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.