Carey Mulligan

Michael Fassbender in Shame

Years from now, cinephiles and film fans will likely remember the stipulations that brought Steve McQueen’s Shame to regular, film-going audiences after running through film festivals like some men go through women. McQueen himself reportedly told prospective buyers two things – it had to stay uncut (thus guaranteeing that fearful NC-17 rating) and they would have to push lead actor Michael Fassbender for recognition come awards season. The film has stayed uncut, and Fassbender won’t need a back cover For Your Consideration ad for viewers to recognize that he’s turned in the most brave (and bare) performance of the year. McQueen and Fassbender have reteamed for their second feature with Shame (following 2008’s Hunger, a similarly wrenching film that established both men as talents to watch), and the film only cements their bond and shared aesthetic – one that film fans should be eternally anxious to see more of. Fassbender plays Brandon Sullivan, a handsome Manhattanite whose seemingly normal exterior shields his true self, one driven almost entirely by his out-of-control addiction to sex. McQueen approaches his subject in an almost clinical manner – using Sean Bobbitt‘s stunning cinematography to observe Brandon in his natural environment, as it were, a predator amongst prey. As the film progresses, it becomes more and more obvious (and more and more unsettling) that Brandon is not “safe” around any woman. He leers at women on the subway, gets a touch too close physically to his own kin, manhandles a perfect stranger in a bar […]

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Much ado has been made about the nudity and explicit sexual content in director Steve McQueen’s upcoming drama Shame. In it, Michael Fassbender plays a compulsive sex addict whose routine of perversion is interrupted when his flighty younger sister (Carey Mulligan) comes calling and crashes at his apartment for a few weeks, and the results are both a little titillating and a little repulsive. That’s understandable and everything, but the thing is, in all of the whispering and hullaballoo about wieners and boobs, I haven’t seen much reported about the fact that Mulligan shows off some of her talent for singing in this film. Which is a shame (pun acknowledged), because not only is she pretty good, but the scene where she performs “New York, New York” kind of becomes a huge moment in the film. Sorry to disappoint the pervs out there, but Shame isn’t all about sex stuff. So, while I have enjoyed the marketing for this film so far, this second full-length trailer played to me like a breath of fresh air. We get a lot of the same images from the first trailer, but this time they take on a whole other tone because Mulligan’s singing is playing over them. And then, once we’ve run through the already familiar images, the trailer ends with a scene of Mulligan finishing her performance, and her and Fassbender sharing a look. What’s really going through the heads of these two basketcases? You’ll have to check out the movie to […]

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Steve McQueen is not the first established director to get the bug to direct a highly sexual film for adults, and he certainly won’t be the last. Sadly, most directors who have actually made bold films about sexuality ended up with sub-par movies. Verhoeven’s Showgirls is a punch-line, Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut is an interesting mess, and Cronenberg’s Crash is maybe the best example of these experiments. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Lars Von Trier do an adult film in the next few years; he’s already expressed interest in the subject. While McQueen’s Shame does a lot of things right, it stumbles just before the finish line. Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a normal guy. He goes to work, goes out for drinks with co-workers, goes home. But every waking moment he has is devoted to sex. Thinking about it, watching it, paying for it, sex pervades his every thought. This goes beyond the normal human desire for and fascination with sex and actually consumes his life. When his sister, Cissy (Carey Mulligan), shows up for an unannounced and open-ended visit, it puts a cramp in his style. His normal evenings of watching porn, paying for webcams, and inviting prostitutes over don’t really work with his sister sleeping on the couch. Then he gets in hot water with his boss when IT checks his work computer and finds all kinds of pornography filling his hard drive. But he can’t stop. His is a true addiction and Brandon can’t stop himself.

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The sweat is from all the running Michael Fassbender‘s character seems to be doing, and the prestige is from the plastering of Award Wins all over a crisp trailer for Steve McQueen‘s Shame that takes its own time in telling a story. It’s rare that a trailer doesn’t just vomit out story points into our eyeballs, but this one is a symphony of short-form movie advertising. It’s quiet almost in purposeful contrast to the NC-17 rating emblazoned on the first few frames, and it slowly reveals Fassbender’s character as a high class hound dog with massive emotional issues. Check it out for yourself:

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Earlier this morning, my partner in LA film festival crime, the lovely Ms. Allison Loring, posted her list of Most Anticipated Films from this year’s upcoming AFI FEST presented by Audi. Of course, many of our choices overlap (Shame, Butter, Rampart), but we part ways when it comes to some of the smaller films at the festival. For all the big, Oscar bait flicks (J. Edgar) or the wang- and soul-baring Fass-outings (Shame again, always Shame), there are a few films that I’ve been positively rabid to see (Alps, Michael) that might not yet have the cache value and audience awareness of those other films. From the festival’s incredible list of 110 films, I’ve narrowed down my list to ten films that are my bonafide Most Anticipated Films of the festival. Like any list, I am sure that some of you perusing it will be displeased, weighing in on titles I’m a fool to miss. But hold your wrath for a few days, because many of the best titles of the fest are ones I’ve already seen, and those films might just crop up in an unexpected place (like, oh, another list). AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting today, October 27, right HERE). The complete schedule grid is now online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, […]

