Posts Tagged ‘michael fassbender’


Jean Grey (Summer Fontana, Sophie Turner) has had a disastrous childhood.  Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) recognizes her as a troubled mutant with vast powers, and takes her in to his school for gifted children. Soon, Jean is grown up and part of the team, and her first mission is to save a Space Shuttle mission, which is in danger because of solar flares.  Jean saves the crew and keeps the shuttle from breaking apart, but the solar flares increase Jean’s power exponentially.  The problem is Jean can’t control her powers, and this has a dire effect on the X-Men, and causes Jean to feel alienated from the X-men.

She tries to befriend Erik (Michael Fassbender) but he is on a commune of sorts in his island of Genosha, and has no interest in joining up for Jean for any evil deeds.  Then, when Jean is close to doing something desperate, she meets Vuk (Jessica Chastain ) an extraterrestrial, who explains the origins of her new powers, and tells Jean that the X-Men, specifically Xavier, want to control her and use her for her power.  Is Vuk genuinely trying to support Jean, or is she driving a wedge between Jean and the X-men for their own nefarious reasons?

Dark Phoenix is not the Jean Grey origin story that the character deserved.  The writers change many things about her origin story and one big detail in the X-men lore that confuses everything.  The themes of mutant alienation and mutant internment have all been discussed before. The writers borrow a lot from other Marvel origin stories and even from DC, and all of this lends to the feeling that this movie is a rehash of older, better X-Men movies. In fact, X3:  The Last Stand , told the Jean Grey  origin story, and even touched on the Phoenix metamorphosis, and did a better job of telling the story.  The writers substitute violence and special effects for storytelling and that is never a good sign.

This movie is a waste of a very talented cast.  I’ve never seen Game of Thrones but I assume it’s a good show and she is good in it, she’s stuck playing a confused , scared character for the majority of the film.  And knowing she is British, I was searching for her British accent, and she slipped a few times.  James McAvoy has done a great job playing Xavier for three films, n this film he is stuck mouthing pious platitudes about always trying to do the right thing, or the X-Men being “family” whatever that means. Similarly, Michael Fassbender is playing a neutered Erik, who doesn’t have nearly the excitement  of prior iterations, Magneto has to be dangerous to be interesting.  Jennifer Lawrence is not a good actress, but she was given the role of Raven for no good reason, and she put nothing into the role for 4 movies now, Rebecca Romajn was the better Raven by far.  Jessica Chastain is one of the best actresses in the country, she deserves better than to play an underdeveloped, poorly written alien.

The direction is nothing more than the average special effects driven superhero film, there is no scene that is memorable, either visually or to tell a story.  This is just another forgettable film in what’s going to be an onslaught of reboots and prequels and variations on different comic book characters.  The genre is getting tired, and Dark Phoenix did nothing to energize it, the placing is lethargic, no acting stands out, and the story limps to a finish.

Dark Phoenix:  Does not rise to the occasion.



The first mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) has re-emerged in Egypt after a long hibernation.  He has absorbed many of the powers of the mutants in his time and now wants to take over the world and remake it in his own image.  He gathers an army, modeled after the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.   Storm (Alexandra Shipp) who is the first mutant Apocalypse meets and transforms.  Angel, (Ben Hardy) who Apocalypse transforms into Archangel, Psylocke (Olivia Munn) who uses psychic energy as a weapon,  and Magneto. (Michael Fassbender)  Now, Apocalypse has tapped into a way to use Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) communication device to talk to every mutant in the world.  Can Xavier, Mystique,  (Jennifer Lawrence) Beast (Nicholas Hoult) Quicksilver (Even Peters) Cyclops  (Tye Sheridan) Nightcrawler (Kodi Smid McPhee) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) stop Apocalypse’s plan to win mutants to his side and rule the world?

