In Review!: “Alien: Covenant”

Once Ridley Scott again took over the reins of the Alien franchise, its humans got a whole lot dumber. Prometheus brought a crew to a foreboding planet only to have them immediately dispense of their safety helmets and fuck around with unknown, potentially harmful lifeforms, to say the least of it. But while Prometheus was a space horror rumination on man’s hubris, its many threads and evasions kept its ideas from congealing into a cohesive whole. It was about our ludicrousness while being fully ludicrous itself.

Alien: Covenant however sticks the thematic landing that its predecessor did not. Rest assured, these space colonists act just as stupidly – which will certainly frustrate many – but this film is more focused in its presentation of humanity not worth saving, a link in the evolutionary chain that’s met its end date.

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Trailer Drop: “The Light Between Oceans”

Rumored to potentially hit in 2015, Derek Cianfrance’s literary adaptation of The Light Between Oceans has finally released a trailer. It stars this year’s Oscar nominees (and ubiquitous 2015 staples) Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as a lighthouse keeper and his wife that take in an orphan newborn into their isolated island life. Things become heartbreakingly complicated when their life returns to the mainland.

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The source novel is an absorbing weepy that surprises as its themes take hold. The complexities and intimacies of a marriage and also the lingering effects of legacy have been explored soulfully by Cianfrance in previous films Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines. Here he looks to be just as introspective across a large canvas. With a prime festival season release date, expect this one to pop up somewhere on the fall festival bookings.

The Light Between Oceans opens on September 2!

filmmixtape’s Best Actor of 2015

The lineup below is one far quieter than is usually seen in Best Actor lineups – look anywhere on the internet and you’ll see that the current generation of film is all but completely centered on male protagonists in grand heroic or tragic stature. I found the field of leading male performances underwhelming this year, and narrowing down to a final ballot mostly easy for the few I viewed passionately. Oscar prefers things a bit more showy, and you’ll find my only crossover to be the most ostentatious of my lineup.

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Tom Courtenay – 45 Years

  • He’s thrown by the discovery of his lost love’s body, but his own recent brush with death haunts with unspoken pathos. His regrets and failings shine clearly while the narrative gaze is on his wife. Courtenay acing Geoff’s transition from despair to acceptance as partner Charlotte Rampling is on the exact opposite course is crucial in establishing her devastating arc.

Paul Dano – Love and Mercy

  • Finally given a role that puts his soulfulness center stage, Dano is more open-hearted and accessible than he’s ever been. From his charm and deep well of sadness, he makes you hear “God Only Knows” as if for the first time. He plays Brian’s invading mental illness with a helplessness that informs so much on Brian’s situation in the film’s 80s portion.

Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

  • Fassbender is usually cast in roles that demand introspection or physical externalizing of buried emotion, so naturally his work in Jobs is invigorating for his verbal dexterity and stymied emotional communication. Acing the challenge shows him as an actor who can truly master any role, and one who should be considered among the top tier of his generation.

Jason Segel – The End of the Tour

  • Segel underplays each moment much in the way that David Foster Wallace tried to brush aside his sudden success. The marvel of Segel’s work is the tension built within silences, and the slow reveal his Wallace lets down his guard while revealing his deepest defenses.

Jacob Tremblay – Room

  • The complete reverse of Brie Larson’s Ma: as open and x as she is unknowable and removed. His understanding of Jack’s post-Room trauma and thawing goes beyond director-led and builds intuitively. His chemistry with Larson rivals that of any two seasoned adult actors this year.

The Winner is after the jump!

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In Review!: “Steve Jobs”

The conceit of the “greatest hits” biopic has been dying out in recent years. Besides a certain predictability and generic result with even the most well-intentioned of them, we as audiences are becoming more comfortable with less strict adherence to accuracy and are asking for a more insightful connection to the figure depicted and to our cultural relationship to that figure. Steve Jobs, while populated with accurate details but wholely disinterested in strict factual depiction, is more of an impressionist experience in iconography.

fassbrighter-1024x436Director Danny Boyle is no stranger to characters who see themselves as separate or outside of the flow, and the titular Jobs is a force pushing himself upstream against the current of other people’s limitations, as written by Aaron Sorkin. Expect verbal fireworks.

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