Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Military marksman Col. Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines, Running Scared) is called into top-secret duty to neutralize a surveillance robot gone haywire in San Francisco. It won't be easy, because for one thing, the android is undetectable from a human. For another, it has a built-in nuclear bomb that will detonate upon imminent threat.
I plead guilty: My friends and I have goofed around with a camcorder before and made stupid movies, but we were smart enough to know that no one outside ourselves would think they were funny. If only the makers of Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas realized the same.
For you, that may mean a morning cup of coffee or a quick jog before bed. For Brandon Sullivan, the New York City-based protagonist of “Shame,” it means masturbating at work.
As portrayed by Michael Fassbender (“X-Men: First Class”), Brandon is a sex addict. When he’s not engaging in sexual activity with strangers, he’s downloading porn on his computers at home and the office. Work, sex, work, sex, work, sex — that’s his existence.
Then his emotionally wounded sister (Carey Mulligan, “Drive”) has to upend said rituals by temporarily moving into his apartment.
Finally opening Friday at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, “Shame” may carry the dreaded NC-17 rating, but don’t mistake it for the very thing with which Brandon is obsessed. A film can be adult in nature without being an “adult film” (the intent behind NC-17’s controversial creation in 1990), and British director Steve McQueen’s follow-up to his acclaimed “Hunger” makes a strong case for that fight.
As a stark, sterile look at a dirty young man, this is as finely crafted a work as you may see all year, yet its subject matter will result in many a walkout — perhaps from the first scene, in which Fassbender goes full-frontal nude.
His bravery in doing so is only a small part of what makes his Oscar-worthy performance the most fascinating among all actors in 2011. The guy commits to a part that, in lesser hands, could kill a career, and refuses to shy away from the most problematic material.
It may make you feel uncomfortable; in fact, it should. The most challenging — and potentially rewarding — films do.