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Feel free to stand up from your seat and slow clap while loved ones and strangers stare, because one studio has decided to slap the stigma of the NC-17 rating right in its moronic little face. As we all know, that stupidity is two-fold. The first is in its existence in the first place. A betting man or woman could win easy money that most don’t even know that the NC stands for No One 17 and Under Admitted (because there’s a confusing C in there), but it might as well just stand for No Children. There’s an absurdly thin line between R and NC-17 that becomes all the more apparent when you hear a screaming 4-year-old in the theater where Jason Statham is beating a dude to death on screen before banging down Amy Smart’s doors. Come to think of it, the No Children of NC sounds pretty good in those cases. The second part of the stupidity surrounding the rating (which inherited its bad reputation from the X rating that it morphed into), is in the connotation that some doomed by Puritanical high horsemanship slather onto it. Yes, NC-17 means adult, but there’s also nothing wrong with making a film for an adult audience. Those that don’t think so, aren’t adults.  In a way, the rating’s reputation does a small service in weeding out those too emotionally, psychologically or sexually infantile to handle a solid adult drama (no matter their age). Sadly, that small service is a life […]

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A week ago, when I reported on Joel and Ethan Coen’s new movie Inside Llewyn Davis picking up Oscar Isaac as its leading man, I opined that further casting news would probably be coming soon. The Coens’ new film is about a folk singer coming up in the Greenwich Village scene, and it’s loosely based off the life of Dave Van Rank, so it’s going to be necessary for the brotherly team to cast actors as stand-in characters for all of Van Rank’s musician friends. Well, a week later the brothers have signed up their first, and this one is a doozy. According to Variety, Carey Mulligan has signed on to play the female lead opposite Isaac. Despite my conclusion-jumping that most of the characters in this film will be musicians of some sort, there isn’t actually any confirmation that the character Mulligan will be playing will be musically inclined at all. Variety is correct to point out that the actress has the chops to pull some musical numbers off if she has to, however. She plays a singer in director Steve McQueen’s upcoming sex addiction drama Shame and really knocks her singing scene out of the park in that film. It’s maybe the most crucial scene of the film, and Mulligan rises to the occasion admirably.

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As the temperatures turn just the slightest bit colder and the fall colors settle in the landscape (if you’re lucky enough to live near trees), we should start directing our film focus to the fall movie season. We love summer for its mind-numbing fun, but the last season of the year tends to offer some of the most vulnerable, honest, and captivating films (you know, just in time for that other “big O”). Fall supplies films meant to scandalize our minds and even our naughty bits, and there is nothing wrong with that. But with so many films and film festivals to choose from between now and December, it becomes overwhelming to sort through all the goodness being dispensed our way. Lucky for you, my love of highlighting full-frontal male nudity and questionable sexual conduct happens to pay off for a change. Below you’ll find a helpful collection of five sultry features sure to stimulate your brain and your nethers.

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Director Steve McQueen’s second collaboration with his Hunger star Michael Fassbender, Shame, has been getting almost universally effusive praise as it’s made its way through the recent festival circuit (Venice, Toronto). The film sees Fassbender as Gothamite Brandon, a sex addict who uses his very apparent addiction to keep emotions at arms’ length. Brandon’s tenuous lifestyle is thrown for a loop when his younger sister (Carey Mulligan), who is just as damaged as him (though perhaps in different ways), shows up to live with him. For all the chatter we’ve heard about the film (and, in particular, Fassbender’s very naked in every sense of the word performance), we’ve yet to see a trailer until today. The film itself is laced through with all manner of explicit and deviant sex acts, complete with plenty of nudity from its cast, but the first trailer for the film doesn’t capitalize on that aspect. Instead, it cuts together the different pieces of Brandon’s life, from his late night runs to his constantly leering eye, and it’s quite competent at showing a man whose multi-faceted appearance is really all in service to his carnal desires. Put on some protection (from the elements! for the running! obviously!) and check out the first (mostly SFW) trailer for Shame after the break.

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Everyone’s complained about misleading and overly spoilerific trailers at one point or another. They’re all annoying, but they’re trailers. We deal with them. Well, at least that used to be the case. Now one member of society who’s so fed up with studios selling their movies in a “bait-and-switch” fashion is taking this very, very serious matter to where it belongs: the justice system! What film provoked her to take such an action? None other than FilmDistrict’s critical and fanboy darling, Drive. Sarah Deming has filed a lawsuit — which will soon be a class action lawsuit, apparently — against FilmDistrict and the theater she viewed the film at, Emagine Novi. To her great disappointment, the movie wasn’t Fast and Furious enough.

