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Michael Fassbender ponders Magneto’s loyalties in “X-Men: First Class” sequel

Michael Fassbender says he is “open” to starring in “Robocop” (photo)

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It’s been a while since our last update on a potential sequel for “X-Men: First Class,” last year’s critically praised film that took Marvel’s famous mutants back to their early days and cast Michael Fassbender as their former ally and eventual arch enemy, Magneto.

With Fassbender turning up in films almost everywhere you look lately (the latest “Haywire” opening tomorrow), IFC managed to get a few moments with him to find out what’s in store for the mutant master of magnetism, and what he knows about the next film’s status.

Asked how he’d characterize his role in the first film — which seemed to be both hero and villain at times — Fassbender said that ambiguity was entirely intentional, and something they’d like to carry through in future installments.

“I get where [Magneto] is coming from, that’s for sure — having read the source material, the comic books,” he explained. “From what we know with human beings, history has told us that we’re a pretty destructive race, so you can see where he’s coming from. It’s always interesting for me to have the villains doing positive things as well as negative or destructive things. I just think it’s more realistic.”

“It’s like the actions will define the character . . . but it’s more about making sure that it’s intelligently written and there’s a real driving force, there’s real drama there, relationships are interesting, and that it’s not lazy in anyway,” he continued. “A lot of the times I think with action films, the plot can be pretty weak because it’s taking a back seat to the action sequences and the special effects. What we wanted to do with ‘X-Men’ was definitely the reverse of that. We wanted to really focus on the characters and the plot and then have the action sequence there to sort of enhance the story.”

And the balance established in “First Class” between action, character development, and plot is expected to measure out similarly in any sequels — at least as far as Fassbender and co-star James McAvoy understand it.

“Hopefully we’ll get to do another one; that’s what we want to carry that vein through for sure,” he told IFC. “Personally, I do and I know James feels the same.”

Referencing the on-again, off-again friendship between McAvoy’s character, Charles Xavier, and Fassbender’s magnetic mutant in the Marvel Comics universe, Fassbender hinted that there’s always the possibility that they’ll be on the same side again. Although if their comic-book history is any indication, it could take another threat bigger than both of them to bring the former friends together.

“You know what’s interesting about Magneto and Professor X from the comic books as well, is there’s such a complexity to their relationship,” he explained. “It’s not just like clear-cut enemies; they’re best friends as well. In the comic books, even after they’ve had this sort of rift, Professor X asks Magneto to come back and look after the students at certain points.”

“I think there’s always that complexity in their relationship,” he said. “And we want to keep that alive as possible, because that’s I think a really interesting thing — the conflict there.”

What would you like to see in the “X-Men: First Class” sequel? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Carol Cate Blanchett

Spirit Guide

Check Out the Spirit Awards Nominees for Best Male and Female Leads

Catch the 2016 Spirit Awards live Feb. 27th at 5P ET/2P PT on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Wilson Webb/©Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection

From Jason Segel’s somber character study of author David Foster Wallace, to Brie Larson’s devastating portrayal of a mother in captivity, the 2016 Spirit Awards nominees for Best Male and Female Leads represent the finest in the year of film acting. Take a look at the Best Male and Female Leads in action, presented by Jaguar.

Best Male Lead 

Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

Watch more Male Lead nominee videos here.

Best Female Lead 

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Tangerine

Watch more Female Lead nominee videos here.

The best genre movies of 2011, part 1

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You’ve already got my list of the top ten films of 2011, but there were a lot more than just ten good movies this year. It’s time to highlight the genre standouts, the silly, scary, exciting, emotional stuff that doesn’t get the critical praise it deserves, especially at this time of the year when it’s all about gloss, and prestige, and actors eating half their body weight in ice cream and calling it “artistic commitment.” (Don’t you wish you had a job that let you call your obsession with Coffee Heath Bar Crunch art? Me too.)

This is part one of my list of the best genre movies of 2011. I’ve picked out a whole bunch of genres, from Western, to romance, to horror, and selected one exemplary entry for each. Be sure to come back tomorrow for 2011’s best buddy cop movie, best comedy, best sports movie, and more. Until then, here are our first five genre standouts.

