Steve McQueen Rolls the Streets of NYC in L.A.

The British filmmaker and video artist Steve McQueen has taken the movie industry by storm since he released his first feature, Hunger, in 2008. After snagging a Caméra d’Or, he won accolades for Shame, the movie he wrote and directed starring McQueen regular Michael Fassbender. These milestones have recently been eclipsed by 12 Years a Slave, which landed McQueen an Academy Award for Best Picture. Prior to making feature- length films, McQueen made a name for himself as a video artist during the 1990s.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles will present a number of the artist’s works this summer for Steve McQueen: Drumroll. The exhibitionfocuses on Drumroll, a triptych of projected footage from cameras McQueen placed in an oil drum with holes and rolled across midtown Manhattan. The piece won the artist Britain’s sought-after Turner Prize in 1999.

MOCA is also including works from his 1998 photographic series Barrage. The exhibition may surprise (or bore) fans expecting an evocative drama, but it is a must-see for anyone who wants to put the films that garnered McQueen acclaim in context.

Steve McQueen:Drumroll opens June 27th to MOCA members and will remain on view to the general public June 28 through September, 2014.

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Belstaff Celebrates Steve McQueen, Exhibiting Limited-Edition Photos by Barry Feinstein

Belstaff celebrated Unseen McQueen at the beautiful (and can I say wonderful smelling? Must be the candles…) Madison Avenue store recently, exhibiting photographs taken by Barry Feinstein of his dear friend, the actor Steve McQueen. Their shared passion for motorcycles fuels the subjects of many of the photos – and really, there isn’t much out there that’s better than a photograph of Steve McQueen on or near a motorcycle.
The New York event coincided with a larger London exhibition of the 60 limited-edition prints, a few motorcycles, and the original car from 1968’s Bullitt, currently on view at The Custom Factory (32 Brewer Street, 3rd Fl in London’s Soho). The proceeds support Worth, Belstaff’s charitable partner. Fittingly, Worth teaches at-risk youth the art (and hopefully zen) of vintage motorcycle maintenance.
If unable to make it to The Custom Factory to see the London exhibition in person, a book collecting Feinstein’s McQueen images is available for sale via Reel Art Press. The photographs are available for purchase through The Custom Factory and at Belstaff stores.
 

From ‘Shame’ to Fame: Calamit Y. Chang On Her Hot Mènage à Trois Scene

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.

So I’m watching the hottest sex scene ever in the movie Shame with Amanda, when we both exclaim aloud CALAMIT Y. !!!!!. Your famous feather tattoo confirmed it was you and DeeDee Luxe.  I understand sex; it didnt actually occur, but everyone was hot. Tell us about the scene, the conversations leading up to it, and conversations after.
When I went to the audition, I knew the film was by Steve McQueen. His first film, Hunger, also starring Michael Fassbender, was a huge hit with film fans, so I guess you can say I already trusted him and his vision for my role as “Late Night Lover #1." When we met, he showed me the script and explained what the film was about. I had a lot of questions about Brandon’s (Fassbender) character development because I was curious about how Steve was going to handle the subject of sex addiction. On the day of the shoot, DeeDee and I wanted to know if our characters were prostitutes. Steve didn’t give a direct answer but he did say something to the effect that we were just normal people living in NYC, and like many people, we sometimes accept money for certain things. This reminded me of some people in fashion who work for free in exchange for expensive clothes and shoes. I know countless stylists who dress like a million bucks but can’t pay their rent and are consistently borrowing money from people left and right. Steve further explained that our characters were already familiar with Brandon and we were expecting him. When he first arrived and I opened the door for him, Steve wanted me to look a certain way when I saw Brandon. He wanted me to have a look as if saying, “Oh yeah, you again. Of course.” I even had Steve be me so I could see what he wanted my face to look like. He was very fun, patient, and gave clear direction. The actual filming of the infamous scene was a closed set. It was just five of us, including Steve and the cameraman. During the shoot, Steve pretty much let us three do our thing and every now and then he would ask one of us to switch sides for a better angle of our faces. As for conversations after this scene, well, we joked and laughed about whatever. We had some food. We talked about other films we liked, wanted to see, and I do remember asking Steve and Michael if they liked Lars Von Trier (cause I don’t). They didn’t. Michael did some impersonations of De Niro and I think Marlo Brando. It was pretty laid-back and comfortable, like friends hanging out.
 
