24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Shame

Carey Mulligan: I wasn't uncomfortable being naked in 'Shame'

October 25, 2011 |  3:15 pm

Carey Mulligan at the Hollywood Film Festival
Carey Mulligan has laid her emotions bare on screen numerous times. But in "Shame," the upcoming drama about a sex addict played by Michael Fassbender, she exposes far more of herself.

In the movie, Mulligan plays the sister of Fassbender's character -- a somewhat promiscuous young woman open with both her body and her feelings. The role required the actress to get fully naked for one scene in a shower -- something Mulligan said was surprisingly easy to do.

"I wasn't uncomfortable being naked. For other roles, it may be inappropriate, but for this, I felt like it was right for the part," the 26-year-old told 24 Frames on the red carpet Monday evening at the Hollywood Awards, where she was accepting a prize for her supporting role in the film. "It was a very small set and a very small crew, so it didn't feel like I was doing it in front of that many people. And Michael is so engaging when you act with him ... I felt like I was just in the room with him."

What caused more anxiety, she said, was having to sing a rendition of "New York, New York" in the Steve McQueen-directed film.

"That was actually probably more nerve-racking than the nudity. Yeah, that was scary. We did about 15 takes because [Steve] wanted it live," she said, adding that said she was so taken with the script that she "begged" McQueen for the job, despite not being an "obvious choice for the role."

Meanwhile, the movie will almost certainly receive an NC-17 rating when it is released stateside in December. The actress said she admired McQueen for not excising the film's riskier parts in an effort to make the movie more commercial.

"I think Steve was brave and made an uncompromising film and didn't want to change anything and won't change anything," she said. "He wanted to sort of hold up a mirror and show real people doing real things."


'Shame' director surprised by controversy

Michael Fassbender trailer has little 'Shame' [Video]

Michael Fassbender exposes more than skin in 'Shame'

— Amy Kaufman


Photo: Carey Mulligan poses on the red carpet at the Hollywood Awards. Photo: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

'The Artist,' 'Shame' among AFI Fest highlights

October 18, 2011 | 11:00 am

The Artist is set to be a gala screening at AFI Fest
Angeleno movie lovers who weren't able to shell out the big bucks to fly to the Cannes or Toronto film festivals will get the chance to see some of the season's most buzzed-about movies at the upcoming AFI Fest.

A slew of films popular on this year's festival circuit will screen at the upcoming event, held Nov. 3-10 in Hollywood. Among the festival's centerpiece galas are the "The Artist," the silent black-and-white film which became a sensation at Cannes, and "Shame," the drama starring Michael Fassbender as a sex addict that was a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Other red-carpet events include Roman Polanski's "Carnage," Luc Besson's "The Lady" and the Marilyn Monroe drama "My Week With Marilyn." Pedro Almodóvar, who is the festival's guest artistic director this year, will also screen his 1987 film "Law of Desire" starring Antonio Banderas.

AFI Fest will offer special screenings of a number of other well-regarded movies that have made the festival rounds. They include Lynne Ramsey's dark drama "We Need to Talk About Kevin," Lars von Trier's "Melancholia," Mexico's foreign-language Oscar submission "Miss Bala" and the Dardenne brothers' "The Kid With A Bike," which all premiered at Cannes. Also screening are Oren Moverman's "Rampart," the Duplass brothers' "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" and Jim Field Smith's "Butter," which all played in Toronto in September.

A limited number of free tickets to most of the screenings will become available beginning Oct. 27. But if you want to guarantee a seat at the most in-demand films, you can buy a special pass at AFI.com/AFIFEST.


AFI Fest to spotlight Joe Swanberg, indie film director

Eastwood's 'J. Edgar,' starring DiCaprio, to open AFI Fest

Hammer, Yelchin, Wood and Dunst set for Times roundtable

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Jean Dujardin, left, and Bérénice Bejo star in "The Artist." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

Michael Fassbender trailer has little 'Shame' [Video]

October 14, 2011 | 12:48 pm

Michael Fassbender

“Shame” has been a major standout on the fall festival circuit and is one of the most anticipated movies of this coming season. Steve McQueen’s auteur piece — Fox Searchlight releases it on Dec. 2 — stars Michael Fassbender as a sex addict who can’t emotionally connect with women; he tosses from the room a potential girlfriend without having sex with her, for instance, and instead calls a prostitute.

But you wouldn’t exactly know the movie is about sex addiction from a new trailer. In fact, you wouldn’t know much about it at all.

There’s the vague insinuation that Fassbender’s character has looked at some Internet porn and a sense generally of a man tortured. But there's almost no actial sex in the trailer — and what little sex there is comes off as the far more functional variety.

Instead, the emphasis is on a family relationship between Fassbender’s character and Carey Mulligan’s chanteuse, an important piece of the film but hardly its sole focus. And it's all interspersed wth unrevealing shots (in more ways than one) of Fassbender's character jogging through the New York streets.

To be fair, it is a Herculean task to cut a spot for this movie, which is all but assured an NC-17 rating.

