The idea of a visual artist turning movie director would normally give me pause. I’d assume the artist would be able to deliver on visuals but would fall short on storytelling. Not so with Steve McQueen. I think I’m in love with him, and I already love his bff Michael Fassbender.
I watched Shame a few months ago and was expecting…I didn’t know what. But I was mesmerized by the story and Fassbender’s moving performance. Shame was advertised as a film about a sex addict, true, but it seems to me it’s much more about the human experience and the ways in which we try to avoid pain by anesthetizing ourselves with things like booze, porn, food, TV, work, video games, the Internet, shopping, etc. Sometimes we become addicts. The hero of Shame just happens to have an addiction we don’t hear about too often.
I so admired McQueen for not glossing over the main character’s problems or making things easy for the audience. Fassbender should have been nominated for Oscar, or maybe he was and I can’t remember.
Just this past week I finally got around to watching McQueen’s first movie Hunger. I think many directors often push our buttons with violence, but few, like McQueen, truly probe human behavior in all its complexities.
Hunger is a powerful portrayal of the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike and Bobby Sands willingness to die for a cause through starvation. The artist in McQueen comes through with every striking visual image. He holds the camera on certain images and we simply watch and take it in–often there’s no dialogue; the storyteller, lies in McQueen’s ability to show both sides of life in prison. He makes you understand that the prisoners and guards are all in their own versions of hell; albeit we know who has it harder.
Both Shame and Hunger are raw and brutal and yet life affirming.
I just learned that McQueen is coming out with a new film, Twelve Years A Slave, based on true events. Fassbender will star along with another hottie, Chiwetel Ejiofor.