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Hunger reviews

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Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:18 pm

http://narkedjawa.blogspot.com/2009/11/hunger.html

Hunger
I watched Hunger a couple of days ago, and really have needed a while to get my head around what I saw. The film tells the story of the last few weeks in the life of Irish Republican Bobby Sands who was held in HM Prison Maze in the early 1980's.

The film opens to introduce the viewer to life inside the Maze prison for the prisoners and there no wash protest at not being given political status. Director Steve McQueen takes a completely fresh and unique look at how to shoot a movie, especially evident in his decision to keep dialogue to an absolutely minimum. With regards to the visual aspect of the movie, focus racks and shallow depth of field shots are used liberally and to great effect. The cinematography exquisitely expresses the cold, hard reality of the prison and the general feeling of unease shared by all who were touched by the troubles. This movie is really a phenomenally powerful story and at the same time a catalogue of stark yet beautiful shots, from which any freeze frame would happily hang in an art gallery. McQueen manages to tell the story of Sands without lending himself to any particular view on the political scene, he doesn't glorify the prisoners or vilify the prison guards. he shows two distinct groups of men fighting for what each believes to be right. This isn't a story about the conflicts in general it is simply the tale of an individual's will power.

The real power in this movie however lies in the performance of Michael Fassbender. Political stance aside Fassbender's performance is breath taking, whether you agree with the characters motives or not you can't help but feel for what the man went through to make his point and ultimately die for his cause
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The film pulls no punches with it's gut wrenching portrayal of life inside the prison and shows the violence and filth in brutal, close up detail.

Although the unusual filming style and lack of dialogue generates a dense, almost tangible atmosphere within the movie it may also make it difficult to watch for many people. The film also starts off in quite a confusing manner, characters aren't defined clearly and you spend the first thirty minutes or so wondering who everyone is. Although Sands is evidently the lead character, the extras and support characters aren't portrayed in a typical way and deciding who is and isn't important to the story becomes quite a convoluted process for the viewer. Many people may also find the graphic violence disturbing, McQueen sugar coats nothing in this film and the viewer must be prepared for that. The displays of violence are sporadic but extreme, the scene in the old peoples home especially, as it comes right out of nowhere and takes your breath away. Remember this isn't torture porn of the like shown in Hostel, where the over the top graphical nature of the violence made it almost fantastical and distanced the viewer from the experience, this is harsh and brutal. It's not about the violence itself, it's about the subsequent pain.

So if you're willing to watch something that is horrific and brutal and yet at the same time beautifully shot and heart wrenching then Hunger may well be for you. However if you don't like movies that break the mould and stray from the normal, simple format then it may seem long winded, confusing and slow.
*******
7/10
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:30 pm

http://bigthoughtsfromasmallmind.blogspot.com/2009/11/hunger-can-be-quite-filling.html

Monday, November 23, 2009
Hunger Can Be Quite Filling
The Full List of Big Thoughts From A Small Mind's 2009 Reviews.

Hunger

There have been many predictions regarding who the Oscar nominees will be this year. Yet the one thing that is usually left out of these discussions is timing. In a year in where the Academy Awards have expanded the Best Picture category to allow ten films, one of the best films of 2009 is not even eligible to compete. Although Steve McQueen's stunning debut, Hunger, hit most theatres this year it actually was eligible for Oscar consideration last year. If Hunger had been able to compete this year I am sure more people would be singing its praises. Similar to The Hurt Locker, I think Hunger would have benefitted greatly from the new Oscar rules; and what seems to be a weaker competition pool in general this year.

Set in Belfast's infamous Maze prison in 1981, Hunger looks at the events leading up to IRA hunger strike led by Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender). The interesting thing about this tale is that Bobby Sands only really factors into the third act of the film. The first part focuses on a prison guard (Stuart Graham) whose work has scarred him emotionally beyond repair. In the second section we see what has caused the prison guard all the mental distress. McQueen shows us two inmates (Brian Milligan and Liam McMahon) who endure hell while participating in a IRA prisoners' protest wear they refuse to wear prison clothes and bathe. The IRA prisoners do not see themselves as criminals and want to get political prisoners' status from the British Government. The protest results in a volatile and violent standoff against the prison guards. The remainder of the film focuses on why Bobby Sands was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the cause.

Hunger is a bleak and unrelenting film that will probably drive many viewers mad with its unconventionality. Why should you see it then? Despite its harsh realistic moments, it is an immensely rewarding picture. Hunger is a brilliant piece of filmmaking that not only renews your faith in the future of cinema, but also challenges you ever step of the way. This film raises many questions and shows you both sides of the tale. Yet do not expect any simple answers, this is a film where the viewer must ultimately come up with their own conclusion and the choice is far from easy.

On one hand you must reflect on the war outside the prison before you can look at the one waging within it. Regardless of the events which led to the birth of the Irish Republic Army, the group, during was considered by many to be a terrorist organization. McQueen provides a glimpse of their ruthlessness in a chilling scene at a nursing home. On the other hand, does this justify the harsh treatment that the men had to endure in prison? Does Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s final decision actually mean that the men, though misguided in their methods, were actually fighting for a proper cause on the outside?

The events in Hunger exist completely in a grey area where actions, no matter how horrible, can be justified for and argued against by both sides equally. The only real commentary that McQueen will divulge is that the whole conflict impacted both sides on a deep emotional level. The fact that neither the government/guards nor the IRA prisoners wanted to back down only made the emotional wounds that much deeper.

Hunger may be Steve McQueen's first film but it is far more accomplished than some of the veteran directors working today. This is a film that will resonate with you for a long while. McQueen is able to get extraordinary performances from his cast. One of my favourite scenes in the whole movie is the twenty minute conversation between Sands and a priest (Liam Cunningham). There is so much going on in this scene, from both an acting and story standpoint, that it take multiple viewings for all the subtle elements to come fully into view. Michael Fassbender, who was also good in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, gives a phenomenal performance as Sands. We have seen many actors gain and lose weight for a role but few have given a performance so powerful that you actually forget you are watching an actor.

Hunger is a film that will make you angry, gross you out at times, and ultimately make you sad for all the parties involved. Yet it is a film that you must see for the sheer magnitude and brilliance of it all. Hunger is hands down one of the best films of the year.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:05 am

http://www.sadhillcemetery.com/2009/11/home-video-lookout.html

Hunger

I loved this, the debut of English director Steve McQueen (no relation to the actor). It's a gritty, at times disturbing telling of the true story of imprisoned IRA members. Michael Fassbender plays Bobby Sands, the man who led his fellow IRA prisoners in a hunger strike, demanding to be recognized and treated as political prisoners. Fassbender (you may remember him as a British film critic in Inglourious Basterds) gives a wonderful performance which he was clearly dedicated to in body and soul: Near the end of the film is body is so rail thin that he must have lost an extraordinary (and very unhealthy) amount of weight for the role. He's got star-power written all over him, but hopefully in the future he'll be able to find great roles he doesn't have to starve himself for.

The film is slow, very cerebral, and indulges itself with many moments of wordless aesthetics. One of the most memorable scenes is the single, 17 minute static wide shot preceding the film's devastating third act. In it, Sands speaks with his priest, debating the morals of the coming strike. The only moving parts of the scene are the distant body language of the actors and the smoke wafting up from their cigarettes, which practically develops a presence and character of its own. The actors nail it, making the risky shot pay off, and grounding the film's otherwise unceasing imagery in a literal discussion.

