My Daily Moment of Zen


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Fassy Rules!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/may/14/cannes-film-festival-andrea-arnold-fish-tank-review

Another film I am really looking forward to is Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” (official website: http://www.fishtankmovie.com/), with the incredibly talented Michael Fassbender.

He’s getting a lot of attention these days in the deluge of press surrounding the release of “Inglourious Basterds.” He’s being touted as the next big thing, but as is usually the case, he’s been around for years.

What I find odd, however, is that more is made of his first big break in “Band of Brothers”, (he’s supposedly in 8 of the 10 episodes but I’ve only been able to spot him in the first one. The camera pans across him in the opening scene while the company is watching a movie.) than the role in which I first discovered him, 2007’s “300”. His turn as young Stelios is usually mentioned in passing, and then the most is made of his physique. And while said physique is VERY impressive, (there could not have been an ounce of fat on that man. He was all lean and tightly coiled sinew…shudder…)

you miss the point if you don’t listen for his demented laugh as he tells Daxos that he may have found the enemy to give him the glorious death he was born for.

In any case, I have been smitten with Mr. FITS (‘Fights in the Shade’-yes I know, terribly clever) ever since.

As with Tom Hardy, (Okay, as with most things. I can be like a dog with a bone when I find something new.) I’ve sought out anything else I could get my hands on with Fassbender’s name attached. A lot of his earlier credits are UK television (most of which I’ll probably never get to see.)

Speaking of British television, “Hex”, is a drama about a boarding school for randy, but deeply troubled, teens (that has apparently been Satan’s bordello for centuries) that the nice people at BBC America see fit to run often. The Devil wants me to be the mother of the anti-Christ? I have no problem with that as long as the Devil comes in the form of the smoothly charming and disarmingly sexy Azazeal. And I KNOW that’s not just me.

I’ve been petitioning (more like begging) BBC America to pick up a sumptuous historical mini-series called “The Devil’s Whore” in which Fassbender played a key figure in the English Civil War, Colonel Thomas Rainsborough. Amazing cast including Dominic West as Cromwell, John Simm (love him), Peter Capaldi and relative newcomer Andrea Riseborough. All of the episodes are available on Youtube and I have viewed them all, but that’s not how this colorful, earthy costume drama was meant to be seen. I want it all! I can hope that it will eventually be released on region-free dvd. Until then…there’s always episode 2, pt 4.

Francoise Ozon’s “Angel” from 2007 is not available anywhere that I can find. (Which ticks me off. I wish imdb would stop putting links to Blockbuster Online & Amazon on a film’s title page if the damn title is not available at Blockbuster Online or Amazon.) Again there are pieces available on Youtube (As of this writing; no telling when the Youtube police will strike it down.)

“Eden Lake” deserves a post of its own. On the surface this is your typical “unprepared couple goes camping and bad things happen” slasher film, but it’s really much more. You may still find yourself yelling at the screen, “Don’t do that you idiot!” but when you think you’ve got it figured out it takes one surprising and disturbing turn after another. Having said all that, it is still a horror film. A smart, well written and well acted horror film but nonetheless it is still brutal and bloody. I hate to do spoilers but if the genre doesn’t appeal (well then don’t watch it but if you must, stop the dvd after the romp in the lake. Fassy looks good wet.)

I really want to see “Hunger,” in which MF plays IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. It’s already been celebrated from Cannes to Berlin to Toronto, and is being distributed by IFC Films. I’ve heard that it’s a difficult performance to watch but one that deserves to be seen. The trailer link: http://www.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK//video/screenplay/vi2771256089/

Which brings me to Inglourious Basterds, (another really fine article: http://www.movieline.com/2009/08/the-verge-michael-fassbender.php) a film I’ve wanted to talk about but wanted to find a way to do it that I haven’t already read a hundred times and yet without spoilers. So for now I’ll settle for talking about MF’s Lt. Archie Hickox. First, let me just say that I hope the dvd release gives us more of everything but specifically of this character. I refuse to believe, knowing the research he did and the work he put into getting the accent right, that what we see in the film is all there ever was.
He’s said his inspiration was George Sanders and since the release I’ve heard all sorts of comparisons, like “Oh, he’s doing Olivier!” He’s not doing Olivier. He’s doing a “type”. A clipped, effete accent used to signify the British upper class in films of the 30’s -early 40’s. It sounds more like Ronald Coleman meets David Niven, okay with maybe a little Olivier (circa 1940-Rebecca) but he’s not “doing” Olivier. In any case, it’s flawless and and he steals every scene he’s in.

In addition to the above mentioned “Fish Tank”, he’s got another film completed and awaiting release, “Town Creek”, director Joel Schumacher’s return to the horror/slash thriller genre. (If nothing else, I’m sure it will look good.) There are two films in post-production. “Centurion” (his third film with Dominic West for those keeping score) directed by Neil Marshall, whose 2002 “Dog Soldiers” is an outstanding new take on the werewolf mythology (with another one of my favorites, Kevin McKidd.) Then there’s the darling of this year’s Comic Con, “Jonah Hex” with Josh Brolin, in which he plays henchman to John Malkavitch’s baddie and gets to keep his Kilarney accent.