I have liked all the other X-Men movies in this series, I did not like X-Men Apocalypse.  The writers chose the wrong protagonist, in my opinion, and they spent so much time developing Apocalypse as the Original Mutant, and they wrote parts for so many mutants, that there was next to no character development for any of the mutants, especially the newer ones, why is Storm a follower of Apocalypse? Mystique seems like the more natural choice to follow Apocalypse, and Eric and Charles could have fought over Mystique like they  did in the first two reboot movies.  The writers tried to model this version of X-Men after Avengers Civil War, with X-Men pit against X-Men, just like the Avengers were pit against one another. One of my favorite characters in the entire series was barely in this movie, and by the time the epic battle unfolded, it didn’t really matter.  Days of Future Past was so creatively written and centered on the right protagonist.  X-Men Apocalypse had a basic plot, too many characters, and very little character development, and it suffers by comparison to Days of Future Past.

James McAvoy is very good as Charles Xavier, almost as good as Patrick Stewart.  He’s got that same restraint as Stewart, he should have had a bigger role.  Michael Fassbender is as good an actor as there  is in movies today, he plays the conflicted Magneto well, and waivers maddeningly between good and evil very well. There is also very good banter between Stewart and Fassbender.  The acting goes downhill from there.  Oscar Isaac is a good actor, he was great in The Force Awakens, and Llewen Davis, but he didn’t have much to do in Apocalypse, except stand around and look menacing.   The writers ask Jennifer Lawrence to carry huge chunks of this movie she is simply not a good enough actress to do it.  Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones is a good Jean Grey, they should have made her role bigger.  Kodi Smit-McPhee looks and sounds too young to play Nightcrawler, he was a child actor.  Olivia Munn is totally underutilized, and one central cast member is reduced to a cameo.

Bryan Singer wrote and directed this movie, and he’s been involved with 4 of the 6 X-men movies, including Days of Future Past, so I don’t know how he thought the screenplay was worth directing.  As a director the pacing was very slow, the special effects were mediocre, and the acting was uneven.  I don’t even have a clue how to fix it, but here are a few suggestions.  Center the story on another character, make Mystique darker, let Storm team up with Charles, and that would at last have made the story more interesting.

X-Men Apocalypse:  Not nearly X-cellent enough.

steve jobs

In 1984, Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh.  Fellow Apple founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) wanted Jobs to share a little of his product introduction with the Apple II developers, he would not.  Jobs has other problems, his ex- girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) claimed that her daughter, Lisa (Ripley Sobo, Perla Haney Jardine) is also Steve’s daughter, a claim Jobs vociferously denied.  To make matters worse, the Macintosh did not sell.  Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) responded to the Board of Directors, who wanted Jobs out.  In 1985, Jobs resigned and founded Next in 1985, and made computers that were prohibitively expensive.  Whatever crisis is going on in Jobs’ life, the one constant is his right hand and confidante, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) who follows him to Next. Despite all the distractions, Jobs is working on an operating system while at Next, and he thinks that Apple may buy out Next to get their hands on the operating system that Jobs developed with Next.  Does Jobs make it back to Apple?  Is Lisa his daughter?   Do they reconcile?

I don’t know how much of the story is true, and how much is embellished, but the storytelling is electric.  I did know Jobs left Apple, whether he was pushed out or resigned depends on who you ask.  I know that he and Wozniak had a war of words in public.  Wozniak, the techie, never thought he got the credit that he deserved for the success of Apple.  I can also imagine that Jobs resented Sculley, because Sculley ran Pepsico before he became CEO of Apple, but that’s just an educated guess on my part.  I knew nothing about Jobs and Lisa, I hope their relationship was better than portrayed on film.  But it is wildly entertaining to see Jobs go from crisis to crisis, and try to manage his personal and professional life, and not doing a very good job at either for 13 years.  The ending is a little too Hollywood, but that’s a minor criticism of this movie. This is another great screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, who took on another tech titan in The Social Network.  This movie is just as good.

