Irish Nominations for Golden Globes



The nominations for the 73rd Golden Globe Awards have been announced with a number of Irish featured amongst the nominations. Lenny Abrahamson’s Room was nominated in the category of Best Motion Picture. Emma Donoghue was nominated for Best Screenplay for Room, which she adapted from her own award-winning book. And Brie Larson made it a hat trick of nominations for Room with her nomination in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture.

Saoirse Ronan was also nominated in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture alongside Larson for her performance in Brooklyn.

Michael Fassbender was nominated in the category of Best Actor in a Motion Picture for his performance in Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. Caitriona Balfe received a nomination in the category of Best Actress in a TV series for Outlander. Also in this category is Eva Green, nominated for her role in Penny Dreadful, which was shot on location in Dublin.

The 73rd Golden Globe Awards will take place on January 10th 2016 in Beverly Hills California.


The full list of 2016 Golden Globe award nominations:

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Motion Picture, Comedy
The Big Short
The Martian

Best Director – Motion Picture
Todd Haynes, Carol
Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
George Miller, Mad Max
Ridley Scott, The Martian

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Melissa McCarthy, Spy
Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
Maggie Smith, Lady in the Van
Lily Tomlin, Grandma

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Jane Fonda, Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Will Smith, Concussion

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Steve Carell, The Big Short
Matt Damon, The Martian
Al Pacino, Danny Collins
Mark Ruffalo, Infinitely Polar Bear

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best TV Series, Drama

Game of Thrones
Mr. Robot

Best TV Series, Comedy
Mozart in the Jungle
Orange Is the New Black
Silicon Valley

Best TV Movie or Limited-Series
American Crime
American Horror Story: Hotel
Flesh and Bone
Wolf Hall

Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Wagner Moura, Narcos
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Emma Donoghue, Room
Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, Spotlight
Charles Randolph, Adam McKay, The Big Short
Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs
Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight

Best Animated Feature Film
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Limited-Series, or TV Movie
Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Regina King, American Crime
Judith Light, Transparent
Maura Tierney, The Affair

Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy
Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex Girlfriend
Jamie Lee Curtis, Scream Queens
Julia Louis Dreyfus, Veep
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Lilly Tomlin, Grace & Frankie

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited-Series or TV Movie
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall
Ben Mendelson, Bloodline
Tobias Menzies, Outlander
Christian Slater, Mr. Robot

Best Original Song – Motion Picture
“Love Me Like You Do” 50 Shades of Grey
“One Kind of Love” Love and Mercy
“See You Again” Furious 7
“Simple Song No. 3” Youth
“Writing’s on the Wall” Spectre




Another Look at ‘Steve Jobs’



Anthony Kirby finds a lot to like in Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs was something of an enigma. He easily packed five lifetimes into his fifty six years. Perhaps because of early rejection as a child, or a chemical brain imbalance, he lacked social graces and was inordinately cruel to immediately family and many of his closest associates. He had a genius comprehension of mathematical concepts and computer logic, spoke at sixty words to the dozen and had no interest in money or worldly possessions. At one point in the film John Scully (Jeff Daniels) C.E.O. of Apple Corporation visits Job’s home and complains that the company founder, then worth $44 Million, has only a king-sized bed and no other furniture.

In an aside about half way through the drama, Jobs, the son of an Iranian father and German/American Catholic mother, confesses that his first adoptive parents returned him when he was just a few months old. “They wanted a girl,” he said. “My mother wanted my adoptive parents to be university graduates. My adoptive father was a military and later civilian auto mechanic.” However, Jobs bonded with his adoptive father and loved building fences, etc. with him. His parents were Calvinists, which probably explains his work ethic and intransigence.

The film is more a pastiche of Job’s life than a biopic. A full accounting of Jobs would require twice the screen-time. The film does not cover Jobs’ period as Primary Investor and C.E.O. of Pixar Inc. or his interest in the Disney Corporation. The picture covers three pivotal points in the genius’ life. The launch of the original Macintosh in 1984. The NEXT Computer developed during Jobs’ period away from Apple and unveiled in 1988, and the original iMac of 1998. Each scene ends with Jobs at centre stage.

As a college student Jobs encountered Steve Wozniak and Chris-Ann Brennan. Jobs and Wozniak developed the Apple Computer in his garage. Chris-Ann who was briefly Jobs’ mistress had a daughter Lisa whom she claimed was his. Even following D.N.A. testing Jobs disputed this. In the film’s first  scene, shot in 16mm, Jobs is visited by fragile Chris-Ann (Katherine Waterston). She and Lisa, not able to live on the court mandated $385.00, are about to go on welfare. Jobs, preoccupied with the product launch, shouts at Chris-Ann and only backs down when his personal assistant Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) quietly impresses on him that regardless of his animosity to her mother  there’s a five-year-old child who believes you’re her father and loves you.” Listening to this plea Jobs backs down, ups Chris-Ann’s monthly stipend to $500.00 and lodges enough money in her account to buy a modest house. However, he’s still angry and when little Lisa asks him “ Daddy did you call the Lisa computer after me? “ he replies “ No sweetheart, L.I.S.A. stands for Local Integrated Software Architecture” This to a sensitive five year old! Then when Lisa does an abstract drawing on the computer he says, “Picasso did similar drawings with paper and Indian ink.” Even allowing for the pressure Jobs was under this interchange showed how ill-equipped he was as a parent.

Jobs expected to be Time’s Man of the Year for 1984, however, on learning of Jobs’ dispute with Ms. Brennan, Time changed the story to a feature on Apple Corporation. Screen-writer Sorkin discussed his screenplay with Lisa, now 37, “she’s the hero of the film,” he says.

Act two of the film deals with the launch of the NEXT Computer. Lisa is again backstage. She points out that the NEXT Computer frame isn’t a perfect cube. She’s actually measured it with a ruler. Jobs takes time to tell her that “a perfect cube doesn’t photograph well with regards to television, honey.” Their relationship appears to have improved, however, when Lisa hugging him around his waist asks if she can live with him, he doesn’t respond.

Sadly the NEXT Computer isn’t a financial success selling only to universities. Jobs has other irons in the fire, which leads us into Act III.

Close to bankruptcy, Apple Corporation’s Board invite Jobs back as C.E.O. in 1997. He develops the first iMac, and begins the launch in the spring of 1998. Confident as everm he predicts sales of half a million units in the first month and 20,000 a month thereafter. An associate comes back stage armed with a top secret file not to be shown to Jobs: it’s from a business prediction agency. Jobs persuades the associate to show him the file. The business forecast agency predictions are the same as Jobs’.

