Shame doesn't have much in the way of a story beyond the typical 'Addicts on a Downward Spiral' trajectory. Arguments have already surfaced about its strange mix of ambiguity (no backstory) and heavy-handedness (it's pretty blunt and defiantly unsexy despite all the sexing) and whether it earns its operatic soulful ending. But this movie, which is braving the theaters with an NC-17 rating, is worth arguing over. McQueen's expressive filmmaking offers ghostly images of the city and its denizens and his trademark super-long takes allow the actors to really dig in (including Nicole Beharie who is wonderful as a co-worker who Brandon pursues). And dig they do. The electrifying friction between the glacial Fassbender and volcanic Mulligan, sprung from the same seeds and womb, implicates both (Mother) Nature and Nurture; the two share an invisible but obviously torturous shared history.
Early in the movie Sissy sings the slowest rendition of the Liza classic "New York New York" you'll ever hear. The camera pretends it's a duet with Sissy and Brandon sharing the song in close-ups. Their eyes are such intense windows you can practically feel their pained souls harmonizing.
AWARDS SEASON KICKOFF
This week saw the kick off of the three-month long awards season. Are you ready for red carpets and an orgy of "Best This!" and "Best That!"?
The suspicious cries of "First!" used to emanate from the National Board of Review. This year they cried out the holy name of Martin Scorsese, giving his 3D family film / movie history lesson "Hugo" the top prize. But they weren't actually the first awards body to speak out this year. The Gotham Awards, an miniature East Coast twin of sorts to the long running Independendent Spirit Awards started us off on Monday by declaring not one, but two films as "Best Feature". The films sharing the honor were the whimsical but moving gay drama Beginners (previously reviewed here at Towleroad and drawn from writer/director Mike Mill's own family history) and Terrence Malick's mysterious epic The Tree of Life. Inimitable cult filmmaker John Waters memorably included the latter in his year end top ten list, saying:
You’d think I’d hate this film, and I almost did—until I realized it’s the best New Age, heterosexual, Christian movie of the year.
The day after the Gothams, the New York Film Critics Circle gave The Tree of Life two acting prizes: Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. (Both were shared prizes since Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, the stars of that new age christian heterosexual spectacle both made multiple films this year.) The Artist, the ridiculously charming and funny silent film took Best Picture and Best Director. If that weren't enough The Spirit Awards also announced their nominations and it's a battle between The Artist, Beginners, 50/50, Drive, The Descendants and Take Shelter.
Oh yeah, it's on. Have you already chosen movie teams?