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Entries in Shame (33)

Monday
Jan022012

Best of Year Pt 2: Sweet 16 from Primordial Ooze to YA Novels

Part One: I Am Thirty Two Flavors 
Other pictures from 2011 that The Film Experience's year wouldn't have been complete without.

Part Two: Honorable Mentions
The year's best movies stretched all the way from the creation to the apocalypse and everywhen in between; time hardly seemed linear in 2011 but immeasurably flexible instead. The year's best films also twisted and shape-shifted in scale and meaning, wrapping big themes around human-sized packages.

THE TREE OF LIFE (Terrence Malick)
Fox Searchlight. May 27th. 
I really didn't know that our Burning Questions columnist Michael C felt so similarly about Terrence Malick's latest so two somewhat agnostic appreciations back-to-back were not intended here at The Film Experience. I greatly admire The Tree of Life's grandiose reach (the creation segment being my favorite chunk) and breathtaking physical beauty but often I felt like I was visiting an impenetrably random museum installation. Still... it's hard to shake the imagery and in a few key sequences -- children playing in poison clouds, brothers crying in tall grass, and especially in the different ways that Mrs O Brien (an ethereal Jessica Chastain) and Mr O'Brien (Brad Pitt's second great performance of the year... can we please give him an Oscar now, people?) touched and taught and looked at their children, the movie was fiercely moving.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (Woody Allen)
Sony Pictures Classics. June 10th.
Let's not call it a comeback. Woody Allen has never gone away and his filmography runs the gamut between masterful and mediocre -- sometimes within the very same movie! What sets Midnight in Paris apart from the pack is a conceit so clever and insightful that it works both within the famed auteur's current limitations and as charming cover for them. It's okay that the present feels so tired and one note when hack screenwriter Gil (Owen Wilson) feels exactly this way about the life he's leading. It's definitely okay that the nostalgic past feels shallow and cartoony since nostalgia is fantasy, a very specific escapist (rear) projection. Quibbling is easy -- it's no Purple Rose of Cairo (an Allen masterwork treading somewhat similar ground) -- but why quibble when Corey Stoll is so funny as Hemingway, Adrien Brody is so amusing as Dali "Rhi-no-ce-ros" and Marion Cotillard's muse complicates the movie so beautifully by rejecting its message entirely and exiting the picture with so little fuss.

THE HOUSEMAID (Im Sang-soo)
IFC. January 21st. 
This erotic melodrama, a remake of a Korean classic (which I have yet to see), is either the year's most elegantly trashy soap opera or its most biting political metaphor for the carnivorous and consequence-free behavior of the super wealthy and the impotent dramatics of the working poor. Maybe both. Either way it's uncomfortably steamy, beautifully filmed, and superly acted (South Korea is where it's at for actresses these days. Period.) It's also unusually entertaining once the bad behavior and catfights begin. I watched it twice in one week when I first saw it and if my schedule weren't so tight, I'd do so again right now.

PARIAH (Dee Rees)
Focus Features. December 28th. 
Two important new voices emerged in queer cinema this year, writer/directors Dee Rees and Andrew Haigh (his Weekend up later in the countdown). Both filmmakers previously directed one documentary-style feature so they weren't in the discussions of "best debuts" but what debuts these narrative features were! Coming out stories are a staple of gay cinema but few of them have carved out as much emotional nuance from raw feeling. Pariah has so much feeling for its characters that it occassional gets distracted with tangential subplots but better too much genuine feeling than not enough of it or the poorly manufactured variety. This story of a shy closeted lesbian high school student (Adepere Oduye, just wonderful) in a rough Brooklyn neighborhood just aches with emotion and, best of all, future possibility. You find yourself wondering about Alike's journey after the movie ends. The best characters, gay or otherwise, live beyond the end credits [Best LGBT characters of 2011]

SHAME (Steve McQueen)
Fox Searchlight. December 2nd. 
Brandon only has room for one thing in his life. His apartment and office are as barren as his emotional life. Michael Fassbender enters the picture on a naked loop as he travels from bed to phone to bathroom, one day being any day and every day empty but for bodily functions and the pursuit of the next fix. It's the first of many smart decisions that Steve McQueen, one of the most exciting new cinematic voices to emerge in the past decade (see also: Hunger), makes in this visually spare but daringly operatic take on addiction. Shame isn't perfect -- for every "New York New York" segment -- a telepathic conversation? a sung monologue? --  there's another moment that's too on the nose. The best thing about Shame is McQueen's voyeuristic addiction to the contact high of great actors. His camera stalks them ceaselessly but wisely never gets in their way, freezing in place to watch them work their inimitable magic.