Joanna Hoofman (Winslet), who is the only confidant who can consistently get through to him, intimates that if he doesn’t somehow make peace with Lisa she’ll leave him and hide somewhere never to be found. “I mean this, Steve, if you don’t make peace with Lisa, I’m history. This has gone on far too long.”

Steve Jobs does eventually make peace with Lisa who watches the launch of the iMac backstage. Later as Lisa goes to pick up her Volkswagen Beatle Jobs notes that she’s wearing a cumbersome Walkman. “Why are you still listening to music on that device, Lisa? I’ll make a listening device that can access 500 pieces of music.”

Arron Sorkin (The West Wing) is a master dramatist, however, this Hollywood style ending is the only scene in the film that doesn’t ring true to this reviewer but that doesn’t take away from a wonderful script that is directed to perfection and filled with great performances.

Fassbender himself forgoes a makeup makeover and doesn’t look like the real Steve Jobs. However, he brilliantly captures his genius and conflicted personality and gives a brilliant, nuanced performance.


Anthony Kirby



Review: Steve Jobs|


DIR: Danny Boyle • WRI: Aaron Sorkin • PRO: Danny Boyle, Guymon Casady, Christian Colson, Mark Gordon, Lauren Lohman, Scott Rudin • ED: Elliot Graham • DOP: Alwin H. Küchler • DES: Guy Hendrix Dyas • MUS: Daniel Pemberton • CAST: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen


In regards to the biopic film, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs|is a breath of fresh air, albeit a breath that their actors seldom get in this backstage linguistic battle royale. Their portrayal of Steve Jobs doesn’t follow the tedious and meandering cradle-to-the-grave format, but actually abbreviates the narrative into three separate acts respectively – 1984, 1988, 1998 – all commencing minutes before a major product launch. And like the three acts of a stage play, this film relies on talking… a lot of talking. And like playwrights before him – Mamet, Chayefsky, Shakespeare – Sorkin boasts his own trademark dialogue.

Straight out the gate and we’re riddled with rapid Sorkin rat-a-tat spitfire, piercing and deflating any notion of exposition, as we play keep-up with Fassbender’s Jobs and his backstage world. We follow him, mostly by tracking shot, through corridors as characters from his work and personal life berate him about his lack of empathy. He talks down to his work colleagues, threatens his friends, his ex-girlfriend and daughter are on welfare despite his wealth – anyone who comes into contact with the man becomes miserable… I mean this guy’s a real jerk!

His closest confidant is Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), a marketing executive, and in ways, his guardian angel, who acts as his conscience constantly urging him to do the right thing for his daughter and ultimately himself. Apple CEO, John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), is somewhat a father figure, a close friend until the Apple began to rot. Apple co-founder and friend Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) pops by before each of the three launches to support Jobs and ask him to acknowledge the Apple II team. The recurring sentimentality throughout the film is Jobs’ daughter Lisa, who at first he denies is his, but slowly builds a closer relationship with her throughout the years. A lesser films would have saturated the audience with this sentimentality, but luckily here the filmmakers keep their protagonist as unlikable as possible.  

The characters walk and talk in breakneck speed, accompanied by Daniel Pemberton’s lavish score – a fusion of operatic classical and techno burps – that sounds like Beethoven and Kraftwerk had a few too many and stuck the DO-NOT-DISTURB sign up. The high tempo dialogue always keeps the audience alert and on their toes. There’s a sense of emergence about it. Danny Boyle’s sleek, yet uncharacteristically subtle, direction compliments Sorkin’s pace and overall Steve Jobs’ minimalist style and vision. Boyle incorporates colourful visual distortions into the few moments of silence we get. Another little touch Boyle brought to the movie was filming the three acts in different formats -16mm, 35mm and digital, an artistic stroke that Jobs probably would of lapped up like a dog.

The style that Boyle and Sorkin convey is like that of an Apple product – compressed, precise, dynamic, icey, minimal – all subtle characteristics that Jobs utilised when marketing and releasing a new computer. As the most quoted line in the movie – “musicians play their instruments, I play the orchestra” – exclaims, Jobs was a man who needed to be in control. The film suggests that he was a man who was afraid to delve too deep professionally and personally. He felt in control about how he marketed and presented, the bigger picture, the vision, but when it got complicated in IT or with his ex-girlfriend and daughter he couldn’t cope or understand. He wasn’t a man of tech or science, but a man who knew how to manipulate the people, stay ahead of the curve and adapt his vision to the culture.

Fassbender doesn’t resemble Jobs physically, unlike Ashton Kutcher, whose personal admiration for the man and bad acting hurt his feature. What Fassbender brings to the role is sheer energy, whether firing off some Sorkin dingers or utilising great physicality to compliment the erratic dialogue. He doesn’t have to rely on his appearance for the role because he delves deeper in himself to find the character. He has a great cast to support him too, specifically Kate Winslet, whose subtle Polish accent is right on point. Seth Rogen’s performance is modest, which is a great relief and Jeff Daniels straight corporate demeanor fits the bill. There’s one scene in particular between Fassbender and Daniels that is the verbal equivalent of a western showdown. The volume of the score heightens, as cuts to flashbacks help push the argument forward, raising the dramatic ambience as the two characters scream at each other.

Critics have acknowledged the film’s Shakespearean overtones, but I haven’t seen anyone mention Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Jobs being the wealthy entrepreneurial-tech Ebenezer Scrooge, who lacks empathy and is visited by friends and enemies who either want a favour or want to help. Has a few flashbacks to a time before the megalomania and it take three acts to slightly redeem him. Or in more recent years, Sorkin’s Steve Jobs anti-hero characterisation can be compared to There Will Be Blood’s Daniel Plainview – another man so professionally driven that he becomes isolated from people.

Some have criticised Steve Jobs| of relying too heavily on style and cartoonish dialogue rather than conveying a true depiction of the man, as if all the epic sentimental biopics have it down to a tee. This isn’t a documentary, it’s a fictional film based on true events and the filmmakers made the right decision to narrow the focus down to three important events in Jobs’  professional career, whilst intertwining elements of his personal and ultimately pursuing a day-in-a-life portrayal of the man. Others have complained about Sorkin’s snappy dialogue, criticising it for being unrealistic because people in real life don’t speak like it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to listen to tech jargon spoon fed to me in Bob Geldof mode for two hours. I want it razor-sharp and potent so it grabs me and pulls me into its accelerated world. I don’t want to remain docile, I need to adapt.

Sorkin has proved to be one of the most distinctive voices in television and film dialogue working today bearing a strong sense of high-speed energy within his body of work. For Boyle, this is a nicely understated return, abandoning his trademark kinetic visuals and adapting a more subtle approach in order to accommodate Sorkin’s writing. The result is  a well crafted and precise three-act farcical algorithm with a sharp silver tongue. iReally liked it (I am sorry).

