Michael Fassbender

In space, simply scary beats too much talking

The crew of the Covenant, in better times.

Alien: Covenant, the eighth of the Alien series of films, feels like an old friend from whom you’ve long since grown apart, but with whom you’ll still grab a beer and listen to the same stories and jokes. The film checks all the series boxes, and delivers all the same jolts, but ultimately cannot break out of its own constraints.  

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The long wait for a good video game adaptation continues.

Atop a perch, the assassins wait to figure out what the heck is happening.

Callum Lynch sits in the mess hall of a secret lab, having just been ported into the memories of a master assassin, his ancestor. He holds an apple firmly in his hand and says, “what the fuck is happening?” Mr. Lynch, you took the words right out of my mouth! His question is one I felt throughout at least 4/5 of the new adaptation of the popular Ubisoft video game series, Assassin’s Creed. There has never been a good video game adaptation (see the list here for proof). There have been entertaining tries and near misses, like the Resident Evil series and Prince of Persiaand there have been lousy ones that have aged into cult classics, like Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter. There has yet to be a universally respected video game adaptation — a film that both audiences and critics enjoy. Some thought the drought would end with Prince of Persia. Nope! Some thought it would be Assassin’s Creed. Nope! The wait continues. Maybe it’ll be the new Tomb Raider film, ’cause it ain’t gonna be the Rampage film, and likely not the final Resident Evil installment. Nevertheless, Assassin’s Creed is a total mess, lacking a coherent story, engaging characters, and even the visuals are disappointing, which is a bummer coming from such a beautifully cinematic game series.

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Film Review: Macbeth

by Chad Liffmann on December 4, 2015

‘All the perfumes of Arabia’ cannot sweeten Macbeth, and that’s a good thing, because it’s not a sweet story.

Macbeth thinks about jolly, hilarious things!

Macbeth thinks about jolly, hilarious things!

If you’re in the mood for some High School literature class caliber violence, then look no further than the new adaptation of Macbeth. Personally, I haven’t opened to a page from Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedies, since sophomore (maybe junior?) year of high school. So knowing that the Macbeth director and writers chose to stick to roughly 90% (guesswork) of the original Shakespearean dialogue, I quickly read a Wikipedia summary before heading to the screening. This was a good choice. The one, and only, thing that the new Macbeth cinematic adaptation suffers from is its unwillingness to cater to the play’s newcomers. Otherwise, outstanding performances and cinematic flourishes from the director and cinematographer help Macbeth ascend the throne as one of the best Shakespeare adaptations in the last decade (Joss Whedon’s 2012 modern adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing is right up there.)

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Film Review: Steve Jobs

by Carrie Kahn on October 16, 2015

Sorkin, Boyle get the Job(s) done with fast-paced drama

Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) argues with his daughter Lisa (Perla Haney-Jardine) just before the iMac launch…

Perhaps no picture has been more anticipated here in the tech capital of the Bay Area than the Aaron Sorkin-penned and Danny Boyle-directed biopic of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, based on Walter Isaacson’s best-selling 2011 biography of the same name. Sorkin and Boyle, with their similar frenetic writing and directing styles (think The Social Network meets Slumdog Millionaire) prove to be the ideal team to dramatize the life of the Peninsula-raised inventor, entrepreneur, original tech titan, and icon. Indeed, their picture lives up to expectations, succeeding as both a fascinating character study, and as a historical dramatization of seminal events that took place here in the Bay Area, but ultimately touched the entire world.

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Sundance 2015 Spotlights: Five Feature Films

Sundance

Braving the chill, the dry air, and the self-importance of the L.A. film industry folks who don’t turn off their cell phones during screenings, Senior Film Reviewer Carrie Kahn brings you these first spotlights (more to follow) from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT, which closes this Sunday, February 1st.

From the good, the mediocre, to the downright horrific, some of these films may receive distribution deals and be widely released in the coming year. Lucky for you, we here at Spinning Platters are ready and willing to let you know which films to see and which to miss. We’ll start with five feature films, and our handy Viewing Priority Level (VPL) Guide will steer you in the right direction. [read the whole post]

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 Frank

by Carrie Kahn

Frank 2

Michael Fassbender portrays the mysterious rocker Frank.

Loosely inspired by alt rocker Chris Sievey’s stage creation Frank Sidebottom, Irish director Lenny Abrahamson’s new film is co-written by Peter Straughan and Jon Ronson, whose memoir details his experiences with Sidebottom. But no knowledge of the film’s backstory is necessary to be utterly delighted by this quirky and very funny film, which chronicles Jon’s (Domhnall Gleeson) induction into, and relationship with, an avant-garde band led by the mysterious Frank (Michael Fassbender). The catch is that Frank wears a large papier-mâché mask not only when on stage, but during all parts of his life (even while showering). What is amazing is that although the mask has just one expression – a crudely drawn, unsmiling, wide-eyed stare, its features seem to change simply by virtue of Fassbender’s tone of voice and body language; his performance is truly remarkable. Why Frank chooses to cover himself this way is one of the film’s central questions; themes of identity, artistic integrity, and creativity are explored with nuanced humor and depth. Does creativity have to stem from inner darkness, the film asks, or can normalcy and happiness drive the creative process just as forcefully? If artistic creations become widely popular, is their worth somehow lessened? With hauntingly beautiful cinematography (many scenes were filmed around Austin) and a weird and wonderful soundtrack, Frank delves into these issues with style, charm, and black humor. Plusses: Unique, intelligent story; brilliant performances by Fassbender and relative newcomer Gleeson. Minuses: Maggie Gyllenhall is slightly grating as fellow band-mate Clara; her range here seems to hover only between fiercely angry and completely insane. Final Analysis: A smart, compelling picture about the inner lives of artists that, frankly (yes, pun intended) may well be one of the best films of the year.

Frank opens today at the Landmark Embarcadero theater in San Francisco and the Landmark Shattuck theater in Berkeley.

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Film Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

May 23, 2014
www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK2zYHWDZKo

Back to the future past! The only actors seemingly capable of producing the same intense chemistry with onscreen conversations as Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan do…are Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy.  Put them all in a movie together and it’s practically a how-to on acting.  Throw in Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence and you now […]

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Film Review: 12 Years a Slave

November 1, 2013

Hard to endure, hard to fathom, but essential. 12 Years a Slave feels like it could very well be the most accurate cinematic depiction of the atrocities of slavery.  We don’t just see the physical brutality, we also feel the isolation, the helplessness, and each slave’s necessary abandonment of individuality in order to survive.  The geographical […]

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Film Review: The Counselor

October 26, 2013

‘The Counselor’ is in need of some script counseling. It was exciting to imagine what the product of a Ridley Scott-Cormac McCarthy collaboration would be like.  Add in an all-star cast and the anticipation grew stronger.  Unfortunately, the finished product leaves so much to be desired. The Counselor features an original screenplay by McCarthy, who’s normally […]

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Film Review: “Prometheus”

June 8, 2012

starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Guy Pearce written by: Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof directed by: Ridley Scott MPAA: Rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language

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