Tag Archive: arclight


Shame

So everyone knows I’m a Brando guy, and I’ve talked about how ‘Last Tango in Paris’ was a major influence on how I built the character I used in “Lady In My Life.” So when one of the first things I heard about ‘Shame’ was that it was on some ‘Last Tango’ type ish, I was instantly like “Oh Really?!?”  I wasn’t going to hold any film to that  standard but I was intrigued.  And, as fate would have it, when I literally went from the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood to the Arclight only a few blocks away to catch a screening, I was really in a “Method” mood.

So let’s start there.  By own scale of 1 to 10 for commitment to a role, Michael Fassbender went for the 10 here; all in surrender of his body and spirit for the character.  Full salute from me for that.  For those unfamiliar, ‘Shame’ is about a young bachelor in his 30s, not a bad looking dude, stable in his job and living situation, who, for reasons never explained, is both unable and frankly uninterested in building and sustaining an emotional relationship with a woman.

(Let me pause this review here because I can here a certain peanut gallery picking up their phones to text me.  To you I say, shut it.)

What the main character of this film does have a passion for is sex.  But as the title implies, his passion for sex is…off.  He doesn’t do it for social status, for pleasure, for procreation, or as noted, for emotional connection.  He just…does it.  As often as possible and in plenty of inappropriate ways and places.  One of the things that director Steve McQueen (a brother from across the pond) gets right in this film is showing you in the first 20 minutes, there is nothing glamorous in this sexual perversion.

Casey Mulligan shows up as the sister of our protagonist. Not as one of the ‘normal sweet, girl next door’ types she’s played in other films, but as a desperate, really desperate for attention seeking little sister.  It was certainly an interesting choice for the audience to get no backstory on these two siblings, one emotionally vacant and one in constant need for approval, but in my opinion at least, it kept the film from maybe reaching its true potential.  If “Last Tango” is the standard, in that film there are little moments here and there where, if you don’t know, you (as the audience) can at least infer “Oh that’s why he’s an asshole.”  The audience of “Shame” doesn’t get that luxury.  For shame. (See what I did there?)

All that said, I think it’s a good film.  And the performances by the two leads are really good.  The film is rated NC-17, which I guess is its own reference to the high degree of sexuality in the film.  But to me all that NC-17 does is remind me how with the US ratings boards you can blow off all the heads and chop off all the arms you want and get an R, but you have one too many penis shots in your film and it’s immediately X-rated.  Another debate for another day…

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Last week I had to drop off some CDs to a friend of mine who lives in Brentwood.  Rush hour traffic on the 405…yeah.  So I took the scenic route home, traveling on Sunset Boulevard through Hollywood.  Traveling east, you pass by two of the three things I’ve already written about in this space: Arclight Hollywood and one of the many In & Out chains.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

Even at night, the palm trees and curvy roads of Bel-Air and the entrance to the UCLA campus stick out.  Being one of many artists here, I have a few friends who have chosen the stand up comedy route.  And on occassion I’ve caught them at the Laugh Factory, or the Comedy Store, or one of several other comedy spots that dot the Strip.  Ahhh yes, the Strip.  It was one of those ‘must be done’ spots when I first came here a decade ago; it was a rite of passage whenever a new bachelor friend came to town that we’d pack in the car, open the sunroof and windows, and ‘enjoy the scenery’ as it were.  And yes, we were doing it way before it became part of the opening credits of Entourage. 

The House of Blues followed by a late night/early morning trip to IHOP would echo a few of the long nights of my own college days; the Sunset Blvd. IHOP is famous/infamous for its own reasons though.  A throwback to the seedier days of Hollywood and Sunset before it became a full blown tourist attraction.  The action doesn’t always go down in the late hours of the night though.  There’s Harmony Gold, where we screened more than a few films during the school days, and still gets a visit every now and again for a screening.  There’s a bar that I don’t think is there anymore (big surprise; on Sunset Blvd. when one bar closes down another opens a few weeks later).  Anyway this bar was the first place I remember going to watch Laker games with the ‘in’ crowd.  I won’t put my friend on blast, but I remember walking in there for the first time just to see him surrounded by girls, looking like the King of the City.  And my thought was, “OK…I’m really not in Kansas anymore.”  (I know, that was a terrible pun but it was my thought.)

The film geek in me won’t let me finish this entry without noting that one of the first (and still the best) movies about ‘Hollywood’ good and bad is named Sunset Boulevard.  Sex, murder, celebrity, desperation, glamour, image…

Some things never change, do they?

 

In a company town like this, there is no shortage of screens to see films, old and new.  I get out to the Landmark once in a while, the Grove is still nice just because of the shopping center that surrounds it.  From a purely film geek, filmgoer experience, I will always have a soft spot for the Arclight.  It was one of the first theatres to offer reserved seating (meaning almost no more last minute runs or someone sitting where you wanted to sit arguments); the Hollywood location is fairly centrally located (Sunset and Vine) which has led to many wistful Friday and Saturday evenings pondering how the hands of fate had conspired to place me in the position I was in.  The Cinerama Dome has a history of its own, which I won’t fully go into here.  But that location has hosted and continues to host its share of premieres and special events. 

I caught at the Arclight the re-issued versions of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (still the only time I’ve seen the two classics on the big screen).  I was in the midnight screening of The Dark Knight there; even watching at home doesn’t duplicate the initial chills from watching the opening logo sequence in a completely full auditorium that’s hushed in revered silence.  I was also in the midnight screening of Iron Man, where before the lights went down, Robert Downey Jr. himself thanked the crowd for coming out (and putting him back on the A-list).  Only in Hollywood right?

Well…yeah.