The acting is outstanding, Fassbender is very good at playing a man who’s so committed to his own vision of what a computer company should be, that he alienates everyone around him.  Jobs is a complicated man with a complicated life, who’s built a carefully constructed façade, and he lets no one inside.  Fassbender does a good job of illustrating the complexity, as well as the humanity of the man.  Fassbender’s American accent slips a little, but that’s a minor flaw in a largely flawless performance.  Kate Winslet turns in another great performance, as Jobs’ conscience.  I thought she was having accent problems too, but she was actually doing a Polish accent, and that made her performance even better. There’s a surprisingly good performance by Seth Rogen, especially one heated exchange with Fassbender as Jobs, Rogen held his own.  I was impressed.

Danny Boyle does another great job directing this movie, using unorthadox angles and shots to make this movie a visual treat.  He makes each product launch seem like a rock concert.  Boyle also gets an outstanding performance from Seth Rogen, it’s easy to get good performances from Fassbender and Winset, but Boyle gets a good performance from Rogen.  If you don’t think that’s difficult, watch The Interview.

I was disappointed that no one went to see this movie, the theater I went to was half empty, shame on the audiences who missed this movie.  The plethora of sequels must be talking a toll on the moviegoing audience at large.  They don’t know an intelligent, engaging movie when they see one.

Steve Jobs:  A Job well done.

the counselor

The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is a lawyer who is deeply in love with Laura. (Penelope Cruz)  He wants to marry Laura, and buys her a prohibitively expensive engagement ring, and seems to be set for a life filled with happiness.  The Counselor inexplicably wants to become a part of the drug trade in Juarez Mexico.  He meets with his friend Reiner, (Javier Bardem) and a middle man named Westray (Brad Pitt) and despite their warnings, the Counselor goes ahead with his plan to make 20 million dollars on a drug deal. When a drug courier is killed, and the drug shipment disappears, the kingpin, Jefe (Reuben Blades) goes after Laura.  Does Laura survive?  Who has the drug shipment?

A movie with this kind of star power, directed by Ridley Scott should not be this appallingly bad.  I blame the writer Cormac McCarthy, I’ve read The Road and seen the film, I saw No Country For Old Men, and now there’s this movie, all three gave me a massive headache.  McCarthy’s writing style is enigmatic. There is no cohesive story, no central theme to build a story around.  Is it a cautionary tale about drugs or money or is it an exciting drama about the drug war with sexual overtones? It tries to be both, it ends up being a muddled mess.  The characters are spouting, flowery almost poetic language one minute, and spouting four letter words the next.  Neither the flowery language or the sex talk or PG-13 sex scenes move the story along one iota, and only serves to confuse matters even further.  McCarthy never answers the question why.  Why does a lawyer, with a beautiful fiancé have a desire to join the drug trade? The characters aren’t clearly drawn or delineated, and so the Counselor has great actors, a great director just begging for a good story.

This is the first time I’ve seen Michael Fassbender and his acting wasn’t compelling to me.  Brad Pitt gives a dull, listless rendering of Westray the middle man.  He has a very limited range of skills, limited to comedic action roles. Javier Bardem looks like a troll, I liked Bardem in Skyfall, his character was funny and a nice change of pace.  But this is supposed to be a different movie in tone than Skyfall, and Bardem plays ostensibly the same character, and it doesn’t work in this instance.  Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz, who can be great actresses are used as little more than eye candy.  The other Latinos, Blades, Rosie Perez, John Leguizamo are all stereotypically portrayed as criminals, and there is not one heroic character of any race in the entire film, just men with varying degrees of murderous avarice.

The cinematography is stellar. El Paso Texas and Salt Lake City Utah look glorious doubling for Juarez Mexico, it’s those opening shots the draw the viewer in, just as much the dialogue repels the viewer.  It’s a pity that a great visual director like Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien) had to waste his time trying to breathe life into a lifeless script.

The Counselor.  Has No Appeal.


The future is bleak for mutants and the humans who help them.  Robots, named sentinels are hunting down mutants to the point of extinction.  Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan) are holed up in a bunker with the last few surviving mutants.  They decide to send Logan (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973, with the help of Kitty Pride (Ellen Page) who has the ability to teleport people’s consciousness back in time.  Logan is chosen because his mind is the only mind strong enough to withstand the process.