The film is set for release on Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray (check out that gorgeous cover art!) on February 16.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:42 am

http://alrightokay.tumblr.com/post/256454443

The Hunger

Directed by Steve McQueen

“Dramatizinglife inside the notorious Maze prison and the highly emotive events surrounding the 1981 IRA hunger strike, the film opened the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, which encourages innovative works and young talent.

The film stars Irish actor Michael Fassbender, 31, who starved himself for two months to play the IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands

McQueen said he wanted to capture what it was like to hear, see, smell and touch the blocks where IRA prisoners were incarcerated in 1981 and convey something which could not be found in books or archives.”

I think they subtlety of this film is the reason why it was so powerful. The character uses his body as a last resource for protest and disintegrates from the inside out. I wanted to avert my eyes from the images, but there was something so eerie and powerful about the images in near silence that I just couldn’t bring myself to look away.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:57 am

http://allthingsfangirl.blogspot.com/2009/11/my-100-favorite-films-of-aughts-30-21.html

celebrated visual artist Steve McQueen makes his first feature-length film debut with this mesmerizing account of the 1981 hunger strike in Ireland’s maze prison. the first third of the film sets the scene with a series of haunting, painterly images before McQueen hones his focus on Bobby Sands (michael fassbender), the strike’s eventual figurehead. an assimilation of concordant stimuli tells the story, here… while the film’s only scene of dialogue is immensely effective (an epic conversation captured entirely within one shot), McQueen communicates the brunt of his story in the banging of pots… snow falling on a cigarette… a wall lathered in s$#!. and when things get particularly dire and the childhood flashbacks kick in, they’re accomplished with a devastatingly earnest sentimentality that is so often defanged in hackneyed studio films… Hunger is not the highest rank debut film on me list, but as far as pure filmmaking prowess is concerned, it’s easily the best.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:43 pm

http://notes-from-the-tree-house.blogspot.com/2009/11/screaming-in-silence-hunger.html

Sunday, November 29, 2009
Screaming in Silence: Hunger

Writer Director Steve McQueen’s debut feature Hunger is one of those rare films that Transcends the horrors it shows us and the struggles a group of political prisoners face in prison when caged and treated as animals. McQueen’s film dramatizes the 1981 IRA Hunger strike, where having no other forms of protest against the British Soverginity that held them and would not formally recognize them as political prisoners. The films central figure, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) dwindles away as his last screaming call for help for not only himself but his fellow prisoners and his cause.


Regardless of your political beliefs the film holds a power that few films attain. McQueen working from accounts of the time leading to the hunger strike and as Sands commits himself to this final desperate act has drawn a film by lyrical and horrifying. Rather than showing the political machinations at work McQueen wises focuses on the day in and day out struggles of these political prisoners endured.


The work that Michael Fassbender does as Bobby Sands is something that simple has to be seen. The work is grounded but with an anger that simmers behind the eyes. The struggle that Fassbender shows Sands has to endure to keep his humanity and what tiny piece of dignity he may have left is a master class in acting. Few actors are allowed the chance to shine in a good role, even few are allowed the chance to shine in a role that demands every single bit of emotional and physical range that they have, and if they succeed is a completely different story. Fassbender does harrowing work as he pushed himself to the physical limits. Fassbender’s work with Liam Cunningham as Father Moran is electric. The fifteen minute scene between the two men is funny, intelligent and ultimately heartbreaking. Watching both men volley back and forth between personal, political and religious convictions is simple but magnetic. As Moran begins to realize that he cannot talk Bobby out of the hunger strike is frustrating and heartbreaking.


McQueen does not give easy answers or simple emotional eruptions. The film is better for McQueen’s approach to the film giving it a sober tone. There is no political grandstanding which is usual for political activism films, which McQueen knew by the very fact of what he would be showing would already be inherently in the material. McQueen’s use of the camera, sound and the lack of a musical score makes this film almost feel experimental, as many critics have commented. McQueen’s style brings a verisimilitude to the film that most other directors would be afraid to bring. Its the writer director’s approach to the material and his stars commitment to his role that ultimately makes this film a stark transcendent piece of powerful filmmaking that should be seen by any film fan.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Mon Nov 30, 2009 1:25 pm

http://weetiger3.livejournal.com/9354.html

Hunger is an absolutely harrowing film
I have finally seen Steve McQueen's "Hunger."

(I would have, should have seen it sooner if Blockbuster Online knew what they were doing, but that's another story.) Thank you IFC Films for bringing it to cable (although I'm truly mystified as to why it was then showing on the Sundance Channel and not IFC.)

I think all of the above was verbal procrastination.

While I feel compelled to write about this haunting and powerful film and it's images are seared into my brain, at the same time they are images that one would much rather turn away from than examine too closely. It is as difficult to think about as it was to watch.

****Possible Spoilers****

Following an obviously frightened, newly convicted IRA "terrorist" from his arrival on the H block in Northern Ireland's infamous Maze Prison, with no exposition or back story, the film thrusts you, unprepared into that world. The inhabitants of this section of the prison, Republicans all, most in their early twenties, are staging what became known as a "no wash" and "blanket" protest. When his demand to wear his own clothes,as a political prisoner would have been allowed to do, is denied, along with his refusal to wear a prison uniform, Davey Gillen becomes another "blanketman." They spend their days nearly naked,clad only in a towel or a blanket, enduring beatings and abuse and squalor. They escalated their protest by refusing to properly dispose of their "slops. (The cells have no plumbing.) They tipped their urine under the cell doors into the corridor and smeared the walls of their cells with their own waste.(It is utterly amazing to me that anyone could not only spend years in such an environment, but could have eventually been released back into the world and expected to live anything close to a normal life.)All of this is depicted while broadcasts of Margaret Thatcher's responses to the protests are heard in voiceover.

In 1981 they took their demands to another level: the hunger strike.

McQueen's vision is quite simply stunning as is the authenticity and breathtaking dedication that Michael Fassbender displayed as Bobby Sands, the leader of the hunger strike and the first to die, on May 5 1981, (by which time, as well as being a convicted IRA prisoner, he was also an elected Member of Parliament.)

McQueen allows what is tacit and implied in each scene to emerge unforced, trusting that what we see will eventually make us understand. A man in rubber boots and protective clothing is in the prison corridor. He wears a face mask. He sprays the urine-drenched floor with disinfectant then takes a broom and starts to push this foul mess in front of him, cleaning the corridor as he goes. There is no dialogue, only the sound of the broom and the floor and after perhaps 10 or 20 seconds you think the scene will cut away or that something dire is about to happen, but neither thing does. The man continues the whole length of the corridor, the light playing on the liquid running at his feet, so disgusting you can almost smell it. With this long, wordless and unsettlingly serene moment, you are made to think of how ordinary tasks, something as regular, methodical and commonplace as cleaning a floor, are contiguous with the most unimaginable horror. Behind the doors the man with the broom passes are human beings living literally in s$#!.

If the corridor scene is quiet and reflective, others are disturbing in the sheer ferocity of their violence. We are shown explicitly what it means to be punched and kicked and humiliated. There is nothing stylized in the beatings meted out to the protesting prisoners. The impact of each blow is felt, you shudder as contact is made, you hold your breath along with the inmates as they wait for the moment the cell door opens and they are dragged out, naked and defenseless, and then pounded into semi-consciousness before being thrown back into their putrid cells.

