' ' Cinema Romantico: Oscar Best Score/Song Re-Imagined Pt. 5: And The Winner Is...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oscar Best Score/Song Re-Imagined Pt. 5: And The Winner Is...

Brandon (Michael Fassbender) and his Stinson-y boss go to this posh nightclub to hear Brandon's little sis Sissy (Carey Mulligan) belt out a tune. The tune is "New York, New York" and rather than belt it out she delivers a quivering, reluctant version of it. And here's the thing - director Steve McQueen and his editor Joe Walker decide to present the whole song to us. This has been much commented on and much disliked - the fact the film presents the whole song. And this is precisely why I like it.

This scene is the movie. "Shame" is a film of brutally long takes that affords the audience and the characters no place to hide. Here we and Brandon are, stuck together for every last syllable Sissy coos. We have to face it. We have to take it. Not that we have to necessarily deal with it. No, we just sit and listen. And throughout it all Brandon has this strange detached expression and sensation. Why? For what reason? Does this dredge up memories of the past? Is "New York, New York" is his favorite song 'ever' and he thinks Sissy is ruining it for all time? He never says. The movie never says, just like the movie never says much of anything about how Brandon got to be where he is and become what he is. All we get is that one single tear right at the end, quickly wiped away, dismissed, forgotten.

And then there's the song itself. As sung by Ol' Blue Eyes in his famed version it is a defiant anthem. As sung by Sissy it is a distressing question mark. In fact, listening to it clued me into something I'd never realized. The lines: "If I can make it there / I'll make it anywhere / It's up to you, New York, New York." It's up to YOU, New York, New York! Not up to ME! Up to YOU!!!!!! As if to say that any addict (sex, drug, alcohol, ect.) never really grasps that it's up to them. It's up to some other entity beyond their control, even though it's not.

Cinema Romantico's Best Movie Song/Score Of 2011 goes to Carey Mulligan's "New York, New York." And if anyone thinks it's too long then they have every right to go watch a Michael Bay movie and his .000473 second long scenes.


Anonymous said...

I loved Shame, but to be perfectly honest I was one of those who thought this scene was just too long. I lost interest somewhere mid-song. But I respect your choice of course!

Song of the year for me... Hm.. I thought the song that the daughter sang to Brad Pitt's character in Moneyball was pretty wonderful.

Nick Prigge said...

You know, I will admit that there could be a funny alternate take to that scene. Where people keep getting up and leaving in the middle and you hear rustling coats and so forth. I mean, that probably would have been the reality. It's a love/hate sort of thing.

That scene in "Moneyball" is quite good too. I remember thinking it could have collapsed from sentiment but it really worked. I've been meaning to revisit that film, it's kind of become forgotten despite its nominations once it wasn't a front-runner.