And the winner is…

… Actually, the winners are. In a few different ways.

First, there are the nominees for the Golden Globe awards, which came out this morning. Among those in contention: Glenn Close and Janet McTeer for playing trans men in Albert Nobbs (look for a feature in Dallas Voice next week on that film), Leo DiCaprio for playing the gay FBI chief in J. Edgar, Kenneth Branagh for playing the bisexual Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn, Christopher Plummer for playing a gay man who comes out late in life in Beginners, Rooney Mara for playing the bisexual investigator in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jodie Foster as a mom in Carnage and Michael Fassbender as a sex addict in Shame. That’s a lot of gay for the Oscars… A lot of them are also winners of other awards from the National Board of Review, New York Film Critics and the Screen Actors Guild.

The other winner this week: Liz Mikel. I have to say, I take a little credit for being about the only local critic actually to like the world premiere of Lysistrata Jones (back when it was called Give It Up). Mikel was the only original cast member to move to the Broadway version, and the New York Times raved about the premiere last night, singling out Mikel for praise. Good for Liz, good for the Dallas Theater Center, good for everyone.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Liz Mikel actually isn’t the only Dallas cast member to make it to New York — Patti Murin, Lindsay Nicole Chambers and Katie Boren are also in the show.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Came art

‘Shame,’ British artist Steve McQueen’s intense look at a sex addict, delves into the dark

Mulligan-Dale-Fassbender

LET’S GET LOST | A sex addict (Michael Fassbender, right) deals with his disturbed sister (Carey Mulligan, left) in the provocatively sexual drama ‘Shame.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

For the first 20 minutes or so of Shame, the first NC-17-rated movie to get a legit theatrical release in awhile, not much happens — or rather, not much is said. We don’t even know that the man we are following (Michael Fassbender) is named Brandon. (We do, however, know he has a big wiener — there’s lots of full-frontal here.) We just know that he has a lot of sex. A lot. And not with the same women, or even the same kind of woman. He targets various races ages and types. We hear repeated voicemails from one woman he seems to have bedded and ignored; he pays for a call girl; he flirts with a married lady on a commuter train; he even jerks off alone in the shower. He doesn’t seem to discriminate, or even know anything about self-control.

But Brandon falls in a weird netherworld between contemptible cad and admirably effective womanizer. He doesn’t share much about his personal life, and his face doesn’t reveal much. When a business colleague uses a string of come-on lines to seduce a woman at a bar, Brandon stands back like an old panther, waiting for the eager cub to annoy the gazelle before he subtly strikes. The woman sees it coming. He isn’t a jerk, just sexually charismatic. He has patience.

At least he does until his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) shows up. Their relationship is complex and disturbing (we first see Sissy, as Brandon does, fully naked in his shower) but we never fully know its details. She seems to show up out of nowhere every so often, this time as a Marilyn-esque torch singer whose performance hypnotizes the bar’s patrons and the movie audience as well.

Indeed, “hypnotic” seems like the perfect word to describe Shame’s overall aesthetic. The writer-director, British artist Steve McQueen (no relation; he also made the gay-themed short Bear), uses blank cityscapes and cold, Edward Hopper-esque shots composed to suggest the deep-seated alienation of Brandon — and, by extension, all of us.

The intense, sterile interiors and scenes of everyday life — one reason we see Fassbender naked so much is he wanders from bedroom to toilet, takes a piss and brushes his teeth with the same routine we all do — make it resonate. McQueen has made a story that’s entirely specific yet universal, even as it makes us uncomfortable at its forced intimacy. It oozes desperation.

McQueen’s visual style is deceptive. One scene — the only honest “date” Brandon has in the movie, a dinner with a co-worker he’s been flirting with — is a single take, the camera largely static; another is an immense tracking shot, following Brandon on a jog through the streets of New York. The technique is dazzling but still doesn’t draw attention to itself. He’s a jumble of what works, moment to moment.

