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the island of conclusions

Meanwhile, in Venice

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Meanwhile, in Venice

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Fassy torso


Just in case you missed the pics of Michael Fassbender fassbendering around the Venice Film Festival, where he had two films premiering—A Very Dangerous Method (in which he plays Jung to Viggo Mortensen’s Freud and Keira Knightly’s Sabina Spielrien) and Shame, in which he plays a sex addict in Manhattan.



Shame seems to have gotten the better reviews. A Dangerous Method sounds a little like Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers with the Freudianism elevated from subtext to text, not that that will stop me from seeing it. Quite the contrary.

I’d seen the NSFW pics of Shame being filmed but I didn’t realize it was directed by Steve McQueen, who directed MF in Hunger (linking you to my ravings about Hunger). Now I’m determined to see Shame, too(even if I can’t quite imagine who I’ll convince to come with me). If there’s anyone who seems to know how to make good use of MF’s weird, compelling, predatory, fassbenderness, it’s this guy. Plus, it was written by Abi Morgan, who also wrote The Hour.



And of course Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was there too, garnering the best reviews of all.




I know I’ve been boring you senseless with my trawl through the BBC vaults this summer, so just one more. Since I was so unsatisfied with the Simm I got in The Devil’s Whore, I watched his more recent, non-costume-drama, BBC series from this spring, Exile. It sounds tailor-made for Simm (and probably was, by Paul Abbot, who wrote State of Play): London journalist self-destructs on drugs and retreats to the Northern town he grew up in, to find his grumpy sister caring for their Alzheimers’s-ridden dad (the awesome Jim Broadbent). I thought it would be a tear-jerker, though it was billed as a State of Play-style mystery, but the family stuff was touching without being at all maudlin, and the mystery turned out to be way more gothic and horrifying than I was expecting. Plus, you get to see JS do all the things he does best: get high/drunk; lose his shit; rant righteously; fall deep, deep, deep into his own accent; be all tender and needy with women; be one sexy little fuck.

Plus there’s an awesome scene where he and Jim Broadbent rant at each other. Naked. In the bath. That’s right—naked together in the bath.


Very much recommended, if you’re in the mood for that kind of thing. Oh, and since MF and BC got a picture, have one of Simm too:





Otherwise, the boys and I had one of those weekends where we seemed to move around in kind of a puppy pile. We went to the pool and they clung to my shoulders and ankles. We went to our annual college football game, and the six-year-old crawled all over me. We watched Dr. Who jammed up together on the couch. It probably sounds much more cuddly than it actually was—cuddling from a six-year-old and a ten-year-old boy is more like being in a basket of WWF wrestlers than it is like a basket of kittens. Still, I guess we must have needed it, on some level, after the first week of school.



Hope everyone had a good long weekend who had one!
  • Ahhh! Everything you talk about makes me watch to watch it. Also, thanks for the lovely pics. :D

    I really really want to watch Exile now. John Simm is my boy. <3
    • Oh, you should definitely see Exile, then! He is at his Simm-ian best. Aside from everything else, he does an unexpectedly large amount of kissing in it--and he's just the most convincingly tender actor with women, y'know?

      I'm dying to see all three of the movies I mentioned--glad I'm making you want to see them too!
  • Fassbendering! I love it. :D

    Thank you for the very nice pictures!
  • Michael Fassbender fassbendering around in flip flops, no less. He appears to be having a marvelously good time (possibly while pinching himself or some other person or ten).

    I'm intrigued by Shame, though I don't expect it to be comfortable watch. Hunger was remarkable and, I think, much of that was derived from both Fassbender's and McQueen's abilities to make the experience so very visceral. It should have been, given the nature of the story, and it had to be, given the fact that there was little reliance on dialogue (I think it served it well, though it's certainly the opposite of a Tarantino flick in which dialogue is used to an effective extreme).

    McQueen's also supposedly doing a version of Twelve Years a Slave, and I'm curious about it, assuming it develops.

    A Dangerous Method sounds a little like Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers with the Freudianism elevated from subtext to text, not that that will stop me from seeing it. Quite the contrary.


    I'd forgotten Cronenberg directed that. Interesting. In a good way.

    I'm very much looking forward to Tinker, Tailor and, of course, anything with Simm.

    cuddling from a six-year-old and a ten-year-old boy is more like being in a basket of WWF wrestlers

    There's an image! Sounds lovely, though.

    Edited at 2011-09-06 04:57 am (UTC)
    • Someone else who has seen Hunger! It really was a remarkable movie--I had some issues with the it, but it haunted me in a way few movies have recently. It seemed like Fassbender and McQueen had some real director/actor chemistry--maybe just their mutual commitment to being so visceral. So I'm very curious to see what they do working together again (I don't know if I could stand seeing that storyline from another actor and director)--though you're right that it certainly won't be an easy watch.

      (Funny you should mention Tarantino--I think I watched Inglorious Basterds right after seeing Hunger--on my Fassbender tear--and by the end I really disliked the film--couldn't stand its approach to history and politics.)

      I'd forgotten about Dead Ringers too, but some remark a review of Method about love triangles triggered my memory. I wonder if it would hold up after all these years....


      • in which I talk way too much -- shall we blame late night coffee?

        I'll let you know about Dead Ringers. I've found the video (heavens, a video!), and we plan to watch it tonight. But there's a sort of elegant weirdness to Jeremy Irons that I expect will stand.

        Heh, I'd seen Inglorious Basterds well before Hunger, and I was not as impressed as I'd hoped I would be. I thought the performances -- Waltz and Fassbender, especially -- were terrific, but I didn't like Tarantino's approach much. Granted, I often have a love/hate relationship with Tarantino's work. Love some things. Hate others. Love and hate still others.

        Now, I do have a point to that tangent. I found McQueen to be so very different from Tarantino. Both directors utilize imagery. But Tarantino seems to derive his from a vocabulary of the genre of film he's playing with. In Bastards, it was both war films and revenge dramas, and he used those expectations to frame his approach to the movie. One might argue that it was grounded in a genre (or a genre history) of film rather than in a history of WWII itself. Tarantino also relies heavily on dialogue. He'll tell you what happens as much as he'll show you, though he often tells it in such a nonlinear fashion that it seldom matters that he does.

        As for McQueen, he'll show you, rather than tell, even when the telling might be useful. The body language of the actors, the blocking of the scenes, the relentless depiction of physical violence are intended to show. He relies on imagery with which one is familiar but they are as much historical as cinematic images.

        Long and perhaps pointless story short, I was impressed at someone able to work with and adapt his style to both. I can't imagine it would be easy. Challenging and exciting, yes. Simple, no.

        (I don't know if I could stand seeing that storyline from another actor and director

        I'm not sure I could. It'd have to be in careful hands.
        • Re: in which I talk way too much -- shall we blame late night coffee?

          Oh, you'll have to let me know how Dead Ringers is! I remember it getting a lot of flack when it came out, though I can't remember quite why. Cronenberg is a director I have a love/irrational love relationship with :)

          Tarantino is mostly hate/hate for me--maybe it's partly the reliance on dialogue? Maybe his commitment to a lack of psychological depth? In that film it was mostly the "well, if we could just shoot the Nazis with machine guns everything will be fine" thing. In comparison to something like Hunger it's a kind of pseudo-viscerality (sorry to be such an old fart).

          Some of the use of wordless imagery in Hunger was so amazing: the image of washing bloody hands, even though it's not clear whose or why until late in the film; the painting with shit; the boy running through the woods.

          Sometimes, I did feel like McQueen was a little too in love with the images--especially MF's starving body--got a little too much pleasure out of the pain. Plus I didn't like that he focused on those two guys at the beginning and then we never heard more about them...

