Shame Review


“We’re not bad people. We just come from a bad place.”

“Shame”, Steve McQueen’s stark and uncompromising exploration of the devastating effects of sex addiction, is a powerful glimpse into the dark parts of the human soul and how it can consume us. It stars Michael Fassbender as Brandon, viewed by his colleagues as a polite, well-kept business professional, who is secretly struggling with a sex addiction that causes him to seek out sexual release through either girls he meets at bars, escorts or masturbation, often in public bathrooms. In essence he lives in his own erotic world, though the sex is not for pleasure but simply to help block out some deep-seeded pain, which he tries to control with daily routines to keep focus.  This world is disrupted when Sissy, his wayward sister with no other place to go, arrives and requests a place to stay. Brandon reluctantly agrees which appeared to be one of a few attempts to change his habits; the other being starting a real relationship with a beautiful young coworker. Things seem to be going well, but Sissy’s intrusive and erratic behavior, though often not intentional, quickly disrupts the rituals that held his psyche together and he begins to break. Her presence makes him feel  constricted  and bring back those feelings and memories he seemed dead set to repress with his sexual behavior, causing him to spiral downward with his sexual exploits becoming more extreme as the resurgence of his past and inability to cope with her needs boil to the surface.

It is important to understand, because the story relies so heavily on their interactions, that Sissy and Brandon share similar pains, though they go about suppressing them in different ways. Sissy is outgoing and wants everyone to love her; whereas Brandon is reserved and prefers to be on his own. When “living” becomes too hard they give in to harmful behavior. For Brandon it is sexual stimulation and for Sissy it is cutting herself, as pointed out by Brandon’s coworker after noticing her scarred wrist. It is this conflict in their personalities that creates the most drama. They are not suited for one another, Sissy’s intruding in Brandon’s sheltered existence and Brandon’s refusing to give her the attention and love she needs are the sparks that lead to destruction. It is not long before their clashing reaches an unbearable limit and they are both so terribly damaged, and heartbreakingly so, that when they both hit bottom it is a tragic moment. Especially for Brandon who finds himself under the pain of both the shame he places upon himself and his sister.

McQueen plays coy on what exactly about their past has had this effect on them but clearly there is a lot under the surface that has left them scarred. Many have complained about this lack of back story or an outright explanation to Brandon’s behavior but McQueen is less interested in a thoroughly develop story, and more concerned with peeking into the lives of these individuals. This is honestly all we need. It is sometimes too hard for people to accept that this is just the way we are. Humans have their demons. Films have already thoroughly gone through the scenarios that could lead to this behavior. All that matters is the now, how technology and New York help him to indulge in his addiction, and how he copes with the present.

As Brandon Michael Fassbender gives one of the most haunting and courageous performances in a very long time. His willingness to bear all, in scenes the audience can barely sit through let along imagine being a part of, along with his ability to open himself up physically and emotionally and relay so much pain, in a way that feels so human, was just outstanding.

Carey Mulligan also shines here in a roll that is unlike anything she has ever done. She plays Sissy as a woman who clearly has her own demons, and although she might seem more outgoing and capable or connecting with others, she also has a hard time coping with the past and the rejection of lovers and her brother. One of the film’s most stunning moments comes when Mulligan, in a close up, sings ‘New York New York’ in a powerful, raw and emotional rendition that really mirrored her whole performance.

The result of it all is a dark and unsettling portrait of self-destructive souls, driven by some unknown torment, so lost and damaged, struggling to mask one great shame with another in an attempt to feel something; not pleasure but rather the physical and moral pains of the acts they commit. Alone this is challenging stuff, but with the addition of exquisite long shots, beautiful photography adding a sort of poetic grace all set to a hypnotic score by Harry Escott, it becomes not only an emotional but also visually mesmerizing experience.