The prison officers are depicted as angry and vengeful and without being told, we know that they were certainly almost exclusively Protestant with loyalist ties, not to mention taking out their rage at having to work in such conditions, on the prisoners themselves. Over the course of the protests and hunger strikes the IRA killed 18 prison officers. The guard we are introduced to at the beginning of the film checks his car for bombs before getting in it and you know this has become part of the routine of his daily life, a life that may hold power and influence within the walls of the prison but outside of them, hangs by a thread.

The film's central figure is Bobby Sands. Sands probably did more to turn the tide of the republican struggle than any other individual. His death brought worldwide attention and sympathy that would eventually lead to Sinn Fein's political success.

It's previously been documented that I am a huge Michael Fassbender fan. I am now in awe of him. His physical tranformation for this role has already received a great deal of praise,and rightly so. There are shots where he looks exactly like photographs taken of prisoners in Auschwitz. However, his real achievement, in my opinion, is in his portrayal of Sands' unsentimental idealism and determination.


There is a scene between Sands and Fr. Moran (Liam Cunningham whom I've seen in Attila and Dog Soldiers) that comes at about the film's midpoint, where Sands announces his intention to go on hunger strike and die if necessary. It's as unexpected as the long corridor scene. It consists of both actors sitting at a table, silhouetted by the light coming in through the windows. It's two intelligent men with opposing moral and political views,in a wary sort of verbal sparring match, squaring up, jabbing, neither able to land the knockout blow, the shadow of what will shortly transpire hanging over them. The scene is a long one, again unusual, and after the back and forth, the camera settles on Fassbender's face, only half of which is visible. He is absolutely mesmerizing. I found it impossible to look away from him as he tries to convince the priest that he understood what he was doing and that when he went on this hunger strike he intended to go all the way. It is understood that the priest is talking to a dead man.

McQueen makes no explicit judgment of Sands, instead allowing him to emerge undiminished in body or spirit,despite the ravages upon both, which makes his death all the more heartbreaking.

By no means is this a happy little film. It is as dirty as the protests it illuminates, "Hunger" is, however, blunt and beautiful.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Tue Dec 01, 2009 4:15 pm

http://www.reviewstl.com/hunger-12-01-09/

Hunger
By Zac Oldenburg ⋅ December 1, 2009

HungerSteve McQueen’s directorial debut is a triumphant first picture that has such sure of itself directing and acting it is a great start to a promising career told through a remarkable tale of political sacrifice.

The film is based on events surrounding the hunger strike of Bobby Sands in protest of Ireland’s ongoing struggles with British government. The film is contained almost entirely to the prison all of these IRA prisoners are being held in and we get a look into their lives of non-conformity as well as a look at the life of a particular guard. In fact Bobby Sands doesn’t show up until half way through the film, but he will captivate you every moment on screen.

While we wait for Sands to show up, the film is just as compelling as we follow the path of a new prisoner who demands he be treated to the terms of “The Five Demands”, an prison guard enforcer who fears for his life every step outside of the prison, the cell life of a pair of inmates as they smuggle contraband, smear their feces along the walls, and live without beds in protest. The film captures the intensity of the prison with such ease and in such interesting ways; the director’s vision is incredible for a rookie director. Some might complain the film lingers too long, but I think the films setting of prison and the long dull hours of life on the inside compliment the film well, and McQueen never leaves a lingering shot without a dull image or something interesting going on. Simple and affective, I can’t wait to see what he does yet and with a budget.

McQueen’s ability to invoke moods and tension through simple mechanisms is equally impressive and he will get your blood going on more than one occasion. McQueen also tells us so much with so little, sometimes even no words at all. Giving us full realizations of a minor character in a brief sequence with little more than the actor’s facial work and an establishing shot here and there, it is remarkable.

McQueen also gets incredible work out of his actors, starting with Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands. From the physical endurance of the role to the expressing the man’s mind through words, Fassbender is remarkable and lets hope between this and Inglourious Basterds that he is on his way to bigger things. Liam Cunningham also deserves notice for going toe to toe with Fassbender in an absolutely amazing display of acting in a single take sequence of dialogue between Sands and a priest (Cunningham). The two seem so natural and speak so eloquently, it is a real marvel to watch, even if it might have carried on a tad to long. Stuart Graham who plays the main guard is also riveting on screen and quite great at creating this dual persona and conveying his feelings of not quite being down with his job with only his face to express it most of the time. The rest of the cast is almost courageous as Fassbender working with some disturbing and intense material and conveying so much with so little dialogue, there is nary a weak link in the group.

In the end, Hunger is one of the finest films to be released in the last year and will not be an experience you forget anytime soon. Based on a disturbing and remarkable true story, Bobby Sands life is engaging even if we only experience the final ones. Hunger has to be one of the finest prison films to ever be release and one of the finest directorial debuts of the decade. This little seen British/Irish gem needs to be seen by a far bigger audience and you should do yourself a favor and seek out this wonderful film about the power of sacrifice and standing up for what you believe in.
Hunger is an A

P.S. This title is currently for free in HD on cable on demand under IFC!
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:17 pm

http://www.myconfinedspace.com/2009/12/04/hunger/

Hunger - December 4, 2009 added by Puulaahi

Hunger is the story of the IRA hunger strike at the Maze Prison in 1981, and it quickly pulls little punches in getting across the conditions in the prison, and the inmates’ dissatisfaction. Hunger treads a very careful political line throughout its running time, and what emerges is a surprisingly open drama, powered by an excellent performance from Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands. As Sands embarks on his infamous hunger strike, Fassbender mesmerises in the role, leading up to the aforementioned, gripping, single conversation that’s the highlight of the film. Mark him down as a major talent to watch. Alongside Fassbender, director Steve McQueen does really quite sterling work with Hunger. It can’t have been an easy film to direct by any measure, yet he turns in a harrowing piece of cinema that leaves the judgements to the viewer.

f#%@#&! amazing movie!
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:26 pm

http://www.acoolsha.org/article/625/Hunger

Hunger 29 November 09
Section: article
Categories: Film / dvd

This film was a very pleasant surprise. It was intelligently made and a powerful portrayal of the incarceration and death of the IRA martyr Bobby Gerald Sands, who died of a hunger strike in 1981 while a political prisoner at the British prison, Long Kesh (the Maze).

This adds to the list of films I’ve watched recently on the history of Ireland, for example the remarkable film The Wind that Shakes the Barley, and Fifty Dead Men Walking

The actor who brilliantly played Bobby Sands was Michael Fassbender, who is German-Irish. He was born in Heidelberg to an Irish mother and German father, then raised from the age of two in Ireland. He is related to Michael Collins.

* Title: Hunger
* Directed by: Steve McQueen
* Writing credits: Steve McQueen, Enda Walsh
* Starring: Michael Fassbender, Stuart Graham, Rory Mullen
* Year: 2008
* Further details: 96 minutes
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:53 pm

http://www.takepart.com/news/2008/09/27/steve-mcqueens-hunger-satisfies-my-cinematic-appetite/

Steve McQueen's Hunger Satisfies My Cinematic Appetite
Gina Telaroli

Screens : Sat Sep 27: Noon and Sun Sep 28: 6:15

The title to this post may be cheesy, but Steve McQueen's Hunger is anything but. A renowned film and video artist, known for his installations, Steve McQueen makes his feature film debut with an unconventional look at the hunger strike IRA activist Bobby Sands went on in 1981. I haven't seen everything at this years NYFF and I can't say it is my favorite of this years crop, but thus far this is the film that has stuck with me the most.

