The world of burlesque is expanding as society perceives it in the proper light… as an ancient art form. Dita Von Teese is just short of a household name and, as we reported, Ivan Kane is about to open up Royal Jelly at the newish Revel in Atlantic City. Angie Pontani is a superstar in this wild world. She made a believer out of me one night and then another at Corio on West Broadway. It was Murray Hill (about to tour with Dita) MC-ing, Melody Sweets (now a star with her own billboard) celebrating her show Absinthe at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and a bevy of beauties that changed my perception of the game. Calamity Chang sells out every Friday at Hotel Chantelle after her sexy time performance with DeeDee Luxe and Michael Fassbender in Shame. Duane Park delivers the goods every Friday and Saturday nights. Burlesque is back and Angie Pontani is offering us The Naked Truth.
Shame is a hot movie. The hottest scene in this hot movie is a ménage à trois with uber hot star Michael Fassbender and our dear friend Calamit Y. Chang and DeeDee Luxe. Calamit Y. is hosting and starring in Burlesque shows all over town, including this Wednesday at Duane Park and every Friday at Hotel Chantelle. This Wednesday’s show has DeeDee aboard, as well as the wonderful Shien Lee. It’s all timed in honor of Chinese New Year and is destined to be fabulous. Calamit Y. and I talked about the scene in Shame and she seemed surprised that it was such a big deal. Known as the "Asian Sexsation," she is constantly surrounded by incredibly sexual beings who spend a great deal of their time and energy thinking of new routines to turn us on. If you haven’t caught this act, get out there and do it now before the fame from the movie exposes her talent to the masses and she’s whisked off to Vegas or playing big theatres. The atmosphere at Duane Park is intimate, old-school burlesque elegant. It’s a great date destination. I asked Calamit Y. Chang a few questions, half expecting to be shooing away autograph seekers.
“Right now I couldn’t do a better film than Shame,” said director Steve McQueen back in 2012. “I couldn’t do better, but I hope the next one that I do will be better. It will be better.” And although Shame was an masterpiece of emotionally gutting intimate psychology in its own right, McQueen’s follow up has proved to surpass everyone’s expectations, and apparently, even his.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Sion Sono)
The Square (Jehane Noujaim)
Qissa (Anup Singh)
All the Wrong Reasons (Gia Milani)
Requiem for a Robot (Christoph Rainer)
Noah (Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg)
When Jews Were Funny (Alan Zweig)
Asphalt Watches (Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver)
Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski)
The Amazing Catfish (Claudia Sainte-Luce)
Director Steve McQueen is nothing short of a hero. With only a small amount of films under his belt, he’s proven to be a beacon for modern cinema, creating briliant work that’s both brutally human and viciously beautiful. And not only is he talented, but it’s his self-possessed and outspoken nature and his refusal to pander to Hollywood or hide from challenge that sets him above his contemporaries. And after his second film Shame debuted to mixed criticism, anticipation has been running high for his next feature 12 Years a Slave.
After seeing Shame upwards of three times in theaters and spending countless hours at MoMA throughout the year hiding out watching his 1994 short film Deadpan, it’s safe to say I am more than ready for vicious director Steve McQueen’s next film. As one of the most fearless and thrilling directors in contemporary cinema, McQueen crafts harrowing pictures that cut straight to the heart and rip you apart from the inside out.
And as of today, it’s been announced that his highly-anticipated Twelve Years a Slave has been acquired by Fox Searchlight. And it seems they’re on quite a roll lately, with the success of last year’s Beasts of the Southern Wild and the upcoming premieres of The East and Trance, as well as Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel next year. Having worked with McQueen before on Shame, there doesn’t seem to be better fit. And although it appears the film will not be premiering at Cannes, today we learn that there is in fact a release slated for December 27th, 2013.
Twelve Years a Slave stars a host of wonderful talent from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender (of course) and Benedict Cumberbatch, to Paul Giamatti and Scoot McNairy, as well as Fox Searchlight alums, Beasts stars Quvezhane Wallis and Dwight Henry. The film is based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography, telling his story as a slave who was kidnapped and put in a slave pen, "paving the way for a grueling life under numerous owners."
Let’s just say, I am more than a little excited for this one.
For someone that’s been around Hollywood for most of his life, Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems strangely reluctant to push boundaries. Not that he doesn’t take on interesting roles or try his hand in all mediums, but when it comes to his directorial debut, it appears, with each new development, that he is chipping away at something interesting and powerful to make it safe. After re-cutting his Don Jon’s Addiction post-Sundance to appease the MPAA and have it fit nicely into an R-rating, the actor/director has taken things a step further by chopping off the "Addiction" from the title.
Now simply, Don Jon, JGL was concerned that the title was giving off the wrong message about the film, leading potential viewers astray down a path of sex-fueled nights and emotionally hollow days. Personally, I was led to believe from every bit of information about the picture that this was the story of a porn-addicted lothario who desperately tries to unplug from the online smut when he finds human connection in two women, but maybe I was looking at this from the wrong angle—that glaring ADDICTION, you know?