Currently in production is “Birdsong”, a WWI romance that is being compared to “The English Patient” and co-starring Brian Cox. In pre-production is “The Sweeney”, based on a UK cop show, and co-starring the great Ray Winstone.

What is it with the Irish and the Scots and the Brits? Not only can every single one of them ACT, they all work really hard at it. Sheesh.

JMHO

September 4th baby!

New trailer for GAMER!  http://www.apple.com/trailers/lions_gate/gamer/

At last the plot is starting to come together.  While there was never a doubt that the visuals would be stunning and the style would be a hectic sensual over-load, (Neveldine and Taylor always deliver the rush. As long as you’re not looking for much beyond that, you’ll be entertained and satisfied.)  I’m not a "gamer" so the premise of this one didn’t automatically send shivers down my spine. Okay, I was on board for the visceral thrills (not to mention it stars Gerard Butler – ’nuff said.)

But we’ve now been given a clue as to what set all this in motion in the first place. I’m very glad to know there’s some "there" there and we will not merely be subjected to a series of loosely strung together explosions.  While explosions, car chases and camera tricks are nice too, I’m a big fan of character development and story.  Call me crazy.  This trailer gives me reason to believe Gamer has those things.

We’ll see. I’ll be there on September 4th to find out.

New Mark Strong Project

If Mark Strong’s in it, I’ll see it!

The Eagle of the Ninth Begins Shooting in Hungary

Posted using ShareThis

There is a LOT of talent involved in this project. I’ll reserve judgment about Channing Tatum until I see the finished product, but the inclusion of Mark Strong (who appears to be challenging Ray Winstone in the running for “Hardest Working Brit in Show Business”) is enough to get me into the theater.

I’ll not question why I haven’t heard about it until now and just continue to look for updates now that production has started. Woo hoo!

Charles Bronson coming to America

"…A Clockwork Orange for the 21st Century." Woo Hoo!

‘Bronson’ Gets A Newer, Longer Domestic Trailer Posted using ShareThis

I am a big fan of Tom Hardy. (That at once plush and gravelly whiskey and cigarettes voice that I would give a limb to hear whispering in my ear, and help me Rhonda… that mouth!…but I digress.)

While I may only have discovered him in last year’s RocknRolla, I have made an effort to catch a lot of his earlier work. There were some performances I had seen but had no idea who he was at the time, (much like my discovery of Gerard Butler) for example Clarkie in "Layer Cake" (who could look past Daniel Craig’s preternaturally blue eyes?) or Pvt. Janovec in "Band of Brothers" (but I do remember one of his scenes-lol)

Since "RocknRolla" I’ve discovered that I like his Robert Dudley in the BBC production "The Virgin Queen" (an impeccable production: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0481459/ I highly recommend it) much more than Joseph Fiennes’ in "Elizabeth" or Jeremy Irons’ in "Elizabeth I"

His Bill Sykes in a 2007 BBC version of "Oliver Twist" won’t make you forget Oliver Reed in the 1968 musical, but it’s right up there. Hardy’s three dimensional characterization is probably closer to the novel’s than I personally have previously seen and for which he was nominated for a BAFTA.

And then there’s yet another BBC production, (they should just put him on retainer-good thing they don’t have the tv/movies class divide in the UK as they do in the US) "Wuthering Heights." His demented Heathcliffe seems like a part he was practically born to play. Not because of questionable lineage or that he had a feral childhood, but for one reason or another, probably rebelling against his middle class upbringing, he was a wild child with a history of violence, criminal activity and substance abuse. (At one point he was given the choice of jail time or an acting class-what kind of penal system are they running over there?)

There are other roles, like Noel in 06’s "Scenes of a Sexual Nature". It was only one of a series of vignettes, memorable for the persistence of his character’s attempts to get into Sophie Okonedo’s knickers. (She would later play Nancy to his Bill in the above mentioned "Oliver Twist". She’s adorable.) The only other piece of that film I remember is the Mark Strong/Polly Walker storyline. (Nice twist)

And then there’s the one that every reviewer mentions; the title character in "Stuart: A Life Backwards", about a drug addicted homeless man who also suffers from MS, that I am anxious to see. I hope there is a US dvd release in the near future for this as well.

edit: Just caught 2006’s "Sweeney Todd" on IFC. The great Ray Winstone is once again phenomenal in the title role, subtly menancing, tortured as well as torturous. If all you know of this story is the musical, you haven’t seen the story as it was meant to be told. Why have I edited a Tom Hardy post with this information you ask? Because Tom plays a supporting role and is completely delicious. Oh, and guess what? It was made by the BBC!

An excellent article from the London Times Online: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article5846093.ece

I’m very excited about the possibility of "Bronson" getting a US release. I’m sure it will be limited, either to just NY and LA or to art houses in "select" cities. But one good thing about the blogosphere, we will likely be told we have access to a "small" movie like this and can look for it, much like another little UK film with a likely Fall US release, "Fish Tank". (more on that later)

ps: Anyone else see any similarities between another actor we know and love? The bad boy behavior, the addictive personality who has channeled it all into acting? Anyone…Bueller?