The film opens without any mention of Bobby Sands and proceeds to present a striking portrait of masculinity, power and prison politics. We got very little exposition and proceed to see people, their surroundings and what happens when they make decisions. A man cleans his knuckle wounds, eats his breakfast, checks his car for a bomb and beats people in the prison he works in. A new man enters the prison, refuses a uniform, strips down to nothing, comes to terms with his new life and smears his s$#! on the walls of his prison stall. Another man is thrown from his cell, beaten, cleaned and has his hair cut. The images are quick, vibrant and almost mathematical.

The film switches gears as one of the men we have followed sits with a priest and have a 20+ minute discussion about what it would mean to go on a hunger strike. From here we follow Bobby Sands as he stops eating. This is a film about a political moment and sans the ending title cards it achieves the urgency of the specific moment of Bobby Sands. Part of this is no doubt due to Michael Fassbender's performance as Bobby Sands. When we meet him, he is tough and determined. When we leave him, he is a skeleton but nonetheless determined. His eyes speak volumes and the 20 minutes scene between he and Sands' priest is something to be celebrated.

I've never been more capitaved or fell in love with a film that portrays such ugly things. The way the images are put together define and elevate the physical nature of what we see - it's visceral and hits you in your gut. And while it may not be pretty, cinema that confronts you in that way, that knocks you down, is one of the reasons I am happy to be alive.

If you are in New York go see this film this weekend. It does have a distributor but being that the film will probably play at the IFC Center when it gets that distribution and it is playing at the far superior Ziegfeld this weekend - I'd check it out now.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUeXTA44ZFo
takepart to learn more about the political struggles of Bobby Sands.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:11 pm

http://matchcuts.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/hunger-mcqueen-2008/

Hunger (McQueen, 2008)
September 12, 2009, 9:37 am
Filed under: 2008 Releases | Tags: Steve McQueen, Michael Fassbender

Silence is torture, and torture is silence. So goes Steve McQueen’s riveting debut Hunger, a brutally restrained biopic about IRA prisoner Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), who in 1981 conducted a hunger strike while attempting to gain political status from the Thatcher-led UK government. McQueen makes Sands’ story the centerpiece of a larger mosaic within the prison, where guards, prisoners, and riot cops all construct a collective fabric woven by isolation, fear, and loyalty. While most of the film takes place inside cells, meeting rooms, and infirmaries – moments simmering with a predetermined sense of tragedy and loneliness – the supposed “free” spaces outside, like public roads and parking lots, remain vacant, even menacing throughout, as if war could break out at any time in even the calmest suburban neighborhoods.

Hunger whittles the standard biopic conventions down to an elemental level, where character information, bursts of violence, and crucial politics rush by in a flash, lasting just long enough for a vapor of subtext to potently linger. McQueen brilliantly builds his narrative out of silence within horrific spaces, relying on the textures of the place to speak for its characters. Feces cover the walls in Jackson Pollack-like patterns, urine flows from under doorways, and blood stains overlap on the concrete floors, stubborn displays of disobedience from the inside out.

Everything builds off of Michael Fassbender’s haunting physical performance, both before his body transforms into a riddled mesh of bones and sores, and certainly after. There’s really only one major dialogue scene in the film, and it’s a 16 minute stunner between Sands and Father Dominic Moran (Liam Cunningham) shot in one static long take. Here, McQueen sums up his film’s thesis – ideological suffering and physical pain are completely different entities, yet connected by the failures of compassion and communication.

Hunger takes this momentum and churns one final silent coup, a slow, mostly still disintegration of body but not mind, showing Sands at rest remembering the simple beauty of his origins, unwavering in his dedication to the cause. Is it real, romanticized, or just memories merging together to justify his sacrifice? This mental battle is both a scary, devastating, and thought-provoking finale to a film dedicated to the horrors of interior conflict.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:15 pm

http://philonfilm.blogspot.com/2009/10/review-fish-tank.html

Saturday, October 03, 2009
Review - Fish Tank

In the hands of another filmmaker, Fish Tank might have been just another grim British feature about broken lives, broken dreams and social ills. Under the careful direction of Andrea Arnold, however, the film grows into something far more complex and resonant; her vibrant visual sense and ability to coax note-perfect performances from her cast elevating the film beyond its overly familiar setting. One of those actors is a young woman named Katie Jarvis, who has no previous acting experience and was spotted by Arnold arguing with her boyfriend, displaying the kind of fire she knew Fish Tank's central character would possess. Arnold decided to take the gamble, casting this unknown in a demanding role alongside experienced, talented actors, and the gamble has paid extraordinary dividends. Jarvis is a revelation.

She plays Mia, a 15 year-old who lives with her mother (Kierston Wareing) and her mouthy younger sister (the scene-stealing Rebecca Griffiths) on a drab East London housing estate. On first glance, Mia looks like a stereotype; abrasive, troublesome, expelled from school and prone to picking fights. But Jarvis shows us other aspects to her character in private moments. When she's alone, Mia loves to dance, practicing her moves in an abandoned flat. To be honest, for all her enthusiasm, she's not particularly good, but she clings to this dream in the hope that it will offer her a future. She is also a character far more vulnerable than her brash demeanour suggests, and she is touchingly ready to drop aggressive front as soon as someone – anyone – offers her with some semblance of kindness or respect.

One person who has such an effect on Mia is Connor (Michael Fassbender), the charming Irishman her mother brings into their home. From the way Connor looks at Mia, and the way he behaves towards her, we instantly begin to suspect some ulterior motives on his part, but Fassbender – giving the latest in a string of outstanding performances – plays the character with skilful ambiguity. Arnold frequently teases our expectations before undermining them in interesting ways. Shooting in a 1.33 aspect ratio, Arnold's work with cinematographer Robbie Ryan is intimate and sensually alive; as in her impressive debut Red Road, she imbues many sequences with an erotic charge, notably when Mia and Connor are in close proximity, and she slows the camera down to let the moment linger.

Fish Tank is a more rounded and accomplished film than Red Road, which eventually buckled under the weight of its plot contrivances, and it's definitely a step forward for Arnold, but I still have some slight reservations about her work. Her filmmaking style throws up as many longueurs as it does memorable moments, and Fish Tank is a film that would have benefitted from some more disciplined editing. The director also has a weakness for clumsy symbolism (a chained white horse, for example), and she is prone to making some baffling decisions, such as a bizarre dog reaction shot that undermines one of the film's most poignant sequences. More often, however, Fish Tank is a striking, honest and gripping film, never more so than in the climactic half-hour, when Arnold stages a terrifically tense sequence that reminded me of the Dardenne brothers' best work. It is during this sequence, as we watch we breathless anticipation, that we realise just how much we have come to care about the character Jarvis and director have so vividly created, and the film's touching, open-ended climax, leaves us wondering what life has in store for her next.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:32 pm

another translation

http://sexbockerochenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/12/hunger-stark-debutfilm-av-steve-mcqueen.html

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Hunger - a strong debut film by Steve McQueen

The film Hunger is one of those films that made the documentary film's real pictures but still managed to pass the reality of an incredibly intrusive and good fiction.

