First off, our Steve McQueen is not the icon of early cinema. Our Steve McQueen is Hollywood’s newest break-out director. Beginning his filmmaking career as an installation and political artist, McQueen’s first work to garner him national acclaim was 2008’s Hunger. He quickly followed up this effort with 2011’s Shame and is currently in production on Twelve Years a Slave. It is also no accident or coincidence that all of his films star Michael Fassbender.
This film chronicles the 1981 Irish hunger strike in a Northern Ireland prison. The strike itself was the culmination of five years of nonviolent protest against unlawful treatment of Irish citizens. The head of the strike, Bobby Sands, is also the film’s protagonist. The strike lasted a total of 53 days and resulted in the deaths of ten prisons, including Sands.
The film premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2008, and won McQueen the coveted Camera d’Or Award. The award is given to promising first-time filmmakers. In addition, the film won a BAFTA Award and went on to become one of the most successful Irish films of all time. The film also features an award-winning and profound performance from Michael Fassbender.
McQueen’s recent follow-up to Hunger was Shame. Shame tells the story of Brandon, a middle-aged sex addict. Throughout the film, his every impulse and action is dictated by an obsession with the female form and is charged with sexual tension. The plot thickens when Brandon’s sister arrives at his apartment, bags in hand. Turning his lie upside-down, Brandon must now cope with his ever-changing world and his over-dependent sibling.
Again, McQueen handles his subject matter delicately but with a certain style and grace that is sure to captivate audiences for years to come. The film was a critic success but, commercially, left something to be desired, showing only a handful of theaters nationwide.
Be on the look-out for next McQueen’s film, Twelve Years as a Slave. It stars Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt and opens in 2013. In the meantime, look on IgniteMe next week for another Double Feature