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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:36 pm

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2011/09/telluride-2011-michael-fassbender-exposes-more-than-skin-in-shame.html

Telluride 2011: Michael Fassbender exposes more than skin in 'Shame'
September 4, 2011 | 5:15 pm

Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender in Shame
There’s no shortage of naked flesh in British director Steve McQueen’s “Shame” — the film is certain to receive the adults-only NC-17 rating — but it’s human emotions that are truly laid bare in the new drama about sexual compulsion.

“Shame,” which had its North American premiere at the Telluride Film Festival a few hours after showing for the first time at the Venice Film Festival, stars Michael Fassbender as Brandon, a thirtysomething New York man obsessed with impersonal gratification. McQueen, who co-wrote the film with playwright Abi Morgan, said in a taped introduction to the screening that Brandon “has difficulties with his sex life,” which is a bit like saying the Titanic had difficulties with an iceberg.
Brandon’s workplace computer and his Manhattan apartment are jammed with porn, and within the movie’s opening minutes Brandon (with a courageous performance by a full-frontal Fassbender) has slept with a prostitute and masturbated in the shower. And then things get really kinky.

For all of his obsessions, Brandon somehow gets by. But when his troubled sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), crashes in his apartment, Brandon’s shaky grip on functionality quickly loosens. Sissy is a remarkable singer (proving that Mulligan can do everything except split the atom), but she has plenty of her own problems and needs, exacerbating Brandon’s impulses.

The independently financed feature arrived in Venice and Telluride seeking a distributor, and specialized film companies who like to court controversy (paging Harvey Weinstein!) should be drawn to the film. McQueen’s intense first feature, 2008’s “Hunger” (which also starred Fassbender), was incredibly well reviewed but grossed just $154,000 in domestic theaters.

"Shame” is not quite as hard to watch as “Hunger” (although a handful of usually intrepid Telluride guests walked out), but it’s nonetheless raw. “I’ve got nowhere else to go,” Sissy says to Brandon at one point in the film. Unfortunately, Brandon does — down, into some of the darkest places you’ll see in a theater.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:38 pm

http://www.bangkokpost.com/blogs/index.php/2011/09/05/in-venice-lung-neaw-and-fassbender?blog=69

Monday, September 05, 2011
In Venice, Mr. Neaw and Mr. Fassbender

Posted by Kong Rithdee

Venice, Sept 4

Briefly here.

On another note: Venice can't get enough of Michael Fassbender. And in turn,
Michael Fassbender (or his characters) can't get enough sex. First the
actor plays Carl Jung in 'A Dangerous Method', a psychoanalyst who
upstages Freud in their theoretical rivalry by having dark sex with his
patient. And now Fassbender plays Brandon, a hyper-sexed New Yorker
whose uncontrollable libido (he would make Freud proud) gets him in an
existential crisis. Brandon just can't help it: he uses prostitutes, he
maturbates, he picks up girls, he consumes a formidable quantity of
porn, print and digital -- sometimes all of this in the same night.

The film is called 'Shame'. This is a new work by Brisith
artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen, whose sensational 2009 debut,
'Hunger', also starred Fassbender in the physically demanding lead as an
IRA prisoner on an epic hunger strike. In 'Shame', let's just say that
Fassbender is more solid than the whole movie, and the McQueen
enthusiasts may sulk when this follow-up doesn't quite match the
stylistic excitement of his first film.

Cary Mulligan plays Brandon's dysfunctional sister, and her part is the weakest in the story, which feels
underwritten in many ways. It's Fassbender, playing a soul tortured by
his own impulse, by the pain rather than pleasure of sex, who saves the
film.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:41 pm

http://www.movieline.com/2011/09/postcard-from-venice-fassbender-brings-glory-to-shame-pacino-reigns-in-wilde-salome.php

Festivals || by Stephanie Zacharek || 09 04 2011 1:00 PM
Postcard from Venice: Fassbender Brings Glory to Shame; Pacino Reigns in Wilde Salome

When Steve McQueen’s Hunger debuted at Cannes in 2008, Michael Fassbender — playing Irish hunger-strike activist Bobby Sands — was a revelation. Now he’s ubiquitous, potentially to the point of overexposure, appearing in comic-book blockbusters (X-Men: First Class) and tony literary adaptations (Jane Eyre) alike. Yet each performance, and each project, is so different from the last that it’s still a joy to watch him. He has one of the gifts that great actors need, the ability to be focused and unselfconscious at the same time. He knows when to surrender and when to call every muscle and brain cell to attention. I fear someday he’ll win an Oscar and risk losing it all.

But for now, at least, he’s safe from that; he still belongs more to the world of performance than to the self-aware world of stardom. McQueen’s Shame is one of two films here featuring Fassbender (the first was David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method) and while he’s terrific in both, Shame asks more of him, and he meets the story’s demands with grace, agility and a discipline that you might call steely, if it weren’t so supple.

Fassbender plays Brandon, a successful New York professional who suffers from sexual compulsive behavior. You might call him a sex addict if that term didn’t conjure visions of David Duchovny and Charlie Sheen acting out like spoiled schoolyard kids, and what Brandon suffers is more peculiar and more painful. He has assignations with hookers; he initiates potential encounters with luscious strangers he sees on the subway; at work, he leaves his desk for the men’s room, where he relieves his urges with joyless efficiency. His boss, David (James Badge Dale), is also something of a buddy — the two troll city bars together, looking to pick up women, though the prattling David strikes out more often than he scores, while Brandon barely needs to arch an eyebrow. Even as David tries to glom onto Brandon’s subterranean attractiveness, he also seems to be finding subtle ways to register his disgust with Brandon’s beyond-healthy sex drive: Early in the movie, Brandon finds that his computer has been whisked away temporarily by the company’s tech department. He knows — and we know — why.

When a small blond pixie of a woman shows up in Brandon’s apartment, you assume it’s one of his former conquests. It turns out to be his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), who’s landed in New York for a few gigs, and for whatever reason, Brandon is none too pleased to see her. She’s a jazz singer, and her performance of “New York, New York” in a club one evening — it’s mournful and expectant rather than jubilant, as far away from Frank Sinatra’s version as Times Square is from the moon — affects Brandon in a way that we can’t immediately comprehend, though it clearly opens a gate into the persistent, repetitive pain he’s feeling.

The bare story of Shame, when you lay it out, doesn’t seem like much. But the actors bring everything to it; their suffering is both magnetic and painful to watch, almost as if it were a variation — or an aberration — of basic sexual attraction. Mulligan, with her bleached-blond crop of hair, resembles one of the cool-customer chanteuses of the ’50s, like Helen Merrill but with a cherub’s face. She’s terrific here, and restrained in a way that suggests an actorly generosity unusual for someone so young: Her scenes with Fassbender don’t so much say “Look at me” as “Look at him.”

Although of course, it would be impossible not to. Fassbender is outrageously handsome in the conventional sense, but in this role, there’s also something guarded and reticent about his expressions. He resembles the young Christopher Plummer — his smile is gaunt and a little forced, like a death’s-head grin. There’s some sex in Shame, but there’s only one scene that qualifies as truly sexy (his partner here is Nicole Beharie, who must share the credit), and it’s so erotic, so frank without being explicit, that its culmination is devastating. I hesitate to give away anything more, but I wonder who will find this scene more upsetting, men or women? My heart sank when I saw where it was going, and I thought it was just me, but the woman next to me also gasped.

Shame is, like Hunger, beautifully made, and similarly, it’s about a man at war with his own body. And again Fassbender — here playing a character whose capacity for tenderness is in danger of being erased by his self-hatred — shows us something new in his face, whose basic features have by now become pretty familiar. He’s the kind of actor who leaves you thinking about what you’ve just seen and wondering what he’ll do next. His face is the opposite of overexposed: It’s an unwritten future.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:42 pm

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/shame-film-review-231114

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

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

Steve McQueen
Screenwriter

Steve McQueen, Abi Morgan
Cast

Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie
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.
our editor recommends

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.

PHOTOS: Venice Film Festival: 10 Movies to Know

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.

PHOTOS: The Scene at the Venice Film Festival

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.

PHOTOS: Telluride Film Festival: 12 Movies to Know

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.



Venue: Venice, Telluride film festivals

Production: See-Saw Prods.

Sales: HanWay Films

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie

Director: Steve McQueen

Screenwriters: Steve McQueen, Abi Morgan

Producers: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman

Executive producers: Tessa Ross, Tim Haslam, Peter Hampden

Director of photography: Sean Bobbitt

Production designer: Judy Becker

Costume designer: David C. Robinson

Editor:Joe Walker

99 minutes

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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:42 pm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/sep/04/steve-mcqueen-film-shame-venice

Steve McQueen's film Shame leads UK charge to win Golden Lion in Venice

John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights also in the running for the top prize

Mark Brown in Venice
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 4 September 2011 18.29 BST

Carey Mulligan in Shame
Carey Mulligan in Shame, the second film by the artist Steve McQueen.

The Brits arrived at the world's oldest film festival today/ and brought more graphic sex than you can shake a stick at in the shape of artist Steve McQueen's second movie Shame, starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan.

The film, McQueen's second after Hunger which dealt with Bobby Sands and the IRA hunger strikes, was enthusiastically received after its first screening in Venice. It leads something of a British charge as one of three UK movies in competition for the festival's top prize, the Golden Lion.

Tomorrow, Andrea Arnold brings her keenly awaited version of Wuthering Heights, while today, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch are in town for a new film version of John le Carré's classic spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, boosted by a statement from Le Carré himself heaping praise on the film by the Swedish director Tomas Alfredson.

Shame tells the story of Brandon, a single thirtysomething man in New York who is addicted to sex in any of its forms as long as it does not involve love or intimacy. His ordered lifestyle is thrown into a sort of chaos with the arrival of his needy sister, played by Mulligan.

McQueen said that after making Hunger, a film about a man with no freedom, he was interested in making a film about a man who had access to anything. "They are both films about politics and freedom," he said.

Neither of the lead actors was shy of getting their clothes off and the film, because of its subject, does contain a mighty lot of sex – whether sex with escorts, internet sex, threesome sex, solo sex in the office toilet, sex in a window of the Standard Hotel or backroom gay sex – much of it accompanied by Bach.