The story is about IRA member Bobby Sands who, together with 9 fellow prisoners in the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland, staged a hunger strike to death in May 1981 in protest that they were not accepted as political prisoners. They also refused to wear prison clothes and was therefore naked.

The film takes place largely inside the prison walls and in the introductory part, we follow closely the harsh discipline and abuse of detainees. It is almost unbearable to see the movie scenes that feel so brutally real. In a space of the film follows a long conversation that Sands has a priest and this is the film's turning point. The conversation is about morality and martyrdom and what you really can achieve the political ends of the die for a political subject matter. But it is also about responsibility. In addition to the scene provides a much needed rest from the more violent scenes, the beautifully filmed as a stripped-down teaterakt with blue cigarette smoke that frames the two as with words trying to convince each other about what they consider to be the right thing.

The film does not address the long historical political entanglements which is about the fight for the North-Irish Freedom - just as a vague background, we hear statements from Margaret Thatcher who was Prime Minister at that time. Film's final section reports on the hunger strike. It is almost unbelievable how the actor Michael Fassbender must have gone down in weight to convince in his role as Bobby Sands.

It is a "silent" film in which the only long dialogue between the priest and Bobby. Emotional music is missing as well. There are pictures, some frozen as still lifes, a few scenes of lengthy and repetitive, no symbol-filled, some beautiful, forming a strong and poignant backdrop to this story of a young man who today is remembered as a hero and martyr.

The film also depicts how the guards and both fear and power, contributing to the brutality and dehumanization of the subject but also gives a nuanced picture of the violence as part of the guards fail. Several of the guards was also killed outside the prison. You go automatically to think of how people in the group can become a collective force machine - not just prison guards but also police officers, soldiers, lynch bully others.

Questions of morality and political beliefs, ethics and the right to reach their goals with only his body as a weapon is brought into the movie and I and my friend talked about this long after the movie. In other words, a film that one can not help being concerned and upset by.

Acting stakes are fantastic - especially Fassbender as Sands Stuart Graham as well as the jailer Lohan. The film has received much attention and several awards.

The real Bobby Sands has a memorial page on the Internet: http://www.bobbysandstrust.com/
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:25 am

http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/the-institutional-divide/Content?oid=1193257

The Institutional Divide
This film about an Irish prisoner's hunger strike is amazing, fully realized art
by James DiGiovanna

Hunger

Not Rated

Starring Michael Fassbender, Stuart Graham, Larry Cowan and Brian Milligan

Directed by Steve McQueen

IFC, 96 minutes

Hunger presents the events surrounding the death of Bobby Sands. In 1981, he committed slow suicide in a hunger strike while protesting the conditions in HM Prison Maze, where he and hundreds of other Irish Republican Army members were housed.

A movie about someone dying of hunger could easily be maudlin, talky, boring and preachy. But experimental film artist Steve McQueen tried another route, and wound up crafting one of the most beautifully realized films of the decade. Combining experimental technique with minimal narrative, McQueen's film is captivating, haunting and horrifying. Most of all, it's a tremendous work of art that says "no" to the fast-cutting and expensive editing styles of modern cinema.

Hunger is set in the H blocks of Prison Maze, where prisoners deemed terrorists were kept. The IRA members held there refused to wear prison uniforms, instead engaging in "the blanket protest" wherein they wrapped themselves in sheets. Further, they were not allowed to use the toilets without their uniforms, so they defecated in their cells and smeared feces on the walls in "no wash" and "dirty" protests.

These are not exactly things you'd normally want to look at, but in McQueen's hands, the smearing of s$#! becomes hypnotic, a slow and unpleasant but somehow irresistible spectacle. Each shot, each moment, is so perfectly composed that the film—which features almost no dialogue in the first 50 minutes, and has music only in brief patches—is totally engaging in a way that action films, which suffer from the need to explain themselves, never could be.

McQueen begins his film with a nervous prison guard silently leaving his home to drive to work. His bruised knuckles indicate some off-screen violence. A prisoner is brought in, and one scene later, his head is bleeding, again indicating off-camera action. The refusal to reveal the violence makes it all the more tense; the characters' failure to speak to each other makes their acting more important.

But McQueen doesn't hold back forever; ultimately, prisoners are dragged from their cells, beaten with sticks, thrust underwater and scrubbed down with brooms. The knuckles of the guard return, now openly bleeding.

But the film doesn't rely on the violence to maintain interest. In one long, very slow shot, a hallway full of urine is slowly mopped by a single guard. Explaining why this shot is so great is like trying to put music into words; some things can't be captured in writing. But the simple perspective of the long hallway, with the zigzag action of the lone guard mopping as he walks, has a quality like a painting that's come, just barely, to life.

The first half of the film follows prisoner Davey (Brian Milligan) as he's processed and tossed into a s$#!-covered cell with fellow IRA member Gerry (Liam McMahon). Then these characters are dropped as the focus shifts to Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) and his role in the hunger strike that ended his life.

After no dialogue for the first 50 minutes of the film, McQueen makes a daring choice and inserts at that point a 13-minute-long sequence where McQueen talks about his plans to a visiting priest. During this time, the camera remains entirely stationary in a two-shot. Then it switches to a six-minute close-up of Fassbender's face as he tells a story from Sands' childhood. The sequence ends, and there's no further conversation in the film, with only a few snippets of dialogue as the final half-hour focuses on Sands' slowly starving frame.

The contrast between the two halves of the film is stark, but McQueen uses it to make rich comments on the institutional structure. Whereas the first half features brutal guards and violent interactions between inmates and officials, the second half shows an almost surreal concern on the part of the medical staff members who are tasked with watching Sands die. They gently bathe him, clean his wounds, add padding to his bed and do everything in their power to make him comfortable.

But none of these plot or story points captures the essence of this movie, which is so strongly visual. McQueen and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt created a form of moving art that's rarely explored outside of museums, galleries and installations. The idea of using film-as-art to make an art film is strangely underexplored; even the titans of art film, people like Bergman, Fellini and Kurosawa, still wanted to tell stories, and allowed the narratives to take priority.

McQueen hasn't neglected his tale, but he hasn't really told it, either. You'd certainly understand what was going on if you walked into Hunger with little knowledge of the IRA protests, but the film is hardly a disquisition on the issues involved. Instead, it's a visual representation of the suffering that occurred in the institution, and not simply the suffering of the prisoners: McQueen shows, but does not tell, the anguish, horror and twisted pleasures that occur on both sides of the institutional divide.

But none of this explains the film; it simply has to be seen. Composition, lighting and a deliberate slowness that trusts an audience's ability to recognize what is interesting without being told by expository dialogue or compelled by intrusive music mark this work. Anyone who wants to see another possibility in filmmaking—one realized to near perfection—should definitely check this out.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:27 am

http://jocelyn-notsoblonde.blogspot.com/2009/10/i-watched-hunger-last-night-for-first.html

Monday, 19 October 2009
Deeply powerful film
I watched Hunger last night for the first time. In hindsight, it was probably not a Sunday night film. But then, I'm not sure what night of the week it would fit into.

Unfortunately I had no previous knowledge of the 1981 IRA prison hunger strike and have very little general knowledge of the plight in Northern Ireland during the time. So getting into the film was a bit difficult in that aspect.

