Right on

Posted by · 1:14 pm · March 23rd, 2009

There are so many contrivances in the “prison” genre that are completely absent from McQueen’s film, which focuses on the faces of characters and their surroundings. The theme is not pushed forward by plot or by character but by feeling and emotion, which is enormously difficult in such a visual and aural medium. Now that he’s been able to show the beauty in detritus, I can’t wait to see what else he shines his light on.

From Noah Forrest’s assessment of Steve McQueen’s “Hunger” at Movie City News.

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4 responses so far

  • 1 3-23-2009 at 1:40 pm

    McGuff said...

    I finally saw it this weekend, and was really excited to do so. My feelings about it are a combination of disappointment and great admiration, and I’m not sure how to reconcile that. It’s clear that this was a director more interested in showing vs. telling, and the visuals in this movie are astounded. If he wanted anger, disgust, horror to be emotions evoked by the images he put together, McQueen succeeded.

    But filmmaking is about more than evoking emotions, I have to think. The storytelling just isn’t there (isn’t 90% of the plot developed in a convenient conversation with the priest?), so while I agree with Forrest that McQueen avoided normal prison contrivances, I don’t agree that “beauty in detritus” = unabashed success.

  • 2 3-23-2009 at 1:47 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It’s a debate, surely, but I don’t think narrative has to be conventional. And I certainly think a narrative is there, with or without the conversation. A simple grasp of the history is helpful.

    Then again, I was on the other side of this argument with “Che,” so I kind of understand.

  • 3 3-23-2009 at 2:12 pm

    Noah said...

    McGuff, I hear what you’re saying, but saying that the “storytelling isn’t there” seems a bit off. Because the film tells multiple stories, just not in the way that you or I may be accustomed to hearing them. Hunger isn’t simply about evoking emotions, although it certainly does that, but it’s about making you feel like you are in that prison with them.

    While I agree with Kris that knowing some of the history is helpful, I don’t think it’s a necessity in order to see what the film accomplishes. The bottom line is that being in a prison, whether or not your incarceration is just, is inhumane. And not just for the guys who smear shit on the walls or a guy who won’t eat, but also for a prison guard who has to see that every day.

  • 4 3-23-2009 at 2:24 pm

    McGuff said...

    Sure, and I have to claim ignorance in regards to the particular history. I actually get mad at myself after movies like this — angry that I didn’t know this slice of history.

    I most certainly don’t believe in only conventional narration (guess what I re-watched after Hunger? Memento.), but I do think in historical pieces, it’s nice to be given a framework for what is going on.

    That said, I do respect the hell out of this project. I’m also, like Forrest, excited to see what comes out of McQueen next. There’s obviously quite the potential in a mind like his.