Shame reviews

nightwingnova
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Re: Shame reviews

Postby nightwingnova » Fri Dec 02, 2011 6:16 pm

What a visceral and sizzling experience! Addicted sexual desire within a professional New Yorker fully bared. The camerawork is excellently revealing. The excellent direction is nuanced with subtle detail. The astute Michael Fassbender doesn’t hold back as the sex addict. Carey Mulligan is very strong as his sister. I can see why she came in 2nd behind Jessica Chastain as the NYFCC's best supporting actress.

Nevertheless, as A.O. Scott points out, Shame neither attempts to explore the origins of the addiction or the addiction’s substantial impacts on our hero’s life. Really great works should enlighten or inspire. Shame falls short of that.

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Re: Shame reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:39 pm

Saw this a couple weeks ago -- finally getting around to writing something. There's been a lot of controversy about the film's NC-17 rating, but it seems 100% appropriate to me. This is one of the more sexually explicit mainstream movies I've seen, and unlike, say, Blue Valentine (last year's controversial rating story), it's really hard to justify that the rating should be something else, it's so clearly Not For Kids.

It's also one of the more significant movies of the year, I think, an emotionally shattering, precisely directed, and splendidly acted film that anyone with a serious interest in the movies should put at the top of their must-see list.

Like Martha Marcy May Marlene, the story feels loose -- there isn't so much a barreling narrative as a series of memorable episodes -- but as with MMMM, the directorial control makes the entire picture absolutely riveting. Steve McQueen's long takes here are extraordinary, both in terms of haunting, mood-setting shots (like a terrific take of Michael Fassbender running through the city, which gives us a great sense of the alternately gritty and beautiful New York this film makes it backdrop), as well as dialogue sequences. Two in particular stood out to me -- Fassbender's date in the restaurant, and his fight in his apartment with Carey Mulligan; these scenes reminded me how compelling and powerful it can be for a director to choreograph actors within the frame, without shot/reverse shot cuts, so that we see the very specific, very telling ways these actors relate to one another.

And with Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, McQueen has given us two of the great performances of the year. Like many, I've found Fassbender an exciting talent these past few years we've known him, but I wasn't fully prepared for just how raw, naked (no pun intended), and disturbing his work in this film turned out to be. Fassbender can be a very charming actor, and I like the way the film uses that side of him here -- his desperate-for-sex addict is CAPABLE of making genuine human connections, but he isn't capable of marrying those heartfelt human feelings with his more lustful inclinations. The journey of Fassbender's character reminded me a lot of Cage's in Leaving Las Vegas -- although he may try, you can never ask him to stop satisfying his craving for his addiction.

Mulligan is also fantastic in a role that's about as far from her innocent An Education persona as she could get. Her rendition of "New York, New York" early in the film is one of the best scenes in any movie this year, and the actress's hesitant, quietly desperate performance in this scene (along with McQueen's framing and, once again, lack of editing) reveals everything you need to know about this girl and what she has been through. It's a riveting moment that absolutely gave me chills. And she just nails her big fight with Fassbender, with the perfect amount of anger, pain, and humor.

I suspect I'll have more to say once others have had a chance to see the film -- it's definitely one that people here will want to discuss. I know many have assumed the film will be too graphic/shocking for Oscar, and I think Best Picture is out of the cards, but I think Fassbender and Mulligan are just too good to be ignored in the acting categories. They both have such obviously meaty roles, in a film that, due to its sexual content, is guaranteed to have some buzz outside critics' circles this December. (Requiem for a Dream was a similarly difficult movie, and Ellen Burstyn ended up an all-but-certain nominee.) Plus, both Fassbender and Mulligan are absolutely the kind of actors that the Academy likes to recognize: new-ish names that Hollywood hopes the world will endorse in a big way, both of whom are having good years. And if the director's branch is feeling adventurous (which they don't seem to be as much anymore, but if they are), MAYBE McQueen could sneak into Best Director. The cinematography and the score will probably be the best the Academy overlooks in those categories. The writers could go either way, as it's definitely an edgier effort, but also not as much of a writer-centric one. But the actors' branch would really have to blackball this thing for those actors not to place.