For Fassbender it comes just two days after he was in Venice for the David Cronenberg film A Dangerous Method in which he has sex with and spanks his patient, played by Keira Knightley.

Fassbender said the graphic sex scenes had been uncomfortable to film. He added: "The most important thing is to make sure that everybody involved is comfortable, as much as you can be, and then just kind of go for it so you don't have to do too many takes."

Mulligan is in Australia filming The Great Gatsby with Baz Luhrmann so it was left to McQueen to answer a question on her nudity. "She's an actress," he said. "Who cares? It's not a big deal. She's an artist."

McQueen's first film, Hunger, has not been released in Italy and the director said he understood it was because of the male nudity, so goodness knows what will happen to Shame.

McQueen said he loved his main character. "He's not a bad person. He's a person living now, with all the trappings of now. Of course it shapes you, taints you. As a character I think he's very familiar to all of us."

The film was written by McQueen and Abi Morgan, whose series The Hour recently finished on BBC1. They interviewed many men who have this kind of addiction, they said, and the word that kept coming up time and again was shame – hence the title.

The film contains some impressive acting and a memorable rendition of New York, New York from Mulligan. "For me it's a very sad song, very much blues," said McQueen. "It was an extraordinarily emotional day when we recorded that. It was amazing."

It is very much a British film, co-produced by Film Four with money from the defunct UK Film Council. Asked why it is set in New York with American characters, McQueen said it felt right as a 24-hour city of both "excess and access".

The film was enthusiastically applauded at its first screening on the Venice Lido.

For many, the remake of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy means just one thing: heresy, given the celebrated 1979 TV series starring Alec Guinness.

In a statement, Le Carré said he had felt much the same way. "The television series had needed seven episodes," he said. "And slice it how you will, television drama is still radio with pictures, whereas feature film these days barely talks at all."

But, he said: "My anxieties were misplaced. Alfredson has delivered a film that for me works superbly, and takes me back into byways of the novel and its characters that the series of 32 years ago didn't enter."

The writer was also full of praise for Oldman's George Smiley, who evokes the same "solitude, inwardness, pain and intelligence" that Guinness brought to the part, but Le Carré added: "If I were to meet the Smiley of Alec Guinness on a dark night, my instinct would be to go to his protection. If I met Oldman's, I think I just might make a run for it."

There is something of a buzz for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, whereas with Arnold's Wuthering Heights, no one knows quite what to expect. Arnold has made two acclaimed contemporary dramas, Red Road and Fish Tank, so there is a lot of interest in seeing her adapt Emily Brontë's classic novel.

If any of the three do win on Saturday they will be only the second British film in 20 years to win the Golden Lion, with Mike Leigh's Vera Drake taking the prize in 2004. Other films in contention are Todd Solondz's Dark Horse and Roman Polanski's middle-class angst drama Carnage.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:43 pm

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/world/breakingnews/2-time-director-steve-mcqueen-sets-sex-addict-film-in-new-york-for-its-excess-and-access-129211733.html

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
2-time director Steve McQueen sets sex-addict film in New York for its 'excess and access'

By: Colleen Barry, The Associated Press

Posted: 09/4/2011 9:42 AM | Comments: 1 (including replies) | Last Modified: 09/4/2011 10:10 AM

German actor Michael Fassbender, British screenwriter Abi Morgan and British director Steve McQueen pose at the photo call for the film Shame at the 68th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

VENICE, Italy - For British director Steve McQueen, there was no better place than Manhattan to film "Shame," his new film that portrays the life of a 30-something sex addict, played by Michael Fassbender in often graphic detail.

"Excess and access. New York is the place," McQueen said Sunday ahead of his second film's world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival.

Fassbender's Brandon has no trouble indulging his appetite, be it over the Internet, in his workplace toilet, nightclubs, city streets, or even the Standard Hotel, which has gained notoriety on its own as a showcase for exhibitionists due to its floor to ceiling street-facing windows.

"If you stay at the Standard Hotel, there is a little card that says, 'Please refrain from undressing at the window.' I think it is obviously a tempting proposition when you have a building and a beautiful platform like that, to use it any way you want," co-screenwriter Abi Morgan said.

Brandon manages even a nonphysical sexual encounter with a beautiful woman on the subway, with the pair transmitting their desire through intense stares.

Fassbender, who film credits include "X-Men: First Class," ''Inglorious Basterds" and the upcoming "Jane Eyre," acknowledged a certain discomfort at playing graphic sex scenes.

"Just have to jump into it," Fassbender said. "The most important thing, I suppose, is just make sure that everybody involved is comfortable, and just sort of go for it so you don't have to do too many takes."

This is the actor's second film with McQueen — after 2008's "Hunger," which won the new director's prize in Cannes — and his second film screening in competition at the 68th Venice Film Festival this year.

He walked the red carpet earlier in the festival for his role as psychoanalyst Dr. Carl Jung in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method," a random juxtaposition that raises the question: Might Jung have had a cure for Brandon?

"Maybe," Fassbender said after a press conference.

Carey Mulligan plays Brandon's eccentric and flighty sister, Sissy, whose arrival on a visit upends her brother's tightly organized life. The siblings, it is revealed, shared a troubled childhood — the details of which are never disclosed — that Brandon would just as soon leave behind but which Sissy is determined binds them even tighter.

Mulligan's Sissy performs a soulful version of "New York, New York," sung ever so slowly and deliberately, bringing her otherwise outwardly stoic brother Brandon to tears that he tries to conceal.

McQueen said he thinks the lyrics are actually very sad, and he wanted to try to reinvent the song best known for upbeat renditions popularized by Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli.

"I think Carrie obviously did a marvelous job, and of course Michael's reaction was tremendous. It was an extraordinarily emotional day when we recorded that," he said.

The slow, deliberate delivery of the song is repeated elsewhere in the film in slowly revealed scenes that take time to expose the characters' emotions.

McQueen, an award-winning video artist, has participated in the Venice Biennale before — in the contemporary art section. Two years ago, McQueen's work was the British entry in the art show across the lagoon from the Lido.

"As far as the art work or feature film work, I think there is no barrier between the two," McQueen said. "It's the same process, but just as one might be long, narrative and such, the other is less so. It's work. That's all."

The film festival's grand prize, the Golden Lion, will be awarded Sept. 10.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:46 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/04/shame-film-steve-mcqueen_n_948479.html

'Shame' Reviews: Steve McQueen's Sex-Addict Film Is 'The Best Kind Of Adult Movie'

The Huffington Post Gazelle Emami First Posted: 9/4/11 12:45 PM ET Updated: 9/4/11 06:00 PM ET

If two critically lauded films make a director "rising," then rising director Steve McQueen premiered his second film, "Shame," at Venice, starring Hollywood's favorite new character actor, Michael Fassbender. McQueen, a contemporary artist who only recently began trying his hand at feature films, first gained attention with "Hunger," a film about the 1981 Irish hunger strike that also features Fassbender (and which you can stream on Netflix Instant).

McQueen moves from one primal desire to another in "Shame," which follows the life of a man who is addicted to sex and has it at least once a day in creative locations across Manhattan. His routine is upset when his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), comes for a visit.

Fassbender is also in Venice for the premiere of "A Dangerous Method," in which he plays a sexually conflicted Carl Jung. He expressed some discomfort at playing the graphic scenes in "Shame":

"Just have to jump into it," Fassbender said. "The most important thing, I suppose, is just make sure that everybody involved is comfortable, and just sort of go for it so you don't have to do too many takes."

It seems to have paid off, though, as the critics agree it's all very much in the service of art. Read on for more opinions from Venice:

Xan Brooks for the Guardian: "Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan give dynamite performances in Shame, a terrific second feature from the British artist Steve McQueen... This is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema; the best kind of adult movie." Grade: 4 out of 5 stars

Dave Calhoun for Time Out London: "Like 'Hunger', 'Shame' is interested in the stark immediacy of one man's world and drawing us into that world without judgement or easy explanations... You imagine McQueen feels there's a lot of many - or all - of us in Brandon, even if his troubles feel quite uniquely tragic in the moment." Grade: 4 out of 5 stars

Guy Lodge for In Contention: "It's no slight on the actors, and only a measure of the hand guiding them, that McQueen remains the star here. Like the finest filmmakers from a fine-arts background, he has a consistently rewarding understanding of the narrative powers of composition: abetted by heaving, tricky sound design and Harry Escott's counter-intuitively soaring score, 'Shame' conjures image upon image of such astonishing beauty that they'd risk stalling the film if not for the spare depth of feeling grounding the whole." Grade: 3 1/2 stars out of 4

Oliver Lyttelton for Playlist: "McQueen, like almost no other filmmaker, is confident enough to frame up and let the actors work, and it's the source of most of the film's most memorable moments... Not a single composition or camera movement is wasted, and if anything, it feels like McQueen is even more in command of his craft than he was before, if such a thing is possible... the film is a powerful, beautifully acted sophomore film, and more than ever, we'll be watching what McQueen does next like a hawk." Grade: A-

Overall Grade: A-

"Shame" does not currently have a U.S. release date.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:46 pm

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ga10gpj-1NUEY4koZJPZuykOyaHw?docId=CNG.62f0d0e2a4d19042c8686a2fcf1f2040.41

Sex obsession in Venice with McQueen's 'Shame'

By Ella Ide (AFP) – 11 hours ago

VENICE, Italy — Loneliness, frustration and an obsession with sex lie at the heart of British director Steve McQueen's powerful new film, "Shame," screening in competition for the Golden Lion award in Venice.

Set in New York, the film is a bleak exploration of a dependence on fleeting sexual encounters and an illusory rapport with the Internet in searching for intimacy in an increasingly dysfunctional and alienated modern society.

German-born Irish actor Michael Fassbender plays Brandon, a young executive trapped in a routine of masturbation to Internet porn, one-off sexual encounters and liaisons with whores as he tries to escape a static present.

"I love Brandon, he's not so different from most of us. He's living with all the trappings of the modern world. He's unfamiliar but extraordinarily recognisable," McQueen told journalists ahead of the film's world premiere Sunday.

