Thursday, March 31, 2011

Actor Profile: Michael Fassbender

This is the first edition, first time I'm doing an actor profile on here. I know I pay a lot of attention to directors but I do like to give actors their due when they deserve it. In this particular case, the actor I'm talking about is Michael Fassbender. Art house audiences are most likely already familiar with Michael Fassbender. He's starred in such films as Hunger and Fish Tank, both of which are excellent films (more on that later). His most high profile role to date has been Inglourious Basterds and while Christoph Waltz pretty much stole his thunder in that film, Fassbender was just as good.

This year he has a few roles that are even more high profile. First, he'll be starring as the younger version of Magneto in X-Men: First Class. Later this year, he'll star as Carl Jung in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method." He also already wrapped up filming "Shame," the second film by helmer Steven R. McQueen (more on his first film later). Michael Fassbender is practically an A-list actor already, you just don't realize it or know it yet. He's definitely an actor with perhaps the greatest amount of potential in Hollywood today and what I appreciate about him is his willingness to stay with the lower profile roles while not being afraid to try the more mainstream affair.

What makes Michael Fassbender so watchable? Is it the fact that he's so cool, calm, suave, and charming in "Inglourious Basterds" that he would make even George Clooney blush? Or is it his fearless, menacing, heartbreaking performance in "Hunger" that was the film that really caught my eye in regards to him. The truth is that he can do it all, pretty much. He can play the suave sophisticate if he wants to, he can play the more emotionally complex roles as well, he can go dark, he can be funny, he can be sexy, and he can be downright creepy... sometimes in the same film (watch Fish Tank). The reason why I felt the need to take the time and write about him is because he's one of the few actors out there today that I'm looking forward to seeing his new films regardless of who's making it. Ordinarily, I would not care about X-Men First Class, I find James McAvoy to be a very bland actor who usually plays those do-gooder type roles. Whereas, Michael Fassbender is the guy who can play a do-gooder but will always leave you to wonder if he really is a do-gooder. That's the type of actor I like to watch.

So be on the lookout for Michael Fassbender. He's already a great actor. He will win an Oscar within the next ten years (if they know what's good for them) and he will be on everyone's favorite list by the end of the year. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and watch Hunger and Fish Tank which are two brilliant British films featuring him. You won't be disappointed. Slightly disturbed, but not disappointed.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

So Natalie Portman may not have actually danced during Black Swan

Oh really, media? Ya think?

Sasha Stone of AwardsDaily made an excellent point on her website saying how ballet dancers usually don't get that good unless they start really, really young. Portman started ballet dancing for a year before she played her part and she's nearly 30 years old. Reports were that she did about 5% of the dancing in the movie, the studio who released the film is saying 85%. It doesn't really matter. She didn't win Best Actress Oscar because she danced greatly. It was that she sold it completely. She was Nina. She's in pretty much every single scene of the film. She gives an intense and tortured performance throughout. She was incredible. Whether or not she actually did the dancing is completely irrelevant. I really can't believe people are making a big deal about this.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cedar Rapids review

Seemingly forgotten in the shitpile that is the later Winter/early Spring releases, Cedar Rapids is actually a very funny, very charming film that really showcases what Ed Helms can do. He certainly proves that he can lead a film, but what he really does best is letting his other actors shine just as much as him. John C. Reilly was fantastic and Anne Heche was actually kinda sexy. With a great cast, solid direction by Miguel Arteta, you can see why Alexander Payne (Sideways) was originally drawn towards directing this film.

Cedar Rapids is about a small town midwestern insurance salesman who gets sent to Cedar Rapids, Iowa as part of a convention where he is fixing to win the "Two Diamonds Award" for his insurance company. Over the course of a couple of days, this naive small town gentleman will finally start to grow up and see things from a new perspective. Ed Helms is perfect as the naive small town salesman. You really believe Ed Helms as this character. You could never see George Clooney or any other big leading man in this role but Helms just has that type of sensibility. Anyone can see that from his work on The Office.

