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Sex and Shame in Venice: Michael Fassbender Is a Real X-Man

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Sex and Shame in Venice: Michael Fassbender Is a Real X-Man

Post by Admin on Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:47 pm

http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2091805,00.html#ixzz1X8J087Of

Sex and Shame in Venice: Michael Fassbender Is a Real X-Man
By Richard Corliss Monday, Sept. 05, 2011

Magneto lets it all hang out. That was the big news at the Venice Film Festival, where Michael Fassbender — the German-Irish Adonis of the art house who also played the young Magneto in this summer's X-Men: First Class — was on full-frontal display in the grinding sex drama Shame. Film festivals love to show movies that push the envelope of transgression, and director Steve McQueen's depiction of a Manhattan office worker who's addicted to sex kept Venice viewers alert to see exactly how far — how too far — Shame would go. The short answer: it's not pornographic, but explicit enough that it would surely land the film an NC-17 rating, the American equivalent of the old, tawdry X. That makes Fassbender the ultimate X man. (See Richard Corliss's review of Fassbender in A Dangerous Method.)

In his first feature since his acclaimed 2008 debut feature Hunger, which starred Fassbender as Irish hunger-striker Bobby Sands, the Afro-Brit visual artist McQueen offers a vividly clinical depiction of satyriasis. Handsome Brendan (Fassbender) has an inherent gift for appraising and seducing women; he takes one glance at a blond at a bar and, when she closes her eyes and asks what color they are, he automatically knows "brown." Eye contact is Brendan's overture to sex. Riding a crowded subway car on his way to work, he catches sight of a lovely young woman (Lucy Walters) sitting across from him. Flattered by his attention, she smiles back and crosses her legs to reveal some stockinged thigh. As her stop approaches, she stands up and grasps the pole in front of him to show that she's wearing a wedding ring. That flash of forbidden fruit sends Brendan out of the train to pursue the woman. He'll be late for work that day.

Courtship, though, is not crucial to Brendan's sex life. He studies violent porn on his computers at home and (big mistake) at work; he masturbates in the shower and in the office men's room; he enlists the services of call girls, pounding his manhood into them with expertise and, in the ferocity of his features, a hint of desperation. His boss, David (James Badge Dale), often accompanies him on prowls; not nearly the smooth dude Brendan is, David's a little in awe of his coworker, maybe in love with him. Brendan tries dating another office colleague, Marianne (Nicole Beharie), but that may be a bad idea, for he can achieve release only in furtive, anonymous sex. Any human relationship is an automatic detumescent. So he's annoyed when his younger sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan), a singer with a history of suicide attempts, shows up to crash on his couch. The interest she shows in David will further complicate Brendan's already full schedule.

Mulligan, who received an Oscar nomination for her role as a precocious teen in An Education, is as appealing a comer as Fassbender. She performs gorgeous rendition of "New York, New York" as a plaintive ballad not of ambition but of longing; and like her costar she's on full-frontal view here. Is it odd, then, that Shame has not yet found a U.S. distributor? Not really. The film would surely be slapped with an NC-17 rating — the equivalent of the old, dirty X — which would keeps it out of many theaters and restrict its advertising. Also, American audiences don't want to pay to see sexy stuff in movies; they can get plenty of that for free at home. (Ang Lee's NC-17-rated Lust, Caution, lusher and more romantic than Shame, sank at the box office.) (See why an NC-17 rating brought Lust, Caution down.)

What's really off-putting about the movie is not the dark energy of the sexual encounters but their bleakness. They are arid, not juicy, and a challenge for even the most avid voyeur to get excited about. Filmed in elegant, unrelenting long takes with very few traditional reaction shots, Shame unspools like a documentary on the rutting of feral animals. In fact, it ought to be called Hunger — since "shame" suggests a feeling of ethical remorse, and Brendan doesn't have ethics, only needs. We see him dwelling in a sybarite's dream world of constant sex but, clearly, not having a great time. Beyond that, he's a enigma.