"Man who can only have sex that’s kinky and with prostitutes" doesn’t scream Saturday night date movie. And clearly marketers don't want to exclude postings on mainstream sites (like this one). Still, it's fun to think about the people who will see the movie only off this trailer. If some "Drive" filmgoers were in for a surprise...


"Shame" director surprised by controversy

Michael Fassbender says "shame" is a social critique

Michael Fassbender exposes more than skin in 'Shame'

— Steven Zeitchik


Toronto 2011: 'Shame' director surprised by controversy

September 13, 2011 |  4:42 pm

Even though this year's award season is just getting going, "Shame," starring Michael Fassbender, has already caused a stir. The movie's frank sexual content has prompted spirited debate among audiences, and the film  prompted at  least one woman to faint (at the Toronto Film Festival premiere, though apparently because of a moment of on-screen violence, not a sex scene).

But ask director Steve McQueen what he thinks of the fuss and he waves it away. "I didn't do this to be provocative," he said in a Toronto hotel room Tuesday. "They say Michael is naked. Half the people in the audience have what he has, and 99% percent of the audience has seen what he has. It's the most un-shocking thing you can think of. And yet someone picks up a gun and blows someone's head off and that's normal."

He added, "What I want to do in cinema is hold up a mirror to how people are."

In "Shame,"  Fassbender portrays Brandon, a good-looking but lonely man with a propensity for hard-core Internet porn, public sexual encounters with strangers and various forms of X-rated kinkiness. Since the film screened at Toronto, festival-goers have been debating just how sympathetic his character is, and what McQueen was hinting at in some of the more suggestive scenes. (Brendan's murky relationship with his sister, played by Carey Mulligan, is a particular point of debate.)

With what he calls the "prevalence" of sex in both the film and in the culture at large, McQueen said he believed "Shame" had a certain timeliness. "The movie is so now. But it still could have been anything -- it could have been gambling and it could have been an alcohol addiction."

For all its explicit content,  “Shame” is far from an exploitation piece. The BAFTA-winning McQueen is prone to long takes and longer silences, and puts meticulous effort into composing each shot, which is no doubt part of the reason audiences are discussing it as intensely as they are.

Of the many bold flourishes in his film, McQueen said the silences were of particular importance to him. "It tells so much more than some ridiculous conversation," he said. "People talk all the time and nobody says anything. You can say a lot more with silence."

-- Steven Zeitchik in Toronto


Photo: Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender in "Shame." Credit: Toronto Film Festival


'Shame' finds U.S. buyer, to hit theaters in 2011

September 9, 2011 |  4:51 pm

"Shame," the provocative and kinky film starring Michael Fassbender as a thirtysomething New York man obsessed with impersonal gratification, will be coming to U.S. theaters before the year's end, having found a distributor Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival: Fox Searchlight.

 "Shame,” which world premiered last week at the Venice Film Festival and also played at the small Telluride Film Festival in Colorado last weekend, is directed by Steve McQueen and also stars Carey Mulligan. It was seen as one of the hottest titles up for grabs in Toronto -- albeit also one that poses serious marketing challenges.

“Steve McQueen’s courageous exploration of modern life’s extremes is breathtaking,"  Fox Searchlight Co-presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula said in a statement announcing the deal.  "He has crafted an extraordinary film that probes some of the deepest and darkest issues ever portrayed on screen with amazingly gifted performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan.”

Fox Searchlight began talks with producers after seeing the film in Telluride and apparently won them over with their plans for how to market the film, which seems certain to get an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. That can pose a marketing challenge, as some theaters refuse to play such films and some publications frown on advertising for films with that rating.

"Their approach to marketing and distributing the film this year was incredibly detailed and impressive. We are excited to be working with them on a film that is sparking debate and a strong emotional reaction from audiences,” producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman said in a statement.

Searchlight, though, does have a track record in marketing difficult and unusual fare, including last year's ballet-horror film "Black Swan," which went on to five Oscar nominations and grossed more than $100 million in the U.S. alone.


Toronto 2011: Six juicy storylines worth following

Toronto 2011: Our guide to festival films, in photos

Telluride 2011: Michael Fassbender exposes more than skin in 'Shame'

-- Julie Makinen in Toronto

  Photo: Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender in "Shame." Credit: Toronto International Film Festival.

'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.”


Hot films Up for grabs at the Toronto Film Festival

Telluride: Michael Fassbender exposes more than skin in 'Shame'

Venice Film Fest: Buzz (good and bad) for Keira Knightley in 'A Dangerous Method'

 — Julie Makinen

Photo: Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender share a rare smile in "Shame." Photo: See-Saw Films.







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.


Jennifer Garner Spreads "Butter" in Telluride

George Clooney Makes Waves with "The Descendants"

Glenn Close Gender-Bends in Telluride Film "Albert Nobbs"

—John Horn in Telluride, Colo.

Photo: Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender share a rare smile in "Shame." Photo: See-Saw Films.




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