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Steve McQueen
Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Lucy Walters, Mari-Ange Ramirez
Writing Credits:
Steve McQueen, Abi Morgan

"Driven by a brilliant and ferocious performance by Michael Fassbender," (Hollywood Reporter) Shame tells the riveting story of Brandon; a handsome New York businessman with a dark and destructive secret. His solitary existence is shaken by the unexpected arrival of his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan), another damaged soul who brings memories of a painful shared past. Graphic, highly provocative and undeniably powerful, "Shame is the most devastating and thought-provoking cinematic experiences of the entire year." (Richard Roeper).

Box Office:
$6.5 million.
Opening Weekend
$349.515 thousand on 10 screens.
Domestic Gross
$3.946 million.

Rated NC-17

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 4/17/2012

• “Focus on Michael Fassbender” Featurette
• “Director Steve McQueen” Featurette
• “The Story of Shame” Featurette
• “A Shared Vision” Featurette
• “Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Michael Fassbender” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks and Trailer
• DVD and Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Shame [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 16, 2012)

When the MPAA authorized the “NC-17” rating in 1990, it was meant precisely for films like 2011’s Shame: a drama with strong adult themes that doesn’t fall under the banner of pornography.

Though Shame spends a whole lot of time with sex. To refer to 30-something Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender) as a sex addict would be an understatement. He gets it on with multiple women – including prostitutes – and masturbates frequently. Even when not involved in the act, he fantasizes about it or frequents Internet porn sites.

Matters take a turn when Brandon’s sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) busts into his life. Now working as a lounge singer, she finagles permission to sleep on his couch – and disrupt his carefully-cultivated sex-obsessed life. He also goes out with Marianne (Nicole Beharie), a separated co-worker with a much less cavalier attitude toward relationships.

At its core, Shame boasts the potential to deliver an incisive character drama about a man on the edge, but unfortunately, it doesn’t do much to adequately explore those areas. We spend an awful lot of time in Brandon’s world and see all facets of his existence, most of which get displayed in graphic detail.

This makes Shame an exhibition of fearlessness on the part of the actors – especially Fassbender, who goes places we don’t see mainstream talent go – but it doesn’t allow the movie to develop into anything with insight or depth. Essentially we find 101 minutes of sex, sex and more sex. It doesn’t devolve into the “porn” genre because it’s not that graphic; while edgy for a studio-distributed drama, Shame doesn’t really show anything more daring than a lot of nudity, as most of the sex acts remain implied.

While we may not see various body parts enter others, the film still revolves around these acts, and it gets tiresome. Granted, I recognize that was probably the point; the movie wanted to depict the emptiness of Brandon’s sex-obsessed lifestyle.

And that’d be fine – if Shame actually managed character development and insight along the way. It doesn’t. We see Brandon spiral out of control, a tragedy occurs… and that’s it.

Does Brandon grow or change? No – and that’d also be fine, if we actually felt like we got a real sense of him along the way. The sole stabs at psychological depth come when Brandon dates Marianne, as we see how sex only works for him when it comes with a lack of emotional connection. That’s not a particularly powerful observation – Brandon can’t get a boner if he cares about someone – and it’s virtually all the depth we find.

Shame tends to feel awfully self-indulgent, as many scenes ramble along far past their expiration dates. Take the segment in which Sissy sings “New York New York” at a lounge. This goes on for the song’s entire length – and since she does it a death march pace, that’s a long time.

Why do we see the whole song? I have no idea. I guess we can take some irony from a brash tune sung by someone insecure and lonely, but that’s about it – and that doesn’t require such an extended take. Shame comes chock full of scenes that run too long and leave us wondering why; a tighter cut would’ve made the segments more effective.

Or at least less tedious. In truth, there’s about 20 minutes of story/character development in Shame that gets elongated to 101 minutes of tawdry, unsatisfying movie. Despite a quality lead performance from Fassbender, the film fails to provide enough depth and insight to succeed.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

Shame appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a decent but not great presentation.

Sharpness tended to be a bit erratic. Much of the film showed acceptable to good clarity, but the image rarely boasted great clarity. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as this was a clean presentation.

In terms of colors, the movie went with stylized hues. A lot of scenes featured heavy blues, and we also saw dominant yellows or browns at times. The tones consistently seemed clear and concise within those parameters. Blacks were deep and firm, but shadows tended to be somewhat thick and a little opaque. This was an acceptable image that deserved a “B-“.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack suited the movie pretty well but won't win any awards. The soundstage appeared nicely broad at the appropriate times and could be moderately engulfing on occasion. It's a talky little film, so the focus is mainly up front, but the audio expanded when necessary. This occurred mostly via street scenes, so the surrounds didn’t have a lot to do. That said, the imaging made sense for the story.

Sound quality seemed fine. Dialogue always appeared crisp and natural, and I had no trouble understanding it. The low-key score was warm and distinctive. Effects also seemed realistic and adequate for the tasks at hand. Shame won't be anyone's demo track, but it worked well for the film.

Only minor extras fill out the set. These come via a series of brief featurettes. We get Focus on Michael Fassbender (3:01), Director Steve McQueen (3:09), The Story of Shame (3:19), A Shared Vision (2:38) and Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Michael Fassbender (5:15). Across these, we hear from director Steve McQueen, and actors Michael Fassbender, and Carey Mulligan. The pieces cover story and characters as well as cast and performances.

With brief running times, the featurettes don’t give us much information. “In Character” is the best, as Fassbender offers some decent notes about his role, but it – like the others – exists for promotional reasons. None of them dig into the film with depth.

The disc opens with ads for The Descendants and Margaret. These also appear under the Sneak Peek domain, and we find the trailer for Shame as well.

On a second disc, we get both a DVD version of the film as well as a digital copy of it. These open up some flexibility/portability for you.

Shame may stir up some controversy due to its combination of “name” actors and graphic sexual content, but it doesn’t have much more going for it. Michael Fassbender provides a good lead performance, but the story lets him down, as it wobbles along without aim or direction. The Blu-ray offers decent picture and audio as well as minor supplements. If you want to see Michael Fassbender and/or Carey Mulligan naked, you’ll want to check out Shame, but don’t expect much from the film itself.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 4
0 3:
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