CINEMA

This week's movie releases

Michael Fassbender stars as a sex addict in Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Daniel Radcliffe takes his first post-Potter steps in 'The Woman in Black'

Michael Fassbender in artist-turned-director Steve McQueen's 'Shame.'
Michael Fassbender in artist-turned-director Steve McQueen's 'Shame.'

British artist Steve McQueen has slipped impressively smoothly from the gallery to the movie theater, a fact confirmed by Shame, his second film after 2008’s Hunger. A study of sex addiction and the city, it’s another hook-up with Michael Fassbender, here as compellingly ambiguous as ever as Brandon, a corporate worker who finds his sordidly ordered five-to-nine life of one-night stands, prostitutes, jerking off, internet porn and shunning anything resembling a relationship interrupted by the arrival of his messed-up sis (Carey Mulligan).

It could almost be the setup of a gross-out comedy, but in McQueen’s drama you feel the effort to dig out the human reality with the camera. For all the antiseptic sheen of Brandon’s New York, it’s brimming with intimate detail: the scratch of drawing drapes, ruffled bed sheets, errant pieces of fluff, the grain of peoples’ skin, bodily functions... Although Brandon’s is an extreme case, McQueen plants the roots of his addiction all around in a recognizable, atomized world of asocial cities, social networking, dispersed families, parenting via Skype and philandering execs. It tries to disguise the  rather overly obvious course it runs, but this is an expert dissection of modern life.

Growing pains

Another spiky comedy from smart-mouthed Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman, Young Adult stars Charlize Theron as a teen-lit author who returns to her hometown to pry her high-school sweetheart from the arms of his loving wife and baby.

Doing a better job of growing up is Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, making his first brave steps out of Hogwarts in The Woman in Black, an adaptation of Susan Hill’s ghost story and subsequent West End play.

In The Grey, Liam Neeson again does what he’s doing well right now - adding a bit of gravitas to a pulpy setup. When their plane crash-lands in the Alaskan wilderness he and a group of oil workers are forced to fight against freezing temperatures and a pack of ferocious wolves to get to safety.

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