Ten Good Things That Lisa Marie Saw on TV in 2011


Someday, I want to have my own tv network.  I’ll call it Lisa Marie Television (or LMTV for short) and it’ll be like Lifetime but with the Lisa Marie difference.  What’s the Lisa Marie difference?  Sweetheart, if you have to ask, you’ll never know.  El. Oh. El.

Anyway, as I wait for that day to come, I’m going to continue my series of posts on my favorites of 2011 by telling you about some of the best things that I saw on television over the course of the previous year:

1) The Goodbye, Michael episode of The Office:

So, this year, I’ve been kind of depressed because my former favorite show of all time — The Office — has been just awful!  Seriously, don’t even get me started on why it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever that Jim Halpert would have recommended that Andy Bernard be put in charge of the office.  Don’t get me started on how the show is now wasting some of the brightest comic talents available.  And certainly, don’t ask me what I think about this newest subplot where Darryl is somehow suddenly incapable of talking to the new girl in the Warehouse.  Seriously, I want to cry every Thursday night because when I watch The Office, it’s like looking in the mirror and finding a new wrinkle.  However, The Office did have one genuinely great episode this year and that was, fittingly enough, Steve Carell’s final episode.  “Goodbye, Michael” was a reminder of what made people like me fall in love with The Office in the first place and, as much as I hate to say it, it would have made a perfect finale for the entire series.

2) Sophia Shows Up On The Walking Dead..

and Rick does what he has to do.

3) Nedd Stark loses his head in Game of Thrones.

Much as Sophia had to ultimately be in that barn, Nedd had to lose his head.

4) The Pouting Little Princess at the Royal Wedding

All together now: “Awwwwwwwww!”  Actually, that would have been me if I was a member of the Royal Family.

5) Joel McHale as host of The Soup.

Seriously, Chris Hardwicke is cute in a funny, nerdy sorta way and Daniel Tosh is like the frat boy that you turn to when you’re drunk and depressed but Joel McHale is still the best.

6) South Park goes there…

…again.

7) The broadview security commercial featuring A.J. the homicidal lunatic

Okay, so this is actually about 2 or 3 years old and I don’t think I actually saw this on TV during 2011 but I don’t care.  I love this commercial and A.J. is freaking hot!  Plus, I love how everyone’s all like, “Who’s that?” and she’s all like, “I don’t know, just some random guy who showed up in my house…heh heh heh.”  All together now: “A.J?  A.J?”

8 ) Homeland

With Dexter giving us a truly awful season this time around, Homeland was the best modern-day drama on television.  Claire Danes deserves every award there is for her performance.

9) The Amazing Race

Hands down, the best reality show on television.

10) Community

Dear NBC, if you fail to bring back Community, we’re done.  I will leave you, I will cut you out of my life, and I hope you’ll be very happy with Whitney Cummings.

 

Give this man his own show!

Coming tomorrow: Lisa Marie’s top ten books of 2011.

necromoonyeti’s 10 Favorite Songs of 2011


I want to hop on the bandwagon. It would be a little silly for me to post my real top 10; for one thing, it would include four Krallice tracks. That aside, nearly everything I’d put on it I’ve either posted on this site as a Song of the Day or included in both my review of its album and my top albums post. So to make this a bit different from my past posts, I’m going to limit myself to one song per band, stick to stuff that I imagine might appeal to people who aren’t interested in extreme metal, and keep it on the catchy side. I’ll list a more honest top 10 at the end.

10. Powerwolf – Son of a Wolf (from Blood of the Saints)

As such, my tenth place selection is about as metal as it’s going to get. Powerwolf’s Blood of the Saints might be simple and repetitive, but it’s about the catchiest power/heavy metal album I’ve ever heard. It indulges the same guilty pleasure for me as Lordi and Twisted Sister–two bands that inexplicably pump me up despite being entirely tame. It also offers some amazing operatic vocals and Dracula keyboards, the cheesiness of which can be easily forgiven. Son of a Wolf might be one of the more generic tracks in a sense, but it’s the one most often stuck in my head.