The Best Western of the Year
“Blackthorn”
Directed by Mateo Gil

“Meek’s Cutoff” was the critical darling of the Western genre this year, but Kelly Reichardt’s bleak account of a doomed wagon train was too often an exercise in frustration to my taste. For a more satisfying frontier throwback, seek out “Blackthorn,” a sort-of-sequel to “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” starring the wonderfully dyspeptic Sam Shepard as an aging Cassidy who sets out for the United States after decades in hiding in Bolivia. Along the way he encounters a man with some stolen money, which leads to plenty of double-crosses, chases, and shootouts, a new partnership to mirror the one he had with Sundance, and the occasional masculine contemplation of the meaning of life over a plate of campfire beans. “Blackthorn”‘s ending is almost as disappointing as “Meek’s Cutoff”‘s but you know what they say about focusing on the journey rather than the destination. This is a really interesting journey. Read my full review here.


The Best Horror Film of the Year
“Insidious”
Directed by James Wan

Speaking of disappointing endings, I wouldn’t for one minute pretend that the last fifteen minutes of “Insidious” — a haunted house movie from the writer and director of “Saw” — doesn’t completely fall apart after one too many predictable plot twists and a little too much unpredictable silliness. Until then, though, this story of troubled married couple and their spooky encounters in their new home on the corner of Hellmouth Drive and You Guys Are Totally Fucked Boulevard is absolutely terrifying. Every scene with Lin Shaye as the paranormal investigator called to cure the couple’s comatose son is killer. Not to be watched in a house with creaky floorboards or oversized grandfather clocks. Read my full review here.


The Best Legal Thriller of the Year
“The Lincoln Lawyer”
Directed by Brad Furman

Is “The Lincoln Lawyer” the most accurate legal thriller of the year? My night school law degree hasn’t come in the mail yet, I’m guessing probably not. But who cares? The broadcast television airwaves are littered with dozens of weekly hours of dry, by-the-books law shows; if you want pedestrian legal thrills, go there. If you want a batshit crazy story with big, fun plot twists and a deliciously evil villain, check out this sturdy adaptation of the novel of the same name by Michael Connelly. I can’t tell you who you the villain is because that would spoil some of the surprise, but I can say that Matthew McConaughey is in excellent form as Mickey Haller, a slick, smart Los Angeles attorney hired to defend a real estate magnate’s son from charges of rape. I walked into this movie almost at random on a day when I was stranded in Manhattan with several hours to kill. I walked out two hours later absolutely delighted by one of the most purely entertaining movies I saw all year.


The Best Romance of the Year
“Weekend”
Directed by Andrew Haigh

Two men meet in the bar on a Friday night and have a one night stand. The next morning, they discover a connection deeper than physical attraction but for reasons best left unexplained, their relationship has to end when the weekend does. This sweet, sad, and painfully accurate film about fleeting love evokes memories of David Lean’s “Brief Encounter” and Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise.” Director Andrew Haigh shot the film in practical locations with long, uncut takes because, he told me, he wanted “Weekend” “to feel almost like a documentary…you, as the audience, were almost sitting in the corner of the room just watching this relationship unfold.” He succeeded. Good luck trying not to cry as you watch this relationship unfold during the big climactic scene in the train station. You’ll need it. Read my full interview with Haigh here. “Weekend” is currently available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkC7xHAfxm4


The Best Comic Book Movie of the Year
“X-Men: First Class”
Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Technically “The Adventures of Tintin” would probably get my vote for the most accomplished comic book adaptation of the year. But I’ve never read any “Tintin” comics, and neither have most of the people who’ll be seeing it in the United States, which means Steven Spielberg didn’t have to contend with angry, judgmental fanboys freaking out over his every creative decision. Matthew Vaughn, on the other hand, had plenty of nerds looking over his shoulder as he made the fifth film in the X-Men franchise. He also had to retrofit a new story to fit within the framework of old comics and movies, deal with the fact that the previous “X-Men” prequel, “Wolverine,” was one of the worst comic book movies ever, and crank out the entire project from start to finish in less than a year. Somehow, he made it work. Michael Fassbender was such a badass antihero as the young, Nazi-hunting Magneto he suggested an avenue for a prequel to this prequel. Listen to my full review here.


