The Late Show with the National Portrait Gallery

Last Thursday night I went to see the Taylor Wessing Prize at the NPG – been meaning to go for ages, but never got around to it. Also, my friend Matan has asked me to take a nice portrait of him and his girlfriend, and as I’ve never really done I shoot like that, I thought I’d go looking for some inspiration.

I also saw Shame this Wednesday, which I mostly really liked, (even if the Q+A with Steve McQueen made me like it slightly less). While it has its flaws, I found it an evocative film with a lot of feeling. I wasn’t expecting this at all, figuring I’d be in for a desensitised, explicit ride. It does have a fair bit of nudity, and some sex scenes, but they all feel justified, necessary and narratively consistent – it’s always to an end beyond being ‘hardcore’. It’s rounded out by some tender moments, driven by an exquiste Fassbender performance – I found him absolutely heartbreaking to watch. Of those momemts,  I particularly enjoyed  the restaurant/walk scenes made me smile to myself at the familiarity.

Overall, I found it less a film about shame, and more about intimacy, and the damaging effects of disconnecting the physical and ‘spiritual’ side of love. Someone in the audience made a point that the film suggests that it is not just the commodification of sexual pleasure, but also the ease of access in a big city that can tip a person into destructive cycle. In fact, in many ways, it’s a deeply conservative film, graphic nudity aside. I want to talk about the central character more, but will wait a few weeks so as not to spoil it for people. Set your own views on him.  Luscious, compelling and though provoking – go watch it, if not just for the rustling. I’ll never think about the rustling of clothes and hair in quite the same way again.


My policy of being out right and honest, in order to suss out what I care about, has mostly worked out brilliantly. I’ve certainly saved myself a lot of needless conversation, and started to have some more useful ones – but it has been tempered by stowing it at times when it would just be narcissistic. For example, I really felt the need to apologise to Jess, the person I saw Shame with for being an idiot back in October. Wasn’t really sure where my head was at and I must’ve come across a bit cold. But she seems content and all’s working out for her both in work and her relationship, so it was unnecessary – it would just be an ego thing. If I’m trying to distinguish between what I care about and what I don’t care about I do know that I really like seeing happy couples.

I have to admit that I also bailed out of it one occasion when it really mattered, but I’ll give that another run and let you know how it goes.

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