"This is a man who has access to everything, but his freedom imprisons him."

The film opens with a groundhog day sequence, in which a blue-tinged lens captures Brandon's empty ritual, from nightly prostitutes to masturbation in the shower the morning after -- all to an incessant ticking on the soundtrack.

When his younger sister Sissy -- played by British actress Carey Mulligan -- comes to stay uninvited, her presence heightens Brandon's frustration and he goes on a hedonistic search of ever greater sexual pleasures on the streets.

The tumultuous climax sees him immerse himself in a violent threesome, with graphic close-ups set to highly charged classical music which crescendoes as Brandon ruts, his anguished expression breaking into a soundless cry.

"This film is about politics, our relationships with sex and the Internet. It's about how our lives have been changed by the Internet, how were are losing interactions," Mcqueen said, adding: "We've been tainted, it's unavoidable."

Writer Abi Morgan said she and McQueen had chosen to set the film in New York because of the city's "bleakness and excitement."

"In terms of contemporary cities, it has both the excess and access we were looking for," added McQueen, who made his name as a director with the award-winning "Hunger" in 2008, set in Ireland.

If anything, "Shame" emphasises Brandon's intimacy with the city, following him on journeys on the metro, as he roams dark alleyways and abandoned spaces and in one long continuous shot where he runs through the streets at night.

The title came from McQueen and Morgan's discussions with sex addicts in researching the film, they said.

"Shame: the word kept popping up, it was the one unifying emotion."

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved. More »
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:56 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/archives/2011/09/04/steve_mcqueens_shame_new_film_stills_with_nicole_beharie_and_first_reviews_/

Steve McQueen’s “Shame”: New Film Stills with Nicole Beharie + First Reviews From Venice Film Fest!

A trailer has not yet been released, but here are some new stills of Steve McQueen‘s Shame (courtesy of cinezapping.com) with Nicole Beharie, who plays Marianne, the love interest of sex-addict Brandon, played by Michael Fassbender. The film also stars Carey Mulligan in the role of Sissy, Brandon’s mentally unstable sister that pays him a visit, further driving Brandon into his unhealthy sexual compulsions.

The film was received with a long applause upon its screening at Venice Film Festival this morning, according to this Italian Yahoo site. Timeout.com gives the film 4/5 stars:
“After ‘Hunger’, McQueen has immersed himself in a wholly different world and made a film that is similarly distinctive and exploratory and grasps you from beginning to end. He has also succeeded in making a film about an extreme character that doesn’t feel so divorced from everyday sexual desire and behaviour. You imagine McQueen feels there’s a lot of many – or all – of us in Brandon, even if his troubles feel quite uniquely tragic in the moment.”

Timeout.com also says this of Nicole Beharie’s character:
“The other telling foil for Brandon is a work colleague, Marianne (Nicole Beharie, a warm, tender presence), with whom he goes out on a dinner date. Brandon soon explains his bafflement at marriage and any sort of coupling and their relationship stalls when they reach the bed. Before then, the pair share a strong, comic and easy scene in a restaurant as they negotiate dinner while an over-attentive waiter buzzes around them.”

The Guardian.co.uk also gives the film 4/5 stars:
“Shame feels less formal, less rooted in the language of the art installation than McQueen’s previous film, Hunger, and is all the more satisfying for that. This is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema; the best kind of adult movie.”

Whatculture.com says:
Brandon is a man that struggles, he is a good man with a problem, even though he doesn’t think it is an issue. Steve McQueen is also an accomplished visual artist and that it is clear by watching Shame; he knows where to place the camera for the best result. Overall the film is a very good drama, with good acting and good storytelling, but sometimes it all becomes too much and we would want to watch somebody else’s life for a while, before going back to Brandon’s path through himself as he tries to change the direction in which his life is going.

The Playlist had some reservations about the script, but here’s what they had to say about the film overall:
“The film is a powerful, beautifully acted sophomore film, and more than ever, we’ll be watching what McQueen does next like a hawk. [A-]”
Of Beharie’s performance:
”..relative newcomer Nicole Beharie is a real find, painting a vivid, warm picture with only a few scenes, and should go on to bigger and better things from here on out.”

There’s already some Oscar buzz surrounding the performances of Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan.

Very exciting! I hope the film acquires distribution after making its rounds at the festivals this month. I have a good feeling it will, and perhaps even be released late this fall, hopefully.

Shame will also be featured this month at the Telluride, Toronto and New York Film Festivals. Tambay will attend the screening at the New York Film Festival in early October and will post his review after.

Vanessa Martinez posted to Film Festival, Pics, Review at 8:30 am on September 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (27)
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:56 pm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/sep/04/shame-review-steve-mcqueen-venice

Shame – review

Steve McQueen's second feature of sex-addiction, self-harm and cheap thrills in New York is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema
4 out of 5

Xan Brooks in Venice
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 4 September 2011 13.00 BST

Michael Fassbender in Steve McQueen's film Shame

Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan give dynamite performances in Shame, a terrific second feature from the British artist Steve McQueen. Fassbender is Brandon, a sex-addicted corporate drone, directing a radioactive stare at random women across the aisle on the New York subway. Mulligan plays Sissy, his sister, who sings for her supper, self-harms for kicks and is surely pointed towards disaster. "We're not bad people," Sissy assures her sibling. "We just come from a bad place."

Shame
Production year: 2011
Country: USA
Directors: Steve McQueen
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Michael Fassbender
More on this film

Specifically this place is Manhattan, which McQueen depicts as a hell of sterile offices, anonymous apartments and desperate pick-up joints, though it may conceivably refer to the world at large. Outwardly charming and confident, Brandon is soon exposed as a casualty of a bull-market culture where sex has been traded so heavily, so easily and in so many exotic flavours that the consumer has gorged himself sick. Brandon, for instance, appears to score about once a day but it's not nearly enough because he's immediately off to masturbate in the shower. He has a vast porn stash concealed behind his blank cupboard doors and still more buried on the hard-drive at work. "Anals, double-anals," explains his bemused boss Dave (James Badge Dale), who has been charged with overseeing the investigation. "Cream pies … I don't even know what that is, exactly."

Not that Dave is any kind of angel himself. Brandon's boss cheerfully neglects his own family in order to hit on passing women and then promptly beds down with Sissy, who has recently landed at her brother's apartment. Disgusted – and perhaps even excited – by the noise coming through the wall, Brandon escapes for a jog through the nocturnal streets. McQueen traces his huffing, puffing odyssey with one of the most mesmerising extended tracking shots since Touch of Evil.

Shame feels less formal, less rooted in the language of the art installation than McQueen's previous film, Hunger, and is all the more satisfying for that. This is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema; the best kind of adult movie. There are glimmers of American Gigolo to its pristine sheen and echoes of Midnight Cowboy to the scratchy, mutual dependence of the damaged duo at the core. For her big showstopper at a downtown nightclub, Sissy takes the stage to croon her way through a haunting, little-girl-lost rendition of New York, New York, slowing the pace and milking the pathos. Brandon sits at the back, his jaw locked, his eyes welling. In the song's melting, dying fall, he catches a glimpse of the lie behind the tinsel and smells the inevitable death of all her dreams, and maybe his dreams as well.


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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:57 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/archives/2011/09/04/venice_11_review_shame_fascinating_follow_up_hunger_tour_force_fassbender/

Venice ‘11 Review: ‘Shame’ A Fascinating Follow-Up To ‘Hunger,’ With A Tour-De-Force From Fassbender

As English-language directorial debuts in the last few years go, Steve McQueen‘s “Hunger” ranks up there as one of the most uncompromising. An award-winning, sometimes controversial British artist, McQueen chose to move into feature film by examining the life of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, managing not to flinch from any of the grim details, using takes of up to 20 minutes in length, and showcasing a tour-de-force performance from the now firmly-planted-on-the-A-list Michael Fassbender. It picked up an enormous amount of critical support, including the Camera D’Or at Cannes in 2008, and signified both director and star as major talents to watch.

While McQueen initially flirted with a Fela Kuti biopic that was to have starred the great Chiwetel Ejiofor (which we sincerely hope will get made at some point, but the two are set to work together soon on the Brad Pitt-produced “Twelve Years a Slave”), his sophomore film instead reunites him with Fassbender for “Shame,” a New York-set portrait of sexual addiction. Another of the brightest-shining breakouts of the last few years, Carey Mulligan, joins them, for a script by British writer Abi Morgan, who’s also behind this winter’s “The Iron Lady.” Fassbender plays Brendan, a thirtysomething working in Manhattan in some unspecified financial position. He’s also a compulsively sexual creature; using hookers, picking up women from bars, masturbating in bathrooms, and continually surfing porn both at work and at home. But his lifestyle’s turned upside down when his troubled, estranged sister Sissy (Mulligan), an aspiring singer, asks to crash at his apartment for a few days.


The film’s an interesting companion piece to Fassbender’s other Venice entry, “A Dangerous Method,” both being firmly grown-up looks into sexual lives and the causes behind them. Although to call “Shame” an investigation would be a stretch; McQueen only hints lightly at the back story that Fassbender and Mulligan share, one that continues to haunt them—and it may frustrate some audience members. If you’re paying attention, it’s all in there, however—a strange flirtatious quality to the relationship, unusual comfort with each others’ bodies, for siblings—and the film is all the better for resisting any temptation to push it to the forefront.

Fassbender couldn’t be any more different here than in his performance in the Cronenberg film. He’s in virtually every frame, and it’s firmly his film, the steely blue tinge given to New York by DoP Sean Bobbitt (once more doing excellent work) seemingly picked to match and complement the Irish-German actor’s eyes. While he was all stiff repression as Carl Jung, here he’s all id, constantly pursuing some itch that he can never quite scratch. Going by the idea of orgasm as ‘la petite mort,’ a brief taste of nothingness, that seems to be part of the root of Brendan’s promiscuity—when he comes, the pain stops, if only for a second. Fassbender plays him as a man for whom sex has no positive connotations (watch his eyes light up, almost in relief, when he hears someone say, not referring to him, “I find you disgusting”); when he does connect with co-worker Marianne (Nicole Beharie), he can’t see it through, unable to link the idea of someone he genuinely likes to what he sees as the violence of sex, and the tension, the division is clear from Fassbender’s performance. But crucially, he’s deeply sad and deeply human, never shutting the audience out, which prevents the film from being as chilly as it could have been.

