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Hunger reviews

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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:34 pm

http://filmtopia.livejournal.com/101842.html

HUNGER (2008)

[info]filmtopia
August 31st, 12:56



Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Stuart Graham, Brian Milligan, Liam McMahon

96 minutes
(NR - strong language, violence, nudity)

Quickshot:
The true story of Bobby Sands, an Irish political prisoner who is subjected to various mishandlings from his captors and the British government as he is held in jail for his crimes. In a show of defiance, he embarks on an extensive hunger strike, one that would ultimately cost him his life while also bringing international attention to his cause.

Initial Reaction After Viewing:
"a sometimes uncomfortable depiction of the lengths some men will go to be heard"

Bottom-line:
Gritty and often disturbing to watch as McQueen's camera doesn't shy away from showing (sometimes in great detail) the hardships endured by the prisoners in their struggle to be recognized as more than the animals the media had made them out to be at this critical time in Irish history. And, it's this attention that shows the upmost respect for all those involved. Fassbender provides one of the most harrowing and heartbreaking roles ever committed to film in his portrayal of Sands. While the life story of Bobby Sands is virtually unknown to people on this side of the pond, the film and his performance help to inform about a piece of history that might have otherwise gone untold.

VERDICT:
destined to be a modern bio-pic classic

4 DAISIES OUT OF 5
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:36 pm

http://gemarnonton.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/2009-film-hunger/

2009 Film: Hunger

I’d take the privilege to deliberate a common sense: a story always has a beginning, middle and an end. This is simple, but in the case of Hunger, the director Steve McQueen doesn’t want to take it for granted. Almost a third of the film is filled with trivial things about how a new inmate is being welcomed in a prison. Not just an ordinary prison but a detention facility for IRA activists. They are criminals, said the British Government. No, we are here for a cause, namely politics said the inmates. The film pointed out a period in the history of United Kingdom where some IRA members held hunger strike for getting a political prisoner status.

Then come the second part of the film, the middle. McQueen explains the prisoners’ cause in a lengthy conversation between the one of the inmates, Boby Sands with a reverend that Sand invited to see him in the prison. In this very intense conversation delivered in a long take, the entire premise of the film is revealed in dialog, and dialog only. Screenwriter guru, Syd Field, will easily call this scene as a wasteful-“talking head” approach but I’d daresay that spoken words has its own magic and McQueen is showing it to us.

The third part of the film, the ending, is again filled with trivia on how the hunger strike is being through by the inmates, especially Boby Sands (Michael Fassbender). This young man whose parents regularly visit him in prison has gradually changed his shape due to the strike. Boby with his strong will must meet the Iron Lady (yes, as in Margaret Tatcher the Iron Lady – only appeared in her voice in the radio) who will never be moved by any kind of threat. The result is severely devastating.

Hunger is a showcase of a storytelling capacity beyond any basic formula in film. McQueen cleverly use detailed-shots to set up information for some bigger revealing moments. The trivia he presented in the beginning and at the end of the film fit perfectly into the premise which he put in the middle. This is how the lengthy dialog in the middle is importantly suspenseful. The third part, the closing act, which Boby Sand gradually turn into a living skeleton became a very devastating, if not painful, catharsis for the audience; and this is delivered with scary punctuation by Michael Fassbender’s acting. More than believable, Fassbender has brought us the real impact of collision between immovable object and unstoppable force. What has been hurt is the audience’s basic understanding of human endurance. Since the visual is so strong, it is impossible not to putting your feet into Boby Sand’s shoes. This has automatically raised question on your own self-determination to make your cause materialized in the world. With this question we understand: there is something in human being we might never understand.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:53 pm

http://davesmoviesite.blogspot.com/2010/09/year-in-review-2008.html

Thursday, September 23, 2010
Year in Review: 2008
2008 was a decent year for movies, and yet I still feel that there was no one film that stood head and shoulders over the rest. While my top four have not changed in the nearly two years since the year ended, I still feel that they are all roughly equal in quality. That isn’t a bad thing, but I always do like it when there is a film that I just go completely nuts for – and this year didn’t quite have that.

10.Hunger (Steve McQueen)
Director Steve McQueen’s debut film is one of the most haunting films of the year. It is a film that slowly builds its eventually overwhelming power. Michael Fassbender got his breakthrough role here as an IRA prisoner, who is tired of being treated like an animal by his British captors. The first half of the film basically shows us this story – how the IRA are treated, and the dehumanizing effect it has – not just on the prisoners, but also on the guards themselves. The second half is about a hunger strike led by Fassbender, where he slowly fades away into basically a skeleton. Separating these two halves is perhaps the single best scene of any movie this year – a long conversation between Fassbender and a sympathetic priest, Liam Cunningham, who disagrees with Fassbender’s method. This scene is shot in one, long unbroken shot that simply observes these two men talking. McQueen favors these long shots (another haunting one is simply of a man moping the floor of the prison) and there is something genuinely thrilling about these shots – perhaps because so many other filmmakers feel the need to edit their shots together so rapidly that you become disoriented. Hunger established Steve McQueen as one of the most promising filmmakers out there – and got the career of one of my favorite current actors off the ground.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:44 am

http://diegocinephile.blogspot.com/2010/09/hunger.html

jueves 30 de septiembre de 2010
Hunger
Hunger (2008)
Director: Steve McQueen
Country: UK, Ireland
10/10

Wow. I really didn't expect this movie to be what it is. I first read the plot: The last six weeks of the life of the Irish republican hunger striker Bobby Sands. But the movie is so much more than that. First of all, the last 6 weeks of Bobby Sands take place during the last 30 minutes of the movie. The first 45 minutes are about the harsh reality of the IRA prisoners during the 'blanket' and 'no-wash' period in the late 70s and early 80s, to the point where I felt sick to my stomach from the abuses and attrocities the inmates had to endure, and the movie makes no effort to disguise them to be more acceptable. Acting by Michael Fassbender (as Bobby Sands) is very impressive and the movie might very well be among the best I've seen. What is equally impressive is that it's the first movie by director Steve McQueen (no relation to Bullitt's Steve McQueen). Despite the movie being in a very closed and almost unintelligible Irish, there's very little talking, so there's little chance to get lost with it. In fact, the first proper dialogue comes at the 45-minute mark, lasts for about 20 minutes and that's it.

Score comes as no surprise since it really is that good, though you might want to avoid it if you're easily sickened.

Publicado por Diego en 20:05
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:53 pm

http://catalysttheatre.blogspot.com/2010/10/inspirational-art-hunger.html

01 October 2010
Inspirational Art: Hunger
Hunger is an original, smart and brutal account of IRA prisoners inside British prisons in the early '80s. Directed by Steve McQueen (not the late great American actor but the British video artist turned director) the film is centered on the story of Bobby Sands, the leader of a hunger strike that hoped to force the British government to give Sands and his fellow inmates the status of political prisoners.

But before you meet Sands proper, you are introduced to prison life through the practically dialogue free first act, and prison life ain't easy, especially not for these guys. You see, the IRA prisoners engaged in a 'no wash' protest, where they didn't wash, shave or clean themselves in any way really, and they smeared their cell walls with s$#!. Literally s$#!. Their own excrement. This sounds disgusting, and it's even worse seeing it through McQueen's evocative lens. It's not just the prisoners doing vile things though. There are some very punishing sequences of the brutality enacted upon the prisoners by the guards. They are humiliated, scrubbed with brooms, beaten with batons. These scenes are startlingly convincing, so much so that you really start to wonder how they filmed them.

Given McQueen's background as a video artist it should come as no surprise that he really knows what he's doing with his images. This may be a slow film (perhaps too slow for some) but unlike so many awful 'art' films that have forced me to stare at an unattractive, boring composition for what feels like an eternity, Hunger keeps your attention with shots that are striking and beautiful. McQueen has gone to a real effort to inject some style in to the film and it pays off in spades, creating some very memorable images.

One of which is a single shot, held for what must be ten minutes or perhaps even more. Sands sits down with a priest and has a very impassioned, intellectual debate on the nature of martyrdom and what he hopes to achieve with his hunger strike. This is where McQueen displays yet more directorial smarts and lets camera rest while his actors and the ideas being explored truly shine. Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands and Liam Cunningham as the Priest excel as they trade barbs back and forth across the table, arguing for and against. Locking off the shot and letting the actors work really allows us to digest the information being thrown at us, although I have to admit, the sudden stream of dialogue in thick Irish accents actually took me a while to get a handle on, especially after the dialogue free first act.

