Screenwriter Billy Ray (The Hunger Games) gives Keynote address at 2012 Nicholls Fellowship awards dinner in Beverly Hills on 8 November 2012.
Ray speaks candidly about the highs and lows of working as a screenwriter in Hollywood. He is humorous and inspiring…
Shame (2011) strips bare a worldly New York façade to reveal the inner angst and turmoil wrought on two siblings whose trouble childhood is revealed in subtle yet obvious ways. The trials of addiction to sex portrayed in this film are but a manifestation of childhood trauma laid bare before us on the screen in a mesmerizing performance by actor Michael Fassbender. Equally fascinating is the sibling relationship with Sissy (Carey Mulligan) that achingly reveals to the viewer the deep and affecting troubles experienced by these two as children.
While much has been said about the amount of sex portrayed in the film, it is merely a symptom of the complete emotional breakdown experienced by the character Brandon. While his public life is depicted as successful, Brandon receives accolades from his job, has an apartment in New York and frequents nightclubs where he is popular with women for not coming on too strong, all of this is belies the truth of his emotional health in turmoil.
And that is what is so arresting about this film. It portrays a life that we may envy, it looks on the surface to be our very definition of male success. By the end of the film the devastation of Brandon experiencing an almost complete mental and emotional breakdown is painfully and achingly revealed to us. it seems our ideal of man can easily hide a dirty emotional sickness that requires constant vigilance to keep it from exploding the façade of his public life.
The arrival of Brandon’s sister Sissy provides the catalyst for Brandon’s fall. Their experience of childhood trauma is subtly revealed through their combined emotional breakdowns. While Sissy is outwardly messy, Brandon is controlled. It is her arrival into his public and private life that tears apart his ability to maintain his control. The fragility of his emotional life is easily broken by Sissy’s emotional presence. What is beautifully portrayed is the combined pain of these siblings and their irascible attempts to manage their wounded lives. Shame reveals the nasty side of male pain and angst by portraying how Western society panders to style over substance when it comes to our ideals of men and their emotional health.
Oldboys (2009) is a quirky Danish film that looks like a slow road movie, but quickly becomes a meditation on making choices, falling in love and second chances. The two main characters are a shy and lonely man in his 50s and a young man recently released from jail. Their unlikely friendship results from a series of mishaps resulting from their unwillingness to let go of their pasts. In their favour is their ability to recognize in each other the lost chances at happiness. A lovely uplifting film with a sense of humour.
Director: Nikolaj Steen
Writer: Nikolaj Steen (screenplay)
Neil Gaiman speaking at the Graduation ceremony for the University of Arts in 2012, instructs new graduates to Make Good Art.