Logan must go back to 1973 to convince Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) not to shoot the inventor of the sentinels, Dr. Bolivar Trask. (Peter Dinklage)   He must also find and reunite the younger Xavier (James McAvoy) and Eric (Michael Fassbender) and convince them to work together to bring Raven back from the precipice of being an assassin. With the help of Peter/Quicksilver, (Even Peters) Logan breaks Eric out of a prison in the Pentagon.  Xavier meanwhile has become somewhat of a recluse, living in his school for mutants, which is now in disrepair, with Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) Hank has cured Xavier’s paralysis, but the serum he uses, robs Xavier of his mental acuity. Morever, Xavier doesn’t want anything to do with his powers anymore, he blames his powers, and Eric for losing Raven, and causing his paralysis.  Can Logan convince these former friends, now rivals to bury the hatchet, find Raven, and convince her not to kill Dr. Trask?  Or do Xavier and Eric’s doubts about themselves and human beings overwhelm them?

I love this movie.  There are simply not enough superlatives to tell you how good this movie is.  It integrates the best of the first series of X-Men movies with the best of the reboot.  The sentinels do remind me a bit of the robots from the Terminator movies, and there is the usual time travel caveat about changing the future, but this time they want to change the future. There’s also a good bit of historical fiction about the Vietnam War, the Kennedy assassination and the Nixon administration, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Nixon is a villain in this movie, and that will either enrage you or delight you depending on your political views.  This kind of historical fiction was tried in the movie The Watchmen, but I found that history muddled and incomprehensible, the flashbacks to the 70’s was a loving, nostalgic look at an era I look back on with fondness. Days of Future Past is also disarmingly funny, the script had me laughing out loud at times.  Other than Nolan’s Dark Knight movies, this is the best superhero film I’ve seen in a very long time.

What can I say about the acting?  It is first rate.  Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan bring the same heft and gravitas to these characters that made me love them in the first place.  James McAvoy  and Michael Fassbender are put in a tough position, being in the same movie paying the same characters as these iconic actors, but they not only hold their own, but make the characters their own.  Michel Fassbender is becoming a great actor in his own right, it’s getting to the point where I could watch him in any movie he makes.  Hugh Jackman has played Logan/Wolverine in at least seven movies now, and I can’t imagine anyone else playing him, he is Wolverine.  Nicholas Hoult is good as Beast, Xavier’s right hand man, Ellen Page brings some Inception style earnestness to her role. Evan Peters is very funny as Quicksilver, and Peter Dinklage gives a standout performance as the evil Dr. Trask. The only fly in the ointment was Jenner Lawrence, she actually made me realize how good Rebecca Romiijn was as Raven, she was much more edgy and mature.  Jennifer Lawrence seems like she’s trying really hard to be edgy, but doesn’t quite make it.  I think she is too young for this role, not to mention her role in American Hustle.

The direction is good, fast paced and action packed, the 2 hours and 10 minutes flew by.  The 3D effects, didn’t really add much I’m sorry to say.  There is violence and nudity, so don’t bring the young kids, they won’t like seeing Hugh Jackman’s bare posterior as much as their mothers might.

X-men Days of Future Past.  Happy Days, indeed.


Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free black man living in upstate New York with his wife and two kids in 1841.  Solomon is tricked by two slave catchers, named Brown (Scoot McNairy) and Hamilton, (Teran Killam) who tell Solomon they are with the circus, but really ply him with liquor and sell him into slavery to the plantation of Ford, (Benedict Cumberbatch) who also buys a slave woman named Eliza (Adepero Oduye), but Ford cannot buy Eliza’s kids.

