James Schamus

James Schamus

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Indignation Review

Very Good

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain or this year's American Pastoral), but they're so rich and provocative that they can't be ignored. For his directing debut, writer-producer James Schamus (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain) adaps this story as a tightly controlled period drama with blackly comical edges and darkly personal emotions.

It's set in 1951 New Jersey, where the young Marcus (Logan Lerman) is preparing to leave home for university in Ohio. His parents (Linda Emond and Danny Burstein) are worried that he will make the same mistakes that are ruining teens' lives across the country at the moment or, even worse, head off to fight in the Korean War. But Marcus is a very serious kid, focussed on making his own decisions about what he wants to do. He certainly wants nothing to do with his crazy roommates (Ben Rosenfield and Philip Ettinger) or the Jewish frat-house, whose leader (Pico Alexander) is desperately trying to recruit him. And then there's the pressure he's getting from the university dean (Tracy Letts). He's much more interested in the enigmatic Olivia (Sarah Gadon), a young woman who constantly surprises him.

Yes, this is essentially a coming-of-age drama about a young man making the shift from his loving family to take control of his own destiny in the big bad world. But it's much more complex than that, as it weaves in political and topical themes. The conversations are riveting, as Marcus' atheistic beliefs provoke everyone he meets. This leads to a stunning centrepiece scene, a blistering 15-minute argument between Marcus and the dean that's like a battlefield set-piece with subtle attacks, bomb blasts and surprising outcomes. Through all of this Schamus maintains the beautifully tailored appearance of the period, when the carefully muted surfaces obscured the churning, world-changing ideas underneath.

Continue reading: Indignation Review

Indignation Trailer


The film Indignation is a screen adaptation of Philip Roth's novel of the same name which was released in 2008. The film is set in Ohio in the 1950's and is centred around the character Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman) a working class Jewish boy who has moved to the conservative college in Ohio on a scholarship. On the move to the college this now means that he is exempt from being selected to fight in the Korean War.

Continue: Indignation Trailer

Lust, Caution Review


Good
Halfway through Lust, Caution, Ang Lee's follow-up to Brokeback Mountain, Mr. Yee, a collaborator with the Japanese in WWII Shanghai, throws the flirtatious wife of a businessman onto a bed and proceeds to have sex with her, precariously straddling the fence between rough sex and rape. Mr. Yee (the inimitable Tony Leung) and the woman, Wang (Tang Wei), will go on to have a dark and detailed set of trysts, each more carnal and sweatier than the last. Lee's camera doesn't show a hint of timidity as it sways around every curve and canal of each lover's body, at times so penetrating that one wonders if Lee's precursor was Michael Winterbottom's Nine Songs. It's not Ledger spitting in his hand before he gives it to Gyllenhaal, but it's not far off.

But before we ever get to see these thrashing entanglements, we are plummeted into the early rumblings of the Chinese resistance to the Japanese occupation. Little does Yee know that the woman he is tossing around the bedroom would love nothing more than to feel his blood splatter all over her in the middle of one of their sessions. See, Wang was once a schoolgirl with aspirations in acting, sparked by collegiate cutie Kuang (Wang Leehom), a director who wrote (terrible) plays about the damages of the war and subsequent occupation on the normal Chinese family. While discussing politics in a theater balcony, Kuang and his actors turned from thespians into resistance fighters, planning the assassination of the traitorous Yee.

Continue reading: Lust, Caution Review

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James Schamus Movies

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Indignation Trailer

Indignation Trailer

The film Indignation is a screen adaptation of Philip Roth's novel of the same name...

Lust, Caution Movie Review

Lust, Caution Movie Review

Halfway through Lust, Caution, Ang Lee's follow-up to Brokeback Mountain, Mr. Yee, a collaborator with...

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