Also, the film is more about art and cinematography than exciting script and history. With long shots and very little dialogue, it's extremely difficult to get into. However, if you make it past the 30 minute mark you should be proud of yourself and in for a real treat.

The film is heartbreaking and moving. It's difficult not to feel empathy for both the inmates and the prison guards - which is interesting as most story-lines will show the viewer a good guy and a bad guy. This movie is about human strength and belief, and the extreme situations people can be placed in and how they cope.

After the no-wash protest at Maze Prison has lasted for four years with no avail (the inmates want to wear civilian clothes rather than prison uniforms and end up naked with blankets) Bobby Sands leads the inmates in a hunger strike. The actor, Michael Fassbender, actually starved himself to portray the character in a real light. Now that's dedication.

The director of this film is the young British artist, Steve McQueen. He has done a beautiful, albeit slow, job with this film. It truly is art and he has a great eye for detail and poignant shots.

I would probably never get myself to watch this film again (the imagery can really burn into your brain) however I've now discovered a keen interest in the IRA in the 70s/80s and want to follow-up with a book about the subject. If a movie can do that for you, it's got to mean something good. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in film noire.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:30 am

http://thirtyframesasecond.wordpress.com/tag/michael-fassbender/

UK/Ireland

Director: Steve McQueen

96 min

Synopsis

Northern Ireland, 1981. Raymond Lohan, a guard at the Maze prison prepares for work. Lohan’s knuckles are bloodied from an unspecified incident. He appears isolated from his peers and fails to join in with their banter. Davey, an IRA prisoner arrives. He is designated as a non-conforming prisoner when he refuses to wear the prison uniform – he is given a blanket to wear. His cell-mate, Gerry, has begun a “dirty protest” in his cell, smearing the walls with his own excrement. The guards drag the prisoners from their cells by the hair, then brutally beat them without mercy. Lohan’s knuckles were bloodied from a missed punch against a wall.

A large number of riot police arrive at the prison, intimidating the prisoners with the noise of their batons and shields. The riot police then violently attack the prisoners before each has their mouth and anus probed. One prisoner headbutts a guard, after which he is savagely beaten. Lohan is then seen at a nursing home where his senile mother lives. He is killed by an IRA assassin. Bobby Sands is then met by a priest and they discuss the ethics of the hunger strike that Sands is starting. Sands is now well into his strike, his health failing and his body is deteriorating. Sands collapses trying to leave the bath, after his UDA-supporting orderly refused to help. Sands’ parents keep vigil during his last hours of life.

Review

The debut feature by Turner Prize winning artist, Steve McQueen, ‘Hunger’ is a controversial yet artistically brilliant look at life in the notorious Maze Prison, which housed paramilitary prisoners during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Critically acclaimed with some enthusiasm, including being named Sight and Sound’s film of 2008, ‘Hunger’ also played in competition at Cannes in 2008, winning the Golden Camera award for first time film makers.

British films about Northern Ireland are nothing new; whether it’s the more clinical, documentary style of Paul Greenaway’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ or Jim Sheridan’s more emotional dramas such as ‘In The Name of the Father’. These have usually scrutinised the activities of the British army or security services and exposed injustice. What separates ‘Hunger’ from the mould is that it’s a frank and no-holds barred examination of life for those paramilitaries who’ve been imprisoned for their crimes. There’s no injustice beyond the refusal of the Thatcher government to treat these men as political prisoners – in fact, we’re not even aware of the crimes they’ve been imprisoned for.

McQueen demonstrates with some venom precisely how these prisoners were treated in the Maze. From the blankets to cover their nudity when they refused to wear the prescribed prison uniform (wearing it would be accepting one’s a criminal, not a political prisoner) to the savage violence carried out by a partisan police force, which starts with the beatings by the guards and develops into full-blown, shocking violence as perpetrated by riot police, called in wholly unnecessarily, it’s a devastating exposé of the system that punishes with cold malice and eventually creates martyrs. Not that it’s depicted in an entirely one-sided fashion. There’s the deliberate goading as shown by the prisoners’ “dirty protests”, their stubbornness to play ball and their willingness to respond to violence when given the chance. McQueen at least provides a sense of balance, showing both sides of the coin and not condoning or condemning either – perhaps it’s just an atmosphere of madness beyond anyone’s control, yet he’s aware that it begins at the top, with the frequent voiceover of Thatcher and her own biased agenda in Northern Ireland.

As you’d expect from an accomplished visual artist, albeit a first time director, McQueen bestows ‘Hunger’ with a unique aesthetic that differentiates it from any previous films about Northern Ireland. It features all the criteria of the accomplished ‘art film’ for sure; long, silent takes, long shots of empty corridors (which often have the urine of the prisoners seeping out from beneath the doors of the cells with unnerving symmetry) and perhaps to the film’s detriment, a split screen of the violence of the riot police and one policeman’s response as he stays out of it; a poignant look of regret. Add this to Lohan’s more-often-than-not desperate isolation from the violence around him, and there’s a risk that McQueen’s chasing easy sympathy, of showing in a much too facile way the horror of those carrying out the violence upon reflection. There’s also the lazy symbolism of birds flying the nest, used twice – an all too obvious metaphor for freedom that’s most prominently used when Sands finally dies. The Christ parallels also sit a little too uneasily; the self-sacrifice and suffering threaten to afford Sands a martyr’s status.

One also wonders whether the emphasis placed upon the film’s aesthetic undermines its already minimal narrative. It’s not an issue that McQueen doesn’t a logical, coherent or chronological narrative as such. ‘Hunger’ comes across more as a tableux of episodes in the lives of these prisoners, none of which are necessarily connected or adjoining. However, it’s quite easy to question what the purpose of ‘Hunger’ is? What do we learn after 90 minutes? That government policy of not respecting or recognising “political prisoners” trickles its way down to the violence unleashed upon them by a partisan police force? Perhaps so, but the episodes of violence, carried out with such force, overwhelm the film so much that any intellectual or ethical considerations, as shown in the remarkable unbroken 17 minute shot between Sands and a priest, almost become consumed by them.

Some have already seen ‘Hunger’ as part of an unofficial wave of new, arthouse British film making, which might include the likes of ‘Unrelated, ‘Better Things’ and the more recent ‘Helen’. There’s little that connects the films thematically or aesthetically, but these are all low-budget films made on their own terms; a refreshing alternative to the box-office chasing films that usually reach our cinemas. ‘Hunger’ is certainly ambitious, certainly audacious, but there are some reservations that cause concern – the over-emphasis upon the film’s look, the over-use of symbolism that doesn’t really work and the overwhelming demonstrations of physical violence that will easily shock and make one recoil with horror. Still, this is the kind of cinema we’ve been crying out for and the kind of cinema we ought to encourage.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:48 am

http://subterraneansolitude.blogspot.com/2009/12/hunger-directed-by-steve-mcqueen-was-on.html

Tuesday, 15 December 2009
'Hunger' directed by Steve McQueen was on Channel 4 tonight; a second viewing gave me a chance to see if it was as impressive as I had imagined it to be the first time i'd seen it.

I remember being almost transfixed when leaving the cinema after seeing the film; with several strands of the film running through my mind. One was of having watched such an artistically visual and beautiful film, which also contained some of the most graphic violence I have ever seen on screen.

What seemed to stick out was the detail; Snow flakes falling onto the prison guards bloodied knuckles; s$#! smeared patterns on the walls of the prisoners, close of up of a fly trapped between wire mesh. McQueen, a former winner of the turner prize, gave us a very visually stimulating spectacle.