In the final third of the film, we are back to a land of silent men as Sands begins his hunger strike. This segment is perhaps the most harrowing of the film. Watching Sands (and Fassbender) waste away before your eyes is quite a powerful experience. And once again, McQueen's camera will not let you look away. It just sits unblinking on the emaciated frame of Bobby Sands, while again, always being careful to frame his shots attractively.

Fassbender deserves a special mention, not only for the commitment required to achieve the physical transformation necessary for the hunger strike sequence, but also the real sense of vitality and passion he brings to the earlier passages in the film. However, I think the real star is director McQueen. To be able to hold the audiences attention through both long, dialogue free sequences and single shot, highly intellectual debates, all the while delivering consistently interesting compositions requires a very special talent. A talent I believe is particularly evident in the final third of the film, which is filled largely with the 'action' of a man, lying completely still, starving himself to death. This section could easily become boring and stiff in the wrong hands, but McQueen manages to keep.

Although it may be a touch too slow and experimental for some, if you appreciate a story told largely with images and a film where time has been taken and thought has been given to craft something special, original and different, then you must see Hunger. You will not regret it.
Posted by Ben Van Lier at 7:05 PM
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:36 pm

http://thisismyblogplacething.blogspot.com/2010/10/watched-hunger.html

Sunday, October 3, 2010
Watched: Hunger
So I've watched a lot of movies concerning harrowing subject matter, but I was still barely able to watch the last 15 minutes of this. Hunger is about the 1981 Irish hunger strike, specifically about Bobby Sands's involvement. But I think what makes this film so interesting is that Sands, played by Michael Fassbender, doesn't even show up until around the halfway mark.

We start with a guard soaking his bruised and bloodied fists and follow him through his morning ritual. We move on to the first day of a new IRA prisoner, watch him and his roommate as they fight back against their imprisonment in whatever ways they can. Then finally we get to Sands and his long talk with a priest before he embarks on the hunger strike that kills him. I think in some ways the the method is a bad idea if director Steve McQueen wanted the audience to empathize with and cheer for Sands he failed. But then, that doesn't seem to be his intention.

Considering the amount of detail and time he gives to the guard's life and his abrupt death later as well as the moment of grace given to an otherwise nameless, faceless riot officer, I'd say McQueen is more interested in showing the humanity and brutality of the whole situation rather than making Sands any kind of hero. This becomes obvious during his conversation with the priest, who basically tells him that doing a hunger strike is going to kill more people unnecessarily and in a smuggled note that tells him: negotiate. But as Sands tells the priest in his analogy to the injured foal he killed as child, he has always been the one capable of doing the awful things that needed to be done.

Then he starts the hunger strike and s$#! gets real. Like I said, this movie really focuses on the humanity of this situation, which includes: smearing the prison walls with feces, smuggling things in and out of the jail in various orifices, channeling urine out of the rooms and into the corridors, copious amounts of blood, dirt, and brutality. The detailed depiction of the way these prisoners are either cooped up in filthy cells or being banged around the otherwise metal/concrete prison brings home their pain and decay. But when Sands begins fasting the camera spares no one the gritty details of starving to death: the weeping, ugly sores, the vomiting, the gnarled sinews; it's all there and Sands leaves the guard's story and the other prisoners to hone in entirely on the breaking down on this man's body.

In short, this movie is incredibly hard to watch. But I think it's worth it if only to understand, if you any doubts, how harrowing and complicated the Irish political situation really was and what it means to sit and fester in a jail cell, or even die very slowly (Sands starved for something like 66 days) for something you believe in.

Also, Fassbender is amazing. The fact that he starved himself down to Christian Bale a la The Machinist weight is one thing, the fact that he makes Bobby Sands extremely sympathetic and infuriating is another. The fact that he is also an extremely handsome guy is probably irrelevant, but I just thought I'd put that out there.

Posted by em at 6:49 AM
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:26 pm

http://brantleypalmer.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/steve-mcqueen-directing/

Steve McQueen Directing

October 4, 2010 by Lee Leave a Comment

Hunger (2008)

Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender

In Hunger, Michael Fassbender plays Bobby Sands, an Irish Republican who went on a hunger strike in 1981. While I’m familiar with the Irish Hunger strike, I was unfamiliar with the man Bobby Sands until this movie. That however, had no bearing on my opinion of this film. What did was everyone else in this movie who appeared to have no bearing on what was going on and did nothing other than leave me wondering why I wasn’t watching Fassbender starve himself.

The first half of this movie is comprised of many men, Sands among them, in prison. They’re all rebels against the British influence on their countries government, so hence they are innocent men who pay a great price for their disobedience. Its not The Shawshank Redemption or more recently The Prophet. First time director is much more experimental and risky in his filmmaking. He’s not afraid to watch a man mop an entire prison wing in one shot. Being a patient or even a fearless director is a good quality but THERE’S GOT TO BE A REASON FOR IT!

Unfortunately, this isn’t a great movie. Its well made and Michael Fassbender is great. He’s crazy, but he’s great. It played like McQueen, the same director I called fearless just moments ago, was so afraid he’d make a propaganda piece that he chose to compile bits and pieces of stories as if we’d learn what they all mean in due time, only to abandon them. Not until a sixteen and a half minute shot of a conversation between Sands and I think a priest (Liam Cunningham) did McQueen settle on something. By that point, he had a Fassbender weighing in at about seventy pounds so as far as I’m concerned, he couldn’t turn the camera away from that.

McQueen’s best filmmaking, or at least his best decision came during this sixteen and a half minute shot. Argue if you must that he could have cut down the dialogue or made any kind of cut period but it was a good decision to let two good actors in Fassbender and Cunningham just go at it. It would have gotten far more boring watching the same old cuts to medium shots and slight camera moves for that amount of time than it was sitting back and hearing what these characters had to say. I don’t know if it was trying to say anything deeper like our distance from the conversation symbolizes the distance… blah, blah blah. It’s irrelevant. I applaud the decision to go with this shot for that length of time. Jeremy describes this shot in his review as poor filmmaking and I argue that by saying that part of filmmaking is the decisions one makes. Maybe he loses some emotion but he didn’t lose his audience.

Reviews of this film call it powerful and humanistic. It probably is but it never sits still long enough to reveal that. McQueen would have been better off making the movie that tells the Hunger Strike story. He would have been better off using that great performance from Fassbender and explaining by showing the real reasons he chose not to eat for sixty-six days. My one issue with his sixteen minute shot is that it is telling us why Sands goes on this strike instead of showing us and that is what would have made good filmmaking.

**1/2
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:53 am

http://arethehillsgoingtomarchoff.blogspot.com/2010/10/hunger-2008-film-by-steve-mcqueen.html

Thursday, October 7, 2010
Hunger (2008) A Film by Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen's brutal, transcendent prison drama Hunger has to be one of the most impressive films to not win a Palme D'Or in the Cannes Film Festival's long and vibrant history. Weaving its serpentine, minimalist narrative through the stories of prison officer Raymond Lohan (Stuart Graham), two cell partners named Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan) and Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon), and finally the desperate martyr who becomes the film's main focal point, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), McQueen essentially divides his film up into two stages in the extended revolt of Irish Republican Army prisoners: the initial dirty revolt, which entails the refusal to bathe and the spreading of human waste, and the tragic hunger strike of the film's title. More fundamentally though, it's pitched between atrocity and contemplation, as the visceral battle of the first half gradually gives way to morbid silence. This dissection of a historical event - the 1981 IRA strike - marks a sharp left turn in the career of director Steve McQueen, who has hitherto worked principally in the realm of structuralist installation art. His grasp of the cinematic medium in the feature-length format, however, is clearly significant. Though the film progresses rather like an abstract tone poem, failing, perhaps intentionally, to delve too deeply into character psychology, there is always - in spite of McQueen's startlingly disjunctive stylistic ideas - a coherent and otherworldly force guiding it along.

