ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY Shame★★★ 11.00pm-1.05am Film4
Now that the Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen is an internationally fêted movie director following the Oscar success of 12 Years a Slave, his previous two features become doubly interesting. The first, Hunger, a harrowing but aesthetically beautiful portrait of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands (played by Michael Fassbender), announced an uncommon cinematic talent. The second, Shame, put different demands on Fassbender, casting him as a fictional sex addict in New York, and frames explicit material in what almost feels like a non-homicidal remake of American Psycho. Fassbender elicits our sympathy despite his character’s emotional impotency. As his equally screwed-up sister, Carey Mulligan unexpectedly disrupts his wealthy but unfulfilling routine and their fractious relationship hints at a damaged past. McQueen had stronger material in Hunger and 12 Years – you’ll need the world’s smallest violin to care about a rich, oversexed yuppie – but he certainly brings a striking visual eye to a much-photographed city. Cover the budgie’s cage, though.
Comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost wrote and star in this romp, which sees them play a pair of sci-fi nerds who have a close encounter with a real ET while exploring Area 51. The fact that this visitor is voiced by Seth Rogen may give you a clue that he’s not your average Spielbergian celestial being; rather he’s party-lovin’ stoner with an unfortunate habit of exposing himself. No wonder secret service agent Jason Bateman is out to get him.
The end of the world has provided us with more than in its fair share of laughs in recent years, with the likes of The World’s End, This Is the End and Melancholia all mining mirth from the armageddon (okay, maybe not Melancholia). This quirky romance begins with Steve Carrell getting dumped by his wife after hearing the news that an asteroid is to wipe out humanity in just three weeks. The ensuing panic does at least create some opportunities for promotion at Carell’s work, while he also develops a relationship with neighbour Keira Knightley. So, not all bad, then.
Ralph Macchio will forever be known as The Karate Kid – that’s just the way it is. But his acting career hasn’t just consisted of waxing-on and waxing-off. Made three years after he hung up his headband as Daniel-san, he’s given a more mature role here as PFC Bobby Garwood, the last PoW to come home from Vietnam, after enduring years of abuse at the hands of the Viet Cong. The presence of Mr Martin Sheen adds a little polish to the TV-movie proceedings.
Writer/director John Hughes defined the adolescent experience in the 1980s with his movies Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but The Breakfast Club remains the ultimate teen flick for a generation. A day in detention for “brain” Anthony Michael Hall, “athlete” Emilio Estevez, “basket case” Ally Sheedy, “princess” Molly Ringwald and “criminal” Judd Nelson is all Hughes needs to craft a story brimming with conflict, confessions and unlikely camaraderie. And the Simple Minds theme song, Don’t You (Forget about Me), is such a doozy that you get to hear it twice (air punch!).