Hunger (2008), Beware the Yikes of March

The lovely ladies at Burns Court Theater (part of the Sarasota Film Society) were wonderful hostesses to a pre-St Patty’s Day event showing Steve McQueen’s Hunger from 2008. But let me tell you something…this was realism in all caps, like this: REALISM! Attending this film is as close to being in the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland as I’d like to get. Holy violence.
I actually did not know the story before going in, with the exception of hearing his name, and knowing about The Troubles. If you don’t know the ending, I will not spoil it here.
Steve McQueen made his first directorial splash with Hunger and continued using Michael Fassbender (who portrayed Bobby Sands in Hunger) in his penultimate (my opinion) 12 Years a Slave and again in Shame (fantastic film and a better Carey Mulligan role than the eye rolling Promising Young Woman).
McQueen goes to the darkest places in this film which should have been an awakening for prison reform across the globe.
The best scene in the film is a two person number between Fassbender and the actor Liam Cunningham playing a priest attempting to counsel Bobby Sands. While both actors are riveting, Fassbender’s monologue is a show stopper, akin to my favorite monologue of this year by Ellen Burstyn in Pieces of a Woman. For Fassbender’s monologue, it was worth shutting my eyes and closing my ears for what must have been 15 to 20 minutes of violence and gore. Yet, it’s history and the worst of man’s depravity. God help us if we ever slide back into such hatred.

Sub ‘Twisted’ for ‘Promising’ Young Woman

Emerald Fennell’s written and directed Promising Young Woman is worth seeing. Good twists, scant violence, bravo on both counts. Now let’s talk about assuming your audience is intelligent, a demographic of which I guess Emerald doesn’t care to appeal.
Much like Fincher’s Gone Girl, the characters are rather 2-D, there’s bad frat boys, there’s disgraced, vengeful women, women who just care about marrying for status and then there’s smarmy coffee shop employees and customers. Yawn.
There’s also the old stupid movie trope where no one goes through the proper channels for justice; police, legal teams, nor is there any ramifications for the ‘hero’s’ tawdry Robin Hood type ways.
And let’s get another item ballyhooed about among some dumber critics; this is NOT Carey Mulligan’s most demanding role: see “Drive’ or “Far From the Madding Crowd” for better quality acting and writing.
I love Jennifer Coolidge in everything she does, even here as Carey’s mom. Ditto Molly Shannon as Carey’s best friend’s mother. Since Alison Bree bugs the tar out of me, I was fine with her being the shallow gold digger. Bo Burnham was perfect as the old college alum who comes back to woo her, anyone else would have ruined the movie for sure.

The world might be back in order: The D Train and Far From the Madding Crowd

Jack Black is back to dark quirky roles in “The D-Train”, where he plays a desperate man looking for friendship intimacy while rejecting the familial kind. The film’s uniqueness is due to the genuine nature of the character’s actions. We all screw up in real life, get caught up doing embarrassing things for meaningless connections, wanting to please, yearning to be the person all others seek out and admire.
Jack Black

In “Far From the Madding Crowd” (directed by Thomas Vinterberg), may I say that the romance (as old as the Thomas Hardy novel is from 1874) did not seem farcical? And this is coming from the female version of Mikey in the old Life Cereal commercials when it comes to romance (“She won’t like it, she hates mushy’).

Much like D Train, there are times in our lives when we also get caught up in the old adage ‘flattery will get you everywhere’ whirlwind attraction. I was riveted to her marriage to Tom Sturridge, when she realizes on her wedding night, in that all of his charm is the equivalent of smoke obscuring a needy and weak human being. I’ve only disliked one of Carey Mulligan’s roles (Inside Llewyn Davis in which her character was just a horrible foul mouthed misandrist) and LOVED her in Drive and Shame. She’s perfect in “Far From…”, an all natural no-nonsense 1870’s gal.

Tom Sturridge was panned for his role of the bad boy soldier that Carey’s character marries and while I wanted to see the movie and say it ain’t so (I was moved by his Broadway performance in Orphans), tis pity tis true that he just falls flat. I think there’s a way to show charm and not seem vacant to keep us as fooled as Carey’s character was, but his character lacks the ability to trick the audience. I hope he’ll eventually get the role that shows the talent of which I witnessed, or perhaps he is better with live audiences. Time will tell.Tom Sturridge

So beyond Black’s choice originality, Vinterberg/Mulligan’s believable, yet old romance, as proof that the world is righting itself is a trailer I saw before “Far from the Madding Crowd” with Johnny Depp finally in a macho talent worthy role as Whitey Bulger upcoming in “Black Mass”.

Summer truly is the best time of the year.