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shia la beouf
Shia watching Shiavia livestream

Watching Shia with Shia in a room of people watching Shia

We went to the cinema in NYC for #ALLMYMOVIES, Shia LaBeouf‘s movie marathon of every film he’s starred in

As the runaway success of Gogglebox proved, watching people watch things is fascinating. So when I turned up at the Angelika Film Centre in NYC at around 2pm yesterday, two hours after Shia LaBeouf’s performance art piece/movie-marathon began, I was feeling pretty excited. Along with collaborators Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, the actor-turned-provocateur is streaming every movie he’s ever been in, back to back and in reverse chronological order, over a three day period. Visitors are invited to watch the films for free alongside LaBeouf, who will be sat in the theatre for the duration of the screenings, capturing his reactions via live stream. 

When I arrived there weren’t many people around except for a guy who checked my ID (No Nymphomaniac for under 18s) and a dude with a notepad asking “but what if he needs to pee?” (to which I thought: good question, and, I wonder if Shia wants snacks?).

I was scanned with a metal detector and strictly warned against taking photographs before being ushered into a small cinema. It took my eyes a while to acclimatise to the dark and I began to cast my gaze around for Shia. Predictably, a lot of the people with enough time to watch a bunch of Shia LaBeouf movies on a Tuesday afternoon sort of looked like Shia LaBeouf themselves...young, beardy, inconspicuously dressed.

“Will he laugh? I wondered. Will he cry? Does Shia move Shia?”

I narrowed it down to two candidates but when Potential-Shia eventually got up and left I was able to fix my attention on actual-Shia. This should have been obvious from the beginning as there was a camera on a tripod in front of him, but to be fair to me and my failing eyesight it was hard to see which way the lens was facing.

With actual Shia now firmly in sight, I settled into my seat and realised we were watching Fury. I have never seen this movie but as far as I can tell it’s mainly about Brad Pitt shooting people’s legs off with green lasers. Everyone else seemed genuinely absorbed by the film, while I kept sneaking peeks at Shia. Every time he shifted in his seat I wondered if it was a response to the movie or to his gently numbing body, stiff from hours in the same shape. Will he laugh? I wondered. Will he cry? Does Shia move Shia?

It seemed as though I was the only person looking at him, not focusing on his work, and I began to feel awful for it. Suddenly aware of my own culpability in the cult of his celebrity. Themes of visibility and voyeurism run through LaBeouf’s performance art work (the I AM NOT FAMOUS paper bag, the hour long stare out with Aimee Cliff) and this is no exception. Watching a Shia LaBeouf movie but presented with the option of watching Shia-the-celeb, I ended up choosing the latter, making me hyper aware of my voyeuristic interest in his life, and all the responsibilities that entails. It was uncomfortable. But not so uncomfortable that I won’t be going back on Thursday to catch Holes.