JGL released a thorough explanation for the title change, and along with it, his own explanation of the film—telling us exactly how he wants us to see it and what it’s supposed to mean, as if the title was really going to sway all of the work that went into the feature. But really, is this all necessary? It’s very polite of you, JGL, but since when do directors change the titles of their films to help us understand it better and then provide us with a very cookie-cutter mold for us to view the film through? I’m pretty sure Steve McQueen didn’t issue a statement telling us that although his film was titled Shame, don’t be confused— Brandon doesn’t always appear to be experiencing distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
But whatever, along with the explanation we also get a few stills from Don Jon, including a first shot of JGL and Tony Danza, who plays his father. We also get a look at Scarlett Johansson as one of the his romantic leads and of course, a nice one of him pumping iron as well.
Check out the explantation and stills below.
So, as you might’ve heard already, I wrote and directed a movie last year, and it’s coming out later this year. Which is absolutely crazy, and I still kinda can’t believe it. Anyway, I’m posting this today to let you all know that I’m changing its title. It’s now called… DON JON. I decided to change it, first of all, because DON JON is just so short and simple, and if you know me, you know I’m a fan of brevity. Second of all, it felt to me like the old title, “Don Jon’s Addiction” was throwing some people off a bit from the point of the movie. People were assuming it was a film about porn addiction and sex addiction, which really isn’t true. That’d be sort of like saying “The Maltese Falcon” is a movie about a statue of a falcon. DON JON is a comedy about how men and women treat each other, and how the media we consume can create unrealistic expectations that we put on one another. That’s why the story centers around a relationship between a young man (played by me) who watches too much pornography and a young woman (played by Scarlett) who watches too many romantic Hollywood movies. It’s a topic I personally find fascinating and hilarious.
And while I have your attention, I figured I’d show you the first production still we’re releasing of Jon’s father, played by none other than Tough Tony Danza. More to show soon. We’re just starting to work on the trailer now. And I’m heading down to SxSW with Tony this weekend with the film, so I’ll see some of you in Austin!thanks again.
In order appease the MPAA, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is cutting some "graphic" sex scenes from his directorial debut Don Jon’s Addiction. But I wonder if he’s concerned at all about how that will effect the film has a whole? Not to say that I’m assuming it relies on purely on sexual appeal, but for a film about a porn-addicted lothario who is desperately trying to unplug himself from an online world of smut, you’d think to make it really interesting we’d want to see all the gritty and gross aspects of his life. We want to see that point where porn loses all sexual appeal and just becomes this sad and frightening crutch for comfort, offering as much emotional and psychological nourishment as a bowl of M&Ms.
But whatever, apparently JGL, who is currenrly at the Berlin Film Festival promoting the picture, says, "Yes, we expect we have to do that and I’ll be getting started on it as soon as I get back. But like, I can’t imagine JGL’s world being any more graphic and starkly sexual than Steve McQueen’s Shame, which operated fine within the R rating confines. "I think it is important that those images are in there but what precisely you see isn’t that important," JGL went on to say. "We were very careful about picking just the right moments, just the right videos, and cropping them just the right way so that it feels like you’re seeing more than you’re actually seeing. You don’t technically see anything that’s not allowed in a rated R movie." Not allowed? Well, just as a reminder, here are some films that were originally given an X rating and still remain some of the best work of the last century.
Last Tango in Paris
A Clockwork Orange
Let’s face it: this year’s Oscar nominees seemed a little, well, off. As soon as the nominations were announced, it really struck home that there is an enormous disconnect between the voters and the passionate cinema-goers who actually look at film on a broader scope than just what’s playing at the multiplex down the street. The Los Angeles Times called it: the Academy is overwhelmingly white and male (not to mention the median age of 62), which might explain why Billy Crystal has stepped in to host the ceremony for the ninth time. While there were plenty of powerful movies deserving of recognition, this year’s Oscars lauded the typical melodramatic and emotionally manipulative fare. But what would happen if the Academy put on a show representative of the changing trends in cinema?
For starters, there’d be no Extremely Twee and Incredibly Manipulative 9/11 Movie. And while we appreciate the love letters to cinema in the form of The Artist and Hugo, there’d be fewer masturbatory films that appeal to the Academy’s demographic. Yes, we love Scorcese and Malick and Allen and Spielberg, but why not recognize a few younger directors? And don’t even get us started on The Help. Instead, take a look at what we think deserved (and undeservedly lacked) recognition this year by clicking through the slideshow below.
The easiest way to shock the bourgeoisie is to hold up a mirror, something Carnage director Roman Polanski knows a thing or two about. Adapted from the Tony-winning play by Yasmina Reza, this barbed and lively film owes everything to its exceptional leads—Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly—and is so agoraphobic it could almost have been filmed on a stage set. The scene is contemporary Brooklyn, with its peculiar liberal clash of granola and BlackBerrys. Two couples, one haughty in its feigned lack of pretension, the other pretentious in its delusions of grandeur, meet in an apartment one winter afternoon to discuss an afterschool brawl that involved the child of one pair thwacking the offspring of the other with a stick. It doesn’t take long for everything to come apart at the seams. After several hysterical monologues and a prodigious amount of vomit courtesy of Ms. Winslet, what remains is a miasma of hypocrisy and self-delusion, which is not to say the whole affair isn’t terribly funny. If nervous laughter is a sign that you’re too close to home, Carnage cuts to the quick. —Megan Conway