On to PART 2 of The Best Genre Movies of 2011.

Got different picks for the best Western, horror film, legal thriller, romance, and comic book movie of the year? Let us know in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

Comparing the year end film polls

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We’ve got one week left in 2011, so we’re running out of time to make lists, tear apart other people’s lists, make lists of lists, and list the lists we are going to list later. Better make the most of it.

Last night, for example, I spent a couple of hours pouring over the two big annual film critic polls: one from The Village Voice, the other from Indiewire. In both cases, the publications invite dozens of critics to list their favorite films, performances, directors, and assorted other topics. They compile the responses and use them to generate rankings. There’s a pretty large overlap between the two polls — out of the 193 total participants, 63 critics submitted a ballot to both — and some interesting disparities between the two sets of results.

Both polls agree about the best movie of the year: Terrence Malick‘s “The Tree of Life,” which appeared on more than half the Voice ballots and over a third of the Indiewire ballots. But after that, the lists get jumbled — while the two polls share nine out of the ten same films, no other movies occupies the same position on both top ten lists. The #2 and #3 films, “A Separation” and “Melancholia,” are flipped depending on which poll you look at — thorny matters of Iranian divorce were more popular in the Voice while greeting the end of all existing with Danish indifference was more popular with the Indiewire voters. The single biggest difference in placements for one film in the two top ten lists was “Drive,” which ranked as the fifth most popular film of the year on Indiewire but just the ninth most popular in the Voice. The outliers that only appeared on one poll each were “Hugo” (eighth on Indiewire, eleventh in the Voice) and “Take Shelter” (tenth in the Voice poll, fourteenth on Indiewire).

There are similar discrepancies in the acting categories, with a lot of repeated selections in vastly different orders of preference. Picking the best lead performance of the year, Indiewire voters wound up with a tie between Michael Shannon in “Take Shelter” and Michael Fassbender in “Shame.” But in the Voice, Shannon was the runaway favorite, receiving almost twenty more points than anyone else in either gender, while Fassbender came in fifth place behind Anna Paquin from “Margaret,” Juliette Binoche from “Certified Copy,” and Kirsten Dunst from “Melancholia.” Fassbender appeared on 27% of all Indiewire ballots and just 21% of all Voice ballots, a pretty big difference especially when you consider that one out of every three ballots in both polls were essentially identical. On the supporting side of things, Christopher Plummer got similarly Fassbendered. At Indiewire he won Best Supporting Performance by a sizable margin. In the Voice he only placed third, behind Albert Brooks in “Drive” and Jeannie Berlin in “Margaret.”

So what does this all mean? What do I look like, a guy who took more than one math class in college? Because I didn’t. Personally, I think it means that while consensus does exist out there in film critic land, it’s also far more fickle and flexible than we often imagine it to be. You poll 10 critics, you might get complete agreement. You poll 10 other critics, you might get ten different favorites. A few critics invited to vote here, a few critics not invited to vote there, and intentionally or unintentionally you’ve created significant variations in the data.

If you were going to take this research even further down sabremetriciany avenues, you’d need information that the Voice and Indiewire don’t publicly provide, namely the ages and outlets of their contributors. Then you could compare the statistical variations in the two polls with other factors; maybe the average voting age at Indiewire was younger and younger voters tended to prefer “Drive.” Or maybe print critics were more heavily sampled at the Voice, and they were less impressed by Michael Fassbender’s emotionally naked weiner performance.

For now, I guess we’re left more questions. In the meantime, be sure to examine the Voice and Indiewire polls in depth and to report back to me with your own findings. Or if you just want to read my ballots you can find those here and here.

Which poll do you agree with more: the Voice or Indiewire? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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