Cormac O’Meara

122 minutes (See IFCO for details)

Steve Jobs| is released 13th November 2015

Steve Jobs| – Official Website


Review: MacBeth


DIR: Justin Kurzel • WRI: Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie, Todd Louiso • PRO: Iain Canning, Laura Hastings-Smith, Emile Sherman • DOP: Adam Arkapaw • ED: Chris Dickens • MUS: Lorne Balfe • DES: Fiona Crombie • MUS: Jed Kurzel • CAST: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard


MacBeth is Shakespeare’s most cinematic play. It has a clear linear narrative, and has plenty of action leading to a bloody climax. In the past it has been adapted successfully to the screen by Orson Welles, Roman Polanski and Akira Kurosawa.

The latest version stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Its Australian director, Justin Kurzel, uses a visceral modern style that bombards the senses. It’s full of slow motion and moody music, and the lengthy scenes of the play have been broken up into staccato snippets and visual flashbacks. The film seems to want to get as far away from its origins as a play as it can. Even the dialogue is delivered in ominous mumbles and whispers. Did Kurzel think a modern audience would be bored with Shakespeare and the material had to be sexed up?

On the spectrum of people of people who like/dislike Shakespeare, this film may not satisfy either. If you like the play you may be frustrated by how much Kurzel has twisted it to make it his own. And if you don’t like the play you may wonder if all this sound and fury signifies anything. This version of MacBeth is overloaded with style, over edited, has too much music and not enough Shakespeare.

Stephen Kane

15A (See IFCO for details)

MacBeth is released 2nd October 2015

MacBeth – Official Website



Cinema Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past


DIR: Bryan Singer • WRISimon Kinberg PRO: Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer • DOP: Newton Thomas Sigel • ED: John Ottman • MUS: John Ottman • DES: John Myhre • CAST: Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender

The aesthetic that was begun with the decision to opt for black leather as opposed to the colourful skin-tights of comic-book illustration in Bryan Singer’s low-key (at least by today’s standards) X-Men (2000) saw triumph in the likes of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. But, ultimately, it stumbled and failed to a global audience in the clunky third acts of The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel. The Nolan-verse, though well thought out, gritty and relatable, left too much of a chasm between the onscreen worlds depicted and the fantasy settings that drew in the materials’ initial fan-base. Indeed, if the gargantuan success of the Marvel movies, whose Avengers Assemble climaxed a clean 200 million North of Nolan’s last outing in Gotham, spelt out nothing else to audiences and studio heads alike it became clear that any amount of salt could be pinched in watching, provided the audience was having fun.

Essentially, the aesthetic of the criminally underrated Blade, triumphant with Spiderman 2 and del Toro’s Hellboy films – fumbled with the likes of Daredevil and The Fantastic Four – has been perfected by them boys at Marvel to at last allow filmmakers read from the playbook of superhero storytelling that allowed for their massive popularity in the first instance and use the sources themselves as story-boards wherever possible in order to best emulate/adapt the look, mood and story-structures to a cinematic context –  a feat already gleefully achieved this year by Marc Webb on The Amazing Spiderman 2.

Our first glimpse of Stan Lee’s mutant “evolutionaries” in this colour-palate came with the messy but fun X-Men: First Class and since the announcement that Singer would return to the series with an adaptation that would unite both casts, old and new, anticipation has been building to see whether Marvel’s greatest property might step forth from the darkness successfully and enjoy the sun as it shines forth from Avengers‘ producer Kevin Feige’s arse. Well let’s have a look then…

The film opens in a future not ten clicks from the “real” world of The Matrix franchise. Evidently gigantic robots (coincidentally also called sentinels) have ravaged the world for want of ridding it of mutants for good. A last band, including everyone you want, plus a couple of bonus mutants, gather at the great wall of China and opt to fling Wolverine’s conscience back to his pre-adamantium days in the 1970s that he might get the boys (young Xavier and Magneto and friends) together again in order to thwart the efforts of Jennifer Lawrence’s shape-shifting Mystique to assassinate one Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) – an event which set off the chain-reaction leading to the dystopia of the film’s opening. This sets us up to globe-trot the world of 1970s Marvel-lore with none other than Hugh Jackman’s cool-as-hell Logan. Make no mistake; this is Fox’s answer to Marvel.

The film’s set-pieces are truly the meat here, and at a count of seven and a half in a matter of 131 minutes they would truly want to be, with the highlight undoubtedly the breakout of Magneto (at this point an X-troupe) from his plastic prison beneath The Pentagon, featuring series newbie Quiksilver, as played with anarchic frenzy by Evan Peters. Singer shoots action well enough as is, but here his wide array of characters allows him girth to upscale each kerfuffle to its almost maximum potential. Almost every action sequence allots him a new notch for his CV’s bedpost: Blink’s utilisation of portals (like the video-game, yes) during fights is complex yet impressively compact in shots; a fight in a fountain in Paris cut between Super-8 crowd-footage and Hi-def is a delight; Hugh Jackman looks cooler than Michael Fassbender (neckerchief, really?). How then will this measure up to the excellent Avengers Assemble, a comparison I feel will prove appropriate and inevitable in discussion of this film.

This verdict harkens back to this review’s lengthy introductory paragraph and asks the viewer what they want from a comic-book film. On all counts Avengers is a superior film. Every character has a seeming drive and a fair amount of screen-time. In Days of Future Past the only arc is James McAvoy’s Xavier and it is a flimsy one at that. The bold move this film makes (that some will call lazy) is the love for its characters on behalf of cinema-goers that it takes for granted.

Essentially, this is a comic-book story as told on paper, in that every second of plot is incidental as the end of every thread must return us to the status quo before the credits roll. There is fine acting on show here (a special shout-out here to McAvoy and Fassbender who share a sizzling chemistry when onscreen together) but it is only as 3-dimensional as it needs to be, as are the characters. Any scorn heaped upon this film on account of plot-holes (of which there are a handful) and character development (almost none) are justified but if you enter this film with the same entertainment bar set as when you flick open a Marvel comic you will genuinely not leave disappointed. I had an absolute blast.

Donnchadh Tiernan

12A (See IFCO for details)
130 mins

X-Men: Days of Future Past is released on 22nd May 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Official Website


On The Reel at the Premiere of ‘Frank’


Lenny Abrahamson’s latest film Frank is released in cinemas today. Gemma Creagh caught up with the director at the recent European premiere of the film at the Light House cinema in Dublin to find out more about the film for On The Reel in association with Film Ireland.

