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New Meetup: Hunger

From: user 8.
Sent on: Sunday, January 18, 2009 7:28 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for Leeds Movie Fans/Travel Meetup Group!

What: Hunger

When: February 4,[masked]:30 PM

Where: Click the link below to find out!

Meetup Description: I sugest we meet outside at 6.20pm(ish)...

Brief synopsis...

Turner Prize-winning British artist Steve McQueen makes his big-screen debut with Hunger, an account of the 1981 hunger strike in Northern Ireland's Maze Prison. Hunger follows the last six weeks in the life of Republican Bobby Sands who died 66 days into the strike. Hunger also depicts the conditions within the prison, not only through the experiences of the hunger strikers but also through the prison wardens with whom they were in constant battle.

Here's what Empire had to say about this film...

What is the grimmest movie ever? Bergman?s Cries And Whispers? Aronofsky?s Requiem For A Dream? Wayans? White Chicks? Maybe, but you would be hard-pressed to find a film bleaker than Hunger, artist Steve McQueen?s debut feature detailing the starvation strikes in the Maze prison that resulted in the death of Bobby Sands in 1981 (SPOILER!) .Yet this unrelenting darkness should not be held against it. For Hunger is a powerful, difficult piece that announces McQueen as a singular talent, and Michael Fassbender as an actor of note.

This is as far from bog-standard docudrama as you can get. In the early sections, as McQueen intercuts prison officer Raymond Lohan (Stuart Graham)?s routine and inmates Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan) and Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon) taking part in a blanket protest, the filmmaking is strangely beautiful and technically stunning. Cells covered in muck are vividly evoked, Sean Bobbitt?s camera lingering over swirly patterns of shit. McQueen punctures the languorous artsy feel with visceral handheld violence when Sands is brutally forced to cut his hair. Later, a shot of a prison guard mopping a urine-filled corridor literally lasts minutes.

The effect of this is to make Hunger?s central set-piece all the more startling. Around halfway through, McQueen gets to grips with the issues in a 22-minute locked-off camera shot in which Sands reveals his plan to go on hunger strike to Father Moran (Liam Cunningham), with both debating the merits and ethics of the protest. Despite bravura performances from both actors, the static camera, rather than funnelling your focus, feels distancing, creating a barrier to the ideas and emotions.

On the other side of this talk marathon, McQueen doesn?t shy away from the minutiae of Sands? starvation, focusing on the bedsores and the prisoner?s withering frame. Some of McQueen?s lapses into religious symbolism towards the end undo the oblique approach of the first third. But, just as Hunger offers no easy pleasures, it offers no simple analysis, and delivers a gruelling, compelling experience. One you probably won?t want to go through again.

Anchored by Fassbender?s turn, Hunger is as much about the personal as the political. The real breakthrough, though, is McQueen, who turns in a film that dazzles and challenges in equal measure.

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