Anyone expecting wall-to-wall titillation is likely to be disappointed, as the previous paragraph might suggest: there’s plentiful nudity (we half-joked on Twitter earlier about now being able to draw Fassbender’s pubic hair from memory), but McQueen mostly shies away from showing the act itself, and when it does appear on-screen, it’s at a distance, or in abstracted close-ups. Even so, almost every scene revolves around it in some degree: it’s telling that when Brendan rids himself of his porn collection, he starts to clean out his apartment entirely, disposing of his laptop, and even the contents of his fridge, at the same time.

Mulligan, who’s superb, giving a performance on the level of her previously acclaimed work, is equally damaged: desperately needy and dying for her brother to connect with her, seemingly unaware that the very sight of her has sent him into a tailspin. If that makes it sound as if the performance is a grim one, it’s anything but; the “An Education” star is as loose and lively as she’s ever been, aided by a Holly Golightly-esque wardrobe. Plus, the girl can really sing, her downtempo performance of “New York New York,” which moves her brother to tears, being one of the film’s highlights. That moment in particular shows how inextricably the two are linked, and they’re wonderful together, portraying a deeply complex sibling relationship that might be the only thing they have to cling to; as Sissy says near the close: “We’re not bad people. We just come from a bad place.”

The supporting cast—at least those not made of the unfeasibly attractive, near wordless women that Fassbender chases—are pretty flawless. “Rubicon” star James Badge Dale shows new depths as Brendan’s puppyishly creepy boss, bringing to mind a young Liev Schreiber, while relative newcomer Nicole Beharie is a real find, painting a vivid, warm picture with only a few scenes, and should go on to bigger and better things from here on out. Special mention, too, should be made of Lucy Walters, who bookends the film as ‘Pretty Subway Girl.’ It’s a wordless performance, but the newcomer turns on a sixpence from near-sexual ecstasy to deep remorse after being eye-f&%$#& by Fassbender in transit.

That scene’s a good example of the absolute control and discipline shown by McQueen throughout, something that will come as no surprise to fans of “Hunger.” There’s no 20-minute super take, but McQueen, like almost no other filmmaker, is confident enough to frame up and let the actors work, and it’s the source of most of the film’s most memorable moments; the dinner date between Brendan and Marianne, Mulligan’s performance, a midnight jog through the streets. Not a single composition or camera movement is wasted, and if anything, it feels like McQueen is even more in command of his craft than he was before, if such a thing is possible. The music throughout is perfectly picked, both the cuts—most notably a selection of Bach compositions played by Glenn Gould—and the original music, a looming, brassy theme by rising star Harry Escott (”Shifty,” “The Arbor”).

We do however, have some reservations, which stop us from feeling that the film is the equal of McQueen’s debut. The script is mostly strong, but the climactic final reel events, while well-executed, feel like they’ve come from a cheaper piece of work. Furthermore, we were surprised at how conventionally moralistic the wrap-up felt. The final scene just about stays the right side of ambiguity, but we have to confess that we were troubled by an earlier moment, in which the peak of Brendan’s excesses takes place in a red-tinged, Bacchanalian gay club, a scene which strikes something of a sour note (unless McQueen means to suggest something larger about Brendan’s sexuality, but there’s no evidence elsewhere in the film for that). This aside, however, the film is a powerful, beautifully acted sophomore film, and more than ever, we’ll be watching what McQueen does next like a hawk. [A-]

Oliver Lyttelton posted at 7:57 am on September 4, 2011
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:58 pm

http://whatculture.com/film/venice-2011-review-steve-mcqueens-shame.php

Venice 2011 Review: Steve McQueen’s SHAME

September 4, 2011 10:51 am
Andrea Pasquettin

Rating: ★★★★☆

No, Steve McQueen has not come back from the dead to direct this film but it just so happens to be that this immensely talented British director has the same name as the former movie star legend. But with each new feature this London born director is starting to make the name his own.

After winning the 61st Cannes film festival for ‘Best Directorial Debut’ with the extraordinary Hunger, McQueen presents in Venice his second feature Shame, a journey into one man’s perversions and sickness. We follow Brandon, a fairly successful man but who is suffering as a sex addict; nothing is never enough for him and he constantly has this craving to sleep with a woman, either with a prostitute or one night stands with girls he meets in a bar. Even with that he needs to masturbate a few times a day. Michael Fassbender, who was McQueen’s lead in Hunger, incarnates the compulsions, the desires but also the issues of this addiction that turns Brandon into a lonely man. The arrival of his sister, played with real resonance by Carey Mulligan, turns his world upside down, but his addiction grows stronger.

McQueen graphically doesn’t spare any detail of the sexual encounters that Brandon has and the human body, both male and female, is shown in all his natural aspect. Though the film never falls into porn or bad taste, at the same time nothing is withheld from the audience’s eye and the festival crowd get their usual splice of nudity that seems to run throughout these artistic endeavors (usually every other film in Cannes has nudity somewhere). It’s almost presented as a documentary, there’s no hollywood trick that hides nudity. It’s a real drama. We can’t help but feel powerless as members of society while Brandon falls into his spiral of self destruction and not even his sister can help him.

McQueen uses long scenes, very methodically slow paced actions that let the audience observe, absorb and think about what is being shown on the screen. There is no escape, we have to face what is happening, we have to deal with it. He uses music in a intelligent way, leaving many scenes with no dialogue but simple music to sustain the emotion of the moment, even though sometimes it looks like he is trying to force it too much into the film. Sometimes silence is gold.

Brandon is a man that struggles, he is a good man with a problem, even though he doesn’t think it is an issue. Steve McQueen is also an accomplished visual artist and that it is clear by watching Shame; he knows where to place the camera for the best result. Overall the film is a very good drama, with good acting and good storytelling, but sometimes it all becomes too much and we would want to watch somebody else’s life for a while, before going back to Brandon’s path through himself as he tries to change the direction in which his life is going. Is shame enough to change one’s path? Maybe he needs something more.

Shame has a U.K. release set for January.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:59 pm

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/europe/news/article_1660802.php/Broken-sibling-bonds-and-sexual-solitude-in-Shame-at-Venice-film-fest

Broken sibling bonds and sexual solitude in Shame at Venice film fest

Sep 4, 2011, 9:16 GMT

Venice, Italy - British director Steve McQueen's Shame, which screened Sunday at the Venice Film Festival, examines the fractured relationship between a brother and sister living in New York.

The film stars Michael Fassbender as the 30-something brother Brandon, whose routine existence of one-night stands and an obsession for internet pornography is disrupted when his sister, Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan comes to stay with him.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:22 pm

http://www.emangnyeguepikirin.info/shame-film-review/.html

Steve McQueen’s “Shame”: New Film Stills with Nicole Beharie + First Reviews From Venice Film Fest!

Check it Out!

A trailer has not yet been released, but here are some new stills of Steve McQueen‘s Shame (courtesy of cinezapping.com) with Nicole Beharie, who plays Marianne, the love interest of sex-addict Brandon, played by Michael Fassbender. the film also stars Carey Mulligan in the role of Sissy, Brandon’s mentally unstable sister that pays him a visit, further driving Brandon into his unhealthy sexual compulsions.

The film was received with a long applause upon its screening at Venice Film Festival this morning, according to this Italian Yahoo site. Timeout.com gives the film 4/5 stars:“After ‘Hunger’, McQueen has immersed himself in a wholly different world and made a film that is similarly distinctive and exploratory and grasps you from beginning to end. he has also succeeded in making a film about an extreme character that doesn’t feel so divorced from everyday sexual desire and behaviour. You imagine McQueen feels there’s a lot of many – or all – of us in Brandon, even if his troubles feel quite uniquely tragic in the moment.”

Timeout.com also says this of Nicole Beharie’s character:“the other telling foil for Brandon is a work colleague, Marianne (Nicole Beharie, a warm, tender presence), with whom he goes out on a dinner date. Brandon soon explains his bafflement at marriage and any sort of coupling and their relationship stalls when they reach the bed. Before then, the pair share a strong, comic and easy scene in a restaurant as they negotiate dinner while an over-attentive waiter buzzes around them.”

The Guardian.co.uk also gives the film 4/5 stars:“Shame feels less formal, less rooted in the language of the art installation than McQueen’s previous film, Hunger, and is all the more satisfying for that. this is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema; the best kind of adult movie.”

Whatculture.com says:Brandon is a man that struggles, he is a good man with a problem, even though he doesn’t think it is an issue. Steve McQueen is also an accomplished visual artist and that it is clear by watching Shame; he knows where to place the camera for the best result. overall the film is a very good drama, with good acting and good storytelling, but sometimes it all becomes too much and we would want to watch somebody else’s life for a while, before going back to Brandon’s path through himself as he tries to change the direction in which his life is going.

The Playlist had some reservations about the script, but here’s what they had to say about the film overall:“the film is a powerful, beautifully acted sophomore film, and more than ever, we’ll be watching what McQueen does next like a hawk. [A-]”Of Beharie’s performance:”..relative newcomer Nicole Beharie is a real find, painting a vivid, warm picture with only a few scenes, and should go on to bigger and better things from here on out.”

There’s already some Oscar buzz surrounding the performances of Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan.

Very exciting! I hope the film acquires distribution after making its rounds at the festivals this month. I have a good feeling it will, and perhaps even be released late this fall, hopefully.

Shame will also be featured this month at the Telluride, Toronto and New York Film Festivals. Tambay will attend the screening at the New York Film Festival in early October and will post his review after.

I know Fassbender intimately, and I’m so happy for his success! I’m excited to see this @ NYFF as McQueen is one of my favorite directors, and I look forward to seeing the script for 12 Years a Slave…I have a feeling it will be his masterpiece! Interesting how this is better received than the Help, considering there really isn’t a black lead (Beharie’s few lines don’t count)

great to hear. i absolutely loved Hunger and its nice to see Fassbender re-unite with McQueen. sex in film is a tricky topic and it’ll be interesting to see how they address it

Can’t WAIT to see this. Wow – Nicole’s name is really getting out there.