Gemma also had a chat to the man behind the papier-mâché head, Michael Fassbender, and spoke to Domhnall Gleeson about his role as Jon, a wannabe musician, who joins Frank’s band and embarks on a journey of delirious creativity and pursuit of fame.


Cinema Review: Frank


DIR: Lenny Abrahamson • WRIPeter Straughan PRO: Ed Guiney, Stevie Lee, Andrew Lowe • DOP: James Mather • MUS: Stephen Rennicks • DES: Richard Bullock • CAST: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Many films aiming to make a statement about art in conflict with commerciality must often contend with a similar push/pull arrangement in the execution of that statement itself. After all, original or groundbreaking as it might be, if an indie flick lands at Sundance with no-one there to live-tweet it, does it make a sound? Aiming to prop itself between these two stools of art and commerce by no more than one over-large paper mache head and a bucketful of ambition is director Lenny Abrahamson’s latest outing, Frank.


Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is a serial-tweeting office drone plagued by dreams of international stardom but rather lacking in the creative drive to see them realized. Enter the Soronprfbs, an eclectic musical outfit whose disdain for vowels is matched only by the eccentricity of frontman Frank (Fassbender), who lives his life enclosed in a huge, cartoonish prop head. Brought into the fold when the band find suddenly find themselves short a keyboardist, Jon sees his chance for stardom and resolves to take it – along the way contending with the bile of acerbic bandmate Clara  (Gyllenhal), his own tragic lack of inspiration and fundamental doubts as to whether he’s crossed paths with a musical messiah or a plain old madman.


Frank quickly found an eager audience during its debut at Sundance, and it’s no real surprise why. Charming, funny and bright – starkly so in contrast to Abrahamson’s earlier work – the film delivers consistent belly-laughs while still managing to hit quieter, sombre notes about a genuinely troubled masked man to whom the microphone may as well be an umbilical cord. By turns hilarious and tragic are Jon’s fumbling attempts at inspiration relayed through banal sing-along internal monologues and a Twitter feed constantly appearing on screen but increasingly at odds with the reality of his situation.


Unsurprisingly, Fassbender exhibits impressive range beneath the mask, and the near-violent chemistry between Gylenhaal and Gleeson is crackling. It is likely the latter who delivers the anchoring performance of the film, slipping from wide-eyed to cut-throat as Jon slowly begins to realize that while the sparsely-populated pub gigs and mish-mash of recording techniques are a means to and end for him, for the rest of the band they act as a strange sort of therapy.


However, while certainly interesting as an examination of the notion of celebrity, it is difficult to escape the feeling that Frank is, strangely, Abrahamson’s most conventional effort to date. While ostensibly hiding the film’s most marketable feature behind a paper mache mask, it is likely that this very choice to take one of the world’s most sought-after faces and hide it in plain sight has drawn quite so much of the buzz that would class Frank as unique.


“You’re just going to have to go with this,” Jon is told by the band’s manager rather early on, but in truth there is little enough to go with that truly strays from the beaten path. A typical three act structure put together with bright, agreeable colour tones and a titular character who can’t help but be endearing, the overriding sense is of an unconventional idea packaged in its most marketable form, where “quirky” is a buzzword thrown out for poster by-lines as opposed to any real indication of divergence.


With subject matter wrestling with the idea of art vs commerciality, it ultimately leans towards the latter – but this is nothing to mourn. Frank is sharply-scripted, beautifully-shot and suitably suspicious of the entire vague notion of celebrity. However, while likely bound for success and justifiably so, one is simply left with the entirely unreasonable but nonetheless niggling feeling that this very message might be lost in the scramble to fit statues with tiny paper mache heads come awards season.

Ruairí Moore

15A (See IFCO for details)
94 mins

Frank is released on 9th May 2014

Frank – Official Website


On The Reel At The IFTAs

Faasbender copy

Lynn Larkin (second left) closes in on Fassbender’s IFTA

On the Reel’s Lynn Larkin, in association with Film Ireland, hits the red carpet in her blue guna and and gets in among the celebs at the Irish Film and Television Awards ceremony, which took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton venue in Dublin 4 on Saturday, 5th April 2014.

Check out the video below and get the low-down on the night from Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell, Liam Cunningham, Will Forte, Mary Murray, Amy Huberman,  Andrew Scott, Fionnula Flanagan, Antonia Campbell-Hughes



‘Frank’ Official Film Trailer


Lenny Abrahamson’s offbeat comedy Frank is set for the cinemas on the 9th of May. The film follows about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), who finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant-garde pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender), a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head, and his terrifying bandmate Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal).


Fassbender and ‘Good Vibrations’ among BAFTA Nominations


Michael Fassbender is among the nominees for this year’s BAFTAs announced today, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in 12 Years a Slave, which opens in Ireland on Friday. The film received 10 nominations in total, including for Best Film, Best Director (Steve McQueen) and Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor).

Good Vibrations scored its writers a nomination as Colin Carberry and Glenn Patterson are up for Outstanding Debut.

Kieran Evans, who directed Kelly + Victor, co-produced by the Irish Film Board, is nominated for Outstanding Debut by a British WriterDirector or Producer.

Also of Irish interest is the inclusion of Philomena, partly filmed in Northern Ireland, which is among the nominations for Best Picture, with three further nominations in Outstanding British Film, Adapted Screenplay and Leading Actress for Judi Dench.

Gravity leads this year’s shortlist with a total of 11 nominations, including Best Film, Best Actress (Sandra Bullock) and Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón).

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Opera House on 16th February.

Click here for the full list of nominations

Best Film

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips

Outstanding British Film
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Saving Mr Banks
The Selfish Giant

Best Actor
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)

Best Actress
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks)

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Adbi (Captain Phillips)
Daniel Brühl (Rush)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)

Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
David O Russell (American Hustle)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Best Adapted Screenplay
12 Years a Slave
Behind the Candelabra
Captain Phillips
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Original Screenplay
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Inside Llewyn Davis

Film Not in the English Language
The Act of Killing
Blue is the Warmest Colour
The Great Beauty
Metro Manila

Best Documentary
The Act of Killing
The Armstrong Lie
Tim’s Vermeer
We Steal Secrets

Best Animated Film
Despicable Me 2
Monsters University

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Colin Carberry (Writer), Glenn Patterson (Writer) Good Vibrations
Kelly Marcel (Writer) Saving Mr Banks
Kieran Evans (Director/Writer) Kelly + Victor
Paul Wright (Director/Writer), Polly Stokes (Producer) For Those in Peril
Scott Graham (Director/Writer) Shell

Rising Star Award
Dane DeHaan
George MacKay
Lupita Nyong’o
Will Poulter
Lea Seydoux


Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson to star in Lenny Abrahamson film ‘Frank’

Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave, Prometheus, Shame) and Domhnall Gleeson (True Grit, Harry Potter, Anna Karenina) are attached to star in Lenny Abrahamson’s next project Frank.

