a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Fish Tank’

“X-Men:First Class” is exactly that! Michael Fassbender is a Magnetic Magneto!

Topping the box-office charts this weekend and packing the fanboys and everyone else in  is the “X-Men” pre-quel, now called “X-Men:First Class” and it really is a first class entertainment. An Action Hero flick with pyrotechnics galore. But it’s Irish actor Michael Fassbender as the most magnetic Magneto imaginable that powers this flick into the stratosphere. An actor I’ve admired greatly in many smart Indie films like “Hunger”, which was on my year’s 10 Best List that year,”Fish Tank” and many, many more. He makes smart choices and smart directors seek him out.

And here he is in the role he was born to play. I never thought of him as an action hero. I just thought of him as a very, very talented, but underappreciated actor. Although he works constantly, his really good work in a big film of two years ago “Inglorious Basterds” went pretty much unnoticed. He was also doing sword and sandal duty in “300” in a Supporting Role.

Supporting roles will no longer be something you see him in because he’s the real break-out star of this very well done popcorn movie. It’s NOT in 3D thank goodness. I hate those glasses. They sometimes make me quite sick.

And the lead in this film is James McAvoy as Xavier, and he and Fassbender really make the chemistry, the human, acting kind of chemistry, not just the CGI- kind these super-heroes are constantly capable of producing really work. There are ACTORS here! And the best of the younger generation I might add, and attention must be paid.

I will go see every sequel to this prequel from now on because their dynamic duo dynamism is dynamite.

Less successful, but I don’t rate her much as an actress anyway, YET is the least deserving Academy Award Nominee of All Time Jennifer Lawrence, who certainly nails the babe-licious part of this character, who when she turns blue and scaly, often sheds all her clothing at the same time. Since I don’t think she has much range ALREADY, the blue make-up, with the yellow CGI cat’s eyes, made her look like she was acting more than she actually was.

There was a certain poignancy that she exhibited as Mystique and she’s certainly easy on the eyes. And VERY TALL. That they kept pairing her with the much shorter James MacAvoy (she’s his adopted sister, or something like that), I kept wondering how many boxes he was standing on or how many holes she was standing in, to make them look equal in height. But they do! That’s one of the neatest special effects of all in this special effects laden movie.

I couldn’t keep who did which effect and who has what super power straight, there are so many mutants in this movie.

Oliver Platt plays the small part of one of the only humans in this mutant-filled movies, but his only super power seemed to be that he was simply fat. But at least he WAS a human.

Kevin Bacon seems to be having the time of his life as the villain of villains here. You really need a score card to keep all the Super Heroes straight in this movie. I’m not an X-Man addict, so I can’t parse them all and who they all turn into later. Although I do remember vividly Ian McKellen’s gleeful, older Magneto. An Action Hero At Last! At age 60 something!

And one of the indelible moments I have with Sir Ian, was when I was interviewing him in his dressing room on Broadway back in 2001 and he had a Gandalf figurine and a Magneto one, too, and he made them fight with each other! Hilarious! He was on Broadway with Dame Helen Mirren having a gay old time screaming at each other in one of Strindberg’s more strident pieces “The Ghost Sonata.”

And my favorite Michael Fassbender moment was when I was interviewing him for “Fish Tank” and I was the one who broke the news to him about the death of a mutual friend, the great Irish movie critic, Michael Dwyer, and how he nearly burst into tears, when he realized he was here in NYC and was missing the funeral that was taking place in Dublin.

Michael has a great, sensitive soul and will make a great, great movie star.

Unfortunately, both these interviews were for print, so I never got either of them on camera, for my TV show, but I look forward to many, many more with these two terrific stars,James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender acting their hearts out in and giving class to “X-Men:First Class.”

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TONY Predictions Show now up on You Tube!

At last! And just in time for the Tonys, my Tony nomination prediction show is now up in its entirety on You Tube ~ www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

And you can see me and my fellow predictors Scott Siegel and Sherry Eaker give our informed, but VERY different takes on who is going to win what in eight of the top categories Best Actress and Actor in a Musical, Best Actress and Actor in a Play, Best Play and Best Musical.

We also slip in Best Revival of a Play and Best Revival of a Musical.

Interestingly, we only agreed twice. On Best Musical and Best Revival of a Play! Otherwise, we agreed to disagree. Once, we each had a different choice ~ in Best Actor in a Play! So I guess you could say that THAT is a category that is up for grabs.

We filmed it at the glamourous Indian restaurant the Bombay Palace. In front of its’ very, very famous and very, very large fish tank. The fish stole the show, but its’ black and yellow eel really was the unexpected star.

I hope you enjoy this spirited, intense conversation about the year’s best theater! I know I did!

As you know, I already revealed ONE of my picks in the previous post. Patina Miller as Best Actress in a Musical for “Sister Act.” Scott and Sherry did NOT agree with me…as you’ll see!

