Daily Archives: February 15, 2013

Shame (2011)

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If you have any inquiries regarding your sexual orientation or if you think you masturbate too frequently, this film will answer all your questions. Of course I am kidding, to an extent. Shame is an uncensored look at sexual addiction and the strain it places on social interactions, careers, and personal and formal relationships. Shame stars the always incredible Michael Fassbender (Fish Tank), Carey Mulligan (Drive), and James Badge Dale (The Departed). Shame is directed by the emerging rock behind the camera Steve McQueen (Hunger), who has one of the most highly anticipated films of 2013, Twelve Years A Slave.

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Brandon (Fassbender), is a New York office worker in his thirties. On the outside, Brandon appears to be any ordinary New Yorker, social, formal, and active. It is these very qualities that allow Brandon to carry out his sexual needs and desires in a consistent and secretive manner. However, when Brandon’s sister Sissy (Mulligan) arrives unexpected and begins to live with him, Brandon’s sexual addiction starts to become unveiled. After a night out with David (Dale) to watch Sissy perform, boundaries are crossed and Brandon and Sissy’s personal lives begin to disintegrate.

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If you plan on watching Shame with family or on a first date, I would reconsider. If you feel uncomfortable viewing nudity or sex in private or public, this film is not for you. After seeing this film at the Toronto International Film Festival, I would urge you to reconsider however. Set aside your morals and pride for a couple of hours and watch this film. This unflinching look at sexual addiction is the first film of its kind. Fassbender goes all out, literally and figuratively with no restrain. This is Fassbender’s most invested role since Hunger, also directed by McQueen. Fassbender and McQueen are the future Scorsese and DiCaprio. Carey Mulligan’s portrayal of a wild, unforgiving, depressed sibling was one of the best supporting actress performances of 2011. McQueen, who has been relentless since directing his first full length feature Hunger, sheds a necessary light on film censorship and the need for less of it. There is no hiding behind the curtain of appropriateness in this film. The world is a harsh environment and McQueen displays it beautifully.

Shame: 8.5 out of 10.

Stuart: A Life Backwards (2007)

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Stuart: A Life Backwards is a drama that first premiered on the BBC in the U.K. It is based upon the biography of the same name written by Alexander Masters. Masters wrote the biography of his friend Stuart Shorter, a career thief, prisoner, and who is homeless from a young age. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alexander Masters, Tom Hardy as Stuart Shorter, and is directed by David Attwood.

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When Stuart (Hardy), a violent, homeless, alcoholic meets writer Alexander Masters (Cumberbatch) at a charity event, the two become quick friends. As their friendship progresses, Stuart begins to describe his childhood and the tribulations he has suffered in his life. When Masters hears the life story, he asks Stuart if he can write his biography, Stuart agrees. As the back story is being told to Masters, more tragic events are revealed coinciding with the closer Masters and Stuart become. Nearing the completion of the biography, Stuart’s life begins to spiral out of control in reverse.

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This is the Tom Hardy we’ve come to love. This is Hardy’s best performance to date, yet one of his least viewed. Ranging from emotional, drunk, suicidal, and completely out of control, Hardy delivers a powerhouse performance. Not to be outdone is Benedict Cumberbatch who matches Hardy stride for stride in a much more subtle, domesticated role. The film is a very script driven picture with various flashbacks and not a significant amount of visuals. Attwood controls his actors with a firm hand and manages to squeeze enormous amounts of emotion, energy, and fire from the original text and translate it all to the screen. Stuart: A Life Backwards is an underrated, seldom seen work of genius that showcases human life and the spark needed to make it extraordinary. Hardy and Cumberbatch provide that spark in their performances while Attwood fuels the fire from behind the camera. A very rare film that is hard to find but is a must see if you can get your hands on it.

Stuart: A Life Backwards: 8.5 out of 10.