9 items from 2011
In Steve McQueen’s Shame, Michael Fassbender plays some kind of advertising executive who has some sort of sex addiction. His sister (Carey Mulligan), whom he’s been ignoring for some reason or other, shows up at his place; the two have a relationship that might or might not be incestuous, but which definitely / possibly involves some kind of bad childhood stuff (maybe). Probably because his sister’s around, Fassbender has trouble doing his whole sex addiction thing, eventually gets beaten up outside of a bar, and is forced to get a blowjob from, of all things, another dude (that Shame equates gay sex with a personal Hell is a big hint toward its essentially reactionary inner workings). Throughout, McQueen opts for long-take, low-energy vagueness; its prettiness nearly masks the fact that the basic notions that inform the film—its images, its ellipses, its characterizations—are mostly inchoate, if not »
When it comes to director/screenwriter Steve McQueen and screenwriter Abi Morgan’s film about living a life of secrets (and what it does to those who carry them), much more is said with their characters’ actions than any of the words that pass through their lips. Even more so when it seems most of the words that are said are unreliable and laced with the feeling that they are not simply lies, but lies each are telling themselves. Shame shows us a complicated and layered world that is both enticing and chilling, begging the question – what kind of music would underscore and accompany these distinctive moments? A mix of score (by composer Harry Escott), piano concertos (as performed by Glenn Gould), jazz (John Coltrane and Chet Baker) and popular music (from Tom Tom Club, Blondie and Chic) come together to create a musical landscape that is both sexy and unsettling while also deeply sad, troubling »
- Allison Loring
I had the pleasure of seeing Steve McQueen‘s Shame for a second time this week, reconfirming it as one of my favorite films of the year. The story of sex addiction, played out by Michael Fassbender, is a masterwork in amping up and then releasing tension, resulting in a stunning experience that isn’t easy to shake.
We have a few new pieces from the film today, the first being the official UK poster, which debuted exclusively on Twitter, also including co-star Carey Mulligan. We also have details for the soundtrack from FilmMusicReporter, which I can’t wait to pick up. It features the score from composer Harry Escott, as well as songs by Blondie, Chic, Tom Tom Club and more. Check out the details below.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (thefilmstage.com)
"A very happy birthday to Liszt Ferenc, who was born two hundred years ago today," blogs Alex Ross, introducing a brief but — coming from the author of The Rest Is Noise — essential roundup.
Like many (many!) commentators today, Phil Harrell makes the case for Franz Liszt as the world's first rock star, here for NPR: "In the mid-19th century, Liszt was tearing up the polite salons and concert halls of Europe with his virtuoso performances. Women would literally attack him: tear bits of his clothing, fight over broken piano strings and locks of his shoulder-length hair. Europe had never seen anything like it. It was a phenomenon the great German poet Heinrich Heine dubbed 'Lisztomania.' … Liszt deliberately placed the piano in profile to the audience so they could see his face. He'd whip his head around while he played, his long hair flying, beads of sweat shooting into the crowd. »
A riveting documentary about the troubled Us chess champion and his battle with Boris Spassky
Liz Garbus's gripping documentary about the life and times of the troubled American chess genius Bobby Fischer asks a number of questions. Did Bobby's missing dad create an emotional void which was neurotically filled with chess? Is there something in the game that encourages immersive obsession and ultimate madness? Would Fischer have gone the same way if he had been a plumber or a welder? And why is it that antisemitism is the bigotry of choice for mentally ill people?
Non-chessers like me are already basically aware of the second and third acts of this American life. The middle act was Fischer's sensational world championship victory against Boris Spassky in 1972 followed by an immediate withdrawal into depression. His victory was perhaps merely an interruption to the reclusiveness which had, in effect, begun many years before. »
- Peter Bradshaw
The annal Toronto Jewish Film Festival in Toronto kicks off May 7 with 118 films from 21 countries, including 1 world premiere, 1 international premiere, 3 North American premieres, 34 Canadian Premieres, 7 free programmes and 1 World Class Film Festival. The festival runs until the 15 of May and will also feature a tribute to “Three Lennys” – Bernstein, Cohen and Bruce – with special guests Alexander Bernstein and Kitty Bruce; and with Offerings From Eytan Fox, Lou Reed, Claude Lanzmann, Dani Levy, Tony Palmer. Also the festival will screen China’s First Animated Film To Deal With The Holocaust.
Here is the official press release:
One of the largest festivals of its kind in the world, Tjff returns May 7 and runs through May 15, with films from 21 countries that reflect aspects of Jewish identity and diversity with universal themes. This year’s Tjff features 118 films from Argentina, Austria, Brazil, China, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, »
If my memory serves me correctly, I first became aware of Glenn Gould when I caught a screening of Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, François Girard's highly impressionistic “bio-pic” from 1993, which features Colm Feore as Gould. Thirty Two Short Films sparked a curiosity inside of me regarding Gould’s strange idiosyncrasies, but I also fell madly in love with Gould’s music. That said, besides purchasing a few Gould albums (yes, on vinyl), my fascination with him never went much further. I continued to have a deep appreciation for his interpretations of Bach, but I never made any attempts to learn about the man attached to those gloved fingers. »
- Don Simpson
If I had to sum up the buzz at Sundance this year in a single sentence, it would be this: Independent film is back. On a literal level, that sounds like the most trumped up of buzzy catch phrases — a lurch for positivity at a festival that, each year, needs a hook, a scenario, on which to hang its identity. Independent film, of course, never went away. That big blue snowflake on the right was the Sundance logo this year, and before each screening, a looped animated version of it revealed that it’s made up of a hundred tiny »
- Owen Gleiberman
The great pianist Glenn Gould is often caricatured as a crazy hermit somewhere between Syd Barrett and Howard Hughes; Gould wore overcoats and gloves in hot summer and abandoned the concert stage at the height of his career. This thoughtful biodoc rescues Gould from the cliches and re-establishes him as a musician. Was he a recluse? Hardly, he became a prolific broadcaster with a Pythonesque sense of humour. A classical music snob? No, he cheerfully recorded a radio show about Petula Clark. An ascetic? No, he had a passionate relationship with a married woman and became a much-loved, temporary stepfather to her children. Undoubtedly, Gould was an eccentric and a hypochondriac, but this film argues for his human vulnerability.
DocumentaryClassical musicPeter Bradshaw
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- Peter Bradshaw
9 items from 2011
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