Ford is a relatively good hearted person, but that does not spare Solomon from cruel treatment from one of the field bosses named Tibeats (Paul Dano) who tries to hang Solomon and leaves him hanging there until Ford cuts him down.  If things are not bad enough with Ford, Solomon, now given the name Platt, is sent to the cruel and sadistic slave owner Edwin Epps. (Michael Fassbender)

Epps thinks of his slaves as his property, and will do anything to bend their actions to his will; Epps literally wants them to dance when he plays a tune.  Epps does not like Platt, and makes it his job to break him.  Epps does have a fondness for Patsey  (Lupita Nyong’o) and Mrs. Epps (Sarah Paulson) sees how much attention Patsey is getting from her husband, she shows her displeasure by throwing a whiskey decanter at her head.  When Mr. Epps sees Solomon talking to Patsey, he whips Solomon and tells Patsey to stay away from him.  When Patsey goes to another plantation for a bar of soap, Epps orders Solomon to whip her, and then viciously whips Patsey himself. Patsey is also repeatedly raped by Mr. Epps, and she can take no more.

Patsey begs Solomon to kill her, he steadfastly refuses.  Instead Solomon a man named Armsby (Garrett Dillhunt) a man on Epps plantation, who seems to be sympathetic to Solomon’s plight, to deliver a letter to some abolitionists up North, who know that Solomon is a free man.  Instead Armsby tells Epps of Solomon’s plan, and Epps burns the letter.  Later, a Canadian named Samuel Bass (Brad Pitt)  shows up to Epps’ plantation and Solomon asks Bass to deliver a similar letter to the one that he asked Armsby to deliver.  Does Bass do it?  Or does he doublecross Solomon, as Armsby had done?

This is a brutally violent movie, but it is also brutally honest.  I usually don’t care for historical dramas about slavery or segregation from Hollywood, because they tend to change the history to fit whatever end they’re trying to put forth, or they try to sugarcoat the experience of slavery or segregation in some kind of revisionist feel-good way.  If you don’t know what I mean, please see The Help. I know the character of Solomon Northup existed because he published a biography contemporaneously to his kidnapping, and this movie does not sugarcoat his life.

The tendency with traumatic historical events is to try to forget them, sweep things under the rug, and cleanse the collective psyche.  I am not one to dwell on events like slavery or the Holocaust, but I think every once in a while, the country and the world needs a jolt to remember how brutal and inhumane man can be to his fellow man.  This movie with its graphic violence, and unflinching point of view,  provides that jolt, and demands to be seen.  My reaction to this movie is one of profound sadness, sadness that founding fathers who professed freedom and liberty for all, kept men and women as property, and by their inaction kept the brutal business of the flesh trade going on far longer than it should have.  I feel sadness for the millions who lost their lives based on the premise of complete servitude or separate and unequal.  I feel sadness that although we have made great strides as a country, we have a long way to go in truly respecting the different racial and ethnic groups that make up America.   I want you to see this film, and when you see some politician talking about ‘losing your freedoms’ to make a rhetorical argument, I want you to think of Solomon Northup, and all he lost, and think about how free you are in comparison.

But always remember,  if someone really does ask you for papers to try to take away your right to vote, or try to prove your citizenship, fight those laws with all your might.  Those laws are akin to Solomon Norhup carrying papers to prove he is a free man, and those laws need to be changed, just as slavery was abolished and the Jim Crow laws were changed.

The writing by John Ridley is poignant and heartbreaking.  Even when Solomon is not being whipped or beaten, the fear of slavery and its attendant pain follows him around like a constant shadow.  He bears the pain of Eliza, who weeps constantly at the loss of her children, he is asked by Patsey to kill her, she prefers death to being even a favored slave.  Solomon sees hangings of runaway slaves all too routinely.  The stories of Solomon, Eliza and Patsey are intertwined and so the viewer, not only cares about Solomon, but the ladies as well.