I was told it was a retake, that the original scene was replaced with yours.
That was what our casting agent told us. They had already wrapped shooting months ago, but I guess some of the scenes (including ours) didn’t work out, so Steve came back to NYC with the cast and crew and re-shot them. Nicole Beharie was on set with us that day too, but I don’t know what scene she was working on. I also don’t know who were in the first threesome scene. They didn’t really talk about it and we didn’t really care cause we were there to kill it!
 
Calamit Y.
 
Tell me about Wednesday’s Duane Park show.
This is my newest show and I am excited beyond words! It is a dinner and a show at Duane Park, a beautiful restaurant serving delicious food and famous for their burlesque shows. The intimate and elegant dining room sets the perfect mood for a show like "Les Fleurs de Shanghai" with live music with Shien Lee as our featured singer. She will be singing several Chinese songs from the golden jazz age in Shanghai – music that will enchant you and take you back to a different time. DeeDee and myself will perform burlesque, It takes place on the last Wednesdays of every month at 8:30 PM.
 
How did a nice chinese girl like you become this fabulous burlesque queen, performer, and organizer?
 Well, I’ve always been Chinese but I haven’t always been nice. Joking! My parents have always said I have a rebellious streak ever since I was little. I suppose they are right, they’ve been right about lots of things much to my chagrin!  My new show “Les Fleurs de Shanghai” at Duane Park is a burlesque show paying homage to the great jazz era of Shanghai during the ’20s-’40s. I’ve become obsessed with that tumultuous era in Shanghai’s history with the music, the fashion, and the glamour of that time, but I haven’t always been interested in my cultural heritage and background. When I was a teenager growing up in Texas, the last thing I wanted to do was listen to Chinese music. I wanted New Kids on the Block. I wanted Bon Jovi. I wanted Garth Brooks! Well, maybe not the latter, but you get my drift. Immigrant mentality is to assimilate and to grown up in a non-culturally diverse place like Texas. I tried my damn hardest to fit in. Unfortunately, that meant rejecting a lot of things that makes me unique. My parents always said that one day I will want to know more about being Chinese and “return to my roots,” so to speak. So they were right yet again! Although, I don’t think burlesque was what they had in mind. Burlesque, in its contemporary reincarnation at least, is very feminist. It is subversive, transgressive, and rebellious. And all those things draw me in uncontrollably.
 
Calamit Y.
 
Tell me how you develop your new acts.
 It’s a lot like writing, which I’m sure you can relate to on some level. You stare at a piece of blank paper and suddenly the task of having to fill it with words that make sense and construct an experience narratively becomes very daunting. Likewise, I pick a song that I want to work with. I put it on repeat in my living room studio and I stare in the mirror. There is always that sense of fear that I think all creative people face. The act of creation. Of forming something out of nothing. Whether it’s writing, painting, choreographing an act, designing a costume. I embrace it and stew in it. Sure enough, after a couple of hours, a dance routine comes out of it and I know what the character feels like and should wear. For me, many of my acts are never completely “done." There is always something to upgrade, whether it’s the costume or the choreography. For example, my red “Dusk ’til Dawn” act has evolved so much since I originally made it  two years ago. Now, I’ve added new pieces to the costume, added another song to it, and incorporated red fans in the routine. This act has gotten me accepted in the Dallas Burlesque Festival (Feb 2-5, 2012) and the London Burlesque World Games (May 7-13, 2012).
 