Though set in today's Manhattan, Shame pulses with the grimy vibe of New York in the late '70s and early '80s, when subways were scarred with graffiti, carpeted with old newspapers like a bird cage and packed with hapless homeless men, when Chic's "I Want Your Love" and Blondie's "Rapture" (both on the soundtrack) were siren calls to promiscuity in discos and grimy gay bath houses. Shame shares a lot with another creepy fiction of the era, Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 novel American Psycho, set in the go-go '80s and portraying the moral emptiness of a Wall Street yuppie. Back then, the porn was on videocassettes; and Patrick Bateman, Ellis' deranged protagonist, either killed and dismembered many of his sexual conquests or, nearly as bad, dreamed he did. But both men are ciphers; as Patrick said of himself, "I simply am not there."

McQueen doesn't judge the character or probe beneath his hard surface; and though Fassbender exposes plenty of himself, he declines to open a window into whatever Brendan has in place of a soul. The director's and actor's point, boldly taken and bravely shown, may well be that for this nonstop cocksman there is no hope of change, no resolvable crisis, no there there. So audiences — should they get a chance to see this distinctly if distantly admirable film — will have to read their own moral qualms into Brendan. His fate may be perpetual imprisonment in his compulsions; at the end of the film he's where he began. Again he sees the pretty woman on the subway; again she returns his smile; and this time she's not wearing her wedding ring. The predator is back on the chase, to search for a glimpse of heaven in the Second Circle of Hell he's created for himself.

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Re: Sex and Shame in Venice: Michael Fassbender Is a Real X-Man

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:12 am

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2011/09/shame-and-fassbender-ride-hot-buzz-out-of-venice-telluride.html

'Shame,' Fassbender ride hot, kinky buzz out of Venice, Telluride
September 5, 2011 | 6:00 am

If there’s one film coming out of this weekend’s film festival screenings in Venice and Telluride, Colo., with white-hot award season buzz — not to mention racy details sure to stir box-office interest and problems — it must be “Shame,” British director Steve McQueen’s sophomore film, starring Michael Fassbender as Brandon, a sexually obsessed man in New York.

Just when general audiences will get a look at “Shame” remains to be decided — it’s one of the hottest acquisition titles heading into this week’s Toronto International Film Festival, assuming it doesn’t get snapped up before then. When it does hit U.S. theaters, it seems almost certain the MPAA will stick it with an NC-17 rating. (Brandon’s workplace computer and his Manhattan apartment are jammed with porn, and within the film's initial minutes Brandon — with a courageous performance by a full-frontal Fassbender — has slept with a hooker and masturbated in the shower. And then things get really kinky.)

Writing for the Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy says it’s amazing that it has taken Fassbender — who starred this year in “Jane Eyre” and “X-Men: First Class” in addition to having the lead in another festival title, playing psychoanalyst Carl Jung in “A Dangerous Method” — this long to be fully recognized.

“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,” McCarthy said in giving a hearty review of “Shame.” “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.”

Oliver Lyttelton of IndieWire notes that Fassbender couldn’t be any more different in “Shame” — where he plays opposite Carey Mulligan — than in he is in David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” which also explores sex and the psyche, albeit from a much more reserved, period viewpoint.

“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 … [his character is] 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.”

Variety’s Justin Chang calls “Shame” a “mesmerizing companion piece” to McQueen’s 2008 debut, "Hunger," but says it’s “more approachable.” Like “Hunger,” it “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,” Chang says. He adds that “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.”

The Guardian’s Xan Brooks was equally enthusiastic: “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.”

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Re: Sex and Shame in Venice: Michael Fassbender Is a Real X-Man

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:39 am

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/risky-business/telluride-2011-sex-psychoanalysis-shame-231289

Telluride 2011: Sex and Psychoanalysis in 'Shame' and 'A Dangerous Method'
Breakout star of 2011 Michael Fassbender explores our primal pain in two of the fall's most intriguing films.
September
5
4:32 PM PDT 9/5/2011 by Jay A. Fernandez

Well, this is Michael Fassbender’s year. First the mainstream punch of X-Men: First Class, then Shame and A Dangerous Method, which both played the Venice and Telluride film festivals this weekend. (He also played Rochester in Jane Eyre in March.) I saw Shame and Method one after the other Sunday at Telluride, and even more striking than the skillful range of Fassbender’s performances was the confluence of ideas explored in them.

