Monday, July 15, 2013

An artist may be on the verge of receiving long overdue recognition

Steve McQueen, not to be confused with, ahem, Steve McQueen, is a British filmmaker with a track record of writing and directing two extraordinary films that did not receive widespread public acceptance (although critics and film festival juries went wild over them). The first was Hunger (2008), starring Michael Fassbinder, which tells the story of the 1981 IRA prison hunger strike. This film was named the best film at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival from a first-time director, marking the first time a British filmmaker received this prestigious honor. His second, also starring Fassbinder, was Shame (2011) in which Fassbinder played a New York advertising executive who is also secretly a sex addict. The late, great Roger Ebert named Shame the second best film of 2011 and I, for one, thought it was an injustice ranking right up there with the George Zimmerman verdict that Fassbinder did not receive an Oscar nomination for his performance in the movie.

Neither of those films were certified hits (it has been argued Shame’s numbers were hurt by its NC-17 rating), largely because neither conformed to the Hollywood hit-making formula. I mean, when was the last time you heard someone say they couldn’t wait for the latest Michael Fassbinder film? How many regular movie goers even know who he is? And 99 out of 100 of those movie fans will argue Steve McQueen is died more than 30 years ago.

All that may be changing for McQueen because his latest film not only has critic/festival cred, but also some star power in the name of Brad Pitt. Take a look at the trailer for McQueen’s latest in which it appears Fassbinder even takes a backseat in the powerhouse performance category to what could be a career-making performance from Chiwetel Ejiofor.

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