And I agree with Nikyatu, there’s something about Fassbender – an intensity that you don’t see in many of the bland leading men of today. happiest for Steve Mcqueen – he deserves this.

Can’t wait to see this movie. as well as Michael and Nicole’s chemistry because I know its going to be great!!

I loved the script, so reading these positive reviews makes me feel good. McQueen is becoming a force to be reckoned with, and he’s aided by some great actors.

Oh I can’t wait to attend the screening @ TIFF!

Nikyatu, you read the script already! I am so jealous I have been looking all over for it.

I’m looking forward to the screening in NY as well. Fassbender’s character sounds complex and intrigued to see how how his interaction w/Nicole’s char plays out.

Yes. Yes. Yes. I thought the script was sparse but smart and Fassbender is mesmerizing to watch. Really looking forward to this one. Thank god for McQueen.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:26 pm

http://www.halamovie.com/review-8220shame8221-12/

Reviews|2011/09/04 13:53
REVIEW “Shame” (***1/2)

If “Hunger,” artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen’s remarkable debut feature, was a study of a body strenuously denied its fundamental needs, his satisfyingly rigorous, explicit follow-up, “Shame,” traces the very different damage done by a body over-gifted with wants.

A sternly formalist parable on the pruning and stunting of relationships both familial and carnal in modern-day urban society, “Shame” is only for the purposes of swift summary a story of sex addiction — specifically that endured by Brandon, Michael Fassbender’s dourly handsome New York advertising hotshot. Sex, and the pursuit thereof, is what needles Brandon first and foremost, but it doesn’t take Freud (or indeed Fassbender’s own Jung from “A Dangerous Method”) to tell that it’s a displaced urge in a life whose most crippling vacancies take longer to fill than a Friday night f&#!.

“Hunger” was a film that dismantled known history and re-presented it in highly sensual, imagistic terms. The new film might be a foray into fiction for its director — working from an original screenplay by British playwright and television scribe Abi Morgan — but it performs a similar trick with psychology so embedded in the popular consciousness it would appear to offer little room for surprise.

Morgan’s views on the human condition, and on single professional self-alienation, aren’t especially revelatory (its portrait of Brandon is a more solemn essay on male ennui issues that fill monthly copies of GQ magazine), but McQueen’s depiction of his narrow, clammy routine is rendered in such crisp, arresting visual and sonic strokes that his plight becomes that much more distinct. This is lifestyle cinema in the most literal, and least romantic, sense of the term.

ca0ec shame1 e1315140056888 REVIEW “Shame” (***1/2)
If it seems surprising that Brits McQueen and Morgan, not to mention their Irish and British leads, have converged on the United States for a story of fairly universal resonance, it makes perfect sense when the film’s vision of New York City comes into clean, cold focus: famously a city of everything at once, McQueen and brilliant “Hunger” DP Sean Bobbitt shoot it as a kind of continuous, gunmetal-colored waiting room, at once over-populated with distractions and under-populated with options.

Theirs is a city where people size each other up in subway carriages and do the nasty in plate-glass windows: Brandon’s addiction isn’t just fed, it’s positively forced. In an exquisitely held scene where Carey Mulligan, as Brandon’s feckless younger sister Sissy, sings a slowed-down, jazz-lite rendition of Kander and Ebb’s “New York, New York,” her interpretation tempers the original’s elated defiance into something rather more ominous, an expression of desire to “make it there” from someone who nonetheless knows the city is far more likely to swallow her whole.

It is Sissy’s unannounced arrival that takes Brandon’s conventional crisis of depravity into blurrier, more dramatically involving territory: played by Mulligan with a blend of her expected baby-woman fragility and a harder, drawling insouciance that’s excitingly new from the actress, Sissy colonizes Brandon’s white-cube bachelor pad and calls him out on his indulgences, though her life is less gathered than his: her arms marked with a lithograph of self-harm scars, drifting between boyfriends with only some proudly vintage clothes to call her own, she demands Brandon’s care with a fervor that professes the need to preserve family ties and fabricate balance — what has happened their parents is never explained, but it’s clear they’re vulnerably alone in their bloodline — but occasionally threatens to subvert them. When she climbs into her brother’s bed, the fury with which he ejects her hints at realms of desire he either fears or has already broached.

This is messy emotional terrain, and I wish Morgan’s intelligent script were less eager to tidy it up with neat, if cutting, symbolism and a redemptive moral arc that’s plotted a mite too smoothly: it’s left to McQueen’s inventively disciplined direction and the superb actors to chip a few crevices into the material. Clearly, following their joint breakthrough partnership on “Hunger,” Fassbender and McQueen are familiar with the levels of each other’s control: the actor is tightly, precisely coiled here as he was in the Bobby Sands biopic, and as dependent on his (amply and immodestly viewed) physical form for tension and expression. If the recent likes of “Jane Eyre” and “X-Men: First Class” warmed Hollywood up to the idea of Fassbender as a regular-world lead, this performance should give them pause — and that’s meant encouragingly.)

0c8a4 shame2 e1315140223859 REVIEW “Shame” (***1/2)
Mulligan, meanwhile, isn’t just more limber and engagingly crumpled than she’s yet been on screen, but is offered her most generous rapport yet with a co-star: the tetchily, even desperately, adoring sibling relationship between them is so authentic as to etch in a lot of subtext the script needn’t provide.

“That’s all you ever say, that you’re sorry,” Brandon scolds Sissy in one of their many arguments. “At least I say I’m sorry,” she shoots back, her voice giving us all the history of forgiven liberties we need. (Fassbender finds another equal sparring partner in the excellent Nicole Beharie, radiating smart warmth as the co-worker whose emotional security undoes his sexual confidence.)

It’s no slight on the actors, and only a measure of the hand guiding them, that McQueen remains the star here. Like the finest filmmakers from a fine-arts background, he has a consistently rewarding understanding of the narrative powers of composition: abetted by heaving, tricky sound design and Harry Escott’s counter-intuitively soaring score (with an assist from some well-chosen Glenn Gould recordings), “Shame” conjures image upon image of such astonishing beauty that they’d risk stalling the film if not for the spare depth of feeling grounding the whole. The first of these opens the film, with Fassbender sprawled across his bed, his body as unhappily taut and angular as a Francis Bacon subject. He takes up the top half of the screen, a sea of creased cornflower-blue bedsheet filling the remainder: for its dense chain of trysts and dependencies, “Shame” is most powerfully a film of absence.

[Images: Momentum Pictures]
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:27 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/2011/09/04/venice_film_fest_review_steve_mcqueens_shame_is_graphic_transgressive/

Venice Film Fest Review: Steve McQueen’s Shame is Graphic, Transgressive, Full Frontal
Thompson on Hollywood
David Gritten reviews Steve McQueen’s Shame from Venice; the film also screens at Telluride Sunday en route to Toronto, where it seeks a brave distributor willing to take on its NC-17 content.

There’s been plenty of talk on this site recently about edgy, transgressive new films. Well, you can certainly add British director Steve McQueen’s Shame to the list.

Screening in competition in Venice today, Shame goes even further out on a limb than McQueen’s feature debut Hunger, about the Irish revolutionary martyr Bobby Sands, who starved himself to death in jail. Shame‘s central character is a sex addict, whose exploits are depicted in graphic detail.

Michael Fassbender, who also portrayed Sands, now plays Brandon, a successful thirtysomething Manhattan executive living alone in a luxurious but impersonally furnished apartment. He is obsessed by sexual gratification, and surfs internet porn on his computer at work and his laptop at home. He seduces women in bars, on the subway and in his office.
Thompson on Hollywood

Though charming and handsome, he lives a furtive, sealed-off existence—until his wayward sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan), a singer, arrives in an distraught state and begs to stay with him. Her presence is disruptive, not least because it exposes his shame about his addiction.

McQueen and co-screenwriter Abi Morgan (who has scripted the upcoming Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady) stop short of moralizing. Yet New York’s singles bars, dating rituals and sex clubs are portrayed as hellish – quite literally so at one stage, when Brandon embarks on a night of sexual excess that endangers his safety and is clearly rooted in self-hatred.

This is a jolting portrayal of a tough subject. Fassbender has several scenes involving full-frontal nudity and Mulligan has one of her own. The language and the sexual activity is coarse and impersonal. All this leaves a huge question mark over its commercial potential in the US. Presumably it would receive an NC-17 rating, and even liberal American audiences are more likely to be turned off by its explicitness than their European counterparts.

Still, what a gifted film-maker McQueen is turning out to be. He composes every frame exquisitely, from the tableau-like opening image of Fassbender sprawled in bed looking dead-eyed. There’s an impressive a long tracking shot as Brandon runs the length of several city blocks, using the exertion to quell his inner rage. And then there’s a key scene in a club, where Sissy sings New York, New York from beginning to end. It’s usually performed in triumphalist mode, but Mulligan, a gifted chanteuse, turns it into a slow, mournful blues. For once, Brandon shows emotion, wiping away a tear; the song becomes a comment on the life that imprisons him.

Nicholas Ray buffs got a treat today with the screening of the restored version of his 1970s experimental film We Can’t Go Home Again. He made it with his students at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Ray wanted to teach his students film-making by making a feature film on which they would rotate jobs.

As such, it’s an important document, though it doesn’t date well. 1970s political rhetoric mouthed by students can sound cliched and simplistic these days. And the use of colorization—there are psychedelic effects galore—reinforce the notion that this is very much of its time. The argument can be made this work predated reality TV, but to be candid, I’d rather have sat through another screening of In A Lonely Place—for the umpteenth time. Still, it was a warm, respectful occasion, attended by Ray’s widow Susan and family members.

Lastly, I complained yesterday about the standard of some foreign language films in competition here. Emanuele Crialese redressed the balance today with Terraferma, a story of an Italian fishing family living on a small, remote offshore island. Their business is declining, and their lives are altered when, out on their boat one night, they rescue north African illegal immigrants struggling to swim for shore.

