Thursday, November 1, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012


Movies that are worth writing about are few and far between but Shame is definitely one of them. Steve McQueen's masterpiece is despicable, hard to watch, and brilliant. It is unorthodox and as far away from the Hollywood cliches of the day as one can possibly get. When the superficial The Hurt Locker got the Best Picture award in 2010, I was ready to proclaim the profession auteur dead and buried in modern cinema. McQueen's work on Shame, however, brings back hope for the future of cinema as art rather than popcorner seller.
Image CopyrightsNME

Shame is a very graphic movie. It will not appear to the masses, especially in countries with more puritanic worldview like certain parts of the United States. It is not suprising that it managed to get a limitted run and around $4,000,000 in the boxoffice. After an openning sequence that includes a number of full frontal nudity shots of Michael Fassbender, his character Brandon is shown engaged in sexual encounters with men, women, and prostitutes. 
The sexual-explicitness of the movie makes it a very honest portrayal of modern day life. There is so much sex in daily life - from commercials to common chit-chat that it has become meaningless. Fassbender's Brandon walks through the movie desperately trying not to have a meaningful sexual encounter. He feels no pleasure from sex. Similarly to every addiction - sex gives satisfaction but no fulfillment. Brandon needs sex but he feels no joy from it. His face is expressionless. Sex is a tool to get relief but no matter how much sex Brandon has he feels nothing during. 
In the new millenium, sex is a tool. A tool to sell, a tool to control. There is no intimacy in sex, no curiosity. Everything about it is on the cover of 90% of the non-adult press. Our sociery has demistified sex  - one gets so much sex in daily live that there is no thrill in actually having it. Sex is mechanical. Sex demands no feelings and gives no sense of emotional closeness. 
McQueen does a great job portraying this in Shame. The movie is brutally honest to the point of being disgusting. The title is shame but all the characters are shameless. From Brandon's sister has some kind of perverse control over him to a stranger in the train that repeatedly flirts with the main character despite the loud and clear presense of an engagement ring on her ring finger. Near the end of the movie, Brandon has a sexual contact with a man, despite showing a clear preference for women before that. This seems rather odd within the flow of the movie but just goes to show that the partner in a sexual encounter is irrelevant. There is no us, just me - my satisfaction.
Unlike most addicts, Brandon knows he has a problem. He is ashamed of himself but cannot help "binging" on sex. Somewhere deep inside he hates himself and his own behavior. But just like the society that makes no attempt to change when clearly hanging on an economic cliff, Brando makes no attempt to genuinely have a contact with the real world again. He locks himself ever so deeply, hoping that the less he cares, the less pain he will feel. He is angry and despises his own inability to "act normally" but does not feel the need to change anything. This is the world of 2012, we see where the problems of today and tomorrow are but we feel so small and powerless than make to attempt to do something about them.
We are addicted to information but feel no satisfaction from getting it. We do not learn, we only do and do and do. In Shame, Brandon claims that words are meaningless and only actions matter but through his own behavior he refutes that. Actions are meaningless as well. We are so stuck in here and now that just like Brandon we fail to see the clear sounds of a gradual decay around us. We are so blind to anything that is not fleeting that when future happens we have no recollection how we got there and we continue doing the same mistakes over and over again.
There are few words and little dialogue in Shame. The most powerful scenes in the movie have only music. These scenes portray Brandon's deafness to the outside world. He tries to hide from it and to hide from himself. Steve McQueen has made brilliant choices in firmly setting the movie in the present. The characters do not talk about the pass. It seems to have a clear influence on their actions but keeping it (mostly) hidden makes the movie more cinematically interesting. Like Fellini's stories 50 years ago, Shame just happens, it has no beginning and no end. It offers no real resolution - life goes on. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

I've been recently been writing exclusively for Sport Pulse Net. Please have a look at the F1 stats from Mugello and join me there.