Monday, August 30, 2021

Apocalypse Now: Bryan Singer’s New “X-Men” Movie

The definition of “apocalypse,” in Merriam-Webster, goes as follows: “A great disaster: a sudden and very bad event that causes much fear, loss or destruction.” Talk about concise. Someone at Fox should have pasted those words across the poster for “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which opens today in just about every cinema that you can think of.

The first great disaster, in Bryan Singer’s film, is the sound that issues from James McAvoy whenever he opens his mouth. He plays Professor Charles Xavier, or Professor X, who runs a school for gifted children in upstate New York, and whose mountainous intellect is demonstrated first by a British accent and second, toward the end of the film, by an utter loss of hair. Both of these are cinematic customs of long standing, but does anyone still believe in them? Are there not clever and richly coiffed citizens of many lands? The problem is heightened, in McAvoy’s case, by the fact that he is a proud Scot, and I suspect that to be forced south of the border, as it were, if only for the purposes of intonation, is a smarting wound to his dignity; the same thing befell Ewan McGregor, whose task, as Obi-Wan Kenobi, in “Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace” (1999), was to enunciate like a young Alec Guinness. The result, for both Scots? An antique and strangulated chirrup, with a performance to match. Their voices cramp their style.

This being an “X-Men” movie—the ninth in the series, if you count spinoffs—the gifted youths in Xavier’s care are not merely math wonks or promising linguists. You don’t enter the school by being strangely keen on chess. An unreturnable backhand is useless. You need to be a mutant, and your gift must be funkily unique to you. Helplessly shooting blood-red beams of flame out of your eyes that rip through the lawn and split a tree asunder: that’s the kind of talent that gets you enrolled, as young Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) discovers. The same goes for Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), who is so chronically telepathic that her bad dreams climb into other people’s heads. Without even being introduced to you, she will know your name, what you had for lunch, and what you would have had if you hadn’t had the chicken. How Xavier stops her cheating at exams, we never learn.

It is true of mutants, as of early silent movies, that a surprising number of them are revealed to be blue. At the school, for example, a bespectacled teacher named Hank (Nicholas Hoult) proves capable, when stirred, of turning a fetching shade of azure. So does Raven, who is played, as in other “X-Men” films, by Jennifer Lawrence. Since her first installment came out, five years ago, Lawrence has become a serious star, so burdened with Oscars and other tchotchkes that her trophy cabinet looks like Arnold Palmer’s. Fame of that sort, however, comes with a built-in glitch: you are likely to get locked into a franchise, which both guarantees your prominence in the public eye and, if you aren’t careful, starts to rust your soul. Lawrence looked openly bored in “Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2,” a movie that was every bit as drawn out as its title, and here she seems patient yet distracted, as if wondering why she is still obliged to hang out with these lesser mortals, in a fitful role, and how much longer she will have to show up on set in the guise of a bosomy Smurf.

One last mutant has the blues, and that’s Kurt Wagner (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is very camp, very smiley, and very German. He may be a descendant of the m.c. in “Cabaret.” Kurt has a knack for disappearing in an actual puff of smoke, like a rabbit in an old-school magic trick, and he also has a long and snaky tail, something that Sally Bowles would have been only too pleased to incorporate into her act. Indeed, it is in Berlin that we first find Kurt, as he is reluctantly hustled into a cage fight with Angel (Ben Hardy), before a baying throng. One peculiar aspect of the “X-Men” films is how often, yet how fleetingly, they are brushed by provocative ideas, or by streaks of alarming beauty; you certainly sense that in the cage. For one thing, whereas most of the special effects in the movie tend toward either the gargantuan or the wacko, Angel’s wings feel rustlingly real, and when they get singed and torn, in the course of his tussle with Kurt, there is a genuine pinch of pathos at seeing this airy figure brought so low, fallen and unfeathered. Just for a moment, we are reminded of Wim Wenders’s “Wings of Desire” (1987), in which other angels prowled the same city, envied the joys of its earthly residents, and brooded over its sorrows.