Frank is written by Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare at Goats) and Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Men Who Stare At Goats) and has been developed by Film4 who will also co-finance the film with the Irish Film Board.

Frank is a comedy about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Gleeson), who discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Fassbender).

Speaking on the announcement, producer Ed Guiney of Element Pictures commented that: ‘Frank is a wonderfully funny script which brings together Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Lenny Abrahamson three of the most exciting Irish talents working in cinema today’.

James Hickey, Chief Executive, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/The Irish Film Board (IFB) added ‘We are delighted to be working with Element Pictures and Film4 on this exciting project. Lenny is a great Irish filmmaker while Michael and Domhnall are exceptional world class Irish actors making this project a wonderful opportunity for the Irish Film Board to support Irish talent on the world stage.’

Fassbender, who won Best Actor in Venice in 2011 for his performance in Steve McQueen’s Shame, is currently shooting Ridley Scott’s The Counselor alongside Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz, while Domhnall Gleeson recently finished shooting Richard Curtis’ new comedy About Time, and was recently named as one of Variety’s ’10 Actors to Watch’.

Frank will mark the fourth feature film collaboration between Abrahamson and Element Pictures. Past features include Garage, which won the CICAE Prize in Cannes 2007, and Adam & Paul which won Best Director award at the Irish Film and TV Awards. Abrahamson’s current film What Richard Did will premiere at the Toronto Film festival in mid-September and is being released in Irish cinemas on 5th October  through Element Pictures Distribution.

Frank is a co-production between Runaway Fridge and Element Pictures and will be produced by David Barron, Ed Guiney and Stevie Lee. Exec producers for Film4 are Tessa Ross and Katherine Butler and for Element Pictures, Andrew Lowe. Protagonist Pictures are handling international sales. Frank is scheduled to commence principal photography late 2012.



Cinema Review: Prometheus

DIR: Ridley Scott • WRI: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof • PRO: David Gilel, Walter Hill, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott • DOP: Dariusz Wolski • ED: Pietro Scalia • DES: Arthur Max • Cast: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender

For his first foray into sci-fi in 30 years, Sir Ridley Scott decided to return to the franchise he helped to create. Except not really, as leading up to its release, he’s tried to distance his latest creation from Alien, and have it serve as a stand-alone movie. To that end, this review shall be (hopefully) spoiler-free and (mostly) lacking in comparison to the Alien franchise.

Starting off with the creation of life no less, we jump forward several million years to scientists Noomi Rapace and her partner Logan Marshall-Green discovering ancient drawings with maps to the stars. After getting a trillion dollars’ worth of funding from kindly old Guy Pearce, they’re away to said stars with Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender and a crew of vaguely recognisables who might as well have ‘cannon fodder’ tattooed on to their foreheads. And once the good ship Prometheus lands on the planet they’re looking for, the crew make a discovery, but not the one they were looking for…

Scott takes his time setting up and, as with Alien, it’s the guts of an hour before the crew come across anything nasty. But, unlike Alien, it’s very unlikely you’ll care if any of these make it out alive. Rapace is fine as a Ripley-lite, Elba does a nice line in gruff and charming, but even though the rest of the cast are more than adequate, especially the scene-stealing Fassbender, they’re all so painfully unlikable that you start hoping for face-huggers galore.

To be fair to Scott, the film looks fantastic. The polar opposite of the lived-in gritty look of his previous sci-fi outings, the pristine and polished veneer of Prometheus is something to be constantly marvelled at, and throughout the course of the movie there are two scenes of genuine horror, including one that, while not quite up there with the giddy heights of the original chest-buster scene, gives it a good run for its money in terms of gore and tension. Unfortunately, Scott’s visuals are encumbered by one of the most horrendous scores in recent memory, and the small number of good horror scenes are surrounded by some truly dreadful dialogue.

Good sci-fi should always have the audience asking questions, and while Prometheus bursts out of the gate with potentially the biggest one of all: Why Are We Here?, it quickly drops its lofty ideals of intellectualism in favour of big men in spacesuits throwing other men in spacesuits around the place, and soon the only questions we’re left asking are about the gaping plot holes. What started out as potentially Alien with some brains ended up being Contact with some blood. And that is not a compliment.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Prometheus is released on 1st June 2012

Prometheus – Official Website


Cinema Review: A Dangerous Method

A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.

DIR: David Cronenberg • WRI: Christopher Hampton • PRO: Jeremy Thomas • DOP: Peter Suschitzky • ED: Ronald Sanders • DES: James McAteer • Cast: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen

Director David Cronenberg is renowned for his movies pushing the boundaries on psychosexual topics (The Fly, Videodrome, eXistenZ, Crash), and while lately his movies have been moving into more grounded realms (A History Of Violence, Eastern Promises), he hadn’t lost his knack for fantastic storytelling. So when it came to adapting the novel about the two most famous psychotherapists in history, it would seem there was nobody better suited to the job. Unfortantely, the movie has turned out to be oddly dull.

Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) is in the middle of curing his patient Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) when the two start an illicit affair. Soon Spielrein is studying to become a psychotherapist herself, but things take a turn for the worst when Jung tries to end the affair. He turns to his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) for help, and soon the young woman is caught between these two former friends and soon-to-be rivals.

So the stage is set for a threeway confrontation of sex, psychology and jealousy, but the majority of the fighting in the movie happens when Jung and Freud send each other some well-worded letters of disappointment. Everything is played out with civility and an over-riding sense of suppression, and even the sex scenes (usually a forte of Cronenbergs) leave a lot to be desired.

Whilst the acting from Fassbender and especially Mortensen is excellent, Knightley seems miscast as the unhinged Russian, especially since she seems to act via her teeth for most of the movie. But the entire story itself seems unfitting for the movie, for while it’s understandable that it be restrained by the original book and indeed history itself, never has a movie screamed out louder to be allowed to take a few more liberties in storytelling for the sake of entertainment.

Rory Cashin

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
A Dangerous Method is released on 10th February 2012

A Dangerous Method  – Official Website


Cinema Review: Haywire

thems' fightin' words

DIR: Steven Soderbergh  WRI: Lem Dobbs  PRO: Gregory Jacobs, Alan Moloney, Michael Polaire,Tucker Tooley  DOP: Peter Andrews  ED: Peter Andrews  DES: Howard Cummings  Cast: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan Mc Gregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton, Michael Angarano, Antonio Banderas

Director Steven Soderbergh has averaged a film a year since his acclaimed 1989 debut Sex, Lies & Videotape, an incredible work rate by modern filmmaking standards especially for one who frequently works within the political vagaries fof the studio system. A slippery stylist, Soderbergh’s films hop from genre to genre with creative restlessness appearing to be his defining characteristic whether filming glossy,  expensive star laden confections such as the Oceans series or experimenting with digital video and unknown actors on low budget conceits such as Bubble or The Girlfriend Experience.

