Michael Fassbender

March 18, 2016

Trailer Hot Take: X-Men: Apocalypse (Final Trailer)

We’ve been getting some pretty nice trailers in the run-up to the Summer Movie Season, but I guess trailers are all you get when there is a glut of ho-hum films, so it’s easy to get excited.

This time on “Trailer Hot Take” we take a look at the latest, and what seems to be the final, “X-Men: Apocalypse” trailer. It’s a mixed bag of goodies and for me personally, my verdict is still out on this one.

I have to admit, I’m digging this 80s style. I mean, look at that purple V with the sports coat!
Oscar Issac on the slab, pre-Apocalypse. I’m interested to see how they weave this origin story.
So is the suit going to be something created through “magic” or an actual tangible suit, or of “celestial” origin.
The new and improved Magneto helmet
And the new and improved Magneto suit.
Who could this be in the scene with Quicksilver? Magda….Magneto’s wife?
Is the RUSH shirt a little too on the nose?
Pre-Archangel fighting Nightcrawler in Hell in a Cell.
It looks like William Stryker is back, but in what capacity.
I may not be an Oliva Munn fan, but at least they got the Psylocke costume and sword right.
Havok going crazy in Cerebro…but why?
I hope the X-Mansion was covered for Apocalypse Insurance.
With a ton of J-Law shots in this trailer, will she meet her end at the hands of our titular villain?
Well, that’s it for this Trailer Hot Take. kthnxbye.
September 10, 2014

Frank

SCARY

Frank – Scary

Don’t let the word above fool you; in no way is “Frank” scary, in that classical sense. It’s scary because of the fact that in the race to be cool and different there are so many pitfalls and things that can trip people up in their way to either being famous or noteworthy that it’s extremely easy to forgot that not everyone has to agree or be like you, but in a world ruled by social media and who yells the loudest or gets the last word in, it’s easy to lose your way and want to be the loudest, and pardon my language, be the biggest dickhead in the room. So I guess the scary part is how close Frank is lampooning the social media culture we live in right now. Other than trying to make a point, Frank is weird, charming, and all together great.

Frank is the story of Jon, a would-be musician with about 20 Twitter followers. As fate would have it, he meets the band Soronprfbs as the keyboardist attempts to drown himself. After discovering that Job can play a few chords on his keyboard, Don, the band’s manager invites Jon to play with the bad that night, which eventually turns into an invitation to help the band record their new album in Ireland. As time progresses, Jon records footage of the band’s daily routine which bolsters his Twitter account numbers and rewards him with an invitation for the band to play at SXSW. Upon arrival in Austin, Soronprfbs discovers that they might not get the reception they anticipated on the eve of their first big performance.

There is no doubt that Frank is a strange film. Every characters has an odd personality quirk and while that could run stale quickly, the manic performance of Michael Fassbender distracts you from a film that could get dull and a little too weird quick.

Speaking of the eccentric cast, aside from Fassbender, everyone else is able to hold their own, especially Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays pretty much every musical archetype that people probably hate. She’s moody, hateful, emotional, and best of all, real. While not all musicians are like this, one of my long-time friends is a musician and he is reasonably normal, but Gyllenhaal plays it up very well, and the reference made later in the film comparing her to Syd Barrett is perfect.

Of course what would be a film about a band be without music, while I have a love/hate relationship with mumble-core, noise-core, post-hardcore indie rock, I actually like all the music in the film. It’s as if Captain Beefheart and Mr. Bungle ran a music school and Soronprfbs were their prized pupil. The best comedic beats of the film feature montages of the band practice, but they are also some of the most heartbreaking looking back.

Frank is essentially a love it or hate it film, despite what you might see on Rotten Tomatoes or other film arrogate sites. While I found it quirky, fun, and distressing all at the same time, that is something that might turn off the average viewer expecting a film about a musician wearing a paper-mâché head and his weird band-mates. There are some funny moments in Frank, and the way that Jon, played by Domhnall Gleeson, is able to ground the film before it gets a little too weird is a nice touch, but there are also some very dark, and scary, moments that are jarring, especially when it comes to the third act.

All in all, Frank is an interesting take on fame, music, and social media-driven success. Grounded by some great acting and music, Frank might not be one of the most conventional films this year, in fact, it’s far from it, but it could very well be the “Her” of 2014.

Fun Fact: Frank’s head is based on the story of Frank Sidebottom.

March 26, 2014

Simplistic Sneak Peek Ep. 1

Behold the inaugural episode of Simplistic Sneak Peek!  What is that you ask?  Simplistic Sneak Peek is a new ongoing series that allows you to hear Matt, Justin and DJ’s first impressions and discussions on trailers for upcoming films.  It’s kinda like a podcast shortened to a mini-sode mixed with vlog serving as a tri-editorial.  Yeah, I don’t know either.

