SHORT TAKES WITHOUT APOLOGY – “SHAME”

There is no excuse for missing a deadline. I spare my readers an apology for missing my promised post for February 11 and move on to recommended reading: the special Oscar supplement in the New York TIMES for January 1. The TIMES’ three critics enumerate their choices of the best in film for 2011 in eight categories. I admire the appreciation of the big picture shown by these three journalists, especially Manohla Dargis whose grasp of world cinema is impressive.

I am intrigued, however, to find that no one of the three cited Steve McQueen, British director of SHAME. It is shrewdly crafted to present its characters and their stories with a minimum of dialogue. In some very long takes, McQueen allows his superb actors to reveal themselves through wondrously expressive faces and sometimes brief but telling dialogue. I was surprised to find SHAME almost as silent a film as THE ARTIST.

Carey Mulligan and Nicole Beharie are outstanding. The latter, in one scene at a restaurant table, creates a complete person, way too much of a person for Brandon, Fassbender’s character, to handle. James Badge Dale is just right as Brandon’s boss and bar buddy. As Brandon Fassbender deserves the spot Manohla Dargis gives him in her list of five best performances and deserved a nomination from the Hollywood Academy. (It’s the Academy’s acting categories that need ten nominations or, at least, need to break out of the rigidity of five names only.) Micahel Fassbender makes us care about what happens to a character not easy to like and impossible to admire.

SHAME
Steve McQueen
2011

Filmically yours,
Rick

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