The weighty political implications of the film are more or less brushed under the rug by McQueen in favor of viscera and emotionality. This is, of course, really a monolithic conflict between a subversive clan of Irish Republicans and the cold, didactic Thatcher regime, which had at the time been ambivalent and discriminatory towards the Roman Catholic community of Northern Ireland, but it's treated more as a timeless battle between an oppressive authority and the seemingly powerless underdogs. The disembodied radio voice of Margaret Thatcher (or "vapor", as McQueen describes it) doesn't enter into the film until three-quarters of the way through, emphasizing the insignificance of political conflict when placed aside real, physical conflict. Political conflict, McQueen suggests, is what allows a government official to hide behind her curtain and coolly analyze a situation without actually understanding it. Hunger marks an attempt to shed light on the vicious human battle that went on inside the Maze Prison without any presuppositions about who's right or wrong. Neither the prisoners nor the often savage guards are cheaply antagonized; McQueen takes pains to reveal them in both moments of quiet introspection and erratic violence. Raymond Lohan, for instance, is first shown eating breakfast in the calm of his suburban home before heading to work, where, after checking for bombs planted underneath his car, he routinely terrorizes the prisoners. Later, he compassionately visits his comatose mother at a geriatric home. All in a day's work.

Raymond's story is mostly backgrounded though by those of the prisoners. Naked and surrounded by filth of the scatological and insect sort, the men waste away somberly in their cells, fiddling with secretly transported notes detailing some vague, unidentified scheme (an escape, or perhaps the eventual shocking murder of Raymond?). For all of the tactile sensations - the overwhelming reek, the ubiquitous slime - McQueen presents the cells as something of a spiritual abode, a place of relative tranquility in comparison to the violence and exploitation that is endured outside the excrement-caked walls. The lone source of light in the cell is a diminutive window that collides with the various contents of the room to produce a warm, golden glow, a sense of holiness juxtaposed against the decidedly unholy behaviors inside (clandestine masturbation, damming of the walls to spread urine into the halls). McQueen's painterly, Costa-like compositions discover the unexpected beauty in this paradoxical space: primitivized, desperate men silhouetted against the textured surfaces, reaching out to any hint of freedom and life, such as in a long, impressionistic shot of Davey fixating his fingers on a fly circling the bars on the window. McQueen even manages to create abstract art out of a cleaner spraying the feces off the wall, an image that reflects his backdrop in gallery installation.



Hunger is necessarily low on dialogue for its majority - better to luxuriate in the primal emotions at work in the struggle, an interplay of muscle and mind that leaves no room for words - but when screenwriter (and unsurprisingly, playwright) Enda Walsh steps forward for a bravura display of linguistic profusion in an incredibly protracted scene of dialogue between Bobby Sands and a priest in an empty mess hall towards the middle of the film, it's unexpectedly effective. The heavily discussed 17 1/2 minute static take follows the most physically and emotionally extreme stretch of the film, when the prisoners are subjected to cavity searches in the face of an unrelenting SWAT team whose shield-banging provides an intense percussiveness to the scene's clamoring mise-en-scene. It's fitting, then, that the film's gradually accumulated intellectual probing coalesces out of this violent action, which heightens the sensitivity of the audience to an alarming degree. The cautious and winding path of their conversation from harmless, blackly comic small talk to full-fledged debate about the ethical implications of a hunger strike - with the priest detecting a misanthropic, murderous bent to it and Sands defending his decision as the only remaining manner of revolt - highlights the divide between ideology and experience, detached viewpoint and first-person stance, even further. Having witnessed the brutal, wordless struggle that McQueen so skillfully portrays, which culminates less out of a political ideas than it does out of sheer firsthand savagery, it's only natural that we come to side with Sands as he delivers a personal anecdote of desperation and in-the-moment decision-making in a powerful, rhythm-altering close-up.

After this burst of verbiage, the film settles into the fatal, meditative tone that marks its slow conclusion. Sands initiates the hunger strike that expands to several prisoners in the Maze, but McQueen centers his attention strictly on his protagonist as his body rapidly emaciates and his flesh forms lesions from severe depletion of nutrients. There's a deeply Christian flair to Sands' martyrdom, his singular leadership of the revolt, and his gradual weakening in the face of his cause. Perpetually in bed denying the meals delivered regularly at his side, McQueen bathes him in white light, and he is given a final, touching moment of reminiscence in a brief memory of childhood, a last escape from the oppression that surrounds him. The young Bobby is embarking on what seems to be a boy scout trip to the woods, where he eventually finds himself jogging, all alone. He stop mid-path and stares at the tall, imposing trees around him, while an atmospheric string section bubbles up from the silence, the only instance of a musical score within the narrative of Hunger. It's an appropriately enigmatic finale to this humanistic, uncomfortably moving work of art, a stylish display of the simultaneous anguish and willpower of the human spirit that loudly proclaims the entrance of a distinctive filmmaker.
Posted by Carson at 11:12 AM
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:54 am

http://marshallandthemovies.com/2010/10/08/filmweek58/

F.I.L.M. of the Week (October 8, 2010)
8 10 2010

This week’s “F.I.L.M.” is Steve McQueen’s “Hunger,” a short volume of harrowing power. The movie follows the Irish hunger strikers in 1981 who essentially martyred themselves after Britain refuses to recognize their rights while in prison. The focus is specifically on Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), the leader of these strikers who ultimately died protesting for what he believed in.

“Hunger” is an incredibly striking visual movie, and McQueen goes into great depths to acquaint us with the conditions in the prison. There is very little dialogue save a 23-minute conversation between Sands and the prison’s priest trying to talk him out of the protest, 17 minutes of which come from a single unbroken shot. For those wondering, it is the longest shot in cinematic history.

Beyond the film’s notorious unbroken shot, there are plenty of haunting images that McQueen fills out heads with, particularly from the “no wash” protest that precedes the hunger strike. We see the beatings and the tortures of naked prisoners in all their graphic form, and we watch in horror as the bruises appear on their skin at the hands of their captors. We see the walls covered in excrement and the halls flooded with urine. Believe me, fewer movies make you want to follow the law more than this one.

On the other hand, Fassbender’s Bobby Sands makes us question how far we are willing to stick with our beliefs. He fights for equity from prison all the way to the grave, and while there were less drastic measures with which to make his point, his message gets across loud and clear. Fassbender is as committed to the role as Sands is committed to the cause. He goes to the physical and emotional limits of the character, and the performance is incredibly raw and forceful. Fassbender will go places, mark my words. Watch “Hunger” and say you knew it before he goes big.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:59 am

http://thesheaf.com/2010/10/27/review-hunger-leaves-a-lasting-impression/

COLE HOGAN
Arts Writer

Steve McQueen’s Hunger is the tale of an unspoken filthy tragedy. Silent and graphic, political and steadfast, Hunger is increasingly difficult to turn away from.

We follow the imprisoned life of Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) during his last weeks alive as a result of the Irish Republican hunger strike in 1981. We also follow the lives of a prison guard (Stuart Graham) and two un-named IRA prisoners (Brian Milligan and Liam McMahon) who take part in the refusal to bathe or wear prison attire.

In opposition to their British oppressors, the members of the IRA conduct horrible deeds within their cells, fighting back the only way they can. What happens within these cells is just as disgusting as what happens out of them. The audience shudders before the sight of these events just as the characters themselves do. The bodies belonging to everyone involved are completely battered, their minds stirring with the weight of what is taking place within this prison. None of these actions are without consequence.

The characters are fully developed, greatly human and every scene gives you someone to invest in. The guard becomes the viewer of the subject matter in the film itself and the events are translated to the audience through him as they also are by the prisoners and Mr. Sands.

There is very little dialogue in this film and the audience is left to fill in the blanks, but when conversations do begin, they involve the heaviest language possible. After all the visual, visceral grossness we sit down to simply shot, tour de force dialogue between a priest (Liam Cunningham) and Bobby Sands. They discuss the gravity for Sands’ plans of this hunger strike and what the end result will ultimately be. It is amazing that any actor could memorize and deliver 22 minutes of straight dialogue in perfect form.

The priest and Bobby both want the same end result but both want it in very different ways. As an audience we are excluded at this point and left separate from what is going on at the moment, given a chance to pay strict attention to the meaning of the words within this very astute conversation.

Margaret Thatcher’s militant tone rings through the film on more than one occasion. She strips the IRA of their political status, christening them as mere criminals. The definition of the IRA is purely political. While the exact ideologies of the IRA and the British are not explicitly defined in this film, it is clear that both are unwavering in their stances. The IRA refuses to negotiate from their “dirty strike” and the British continue to strike back harder against their revolt.