The trailers the boys discuss on this episode include Bryan Singer’s 2nd trailer for X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Tom Cruise’s action epic Edge Of Tomorrow, and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s attempt at Hercules.  You can click the links to the those films trailers below to watch them without commentary then come back and listen to what Matt, Justin, and DJ had to say about them in real time.

X-Men Days Of Future Past

Edge Of Tomorrow

Hercules

November 19, 2013

True Story: 12 Years a Slave

HARROWING

12 Years a Slave – Harrowing

It’s been nearly a year since the release, and our review, of “Django Unchained,” the Quentin Tarantino blood-soaked revenge story where white slavers finally got their comeuppance.  It was a thing of beauty to see history re-written, once again by Tarantino, and evil punished as it should be.  A year later, another high-profile film using the topic of slavery as it’s narrative is released in the form of “12 Years a Slave.”  Directed by Steve McQueen, who you probably know from “Shame,” starring Michael Fassbender’s wiener, is a harrowing story that I’ll define as the “anti-Django.”

“Slave,” based on the memoir by Solomon Northup, tells of the story of Northup’s journey from a free black man in upstate New York, to his kidnapping and eventual sale into slavery in the American South.  The tale is brutal, gritty, and all together horrifying.  Northup sees things that no human being should ever see and his will is constantly tested by not only his masters, but his fellow slaves, namely a woman named Patsey, while the two are indentured by Edwin Epps, a slaver that would make Calvin Candie blush.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup, and sells the pain and anguish of a man struggling with protecting his pre-slavery life, while trying to survive the mental and physical abuse of his new masters.  Not to sell the film short by any means, but “Slave” is a classic fish out of water story.  However, if you’re waiting for any comic beats or scenes that will lighten the mood, you’ll be sadly mistaken.  Ejiofor is a marvel and creates something that is tragic, and beautiful.  He brings to life a character that was far too common in antebellum America, and where only a few were actually saved from their predicament.

The other surprising bit about “Slave” is its star power.  A who’s who of Hollywood shows up in every corner of the film.  From Benedict Cumberbatch to Paul Dano (who nearly steals the show as a deranged junior overseer) it was a little shocking to see so many stars in one film about a subject as touchy as slavery.  While I mention this fact, I still have a hard time not comparing “Slave” to “Django Unchained.”  The two have many similarities.  One being the grim subject of slavery and their harsh depictions of the white oppressors, but I find it so odd that so many Hollywood A-Listers want to be a part of a film that depicts such harsh subject matter.  Sure, it shows that they are empathetic to the fact that slavery was wrong and appalling, but to me it seems so odd.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.

On the subject of comparing “Slave” to “Django,” while I felt beats of “Django” had moments of levity to take you out of it’s grim subject matter, “Slave” is relentless in it’s overall message.  Near the end I had a pit in my stomach like I had while watching “The Passion of the Christ.”  It felt like a hopeless situation that would never give in, and while you know the endgame for “Christ” you still felt some hope for Northup and his situation, but near the end, you felt just as hopeless as Northup.  To be honest, the last 30 minutes of “Slave” is an emotional rollercoster that I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s the most emotional film that you might see the entire year.

McQueen’s direction, and especially what he gets out of Fassbender, is a wonder to behold.  Like I said before, if you thought Leonardo DiCaprio was Academy Award-worthy in “Django,” wait until you see Fassbender.  It’s one of the best performances in a film filled with haunting and memorable performances, and Fassbender’s is one of the best you’ll see all year.  His portrayal of Edwin Epps is utterly evil and depicts everything that was horrible about the act of slavery.  Getting back to McQueen, his depictions of the horrors of slavery are visceral and drawn out, and add to the tension of Northup’s plight and hopelessness.

The only thing that really rubs me the wrong way about “Slave” is the attention, or the attention it’s not getting.  Yes, the film is great, and I say that from purely a narrative and filmmaking perspective, but what “Django” was ripped apart by certain directors, the fact that “Slave” was directed by an African American director, nobody says anything about it.  It’s just something that I notice and it kind of bugs me.  Within the past 15 years three major films have been released on the subject of slavery; “Amistad,” “Django Unchained,” and now “12 Years a Slave.” Two of the films were directed by white directors and the latest directed by an African American.  Just something to think about in the way that the media covers certain films.

In conclusion, “Slave” is a film that will stay with you long after the credits role and will hopefully encourage people to seek out the truth about this story and so many stories like it, not only from antebellum America, but what likely still goes on all over the world everyday.  While Tarantino put a spin on slavery with “Django” that was horrible, but still added some humor, “Slave” is an earnest tale of finding hope when all is lost and is going to be a major contender when Oscar nominations are announced.

“Fun” Fact:  This is Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender’s third collaboration together, starting with “Hunger” in 2008.

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