He is almost out-acted by John C. Reilly, who proves once again just how talented he is as both comedic co-lead and as a character actor. Reilly can do a role like this in his sleep, he's so good. He gives the film an extra bit of energy which is needed in a film about small town insurance salesmen. His character, Dean Ziegler, isn't your typical jerky rival insurance salesman. In a film like this, you would kind of expect the lead character to have a foil that he'd have to compete against, but Dean Ziegler is thankfully a three-dimensional character and that actually makes his little quips that much funnier and more relatable.

This is a nice film to watch in the beginning of a year where the films are usually lacking in any kind of substance and/or humor. This film has both and it's unfortunate that it's not really being championed by Fox Searchlight, a company that has great taste in film, but they too often give their films such a slow rollout that by the time it's finally released in your area, everyone else has forgotten about the film. So if this film happens to be playing in your area, I would definitely recommend it. It deserves to be seen by more people. It's funny without being too stupid, it's raunchy without being gross, it's vulgar without being offensive. It's just a really fun comedy.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, March 11, 2011

Super 8 Trailer

Ok, now I'm definitely excited for this movie

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Coming in June

Top 100 films of the 1980s!

In June, Ken goes Back to the Future and tells you what his top 100 films of the 1980s are!

In June, Ken is going to say... "Heineken? Fuck that shit!"

Get ready.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Two films, two short reviews

Time to focus on 2011 films and while January and February provided some pretty crappy films that I chose to ignore, I will start off my new year of reviews with two films that were actually fairly enjoyable.

Paul - Directed by Greg Mottola, starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Seth Rogen. "Paul" is a very fun, goofy ride with an inspired blend of sci-fi and comedy. A film filled with a number of sci-fi references that geeks all over the country will laugh at. And while the subject of the humor may be geared toward a specific audience, Pegg and Frost have enough appeal that just about anyone can laugh at their misadventures. Paul is about two British sci-fi nerds who come to America to visit Comic-Con and then go on an adventure to track down various alien landing sites. In the midst of their travels, they have a run-in with an alien named Paul who escaped from the CIA and is looking to return back to his home planet. What follows is a very entertaining comedy, albeit one that doesn't hit the notes quite as hard and as fluently as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz... two films that also star Pegg and Frost. The main difference here is that this film is directed by someone not named Edgar Wright and while Greg Mottola does an admirable job filling in his shoes, he doesn't necessarily provide the film with the amount of energy that Edgar Wright inserts into every single scene of his films. You can't fault a director for not being enough like another direction, but the film does lose steam after awhile and some of the recurring jokes can get a bit old, but overall, it's a film with great comedic performances, including Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. A good film to watch with friends, but lacking the visceral punch that made Shaun and Hot Fuzz so great. Rating: 7.5/10

Rango - Directed by Gore Verbinski, starring the voice of Johnny Depp. This cute, weird, funny little animated picture is perhaps one of the most charming, visually inventive animated films to come out within the past few years. The charming weirdness of this film almost outmatches Fantastic Mr. Fox although Fantastic Mr. Fox had the fortune of being a Roald Dahl adaptation and the pristine vision of Wes Anderson. But both films are the products of normally live-action directors trying their hand at animation and coming up with some very interesting results. The story of Rango isn't necessarily important, but nevertheless... Rango is a lizard who was originally kept as a pet but is suddenly thrust out into the wild west where he becomes the sheriff of a town called Dirt. Yeah. I think it's best if I just leave the rest up to your imagination. In a time where animated movies are slowly starting to become more and more homogenized, it's refreshing to see one that truly stands out from the rest of the pack. Sometimes Rango can just be flat out weird and occasionally the jokes may fall flat, but Rango should already be considered a contender for some major animated-related awards by the end of the year. This year, it doesn't really have much competition (Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2). Rating: 8/10