The pain in this film goes beyond the confinements of the prison. The politics of the hunger strike reach out into the lives of those involved who venture outside the prison in drastic, life altering ways. Bobby Sands literally becomes the cause he is fighting and willing to die for.

Hunger brings an unflinching call to how things appeared during the hunger strike. The extraordinary becomes the ordinary in this provocative film, leaving a lasting impression with the repercussions and results ingrained in our minds.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:45 pm

http://jeffamstiles.blogspot.com/2010/11/essay-6-hunger.html

Monday, November 15, 2010
ESSAY #6-- HUNGER

On Steve McQueen's Hunger

Having only a cursory knowledge of the politics that inspired the actual events dramatized in Hunger turned out to be a good thing. I knew that men had staged a hunger strike and died in prison, and that they were members of a left-leaning organization called the IRA. I was aware that this organization was equally vilified and advocated, but was not versed enough to pretend to know who to sympathize with. Luckily, British artist Steve McQueen's film is not concerned with politics, and has no agenda beyond expressing something about the mystery of humanity.

The world created between the few walls seen in Hunger is vast and imposing, despite the frequently claustrophobic settings. It's not achieved by trickery or an unnatural visual style, but rather in its visceral and utterly convincing realism. Upon entering a prison cell for the first time, it doesn't take long to realize that the thick coating on the walls is human s$#!. On my first viewing, I felt as though I was actually being affected by the turgid stench as the camera surveyed the tiny room. I felt the moist grime on my hands when one of the prisoners digs through his own waste, and in the film's final scenes, I felt I was retching with a dying Bobby Sands.

A distinct feeling of isolating permeates the film, and is established early on just a new prisoner (along with the audience) is introduced to Northern Ireland's Maze prison. After removing his clothes in solidarity with his fellow Republicans, he is forced, naked, into a small cell with another man who sits hunched, looking hirsute and nearly crazed. We are given a few scenes examining the new prisoner's time behind bars-- again with McQueen's visual mastery, we feel the sharp cold as snowflakes blow on the prisoner through the cell window, feel the small housefly that he allows to explore his hand during an extended moment of contemplation.

The dialogue is slight, and often merely conversational, adding to the loneliness, and the fear that must be felt by the denizens of the prison. But beyond that, we are eventually shown the other side of emotions running rampant through the Maze-- rage. The prisoners, of course, are engaged in strikes and occasional violent outbursts against their oppressors. The prison guards, too, seem to be affected by this rage, as they often treat their prisoners with apparent inhumane disregard. McQueen's film wisely doesn't ask you to sympathize with either party. Being a stereotypically bleeding-heart liberal, I instinctively felt sympathy for the prisoners because of the harsh treatment they undergo, but we are reminded in one particularly brutal scene that just because they are behind bars, the spirit of revenge haunts their captors far beyond the walls of the Maze prison. There is a lot of senseless violence in the world, and black and white depictions of good and evil has no place in an intelligent depiction of tragedy.

The true core of the story is reached in a scene featuring one sixteen minute uninterrupted take that, to me, seemed no longer than five. Two actors sit across from each other in a cafeteria, smoking cigarettes. The scene is a perfectly framed, perfectly lit example of effective visual filmmaking, as the smoke swirls and expands in the blue air. Michael Fassbender as Sands and Liam Cunningham as Father Moran discuss the impending hunger strike with a very natural and genuine chemistry, and we as an audience come to share Moran's concern for Bobby. The most telling moment of the film comes when the shot is finally broken and we are brought in closer to Sands as he discusses an act of humanity he once committed that ultimately sums up the intensity of this man, and why he's so willing to sacrifice everything for his cause.

Fassbender, it should be noted, underwent a dangerous physical transformation for this film that left him convincingly, horrifically thin. Unlike the pseudo-intellectual rubbish film The Machinist, in which a pre-Batman Christian Bale famously shed a similarly obscene amount of weight, Hunger successfully utilizes Fassbender's skeletal frame without it coming off as a marketing stunt. Basically, without Fassbender's dedication to the role, Hunger would have been robbed of its otherwise stark and consistent realism. As it is, though, I was never once pulled out of the movie, and in fact, I feel like I still have yet to re-emerge from it. A perfect marriage of visuals, sound, concept and performance, I consider Hunger one of the best films ever made.
Posted by JAMSTILES at 10:26 PM
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:45 pm

http://www.wcitynews.info/hunger-official-trailer/

HUNGER – OFFICIAL TRAILER


HUNGER is the stunningly assured debut feature from Turner Prize-winning visual artist Steve McQueen. Winner of the 2008 Cannes Camera d’Or among other top international prizes, the film is a work of astonishing precision co-written by acclaimed Irish playwright Enda Walsh and starring Michael Fassbender (300, Tarantino’s upcoming INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS) in an unflinchingly passionate turn. HUNGER was an official selection of the Toronto, Telluride and New York film festivals. In 1981, a deadly serious battle takes place in the infamous H-block of Belfast’s Maze Prison. Republican inmates, led by Bobby Sands (Fassbender), refuse to eat until the British government acknowledges the IRA as a legitimate political organization. Steve McQueen’s commanding direction captures the phsyical details of their struggle. Is it suicide or martyrdom?
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:04 am

http://www.escapeintolife.com/movie-reviews/movie-review-hunger/

Review: Hunger
Nov 30th
2010

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 during which Sands refuses to eat. 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 faeces 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.

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. 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 whole 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, defecation may leave you thinking that this is just another pretentious melodrama about a tortured soul in a cruel world et cetera, et cetera.

But Hunger, despite these touches, never becomes self-aggrandizing. 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 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.

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 Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:42 pm

http://buddypuddle.blogspot.com/2010/12/hunger-2008.html

Thursday, December 2, 2010
Hunger (2008)

When Hunger premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008, the screening encountered both walkouts and a standing ovation – an ovation, that is, by those members of the audience who were able to stand. Anyone who has seen the film will not be shocked that it had such a visceral effect. Director Steve McQueen’s (no relation to the actor) debut effort is a harrowing film that uncannily evokes the physical ordeal of its characters. Yet for such a visceral film, Hunger is remarkably subtle. Although it deals with highly political subject matter – the struggle between the British government and the I.R.A. – Hunger is not a polemic. It is an immersive experience, forcing us (in often excruciating detail) to see what its characters see, hear what they hear, feel what they feel.

The film dramatizes the “Irish hunger strike” of 1981, where a group of I.R.A. prisoners, led by Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) protested the British government’s refusal to treat them as political prisoners by embarking on a fast that resulted in the deaths of ten men, Sands among them. One can easily see how this story might’ve been transposed into an easily digestible “triumph of the will” story – but Hunger is remarkable in the way it avoids easy pigeonholing as a Hollywood style biopic. While the film is ostensibly the story of Bobby Sands, he does not actually appear until about 20 minutes into the film, and is introduced almost as an extra. Up to then, we have primarily been following the stories of one of the prison guards, and of two other prisoners. When we first see Sands, we may think him as just one of many I.R.A. prisoners willing to give their lives for the cause. It is only gradually that we begin to understand his importance.

Hunger, then, neatly severs the conventional ties of the biopic – which usually follow the story of “one great man”. Indeed, Hunger is far less about following a narrative than about living within an environment. McQueen’s background as a video artist is evident in the way he often stubbornly holds shots, forcing us to watch in great detail, for example, as a starving striker tries futilely to catch a fly on his finger. The austerity of McQueen’s images – his deliberate slowing of pace, his focus on small movements, small details – is enhanced by the sound design. Hunger has virtually no score, and very little dialogue (with one major exception; more on that later). What this “reduction” of visual and aural “noise” does is focus our eyes and our ears. We are trained to observe small details, to live within this environment, instead of watching passively from the outside.

This focus on the immediate reality of the prisoner’s lives neatly bypasses making judgments. Hunger is clearly a political film, but it’s a credit to McQueen that, while he sides with Sands and the strikers, he does not make the British officials into simplistic goons. In one harrowing scene, as a group of riot geared policemen savagely beat the prisoners, McQueen’s camera captures one young recruit, weeping at the carnage he has helped instigate. The first character we meet in Hunger is a prison guard – for a time we think the film might be his story – and while he perpetuates horrific brutalities on the inmates of the prison, McQueen demonstrates the havoc – both physical and emotional – that those brutalities wreak in his own life.