YOUNG ADULT (Jason Reitman)
Paramount. December 9th
The first painful chortle of recognition I experienced watching Young Adult was the ease at which YA writer Mavis Gary (a brilliant Charlize Theron) became distracted from her work. A sentence or two, tops, was all she could manage before she was on to more pressing things like e-mail, Diet Coke, pet care (of sorts), and other absent-minded rituals. Sigh. I know the feeling on all counts. It was the first chortle of many. Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody, who previously made Juno together, make another compelling case for continued partnership here in this diamond sharp perfectly condensed comedy about prolongued adolescence, untreated mental illness, and terrible cultural values (note how Mavis isn't the only one who worships her skin-deep beauty or encourages her self delusions). 

P.S. It took me half an hour to write that paragraph and it's not even a good one! Thankfully I did not hatch any plan as spectacularly ill conceived as "return to hometown. steal ex-boyfriend away from wife and infant daughter" during the fitful pauses. 

and now... the top ten.

Saturday
Dec242011

Whether You've Been Naughty... Or Nice...

Happy Holidays from The Film Experience! Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year... whatever you're celebrating.

But most of all... Happy Moviegoing.

Blogging will resume on Monday morning. Coming next week: Interviews with Corey Stoll, Charlize Theron and Jessica Chastain. Plus: more on War Horse, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Iron Lady, and The Artist. And Nathaniel's Top Ten List and the Film Bitch Awards Kick Off.

You'll stick around, right?

Saturday
Dec172011

FYC Booklets: Shame

Ever since we shared that Harry Potter "Consider..." book, I've been meaning open to crack open the other FYC ads that have arrived. So let's do that starting with Shame.

Shame... Why didn't this one come in a black plastic or brown paper wrapping like porn? The cover blurb courtesy of New York magazine says

Michael Fassbender has arrived."

Where? We'll be right over!

We get the meaning but that happened with Hunger, thank you, and was immediately confirmed over and over again for the next year and change with the consecutive openings of Inglourious Basterds, Jane Eyre and X-Men First Class and so on. He's not only arrived, he's moved in.

More Shame and modest FYC proposals after the jump

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec172011

Natty the Link Slayer

24 Frames Why is Harvey Weinstein the ultimate campaigner?
Art Info meet the sexy subway rider from Shame, actress Lucy Walters.
Mother Nature six things you probably didn't know about It's a Wonderful Life 
Super Punch Robot Chicken makes an Alien funny: the dangers of acid blood.  
Whedonesque Huh. Did not know this. Willow on Buffy was only a coincidental redhead. T'wasn't planned at all though it's impossible to think of Willow as anything but.
Alyson Hannigan is pregnant again. Congratulations to Mommy Willow! 

In Contention Kris Tapley's "superlatives" of the year. He's on #TeamMargaret and Team Tilda.
Sum Up Film the Desperate Women of the Best Actress Race
My New Plaid Pants Man crotch, the hot new movie poster trend
Empire Robert Redford back to work eh? He'll team with Margin Call's breakout writer/director J.C. Chandor on All is Lost, a man vs nature drama.
Cinema Blend Leonardo DiCaprio has two villain roles coming up and The Devil in the White City just hired its screenwriter Graham Moore
The Carpetbagger This is a "hearing about your nomination" story that isn't 100% generic. Angelina Jolie was at the dentist office. Hee. 
The Playlist Jessica Chastain to star in The Darling... which is about 4 or 5 movies from now on her schedule. At some point girlfriend's going to have to come up for air! Maybe she'll take a break in 2015?

