Shame


Watched a movie last night that for the first 30 minutes had me transfixed. It was a movie called Shame, starring Michael Fassbender. He plays the role of a damaged man living in NYC, whose life seems to revolve around sex in its different forms, whether it be an opportunistic root, a prostitute, or porn of every type.

For the first 30 minutes the film making was almost minimalist. There was little dialogue, much was revealed in tracking shots, in the faces of the characters, even in the background music. The acting was great, the direction sublime, and I felt myself connected to a movie as so rarely I am. Then I dropped off, until perhaps the last 10 minutes.

I wondered at that after. Where did I lose interest? Why? From about 30 minutes in the movie became more melodramatic as new characters and conflict were introduced to the story. This was absolutely necessary for the development of the story as a whole, but it also took it in a direction away from me. For the first 30 minutes I could relate on some masculine level. It was a type of life portrayed, a different life to most, but one, as a male, as a virile male living in and around the metropolis, that I could closely relate to. Even though I don’t have the same porn fixation, much else was familiar: the lust for lust; the matter of fact, but ruthless desire; the lifestyle, drinks, dinner, laughter, flirtation, dirty sex. Even the scene in the train where he undresses a girl with his eyes, as she reacts to him, even that seemed real to me. Those 30 minutes would be close to many men I think, certainly these days, and in men of my rough vintage.

After that it became a story. Though we shared some behaviours he was different to me: that connection was severed. What had seemed personal now became entertainment. His inclinations were revealed as being more degenerate than I could understand, and the story became sordid, almost cruel. It became clear how deeply damaged he was, vulnerable, troubled, confused, lost, his life sliding away. It seemed his fate, something he seemed passively resigned to even as, now and then, he tried to change the course of it. The movie ended on that question: was he changed? Would he do as before, or would he choose another way?

I knew what I would do in that last scene, but then I’m not defined by these things as he was. He lived in a stupor, lit up by, and addicted to, the sensation of sex. Maybe that’s what a sex addict is, I thought – I’d always wondered. And so for him to say yes in the scene we never saw would be to shoot-up again; for me, simple fun.

Interesting movie. I’m sure a lot would be confronted by it. I can’t say I ‘enjoyed’ it – it’s not the sort of movie you enjoy. I think though that it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. I’ll watch it again. I’ll read it on different levels, and knowing where it goes, will take in the first 30 minutes with a different eye.

It reminds me of a movie, I can’t remember which. It nags at me. Stay tuned.

Rather do it than watch it


Filming on a pornographic film set.Image via Wikipedia

I've never quite understood the lure of porn movies. I know of otherwise perfectly sensible people who have no hesitation in hunkering down with their loved one in front of a porn movie in the full expectation that it will lead to something more. Not me. Porn movies are so laughable as to be anti-erotic.

Having made that point I have to admit to actually watching one the other night on impulse. It's been years since I saw one and when browsing through the Foxtel menu with nothing better to do I hit upon the 'Adults' area out of bored curiosity and then, following the same lazy impulse, chose to watch one.

It wasn't long before I was reminded why I find these things so dreadful. The production values are notoriously ordinary, the story – if it exists – invariably cheesy (along with the acting), and the camera work, bizarrely, is so poor that the money shot is missed more often than not. I guess they're quibbles in the scheme of things, but watching the other night with my finger on the FF button I endured a series of situations which lacked any sensuality – hey, what's that? – and were crude and manipulative. How is that vaguely erotic?

The girls no matter how beautiful had that hard, seasoned aura, unsurprising considering they probably hop from one make believe orgy to another. Their tanned bodies were worked out to within a few millimetres of perfection, their pubes shaved to the approved tuft, their hair was coiffed and their full breasts half silicon. Overall they portrayed a plastic, almost sterile personality, a million miles from when they might have been young and innocent. What was natural about them, or spontaneous? Nothing. Even the pretty Asian girls spoke American.

Of course it's even worse when you consider the men they do double-time with, a combination of low-lives who look like they might have been picked up from the local bus stop; borderline sociopaths who look like they've just got out of stir; and buff bodybuilders whose brains have long since turned to porridge because of steroids. From a purely technical perspective it seems stupid. If there is an element of fantasy in all of this, what man wants one of these characters standing in for them?

Together they go through the motions, swapping places and positions to a chorus of scripted oohs, ahs, and yes, performing to the camera and doubtless to an audience of horny couples out there somewhere, and lonely guys with their cock in their hand.

I just don't get it. At the bottom end at least it's seedy and unpalatable, unattractive, certainly un-erotic, unprofessionally professional, and in many ways just plain inept. What's the point of watching other people do the things you might want to do yourself? Man I like a naked woman as much as the next guy, but I'd rather her sincerely there, looking in my eyes and seeing me, natural, real, at my side.

That's it for me. I watched a 75 minute movie in about 15 minutes and know enough to lock it in: porn is not my caper.

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