Sunday, September 4, 2011

Contagion is Contagious - Al Pacino is Courageous - Michael Fassbender & Lots of Sex

Ensemble of Stars - Contagion
(Venice, Italy) Steven Soderbergh cast movie stars for CONTAGION so the audience would have familiar faces to hang onto as they are plunged into his fast paced global thriller.

Paltrow - Photo Just Jared
With the ad: NOTHING SPREADS FASTER THAN FEAR, the flick is a realistic view about an unknown, rapidly expanding global virus, caused because the wrong bat met the wrong pig. Just where and how this encounter took place and how to find the antidote as millions of people die is the problem Lawrence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle are assigned to solve.

Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays Matt Damon's wife, dies at the beginning of the film, coughing, sweating and foaming at the mouth. Paltrow said it was fun to have the seizures, chomping on a bit of Alka Seltzer to create the foam. At the press conference, when asked if she thought that her character was being punished for cheating on her husband on a layover in Chicago, a feisty Paltrow replied, "If death by virus was the punishment for extra-marital affairs there would be only about three dudes left in this room... maybe less. We are in Italy."

Al Pacino & Jessica Chastain
Al Pacino is getting rave reviews for his WILDE SALOME effort. He got a standing ovation when he entered the press room. At age 71, he looks great, is still in the game, and was charming and straightforward. He said he didn't know where he was going with the project for a long time and didn't know exactly what it was. "It's not a film. It's not a documentary. I wanted to make a kind of collage."

He was obsessed with the play SALOME. When he first saw it, he didn't know it had been written by Oscar Wilde, whom he called a visionary. Pacino said he had made several other films for his own satisfaction, most of which no one will ever see. He said, "I know great directors and I know I am not that. I am a stage actor, a film actor." He wanted to make more people aware of who Oscar Wilde was, and what society had done to the man and his genius. Wilde, of course, one of the most brilliant writers of his century, walked on dangerous ground and was destroyed for it at age 46.

After Pacino encountered Jessica Chastain, he knew he had found the perfect Salome, and could make the film before the word got out and made her into a star -- which, of course, is exactly what has happened.

Madonna presented Chastain with the 2011 Gucci Award for Women in Cinema at the Hotel Cipriani on Friday. Chastain is gorgeous, and said that Pacino was her "Acting Godfather." Pacino is also here at the 68th Venice International Film Festival to accept the Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory to the Filmmaker 2011 award, dedicated to an artist who has left an original mark on contemporary cinema. Referring to appearing at press conferences and film festivals, Pacino said, "This is a bit out of step for me. I don't usually do this. It's an honor to be here to present this experimental thing." 

Carl Jung whips Sabina Spielrein in A DANGEROUS METHOD
Michael Fassbinder is my new favorite actor and it's not just because I've seen his penis (on-screen:). He is present in two films here in Venice. In David Cronenberg's A DANGEROUS METHOD Fassbinder plays Carl Jung, one of my all-time heroes. From the production notes:

Drawn from true-life events, A DANGEROUS METHOD takes a glimpse into the turbulent relationships between fledgling psychiatrist Carl Jung, his mentor Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein, the troubled but beautiful young woman who comes between them.

In the film, Jung breaks a solid rule and has sex with one of his patients, the highly-intelligent Sabina Spielrein played by Keira Knightley, who arrives writhing and screaming into the institution where Jung works. Memories of a violent father make Sabina horny. Sabina likes to be tied to the bed and whipped with a belt, and Jung obliges. Then they analyze why they are compelled to behave in such a fashion. When a married, guilt-ridden Jung decides to end the relationship, Sabina confides in Freud, played by Viggo Mortensen. Jung lies about it; Sabina forces Jung to tell Freud the truth; Freud is disillusioned with Jung and admires Sabina. 

In the film, Sabina is credited with discovering some of Jung's most important theories -- for example, the animus (male part inside the female) and anima (female part inside the male)-- which makes sense. In addition, it was Sabina -- and she wrote a dissertation about it -- who said the sexual urge was not an instinct of destruction, but an instinct of transformation

To me, it felt like something had been missing in the history of Carl Jung, and Sabina Spielrein provides the answer. Jung, of course, felt that Freud was wrong to reduce everything to sex and went off in a much more mystical direction. I am firmly in Jung's camp, and doubt that he could have arrived where he did without the influence of Sabina Spielrein.

Carey Mulligan & Michael Fassbinder in Steve McQueen's SHAME

In SHAME, Steve McQueen's second feature, Michael Fassbinder's character is again compelled by sexual energy, this time without the love Jung shared with Sabina. Fassbinder plays Brandon, a New York executive who is so driven by the dark sexual urge that he masturbates at work, downloads massive amounts of porn onto his home and office computers, hires prostitutes, has random encounters both with men and women in varying combinations and is incapable of getting an erection with a woman he genuinely cares about. His suicidal sister, Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan, moves in with him. She likes to tempt subway trains and is a serial wrist-slasher, in addition to being a fledgling singer. No explanation is given for their extreme behavior.

At the press conference, Steve McQueen said he thought SHAME was a political film and that all of our lives had been changed by the violence present in the world today; that humanity is reacting by excessively and compulsively turning to alcohol, gambling, drugs, and food. 

In my opinion, the world is being deliberately manipulated in that direction. By sending women to war and allowing them to do other masculine jobs, we are generating too much animus onto the female spirit. In addition, men are being programmed away from their anima, or the female energy inside themselves. That Brandon cannot even get an erection after dating Marianne, a "real" woman (played by Nicole Beharie) is a sad, disturbing reflection on the times in which we live. 

Jung & Spielrein
The good news is that finally Sabina Spielrein is getting her proper place in history. 

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. At the press conference, when asked if she thought that her character was being punished for cheating on her husband on a layover in Chicago, a feisty Paltrow replied, "If death by violence was the punishment for extra-marital affairs there would be only about three dudes left in this room... maybe less. We are in Italy."