          Still, I felt like while lots of directors--even Tarantino--are taken up with MF's smoothness and handsomeness--McQueen wasn't afraid to use his creepy ruthlessness, his ability to portray zealotry.

          Have you ever seen this film from the 90s called Close My Eyes? Alan Rickman, Clive Owen and Saskia Reeves, incest in the new Britain--reading about Shame reminded me of it--it's quite a good film in the creepy/sexy line.

          Ha! I went on longer than you :)
          • Re: in which I talk way too much -- shall we blame late night coffee?

            I haven't seen Close My Eyes. That's an appealing cast. At the moment, I'm impressed by Jeremy Irons and am thinking that the movie is somewhat dated -- but not in a bad way. I'll have more to say in a bit, but I think it'll go quite nicely with A Dangerous Method and Shame.

            Still, I felt like while lots of directors--even Tarantino--are taken up with MF's smoothness and handsomeness--McQueen wasn't afraid to use his creepy ruthlessness, his ability to portray zealotry.

            Oh, yes, Michael Fassbender's a very attractive man, but there's a quality to him that's unusual. Sometimes I see a picture, and I think that he's remarkably lovely. Other times I think that he's not overly caught up in his looks -- there's a quirky quality and an ability to use them when he wishes. Then other times he can be genuinely unsettling (Clive Owen has that quality, at least he did in Closer and Croupier). I actually found Fassbender to be somewhat underwhelming in Jane Eyre and there's s nothing I can really point to about the performance. It isn't a bad one; it's quite a good one actually. But it seemed to lack an edge I felt Rochester had and that I know, based on other performances, Fassbender was able to deliver. I wasn't that thrilled with the direction in Jane Eyre and thought the cast might have been hampered by some of the choices made.

            Some of the use of wordless imagery in Hunger was so amazing: the image of washing bloody hands, even though it's not clear whose or why until late in the film; the painting with shit; the boy running through the woods.

            Yep, McQueen manages sensual and spare at the same time. The depiction of the blanket protest was disturbing and fantastic.

            Sometimes, I did feel like McQueen was a little too in love with the images--especially MF's starving body--got a little too much pleasure out of the pain.

            Yes, I would agree. I thought there were a few too many art-house moments (and I don't think there's a thing wrong with artistic imagery, but too much of a good thing is still too much), and I did think there was too much focus on the wasted body (and I know there had to be) but one wants to be careful to emphasize the suffering without fetishizing it. I don't think McQueen did the latter, but it's a tricky line to walk as is the imagery that seemed to reference the martyrdom of certain saints (and that's also tricky in the context).

            • Re: in which I talk way too much -- shall we blame late night coffee?

              I felt the same way about Jane Eyre! I saw it before I'd seen MF in anything else, and he didn't make much of an impact--especially given what a disturbing force Rochester is supposed to be. Then, after I'd seen him in other things, I was really surprised the movie had flattened him out to the extent it did. It must have been the direction, you're right (though I thought Mia Waikowska (sp?) was a nearly perfect Jane).

              That's a good point that imagery in Hunger referenced the imagery of the martyrdom of saints--that seems really true--though as you say, it wasn't too heavy handed. And between the the two of them--McQueen and Fassbender--they really made it impossible to look away.

              I'll be interested to hear your final verdict on Dead Ringers. I was thinking about Jeremy Irons last night: I was so taken with Ben Whishaw in The Hour that I watched the first little bit of the new Brideshead Revisisted. He's strangely miscast as Sebastian, but he's a good actor, and he does well enough. But the guy playing Charles Ryder is a complete doofus, and I missed Jeremy Irons so much!
  • Don't forget about the wonderful Simm tears in Exile, especially in the third hour. Oh my God, I started crying right along with him.

    And once or twice, very briefly, you'd see a flash of that dazzling Simmy smile. Oh, yes.
    • Thank you! How could I forget the Simm tears?! (I have to say the revelations of the third hour were more shocking than I expected O_O)

      And, yes, lordy, I'd go a long way for that smile!
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