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James McAvoy

Review: Submergence

Reviewed by Robert Horton for Seattle Weekly

I interviewed director Wim Wenders in the mid-’90s, and a sizable part of the conversation focused on an element of filmmaking he found supremely important: the sense of place. One can’t just parachute in somewhere and shoot a film; you need to know a location and understand it.

Well … hmmm. Wenders’ new film, Submergence, travels to a terrorist encampment in Somalia and a deep-diving submarine at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Compared to Wenders’ explorations of his native Germany in Wings of Desire and The American Friend or his deep drilling of the American landscape in Paris, Texas, this is a tourist’s visit. It might explain why Submergence—though sincere and sometimes woozily affecting—feels like a skim over the surface.

Continue reading at Stream On Demand

Review: Victor Frankenstein

James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe

The name still has mileage: Toss Frankenstein into a title and you’re promising a modicum of chills, plus at least one creation scene in a laboratory. But ever since Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein loosened the stitches from Mary Shelley’s monster, moviemakers have had a hard time finding a fresh take on the mythology. Victor Frankenstein suffers this fate as well. Handsomely mounted and energetically acted, the film is far more bearable than the inane Van Helsing and other recent monster reboots. Yet it doesn’t seem to fulfill any particular need, except nostalgia.

The script by Max Landis (Chronicle) takes the perspective of Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), a circus hunchback drafted into apprenticeship by Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy).

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Review: Victor Frankenstein

Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s most famous creation has withstood all manner of affronts to its dignity over the years, ranging from Abbott & Costello to nuclear pink cereal to Robert De Niro seemingly doing an impression of Curley from the Three Stooges. This one, though, boy, I dunno.

Despite a lively titular performance from James McAvoy, Victor Frankenstein comes off as sloppily paced, overly knowing, and mostly inadvertently hilarious in its naked attempts to shape the source material to appeal to the kids these days, with their origin stories and shared cinematic universes and whatnot. This Dr. Frankenstein knows parkour.

Continue reading at The Stranger

Film Review: ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them’

Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy

A suicide attempt, hauntingly staged: Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) walks across a New York City bridge on a pleasant day, and at one point abruptly dodges out of frame. The startled reaction of a passerby tells us where she goes. The rest of the movie is an attempt by Eleanor—and her family, friends, and husband Conor (James McAvoy)—to figure out what happens after she survives her fall. This is the backbone of a film with an earnest disposition and a complicated release history.

The name: It’s explained that Eleanor’s parents are Beatles fans. That’s cute, although it’s hard to understand what the gimmick lends the movie other than gravity-by-association with the Fab Four’s plaintive song.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Film Review: ‘Filth’

James McAvoy and Imogen Poots

Remember the great cocaine breakdown sequence from GoodFellas, in which the central character endures one long day of panic attacks and paranoia? Ray Liotta’s gangster collapses in his own excess, and looks appalling during the spiral: red-eyed, sweaty, his skin a whiter shade of pale.

Absent the bravura check-out-my-tour-de-force style of Martin Scorsese, that sequence is recalled during the entirety of Filth. In this bad-behavior wallow, James McAvoy looks as bad as Liotta during his crash, and the movie itself aims for unrelenting misery. Which it largely achieves.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly