Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breaking Bread

"Hunger" (2008) is a very short, very quiet film about IRA volunteer Bobby Sands, who died in Maze Prison in 1981, on the 67th day of a hunger strike. It might be the best movie I've seen this year. "Hunger" was directed by English artist Steve McQueen. This is his film, "Deadpan":

When it came to arresting visual images, the IRA were no slouches themselves. This is one of their many terrifying murals:
In "Hunger," we are brought into close contact with the suffering body of beautiful Michael Fassbender. It is shattered and bruised; it blisters and bleeds. Finally, it withers away, evaporates like water.

In its attendance to physical ritual, to the practices of bodies in confinement, to the textures of silence, to the contours of human faces "Hunger," for me, recalls Robert Bresson's films, especially "A Man Escaped" and "Pickpocket." For McQueen, after Bresson, these phenomena are deeply expressive.
"A Man Escaped"
At the middle of "Hunger" is a single, unmoving 18-minute shot of a conversation between Sands and a priest. It's a total fucking knockout.

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