Definitely recommended when it comes out next month.

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Re: Shame reviews

Postby dws1982 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:12 am

Fox Searchlight will be distributing it in the States, and will be releasing it before the end of the year. Surprised it went to such a big distributor--would've expected IFC or something like that to pick it up.

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Re: Shame reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:24 pm

And Michael Fassbender just won the Venice prize for Best Actor.
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Re: Shame reviews

Postby Sabin » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:03 pm

Great news.
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Re: Shame reviews

Postby Okri » Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:37 pm

Fox Searchlight got the rights. Looking for a fall release.

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Re: Shame reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:51 pm

Okri wrote:Does it have a distributor yet?

Nothing listed in either trade review. Hard to imagine it wouldn't be snapped up by someone, given these reviews. But then a question arises: is it opened before year-end, or held till next year because it's such a dubious Oscar prospect?

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Re: Shame reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:46 pm

Sabin wrote:Between this film and A Dangerous Method, Michael Fassbender seems in line to snag at least one Critics Award for Best Actor.

Likewise, Jessica Chastain this year alone was in The Debt, The Help, Take Shelter, and The Tree of Life...coming off of a slightly different 2010 where nobody knew she existed. I could see her doing incredibly well with the critics this year.


I'm wondering if the Dennis Hooper/Hoosiers precedent might apply for Fassbender -- getting an Oscar nomination for an also-well-reviewed but more mainstream effort in tacit tribute to the more out-there work. (Of, course, it's weird to look at a Cronenberg film as being the more mainstream alternative) In any event, the Fassbender emergence Okri and dws have long promoted appears to be finally here.

I IMDB'd Chastain, and she does seem to have gone from 0 to 10 faster than anyone I can remember -- plenty of TV but virtually no movie presence to mention, till this year, when she's in every third film released. For old timers, it brings back memories of Elliot Gould 1970, when people were joking they'd actually seen a movie he wasn't in.

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Re: Shame reviews

Postby Okri » Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:42 pm

Does it have a distributor yet?

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Re: Shame reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:40 pm

Trades in loud agreement. Hollywood Reporter.

Shame: Film Review
10:31 AM PDT 9/4/2011 by Todd McCarthy

The Bottom Line
Strong stuff on the sexual wild side from bold director Steve McQueen and the extraordinary Michael Fassbender.

Director Steve McQueen's second feature film will stir audiences and critics with Michael Fassbender's scorching portrayal of a sex addict.

Driven by a brilliant, ferocious performance by Michael Fassbender, Shame is a real walk on the wild side, a scorching look at a case of sexual addiction that’s as all-encompassing as a craving for drugs. Steve McQueen’s second feature, after his exceptional debut with Hunger in 2008, may ultimately prove too psychologically pat in confronting its subject’s problem, but its dramatic and stylistic prowess provides a cinematic jolt that is bracing to experience. This sexually raw film will stir considerable excitement among critics and serious audiences, making it an attractive proposition for an enterprising distributor in the wake of festival play in Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York.

His visual arts background evident in the bold widescreen framing and the way its protagonist’s world is defined, McQueen wastes no time defining what drives Brandon (Fassbender), a 30ish New Yorker whose life is stripped of any unnecessary accoutrements or distractions. With music employed to grandiose, sensual effect, he compulsively masturbates, eyes prey in the subway and stealthily manages to nail the sexy girl his madly gregarious boss David (James Badge Dale) had been fancying all evening at a group outing.

Handsome as the devil, immaculately groomed and outwardly polite, Brandon is also the picture of coldness, with hard eyes and a terrible anger inside that presumably can only be calmed and held at bay through constant sexual release. He’s a cousin of American Psycho, although no killer.

Returning to his sparely decorated, personality-devoid apartment late at night, he is dismayed to find a wreck of a young woman in his bathroom. At a glance unstable, neurotic, needy and silly, Sissy (Carey Mulligan) evidently wouldn’t be here if she had anywhere else to go and Brandon cannot disguise his annoyance with her disruption of his stripped down, carefully compartmentalized world.