The Year’s 10 Best – Analysis of “I Love You, Phillip Morris” & the Enduring Influence of Paul Corrigan

Phew! Now I have the time to go into a little bit more deeply the whys and the wherefores and the WTF element(to some, perhaps) of my selection of the Year’s Ten Best Films.

As someone who sees films ALL THE TIME, Day in and Day Out, nearly every day of my waking life…Films that really last and really stay with you, films that are a total, immersive cinematic experience that affects one so deeply that it becomes part of your life as well as part of the year’s discussion of Best Films…well, that’s why they are all here…And why we are all here…Because we love film…

Yes, I do have a propensity for foreign films and independent films. I stay away from the big studio blockbusters and franchises, if I can help it. Unless I CAN’T help it. Like as you all know, I reluctantly found myself at “Harry Pooter 7 1/2” and I’m glad that I did~ ONLY to see Helena Bonham-Carter’s THIRD terrific performance of the year, as a witch with the name that I just can’t stop saying “Bellatrix La Strange”. A scary ten-minute turn that could help her get her long overdue Oscar…The other two films are “Alice in Wonderland” and of course, “The King’s Speech.”

But I digress…

Number Ten ALMOST was “Fish Tank” a film I loved tremendously. A British Indie. Gritty, grimy, grinding poverty depicted in a council flat setting in London’s East End where I, as you all know, lived for quite a number of years in the ’70s& ’80s. Andrea Arnold, the writer/director, and Michael Fassbender, the rising star of stars, acting alongside a completely inexperienced non-actress, Katie Jarvis, was really a wild, unexpected ride. I couldn’t believe Jarvis was NOT a pro, so profoundly compelling was her portrayal of teenage Cockney torment, when her mom brings a new boyfriend (Fassbender) home. You’ll remember Fassbender from “Inglorious Basterds” as the British officer in that wacky, unforgettable card game.

I guess that would be my number 11, if I was going to extend this arbitrary listing slightly, but I just wanted to give the stunning “Fish Tank” an honorable mention.

I made “I Love You, Phillip Morris” my number  ten, because I found myself laughing out loud and also crying inside and totally immersed in the preposterous, gay yarn, that is evidently ALL TRUE, about a homosexual con man extraordinaire(Jim Carrey is his best EVAH) and his finding true love, in jail, natch, with a sweet blond gay guy, Phillip Morris. Yes, that’s his real name…played to a touching fare-thee-well by the unrecognizable Ewan McGregor. I was told not to review it at the time, but I guess I’m raving about it now. It’s in theaters and playing very robustly AND it was raved about by my critical colleagues! Good! Great!

And I do have to mention that as much as I was enjoying the film, when the end credits rolled, I was blown away all over again, by the film’s dedication to my late friend Paul Corrigan, who evidently was the impactful teacher of these young filmmakers, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, both straight. At Pratt. In Brooklyn. Paul died tragically of AIDS a number of years ago.

And I thought the book was closed forever on his life. But no! His great gay spirit keeps jumping up from beyond to assert Paul’s powerful, playful personality once again. It was uncanny how much I thought the Jim Carrey character did, and still does remind me of Paul.

I wrote an Obit for him at the time that I wrote for “Lesbian and Gay New York.” It was all too brief, and didn’t give at all a taste of what Paul was really like. There was very little space. He went to Sarah Lawrence where he was a classmate of Bob Plunket, Susan Haskins(of “Theater Talk”) and Amy Robinson, producer-extraordinaire and also Harvey Keitel’s girl-friend in “Mean Streets.”

I remember Paul first play, his first New York production of two one-acts called “Tan My Hide” and “Nancy’s Tragic Period.” At La Mama E.T.C. and they starred if memory serves Bob and Amy as Santa’s Elves, who were having to make leather gear for Santa, or something like that.

I remember Bob had the immortal(to my mind) lines, “Have you ever seen a dwarf come?”

“Little drizzle droplets.” 

 And I think Susan was Nancy in “Nancy’s Tragic Period” where she was a girl whose record player(yes, her RECORD PLAYER. That’s how long ago this was.) whose record player keeps telling her how to live her life and acting like a Greek Chorus…I could go on and on.

But I remember to this day the freshness of the writing and the humor and the direction, which I think Paul essayed himself.

But he did not continue with his playwriting.  I wish he had.

Years later I encountered him on a Manhattan street and he told me he was teaching Film at Pratt University, a school in Brooklyn that at the time was not known as a cinema studies center, by any means…

And I thought he was being disingenuous.

Then I met Susan Haskins, who was also a fellow teacher at Pratt. And she assured me that yes, Paul was teaching a very special cinema class.

And all these years later, “I Love You, Phillip Morris” bares testimony to the enduring quality of his teaching and his impact on his pupils.

More on numbers 9 to 1 of my Top Ten later…

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