And virtually all of it works. Fassbender, cool as the back side of the pillow, plays brilliantly off of Mulligan’s frenetically unstable Sissy, as well as the emptiness of Brandon’s life. He’s chilling, and devastating as he undergoes painful self-examination.

The dark sexuality is the frankest since Blue Velvet, but it also sends mixed signals. A scene late in the film where Brandon crosses the last frontier and explores his repressed homosexuality is as explicit as you’re likely to see in a theater, but it also suggests a last-gasp, the point at which Brandon’s “shame” finally overcomes him. Or is it saying that the guilt he feels over his sexual exploits are confined to the hetero world — that gay hardcore subculture gets it right, and shame is an antiquated, bourgeois emotion? The film is perhaps too impenetrable to reveal itself in that way. That’s a shame.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Parkinson’s drug may cure heterosexuality

A drug used to treat some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease may cure heterosexuality, according to Time magazine. The drug, Requip, is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.

According to the report, Didier Jambart, 51, of Nantes, France, began taking Requip in 2003. He soon began displaying what his attorney called uncharacteristic behavior. The (0pposite-sex) married father of two attempted suicide, became addicted to online gambling and became a gay sex addict. He stopped being a gay sex addict when he stopped taking the drug, he claims.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists says that compulsive behaviors are a known side-effect of the drug.

Jambart is suing the drug company for more than $600,000. We think heterosexuals should be paying for the opportunity to be cured.

—  David Taffet

Spanish harem

History’s most notorious womanizer gets his just desserts — as does the audience — in Dallas Opera’s sweetly comic ‘Don Giovanni

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

STD-LICIOUS  |  Even prim Donna Anna (Claire Rutter) can hardly resist the wooing of a Spanish noble (Paulo Szot) in Dallas Opera’s charming ‘Don Giovanni.’ (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
STD-LICIOUS | Even prim Donna Anna (Claire Rutter) can hardly resist the wooing of a Spanish noble (Paulo Szot) in Dallas Opera’s charming ‘Don Giovanni.’ (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

DON GIOVANNI
Winspear Opera House,
2403 Flora St.
Oct. 30 and Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 7 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets from $25.
DallasOpera.org

………………………………………..

A character in the musical Nine describes an Italian film director, based on Federico Fellini, as “a mixture of Catholicism, pasta and pornography.” The phrase could just as easily apply to ­­­­­the title antihero of Don Giovanni, at least in Dallas Opera’s Pulp Fiction-like interpretation. A rollicking, Dadaist take on Mozart’s dark, dreamy comedy-drama, it’s a romp.

If Giovanni (Tony Award-winner Paulo Szot, as sexy as all get-out), who romances woman with serial obsession, were alive today, he’d have an entire hour to himself on a sex-addict edition of Jerry Springer: He woos Donna Anna (Claire Rutter) while avoiding revenge from her betrothed, Don Ottavio (tenor Jonathan Boyd) and the wrath of a former conquest, Donna Elvira (Georgia Jarman, looking like Lana Turner in a shiny catsuit). If it didn’t end with Giovanni swallowed up by hell, it would be an all-out French farce or American teen sex comedy.

There’s Mozart’s music, of course, which elevates the discourse, as do director-designer John Pascoe’s gorgeous sets and playful handling of the material. This is woozy fun.

Watching Szot, already flirtatious and sexy, frolic around in a fountain is­­­ like some kind of homoerotic Renaissance wet T-shirt contest.

But it’s not all about matinee-idol looks. Szot’s acting — indeed, the acting by the entire cast — is as strong as the singing. Jarman’s performance is especially engaging, and Ailyn Perez as the peasant Zerlina deserves props for staying sensuous during an annoyingly loud set change.

Bass Mirco Palazzi as the servant Leperello milks humor easily with his physicality, and Boyd’s lovely rendition of “Dallas sua pace” is a highlight of Act 1.

The last time the Dallas Opera mounted Don Giovanni, it was a dour, stiff affair without any sparks; this version reinvents the show for them, and makes an excellent kick-off to their new season.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas