A few years ago, it was announced that Michael Fassbender would appear opposite Natalie Portman in Lynne Ramsey’s western, Jane Got a Gun. Apparently Fassy has “Spidey-sense” as well as that shark-smile, since he bailed on that one rather early, avoiding the stampede for the exits. (For those that don’t know to what I refer, after Fassbender & Portman signed on, they were joined by Joel Edgerton for the 2nd male lead. When Fassbender left, Jude Law took his role. Then Law left and Edgerton stepped in. Then on the day filming was to start, Ramsey quit. That part of the story is still being adjudicated. The movie was eventually made by Gavin O’Connor – Edgerton’s Warrior director – but without Edgerton. The final cast included Portman, Ewan McGregor, Noah Emmerich, and Rodrigo Santoro but we’ve seen nary a trailer, and it’s being quietly dumped in the February wilderness of 2015. But I digress)
In any case, for those still desparate to see Michael Fassbender in a western, you’re in luck. He’s made Slow West out in the wilds of Scotland and New Zealand, for director John Mclean, who marks his feature film debut. (Mclean directed Fassbender and his Hunger and Centurion costar Liam Cunningham in the short Pitch Black Heist.) The film also stars Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road), Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, Killing Them Softly) and “The Hound” himself, Rory McCann.
17-year-old Jay Cavendish (Smit-McPhee) treks from the Scottish Highlands to the American West searching for his lady love. He pays a mysterious traveler called Silas, (Fassbender) to protect him.
The above image is the first official look at Fassbender and Smit-McPhee from the film. Look for the movie itself to hit one or many of the fall festivals. Hopefully trailers and release dates will appear as we get closer to Venice and TIFF and Telluride.
I’ve been looking out for Frank since way back in November 2012 when filming began in Dublin and Bray before moving to New Mexico in January 2013. It finally premiered at Sundance 2014 (and was a big hit), and has played quite a few festivals since (include SXSW, which features in the film), so there are folks lucky enough to have seen it already, and they all seem to be heels over giant papier-mâché head for it. In addition to Michael Fassbender, the terrific ensemble cast includes Domhnall Gleason (to whom the standard response was “who?” when filming began), Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Scoot McNairy.
Frank is the story of a wannabe rocker (Gleason), who talks his way into a band of misfits called the Soronprfbs, led by the titular Frank (Fassbender) who wears a giant fake head on his head, and holes up with them in a remote cabin to record an album.
Despite the fact that his famous face is hidden for the entire movie, Fassbender is winning rave reviews. Being forced to use his body alone to convey expression is apparently liberating rather than constraining. And though it is loosely based on the life of Frank Sidebottom, a giant head-wearing persona created by real English musician and comedy legend Chris Sievey, as well as other real musicians like Captain Beefheart, everything I’ve seen and heard points to Frank being a most refreshingly weird and original film.
Frank finally opens in the US on August 15th. (And once again, I am hopeful that that means in more cities than just NY and LA.) It’s already got a dvd/blu-ray release date for the UK of September 15, as well. In the meantime, take a look at the new images, trailer and the assembled clips below.
“…Go With It”:
“…Punch You in the Face”:
“I Love You All”