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Culture Warrior

Masculinity has always been the major topic of concern in the work of Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn. Just look at the series he made his name with, the Pusher trilogy, which in three installments provide three very different but equally compelling stories of occasionally brazen, often buffoonish masculinity within various facets of the Copenhagen illegal drug trade. So it is no surprise that the directors latest work (his ‘breakthrough’ years, if you will) are continuously concerned with the turbulent lives of men, culminating this weekend with his most ‘mainstream’ entry, Drive (in purely box-office terms, as Drive in its opening weekend made more than 84x what his previous two films made together, yet the film is still ripe with Refn’s eccentric signature). Refn’s thematic and narrative preoccupation with masculinity has produced three fascinating portraits in as many years. The temporal and social contexts of Bronson, Valhalla Rising, and Drive couldn’t be more disparate, but between them he’s produced an unofficial trilogy of sorts connected not only through his deliberate pacing and striking, almost invasive visual style, but more importantly through their shared concerns as portrayals of three aggressive men who wander their respective environments in solitude.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr feels the weight of the fall movie season. It’s September, and while the kids are heading back to school, he’s playing hooky with Sarah Jessica Parker chick flicks and yet another not-quite-70s-video-nasty remake. Kevin is consoled by the release of Drive, however, because Albert Brooks as a crime boss makes him chuckle. And his love for 3D and Disney meet head-on in a collision of awesomeness.

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A getaway driver (Ryan Gosling) waits as his temporary partners in crime pile in with their unspecified haul, and as the police close in behind them the driver does what he does best. Straight-faced, calm, and in control, he eludes capture through precision and restraint, and when the job’s over he walks away. But what happens when walking away is no longer an option? Driver (as he’s listed in the credits) meets, befriends, and falls for a young woman (Carey Mulligan) and her son who may just be the only real innocents left in Los Angeles. When her husband is released from jail and forcibly tasked to commit one last robbery to pay off a debt, Driver steps in to assist and spare mother and son any further anguish. Things do not go as planned. If the bare mechanics of Drive‘s plot seem overly familiar it’s because they are. The character of Driver could easily be imagined in any number of westerns, samurai epics, or Clint Eastwood films as the nameless stranger who appears to skirt both sides of the law but who shows his true colors when it comes to protecting or avenging the innocent. His past is unclear but we know those gaps are most likely filled with violence, loss and more violence. And the idea of “one last job that goes wrong” has become so ubiquitous that it’s a wonder Friedberg & Seltzer haven’t spoofed it by now (in a film destined to be creatively titled One […]

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Director Nicolas Winding Refn‘s first Hollywood outing, Drive, is a successful and propulsive dive into the world of commercialism. Instead of tackling a work-for-hire type of gig, the semi-auteur has stuck to his unrelenting, darkly comedic, and playful style. The director took a simple premise and storyline, and made an 80s-inspired, pop music-fueled western about a lone samurai. Does that sound like the atypical Hollywood picture? It delivers the unexpected, similar to how Refn does in person. This is the second time I’ve interviewed the on-the-rise filmmaker, and he’s the type of interviewee that keeps you on your feet. Most of the time his responses are brief, to the point, and often odd. Sometimes that’s for the better, especially since the Danish filmmaker is never at a loss for something interesting to say. Here’s what the self-described fetish filmmaker had to say about Pretty Woman, treating actors as human beings, embracing his feminine side, and the ending of Drive:

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Tonight during a hilarious Q & A with Nicolas Winding Refn‘s for his near-perfect film Drive — yes, it’s about as a perfect as a movie can get — the rising auteur dropped two interesting stories. For one, apparently Ryan Gosling will soon be working with Terrence Malick. Refn briefly mentioned that Gosling may do the project after he’s done with Only God Forgives, and before Logan’s Run. Obviously, this news means we’ll be getting the remake a little later than expected. Fortunately enough, Refn has another project to keep himself busy during that time.