Indeed, Hunger focuses – in almost monomaniacal fashion – on physical suffering. Early shots show a guard’s bloodied, bruised hands, being washed under a cold tap. Wounds will be an important visual and thematic motif throughout the film – both the wounds that people inflict upon others (the brutality of the guards), and the wounds people inflict on themselves (the horrifying sores that appear across Bobby’s body as his fast causes physical deterioration). Sometimes, the two go hand in hand – as in the prison guard, whose own life is torn apart by the violence he causes at work (every morning, he checks nervously under his car for a bomb).

The ultimate act of self wounding is expressed by Bobby Sands. There are obvious allusions to a Christ like martyrdom here— in one scene, Sands is carried unconscious, a towel wrapped around himself, in a manner that will make any astute viewer think of classic artistic representations of Jesus. As Sands wastes away, as his eyes hollow and his belly distends, we see that his life has become a kind of performance art; the only purpose of his existence is to bring attention to the Irish cause, and if he must die to do that, then so be it.

There’s an additional level of meaning, because the actor playing Sands, Michael Fassbender, went through the physical change himself. (A physician and dietician for Mr. Fassbender are both listed in the film’s credits.) As Bobby Sands used his life and body as an ultimate form of political art, Fassbender has done much the same – albeit under far less dire circumstances. The element of performance art is visible throughout the film, perhaps most vividly in a scene where Bobby is visited by an Irish priest. For a film with very little dialogue, it’s a significant moment: a 16 plus minute unbroken shot, as the two characters suss each other out, talk, argue the rights and wrongs of the cause. The priest feels that what Bobby is doing is illogical, even arrogant; he wants to make a name for himself, wants to die a martyr. Sands doesn’t argue the point; perhaps there is a selfish motivation in his plan. But for Sands, the ends justify the means. If this act of political theater is to be deadly – if it is to be his final “performance” – it makes little difference
.
Roger Ebert's Review of Hunger - http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090415/REVIEWS/904159995

Posted by C.B. Jacobson at 11:16 AM
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:41 am

http://buckle22.blogspot.com/2010/12/short-review-hunger-steve-mcqueen-2008.html

Saturday, December 4, 2010
Short Review: Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
Steve McQueen's Hunger is a visceral assault on the senses. What we witness during these 90 minutes is truly disturbing but requires our attention and is completely gripping. The acting throughout is astonishing and McQueen's debut filmmaking is admirable and commendable. He immediately becomes one of the most anticipated filmmakers in the world. Michael Fassbender (Ingourious Basterds and most recently Centurion) stars as Bobby Sands, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer who eventually led the 1981 Irish hunger strike and participated in the no wash protest. The film opens amidst this protest, as the prisoners are refusing to wash or shave and are forcibly removed from their cells. They receive a beating by the correctional officers, their hair and beards are cut roughly with scissors, before they are thrown into a bathtub and scrubbed violently. Many of the prisoners have joined the Republican movement in an attempt to gain some political status. The events take place mostly inside the Maze prison in the period leading up to, and including the strike of '81.
We are first introduced to one of the correctional officers, named Raymond Lohan (Stuart Graham). A target of the IRA, as he leaves his house he checks underneath his car for bombs, and in a montage of scenes that document his job, he keeps to himself and rejects the friendship of his colleagues and can be seen with bloody and scabbed knuckles created by the beatings he gives the prisoners. These wounds are explained throughout the film. We are then introduced to the arrival of a new IRA prisoner, named Davey. Upon his refusal to wear the prison uniform his is deemed a 'non-conforming prisoner', given only a blanket to wear, and placed in a cell with Gerry, a prison veteran who has smeared the walls of the cell with feces as a expression of art. Through Davey and Gerry, and later Bobby Sands we are revealed to the brutality present within the prison system, and the lengths that the IRA prisoners were willing to go to win some human rights. Hunger is memorable for a couple of key sequences. The first involves the naked IRA prisoners being dragged out of their cells by their hair and forced through a line of shielded riot officers who bash them repeatedly with their batons. They are then probed first in their anus and then in their mouth by the correctional officers, often using the same pair of gloved hands for each man. As this mayhem ensues, the camera dances around the room energetically in a single shot, darting to each tormented prisoner and zooming in on his face and his screams of anguish, and you seem to feel every painful punishment to their flesh as much as they do. The second, an exceptional sequence, is the 17-minute unbroken shot of a conversation between a priest (Liam Cunningham) and Bobby Sands as they discuss the morality of the hunger strike. Beginning the next day, Sands reveals that 75 men will participate in the hunger strike, starting consecutively two weeks apart to eliminate the flaws of a previous attempt, with some of the men likely starving to death. More resilient and determined men are to replace those that die. The priest agrees that he supported the first hunger strike, but only on the basis that it was a protest, but believes that Bobby is leading these men to their predetermined deaths without even a hope of change. It is Bobby's belief that their protest will create a new generation and eliminate the recent brutality, humiliation and loss of basic human rights that Ireland has been susceptible to. Their enemy, however, is a British Government that despises Republicanism, an unshakable regime that is willing to live with the deaths of men they view as terrorists. Sands' failure to send a message with the strike will leave many men dead, families torn apart and the whole Republican movement demoralized. It's an emotionally powerful scene, impeccably rehearsed and performed, that culminates in a question to Sands: I want to know if your intent is to purely commit suicide here?
Hunger spares no details of Sands' condition and his suffering as a result of a 7 month hunger strike, and it is extremely unsettling. Sands has bleeding sores all over his body, and is suffering from kidney failure, low blood pressure, stomach ulcers and an inability to stand on his own. Documenting and dramatizing a distressing period of recent British political history, it abandons the typical cliches of prison films and is a vital and engrossing study. Uncompromising, vivid and near faultless cinema.

My Rating: 4 1/2 Stars
Posted by Andy Buckle at 8:40 AM
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:39 pm

http://www.suite101.com/content/review-hunger-2008-a318364

Review: Hunger (2008)

Dec 8, 2010 Andrew Buckle
Hunger (2008) - Icon Entertainment

Review of Steve McQueen's unsettling Maze prison drama documenting the 1981 Hunger Strike by IRA volunteers, led by Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender).

Steve McQueen's Hunger is a visceral assault on the senses. The images we are witness to during these 90 minutes is a truly disturbing experience but always requires our attention and is completely gripping. The acting throughout is astonishing and McQueen's debut filmmaking is admirable and commendable.

Michael Fassbender (Ingourious Basterds and most recently Centurion) stars as Bobby Sands, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer who eventually led the 1981 Irish hunger strike and participated in the no wash protest. The film opens amidst this protest, as the prisoners are refusing to wash or shave and are forcibly removed from their cells. They receive a beating by the correctional officers, their hair and beards are cut roughly with scissors, before they are thrown into a bathtub and scrubbed violently. Many of the prisoners have joined the Republican movement in an attempt to gain some political status. The events take place mostly inside the Maze prison in the period leading up to, and including the strike of '81.

We are first introduced to one of the correctional officers, named Raymond Lohan (Stuart Graham). A target of the IRA, as he leaves his house he checks underneath his car for bombs, and in a montage of scenes that document his job, he keeps to himself and rejects the friendship of his colleagues and can be seen with bloody and scabbed knuckles created by the beatings he gives the prisoners. These wounds are explained throughout the film.
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We are then introduced to the arrival of a new IRA prisoner, named Davey. Upon his refusal to wear the prison uniform his is deemed a 'non-conforming prisoner', given only a blanket to wear, and placed in a cell with Gerry, a prison veteran who has smeared the walls of the cell with feces as a expression of art. Through Davey and Gerry, and later Bobby Sands we are revealed to the brutality present within the prison system, and the lengths that the IRA prisoners were willing to go to win some human rights.

Hunger is memorable for a couple of key sequences. The first involves the naked IRA prisoners being dragged out of their cells by their hair and forced through a line of shielded riot officers who bash them repeatedly with their batons. They are then probed first in their anus and then in their mouth by the correctional officers, often using the same pair of gloved hands for each man. As this mayhem ensues, the camera dances around the room energetically in a single shot, darting to each tormented prisoner and zooming in on his face and his screams of anguish, and you seem to feel every painful punishment to their flesh as much as they do.