In his earlier films Respiro and The Golden Door, Crialese has shown his gift for capturing the lives of poor Italians living far from the country’s affluent urban centres. Terraferma is no masterpiece, but it’s a humane, likable work, solidly appreciated by the home audience in Venice.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:28 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/04/shame-film-steve-mcqueen_n_948479.html

'Shame' Reviews: Steve McQueen's Sex-Addict Film Is 'The Best Kind Of Adult Movie'

The Huffington Post Gazelle Emami First Posted: 9/4/11 12:45 PM ET Updated: 9/4/11 06:00 PM ET

If two critically lauded films make a director "rising," then rising director Steve McQueen premiered his second film, "Shame," at Venice, starring Hollywood's favorite new character actor, Michael Fassbender. McQueen, a contemporary artist who only recently began trying his hand at feature films, first gained attention with "Hunger," a film about the 1981 Irish hunger strike that also features Fassbender (and which you can stream on Netflix Instant).

McQueen moves from one primal desire to another in "Shame," which follows the life of a man who is addicted to sex and has it at least once a day in creative locations across Manhattan. His routine is upset when his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), comes for a visit.

Fassbender is also in Venice for the premiere of "A Dangerous Method," in which he plays a sexually conflicted Carl Jung. He expressed some discomfort at playing the graphic scenes in "Shame":

"Just have to jump into it," Fassbender said. "The most important thing, I suppose, is just make sure that everybody involved is comfortable, and just sort of go for it so you don't have to do too many takes."

It seems to have paid off, though, as the critics agree it's all very much in the service of art. Read on for more opinions from Venice:

Xan Brooks for the Guardian: "Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan give dynamite performances in Shame, a terrific second feature from the British artist Steve McQueen... This is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema; the best kind of adult movie." Grade: 4 out of 5 stars

Dave Calhoun for Time Out London: "Like 'Hunger', 'Shame' is interested in the stark immediacy of one man's world and drawing us into that world without judgement or easy explanations... You imagine McQueen feels there's a lot of many - or all - of us in Brandon, even if his troubles feel quite uniquely tragic in the moment." Grade: 4 out of 5 stars

Guy Lodge for In Contention: "It's no slight on the actors, and only a measure of the hand guiding them, that McQueen remains the star here. Like the finest filmmakers from a fine-arts background, he has a consistently rewarding understanding of the narrative powers of composition: abetted by heaving, tricky sound design and Harry Escott's counter-intuitively soaring score, 'Shame' conjures image upon image of such astonishing beauty that they'd risk stalling the film if not for the spare depth of feeling grounding the whole." Grade: 3 1/2 stars out of 4

Oliver Lyttelton for Playlist: "McQueen, like almost no other filmmaker, is confident enough to frame up and let the actors work, and it's the source of most of the film's most memorable moments... Not a single composition or camera movement is wasted, and if anything, it feels like McQueen is even more in command of his craft than he was before, if such a thing is possible... the film is a powerful, beautifully acted sophomore film, and more than ever, we'll be watching what McQueen does next like a hawk." Grade: A-

Overall Grade: A-

"Shame" does not currently have a U.S. release date.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:29 pm

http://davienlittlefield.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/shame-venice-review/

SHAME VENICE REVIEW

Shame – review
Steve McQueen’s second feature of sex-addiction, self-harm and cheap thrills in New York is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema

Michael Fassbender in Steve McQueen’s film Shame.
Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan give dynamite performances inShame, a terrific second feature from the British artist Steve McQueen. Fassbender is Brandon, a sex-addicted corporate drone, directing a radioactive stare at random women across the aisle on the New York subway. Mulligan plays Sissy, his sister, who sings for her supper, self-harms for kicks and is surely pointed towards disaster. “We’re not bad people,” Sissy assures her sibling. “We just come from a bad place.”

Shame
Production year: 2011
Country: USA
Directors: Steve McQueen
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Michael Fassbender
More on this film
Specifically this place is Manhattan, which McQueen depicts as a hell of sterile offices, anonymous apartments and desperate pick-up joints, though it may conceivably refer to the world at large. Outwardly charming and confident, Brandon is soon exposed as a casualty of a bull-market culture where sex has been traded so heavily, so easily and in so many exotic flavours that the consumer has gorged himself sick. Brandon, for instance, appears to score about once a day but it’s not nearly enough because he’s immediately off to masturbate in the shower. He has a vast porn stash concealed behind his blank cupboard doors and still more buried on the hard-drive at work. “Anals, double-anals,” explains his bemused boss Dave (James Badge Dale), who has been charged with overseeing the investigation. “Cream pies … I don’t even know what that is, exactly.”

Not that Dave is any kind of angel himself. Brandon’s boss cheerfully neglects his own family in order to hit on passing women and then promptly beds down with Sissy, who has recently landed at her brother’s apartment. Disgusted – and perhaps even excited – by the noise coming through the wall, Brandon escapes for a jog through the nocturnal streets. McQueen traces his huffing, puffing odyssey with one of the most mesmerising extended tracking shots since Touch of Evil.

Shame feels less formal, less rooted in the language of the art installation than McQueen’s previous film, Hunger, and is all the more satisfying for that. This is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema; the best kind of adult movie. There are glimmers of American Gigolo to its pristine sheen and echoes of Midnight Cowboy to the scratchy, mutual dependence of the damaged duo at the core. For her big showstopper at a downtown nightclub, Sissy takes the stage to croon her way through a haunting, little-girl-lost rendition of New York, New York, slowing the pace and milking the pathos. Brandon sits at the back, his jaw locked, his eyes welling. In the song’s melting, dying fall, he catches a glimpse of the lie behind the tinsel and smells the inevitable death of all her dreams, and maybe his dreams as well.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:34 pm

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=14445647

McQueen Launches Sex-Addict Film 'Shame' in Venice

By COLLEEN BARRY Associated Press
VENICE, Italy September 4, 2011 (AP)

For British director Steve McQueen, there was no better place than Manhattan to film "Shame," his new film that portrays the life of a 30-something sex addict, played by Michael Fassbender in often graphic detail.

"Excess and access. New York is the place," McQueen said Sunday ahead of his second film's world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival.

Fassbender's Brandon has no trouble indulging his appetite, be it over the Internet, in his workplace toilet, nightclubs, city streets, or even the Standard Hotel, which has gained notoriety on its own as a showcase for exhibitionists due to its floor to ceiling street-facing windows.

"If you stay at the Standard Hotel, there is a little card that says, 'Please refrain from undressing at the window.' I think it is obviously a tempting proposition when you have a building and a beautiful platform like that, to use it any way you want," co-screenwriter Abi Morgan said.

Brandon manages even a nonphysical sexual encounter with a beautiful woman on the subway, with the pair transmitting their desire through intense stares.

Fassbender, who film credits include "X-Men: First Class," ''Inglorious Basterds" and the upcoming "Jane Eyre," acknowledged a certain discomfort at playing graphic sex scenes.

"Just have to jump into it," Fassbender said. "The most important thing, I suppose, is just make sure that everybody involved is comfortable, and just sort of go for it so you don't have to do too many takes."

This is the actor's second film with McQueen — after 2008's "Hunger," which won the new director's prize in Cannes — and his second film screening in competition at the 68th Venice Film Festival this year.

He walked the red carpet earlier in the festival for his role as psychoanalyst Dr. Carl Jung in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method," a random juxtaposition that raises the question: Might Jung have had a cure for Brandon?

"Maybe," Fassbender said after a press conference.

Carey Mulligan plays Brandon's eccentric and flighty sister, Sissy, whose arrival on a visit upends her brother's tightly organized life. The siblings, it is revealed, shared a troubled childhood — the details of which are never disclosed — that Brandon would just as soon leave behind but which Sissy is determined binds them even tighter.

Mulligan's Sissy performs a soulful version of "New York, New York," sung ever so slowly and deliberately, bringing her otherwise outwardly stoic brother Brandon to tears that he tries to conceal.

McQueen said he thinks the lyrics are actually very sad, and he wanted to try to reinvent the song best known for upbeat renditions popularized by Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli.

"I think Carrie obviously did a marvelous job, and of course Michael's reaction was tremendous. It was an extraordinarily emotional day when we recorded that," he said.

The slow, deliberate delivery of the song is repeated elsewhere in the film in slowly revealed scenes that take time to expose the characters' emotions.

McQueen, an award-winning video artist, has participated in the Venice Biennale before — in the contemporary art section. Two years ago, McQueen's work was the British entry in the art show across the lagoon from the Lido.

"As far as the art work or feature film work, I think there is no barrier between the two," McQueen said. "It's the same process, but just as one might be long, narrative and such, the other is less so. It's work. That's all."

The film festival's grand prize, the Golden Lion, will be awarded Sept. 10.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:45 pm

http://incontention.com/2011/09/04/review-shame-12/

REVIEW: “Shame” (***1/2)
Posted by Guy Lodge · 5:36 am · September 4th, 2011

Venice Film Festival

If “Hunger,” artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen’s remarkable debut feature, was a study of a body strenuously denied its fundamental needs, his satisfyingly rigorous, explicit follow-up, “Shame,” traces the very different damage done by a body over-gifted with wants.

A sternly formalist parable on the pruning and stunting of relationships both familial and carnal in modern-day urban society, “Shame” is only for the purposes of swift summary a story of sex addiction — specifically that endured by Brandon, Michael Fassbender’s dourly handsome New York advertising hotshot. Sex, and the pursuit thereof, is what needles Brandon first and foremost, but it doesn’t take Freud (or indeed Fassbender’s own Jung from “A Dangerous Method”) to tell that it’s a displaced urge in a life whose most crippling vacancies take longer to fill than a Friday night f&#!.

“Hunger” was a film that dismantled known history and re-presented it in highly sensual, imagistic terms. The new film might be a foray into fiction for its director — working from an original screenplay by British playwright and television scribe Abi Morgan — but it performs a similar trick with psychology so embedded in the popular consciousness it would appear to offer little room for surprise.

Morgan’s views on the human condition, and on single professional self-alienation, aren’t especially revelatory (its portrait of Brandon is a more solemn essay on male ennui issues that fill monthly copies of GQ magazine), but McQueen’s depiction of his narrow, clammy routine is rendered in such crisp, arresting visual and sonic strokes that his plight becomes that much more distinct. This is lifestyle cinema in the most literal, and least romantic, sense of the term.

