Sunday, 26 February 2012

Walk in the park

Gentle stroll to village this morning, amazed by 3 separate groups of cyclists whizzing past 30 at a time, each group with its distinct soundtrack. Sometimes just silent effort except for the swish of tyres, sometimes whoops and shouts, and most remarkably, one group all chatting gently to one another, generating a sound like a river or a flock of birds.

Then a man with large camera vaulted over the fence into the park, and on the way back from the shops I observed him pursuing a solitary but extremely lively red squirrel around the playground in his attempt to get a good photo. All in the good local cause of demonstrating the rare wildlife that inhabits these parts.

My last encounter was with a dear friend and his son. This friend now has a form of dementia which limits his life greatly. I had not seen him for many months, so was immensely glad to have the chance to shake his hand and have a chat.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Shame the movie

TonightI saw Steve McQueen's latest film, "Shame", about a dysfunctional "sex addict" (played to brilliant and moving effect by Michael Fassbender) in New York. His "addiction" means he is unable to form relationships, even with his own sister (Carey Mulligan).

From the very first frame I knew this was going to be an excellent film, made with the acute eye of an artist. In one way it is a portrait, even a love song, of New York, of the back streets, the deserted riverside and sleazy bars. No punches are pulled in the raw depiction of the underworld of the city. And not much is spared in the depiction of the main character's uneasy relationship with his life.

His obsessive private life coexists alongside the false bonhomie and hypocrisy of office life. Sometimes these worlds meet, as when his married boss has a disastrous fling with the vulnerable sister. I see the film as a comment on the vacuity and loneliness of life in consumer society. There is a brilliant sequence as a desperate Fassbender runs at night past the shops of New York to the strains of the Goldberg Variations.

This film is not entertainment, thank goodness. Instead it is a work of art, touching on some deep and painful truths.