I saw you develop an audience at Hotel Chantelle. At first, it was slow-going, but now your Friday night galas are packed. How does the newfound fame from Shame translate to a fanbase. How does it affect friends? Do you have major new burlesque credibility?
Yes, it was hard in the beginning, especially since I am the first person to bring burlesque to Hotel Chantelle; the road had to be paved! Thankfully, Tim Spuches (who found and hired me) didn’t doubt me and now it’s really great. I have met several male audience members at Chantelle who tell me they saw me in Shame and came to see me perform; it makes me very happy that people are going to see real films with quality editing and storytelling. And it makes me even happier that in all the press and interviews the film has gotten, Steve and Michael have been describing us as burlesque performers. I think this is so great because this gives burlesque and us burlesque performers credibility in the film world. I am always so happy to hear about other performers who get cast for a TV show or film, because the more crossover we have, the more people will come to our shows!

Our 10 Favorite Films of This Year’s NYFF

For the last two weeks, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has been hosting to this year’s New York Film Festival—and it has been an absolute pleasure to attend. In our upcoming interview with director Claire Denis—whose new filmBastards premiered last week—she spoke about the festival, saying, “It’s a place where you have time to think about the film you just finished. You’re not under the pressure of publicity or competition. It’s an open space with people I like and people I like to meet, and so it makes me a better filmmaker.”

And for their 51st annual festival, NYFF unveiled some of the most acclaimed features of the coming few months and year—from the best of international cinema to the features that have been on the tip of everyone’s tongue for months. Alongside their incredible line-up of new films—from Spike Jonze’s Her and Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive to Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin and  Hirokazu Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son—NYFF also is currently also hosting an expansive Jean-Luc Godard retrospective. So after the past few weeks of watching wonderful films from the Walter Reade theater, here are our ten favorite of this year’s NYFF (that we were able to catch), in no particular order.

Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch’s absolutely delicious and cool baby cool tale of bloodsucking, undead love. A playful and nocturnal examination of modernity’s foibles through the RayBan covered eyes of those who’ve lived through its beauty and its horror. Scored to perfection and directed with the touch of a man who knows how to make a story feel like a jazz riff, the film is as if the Nick Cave scene in Wings of Desire made friend’s with Mick Jagger in Performance to create your new favorite onscreen romance from Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston.

The Immigrant
James Gray’s very own McCabe & Mrs. Miller that begins with familiarity but divulges into a trying look at the lengths one goes to for survival, the madness of love, and forgiveness as a means of salvation. Shot with a Vilmos Zsigmond-esque glow, the film has a painful allure that proves a wonderful showcase for its cast.

Her
Spike Jonze’s strange and frightening portrait of modern love that shows the dichotomy and tension between the comforting affection of fantastical, easy love over the struggles of real human connection. While at times sharply funny, beautifully moving, and very smart, the film felt like it could never fully commit to its own ethos, leaving the most profound moments unrealized or turned into comedy. But all the while, it was a brilliantly acted case study of emotion and visually a pleasure to take in without ever really cutting the skin.

A Touch of Sin
Jia Zhangke’s forceful tetraptych drama that explodes with violence yet allows its own moments for reflection. A portrait of modern China that explores the fine line between man and beast and the pleasure and satisfaction that can be derived from that brutality.

12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen’s fearless and unflinching masterpiece whose absolute brutality is matched by its adamant exposure to what makes us human and the evils we’re capable of. The film truly showcases the work of a man who harbors an uncompromising vision and an incredible ability to pull performances from the marrow of his actors.

Stray Dogs
Tsai Ming-liang’s bleak urban endurance test whose silence allowed for reflection but conjured up only slight emotion in the absence of movement. The removed spacial silence eminded me of Stephen Shore’s Oregon billboard, except it’s raining and devoured by someone’s incisors.

Like Father, Like Son
Hirokazu Koreeda’s emotional drama that forces us to question our own internal set of values and those that have given us life. It’s a delicate tickling of most potent emotional keys that asks a question almost too painful to consider answering and examines it with genuinely heartbreaking honesty.

Bastards
Claire Denis’ haunting family portrait that lives in the darkness that rises from the aftermath of death. An oddly sensuous nightmare voyage through an unforgiving world that lurks in shadows and painful lies. Exposes a kind of evil culled from the stories that we read and see everyday which have become second nature to us, their dastardliness barely leaving a mark on our skin.