Michael Fassbender is just outstanding as Bobby Sands , as is Liam Cunningham as the priest. It is the exchange between these two characters half way through the film which seems to bind the film together. Either side of the conversation we have the political background to the dispute (through the well timed use of Thatchers speeches on the troubles); the inhumane conditions and brutal beatings of the inmates and a graphic depiction of Sand's deterioration after hunger strike begins. It is the conversation between Fassbender and Cunningham which gives us the political and moral arguments; real humanity expressed over life's worth, political and religious values and hopes for the future and memories of the past. McQueen shoots this in one long take (over 17 minutes long and the longest ever recorded in film) so the viewer can see the whole exchange from an impartial view, we almost feel as if we are eavesdropping on it.

I am still left with the same emotions and thoughts about the film, perhaps even more so after a second viewing. It's harrowing and artistic; but more than anything, 'Hunger' is an important film.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:05 am

http://cockburnlibraries.blogspot.com/2009/12/scene-library-hunger.html

Thursday, December 17, 2009
Scene @ the Library : Hunger

Watch this movie only if you don’t mind leaving your comfort zone. The name Bobbie Sands and the hunger strikes in Northern Ireland’s Maze prison in the early 1980’s were only a vague memory before watching “Hunger”. No longer – the film is haunting and confronting and it is difficult to forget the agony of a young man of 27 wasting away to draw attention to the demands of the IRA inmates to be recognised as political prisoners entitled to rights under the rules of war.

The film treads a middle path showing neither sympathy to the plight of the terrorists nor rallying to their cause but giving equal time to both sides of the story. The prison guards faced dangers not only within the prison but were subject to assassination attempts in their private lives.

The film is harrowing but unforgettable with an outstanding portrayal of Bobbie Sands by Michael Fassbender.
Posted by Mally at 12:47 PM
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:08 am

http://jordanbuckner.blogspot.com/2009/12/hunger-2008.html

Thursday, 17 December 2009
Hunger (2008)
I just finished watching the 2008 film Hunger by artist Steve McQueen, a film I've been meaning to see for so long and now that it's over I'm pretty speechless. The film tells the story of the 1981 IRA hunger strikes led by Bobby Sands in Maze Prison and stars Michael Fassbender as Sands. This is truly artful film making and an absolutely outstanding piece of cinema that has a hard hitting impact on the viewer. It shows the strikes in all their horror, with a painfully long depiction of Sands' strike and intense scenes in which we see the naked prisoners beaten and abused by guards. A central scene, comprising of a single 17 minute shot, depicts an engaging and emotional conversation between Sands and a catholic priest as the priest tries to plead with Sands in order to prevent the strike to go ahead. It is scenes such as these that I find so compelling, McQueen shows a bravery in showing such lengthy scenes and I feel it is his artistic approach that creates such a compelling watch.

Total Film pointed out "McQueen shoots much of his film almost without dialogue, heightening its bleak intensity." This works amazingly, the silence that seems to surround the film makes the visual imagery even more powerful, and this has the greatest effect during the strike as we watch Sands deteriorate in silence, whilst still being abused by some of the guards. The film relies on this bleakness to have impact, we are not spared the horrors of the prison, being shown the beatings, the faeces covered walls and the prisoners suffering. I am aware that many critics argued that it was turning terrorists into heroes, so called "critics" in the Daily Mail stated "More pro-terrorist propaganda." But this simply is not true, as Total Film say " The artist-turned filmmaker isn’t concerned with any acts of terrorism Sands committed outside; he takes that as read." Instead McQueen focuses on life inside the prison, not just for the prisoners but also the guards as we are consistently shown the horror that some of the guards must endure and the agony that they feel in doing their job. Honestly, I would not credit the Daily Mail as critics in any circumstance as they are an dismal excuse for journalism, but I feel that their opinion is far too simplistic.

It is shot in a horribly bleak beauty, the shots are desaturated to a grey and green tint and we very rarely see any warmth. The shots are often still and focused directly on the character speaking forcing direct attention on them. I really do recommend this to anyone, it is an incredible story that is shot with a dark truth and, despite the darkness of it I feel it is an essential watch. Enjoy the trailer...
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:57 pm

http://odessatucson.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/hunger-full-of-s$#!-but-not-in-a-bad-way/

Hunger – full of s$#! but not in a bad way
December 17, 2009 · Leave a Comment

Steve McQueen is probably one of the most well-known and best-loved screen icons of all time. Whether he’s jumping a fence on his motorbike or leading a Magnificent band of cowboys, everybody knows his face, his voice and his style.

Unfortunately for the movie community, that Steve McQueen died in 1980. However, 2008 saw a new Steve McQueen land on the map. As the director of bleak drama Hunger, McQueen showed that he could be as skilled behind the lens (and with a pen, as he also co-wrote the script) as his namesake was in front of it.

Based on the real-life hunger strike of Bobby Sands in 1981, Hunger follows the happenings in Northern Ireland prison HMS Maze in the weeks and months prior to Sands’ (SPOILER FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW THE HISTORY) self-inflicted death from malnutrition. Sands, played brilliantly by recent QT Basterd Michael Fassbender, is an incarcerated IRA volunteer who, along with the other inmates, executes a number of strikes in order to try and gain political prisoner status (a notion which the Thatcher government strongly opposed). As well as Sands’ famous hunger strike, there were also no-wash protests and ‘blanket protests’ wherein the IRA-following inmates refused to wear prison clothes, both of which are also shown in often brutally frank fashion – the camera lingers on the wall of Gerry’s (Liam McMahon) cell which he has smeared with s$#! and we are shown a violent episode when the prisoners are forcibly washed by the guards. As well as Gerry and Bobby, we also follow the journeys of prison guard Ray Lohan (Stuart Graham) and new inmate Davey (Brian Milligan), and the tales are interwoven via a series of cuts and jumps.Sands (left) and Father Moran's scintillating ethical debate is the film's core

To say that Hunger is an unusual movie is to do it somewhat of a disservice, but it’s safe to say that McQueen’s drama is light years from recent mainstream biopics like Ray or Capote. It is not a film which sets out to make a star of its lead (although Fassbender’s performance is so good it made him one anyway) or to glamourise a famous historical figure. For large parts of it, Hunger is ostensibly an arthouse mood piece, replete with lengthy stationary-camera shots and half hours without any real dialogue. The climactic conversation between Sands and Liam Cunningham’s Father Moran is 20 minutes long, yet for 15 of those minutes the camera never moves, simply documenting the powerful discussion that culminated in Sands’ decision to starve himself in the name of idealism.

The lack of dialogue, focus on death and obsession with, well, poo may leave you thinking that this is just another pretentious melodrama about a tortured soul in a cruel world yadda yadda yadda.

But if there’s one thing that Hunger is not, it’s up itself. While it does contain what some would deem hallmarks of quasi-fantastical pretension, it doesn’t ever stray into the unreal. The prison is grotty, grim and grey throughout, and you get the sense that there isn’t much dialogue because the inmates simply have nothing much to say. They are united by their common goals, are set upon their strikes, and thus can communicate without speech.

