene Woodley won supporting actress honors as Clooney's rebellious teenage daughter in "The Descendants." The film also won best adapted screenplay for Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, with Will Reiser winning the original screenplay prize for the cancer-themed film "50/50."

"Rango" took best animated feature honors, and two actresses were recognized for breakthrough performance honors: Felicity Jones for "Like Crazy" and Rooney Mara for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." J.C. Chandor won best debut director for "Margin Call," and the cast of "The Help" earned best ensemble.

The Spotlight Award went to Michael Fassbender for a quartet of performances -- in "A Dangerous Method," "Jane Eyre," "Shame" and "X-Men: First Class."

The National Board of Review, which was founded in 1909, is made up of film professionals, educators, historians and students.

Though considered by some to be a bellwether for the Academy Awards, NBR and the Oscars haven't seen eye-to-eye on the best film selections since 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire." Two years ago, NBR chose "Up in the Air" as the best movie of 2009, while the Academy Award went to "The Hurt Locker." Last year, "The Social Network" was the organization's top choice, but the Oscar went to "The King's Speech."

The NBR awards will be presented Jan. 10 at Cipriana's 42nd Street in New York City.

Other winners announced Thursday:

NBR Freedom of Expression: "Crime After Crime"

NBR Freedom of Expression: "Pariah"

Best Foreign Language Film: "A Separation"

Best Documentary: "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory"

Special Achievement in Filmmaking: The Harry Potter Franchise  -- A Distinguished Translation from Book to Film


 New York critics name 'The Artist' best film of the year

-- Susan King

Photo: Chloë Grace Moretz and Asa Butterfield star in the movie "Hugo." Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures / GK Films LLC

'Dangerous Method': David Cronenberg on Freud, Jung and hysteria

November 22, 2011 |  3:08 pm

David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg, director of blood-soaked dramas like “A History of Violence” and cult genre pictures like “The Fly,” detours into the life of the mind with his new film, “A Dangerous Method,” opening Wednesday. Adapted from Christopher Hampton's play “The Talking Cure” and John Kerr's “A Most Dangerous Method,” the film depicts the early years of psychoanalysis on the eve of World War I, as Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and his protégé Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) clash over the treatment of Sabina Spielrein, a beautiful young patient (Keira Knightley). The director recently sat down for an interview with 24 Frames' Rebecca Keegan to discuss his attraction to the subject matter, his theories about analysis and how he set about casting historic figures.

R.K.: Why Freud?

D.C.: Some people have said, “This is a departure for you.” My first film is a seven-minute film called “Transfer” and it was about a psychiatrist and his patient. The relationship between a psychoanalyst and a patient had not existed before Freud. It's uniquely intimate, very clinical and yet emotional. It's interesting that we can invent a new kind of human relationship that needs to be explored artistically as well as clinically.

R.K.: Have you undergone analysis yourself?

D.C.: No. I think psychoanalysis does on a personal level what an artist does in general. You're presented with an official version of reality …. And then you say, “OK, but what's really going on underneath the surface? That's not the total story.” There are hidden things, things that are misunderstood. What drives people? Why do people do what they do? When they go off the rails, it's very intriguing. When something goes wrong it's usually much more revealing than when things are going perfectly right. You don't want to see a movie about people living this great life where everything's nice. That's boring. You might want to live that, but you don't want to see it as a drama. In that sense, it's kind of a perfect subject for an artist.

R.K.: How did you and Keira Knightley discuss how to portray her character in her hysterical state?

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'Shame': Michael Fassbender's chameleon power [Video]

November 11, 2011 |  3:10 pm


In Steve McQueen's new sex drama, "Shame," Michael Fassbender continues his streak of playing complex, even tortured types, the kind he recently brought to life in movies as diverse as "Jane Eyre" and "X-Men: First Class."

In "Shame," he stars as Brandon, a successful New Yorker who's also a sex addict who lacks anything   close to a grip on his passions.

How did Fassbender, known as a cool customer in real life, so convincingly shift into character? In a panel discussion as part of the Envelope's Screening Series at the ArcLight Sherman Oaks on Thursday, McQueen describes the secret to Fassbender's acting abilities. 


Michael  Fassbender's naked girlfriends in sex drama 'Shame'

Michael Fassbender: NC-17 rating could help Shame

'Shame' director surprised by controversy

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Michael Fassbender, left, and Steve McQueen at the AFI premiere for "Shame." Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press

Michael Fassbender: NC-17 rating could help 'Shame' [Video]

November 10, 2011 |  3:54 pm

Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen aren't worried about Shame's NC-17 rating
About a year ago, hard-charging studio executive Harvey Weinstein was so disturbed that his release "Blue Valentine" earned a NC-17 rating that he personally petitioned the Motion Pictures Assn. of America to have the ruling changed out of a fear that it could harm the film's commercial prospects.

This fall, another film has been given the same severe rating -- "Shame," the film starring Michael Fassbender as an emotionally closed-off sex addict. But the film's star and its director, Steve McQueen, say they aren't worried about the rating affecting its potential reach at the box office. In fact, Fassbender believes, it may help boost ticket sales.

"I think it can be an alright thing. It can stimulate curiosity for sure," the actor told us on the red carpet at the AFI Fest premiere of the film in Hollywood Wednesday evening. He added, "I think it's unusual that a lot of violent films seem to pass through the system easily enough. But whenever you sort of try to question or deal with sex, it becomes something that's dirty or not to be watched -- so I find that to be confusing."

McQueen said he thought that "Shame" deserved an NC-17 rating because it's an adult movie with what he described as "responsible, serious" themes. Anyone fixated on the nudity in the picture -- in which Fassbender and costar Carey Mulligan take off their clothes -- should look elsewhere for their kicks, he said.

"To go to pay to see nude people in 'Shame' -- you're wasting your money," said McQueen.
Fassbender also shrugged off the film's nudity, saying he didn't worry about whether or not the movie would be controversial before signing on to it.

"My job is to deal with conflict and drama, and a lot of times you have to go places that are perhaps uncomfortable to have a real drama at work."


Michael Fassbender exposes more than skin in 'Shame'

Michael Fassbender's naked girlfriends in sex drama 'Shame'

Carey Mulligan: I wasn't uncomfortable being naked in "Shame"

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Michael Fassbender, left, and Steve McQueen at the AFI Fest premiere of "Shame." Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press


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