Shame, by Steve McQueen. How appropriate

There’s a scene early in Shame where Michael Fassbender languorously wanders, completely naked, through his flat and stands at the toilet before slowly micturating as we watch voyeauristically.  It sums the film up.  Pish.

Hunger, McQueen’s debut,  was my movie of 2008.  McQueen and Fassbender pulled off a coup with a brilliantly thought provoking and totally engaging story about Bobby Sands and the dirty protests in the Maze prison in Belfast.  It was a horrifying journey to hell and back with a miraculous central peformance by Fassbender.

This movie attempts to do something similiar, performance wise at least, by stripping Fassbender back literally to his skin.

It’s a story about unsaid things.  Clearly Fassbender and his sister (Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan) have a past that has severely damaged them emotionally and their onscreen relationship hints, at times, of near incestual closeness but this is kept at bay by extreme aggression to each other.

Sissy is a self harmer, Fassbender a sex addict.  Neither evoke any sympathy whatsoever, because McQueen has set out to make a movie that moves glacially and observes the action with a remoteness and aloofness that is chilling and utterly unengaging.

The truth is, this is a self absorbed piece of film making that leaves one cold, in fact, pretty bored actually.

It’s unsympathetic stance towards the central characters actually ends up with you not caring by the end.

A cold, uninvolving self indulgence of a movie that I’d recommend avoiding.

A long way down by Nick Hornby


I missed the ‘release’ of this, mainly because I thought Hornby’s early promise had run out of steam.  ( I loved Fever Pitch and liked Hi Fidelity.)  He seemed to be becoming a bit ‘four weddings and a funeral’ for my liking and the snob in me saw him selling out.

His “about a boy’ book was kind of pish really.

But I picked this up in a charity shop and it sat in the pile for a while before I decided to read it.

It’s overrated, I have to say that to start with.  It will win no literary prizes , but the critics seem to hold Hornby in some sort of thrall.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that actually if you ignore the startlingly unbelievable critical tosh it’s rather good on a simple storytelling level.

It has no great insights on life (or death) but it is a good read and Hornby creates four distinct characters; two of which work very well (the comedic ones ) Jess and Martin; one who nearly gets there but is underdeveloped (Maureen); and one that’s just a bit crap (JJ).

And yet, still, it works.  I liked it on the whole.  Quite a lot actually.

Maybe I liked it because it’s just a good story with an unpredictable ending, well told, and actually a very good mix of humour and pathos.

Oh, it’s  about four people and their take on suicide, and how they collectively fight it, in case you didn’t know.