Captain Phillips
Paul Greengrass’ thrillingly tense drama that captures you with a forceful hand and refuses to let go until its highly emotional end. Void of spectacle and infused with a kind of genuine force rarely seen in docudramas, the film possesses the cinematic excitement of the best hostage thrillers but strips the genre of its pretense.

Manakahmana
Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s entrancing and beautiful ethnographic documentary taking place high above the mountains of Nepal. As the Holy Motors of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, perhaps a packed theater is too limited for such a film, as it deserves to be free of confines. A meditative and exploratory journey that perhaps should be projected in a large space that allows for its audience to enter the film in a more unconventional way.

 

Your Alternate Essential List of Best Films to Watch This Fall

Waking up to sheets damped by thousands of droplets of sweat as a fan hums off in the distance, and waking up to the sound of wind rustling through leaves on the sidewalk as you shiver to pull yourself under the covers, are two entirely different sensations that leave two vastly distinct impacts on our psyche throughout the day. From the moment you awake, there’s a change that lingers through and penetrates our waking hours as the seasons rotate, and when it comes to fall—the best season by far—it’s a very welcome change of pace. We’re now able to rid ourselves of the anxious and torrid thrill of summer and return to our more hermetic selves, enjoying the richer tastes of the chillier months. Our lives become a little more insular, we may grow a little melancholy but it’s certainly the most beautiful time of the year and for all the nostalgic feelings that sweep in, basking in them is more of a pleasure than a burden.  

And as we don our knee-highs, sweaters, and boots and change our playlists to the darker and heavier notes, our cinematic preferences alter as well. But what makes a film distinctly a “fall film” has little do with the time in which its set but about a tone and texture of the film, a certain emotional through line that’s tethered to a certain seasonal state of being. And although a generous number of fantastic films are set to premiere this autumn—from McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street to Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color and Spike Jonze’s Her—if you’re looking for something timeless, something that feels distinctly in tune with the season—I’ve got you covered.  

Just as and 3 Women and Dog Day Afternoon were certainly summer films, I’ve put together a list of films that possess something that mirrors that seasonal affect of fall—from the smirkingly violent to the tragically romantic and the existentially wandering to the psychologically possessed. So here’s your alternate list of fall movies to watch over the next few months. Enjoy.  

Interiors


Funny Games

Buffalo ’66

Until the End of the World

Magnolia

Amour

Lost in Translation

Dogville

Hunger

An Autumn Afternoon

La Haine

Taste of Cherry

The Double Life of Veronique

Pina


Adaptation

The Ice Storm

Lost Highway

Three Colors Red

Husbands and Wives

Kicking and Screaming

Antichrist

Days of Heaven

Good Will Hunting

Fire Walk With Me

35 Shots of Rum

House of the Devil


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Carnival of Souls


Holy Motors

 

 

Sans Soleil

 

 

Performance

Get Excited for Steve McQueen’s ’12 Years a Slave’ With a Set of New Stills

In case anyone wasn’t already convinced that Steve McQueen has emerged as one of the most brave and fascinating directors of our generation, his latest film, the highly-anticipated 12 Years a Slave, will surely set you straight. Never one to shy away from potent emotion and exposing the darker side of the human experience, McQueen’s film has received an incredible amount of praise in the last few weeks for its harrowing and fearless portrait of slavery and evils man is capable of.

And with the film’s releases coming up in October, today you can see a new batch of stills from the film, featuring its absolutely brilliant cast—from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender to Lupita Nyong’o and Benedict Cumberbatch. And if you tend to be wary of films that garner this level of hype, never fear, this certainly lives up to expectations—and more.

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Steve McQueen’s Masterpiece ’12 Years a Slave’ Tops TIFF

“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.

As an unflinching and astounding director whose brilliance is evident in everything he touches, McQueen has delivered, what is sure to be, the year’s most epic film, 12 Years a Slave. With a passion and talent for exposing brutality with an honest and emotional eye, McQueen’s film showcases the work of a man who harbors an uncompromising vision and an incredible ability to pull performances from the marrow of his actors. Without pandering to an audience, without trying to dull down the absolute horror of Solomon Northup’s story or the atrocity of slavery, McQueen’s film unravels you emotionally from its very start and leaves you with the sensation that you have truly just watched a film—that feeling you cannot shake even hours leaving the theater, that’s what cinema is about.
 
