Commentary
5:00 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Indie Film Guide: Be Thankful You're Not A Character In These Movies

Steve McQueen directs Michael Fassbender in 'Hunger'
Steve McQueen directs Michael Fassbender in 'Hunger'
Credit rottentomatoes.com

For whatever reason this time of year seems particularly sparse when it comes to screenings, so I usually take this time to talk about movies about food and family. Thanksgiving movies. And I guess this time I’ll still talk about movies that are kind of about food, but they’re coming from a very different place.

Hunger is about as far from a “food” movie as you can get. It’s director Steve McQueen’s brutal portrait of the hunger strike of Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands in the early 1980s. McQueen is currently receiving plenty of praise for 12 Years A Slave, and this 2008 movie stars McQueen’s muse, Michael Fassbender, as Bobby Sands, and it’s as unflinching as people are saying 12 Years A Slave is. If you know Sands’ story, you know this movie doesn’t have an uplifting ending, but it’s pretty mesmerizing and Fassbender turns in one of those shockingly intense did-he-really-lose-all-that-weight kind of performances.

The other movie also is very much not a “food” movie, but one of its major scenes does hinge on a particularly unsettling meal. It’s Julie Taymor’s 1999 Shakespeare adaptation, Titus, a version of one of Shakespeare’s especially violent early plays, "Titus Andronicus." The movie is audacious and blood-drenched and almost definitely not like any other Shakespeare adaptation you’ve ever seen, but it’s also pretty hard to look away and features a stunning and criminally underrated performance by Harry Lennix as Aaron the Moor. AND: If you’re not familiar with the play and don’t know what the meal is that I’m referring to, I’m not going to tell you. But trust me, you will know it when you see it.

Both Hunger and Titus should be pretty easy to get ahold of, although I’m not sure I’d show them to the family at Thanksgiving dinner. But you can make your own decision about that.