But, as it develops, she’s his sister. They have nothing in common except what can only be an awful shared family history, which is left to the imagination. For Brandon, it is disturbing even to be reminded of this, let alone be forced to share in Sissy’s current distress. All the same, she pulls it together to perform in a local boite, and Mulligan’s heretofore unknown vocal abilities are revealed in a rendition of “New York, New York” that, protracted nearly to the breaking point, is nearly as excruciating as it is exquisite.

But Brandon flips out when he discovers Sissy with the married David, who upbraids his employee for the huge porn collection he’s found on his work computer. His carefully constructed world cracking surprisingly easily, Brandon goes through the motions of attempting a proper, polite date with an interesting woman, Marianne (Nicole Behaire), but Brandon can’t hack it, literally or figuratively. Instead, he descends into a sexual abyss that enters Gaspar Noe territory, including an amazingly filmed, erotically charged three-way.

Given the boldness of Shame in its aesthetic approach, blunt sexuality, graphic nudity and sometimes exalted musical overlays, it’s a bit of a letdown to sense that McQueen and his co-screenwriter Abi Morgan ultimately present Brandon as something of a case study in sexual aberration due to stunted emotional growth stemming from a troubled upbringing. For a film so otherwise out-there, such a formulation feels too redolent of traditional psychoanalytical explanations for what society perceives as wayward behavior. The writers surely have their reasons for going this route, but for Shame to have been as thematically forthright as are its style and lead character, it arguably would have needed to just let Brandon be what he is, take it or leave it.

Be that as it may, Fassbender is incredible, capping a year which has also done exceptional work in X-Men: First Class and, especially, A Dangerous Method, which is hitting the festival circuit simultaneously with “Shame.” It’s amazing that it has taken him this long to be fully recognized, as he’s got it all: Looks, authority, physicality, command of the screen, great vocal articulation, a certain chameleon quality and the ability to suggest a great deal within while maintaining outward composure, just for starters. Whether he becomes a real movie star is another matter but, when it comes to pure acting skill and potential, it’s possible that Daniel Day-Lewis now has a young challenger.

Exposing herself emotionally and physicly as she never has before, Mulligan is terrific in this unexpected role of a deeply wounded and troubled soul.

Cinematographer Sean Babbitt and production designer Judy Becker have combined with McQueen’s evocative, mostly nocturnal use of Manhattan locations to create a luxuriously appointed but impersonal, borderline rancid world in which the characters’ noxious traits can stew and fester. It’s all as jolting as a strong whiff of ammonia.

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Re: Shame reviews

Postby Sabin » Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:32 pm

Between this film and A Dangerous Method, Michael Fassbender seems in line to snag at least one Critics Award for Best Actor.

Likewise, Jessica Chastain this year alone was in The Debt, The Help, Take Shelter, and The Tree of Life...coming off of a slightly different 2010 where nobody knew she existed. I could see her doing incredibly well with the critics this year.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Shame reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:16 pm

Sounds like, to put it mildly, not an Oscar movie (unless it were to magically become 1973 again). But this could join Tree of Life on the hipper side of critics' voting.


Shame
Few filmmakers have plumbed the soul-churning depths of sexual addiction as fearlessly as British director Steve McQueen has in "Shame."
By Justin Chang
'Shame'

Few filmmakers have plumbed the soul-churning depths of sexual addiction as fearlessly as British director Steve McQueen has in "Shame." A mesmerizing companion piece to his 2008 debut, "Hunger," this more approachable but equally uncompromising drama likewise fixes its gaze on the uses and abuses of the human body, as Michael Fassbender again strips himself down, in every way an actor can, for McQueen's rigorous but humane interrogation. Confrontational subject matter and matter-of-fact explicitness will position the film at the higher end of the specialty market, but it's certain to arouse critical acclaim and smart-audience interest wherever it's shown.
There are many reasons to be grateful for "Shame," not least of which is its chastening vision of a man in thrall to a craving fed by the conveniences of 21st-century technology and an urban, independent lifestyle. Still, the viewer needn't have walked in the protagonist's particular shoes to identify with the feelings of isolation and all-consuming need so piercingly examined here. From an aesthetic standpoint, one can only marvel at how Turner Prize-winning video artist McQueen has transitioned from "Hunger's" austere study of enclosed environs to a more open, traditionally constructed narrative without abandoning the formal deliberation and moral concerns that have informed his work.