The silence is deafening at times, and the sound effects (of which I am a bit of a fan) are beautifully rendered – the scraping of a hard-bristled broom on the hallway floors lingers in the mind. McQueen also intersperses these silent montages with real life radio clips from Thatcher’s speeches to the House of Commons, which ensures that the film remains grounded in reality instead of teetering into overly stylised phantasmagoria.

McQueen has worked wonders on page and screen here, but perhaps his masterstroke was the casting of Michael Fassbender as the starving protagonist Sands. During the aforementioned discussion with Father Moran, the German-born actor not only delivers a pitch-perfect Belfast twang, but also exudes a physical and mental toughness which makes the man himself seem as unshakeable as his beliefs.
Gerry (left) and Davey contemplate in their cell, literally surrounded by crap.

Gerry (left) and Davey contemplate their cell, literally surrounded by crap.

Just half an hour later we see a skeletal Sands lying on his prison hospital bed, a shadow of himself, dreaming of his youth as his adult life begins to ebb away. Fassbender not only clearly lost scary amounts of weight for these sequences, but also displays the unerring tenacity of Sands: trying to haul himself out of the bath despite not having eaten in months, and stoically refusing any and all food placed before him.

Fassbender’s tremendous turn aside, this is still a very good film full of melancholia, idealism and artistic potency in equal measure. It does suffer from occasionally slowing down a little bit too much, and some scenes could do with a small trim, but overall, Hunger is a wonderful picture. McQueen has not only called attention to Fassbender’s talents as an actor, but also his own as writer/director, and Steve McQueen is not a name that we should be (or most likely will be) forgetting anytime soon.

9/10 – A deeply troubling portrayal of a nation in a time in crisis, told through the frontline protesters who chose to risk their lives in the name of republicanism, anchored by the fantastic Fassbender and the mercurial McQueen. An incredibly bleak, but significant and poignant movie.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:33 pm

http://deadshed.blogspot.com/2009/12/hunger.html

Friday, 18 December 2009
Hunger...
A quality slice of 'Brit grit' from a director of focussed vision (Steve McQueen) and a lead actor of dedicated skill (Michael Fassbender - read 'talented actor, and deliberately emaciated). Set during 1981 IRA protests ("blanket" and "no food"), the film is consistently hands-off when it comes to the political issues. This is the best way to go, especially as lesser filmmakers would indulge in Thatcher-bashing and vomiting their political agenda upon the viewer.

Instead, quite rightly, Hunger positions itself smack bang in the middle as a mere observer so that the viewer is allowed to make up their own minds. That said, what one is to think about it all is relentlessly complicated, and not being at all knowledgeable about the situation itself (it was before my time, and school history lessons contain precious little about anything, let alone Britain's own history), I'll steer clear of blogging my own views on the big issues.

So yeah, Hunger is a thankfully withdrawn affair when it comes to the politics, as withdrawn as the camera is itself - our view into this world - which in one stand-out sequence in the middle of the film, watches Fassbender's protesting prisoner converse with a priest over twenty minutes. It's rare for such moments to be tense and involving, but McQueen displays Schwarzenegger-sized directorial muscles. Not to say the rest of the film doesn't contain raw, bold and grit-coated power.

Guards performing cavity searches on the naked prisoners is nothing short of harrowing and brutal, while repulsive scenes of excrement-smeared cell walls and urine-soaked corridors leave the viewer reeling. In the deepest sense of the word, this film has a bucket load of style. It is a vision that is clear and concise, a vision which rarely requires non-diegetic music, or even dialogue (for large chunks of the film). At times the film almost plays out like a silent documentary, the combination of a lack of dialogue or music, and intense objectivity simply takes the viewer by the scruff of the neck and sits them down in a place that makes you feel like a fly on the wall.

The final passages in the film - at which point Fassbender's dedication to his art is displayed in his shockingly emaciated frame. If you were stunned by Christian Bale in The Machinist, you'll just be utterly baffled by how on earth Fassbender was able to survive his extreme slim-down.

Brutally honest, always withdrawn, endlessly committed and simply up-front, Hunger is a superb piece of filmmaking. You're not going to want to give it another view for a very long time no doubt, this is about as far from entertainment as you could possibly get, but for a truly memorable and serious film viewing experience, Hunger is it.
Posted by Nick Thomson at 12:18
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:04 pm

http://eternalsunshineofthelogicalmind.blogspot.com/2009/12/end-of-year-catching-up.html

Hunger

Definitely deserving of just about every one of the superlatives thrown at it. The initial section of Steve McQueen's debut feature film is solid and disturbing, but it's from the point that Bobby Sands and the priest have their single take 17 minute long conversation that it becomes mesmerizing. That amazing scene is followed by another single take 5 minute monologue by Sands (Michael Fassbender) that I found even more riveting. And from there, the tail end of the film covers the wasting away of Sands and it's purely cinematic as there's nary a word of dialog (a few spoken lines, but no conversation). The pictures show the horror all too well.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:12 am

http://onemillionfilmsbc.blogspot.com/2009/12/hunger.html

29 December 2009
Hunger
directed by Steve McQueen

The story of Irish prisoner Bobby Sands and his struggle to win rights for his fellow inmates comes to horrifying, scathing, sobering reality in Steve McQueen’s knockout debut, Hunger. Michael Fassbender plays Sands with all the vehemence and conviction necessary to take home every award in the book, and every actor in this minimal dialogue, exhausting, heart-wrenching tour de force delivers the goods in every way possible. Sands wants all of his fellow prisoners to be treated as prisoners of war instead of common criminals, to be recognized as political prisoners for their participation in the turmoil of Northern Ireland’s struggle. A “no wash” protest is underway, a protest in which the prisoners use their bodies as weapons, and Sands is willing to take his to the limit to realize his aspirations. Implementing a hunger strike in which he will be the first participant (and possibly casualty), Sands is absolutely committed to the cause, and Fassbender delivers a powerhouse performance that will endure for all time, a true embodiment of a zealot willing to take his vision beyond the limit. To watch this film is to be drawn into a conflict beyond our comprehension as Americans, to bear witness to a conviction foreign to our usual patriotic sentiment. Whether or not you agree is not up for debate, however, and though it may be hard to stomach, you won’t be able to look away.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:42 am

http://deeperintomovies.net/journal/archives/3771

Brandon's movie memory
Hunger (2008, Steve McQueen)

December 23, 2009 at 8:30 pm
That’s Steve McQueen the artist who everyone pretended to have heard of when this came out, a naked Warholian who recreates Buster Keaton stunts and projects them onto art gallery walls, not Steve McQueen the actor who everyone has actually heard of, who jumped a nazi barbed-wire fence on a motorcycle.

For a director who talks up innovation and rulebreaking, he’s made a rather classic-looking film, with much attention paid to capturing beautiful shots in what should be an ugly story – a hunger strike unto death by physically abused political prisoners inside the s$#!-smeared walls of a British prison. I expected more subjective views, more filmic art-stuff a la Diving Bell and the Butterfly (also by a former art-gallery sensationalist) but it seems most of the experimentalism was narrative, and who knows if that’s due to McQueen or experienced co-screenwriter Enda Walsh.

I ultimately got less, narratively and emotionally, than from the more conventional IRA/prison flick In the Name of the Father.

Extremely-long-take centerpiece, in which priest Liam Cunningham (Wind That Shakes The Barley, The Mummy 3) fails to talk Bobby (Michael Fassbender, the Inglorious Basterds brit who gets shot up in the basement bar):
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