The second, an exceptional sequence, is the 17-minute unbroken shot of a conversation between a priest (Liam Cunningham) and Bobby Sands as they discuss the morality of the hunger strike. Beginning the next day, Sands reveals that 75 men will participate in the hunger strike, starting consecutively two weeks apart to eliminate the flaws of a previous attempt, with some of the men likely starving to death. More resilient and determined men are to replace those that die. The priest agrees that he supported the first hunger strike, but only on the basis that it was a protest, but believes that Bobby is leading these men to their predetermined deaths without even a hope of change.

It is Bobby's belief that their protest will create a new generation and eliminate the recent brutality, humiliation and loss of basic human rights that Ireland has been susceptible to. Their enemy, however, is a British Government that despises Republicanism, an unshakable regime that is willing to live with the deaths of men they view as terrorists. Sands' failure to send a message with the strike will leave many men dead, families torn apart and the whole Republican movement demoralized. It's an emotionally powerful scene, impeccably rehearsed and performed, that culminates in a question to Sands: I want to know if your intent is to purely commit suicide here?

Hunger spares no details of Sands' condition and his suffering as a result of a 7 month hunger strike, and it is extremely unsettling. Sands has bleeding sores all over his body, and is suffering from kidney failure, low blood pressure, stomach ulcers and an inability to stand on his own. Documenting and dramatizing a distressing period of recent British political history, it abandons the typical cliches of prison films and is a vital and engrossing political and historical study. Uncompromising, vivid and near faultless cinema.

My Rating: 4 1/2 Stars
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:23 am

http://thereservoirblogs.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/chainsaw-cheerleader-reviews-hunger-2008/

Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: Hunger (2008)

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Written by: Steve McQueen, Enda Walsh

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Liam McMahon

Genre: biography, history, drama



Bobby Sands: I always felt that thief next to Jesus got off lightly.
Father Dominic Moran: Ah, but he recognized his sins.
Bobby Sands: Did he though?
Father Dominic Moran: Aye. Said as much.
Bobby Sands: When you’re hung from a cross you’re gonna say anything. Jesus offers him a seat next to his daddy in a place called paradise you’re always gonna put your hand up and have a piece of that.
Father Dominic Moran: Aye. Even when it’s nailed to your cross.



Northern Ireland is a world unto its own. In 1981, as cries of public protest fell upon deaf ears, many turned to violence in order to be heard. While Northern Ireland remained under British control, the 1960′s would see a period of ethno-political conflict titled The Troubles, which would last thirty years. At its core, The Troubles, brought about such vicious protest due to two key issues. 3,526 people would die due to the fight over the relationship between Unionists (Protestants) and Nationalists (Catholic) and the constitutional status of Northern Ireland.

With such dire times, it often takes a momentous event to speak to a people that have been deafened by violence. To evoke poignant change often most people must witness complete and utter inhumanity. But when in a world ruled by violence how does one speak to the masses when brutality is a daily event? Change at times, can come through the smallest and nonviolent of gestures. For Bobby Sands, his body had become his last form of protest. As a last resort, while locked away in Belfast’s Maze prison, Bobby starves himself to death to protest the cause he believes in to his very last breath.

Hunger follows the journey of the last six weeks of Provisional Republican Army (IRA) member, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender). As the IRA fights to reclaim political status, Davey (Brain Milligan), a new IRA prisoner that has just arrived at Maze prison, is labeled a “non-conforming prisoner” and is thus imprisoned in H block (a section of Maze prison reserved for IRA prisoners). Davey rooms with a fellow IRA member who, in protest, has smeared the walls and ceiling with feces. As his roommate shows Davey how the imprisoned IRA members live and the tactics they use to protest within the prison, Davey soon meets Bobby, the leader of the imprisoned group. It is Bobby who reinforces morale as the British controlled prison allows its guards to severally beat, degrade, and torture the men. Bobby leads the men through three different protests. The first being the Blanket Protest (which the men refuse to wear prison uniforms), second the Dirty Protest (which the men do not bath or cut their hair), and finally the Hunger Strike. It is the Hunger Strike that takes the life of Bobby Sands and eight of his fellow IRA members.

To understand why a man would starve himself to death is to understand not only how 1980′s Irish politics worked but how deeply Sands believed in his cause. After being convicted for possession of a firearm, Sands was sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment. While not being able to affect the political landscape outside the walls of Maze prison, Sands believed a hunger strike would draw attention to the IRA’s cause. Sands believed that in order to gain a great deal of publicity he and the other IRA members would strike at different intervals in order to prolong the protest. The aim of the hunger strike was to have the men declared political prisoners and to achieve some form of political standing. The British Government would grant all demands but refused to give them official acknowledgment of political status. During the three strikes nine men would die and sixteen prison officers would be killed (shot by hit men outside of the prison). Sands could not go to his government and ask that his people be helped. Those who joined the IRA were largely ignored and thought of as less then. As violence was answered with violence, Sands faith in his cause became justified as the British Government decided to imprison or kill those who stood up against them. Through Sands eyes, his death was the only way to draw attention to the treatment of his people at the hands of the British Government. At a young age he realized that if one does not speak for the group then non will. In Hunger, Sands reflects upon this as he talks with a priest. Sands tells the priest that once when he was a young boy, he and several class mates were running by a river. At the water’s edge a newborn animal had fallen on the rocks and cut herself deeply. The animal was slowly and painfully dying. The boys argued over what should be done but they did nothing. Sands parted from the boys and held the animal’s head under the water and killed it. A teacher saw what he had done and punished him for it. Despite the punishment, Sands knew what he did was right and stood up for the animal that could not help itself. It would be his younger self, the boy who did what he believed to be right for the sake of the animal, that he would hallucinate about as his brain shrunk due to starvation. His younger self looked upon his dying self and stood silent. Neither giving praise nor rage, he softly took his dying self’s hand and comforted him.

Hunger is, video artist, Steve McQueen’s first movie. McQueen paid great attention to creating and filming beautiful shots. While the story is ugly, McQueen let the visual element of the film tell the story rather than the prisoners themselves. For example, not one word to exchanged between the prisoners and the guards. It is the violence between the two that speaks for them. This is best displayed when the guards line a hallway in full riot gear. As they smash their batons against their shields the camera pulls back to reveal a guard who has turned the corner, with his back up against wall, sobbing as he is revolted by the torture of the prisoners and the guards enjoyment of it. Another example occurs when the prisoners have gathered urine in paper bowls and then pour the urine out the bottom crack of their cell doors. The urine flows into the hallway. Shortly after a lone guard is seen mopping it up. The silence between the two warring groups declares that when one group acts the other will react (often in a brutal manner).

The true success of Hunger is that McQueen has done what few directors can, taking on a political subject without taking sides. While remaining neutral, McQueen focuses on the dark realities of the event. McQueen presents the facts and allows the viewer to make up his/her mind about the situation. Another high light of the film is that McQueen was able to portray Sands a neither a hero or a villain. The viewer neither pities him nor are they angered by him. As the viewer watches Sands slowly waste away, McQueen simply documents the process of his death. For any director to be able to accomplish this throughout an entire film is truly noteworthy.

McQueen took into account Irish folklore and used it to help explain the dying process. In Irish folklore, low flying birds are omens that foretell a change for good or bad. After Sands is seen puking blood, he painfully rolls over, and convulses. In the process of his image fading dark bird fly from tree tops into the night. The camera then shifts around the room, while still focused on Sands. The swooping motion of the camera gives the impression that the viewer is witnessing his deterioration through the eyes of a bird. This omen also appears at his death. McQueen never reveals whether this omen will bring about good or bad.

Hunger contains the longest shot in mainstream film. McQueen recorded in a single shot 17 minutes of unbroken dialogue between Sands and a priest. As the camera stays in the same position for the entirety of the shot, Sands and the priest discus the morality of a hunger strike. The length of the shot is not to bore or bother the viewer, it is important dialogue that explains why Sands has chosen to take that path he is on. It is during this time that the viewer will hear Sands philosophies and determination. It is the only time throughout the entire film.

In order to prepare for this scene, Michael Fassbender would rehearse the 17 minutes worth of dialogue with the actor who played the priest up to fifteen times in a single day. Having to remember 17 minutes of dialogue for a single shot requires a great deal from an actor. The ability to achieve and master this feet says a great deal about the actor.