THR's Complete Telluride 2011 Coverage

In Shame, Fassbender goes to the darkest of edges (and barest of bodies) in his portrayal of a sex addict struggling with the shame that drives his self-destructive behavior. In Method, he plays Carl Jung as a young man who develops his early theories of psychoanalysis by taking on a female patient tortured as an adult by the young childhood connection she made between humiliation and sexuality. As a filmgoer, the experience was a one-two punch of forceful acting and thoughtful provocation.

Director Steve McQueen introduced Shame via a sober pre-recorded video, describing the work as "indicative of how we communicate and discommunicate” in the 21st century. After watching it, I started referring to it in my head as There Will Be Come, so relentless was its focus on one tortured soul struggling with his worst impulses (in the case of Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliant film, There Will Be Blood, that would be misanthropy tilting into psychosis.)

PHOTOS: Telluride Film Festival: 12 Films to Know

The film was as anticipated as any at Telluride. Acquisitions and marketing execs from Roadside Attractions, The Weinstein Co. and Sony Pictures Classics were all at the debut screening at the Palm Sunday afternoon, along with filmmakers Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Joseph Cedar and a packed house of eager cinephiles.

Even if they didn’t know anything about the film beforehand, audiences got the idea pretty quickly, as Fassbender walks around his apartment fully naked a few times, has sex with a hooker, watches porn on his laptop, and masturbates both in the shower and at the office within the first ten minutes. Only then do we get multiple scenes of graphic sex. The only light and color in Brandon’s life are the clubs, restaurants and bars where he prowls for prey – his office and home are just cold, glass-and-steel cages through which he walks like a zombie carrying his burden like a shroud.

STORY: Telluride 2011: 'A Dangerous Method,' Particularly Kiera Knightley's Performance, Proves Divisive

Carey Mulligan plays Brandon’s sister, Sissy, who is a whole different piece of work. Her intrusion into his life represents more than just an invasion of his privacy and private shame. She brings an unspoken reminder of traumas from their past that, while never made explicit, points to the origin of each of their self-destructive obsessions. (It’s a performance by Mulligan that will banish any thought that she can only play cute and strong.)

The movie’s deficits are twofold. One, we rarely ever see Brandon do or say anything nice beyond trying to bed someone, nor does he make any real effort to stop, while at the same time regular women throw themselves at him non-stop, on subways, in bars, at work. This is a movie where a pretty co-worker will ask, “Hey, you like your sugar?” as he makes a cup of coffee, and it’s like the sentence itself has them humping.

FILM REVIEW: Shame

But more damningly, we are never given anything more than a hint at the Why. Clearly, McQueen and his co-writer Abi Morgan designed it this way. We are meant only to see the Is of his torment. But unlike alcoholism and drug addiction, which have been portrayed countless times by now and have seeped into the public consciousness to the extent that even those without direct connection to them have some understanding, sex addiction is still a widespread taboo. A broader look at what underlies Brandon’s behavior would have given moviegoers something more concrete to relate to.

Viewers came out of the screening pummeled by the expressionistic and somber film. It’s brilliantly acted and directed, and several of the long, uncomfortable scenes – one an attempt by Brandon to have a “real date” and another to engage in true intimacy – are wonderfully real and, thus, excruciating. And a late moment where the camera stares at Fassbender’s face as his expression turns from desperate lust to existential anguish is worth an acting award on its own. But the experience as a whole is so hermetically sealed it’s like watching a pretty but damaged sex worker perform just on the other side of the glass.

VENICE FILM REVIEW: A Dangerous Method

“I’m vile and filthy and corrupt,” is how Keira Knightley’s hysterical Russian patient Sabina Spielrein describes herself in Method when she first comes under Jung’s care. Brandon from Shame would certainly recognize the self-assessment. But now we’re watching Fassbender play the opposite of Brandon’s blind recklessness – Jung is highly analytical and very open about his torn conscience as he battles personally and intellectually with his own desires and ego.

He ultimately helps Sabina to learn to accept her own masochistic urges so she can become a successful and functional student, and then surprisingly insightful doctor herself. Meanwhile, he becomes more perplexed by the competing philosophies that inspire him—that of his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and the amoral therapist Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel), who subscribes to the mantra, “never repress anything.”

