HUNGER (Steve McQueen, 2008)
BAMfilm, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Monday, March 25, 4:00 & 9:30
Series runs March 20-28
In 2004, we saw Steve McQueen’s fascinating video installation of three short works at Wellesley’s Davis Museum. As entertaining and intriguing as that show was, it never could have prepared us for Hunger, the British-born Turner Prize winner’s brutal and harrowing feature-length debut, let alone his follow-up, 12 Years a Slave. Winner of the Camera d’Or at Cannes, Hunger is set amid the Troubles in Northern Island, as IRA members are locked up in the Maze prison. Seeking special category status, the prisoners are on a Blanket and No Wash protest, refusing to wear official garb or clean up after themselves. They wipe their feces all over their cell walls and let their maggot-infested garbage pile up in corners. Meanwhile, the guards, who live in their own kind of daily fear, never miss a chance to beat the prisoners mercilessly. McQueen (Shame, Widows) introduces the audience to the infamous prison through the eyes of one of the high-ranking guards, Raymond Lohan (Stuart Graham), and new prisoner Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan). Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt often lets his camera linger on a scene, with little or no dialogue, composing them as if individual works of art; one particularly gorgeous shot features Lohan having a cigarette outside the prison as snow falls. About halfway through, the film radically changes focus as Father Dominic Moran (Liam Cunningham) visits H Block leader Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), leading to sixteen minutes of uninterrupted dialogue, the camera never moving, as the two men discuss Sands’s planned hunger strike. Written with Enda Walsh (Disco Pigs, The Walworth Farce), McQueen’s film is a visually stunning, emotionally powerful story that will leave you ragged.
Hunger is screening March 25 in the BAM / Triple Canopy series “On Resentment,” which asks such questions as “How can resentment be reclaimed by those who are used to fits of anger and bitterness being called unproductive, petty, selfish, even pathological?” and “Can — and must — resentment be useful?” The series continues through March 28 with such other films as Liang Zhao’s Petition, Lucretia Martel’s Zama, Lino Brocka’s Manila in the Claws of Light, Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, and Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña’s Who Killed Vincent Chin?