Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a 30-something man living comfortably in New York balancing a busy job and active social life. When the wayward Sissy (Carey Mulligan), turns up at his apartment unannounced, Brandon’s carefully managed lifestyle spirals out of control. From award-winning director Steve McQueen (“Hunger”), “Shame” is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.
2011 – Certificate 18 – USA
Rating Details: Strong sex and sex references
7.5 out of 10
I’m having a water meter fitted at home. No longer will I pay Thames Water £36.60 a month for the few drops of H2O that I use every day. (Apparently it has to dig up half the town to fit it, but who cares?) No longer will I feel guilt if I wash-up, flush the toilet, have a shower or do some washing, as I’ll simply stop doing all of those things. This will save me money and, more importantly, save the planet too. Who would have though becoming a lazy, housework-averse, smelly slob would actually be more community-minded than keeping your whites white and your home clean? The next time I see someone washing his or her car I’m going to go up to the criminal (and let’s face it, you can’t do much worse than destroy the whole planet), and tell them just how selfish they are. They may as well just get a gun and start killing people. Indeed, a clean 4×4 has a lot in common with a minigun. In a mostly unrelated incident, the first thing I did this morning was knock an almost entirely new toilet role into the toilet, while I was using it. I managed to knock it off the holder and in an effort to stop it falling on the floor, only managed to redirect it into the bowl instead. (My hands were pretty full at the time.) For the second time in about a month, I enjoyed the taboo experience of urinating onto something that’s not really meant to be treated in that way; (last time it was my mobile phone). In a not dissimilar way, this is a film about a successful guy with an addiction to sex. We also get to see him using a toilet in a similar fashion to me, although minus the bog role and with a ‘physical presence’ that made me feel somewhat inadequate.
This film has a story and a plot of sorts, but if you’re the sort of person who likes a story that sort of has a purpose, then you may not find it that satisfying. On the other hand, if you like films with a vibe and an atmosphere, then you might quite enjoy it. Depending on your world view, I guess you’ll either consider Brandon is ‘the man’ or a ‘total loser’. (If it helps you, please feel free to insert a pair of diametrically opposed euphemisms of your choice in place of the two I’ve just used, perhaps more suited to your age and social background.) This is actually a very good movie. I didn’t really want to like Brandon, but somehow he manages to come across as a decent guy with two sides to his life; one a success at work and the other an uncontrollable addict that he keeps bottled up by routine and ‘rules’. Then his somewhat messed up sister arrives on the scene. I felt quite sorry for him actually. This probably has a lot to do with how Michael Fassbender portrays the character, which is in a quite understated way. The story does leave a lot of unfinished business and unanswered questions in its wake, but really, it’s the mood of the film that makes it work. Mostly depressing (like most of what I watch), it’s a visually and emotionally entertaining portrayal of a guy with a problem, a guy with a problem that he then tries to do something about.
I really love how the music is used in this film, a mixture of mainly 80s pop, Johann Sebastian Bach and some great incidental stuff by Harry Escott. It also seems to be part of the trigger that makes Brandon try to change his behaviour.
No cats, decapitation or chainsaws.
Recommended for perverts, obviously.
Top badass moment? Twice in under two hours, we see Brandon make ‘meaningful’ eye contact with attractive women on the Subway. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on the Tube and never managed that; in fact I’ve only seen it happen once between anyone. Somehow that’s badass, or jealousy, I’m not sure which.
Working in the ‘environmental sector’ as I do, I frequently find myself watching films and noticing ‘environmental errors’. This one has a classic. Most of the movie appears to have been shot towards the end of the summer, given the condition and size of the Bracken that’s seen growing everywhere. However, the aerial shots appear to have been filmed in mid winter, given the totally dead appearance of the Bracken and the lack of leaves on many of the trees. I know, I know, I should ignore this stuff, but it’s hard to! Talking of big mistakes, Jenny and Steve made one or two in this movie.
2008 – Certificate: 18 – United Kingdom
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence and sustained terrorisation
Eden Lake is what the director happily calls a “genre film”. Group go somewhere isolated, group piss someone off, group get chased, group suffer the consequences; in this case it’s a young couple and some local kids, who spend most of the movie chasing each other around the woods. Having said that, it is a really good example of this type of horror/thriller, with decent acting, good photography/effects and well thought-out characters. The latter do actually manage to act in a reasonably realistic way most of the time, even if there were just a few too many coincidences used to push the plot along. I’ve slept in a tent ‘in the middle of nowhere’ lots of times and I’ve always had a slight fear that one night some weirdo is going to come and ‘disturb’ me. This film did nothing to allay my fears. I did struggle to relate to the couple (Jenny and Steve) a little. They were nice enough, but God were they boring; and he was also an irritating yuppie too. His attempts to be the ‘alpha male’ were somewhat pathetic as well, if sadly realistic. They were the classic, “what a shame they’re going to build all over this nice bit of land, so let’s go and enjoy it first by driving there in our 4×4, just to use as much fuel as we can doing so” middle-class couple. Very light green ‘greens’ if you ask me. I bet she uses a reusable shopping bag to buy her organic veg each time she goes to the shops in said vehicle. It was quite a while before I started to feel sorry for them. Not that the kids were any better; rural delinquents with equally crappy parents. The ending is pretty brutal too. And finally, a quick note for horror script writers. If you’re running around in the woods in England (and probably most other places too) trying to avoid others, (like in this film), it’s really not that hard to hide. Two intelligent adults trying escape from a group of thick kids in an area that probably covers 100s of acres, really shouldn’t be that difficult. The place was full of tall Bracken. Just! Don’t! Walk! Along! The! Paths!
Recommended for fans of classic modern horror. (Can you actually have classic modern anything?)
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.
Top badass moment? Well all the kids were thick plebs, (and my thanks to the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield and Government Chief Whip, for reminding me of that one). Steve was simply an annoying yuppie, too full of his own importance for anything he could ever do to be considered badass. So this only leaves Jenny really. She never totally got into full bad-bitch-from-hell mode, but for a primary school teacher she didn’t do too badly. That makeshift dagger was very effective! Considering the trying circumstances, her efforts probably should be considered badass.