“Pleasure is never simple,” says Fassbender in response. Watch these two great films to see just how complicated it can be.

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Re: Sex and Shame in Venice: Michael Fassbender Is a Real X-Man

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:55 am

http://www.hollywoodnews.com/2011/09/05/michael-fassbender-baring-it-all-in-fest-films-dangerous-method-shame-awards-alley/

Mon, Sep 5 2011 | Published in *NEWS, AWARDS, AWARDS ALLEY, CELEBS, HEADLINE, HEADLINES, MOVIES
Michael Fassbender baring it all in fest films “Dangerous Method,” “Shame” – AWARDS ALLEY
By: Sean O'Connell


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Sex must be on Michael Fassbender’s brain.

The powerful talent dazzled art house crowds this spring playing Rochester in Cary Fukunaga’s “Jane Eyre,” then upped his geek cred playing a young Magneto for Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men prequel, “First Class.”

But Fassbender takes two steps in a decidedly more adult direction with his fall features “A Dangerous Method” and “Shame,” both of which played to festival crowds in Venice and Telluride over the weekend. Cronenberg’s film, “Method,” casts Fassbender as Carl Jung who, along with Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), attempts to treat a wild patient (Keira Knightley). The film unlocks passions in all three but still dabbles in repression … which isn’t a problem for Fassbender’s other film, “Shame.”

Directed by his “Hunger” helmer Steve McQueen, “Shame” imagines Fassbender as a sex addict roaming the streets of New York City who’s obsessed with physical contact, so long as there’s no love involved.

THR says McQueen’s film is “driven by a brilliant, ferocious performance” by Fassbender, while Pete Hammond notes that while the film played to mixed reactions in Telluride, “One thing is clear … Fassbender is a definite star.”

And then there are his … other assets. (Thank you, Jeff Wells.)

Will Oscar take notice? The Academy isn’t keen on recognizing sexually explicit material, and actors who lay bare (in a physical sense) often are overlooked in their respective categories.

But it’s hard to deny Fassbender’s talent, and this could be the year the Academy sits up and takes notice via an acting nomination. Outside of Jessica Chastain, few can claim to have as many solid roles on their 201 resume as Fassbender … with each part being more diverse from the next. If he’s as fearless as we hear he in “Shame,” and as grounded as we imagine he’ll be to Cronenberg’s vision, it will be hard NOT to talk about this actor and his performances as the awards season marches on.

Follow Hollywood News on Twitter for up-to-date news information.

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Re: Sex and Shame in Venice: Michael Fassbender Is a Real X-Man

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:12 am

http://www.contactmusic.com/news/michael-fassbender-impresses-critics-at-venice-film-festival_1243405

Michael Fassbender - Michael Fassbender Impresses Critics At Venice Film Festival
05 September 2011 15:06
Michael Fassbender picture

Picture: Michael Fassbender The 68th Venice Film Festival - Day 5 - Celebrity Sightings Venice, Italy ....
Michael Fassbender Impresses Critics At Venice Film Festival



Michael Fassbender's new movie, Shame, has been earning rave review at 2011 Venice Film Festival.

The German-born actor plays Brandon, a man living in New York who has trouble controlling his sexual urges after his sister moves in with him. It is the second film from British director Steve Mcqueen following his 2008 movie, Hunger. The film is exciting critics in Venice and looking likely to be one of the festivals best films with hollywoodreporter.com describing Fassbender as an actor to watch out for "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." This year's festival has seen a variety of films premier including Madonna's second movie W.E. about American socialite Wallis Simpsons as well as A Dangerous Method also starring MICHAEL FEASSBENDER which tells the story of Sigmund Freud and the development of psychoanalysis.

Fassbender began his acting career starring in Steven Spielberg's world war two drama Band of Brothers before appearing in his first major movie in the 2006 epic, 300. Since then he has also appeared in Hunger, where he played Irish Republican Army prisoner Bobby Sands while on his hunger strike. For the role he won a British Independent Film Award, he is currently filming Good Vibrations which tells the story of a record shop owner during the birth of punk-rock due for release in 2012.

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