As Bobby Sands, Fassbender is astonishing. Fassbender has acted in 300, Inglourious Basterds, and Band of Brothers. Despite having been in a number of well received films, he is almost unrecognizable in appearance. After losing over thirty-five pounds to play an emaciated Sands, Fassbender can almost be compared to Christian Bale in The Machinist. While not as malnourished as Bale, Fassbender had clearly dedicated himself to the role.

For some the violence that occurs in Hunger may be too much. McQueen blatantly depicts the reported events of violence and wicked punishments handed down by the guards of Maze Prison. The fact that the prisoner’s humanity was taken away and they were treated as less then at the hands of fellow human beings may be hard for some people not only to watch but to understand. One example of this takes place during the no wash protest. With over grown beards and long hair, the prisoners are dragged from their cells and held down so that a guard may cut their hair. Using large scissors, the guard not only cuts their hair but large pieces of their scalp as well. A second example of this takes place when several guards search the anuses and then mouths of the prisoners while using the same pair of gloves. Lastly, after being severely beaten, Sands drops onto the floor of his cell and rolls over with blood coming out of his mouth. The blood streams up the corner of his mouth, making it appear as a bloody smile.

Hunger is a retelling of history. It does not take sides but simply reports the facts. It is for you, the viewer to decide who was right and who was wrong. It is for you to ponder how far would you go to fight for something you believed in with all your life.

Hunger receives a 7 1/2 out of 10
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:52 pm

http://moviesididntget.com/2010/12/13/member-movie-review-hunger/

Member Movie Review: Hunger
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Posted 13 Dec 2010 in Member Movie Reviews

By Ezra Stead

Directed by Steve McQueen

I saw this in April of 2009 and the rest of the year failed to produce a more perfect film. Director Steve McQueen (not the one you’re thinking of) crafts a completely compelling take on the famed hunger strike endured by Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) and other political prisoners associated with the Irish Republican Army. However, Sands is not even seen until the second act of the film, after a brilliant first act that is nearly dialogue-free, detailing the conflict that leads to the hunger strike.

This is not an overtly political film; it is uninterested in taking sides or advancing an agenda. Instead, it is an art film that is powerful, insightful, never pretentious, and always supremely engaging. McQueen shows incredible prowess in his feature film debut, drawing deserved comparisons to filmmakers like Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier, and Fassbender shoots to the top of my favorite living actor list with his stunning performance.

The second act is a nearly 20-minute unbroken take of a conversation between Sands and a priest (Rory Mullen) that stands as the most enthralling scene of two people talking since My Dinner With Andre, but it is the unbelievable third act that simply must be seen.

There is only so much I can tell you about this film; it is truly an experience you have to have for yourself. Perhaps the most interesting thing I can leave you with as a recommendation of the film’s supreme humanity is a story told by the filmmaker himself: during an extremely realistic scene of prison guards beating inmates in the film’s first act, McQueen says he demanded another take and suddenly realized the horrific violence that was being done at his behest, and though the actors were more than willing to continue, he was suddenly overwhelmed and had to let his assistant direct the scene while he stopped and wept.

It is likely you will, too.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:37 am

http://www.grahamhiggins.co.uk/?p=222

Last night saw the TV premier of Steve McQueen’s ‘Hunger’, his film about the death by hunger-strike of Bobby Sands MP in the Maze prison [1981], the first of ten such deaths.

McQueen is not a Saatchi protegé but made a reputation on the strength of film-loop installations. Given the length and narrative structure of a feature movie he proves more than able to take his Art concerns and translate them into a powerfully coherent, detailed and nuanced movie.

The IRA’s ‘dirty protests’ in the Maze have attracted artistic attention before. Richard Hamilton, the donnish counterpart to Peter Blake in Brit pop-art, appeared in a TV documentary painting from a photo of the protestors and commenting on their ‘painterly’ use of s$#! on cell-walls.

Alan Clarke’s 1989 film ‘Elephant’ strung together 18 sectarian murder reenactments shot in chillingly detached documentary style, echoed in one summary despatch of an off-duty prison officer in ‘Hunger’. In many ways it should be seen as a companion-piece to ‘Hunger’, depicting as it does the ‘war’ in which the Maze prisoners claimed political prisoner status.

Inevitably, Hunger appears as an extension of McQueen’s minimalist art, visually contrasting e.g. the light of a snowy yard with scenes dominated by dark uniforms punctuated by fleshtone (these reminiscent of Stephen Conroy’s paintings) and long static shots of corridors and figures. The camers homes in on tiny detail – close-ups of crumbs in a napkin, a key in a car ignition, another key on a Union Flag fob opening a locker – in place of expository dialogue. Many of these shots rendered as outsize stills would constitute a show in a gallery setting.

A pivotal debate between priest and prisoner takes place in silhouette, two figures seated at a table while the dialogue unfolds. Pointedly the dialogue centres not on matters spiritual but political; the ramifications and consequences of a renewed hunger-strike. As it winds to its conclusion it plants the motif that closes the movie – this revelation doesn’t count as a spoiler.

The starvation sequence is problemmatic because although Michael Fassbender’s feat in reducing himself to an emaciated living anatomy-lesson represents astonishing commitment to the narrative, treated with sober dignity by McQueen, it has the appearance of some of the self-mutilation performance-pieces of the 70’s. Attention dithers between the portrayal and the off-screen preparation for it; concern focusses on the demands on the actor than the plight of the character.
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:35 am

http://nextprojection.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/hunger/

Next Projection

Critiquing cinema in the hopes of spreading the word.
January 14, 2011
Hunger
By Christopher Misch

‘There’s no such thing as political murder, political bombing, and political violence. There’s just criminal murder, criminal bombing, and criminal violence.’

HUNGER – Steve McQueen – 2008

I am not reluctant to admit that the majority of my knowledge and understanding appertaining to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and their fight for independence has accrued largely in part from films relating to the conflict. Films ranging from Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins, Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barely, to Jim Sheridan’s The Boxer and In the Name of the Father, and now here with Steve McQueen’s unrelenting prison drama, Hunger. The film takes us back to 1981 and catapults us right into the horrors of The H Blocks, an Irish prison located just southwest of Belfast where its convicted IRA inmates are on a Blanket and No-Wash protest in an attempt to assert their disapproval of the British Government’s refusal to grant them political prisoner recognition. In response to these acts of disobedience they are routinely stripped down to their bare bones, humiliated, and beaten with fists and billysticks.

The infamous Bobby Sands (played by Michael Fassbender), an inmate of The H Blocks at this time, elevates their protests to an extraneous level by embarking on a hunger strike. But not a simple hunger strike like ones attempted in the past where everyone starts at the same time and out of sympathy for each other the strike eventually comes to an end. But a hunger strike where one individual begins and in the event of his death another rises to take his place. The focal point of Hunger revolves around an incredibly tense conversation between Sands and a Catholic priest as they debate the mortality of his proposed hunger strike. The priest deems his ultimate fate suicide and meaningless, while Sands is of opinion that his death would in fact be murder and necessary for their requests to be taken seriously and their voices heard. The 23 minute scene is largely composed of a static medium wide shot which held for such a long duration only further emphasizes the seriousness of their discussion. The remainder the film then shifts its attention primarily on Sands as day by day, meal by meal he refuses the food given to him and ever so slowly he feels the effects: Drastic weight loss, followed by blood boils and stomach ulcers, and ultimately his inability to stand on his own two feet.

With the long list of historical dramas depicting the confrontations between the IRA and the British Government, Steve McQueen’s Hunger stands alone, untouched. Supported by an incredibly power performance and shocking physical transformation by Michael Fassbender, it is a raw and at times uncompromising exploration into the deplorable conditions of these Irish prisons and one man’s ultimate sacrifice in the name of his beliefs.

92/100
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:09 pm

http://travissaves.blogspot.com/2011/02/black-history-on-film-part-two-hunger.html

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
BLACK HISTORY ON FILM PART TWO: HUNGER

WTF?!?! A movie about the IRA for black history month??? I know, i know, it sounds a little strange, but keep reading...
Needless to say, this is an odd pick, but if we're talking about black history in film, this movie has to be mentioned. Lets just put aside the fact that 'Hunger'; a biography about IRA member Bobby Sands and his famous hunger strike in prison, is a GREAT film. And lets also put aside the fact that Michael Fassbender's dedicated performance (and weight loss for the role) is not only one to put Christian Bale in 'The Machinist' to shame, but its one of the must underrated performance of the last few years. We're not going to focus on that stuff. We're going to focus on the making of the movie. The man behind the camera. This recent hit at Cannes, made history not once, but TWICE. 'Hunger', directed by Black filmmaker; Steve McQueen (no, not "Bullit" Steve McQueen) won the "Camera D'or" award at Cannes, which is basically the equivalent for best first feature. Spike Lee never even pulled that off, and there was a time when Europeans (especially the ones at Cannes) LOVED him. On top of that, the movie itself, taking advantage of the flexibility of digital film making, featured the longest unbroken single shot in a mainstream film (17 minutes long). So, not only did Steve McQueen become the first black filmmaker to win best first feature at Cannes, but he also set a record for longest unbroken shot in a "mainstream" film.