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Driving is boring. It’s so damn boring. Watching characters drive is often one of the most boring and cinematically flat things in movies. It’s rarely exciting. Directors constantly complain about the difficulty of finding energy or something of interest when characters stare off onto a road. Who could actually make such a dull-seeming activity cool, cinematic, and energetic? Nicolas Winding Refn, that’s who. Refn’s a director with a voice of his own, something that’s a bit of rarity nowadays. He’s got a specific personality that’s reflected perfectly on-screen. With Valhalla Rising, Bronson, and the Pusher trilogy, the guy has shown a great love for his violent characters. The auteur revels in exploring men of violence, what makes them tick, and their relationship with their surroundings. The lead in Drive, suitably credited only as Driver, is a lot like Bronson and One-Eye. He’s a man with his own presence, most of his intentions and thought processes are expressed internally, and he isn’t afraid to kick some ass if push comes to shove. Unlike Bronson, though, Driver doesn’t at all represent some form of madness. In this story that’s filled mostly with bastards, Driver is the most moralistic man among them.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news and commentary column that is a little disoriented at the moment. But don’t worry, it will find its way. Oh, there’s a few Michael Bay-related stories to talk about. That’s so much better… With the release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon happening this evening at 9pm or midnight or whatever, there’s been a lot of talk about Michael Bay, the most divisive man in cinema (at the moment). Today brought several must-reads, including GQ’s Oral history of Michael Bay exposé, which chronicles the life and times of the man who demands it all to be awesome. I also enjoyed this defense of Michael Bay piece by Jacob Hall at Movies.com. It’s a delightful look at the internal struggle movie-lovers face when confronted with pure, unfiltered awesome.

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As the films come to a close, patterns tend to emerge. This year, for instance, there has been a definite focus on the cinema of abuse, of nostalgia and on auteur-driven films, but the most engaging and intriguing mini-pattern for me is the cinema of misdirection, i.e. films that suggest they are one thing and ultimately offer something entirely different by their end. Unlike Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, and The Skin I Live In and even to a lesser extent Hara-Kiri, Drive‘s directional swerve is a tonal one, rather than a thematic or material one. What at the outset looks like an indie love story, with background driving sub-plots, swerves wildly onto a more ragged road. Ryan Gosling (Cannes’ new darling after this and last year’s mesmerizing Blue Valentine) stars as a stunt-driver/mechanic by day, who moonlights as a getaway driver who is as solitary as Leon, and as effortlessly cool and detached as Bullitt. This driver’s world is flipped when he meets his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan, who looks stunning), and is immediately floored by her (and her son Benicio). Problem is, Irene has an ex-con husband (Standard, played by Oscar Isaac) who they discover has been granted early release, and doesn’t take too kindly to the driver muscling in on his family. When the driver discovers Standard beaten and bloody in the car park, he offers his services to pull off the one last job that will see the ex-criminal able to get out and go straight. Only things […]

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Heat Vision is reporting that Baz Luhrmann’s film version of The Great Gatsby is one step closer to filling out its principle cast. Most of the main roles have already been grabbed up at this point, and by actors that fit the bill pretty nicely; but this latest news gives me pause. Reportedly Isla Fisher is in negotiations to join the cast as Myrtle Wilson. Leonardo DiCaprio is playing the charming and mysterious Gatsby, which makes sense because of DiCaprio’s leading man looks. Tobey Maguire is playing the film’s everyman narrator Nick Carraway, which makes sense because everyone already thinks of him as the ultimate everyman Peter Parker. Carey Mulligan is playing Daisy Buchanan, which makes sense because Mulligan can do anything, and being a rich white girl is probably something she can pull of in her sleep. Ben Affleck was playing Tom Buchanan, which made sense because Buchanan is a jerk that cheats on his wife and slaps ladies around and, love him or hate him, you have to admit Affleck naturally projects a bit of that doucher vibe that would fit the character perfectly. However, Deadline East Egg is reporting that Affleck has been locked to direct and star in Argo, and won’t be available for Gatsby. And now Isla Fischer is playing Myrtle Wilson, the frumpy, plain, wife of a mechanic, which makes sense because, uh… I got nothing. I sure like looking at Isla Fischer though, so good news all around!

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There aren’t many things that we know for sure about Baz Luhrman’s upcoming adaptation of “The Great Gatsby.” The man won’t even admit in a straightforward way that he is making the movie. There have been rumors that it would be in 3D, but who can say? The one thing that has seemed to be locked in pretty securely, however, has been the cast. Leonardo Dicaprio has always been set to play the title character Jay Gatsby. Carey Mulligan seems to be locked into playing the lead female role of Daisy Buchanan. And Tobey Maguire is reportedly on board to play the story’s observer and narrator Nick Carraway. Well now one more actor is in talks to join Luhrmann’s sure to be gaudy retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic tale of big mansions and romantic revenge, Armageddon’s Ben Affleck. Reportedly, Affleck is looking to sign on as Daisy’s husband, and Jay Gatsby’s chief romantic rival, Tom Buchanan. I approve of this casting. While I like Affleck much more as a writer and director than I do as an actor, when I try to imagine the jerk that would be married to and cheating on the girl I love, Affleck’s face fits in the scenario very easily. I’m sure people will have a very easy time rooting for DiCaprio to take him down and win young Ms. Mulligan’s hand. But, how I feel about a director as wildly stylistic as Luhrmann taking on such dry source material is still way up […]

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