With Haywire – his 23rd full length feature – he takes another stylistic left turn this being an independently financed, relatively low budget B-movie style action film of which a large portion was filmed in Dublin back in 2010. Mixed martial arts star Gina Carano portrays Mallory Kane, a covert operative for hire who performs certain ‘tasks’ for shady global organizations such as rescuing a Chinese journalist held hostage in Barcelona  which is the first instance in the film that we witness Carano’s and Mallory’s athleticism and asskicking skills as she fights her way out of a corner.

After a successful mission, Mallory is then dispatched by her handler Kenneth (Ewan Mc Gregor) to Dublin. Her mission is to assassinate an Iranian ambassador with the help of a suave British operative portrayed by Michael Fassbender but things go awry and she soon finds herself doublecrossed and left for dead. On the run, she flees back to the States where she devises a plan to exact revenge on those who’ve betrayed her.

The  generic plot of Haywire could have been lifted from any ‘international’ action thriller stretching back from 1960’s to the present day. In fact, one could easily imagine Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson or James Coburn or on the lower end of the scale Jean Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal inhabiting Carano’s role in decades past.

What makes Haywire stand out from the pack? Well probably the only thing for this reviewer were the fight scenes which crackle with realism, vigour and fluidity meaning there is none of the fast editing/shakycam technique that has become the signature style of Hollywood action films since the success of the Bourne franchise. Obviously the fact that Carano is quite a formidable physical presence in her own right  adds to the believability of these expertly choreographed confrontations and we get a sense of the sweat, the struggle and pain of close combat in Soderbergh’s long takes.

The film makes light use of  a fairly heavyweight cast: Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas  in particular come and go, act in a couple fo scenes and then leave without making much of an impression. Of course, Carano is the star here and Soderbergh is subverting a male dominated genre so maybe the point is to make these iconic actors subservient so that their mere presence doesnt detract or overwhelm the female lead. Fassbender makes the strongest impression but then he does get to take on Carano in a violent hotel room one on one.

So as a showcase for Carano’s natural abilities, sultry good looks and relaxed screen presence, the film is enjoyable but outside of the action, the film feels rather lethargic, which is only exacerbated by the rather flat dialogue and understated David Holmes score. It feels like a detached exercise rather than a project which the director was passionate about, a chance for him to develop his skillset in another genre and while there is certainly nothing wrong with a stripped down action film too often Haywire feels diffuse and perfunctory.

Derek Mc Donnell

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Haywire is released on 20th January 2012

Haywire – Official Website


Michael Fassbender, John Michael McDonagh & Chris O’ Dowd among BAFTA Nominees


Irish actor Michael Fassbender and Irish director John Michael McDonagh were amomg the BAFTA Film Award nominees for 2012 announced today.

Fassbender was nominated for the ‘Leading Actor’ Award for his role in British director Steve McQueen’s latest film Shame.

McDonagh has been nominated in the ‘Original Screenplay’ category for his breakthrough feature film The Guard .

Irish actor Chris O’ Dowd is also up for a nomination as the BAFTA Orange Wednesday Rising Star.

The BAFTAs will take place on 12th February 2012 at London’s Royal Opera House.


Michael Fassbender wins Best Actor for ‘Shame’ – twice

Michael Fassbender  picked up two Best Actor awards this week for his performance in Steven McQueen’s Shame. The Irishman was named Best Actor at the Capri Hollywood International Film Festival in Rome, which concluded Monday and today the Online Film Critics Society honoured him at the  15th Online Film Critics Society Awards.

Shame open in Irish cinemas on 13th January, 2012


Irish among Golden Globe Nominations

Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Irish feature Albert Nobbs and Irish filmed drama Game of Thrones are among the nominees for the 69th Annual Golden Globes. The Awards will be presented at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday, 15th January 2012.

Fassbender was nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Motion Picture for his role in Shame, while Gleeson was nominated for the third time in his career for a Golden Globe for his role in John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard in the Actor in a Comedy or Musical category.

Irish composer Brian Byrne was nominated in the Best Original Song – Motion Picture category for ‘Lay Your Head Down’ featured in the Irish film Albert Nobbs and  sung by Sinead O’Connor, while Game of Thrones, shot in Northern Ireland, was nominated for Best TV series Drama Globe.

James Hickey, Chief Executive of Bord Scannán na hÉireann /Irish Film Board (IFB) commented on the news: ‘We are delighted to see the wide range of nominations which showcase Ireland on the international stage, underlining Ireland’s reputation as a cultural hub. Funding from Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board is key for projects such as The Guard and Albert Nobbs to be produced in Ireland, creating opportunities for Irish talent to work on these projects.’

The full list of nominations is here


Cinema Review: Jane Eyre

Q: How did Jane Eyre get the chicken across the road? A: Reader, she carried him.

DIR: Cary Fukunaga • WRI: Moira Buffini • PRO: Alison Owen, Paul Trijbits • DOP: Adriano Goldman • ED: Melanie Oliver • DES: Will Hughes-Jones • CAST: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a tale which we are all familiar with on some level. We may not know all of the ins and outs, or even care about them, but we all have a general idea about this ‘plain Jane’ character and her experiences. This year, Jane Eyre is re-imagined by director Cary Fukunaga, who attempts to breathe new life into this Gothic romance.

The Gothic genre is one which has always been inextricably linked to romance, as the novels of the Victorian era insisted upon this connection (that’s right folks, even before Stephanie Meyer was born!). In all of these novels there exists deep erotic undertones and an intense need for sexual freedom, and the knowledge of every facet of this person who exists as Other. Jane Eyre has become the epitome of this Gothic-romance genre and is a story which has been told under many guises.

Mia Wasikowska is of course, anything other than a plain Jane but here she is transformed into a severe-looking character who seems to have been drained of all colour, as if the very breath of life has been sucked from her over the course of her short life. This, in itself is a triumph of this movie, the costume and make-up here is astounding as the entire piece is told through muted colours and dulled tones, which, in any other story, would have the audience turn away in boredom. Here there is some small colour, some small point of interest which keeps us itching for a wider colour palate.