If it seems surprising that Brits McQueen and Morgan, not to mention their Irish and British leads, have converged on the United States for a story of fairly universal resonance, it makes perfect sense when the film’s vision of New York City comes into clean, cold focus: famously a city of everything at once, McQueen and brilliant “Hunger” DP Sean Bobbitt shoot it as a kind of continuous, gunmetal-colored waiting room, at once over-populated with distractions and under-populated with options.

Theirs is a city where people size each other up in subway carriages and do the nasty in plate-glass windows: Brandon’s addiction isn’t just fed, it’s positively forced. In an exquisitely held scene where Carey Mulligan, as Brandon’s feckless younger sister Sissy, sings a slowed-down, jazz-lite rendition of Kander and Ebb’s “New York, New York,” her interpretation tempers the original’s elated defiance into something rather more ominous, an expression of desire to “make it there” from someone who nonetheless knows the city is far more likely to swallow her whole.

It is Sissy’s unannounced arrival that takes Brandon’s conventional crisis of depravity into blurrier, more dramatically involving territory: played by Mulligan with a blend of her expected baby-woman fragility and a harder, drawling insouciance that’s excitingly new from the actress, Sissy colonizes Brandon’s white-cube bachelor pad and calls him out on his indulgences, though her life is less gathered than his: her arms marked with a lithograph of self-harm scars, drifting between boyfriends with only some proudly vintage clothes to call her own, she demands Brandon’s care with a fervor that professes the need to preserve family ties and fabricate balance — what has happened their parents is never explained, but it’s clear they’re vulnerably alone in their bloodline — but occasionally threatens to subvert them. When she climbs into her brother’s bed, the fury with which he ejects her hints at realms of desire he either fears or has already broached.

This is messy emotional terrain, and I wish Morgan’s intelligent script were less eager to tidy it up with neat, if cutting, symbolism and a redemptive moral arc that’s plotted a mite too smoothly: it’s left to McQueen’s inventively disciplined direction and the superb actors to chip a few crevices into the material. Clearly, following their joint breakthrough partnership on “Hunger,” Fassbender and McQueen are familiar with the levels of each other’s control: the actor is tightly, precisely coiled here as he was in the Bobby Sands biopic, and as dependent on his (amply and immodestly viewed) physical form for tension and expression. If the recent likes of “Jane Eyre” and “X-Men: First Class” warmed Hollywood up to the idea of Fassbender as a regular-world lead, this performance should give them pause — and that’s meant encouragingly.)

Mulligan, meanwhile, isn’t just more limber and engagingly crumpled than she’s yet been on screen, but is offered her most generous rapport yet with a co-star: the tetchily, even desperately, adoring sibling relationship between them is so authentic as to etch in a lot of subtext the script needn’t provide.

“That’s all you ever say, that you’re sorry,” Brandon scolds Sissy in one of their many arguments. “At least I say I’m sorry,” she shoots back, her voice giving us all the history of forgiven liberties we need. (Fassbender finds another equal sparring partner in the excellent Nicole Beharie, radiating smart warmth as the co-worker whose emotional security undoes his sexual confidence.)

It’s no slight on the actors, and only a measure of the hand guiding them, that McQueen remains the star here. Like the finest filmmakers from a fine-arts background, he has a consistently rewarding understanding of the narrative powers of composition: abetted by heaving, tricky sound design and Harry Escott’s counter-intuitively soaring score (with an assist from some well-chosen Glenn Gould recordings), “Shame” conjures image upon image of such astonishing beauty that they’d risk stalling the film if not for the spare depth of feeling grounding the whole. The first of these opens the film, with Fassbender sprawled across his bed, his body as unhappily taut and angular as a Francis Bacon subject. He takes up the top half of the screen, a sea of creased cornflower-blue bedsheet filling the remainder: for its dense chain of trysts and dependencies, “Shame” is most powerfully a film of absence.

[Images: Momentum Pictures]
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:46 pm

http://hollywood-elsewhere.com/2011/09/shame_method_fi.php

Shame + Method Finale

In terms of delivering solid, exciting creme de la creme fall releases the Telluride Film Festival, for all its soothing aromas and enjoyments, has felt thin to me. The Descendants thus far has been the only solid triple/home run. That could change with today's dual showings of Steve McQueen's Shame, which the Guardian's Xan Brooks and other Venice Film Festival have mostly raved about.

Michael Fassbender in Steve McQueen's Shame, the Telluride Film Festival's last best hope to at least match the Descendants buzz.

David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method will also screen twice in Telluride today, but that psycho-sexual period drama has already been relegated to some extent by Venice reviewers (along with George Clooney's The Ides of March) to the solid B or B-plus category...maybe. Telluride reactions will obviously add to the mix, as will those at Toronto starting next weekend.

"Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan give dynamite performances in Shame, a terrific second feature from the British artist Steve McQueen," writes Brooks.

"Fassbender is Brandon, a sex-addicted corporate drone, directing a radioactive stare at random women across the aisle on the New York subway. Mulligan plays Sissy, his sister, who sings for her supper, self-harms for kicks and is surely pointed towards disaster. 'We're not bad people,' Sissy assures her sibling. 'We just come from a bad place.'

"Specifically this place is Manhattan, which McQueen depicts as a hell of sterile offices, anonymous apartments and desperate pick-up joints, though it may conceivably refer to the world at large.

"Shame feels less formal, less rooted in the language of the art installation than McQueen's previous film, Hunger, and is all the more satisfying for that. This is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema; the best kind of adult movie. There are glimmers of American Gigolo to its pristine sheen and echoes of Midnight Cowboy to the scratchy, mutual dependence of the damaged duo at the core.

"For her big showstopper at a downtown nightclub, Sissy takes the stage to croon her way through a haunting, little-girl-lost rendition of New York, New York, slowing the pace and milking the pathos. Brandon sits at the back, his jaw locked, his eyes welling. In the song's melting, dying fall, he catches a glimpse of the lie behind the tinsel and smells the inevitable death of all her dreams, and maybe his dreams as well."

Variety's Justin Chang says the following in his opening graph: "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 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."
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Post by Admin on Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:58 pm

http://www.movieline.com/2011/09/postcard-from-venice-fassbender-brings-glory-to-shame-pacino-reigns-in-wilde-salome.php

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Festivals || by Stephanie Zacharek || 09 04 2011 1:00 PM
Postcard from Venice: Fassbender Brings Glory to Shame; Pacino Reigns in Wilde Salome

When Steve McQueen’s Hunger debuted at Cannes in 2008, Michael Fassbender — playing Irish hunger-strike activist Bobby Sands — was a revelation. Now he’s ubiquitous, potentially to the point of overexposure, appearing in comic-book blockbusters (X-Men: First Class) and tony literary adaptations (Jane Eyre) alike. Yet each performance, and each project, is so different from the last that it’s still a joy to watch him. He has one of the gifts that great actors need, the ability to be focused and unselfconscious at the same time. He knows when to surrender and when to call every muscle and brain cell to attention. I fear someday he’ll win an Oscar and risk losing it all.

But for now, at least, he’s safe from that; he still belongs more to the world of performance than to the self-aware world of stardom. McQueen’s Shame is one of two films here featuring Fassbender (the first was David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method) and while he’s terrific in both, Shame asks more of him, and he meets the story’s demands with grace, agility and a discipline that you might call steely, if it weren’t so supple.

Fassbender plays Brandon, a successful New York professional who suffers from sexual compulsive behavior. You might call him a sex addict if that term didn’t conjure visions of David Duchovny and Charlie Sheen acting out like spoiled schoolyard kids, and what Brandon suffers is more peculiar and more painful. He has assignations with hookers; he initiates potential encounters with luscious strangers he sees on the subway; at work, he leaves his desk for the men’s room, where he relieves his urges with joyless efficiency. His boss, David (James Badge Dale), is also something of a buddy — the two troll city bars together, looking to pick up women, though the prattling David strikes out more often than he scores, while Brandon barely needs to arch an eyebrow. Even as David tries to glom onto Brandon’s subterranean attractiveness, he also seems to be finding subtle ways to register his disgust with Brandon’s beyond-healthy sex drive: Early in the movie, Brandon finds that his computer has been whisked away temporarily by the company’s tech department. He knows — and we know — why.

When a small blond pixie of a woman shows up in Brandon’s apartment, you assume it’s one of his former conquests. It turns out to be his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), who’s landed in New York for a few gigs, and for whatever reason, Brandon is none too pleased to see her. She’s a jazz singer, and her performance of “New York, New York” in a club one evening — it’s mournful and expectant rather than jubilant, as far away from Frank Sinatra’s version as Times Square is from the moon — affects Brandon in a way that we can’t immediately comprehend, though it clearly opens a gate into the persistent, repetitive pain he’s feeling.

The bare story of Shame, when you lay it out, doesn’t seem like much. But the actors bring everything to it; their suffering is both magnetic and painful to watch, almost as if it were a variation — or an aberration — of basic sexual attraction. Mulligan, with her bleached-blond crop of hair, resembles one of the cool-customer chanteuses of the ’50s, like Helen Merrill but with a cherub’s face. She’s terrific here, and restrained in a way that suggests an actorly generosity unusual for someone so young: Her scenes with Fassbender don’t so much say “Look at me” as “Look at him.”

Although of course, it would be impossible not to. Fassbender is outrageously handsome in the conventional sense, but in this role, there’s also something guarded and reticent about his expressions. He resembles the young Christopher Plummer — his smile is gaunt and a little forced, like a death’s-head grin. There’s some sex in Shame, but there’s only one scene that qualifies as truly sexy (his partner here is Nicole Beharie, who must share the credit), and it’s so erotic, so frank without being explicit, that its culmination is devastating. I hesitate to give away anything more, but I wonder who will find this scene more upsetting, men or women? My heart sank when I saw where it was going, and I thought it was just me, but the woman next to me also gasped.

