Tuesday, July 3, 2012

We're not bad people. We just come from a bad place.


While generally the best thing ever when it goes bad, it seems to go really bad. Sometimes, you'll actually hear stories of people who are suffering through life as <gasp!> sex addicts. For years, I've laughed this off. My response was either well, all guys probably are borderline cases or just a simple lucky. In Chuck Palahniuk's novel Choke, the main character, an addict himself, actually used to hook up with the women at the sexual addiction meetings. Ha ha. Everything's funny, right?

No. Not at all.

This was the third film in the June 30th triple feature, the Old Bay of my ridiculous analogy, and also the first movie that I've willingly watched on DVD (and not blu). My wife and I watched this one hours after putting the little guy down. What I thought would be a fascinating (and sexy) flick turned out to be as unsettling as anything I've seen in years.

Shame , while a tough watch at times, is mesmerizing. The film focuses around the life of a pretty successful guy named Brandon, played by the white-hot Michael Fassbender. Brandon seems like a pretty solid individual, but has some major sexual issues. On top of that, his sister shows up (unannounced, sort of), and she too is all kinds of messed up. Publicly, you would never doubt either of these two. Behind closed doors (or alleys, bars of the gay and straight variety) things are radically different. I think saying that they are both majorly f--ked up might cover it. Might.

What isn't spiraling out of control, are the performances of everyone involved. I don't need to gush over the two leads, Fassbender and the always incredible Carey Mulligan, as any film either has appeared in is all the proof you need of their excellence. Surprisingly, what I enjoyed slightly more than those two was the direction and editing of this film. The minimalist approach is so unnerving, so unsettling you are helplessly compelled to watch (stare, even) though your gut instinct might be to look away. Director Steve McQueen has only one other feature under his belt, but I'm in for whatever else this guy delivers. Goodness.

One thing I want to mention, is that my wife watches a good amount of movies with me. She has much simpler tastes, and is usually down for a nice drama or a easygoing rom-com. When I popped this one in, I refused to tell her what it was about. Being the uber-dork that I am, I think I've seen one movie that I knew nothing about (I saw Thumbsucker in the theater, hadn't even heard of it at the time). My goal is to allow her to be shocked and free of any certain expectations. I think it's noble. She hates it.

Anyway, this one bothered her. A lot. Early on in the movie she was so disgusted by Brandon she actually told me, I hate him. I say that all the time about characters in movies, but never with such conviction. Yikes. By the end however, she was more Well, now I feel bad for him. Oh, Wife. You so crazy.

Let's break this one down with some sexy Yays and some pathetic Boos, turns-out-this-one-isn't-a-date-night-type-of-movie style.

  • The editing. Seriously. When we don't cut to another angle, we're no longer watching a movie, we're just watching. It makes things incredibly uncomfortable.
  • The score is fantastic as well. First time in awhile I actually remember the accompanying music.
  • The blonde pictured to the left. She is super hot. And, at this point in the movie, I thought Brandon still had it together.
  • Thanks for the tip on What To Do When You Hear Family Members Doing It. I should have gone for a run. I just stayed still and shuddered.
  • The incident in the subway station. This is one of my favorite scenes in years. The way it's presented is frickin' brilliant. Urgency in the background, especially unbeknownst to the main character in the foreground, is always great. So many things were rushing through my head (it was incredibly realistic).
  • And finally, the burgeoning trend of a final shot that provides major uncertainty. Can't get enough of those. This one is reminiscent of the last frame of Like Crazy [review]. Thoughts?
  • No one checks their messages like that. Not even dudes with giant schlongs. Well, at least I don't. 
  • At the workplace? Really? Though in all seriousness I worked with a guy who claimed he would do the same at a red light. Impressive. And creepy.
  • This movie features the worst consensual sex ever put to film this side of MacGruber [review].
  • Brandon's boss. This guy is a real douche. He seems rather clueless too. Oh, wait. I'm being redundant. I already mentioned boss.
  • Okay, I'm not trying to start anything here, but if that's what all gaybars are like, I have just one question. What. The. F--k?
Bottom Line: You know some people think that it makes everything better, but it turns out too much can be incredibly destructive. Give it a shot, just don't overdo it.

That, friends, concludes the June 30th triple feature. We started with Puss In Boots, I messed around with The Dead, and the Wife and I experienced Shame.

That, friends, also concludes the most epic pointless story/worthless analogy ever. If you didn't read the other reviews, you have no idea what I'm talking about. That's okay. Neither do I.

Anybody want to challenge the awesome randomness of this triple feature? Let's see what you got!


  1. Really glad I am now following this wonderful blog, enjoyed this post. I would love it if you considered checking out my blog and perhaps followed back? :)

    I thought Shame was incredibly thought provoking, Michael Fassbender is a tremendous actor. I also appreciated your yay and boo format!


    1. Happy you like the site. The Yays and Boos thing definitely works to keep myself from endlessly rambling.

      I'm on the way my way to your site now!

  2. You've got a great thing going on with this blog. I really enjoy it. Great review.

  3. Great review as always! The editing and the score are indeed masterful as is acting and directing. The film was almost perfect for me, it was insanely moving and the final scenes were brilliant.

  4. Yes! It stayed with me for a couple of days.

    Have you seen McQueen's other film?

  5. Closing with a cleverly inverted sense of ambiguity, Shame is an effective film both performance-wise and from a technical standpoint. Fassbender is also perfect in this role and I really do hope he at least gets a nomination for an Oscar. Good review M.

    1. Sadly he never got it. Boo the Academy!

  6. Couldn’t agree more with your Yays, particularly the first one.

    As for the Boos… yeah, I used to work with a guy who got caught wanking it in the bathroom. Dude was so cool and chill, but then… well, yeah.

    Really good review here of one of my favorite movies!

  7. Alex,

    Getting caught is bad enough, but at work? Goodness. I guess that's when you've strayed into 'completely crazy' territory.

    It's been over a week and this movie still lingers on. It's so good, I don't think I ever want to watch it again.

  8. Excellent review, as always! Great tribute to a great movie. And I agree with you, the editing is fantastic. Really. Steve McQueen, man. That dude knows what he's doing.

    As an aside, it could've been a worse date night movie. At least your wife got Fassydong. I surprised my girlfriend one date night with "Shallow Grave." That did not go over quite so well...

    1. First thing, I'm pretty sure 'Fassydong' should be the name of this blog, or at least on a T-shirt I wear everyday for the rest of my life.

      Shallow Grave! Seen it. Loved it. But don't remember it. I'm assuming Ewan shows his lightsaber?

      And, actually on topic, McQueen rules. Big time.

  9. The character is named Brandon. Otherwise good review.

    1. Thank you, good citizen of the internet.