And after its warm reception at TIFF and in Venice, last night 12 Years a Slave took home the award for BlackBerry’s People Choice award—and rightfully so. Is this an indication of Oscar contention? Will all the ravenous hype thus far elevate the film to a Best Picture award? Who cares. All that matters is that with this film McQueen has created a picture that will last in Hollywood and illuminate an enormous part of American history with an unwavering and beautifully-crafted authenticity. Looking at his progression from Hunger to Shame to this, we can only anticipate what he could possibly do next. “ I’m not reactionary; I’m not trying to stir the pot. I’m just trying to make films that have a reason to be made.”
 
 
The BlackBerry People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Sion Sono)
 
The BlackBerry People’s Choice Documentary Award

The Square (Jehane Noujaim)
 
NETPAC AWARD

Qissa (Anup Singh)
 
ROLSCH FILM WORKS DISCOVERY AWARD

All the Wrong Reasons (Gia Milani)
 
RBC EMERGING FILMMAKERS COMPETITION

Requiem for a Robot (Christoph Rainer)
 
YOUTUBE AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN SHORT FILM

Noah (Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg)
 
CITY OF TORONTO + CANADA GOOSE AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FEATURE FILM

When Jews Were Funny (Alan Zweig)
 
AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FIRST FEATURE FILM

Asphalt Watches (Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver)
 
Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI) for Special Presentations
Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski)
 
Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI) for the Discovery Programme

The Amazing Catfish (Claudia Sainte-Luce)

Watch Steve McQueen & the Cast of ’12 Years a Slave’ at Their TIFF Press Conference

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 premiering in Venice and Toronto this past week, there’s no doubting McQueen’s film has far exceeded expectations, with reviews hailing the film a masterpiece. And with someone as interesting as McQueen at the helm, as well as a cast full of brilliant actors, the press conference held at TIFF over the weekend is indeed a fantastic watch of its own. “I made this movie because I wanted to tell a story about slavery, a story for me that hadn’t been given a platform in cinema,” says McQueen. “It’s one thing to read about slavery, it’s one thing to have these illustrations about slavery, but when you see it on celluloid, when you have a narrative, it’s different…If that starts a conversation it’s wonderful. It’s about time.”
 
Watch as McQueen and the cast navigate their way through the oft inane questions posed, as well as what they illuminate for us about McQueen’s stunning picture.
 

Get an In-Depth First Look at Steve McQueen’s ‘Twelve Years a Slave’

With only two features under his belt, director Steve McQueen stands out like a beacon for modern filmmakers. The fearless and outspoken filmmaker whose work is as brutally human as it is viciously beautiful has given us the Michael Fassbinder-led Hunger and Shame, but since the latter’s debut in early 2012, we’ve been waiting eagerly for his follow-up, the 19th-century-set drama Twelve Years a Slave

Starring the brilliant Chiwetel Ejiofor—whom McQueen calls, "like a Sidney Poitier or even Harry Belafonte"—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." "You can look at this film and be of any ethnic grouping and identify with Solomon," says McQueen, "he has been taken away into circumstances that are horrific and not pleasant. All he wants is to get back to his family."
 
Alongside Ejiofor, the cast features the ample talents of Fassbinder, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyongo, Sarah Paulson, and Scoot McNairy with Fox Searchlight (the company releasing the film) alums, Beasts of the Southern Wild stars Quvezhane Wallis and Dwight Henry. And last night, we were given the first hefty taste of the film with a slew of stills from the picture courtesy of USA Today. Speaking to the publication, McQueen says Northup’s story was  "the Anne Frank story of America of that time…It’s the situation and the detail of Solomon’s recollection of those events that ingrained itself in my brain, and the humanity of everyone involved." 
 
Needless to say, excitement for the film is high. So in the meantime, check out the photos below.
 
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