DID YOU READ

“Shame,” reviewed

“Shame,” reviewed (photo)

Posted by on

Michael Fassbender has become something of a sex symbol this year. I’ve personally witnessed more than a few ladies (and at least a couple guys) swoon over his rugged good looks and smoldering eyes in movies like “Jane Eyre,” “X-Men: First Class” and “A Dangerous Method,” and for those folks, “Shame” must sound like a gift from heaven. Fassbender naked? A lot? Like, a lot a lot? It’s true, but Fassbenderholics should be careful what they wish for. They’ll get plenty of man candy in “Shame,” but it’s bound to leave a bad taste in their mouths. Is “Shame” sexual? Yes. Is it sexy? Not so much.

Fassbender plays Brandon, a New York City office drone whose stylish clothes and suave pickup moves mask a crushing addiction to sex. Brandon might be able to seduce a woman on the subway with nothing but a look, but behind closed doors he’s a total mess. His house is filled with porn, his office computer is “filthy” with viruses, and he blows actual dates with real women to have sex with prostitutes. Things only get more difficult for Brandon when his needy sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) comes to town for a visit. Brandon avoids and ignores Sissy’s calls for as long as he can, then resents her when she decides to move in with him. The way they argue, wrestle, converse in the shower, hint at possible incest, and suggest that Brandon’s issues and Sissy’s distress have a shared root cause.

But what is that root cause? Some fellow critics I’ve spoken to complain about “Shame”‘s economy of character detail. They’re frustrated by the lack of information about Brandon and Sissy’s lives before the film begins. They want to know why they’re so screwed up. I respectfully disagree. “Shame” is a movie about sex addiction, but it’s also about denial. It’s clear something terrible happened to Brandon and Sissy, but it’s also clear whatever it was inflicted such brutal psychic damage on these siblings that they still haven’t come to grips with it. Why should the movie acknowledge that trauma if the characters themselves can’t?

More importantly, I didn’t miss that backstory because I was so entranced by “Shame”‘s beautiful but unsettling present. Its co-writer and director is Steve McQueen, the creator of “Hunger,” the film that made Fassbender an international star. Though that film was set in an Irish prison, and “Shame” takes place on the streets of New York, it feels no less claustrophobic. Brandon is trapped by the city and its temptations. In one powerful, unbroken shot, Brandon leaves his apartment (at 9 West 31st Street — McQueen’s Manhattan is wonderfully real and very specific) and jogs all the way to Madison Square Garden. But wherever Brandon goes, he can’t outrun his need.

Fassbender bares his body repeatedly in “Shame” but the way he bares his soul is even more impressive. Because McQueen and Abi Morgan’s screenplay offers Brandon so few places to talk about his true feelings, it’s all left to Fassbender to convey with wordless gestures. The only intimate relationship Brandon has with anyone in “Shame” is with McQueen’s camera. Scenes like the one where he stands alone on a pier silently overlooking the Hudson River are where Fassbender truly reveals it all.

“Shame” is the first movie from a major studio in a good long while with the dread NC-17 rating, which prohibits anyone under the age of 17 from paying to see the film and restricts the places where a movie can be advertised and even exhibited. The president of Fox Searchlight, Steve Gilula, said that he saw the NC-17 as “a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter” and I hope he’s right. Though it contains plenty of nudity and sex, “Shame” is not a titillating erotic drama. It’s a serious character study and exploration of addiction, exactly the sort of movie the NC-17 was created to promote instead of restrict. If adults miss it because of a rating, that would be a real shame.

“Shame” opens Friday in limited release. If you see it, let us know what you think. Leave us a comment below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

Watch More
JaniceAndJeffrey_102_MPX-1920×1080

Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

JaniceAndJeffrey_106_MPX-1920x1080

IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

Watch More
IFC-Die-Hard-Dads

Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

Watch More
IFC-revenge-of-the-nerds-group

Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

geowash_flat

Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

Watch More
Powered by ZergNet