For what its worth The Academy has disqualified The Smurfs from the Animated Feature race. No one expected it to be nominated but it's still important to note. 18 films were submitted and the category requires 16 qualifying entries for five-wise "Best" category. If more are disqualified before the nomination ballots go out, the shortlist may get, well, shorter. It's a curious and quite competitive category this year given the rarity of a Pixar fumble and a frontrunner (Rango) that is not quite beloved. That said, Pixar's Cars 2 could still well be nominated from force of habit. The Golden Globes went there despite several more acclaimed option and so did the Annies though they select ten nominees so it was practically a gimme. It's kind of a nail biter, isn't it? Do you think Pixar will manage a nod?

Friday
Dec162011

Detroit Loves "The Artist", Feels "Shame"

After my chat with Judy Greer I've been feeling homesick for Detroit. Or maybe it's just the ghost of Christmases past floating about though I haven't done a Christmas in Michigan in years. So what a perfect day for the Detroit Film Critics to announce their winners! The Artist is no sweeper but it's proving to be a formidable competitor on the critical map. A nice surprise from Detroit is the solid support afforded Shame which took two of the six acting prizes. 

Picture The Artist
Director Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Screenplay Moneyball
Documentary Tabloid

...and the acting prizes
Actress Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Actor Michael Fassbender, Shame
Supporting Actress Carey Mulligan, Shame
Supporting Actor Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Breakthrough Performances Jessica Chastain
Ensemble Carnage

How amazing is this ad for SHAME from a UK paper I believe?

Since I used to live in the Detroit area, I know how long it can be before Oscar releases show up there so I read this piece from John Serba on the voting with great interest. Here's what he says about Best Actress:

Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn. A strong candidate in a weak-ish field. Although now that I've seen “Young Adult,” I'd have voted for Charlize Theron over Williams. So it goes."

I weep for the Michiganders who had a weak Best Actress year! This year is just incredible for Best Actress but, alas, many of the best performances were found in tiny films that maybe never made it to the Detroit Metro area or did not get the attention they deserved if they showed their which was probably for one week in one theater. So it goes, indeed.

The members of this organization, which I'm only listing due to Motown kinship, are as follows: Kirk Baird (The Toledo Blade), Jason Buchanan (allmovie.com), Jim Fordyce (MIentertainment.biz), Adam Graham (The Detroit News), Corey Hall (The Metro Times), Tom Long (The Detroit News), Jeff Meyers (The Metro Times), John Monaghan (The Detroit Free Press), Warren Pierce (WJR Radio), Greg Russell (WMYD-TV), James Sanford (The Kalamazoo Gazette), Tom Santilli (Examiner.com), Debbie Schlussel (Sirius Patriot Channel 144’s Mike Church Show), Perry Seibert (allmovieguide.com), John Serba (The Grand Rapids Press), Lee Thomas (WJBK Fox 2), Mike Tyrkus (Cinemanerdz.com), Kirk Vanderbeek (Real Detroit Weekly), Greg Walton (WIOG/KRSP), and Stephanie Webb (WZZM, ABC 13), Chris Williams (Advisor & Source Newspapers), and Rob Worley (Backlot D.) 

Tuesday
Dec132011

"you are a part of me that i could never link without. khob-khun-ka khob-khun-ka"

Chicago Reader insightful piece on the troublesome editing of both Bridesmaids and Margaret.
Critical Condition on why Shame is his least favorite movie this year.
Mark Harris does the best job yet of mapping out that crazy weekend just past of awardage that happened to us.
OQ David Kinzer goes down the rabbit hole to bitch about Sasha Stone bitching about David Denby and Shame. Oh, the internetz.  
Fandor "The Spielberg Face" a video essay

How much do you love the dueling speeches in "Bridesmaids". I think it's the best scene." 

List Mania
IndieWire 25 Best Movie Moments of the Year
The AV Club has a communal top 15 of the year.
Scanners on Shame, The Artist, awards season backlash and the effortful compilation of one's own "best of" lists.