The joys of watching Shia LaBeouf watch Shia LaBeouf

What has the world come to where the premium form of entertainment on the internet is a video of a guy watching films at the cinema? Moreover, what has the world come to where every minute of the video is picked apart, every yawn, every nose-pick, every moment he’s offered sweets by a neighbour, or every time he decides to go to the back of the cinema to have a nap because Transformers 2 is just a bit too much? I’m pretty sure Peter Weir warned us about this. But on the 10th of November just that happened, when child actor-turned-troublesome adult Shia LaBeouf decided to rent out a cinema in New York, which had agreed to show all 27 of his films, back-to-back, in reverse-chronological order, with a camera pointed at his face the entire time.

The video streamed to the website, and the catchy title #ALLMYMOVIES was all but guaranteed to send Twitter into a meltdown. And meltdown it did. Many, like myself, found themselves oddly hypnotised by what was an essentially dull experience. Some compared him to Andy Warhol and Norma Desmond, some found themselves completely baffled by his intentions. Most people just made lame jokes (Oh, the video isn’t working? It must be Shia LaBuffering!!!) or made gifs and screengrabs out of his face contorting into an ugly yawn, or eating popcorn out of his beard, or laughing at jokes in the animated classic Surf’s Up.

Sleepy LaBeef spent most of the experience looking tired, hungry, and vaguely homeless in his green duffel jacket, occasionally retreating into its hood during moments of existential despair

One guy, showing up 50 hours into the stream, said he felt like he’d missed the best bits. But these could probably be condensed into about two minutes. Sleepy LaBeef spent most of the experience looking tired, hungry, and vaguely homeless in his green duffel jacket, occasionally retreating into its hood during moments of existential despair. But still, we watched, absorbed by his blank expression, comforted by his presence on our computer screens, like an adorable little hamster who just happens to appear in films like Nymphomaniac. It was very strange.

Shia sleeps.

Shia sleeps.

I suppose it’s not like this kind of thing hasn’t happened before. Shia’s struggled to make it work ever since he escaped from the gloved Satanic clutches of Mickey Mouse himself (presumably off torturing the Jonas brothers at a CIA black site in between making terrible video games). Initially, everyone hated him as the guy from those noisy robot movies; then everyone hated him as the guy who ruined Indiana Jones. Then, well, something interesting happened. He wore a bag over his head at Cannes; he spat at a cop; he explicitly ripped off a guy’s comic for his short film, then implicitly ripped off Marina Abramovic for his performance piece “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE”, where people could gawk at him in an art gallery, and where he was, apparently, raped by a woman. He yelled at us to, and I quote, “DO IT!” Oh, and then there were those disconcerting reports that he had become an actual cannibal


Shia, embarrassed.

It’s well-known that those who survive the intense responsibility of being a child star have the potential to, um, go off the deep end. But while Miley Cyrus adopted the approach of continually shoving her anus in our face to make us love her, LaBeouf has tried something more difficult: to become an artist. Sure, it hasn’t always quite worked – beyond the fact that there’s something intrinsically funny about the guy from Even Stevens trying to be taken seriously, it’s an approach that’s been considerably weakened by pretentious bellends like James Franco, who thought that appearing on General Hospital could be described as “art” – but there’s something to be said in favour of the way he’s trying to take control of his own identity.

So in this respect, I think #ALLMYMOVIES was a real success. It must be a deeply humbling experience to watch yourself act for so long, alongside a packed-out cinema audience, with the knowledge that thousands out there are scrutinizing your every reaction. And almost everyone I’ve talked to, even the Shia-sceptics, see something humane in a guy enduring such warts-and-all exposure – even if it was, at the end of the day, another performance. LaBeouf might not be one of the world’s great artists, but he’s at least returned to being likeable, and that’s something. I just hope he’s taken a shower.


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