The direction by Steve McQueen  is truly noteworthy.  Almost from the first scene the film envelops the viewer.  In that first scene the camera is at eye level and wading through the sugar cane fields of Louisiana.  To illustrate the voyage down South McQueen focuses on the paddle wheel of the riverboat, and when the wheel fills the whole screen, the scene is over.  That is captivating camera work.  There is one scene that stood out in the movie, however.  When Solomon is hanging on the tree, put there by Tibbeats, the other slaves go on with their business, seemingly oblivious to the man literally hanging in their midst, until one slave woman gives him a glass of water and meekly scurries away.  They are so afraid of the master’s retribution that they dare not cut Solomon down. And McQueen lets that scene play out for an excruciatingly long time.  That is great filmmaking.  If you don’t know this Steve McQueen, watch Hunger, about the hunger strike initiated by Bobby Sands in Northern Ireland.

The acting is absolutely top notch.  Fassbender is a raving dog one minute, and calmly ordering everyone to dance the next, he knows he can make these slaves do anything, they are toys to him, puppets.  It is that controlled rage that makes his performance so interesting to watch, he will be nominated for Best Actor, Chiwetel Egiofor gives a stunning performance as Solomon, he can hardly believe what happened to him, and now he’s got to outwit his masters and stay alive, at a time when his life was worth nothing more than the amount of cotton he can pick.  He should be nominated for Best Actor as well.  The women in this film are phenomenal as well  Adepero Oduye is outstanding  as Eliza, she conveys the pain of separation from her two children about as well as anyone I’ve seen.  Lupita Nyong’o gives a heart-stopping performance as Patsey, this is her debut film. And Sarah Paulson is also outstanding as the stern, domineering Mistress Epps.  All three of them deserve nominations.  Paul Dano and Paul Giamatti are also very good, the only laggard in the bunch is Brad Pitt, who plays a boring character in a predictable way.  Mr. Pitt, I appreciate the money you put forth and the skill you used to get this movie made, but please resist the temptation of casting yourself in the movies you produce.

There is lots of violence, and language and some nudity, but older teens can watch it, heck they might even want to read the book.

12 Years A Slave. A movie for the ages.

Movie Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

Posted: September 5, 2013 in Drama, Romance


Jane Eyre (Amelia Clarkson, Mia Wasikowska) is orphaned at an early age and forced to live with her aunt Mrs. Reed (Sally Hawkins) and her bratty son John.  (Craig Roberts)  When trouble erupts between Jane and John,  Mrs. Reed naturally blames Jane, and ships her off to a boarding school named Lowood, where she is branded a liar.  Despite her undeserved bad reputation, Jane befriends Helen Burns.  (Freya Parks) Helen develops an illness, but Jane stays loyally at her bedside until Helen dies.  But the bond they shared made Jane believe in herself, and so she stays on at Lowood, and becomes a teacher there.

After some time as a teacher, she applies for a job as a governess for Mr. Rochester’s ward Adelle (Romy Setborn Ward) who is fluent in French, and enjoys conversing in both French and English with Jane.  Jane meets Rochester (Michael Fassbender)  rather accidently, when she scares his horse and make him fall.  Later the two converse, Jane believes that Rochester thinks of her as nothing more than a paid subordinate but Rochester realizes that he has met his equal in intelligence and temperament, if not breeding.  Jane too, strives to be Rochester’s equal, parrying Rochester’s every verbal thrust with vigor.  Despite getting along quite well with Rochester, Jane has reservations, she thinks that Blanche Ingram (Imogen Poots) will eventually marry Rochester, and Jane will have to go elsewhere.  Jane is also troubled by the noises she hears in the night while everyone is sleeping, noises that are never explained by Rochester or anyone else in the house.  Despite her misgivings, Rochester professes his love for her.  As they are about to get married, Jane learns something about Rochester that makes her run away from Thornfield, wishing for death.

Jane instead lands at the doorstep of Christian missionary, St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell) and his sisters Mary (Tamzin Merchant) and Diana. (Holliday Granger) Mary and Diana nurse Jane back to health and St John finds her a job teaching children.  Jane then finds out from St John that her uncle has died, leaving Jane a vast fortune as an inheritance.  St John has a proposal for Jane, he wants to take her to India, as his wife.  What does Jane do?  Marry St. John, who she doesn’t love? Or go back to her one true love, Rochester, who had a secret so dark, it made Jane run away in heartbreak.

I like this movie but it has its drawbacks.  The story starts with Jane at St. John’s doorstep, and then flashes back to Jane’s childhood, Lowood,Thornfield Hall, and eventually forward with St. John and his sisters.  It would have been much easier and better to tell a linear story, people who don’t know the story as well as I do might be confused. The movie format in itself is limited, as opposed to the miniseries format of the BBC tv series, and so the story feels rushed and entire portions of the book are skipped for time constrains. The move attempts to make Jane seem more liberated than she ought to be, making her seem like a suffragette, or Gloria Steinem. The movie seems to forget it’s based on a book written in 1847.  What saves this movie is the banter between Jane and Rochester, and again between Jane and St. John, it is both pithy, and entertaining.  Credit goes to the acting skills of the superb Michael Fassbender and equally superb Mia Wasikowska for bringing these characters to life and making them feisty. The only quibble I have about these two is that they’re both too attractive.  When Rochester says, Do you think me handsome, and Jane says no, it comes off more as a joke than a challenge to answer honestly to an employer of a higher station.  Sally Hawkins is also very good as the evil Mrs. Reed, if there’s a heavy in this movie she’s it, and Hawkins seems to revel in the evil. The direction is workmanlike, although there are some beautiful shots of the English countryside.  There is one gimmicky incident in a scene that I did not care for, but again that’s a quibble.

If you enjoy the story of Jane Eyre, read the book or watch the 2006 miniseries, if you like the sparks between Jane and Rochester, watch this version. Any way you chose, there are things to like about the movie or the miniseries, but to get a full understanding of the characters and their motivations, you should read the book.  I will say it again, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is the most well-developed female character I’ve read, written by a male or female author.

Jane Eyre.  No plain Jane.

Movie Review: Hunger (2008)

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Drama
Tags: ,


In 1977, Irish Republican Army leader Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender)  was sentenced to 14 years  for firearms possession and sent to HM Prison Maze.  The IRA had lost their Special Category Status, and had launched protests like the Blanket Protest, where they refused to wear prison uniforms, and dirty protests, where they smeared the walls of their prison cells with excrement.  As soon as Sands was imprisoned he was beaten and his hair was forcibly cut.  In the beginning of his imprisonment, he is visited by his parents, Mr. Sands, (Des  McAleer) and Mrs. Sands (Helen Madden) His father notices his black eye, and his mother asks if he’s eating.  The beatings of the prisoners continue, as do the shootings by the IRA.  After a long talk with his priest, Father Dominic Moran (Liam Cunningham) Sands begins a hunger strike on March 1 1981.  The priest is against the strike, but he does it anyway.    Sands wants the IRA to get back its Special Category Status, and letters and parcels once a week and free association with other prisoners.  Does the hunger strike work?  Do the prisoners get some of their rights back?  Does the hunger strike work?

This movie is quite slow for the first half hour, the dialogue is sparse, the setting is dank and dreary, the mood is claustrophobic , all of this is purposeful .  But then Fassbender comes on screen and everything is suddenly electric.  He’s scuffling with cops, reassuring his parents, and having a 20 minute philosophical dialogue with his priest, this dialogue.  We learn more about Sands as a child, during this dialogue, and it does humanize him a bit, but lest you feel sorry for the IRA, there’s a scene with the cops  beating  IRA prisoners, juxtaposed with a scene that makes the beating seem justified.  This juxtaposition provides some balance to the film, as does the sharp exchange between Sands and Father Dom.  The minimalism of the scenes, and the length of the scenes really lets the viewer soak in the total visual effect of each scene.  That’s what makes the Hunger a film with watching, great direction, and a top notch performance by Michael Fassbender, and an equally good scene stealing performance from Laim Cunningham, as a frustrated  priest from Northern Ireland.  There’s a lot of male nudity in this movie and tons of violence, so it’s not for the kiddies.

Hunger.  Whet your appetite for some gritty, no-nonsense, filmmaking.