Monday, December 26, 2011


I don't normally see movies like this. When it comes to movies, I'm sort of like a hot shot producer at a movie studio: I like easy to understand films that sound entertaining and can be summed up in a single sentence story pitch:

"It's like Die Hard, but in an old folks home."

"It's about a retired Chicago firefighter who's forced back into action because there's a fire devastating the South Side and only he can put it out."

"A guy goes blind, which is ironic because up to that point, he's always loved being able to see stuff."

You know what I mean. Shame is nothing like that. Shame can't be summed up in a single sentence, and probably not even in a single blog post. It's a slow-paced, thoughtful, maddeningly-vague art house film that doesn't have anything remotely resembling a traditional story structure or central story arc. So it wasn't really my kind of film, and I can't even say that I liked it, but I certainly respected it and won't say that I didn't like it either.

Shame is about... I dunno. Let's just say it stars Michael Fassbender as some rich, successful New York yuppie who's also living a secret life as a raging sex addict, and hilarity ensues. Just kidding about that last part. This isn't a very funny movie, nor is anything that happens the least bit fun or all that entertaining, but it is interesting and it was never boring. The movie basically consists of Fassbender going to his nondescript job, then going home (or to a hotel, to a bar, or just some alley) and having lots of sex. All things considered, he didn't show much shame, nor did this film really do much to make sex addiction look all that bad. All the women with whom he engaged in sexual intercourse were gorgeous, and everybody seemed to be having a pretty good time. Then again, this is a movie about a sex addict who looks like movie star Michael Fassbender. If they made a movie about a sex addict who looked like -- say -- me, there would be a heck of a lot less sex, and the movie would've gotten a G rating instead of an NC-17.

Michael Fassbender is a very wonderful actor however. I liked him in both Inglorious Basterds and that recent X-Men movie, even though neither film was all that good. He's just one of those actors who's always interesting and fun to watch, even if he's just sitting in a subway or jogging in a ten minute tracking shot that went on so long it seemed like it would be interminable. He really held this movie together, and I can't imagine it would've been the least bit watchable -- let alone actually kind of good -- with a lesser actor. Oh, and you see him naked too, so check it out if that's what you're into. And if that is what you're into, I think you'll be impressed. That's all I'll say about that.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too, even though this is definitely the Michael Fassbender show. His sister is played by the very cute and charming Carey Mulligan, and his boss (and only friend?) is played by that guy from 24 who got his hand chopped off by Jack Bauer because he was handcuffed to a bomb (Spoiler!!!). Then there were all the chicks Fassbender banged, all of whom were very lovely, very charming, and got very naked, if you're into that sort of thing.

Of course, I haven't said much about the plot or story because there really isn't much to say. This is one of those movies where nothing happens, and it just kind of starts and then stops randomly. Sometimes stuff happens, but mostly it's just people standing around or talking. But somehow... it kind of works. As I said, I was never bored, even if I was never really entertained either. Director Steve McQueen is definitely talented, and he has a sure hand with the camera and kept things moving and interesting, even though nothing was actually happening. If this guy ever makes that Firefighter movie I pitched, I bet it would be awesome. But Shame was just... a movie. If any of this sounds interesting, check it out. If it doesn't, fair enough.


Mugato said...

This was the oddest movie review ever. Yet it actually makes me want to see it. Basically it's good, but god knows why?

Donald said...

I don't think I ever said it was good.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

This doesn't interest me at all.

I was listening to NPR the other day, and the movie critic on Fresh Air was talking about his list of the best films of the year. This review kind of reminds me of one film he was talking about, which he said didn't make his list, because it was just too mean to recommend, even though it was well made.