This is, in terms of romance, the most human telling of this story. Bronte’s novel can often come off stifling in its heavy descriptions, and previous movie adaptations have painted Mr. Rochester as some kind of foreign demon. Here, through Michael Fassbender’s take on the character, for what must be the first time, we feel pity for Mr. Rochester, and we pray for his success, and the fast release from his pains. Where, in previous adaptations, we may have feared him, here we feel that sexual tension, that longing which makes the Gothic-romance genre so enjoyable. It is a genre, much copied, but very rarely pulled off.

The one downfall of this movie is the horror aspect, or lack thereof. Bronte’s novel presents us with a bleakly horrific landscape, and that mounting tension of the build-up to a ‘jump-scare’ that may, or may not ever come. In this adaptation, that tension seems entirely absent, the play on the Other seems entirely absent, and Thornfield, although imposing in stature, entirely lacks that Unheimlich tension throughout. This lack in tension makes the ultimate reveal of the story less shocking than it has been previously, and somehow takes away from the movie as a whole. Here we focus too much on the romance, and the gothic aspects somewhat falter as a result.

Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre is a successful re-telling of this popular tale. It is an enjoyable movie which unfortunately leaves the audience itching for more. The romantic aspects of the genre are portrayed to perfection, but we are left with only a hint of the Gothic or Horror motifs which should be a focal point here.

Ciara O’Brien

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)

Jane Eyre is released on 9th September 2011

Jane Eyre – Official Website


Irish Wins at Venice: Michael Fassbender and Robbie Ryan receive awards

Fassbender prepares to toast

Michael Fassbender won the best actor award at the 68th Venice Film Festival on Saturday night for his performance as a sex-addicted New York businessman in Steve McQueen’s new drama Shame.

‘It’s really nice when you’ve taken a chance on a film and you hope the subject is relevant’, Fassbender said as he collected his award. ‘Steve McQueen is my hero.’

Fassbender had previously worked with McQueen on Hunger .

There was more Irish success at the festival when Robbie Ryan received the best cinematography prize for his work on Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights .


Smattering of Green amongst Guardian's 50 Oscar® Tips

(Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire)

With only five months left until Christmas it can only mean about six and a half months until those winning names are read out at the Kodak Theatre at the 2012 Academy Awards.

This week The Guardian have picked out 50 films that may be up for consideration next year and there are a few with an Irish interest, let’s a take a look at our best chances at hearing ‘Tá an athas orm’ being bellowed from the stage next February.

#25 Shame

Everyone’s favourite German Kerryman Michael Fassbender reunites with Hunger director Steve McQueen in a film about a man unable to control his sex life.

‘Brandon (Michael Fassbender, Inglourious Basterds, Hunger, A Dangerous Method) is a 30-something man living in New York who is unable to manage his sex life. After his wayward younger sister moves into his apartment, Brandon’s world spirals out of control.

From director Steve McQueen (Hunger), Shame is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.’

To read more click here

#34 Jane Eyre

Michael Fassbender stars as Mr Rochester opposite Mia Wasikowska in this adaptation directed by Cary Fukunaga.

‘Based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel, the romantic drama stars Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) and Michael Fassbender (“Inglourious Basterds”) in the lead roles. In the story, Jane Eyre flees Thornfield House, where she works as a governess for wealthy Edward Rochester. The isolated and imposing residence – and Mr. Rochester’s coldness – have sorely tested the young woman’s resilience, forged years earlier when she was orphaned. As Jane reflects upon her past and recovers her natural curiosity, she will return to Mr. Rochester – and the terrible secret that he is hiding…’

To read more click here

#35 Haywire

Starring Michael Fassbender and also partly shot in Ireland this thriller is directed by Steven Soderbergh.

‘Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.

Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious—and dangerous—trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she’ll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.’

To read more click here

Keep a (very) close eye on the trailer for familiar buildings.

#48 This Must Be The Place

Can Element Films, currently riding high at the Irish box office with The Guard, don the tuxedos and gowns next year?

‘Cheyenne is a former rock star.

At 50 he still dresses “Goth” and lives in Dublin off his royalties.

The death of his father, with whom he wasn’t on speaking terms, brings him back to New York.

He discovers his father had an obsession: to seek revenge for a humiliation he had suffered.

Cheyenne decides to pick up where his father left off, and starts a journey, at his own pace, across America.’

To read more click here

Plenty of quality there, and a busy Michael Fassbender appearing in three films, check out the other 46 rivals here


X-Men: First Class


DIR: Matthew Vaughn • WRI: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn • PRO: Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer • DOP: John Mathieson • Ed: Eddie Hamilton, Lee Smith • DES: Chris Seagers • Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence

The X-Men franchise has seemed to be on its last legs for ages now, but somehow it’s managed to lumber on and has produced a prequel, something all franchises do eventually. The prequel granted James Bond a stay of execution, but it also consigned Star Wars to a slow, painful death. This prequel also brings the X-Men into an emerging sub-genre: the period super-hero movie (see Jonah Hex or the upcoming Captain America). Will it all be enough to restore the ailing series?

We follow the early lives of telepathic mutant James McAvoy (a highly irritating young boy grows up into a slightly less irritating student) and magnetic mutant Michael Fassbender in the 1960s. Fassbender’s story is by far the more exciting as he tracks down the Nazi doctor who experimented on him 20 years ago to exploit his super powers, he’s charismatic, very impressive in the fights, and fits easily into the cynical outsider role played by Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in the earlier movies.

Kevin Bacon has a lot of fun as his prey in full-on ’60s Bond-villain mode complete with his hidden lairs and his submarine and his hidden lair inside his submarine (seriously). He has a variety of henchmen, January Jones getting the most screen time as Emma Frost, who wanders around Russia in a mini skirt and a furry hat – coz you know, it’s cold out there. And he has a plan to orchestrate the Cuban missile crisis in order to bring about the end of humanity. It’s all very camp, but that’s no bad thing. The film is at its most enjoyable at these tongue in cheek moments when it plays with its period setting.

It disappoints when it shies away from it. In the original comic the X-Men’s status as mutants was used as an allegory for the civil rights movement. And there are one or two moments where the film goes for similar territory (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell gets a brief allusion), but while it forms a background it’s never brought to the fore. The character of Beast (Nicholas Hoult), a self-hating mutant, is well done, although I would have liked to have seen more of him. Darwin (Edi Gathegi), however, as an African American in the mid-sixties might have had a very interesting take on his mutant identity, but sadly no one asks him. The plotting in general can be similarly lazy (characters are dispassionately killed off as hastily as they were introduced) and it suffers a bit from Revenge of the Sith syndrome in the final moments as the writers rush around to put everything back where they found it.