9. Alestorm – Barrett’s Privateers (from Back Through Time)

The only thing I love more than traditional folk and sea chanties is folk punk and metal. When the latter covers the former, I’m in bliss. Alestorm are emerging as the sort of Dropkick Murphys of metal with all their covers lately, and I hope they keep it up. I loved Barrett’s Privateers before what you’re hearing ever happened, and the metal version delights me to no end.

8. The Decemberists – Rox in the Box (from The King is Dead)

The Decemberists really toned it down this year. Where The Hazards of Love could be described as an epic rock opera, The King is Dead sticks to simple, pleasant folk. But Colin Meloy thoroughly researches pretty much every subject he’s ever tackled, and The King is Dead pays ample homage to its predecessors. Rox in the Box incorporates Irish traditional song Raggle Taggle Gypsy with delightful success.

7. Nekrogoblikon – Goblin Box (from Stench)

With a keen eye towards contemporary folk metal like Alestorm and Finntroll, melodic death classics like In Flames and Children of Bodom, and much else besides, former gimmick band Nekrogoblikon really forged their own unique sound in the world of folk metal in 2011. At least half of the album is this good. Stench is the most unexpected surprise the year had to offer by far.

6. Korpiklaani – Surma (from Ukon Wacka)

Korpiklaani almost always end their albums with something special, and 2011 is no exception. The melody of Surma is beautiful, and Jonne Järvelä’s metal take on traditional Finnish vocals is as entertaining as ever.

5. Turisas – Hunting Pirates (from Stand Up and Fight)

I couldn’t find a youtube video that effectively captured the full scope of Turisas’s sound in such limited bitrates, but believe me, it’s huge. Go buy the album and find out for yourselves. Unlike Varangian Way, not every track is this good, but on a select number Turisas appear in their finest form. Adventurous, exciting, epic beyond compare, this band delivers with all of the high definition special effects of a Hollywood blockbuster.

4. The Flight of Sleipnir – Transcendence (from Essence of Nine)

Essence of Nine kicks off with a kaleidoscope of everything that makes stoner metal great, while reaching beyond the genre to incorporate folk and Akerfeldt-esque vocals. A beautifully constructed song, it crushes you even as it floats through the sky. I could imagine Tony Iommi himself rocking out to this one.

3. Boris – Black Original (from New Album)

From crust punk to black metal, there’s nothing Boris don’t do well, and 2011 has shown more than ever that there’s no style they’ll hesitate from dominating. I don’t know what’s been going on in the past few years with this popular rise of 80s sounds and weird electronics. I don’t listen to it, so I can’t relate. But if I expected it sounded anything nearly as good as what Boris pulled off this year I’d be all over it.

2. Tom Waits – Chicago (from Bad as Me)

Bad as Me kicks off with one of my favorite Tom Waits songs to date. It’s a timeless theme for him, but it feels more appropriate now than ever, and his dirty blues perfectly capture the sort of fear and excitement of packing up and seeking out a better life.

1. Dropkick Murphys – Take ‘Em Down (from Going Out in Style)

In a year just begging for good protest songs, Flogging Molly tried really hard and fell flat. Dropkick Murphys, another band you’d expect to join the cause, released perhaps their most generic album to date (still good mind you, but not a real chart topper). Take ‘Em Down is kind of out of place on the album, but it’s DKM to the core, and as best I can gather it’s an original song, not a cover of a traditional track. If so, it’s probably the most appropriate thing written all year. (The video is fan made.)

If you’re interested in my actual top 10, it runs something like this:

10. Falkenbach – Where His Ravens Fly…
9. Waldgeflüster – Kapitel I: Seenland
8. Liturgy – High Gold
7. Endstille – Endstille (Völkerschlächter)
6. Blut aus Nord – Epitome I
5. Krallice – Intro/Inhume
4. Liturgy – Harmonia
3. Krallice – Diotima
2. Krallice – Telluric Rings
1. Krallice – Dust and Light

And that excludes so many dozens of amazing songs that it seems almost pointless to post it.