A beautifully composed, virtually wordless eight-minute sequence introduces Brandon (Fassbender), a handsome, successful Manhattanite in his 30s, getting ready for work and commuting from his midtown apartment to an office cubicle. But his routine is shot through with unease: From the first frame he looks haunted, almost half dead, and shots of him pleasuring himself in the shower and in the restroom at work, or making silent overtures to a pretty girl on the subway, provide queasy indications as to why.

More clues are dropped, with increasing bluntness. Brandon's work computer is temporarily confiscated due to a host of viruses. When he and his boss, Dave (a fast-talking James Badge Dale), go out for drinks and pick up women, Dave's excessive flirtation proves far less effective than Brandon's cool reserve. Apart from these outings and regular one-night stands, Brandon has little interaction with others, leading a benumbed existence that seems to suit him fine.

Until, that is, his long-unseen younger sister, rather literally named Sissy (Carey Mulligan), turns up unannounced at his apartment and settles in for an indefinite stay. A blowsy, talkative, compulsively needy type drifting from one singing gig to another, Sissy is her brother's polar opposite, and she proceeds to invade his carefully cultivated privacy in ways that range from the merely irritating to the downright irresponsible.

A director captivated by repetition and ritual, McQueen (who co-scripted with Abi Morgan) might well have withheld plot developments in favor of a spare, quotidian character study in the Chantal Akerman vein. But "Shame" pushes past mere observation. By bringing in Sissy and hinting at a past that clearly wounded the two siblings in different ways, the film breaks Brandon wide open, pushing him toward rock-bottom and forcing him to reckon with himself and others. It's as if McQueen, having presented a soul in extremis, were unwilling to leave him in that condition.

We're meant to understand that shame, which festers in solitude, can be a healing force when brought into the open. To that end, the film's third-act calamity won't convince everyone, but if it feels a bit studied as a climactic gesture, it in no way compromises the integrity of the characters and the difficult journey that lies ahead of them.

As self-starved IRA member Bobby Sands in "Hunger," Fassbender gave a performance so frighteningly physical it seemed almost as committed an act of martyrdom as his character's. He matches that achievement here and in some ways surpasses it, enacting a more figurative form of imprisonment and self-mortification. Completely unself-conscious about the full-frontal nudity and graphically simulated sex acts required of him, the actor peels back layers of lust and self-loathing to become a consummate vessel for the director's intentions. Even when he says nothing, which is most of the time, Fassbender transfixes.

Sporting a short, bleached-blond hairdo and often clad in vintage garments that clash with David Robinson's otherwise gray, toned-down costumes, Mulligan energizes the picture with a spirited, sassy turn that at one point also requires her to bare herself for the camera. Her character's musical solo midway through the film, filmed almost entirely in a single closeup, is one of many exquisite interludes that give this tough-minded picture a soul. So, too, does Nicole Beharie, wonderfully real and affecting as Brandon's co-worker Marianne, whose attempts to kindle a flame become the film's heartbreaking centerpiece.

Seeming to unfold in perpetual night, the New York-shot production treats the city not just as a seductive backdrop but as an incubator of Brandon's pathology, moving from sterile, glassy interiors to grungier environs as his descent quickens. Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt and editor Joe Walker, who both worked on "Hunger," retain their aesthetic of meaningfully framed long takes and tracking shots set to a controlled rhythm. But they allow the film to breathe more naturally in keeping with its less oppressive tenor, aided by composer Harry Escott's resonant, largely cello-based score.


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