While this might be disappointing it is in no way less than what your average summer blockbuster offers and to be fair on that level it succeeds. It’s all good, fun stuff. The actions scenes work, although the final one is a bit of a Bay of Pigs style flop. It might even be enough to restore the series to health, but will the next movie follow on from X-Men 3 or be a sequel to this one? I’m hoping for the X-Men do Watergate.


Geoff McEvoy

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
X-Men: First Class is released on 3rd June 2011

X-Men: First Class – Official Website


Fish Tank

Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank

DIR/WRI: Andrea Arnold • PRO: Kees Kasander, Nick Laws • DOP: Robbie Ryan • ED: Nicolas Chaudeurge • DES: Helen Scott • CAST: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing

The rather curiously titled Fish Tank gives an account of a seemingly poignant time in young Mia’s (Katie Jarvis) life, when she spends her days blindly trying to overcome her limiting circumstances. Her life is further complicated with the arrival of her single mother’s new squeeze, the suave, charming and just a bit sleazy Connor (Michael Fassbender). Director Andrea Arnold does a fine job of depicting the hopeless, suffocating finality of her protagonist’s situation. However, for better or worse, the film feels like an isolated section of Mia’s life, rather than an especially significant chapter of it.

To Arnold’s credit, Fish Tank does a decent job of revealing the human side to all its characters, both their harsh exterior and their inner vulnerabilities. It also juggles the dichotomy that good people do bad things and vice versa very well. Like an expert juggler if you will. I doubt most viewers will overly warm to the characters, but you’d have to be a mean git not to be moved on occasion by the trials they face.

Regarding the pacing, the story proceeds for two hours without actually picking a direction. This unclear narrative does an excellent job of mimicking the often unfocused path life itself can follow, but if you are looking for satisfying linkage and conclusion to particular strands of plot, well just don’t. There are a couple of consistent threads, but they seem to end abruptly rather than climax excitingly. Perhaps a reflection on one of the film’s prominent sex scenes?

Most accounts of the film will attribute huge significance to the character of Connor, and how he affects Mia’s life. And while it is obvious he is the secondary character, and gets considerable screen time, I for one never felt his importance to Mia. There are of course developments between the two of them, but I would maintain that this is utterly Mia’s tale, and Connor is little more than a catalyst for some of her actions and realisations.

Personally, I found any specific, localised message to be obscured. I loved this, as once again it is a mirror of life’s frequent ambiguity, rather than being a moral tale by numbers. It does serve as a reminder that a lot of people are hard and cruel as a result of being in a disadvantaged position. Some maybe moved a lot, others to the same extent as a gritty documentary or charity poster. It all depends on how you feel about social inequality really. It’s still a worthwhile reminder.

Fish Tank’s strength lies in its authenticity. Everything from Mia’s love/hate relationships with her sister, her clothes, her distain for her drunk, flippant mother, her flat, her dancing, her ‘pikey’ friend, even her aggression towards anything that may rub her the wrong way, accurately depict the frustrations of a working-class girl yearning for something. The authentic dialogue, especially the callous interactions between Mia’s family, assault you from the very start. The witty abuse and inventive threats lend an air of elegance to the foul language. My only criticism was I had trouble with Connor’s accent towards the beginning, as it was hard to place, but as the movie progresses it is obviously Irish, so maybe I should level this criticism against my malfunctioning ears.

If I were to say Fish Tank is entertaining, I’d be taking liberties with the definition of the word ‘entertaining.’ It could be more accurately expressed as watching a car crash in slow motion. Perhaps ‘Admirable’ would be an apt description of Andrea Arnold’s work, but it was not easy viewing, unless you enjoy tense, awkward and occasionally upsetting viewing. I would wager viewers will be about as glad to get out of the cinema as they were to have seen the film.

Jack McGlynn
(See biog here)

Rated 16 (See IFCO website for details)
Fish Tank
is released on 11th September 2009

Fish Tank – Official Website


Inglourious Basterds


DIR/WRI: Quentin Tarantino • PRO Lawrence Bender, Christoph Fisser, Henning Molfenter, Charlie Woebcken • DOP: Robert Richardson • ED: Sally Menke • DES: David Wasco • CAST: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent

In many ways, Inglourious Basterds is a movie defined not by what it is but rather by what it’s not. For instance, it’s an action movie without much action; it’s a war movie without any battles; it’s a Brad Pitt vehicle with surprisingly few scenes with Brad Pitt; and it’s an American movie predominantly in French and German. What we’re left with is a tri-lingual WWII thriller set behind enemy lines in occupied France, where the real action takes place during verbal jousts between undercover agents and enemy officers rather than in furious gun battles. After the flabby and bloated Kill Bill and the failed Grindhouse experiment, Tarantino finally delivers on the form he showed in the 1990s. This is easily his most assured and confident film since Jackie Brown, even if he does stray into his now familiar indulgent style once in a while.

Tarantino has always borrowed liberally from the movies he grew up watching, and here his love of Italian cinema shines through with references to everything from spaghetti Westerns to Cinema Paradiso. Ennio Morricone music is lifted wholesale from other movies and parachuted in, and great tracts of the movie are in French and German. In fact, aside from a few superficial touches, such as the chapter headings, on-screen graphics and incongruous music, it’s easy to forget that you’re watching a Tarantino movie. That is, until the brief but brutal scenes of violence remind you that it couldn’t possibly be the work of anyone else.

More than any other of his films, the director takes a back seat from visual and verbal flourishes and pushes his cast centre stage. The performances are uniformly excellent, in what is largely an ensemble piece, stolen entirely by Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa. Waltz grips the screen every time he appears, delivering Tarantino’s sparkling dialogue with real relish, be it in English, German, or French. He’s the star turn amongst a cast that doesn’t put a foot wrong; Pitt chews through his Kentucky accent with a knowing smirk, Michael Fassbender shows real star quality as a British officer, and Mélenie Laurent provides just the right mix of vulnerability and steely determination as a Jewish cinema owner. Tarantino’s trademark dialogue is pared down so every word seems to have purpose, be it to illicit a response from an enemy suspect or hide someone’s identity.

Overall, Inglourious Basterds is a fantasy revenge movie of sorts, with a Jewish battalion meting out their own form of justice to Nazi troops. Hitler is a pantomime villain, nothing more. And this is where the audience will be split – some will go along with Tarantino’s scant regard for recent history, others will find it tactless at best, offensive at worst. Tarantino treats WWII as nothing more than a setting, and disposes of reality for his own ends. In spite, or perhaps because of this, he crafts a gripping thriller a hundred times more exciting than any of this summer’s event movies, but this won’t be to all tastes.

James Hargis
(See biog here)

Rated 16 (See IFCO website for details)
Inglourious Basterds is released on 21st August 2009

Inglourious Basterds – Official Website