Tag: michael fassbender

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FLOP WEEK 2*** Steve Jobs (2015)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Sorkin can write quips with the best of them, the only problem is, he puts the same style of quips in every character’s mouth, and they all come with such a smug, self satisfied, shit eating grin.”

Jobs 1
“What do you do? You’re not an engineer. You’re not a designer. You can’t put a hammer to a nail. I built the circuit board! The graphical interface was stolen! So how come ten times in a day I read Steve Jobs is a genius? What do you do?”

Danny Boyle is one of the most interesting and visually creative directors in mainstream movie making. Aaron Sorkin is one of the few screenwriters who even casual film fans known his name.  Steve Jobs is one of the biggest icons of the last decade with acolytes all over the world.  All three of those ingredients should have lead to big box office and awards season success.  And before the release of their collaboration, everyone assumed that would be the case.  Then it was released, and no one bothered to see it, and Steve Jobs became a surprising flop.  And to be honest, it’s flopping is the only reason I was curious enough to watch it.  How could Boyle and Sorkin, making a movie about Jobs, be so inessential?

In 1984, Apple founder Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is getting ready to launch the Macintosh computer.  Backstage, he deals with a glitchy computer that may not be ready to impress, and a disgruntled ex lover (Katherine Waterston as Chrisann) wanting child support for a child Jobs denies is his, even though a paternity test and judge have ruled that she is.  He’s also harangued by co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogan), reminding him that sharing a little credit with his staff wouldn’t be a bad idea.  All while Apple CEO John Scully (Jeff Daniels) warns Jobs that his latest product could mean the end of his career.  The only person offering blind support to Jobs is his head of marketing, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Frank (2014)


“It’s nice to see you. It’s really nice to be here. I love you all.”

I’m a sucker for critical opinion on movies. In most cases, if a movie is highly praised by enough critics, I’ll look past things like genre, director, actors and writers, and take the critics at their word. But every now and again, something just rubs me the wrong way about a movie before I see it. And in those cases, critical praise somehow works as further proof that won’t like it. There’s no rhyme or reason to this attitude, it just happens. And it happened in a major way the first time I saw a trailer and read glowing reviews for Frank.

A frustrated, wannabe musician in suburban England, Jon (Domhall Gleeson) thinks his stable upbringing and happy family are the reason he’s never made it as an artist. He’s the kind of guy who romanticises Kurt Cobain’s depression, seeing it as the fuel for his creativity. After witnessing the keyboard player for local art rock band “Soronprfbs” (no typo) run into the sea while suffering some sort of psychotic episode, Jon talks the band’s manager, (Scoot McNairy as Don) into letting him fill in with the band. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Counsellor (2013)

From the writer of some of the greatest American novels of the last half century…  From the director of several genre redefining blockbusters that only get more acclaimed as the years past…  A cast including Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz…  Al Gore should make a documentary about the horrific squandering of resources that went into making one of The Counsellor.

Michael Fassbender is the titular Counsellor, a lawyer mixed up with some bad dudes.  Bad dudes like Javier Bardem as Reiner, and his wife Malkina (Cameron Diaz).  They’re on the verge of a massive drug deal and the Counsellor is getting more and more mixed up in their world.  While Reiner is all big hair, outlandish, flashy clothes, pet Leopards and extravagance, Westray (Brad Pitt) is his opposite.  The quiet, calculating professional who calls it like it is, and has made all the sensible choices that he hopes will lead to a quiet retirement from the drug game.

When a sewage truck full of coke goes missing, the Counsellor is the prime suspect, and the world of drug cartels starts to close in around him and everyone he knows, including his fiancé, Penelope Cruz as Laura.  There are a lot of characters and really, their only defining characteristics are where they fall on the prick-o-metre.  I barely kept track of what was going on, and even then, only by remembering how much I hated each character in relation to each other.

Like a lot Cormack McCarthy stories, The Counsellor takes place in a weird limbo between the United States and Mexico.  The borderlands populated by the worst people from both countries, with the legal protections of neither.  When your world is populated by these corrupt, bottom feeding, narcissistic sociopaths, you’re never gonna have a character to relate to or cheer for.  I guess Penelope Cruz’s Laura is kind of an innocent we can sympathise with.  But on the other hand, the movie never gives us a chance to really know her, sho why care about what happens to her, innocent or not.