The other salient detail, in Berlin, is the mob. Its presence, plus its barbarity, constitute a sour suggestion: if mutants did exist, could they wind up, all too soon, neither as our saviors nor as a menace to mankind but simply as a source of entertainment? If you were a Marxist (and that would make you as rare, these days, as a blue guy with a tail), you might well claim, with a resigned shrug, that mutants would naturally, like everything else, be prey to commodification—that their otherness would become one more reality show, to be swallowed and churned in the capitalist gut. That is why Singer, the film’s director, does not return to this dangerous notion, briskly mooted in Berlin; if we see no more of the mob, that is because it might remind us of ourselves.

So, what is Bryan Singer left with? The answer, as with other comic-book sagas, is infighting. This year, we have already sat through Batman’s tiff with Superman, not to mention half of the Avengers trying to give the other half such a sound thrashing that their body armor pops off. Hence the two-toned sensation that arises from watching an X-Men story. So far-flung and so globe-girdling is the action that it comes across as an obvious and demonstrable epic; only afterward, as you decompress, do you realize that its sphere of moral operations is no grander than that of an extended family, and that its inwardness—the characters automatically turning in on themselves or upon one another—is so unrelenting that even Eugene O’Neill, gazing from the stalls, might need to loosen his necktie and pour himself a drink.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Who is Bryan Singer ?

 Bryan Jay Singer is a director, producer and 2x Saturn award winner for best director in the academy of science fiction, fantasy and horror films USA. His best known films include The Usual Suspects (1995), X-Men (2000) and Superman Returns (2006).

Singer was born in New York City, New York, USA on 17th September 1965 and is the adopted and only son of Norbert and Grace Singer. He was raised in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, and had set his career goal of becoming a director by age 16. In line with his purpose, he attended the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinema-Television. Here he made his first short film, The Lions Den (1988), which led to him receiving a $250,000 investment for his debut feature Public Access (1993). He directed and co-wrote the script that got him joint-winner of the Grand-Jury prize at Sundance Film Festival.

Singer went on to direct and produce The Usual Suspects (1995) which quickly became an international hit crime thriller, moving from the independent market to mainstream movie theatres within weeks. Shot on a $6 million budget, Singer received critical acclaim; a bafta nomination and winner of 6 international awards. He followed this with another low budget thriller, Act Pupil (1998) before taking on a more mainstream, higher budget film franchise, an adaptation of the Marvel comic book series X-Men. His first film X-Men (2000) was a box-office smash hit, grossing $295 million worldwide and winning Singer the Saturn award for best director. He returned to direct the sequel films; X2 (2003), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). He also co-wrote/ co-produced X-Men: First Class (2011). The franchise has won Singer a total of 4 awards and 5 nominations internationally.

Between the X-men sequels, Singer took his hand to adapting another comic book, directing his new vision for the superman story; Superman Returns (2006), winning him yet another Saturn award for best director. He has also directed the World War II historical thriller Valkyrie (2008), the fantasy adventure film Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) and his most recent venture, the Queen biographical film Bohemian Rhapsody (2018). Along with his film career, Singer is known for director and executive producer of his medical maverick TV drama series House (2004-2012) which ran for 8 seasons on Fox network, receiving 4 nominations at the Primetime Emmy awards.

Bryan Singer, now father, has a son with actress Michelle Clunie- Dashiell, born in 2015. He resides in Los Angeles, California, USA, and is currently working on a long awaited new project.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Bryan Singer

Bryan Singer was born on September 17, 1965 in New York City, New York, USA as Bryan Jay Singer. He is a producer and director, known for X-Men (2000), The Usual Suspects (1995) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).

Bryan Singer

After graduating from the University of Southern California, Singer directed his first short film, Lion's Den (1988). On the basis of that film, he received financing for his next film, Public Access (1993), which was a co-winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. In the mid-1990s, Singer received critical acclaim for directing the neo-noir crime thriller The Usual Suspects (1995), which starred Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, and Benicio del Toro.