12 Years a Slave (2013)

12 Years a Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Writer: John Ridley
Based on: Solomon Northup‘s memoir
Cast: Chiwetel EjioforLupita Nyong’o, Quvenzhané Wallis, Kelsey Scott, Michael K. Williams, Scoot McNairy, Adepero Oduye, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt

Plot:
Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is one of the few free black people in the USA. Or rather he used to be until he took a job offer that turned into a kidnapping. Suddenly Solomon finds himself removed from his family, mistreated and enslaved. As he goes from owner to owner, he tries his best to not only survive, but be free again.

12 Years a Slave is one hell of a film. It has a great cast, is beautifully shot and has an awesome soundtrack. It’s also a film that hurts pretty much all over and will stay with me for a very long time.

12-years-a-slave

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The Counselor (2013)

The Counselor
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Cormac McCarthy
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Bruno Ganz, Brad Pitt, Toby Kebbell, Édgar Ramírez, Dean NorrisJohn Leguizamo, Natalie Dormer, Goran Visnjic

Plot:
The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is a lawyer who is about to marry his girlfriend Laura (Penélope Cruz). He is also somehow involved in the drug business through his client Reiner (Javier Bardem) and he’s about to get involved more deeply. And to no one’s surprise except his own, things go very wrong very quickly and it’s all somehow connected to Reiner’s enigmatic girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz).

There were many things I could see going wrong with this film, but what I did not anticipate was that it would be Cormac McCarthy’s writing where things go very wrong. But unfortunately that was the case and the result was a film that was pretty much unbearable.

the-counselor

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Prometheus (2012)

Prometheus
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Prequel to: the Alien movies (kinda)
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong, Kate Dickie

Plot:
After scientists find several unrelated cave paintings and murals that all depict the same star constellation, a mission is sent out to go to the planet and find out what’s there. And at first, the Promethes mission seems a full success – much to the joy to the scientist team of Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). But the android David (Michael Fassbender) seems to have his own mission.

This is a pretty, pretty movie with some pretty, pretty people in it. And the cast really does try their best. But all their talent and all the pretty in the world can’t make up for the sheer stupidity of this film.

[SPOILERS]

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Shame (2011)

Shame
Director: Steve McQueen
Writer: Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie

Plot:
Brandon (Michael Fassbender) has carefully built his life around his sex addiction. Everyhing revolves around sex for him. When he isn’t flirting, he’s watching porn. When he isn’t getting it for free, he pays for it. The only thing that he stays away from as far as he possibly can is intimacy. But that life completely falls apart when his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) suddenly shows up. She takes up residency on his sofa and bit by bit everything goes to hell.

Shame is depressing, calm, intense and beautiful. It’s a movie that hurts – and I loved it.

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Haywire (2011)

Haywire
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Cast: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Angarano, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Mathieu Kassovitz, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas

Plot:
Mallory (Gina Carano) works for Kenneth (Ewan McGregor), a private contractor who leases his people to the government for special assignments. But during the last job, something went wrong and suddenly Mallory finds herself on the run. At a small rest stop, her former partner Aaron (Channing Tatum) catches up with her but she kicks his ass and gets away with Scott (Michael Angarano), a rather willing hostage whom she tells her story to.

I really, really enjoyed Haywire – I was actually surprised by how much. It’s an engaging, intelligent and stylish thriller with good fight scenes and a really cool soundtrack.

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Jane Eyre (2011)

Jane Eyre
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Writer: Moira Buffini
Based on: Charlotte Brontë’s novel
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins, Craig Roberts, Harry Lloyd, Imogen Poots

Plot:
Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) is an orphan, growing up with her aunt Mrs Reed (Sally Hawkins), where she suffers a lot of abuse until she is sent to boarding school, where she suffers even more abuse. When she turns 18, she leaves there to take up a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall, which belongs to Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Jane and Rochester quickly connect with each other – but there is a secret in Thornfield Hall.

Jane Eyre was wonderful – one of the rare examples where the movie is actually better than the book. That cast, that cinematography, the costumes (and when I notice costumes, that’s freaking saying something)… Just wow.

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A Dangerous Method (2011)

A Dangerous Method
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: Christopher Hampton
Based on: Christopher Hampton’s play, which is based on John Kerr’s book
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel, Sarah Gadon

Plot:
Carl Gustav Jung (Michael Fassbender) is a young psychologist much in awe of Sigmund Freud‘s (Viggo Mortensen) work. When Jung gets a new patient, the young Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), he starts a psychoanalysis with her and he also begins to correspond with Freud about the case. But Jung soon discovers his attraction to Spielrein (and vice versa) and when Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel) encourages him to give in, he can’t really resist.

A Dangerous Method is an almost perfect movie, interesting, not afraid of depth, but never gets too overbearing. Additionally, it has a good cast and it’s entertaining. Chapeau once again, Mr. Cronenberg.

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X-Men: First Class (2011)

X-Men: First Class is Matthew Vaughn‘s newest film, written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Oliver Platt, January Jones and Michael Ironside.

Plot:
Erik (Michael Fassbender) survived the Nazi concentration camps, mostly because he has the power to move metal and scientist Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) wanted to study him. After the end of the war, Erik starts continually hunting down Nazis, trying to get at Shaw.
At the same time, Charles (James McAvoy) is a leading scientist in the field of genetic mutation – and himself a telepath. He is approached by CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) who saw Shaw with a couple of mutants and tries to figure out what’s going on. Charles and his adoptive sister Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), who can take on the form of other people, start working with the CIA and pretty soon the cross paths with Erik.
Despite their different backgrounds, Erik and Charles start working together to find other mutants – and to get at Shaw.

X-Men: First Class is not a perfect film – but it’s pretty damn close. The performances are mostly amazing, the script is intelligent, the action is wonderful and there is a lot of fodder for discussion.

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Fish Tank (2009)

Fish Tank is Andrea Arnold‘s newest film, starring Katie Jarvis, Rebecca Griffiths, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway and Michael Fassbender.

Plot:
Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a teenager from a bad neighborhood who dreams of a career as a dancer. When her mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) brings home a new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender), Mia connects with him quickly. Connor is a nice guy who treats Mia and her sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) well and even encourages Mia’s dreams. Flattered by his attention and his general treatment, Mia quickly falls in love with Connor.

Fish Tank is one hell of a movie. Excellently cast, perfectly written and well-shot, it takes no time to make you feel miserable. At least it has the decency to pick you up a little bit at the end.

[SPOILERS]

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Hunger (2008)

Hunger is the first movie by Steve McQueen, starring Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham.

Plot:
Hunger is the story of Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender). He was a member of the IRA and imprisoned in the 80s. He participated in the No Wash strike and later initiated the 1981 hunger strike, from which he died. The movie dramatises the last 6 weeks of his life and the strikes in general.

Hunger asks a lot of the audience – but you don’t really notice while you’re watching. It’s only when you leave the cinema that you notice how completely drained you are. But it’s also very rewarding to watch it, to, yes, put yourself through it.

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