Shame is, like Hunger, beautifully made, and similarly, it’s about a man at war with his own body. And again Fassbender — here playing a character whose capacity for tenderness is in danger of being erased by his self-hatred — shows us something new in his face, whose basic features have by now become pretty familiar. He’s the kind of actor who leaves you thinking about what you’ve just seen and wondering what he’ll do next. His face is the opposite of overexposed: It’s an unwritten future.


wilde_salome300.jpgAl Pacino: What a nutter! Not only did he insist on staging a controversial version of Oscar Wilde’s Salome in Los Angeles in 2006; he also decided to make a movie version of the play simultaneously, to be shot in only five days; and — get this — he figured he may as well make a documentary about the whole process while he was at it. That documentary is Wilde Salome, screening out of competition here at the festival (where Pacino will also receive the Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory to the Filmmaker award), and it’s a mess. But Pacino himself knew it would be: Early in the film, he prattles on about his ambitions and his intentions, wrapping up by saying, “It’s going to look a lot like I don’t know what I’m doing. Because I don’t.”

And Wilde Salome is an enjoyable mess, particularly for anyone who gets a thrill out of documentaries about process. At the beginning, and even somewhere in the middle, you can’t believe that any of this — the play, the movie, the documentary — could possibly come together. But eventually, it does, and during the course of it, the young star of the production, Jessica Chastain (seen recently in The Tree of Life and The Help) transforms before our eyes from a stiff ingenue to a force to be reckoned with. Pacino, for one, can’t believe what he sees. In this production, he himself plays Herod, lascivious stepfather to Chastain’s comely Salome, and his line readings come straight out the goombah school of acting: “Why did she not return to the banquet as I commanded huh?” he asks at one point, his eyes bulging with froglike intensity. Only Pacino could get away with that kind of absurd line delivery, and actually, not even he can. But Wilde Salome is still great fun to watch. “I play Herod because crazy emperors work for me,” Pacino says. As always, the world is his.
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Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:04 am

http://www.movies.com/movie-news/shame-review-telluride/4355?wssac=164&wssaffid=news

'Shame' Telluride Review: Michael Fassbender Destroys in Steve McQueen's Second Film

On one level, Shame is about sex addiction, though we never see Brandon (Michael Fassbender) having sex in a bed with a woman who isn't a prostitute. His more typical m.o. is porn on his laptop and wanking in the office bathroom at the Wall Street firm where he works. He's charming and good-looking and has no problems around women, but sex for him is a compulsion rather than an interaction, or even an enjoyable experience. We watch him pick up a beautiful woman at a bar without even trying -- much to the chagrin of his more typically horny boss (James Badge Dale) -- but then they go off and do it under a bridge.

On another level, Shame is about Brandon's relationship with his younger sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan). Brandon ignores her pleading phone calls, until finally she just shows up at his small, spare Manhattan apartment (along with his job, the only sign that he is a functional human being) and asks to stay. This is his worst nightmare, but he can't say no. They share an affectionate moment while waiting for the subway -- she tweaks him about lint on his coat; he picks it off and puts it on hers -- but it is brief and fleeting. Brandon won't communicate, and he brutally lashes out. She tries in vain to get through to him, a task that takes on increased urgency as the film proceeds. Near the end they have a single-take conversation so brutal and emotionally raw that it nearly made me keel over from the adrenaline shooting through my body. For Sissy, it's like banging against a brick wall that also hits back.

Finally and more fundamentally, Shame is about a man so filled with self-loathing that honest communication with others -- never mind any kind of relationship -- is an impossibility. He might as easily sprout wings and fly. He can't share any part of himself with anyone, romantically or otherwise, because he finds himself disgusting. His urges, compulsions and predilections make him want to vomit. You are hereby invited to imagine what it is like to live this way.

Shame is harsh and difficult to watch, as it must be. It puts Brandon's living hell front and center and never looks away. Fassbender's performance is an instant legend. Brandon says not a single expository thing, beyond at one point revealing that he was born in Ireland and moved to the States as a teen. Everything else that comes out of his mouth -- and it isn't much -- is a lie or a front. Fassbender reveals Brandon's truth entirely without dialogue. It is, appropriately enough, a performance difficult to describe in words.

The film was directed by Steve McQueen, whose feature debut Hunger, also starring Fassbender, rocketed him to the top of the highbrow A-list three years ago. I didn't like Hunger, which stubbornly kept itself at an emotional remove from the audience, and played like art film posturing. With Shame, McQueen has done a 180, plunging us so deeply and wholly into his protagonist's turmoil and despair that it becomes almost unwatchable.

McQueen and his cinematographer, Sean Bobbitt, shoot in lovely, unshowy long takes, getting out of the way and letting us and the actors get cozy with the characters. They regard conversations and silent angst as unflinchingly as they do the sexually explicit material (which is plentiful; an NC-17 rating is assured if the film is even submitted to the MPAA). Manhattan looks desolate and sad here, as it surely would to Brandon. Carey Mulligan and Nicole Behaire, the latter playing the target of Brandon's ill-fated attempt to go on an actual date, are effortlessly real in key supporting roles. Like Fassbender, they are able to suggest a wealth of background that goes unspoken.

Shame's reception among the Telluride audience has been polarized. One woman told me that it is one of the worst movies she had ever seen it. It's "not for everyone," in the irritating sense of the phrase that means it's not for people who think movies shouldn't be difficult or distressing. Do with that information what you will, but miss Shame at your peril. It is astonishing.
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Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:05 am

terah-vie:

Shame, Steve McQueen (2011)

My fear of being disappointed actually managed to lower my expectations toward this film. But not my excitement about seeing it, which almost got me hysterical (this is an exaggeration) when a “photo call” with representatives from the European Parliament just about got in the way of us going to the screening. After a fortunate bus timing and a quick run we got there just as the lights turned out and didn’t miss a thing.

Shame is the story of a sex addict who’s life is interrupted when his sister decides to come live in his living room. It’s a story about the both of them dealing -or not- with their problems, with the main focus on Fassbender’s character.

The very first scene was amazing even if it was just a still shot of Fassbender’s character Brandon lying in bed, the incredible blueness and the stillness of his character already showed him as a sad character. But as far as incredible visuals that was about it, there were a few beautiful moments that were nothing compared to the amazing cinematography in Hunger. Shame is well made, there are few things that are wrong with it, simply after McQueen dared so much in Hunger it kind of feels like he’s regressing in to “common” film-making. I came out of the theater as if I’d seen an average screen play directed by Fincher, there was nothing new about the visuals and the story wasn’t good enough to fill that void. The brother-sister dynamic was also lacking in depth.

Fassbender was great though and I continue to see him as one of my favorite contemporary actors (even after Jane Eyre). His character was interesting enough to keep the film compelling even though I was over all unimpressed. I think that people who haven’t seen Hunger have a lot more chance of loving this film, and if you want to see both it’s probably a good idea to see Shame first.
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Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:09 am

http://thefilmstage.com/news/will-full-frontal-nudity-from-michael-fassbender-and-carey-mulligan-guarantee-a-nc-17-rating-for-shame/

Will Full Frontal Nudity From Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan Guarantee a NC-17 Rating For ‘Shame’?
Posted by Jordan Raup, on September 5, 2011 at 10:56 am

One of the most talked-about stories in last year’s Oscar race was Blue Valentine and its NC-17 rating. The Ryan Gosling-Michelle Williams Sundance drama was picked up by The Weinstein Company and then garnered the nefarious rating for a brief scene of oral sex. After Harvey Weinstein himself appealed to the MPAA, the rating was finally overturned in time for distribution. Films slapped with the rating often only receive a small portion of theaters picking it up, or even worse, they head straight to home release and skip a theatrical run altogether. A certain film premiering at Venice and showing at the Telluride, Toronto, and New York Film Festivals may be headed for the same troubles.

Steve McQueen‘s Hunger follow-up Shame sees a re-team with his star Michael Fassender, who plays a sex-addicted man living in New York City. If you’ve seen Hunger, then you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that McQueen pushes his characters to the absolute brink of their situation here, as early festival reviews for Shame suggest. An early January 2012 bow is already set for the UK, and while the film has yet to receive US distribution, expect someone to come aboard in a matter of weeks. But will the explicit drama be able to dodge the MPAA or perish in a a handful of coastal theaters?

24Frames posits the sex-heavy film, which also contains masturbating and urinating (and that is only in the beginning moments), “is certain to receive the adults-only NC-17 rating.” TheDailyBeast‘s Marlow Stern agrees, stating the “masterful film” will “definitely [be] getting an NC-17,” while indieWIRE‘s David Gritten says it will take a “a brave distributor” to handle the NC-17 material.

On the other hand, FirstShowing‘s Alex Billington is more optimistic about its chances, saying even with “full-front male nudity” from Michael Fassbender and the same exposure from Carey Mulligan, that the “tastefully” done film could still receive a “very, very edgy” R-rating. The “steamy sex scenes throughout” are comparable to other R-rated films and he reminds us that comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Walk Hard each feature full-frontal male nudity. Where these comedies have nudity, let’s not forget dramas have a much harder time in front of the MPAA.

He adds, “it’s not at all pornography, it’s very refined filmmaking and it’s never excessive, always in service of the story.” Blue Valentine falls into the same category, so depending on who picks up the film (Weinsteins, anyone?) it is possible we could see a similar back-and-forth appeal battle with the MPAA. IFC Films picked up McQueen’s Hunger in 2008 and if they bid to work with the filmmaker again, I could see the sex-addiction drama going the unrated route, like some of their releases — Enter the Void did this last year, Antichrist in 2009. While it wouldn’t get the desired theatrical run, this method could serve to potentially reach a bigger audience then a crippled NC-17 release.

One thing is for certain: Like Valentine‘s Derek Cianfrance, I can’t see McQueen allowing a single cut of his film in order to appease a ratings board. With MPAA’s clear bias when it comes to censoring sexuality over violence, it could be a difficult road ahead for the film. Expect a US distributor to come aboard, quite possibly in the large Toronto market, and check back for our reviews from that fest, as well as the New York Film Festival. In the meantime, check out the cast and crew talking about the film below at the Venice Film Festival, followed by the first clip from Shame (begins at the 2:30 mark).

Do you think an NC-17 rating is certain for Shame, or does it have a chance at getting a pass from the MPAA?
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