Usually directors with a background in either photography (like Steve McQueen) or music videos who make their directorial debut, usually fall victim to putting more emphasis on the style and atmosphere of the film, and less on the actual story and the performances. Steve McQueen got right on his first try. And whats great is that his next film is a biography on Fela Kuti (there, are all you guys questioning as to why i would mention a film about the IRA during black history month happy now?!?! He's doing a movie about Fela Kuti next, so shut up). My only fear about this biopic is that i cant think of a single actor who's able to pull of a performance of such a unique figure.

I imagine not too many black people (especially African Americans) are aware of Steve Mcqueen and his accomplishments, because they're either too busy pretending that Tyler Perry is the only relevant name within the world of black film. Lets not forget about how the so-called black film community pretty much ignored Mariannae Jean Baptise's ACADEMY AWARD nominated performance in Mike Leigh's 'Naked'. In fact, here's some more black history for you: Marianne Jean Baptise became the only black actress to be nominated for an academy award, but not nominated for an image award (which is essentially an awards show that supposedly honors excellence in film among black people). Its ironic how black people are the first to complain about not being recognized for all these movie award ceremonies, then they turn around and totally ignore great black performances and achievements in film making themselves. Anything outside of their comfort zone of Madea, Martin Lawrence or movies about backyard family bar-b-cues never seem to register.

Posted by Marcus Pinn at 9:27 AM
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sat Feb 12, 2011 8:59 pm

http://zolasmoviepics.blogspot.com/2011/02/hunger-2008-nr-2-stars.html

Saturday, February 12, 2011
Hunger (2008) NR - 2 Stars
WTF! Directed by Steve McQueen -huh? Obviously not THE Steve McQueen just done in 2008. The only thing I can say good about this movie is the incredible performance by Michael Fassbender. How in the hell could his body be put through this performance, unless of course it's special effects? I knew it was based upon the true story of one of the leaders of the Irish Republic Army, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), and his strong belief in the IRA to stage a hunger strike that many other incarcerated men followed suit on. I can only imagine it looked as hideous as shown in this movie.

It's hard to understand Fassbender with his heavy accent and I turned subtitles on with his talk between the priest (Liam Cunningham), in order to understand what was being said. I didn't care for this movie as it is extremely slow and wastes film on scenes of no importance, like smoking in the snow and folding tiny foil packages. With no character development what so ever, the movie assumes you know a lot about the IRA movement and it doesn't explain anything about Bobby's life and how he got there. And who the hell is the guy who gets aced while visiting his mother? Was he the warden - a cop - prison guard? To me, the movie is just made up of shock value with good acting, a horrible story and no enlightenment.

Two other members Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon), and Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan), share a cell together and along with other IRA members, they endure continual beatings in protest of wearing the prison attire. The want to be recognized as political prisoners and allowed to wear their own clothing. When that gets them no further than beat, Bobby decides to stage a final hunger strike to have their voices heard long after the men are dead.


Film4, Blast Films, IFC Films
Director: Steve McQueen
Writers: Enda Walsh, Steve McQueen
Producers: Laura Hastings-Smith, Robin Gutch
I viewed 1/11
Posted by Zola's Movie Pic's at 2:43 PM
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 18, 2011 6:26 pm

http://beingsamir.blogspot.com/2011/03/filmcap-week-of-mar-6-13.html

Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008): This is a very unique film, mostly in terms of structure. It chronicles the prison conditions of a group of Irish Republican Army forces in small but powerful doses. The first part of the film shows the gruesome prison conditions that's hard to watch sometimes because of its painful and unhygienic realism. The prisoners go on a no-wash protest and the film never tells you really explicitly why these people are doing what they're doing in terms of politics, but you see the conditions they live in and their determination to make it better. The second part of the film is an extended conversation between Bobby Sands, one of the leaders of the IRA prisoners, and a priest. It's an absolutely remarkable scene because it is all filmed in one take. The whole 17 minute conversation. The camera sits there and watches the talk about why Sands wants to go on a hunger strike. The third part of the movie is that hunger strike, and that's also really hard to watch because of how much Sands is suffering and the slow death that he goes through. In that part Michael Fassbender shows that suffering in a really amazing way. The film is also absolutely beautifully shot, there are some really patient scenes that just exist to establish a feeling or mood in a really affecting way. The movie has its fair share of breathtaking imagery and as a first movie this is wildly impressive. McQueen is coming out with his next movie "Shame" with Fassbender again, and Carey Mulligan, later this year and I can't wait. This movie showed that he has some big ideas, and knack for unconventional but visually stunning filmmaking. "Hunger" is one of those movies that may not have a huge impact when they come out, but it slowly takes its place and stays with you forever.
Grade: A-
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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 18, 2011 6:40 pm

http://balletbookworm.blogspot.com/2011/03/movies-with-mice-and-men-on-st-pats.html

17 March 2011
Movies with mice and men on St. Pat's

Then I decided to celebrate St. Paddy's with a bottle of Harp and little movie Michael Fassbender (yes, him again). Only the movie wasn't a celebration. Steve McQueen's Hunger depicts the condition of IRA prisoners at the British Maze Prison in 1981 during the "blanket" and "no wash" protests and then the last six weeks of Bobby Sands's life during the hunger strike. McQueen attempts even-handedness in his film - a prison guard Lohan is seen at home and visiting his mother in contrast to the hell of the prison (it's really hard not to sympathize with the prisoners) - and I feel that the camera makes no judgement. The watcher is the one responsible for drawing a conclusion.

While the first and third portions of the film use little dialogue, the middle third of the film contains two of the best single-takes I have seen in a long time. Sands (Fassbender) receives a visit (or has requested a visit, I'm not sure which) from a priest (Liam Cunningham) prior to the start of the hunger strike on March 1. The two men size one another up with some witty, cutting banter before getting down to brass tacks: the morality of a hunger strike, of a suicidal course. This is one sixteen-minute take, the camera never moves, never zooms in or out. It's like amazing, sweaty, live theatre. The next take is another long one, maybe seven or eight minutes, where the camera focuses on Sands as he relates a story from his childhood; it shows he is the one ready and willing to take the physical pain, that he can take the pain and reality of a hunger strike for the greater good. Fassbender gives an amazing performance, you can't look away and he isn't even doing anything but speaking and smoking.

There is great beauty in Hunger, whether it is a long take of a man trying to get a bee to crawl on his hand, a design created from human feces on a prison wall, or the frailty of the human body as depicted by Fassbender who underwent a medically-monitored crash diet to portray Sands at the end of his life (if anyone though Christian Bale was creepy-skinny in The Machinist this is far, far more disturbing). This movie should have received more recognition - it is well-made, well-acted, and well-shot - but I don't recall any buzz for this movie Stateside, not even for the Oscars. Fassbender should have at least received Best Actor buzz because his performance is gut-wrenching. This is a movie not for the faint-hearted - it is bloody and brutal - but worth the effort of watching.
Posted by Melissa at 11:49 PM

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Re: Hunger reviews

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:53 am

http://eddie-oliver.blogspot.com/2011/03/mov-part-iii.html

Friday, March 25, 2011
M.o.V part III
Movie of the Week Friday!! Hell yes!
The films for this past week are a bit more complicated than in previous posts, but worth taking the time to watch them.

We will start with:

"Hunger"- A film by first-time director and visual master Steve McQueen, starring Michael Fassbender about the true story of I.R.A. sympathizer and imprisoned political activist Bobby Sands. This film, which is not a biopic, just details the last few weeks of Bobby Sands's life while being in prison, the time during which he starts a hunger strike that aims to change the political status of captured I.R.A. operatives by the English government among other things, including better treatment. 4 1/2 stars.
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