Also like a lot Cormack McCarthy stories, he comes up with new ways to kill people, new ways to degrade people and new ways to make you question why we should even bother if this is the kind of world we live in.  Sure, McCarthy has never shied away from darkness, brutality and horror in his novels, like The Road, No Country for Old Men and especially Blood Meridian, but somehow, it felt like it had a point in those stories.  When The Counsellor indulges in some new decapitation methods, or has Diaz mount the windscreen of a sports car, it seems more like some hack trying to write like McCarthy, with all the shock and none of the substance.

Did The Counsellor suffer from too much pressure and expectations based on the pedigree of everyone behind and in front of the camera?  Maybe.  Would it still have been derided as being pretty terrible even if it was made by anonymous nobodies, Ha, you bet.  At best, it’s worth watching as a bizarre curiosity.  It’s almost like a riddle, how did so many talented people all collectively shit the bed so bad?

The Counsellor
Directed By – Ridley Scott
Written By – Cormac McCarthy


Trying to predict the career of Steven Soderbergh is a pointless affair. Not only did he crank out movies quicker than any other a mainstream director (except maybe for Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen), he also jumped around from genre to genre more than other director I can think of. There aren’t many film makers who have such a unique and recognisable voice as Soderbergh, yet can translate that voice to almost anything. It’s already wacky enough to think he made the paranoia filled Contagion before moving to the sleazy male stripper world of Magic Mike. But it gets really wacky when you realise that in between those, he made an action beat ‘em up starring a female Mixed Martial Arts star who’d never acted before. And the result was Haywire.

Opening in a highway side diner, we meet Mallory (Ultimate Fighting ass kicker, Gina Carano). She’s waiting for Channing Tatum’s Aaron. Within minutes, they’ve had a massive punch up, she’s won and is fleeing in a car with innocent bystander Scott (Michael Angarano). In the car, Mallory’s story turns into a series of flashbacks to get Scott and the audience up to speed.

Working for Ewan McGregor’s Kenneth, Mallory is part of some sort of clandestine group of elite, black ops style organisation. After a meeting with government official Alex (Michael Douglas), Mallory is sent on a mission in Ireland where she works with Michael Fassbender’s MI6 agent, Paul. This is about the time when everything in Mallory’s life turns to shit. Double crosses turn into triple and quadruple crosses. All allegiances become suspect and the people she trusted most turn out to be the prime suspects in everything going wrong for Mallory.

The biggest surprise with Haywire is that Soderbergh made a totally non ironic, deliberately B grade genre picture. While Out of Sight could kind of be seen as an action movie, it’s so self aware, George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez almost wink at the camera. This is more along the lines of something like The Limey, Soderbergh’s grimey revenge flick. Or Side Effects, an unapologetic thriller. Haywire embraces all the genre tropes of an action movie starring an MMA fighter, with genuine affection, not snarky sarcasm.

When you cast a first time actor in your movie’s main role, I guess there are two ways to go when you build the rest of the cast around them. Either surround the newbie with ringers who can help raise the overall bar of the movie, or surround them with people who are just kind of OK, so you never highlight your lead actor’s flaws. Well, Soderbergh definitely went with option one.

Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas… All of these dudes are overflowing with charisma and have proven themselves to be more than adequately equipped with solid acting chops. And unfortunately for Carano, it does sometimes make her seem a little out of her depth in comparison.

It’s the kind of thing that whenever I think it, I realise I’ve thought it many times, but always manage to forget. But Haywire proves that Steven Soderbergh is a really great director. It seems obvious to say about an Oscar winning, blockbutser making, generation defining film maker, but it’s movies like Haywire that really drive the point home. It’s one thing for him to make a great movie when making something high end like Traffic, or crowd pleasing like Erin Brockovich, but it’s a totally different thing to make a great movie when working with an action beat ‘em up starring a female Mixed Martial Arts start who’d never acted before. And Soderbegh more than makes it work.

Directed By – Steven Soderbergh
Written By – Lem Dobbs