Oscar-winning British filmmaker and artist Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) reimagines one of history’s most controversial acts of political defiance in Hunger, now streaming on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck. This unforgettable film chronicles the struggle of incarcerated twenty-seven-year-old Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands, who went on a hunger strike to protest the British government’s refusal to recognize him and his fellow IRA inmates as political prisoners. Featuring an intense performance by Michael Fassbender, this remarkable debut feature is an unflinching, intensely experiential depiction of what a human being is willing to endure to be heard. Watch it in its full Criterion edition, which includes interviews with McQueen and Fassbender, a short documentary on the making of the film, and more.
Also up this week: two chilling explorations of maternity and its trials, a stellar adaptation of a John le Carré classic, a conversation between two of American independent cinema’s most exciting voices, and a spotlight on Vivien Leigh.
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Swallowed and The Brood
This weekend, prepare to be unnerved by two films that milk horror from the physical and emotional challenges of motherhood. A young mom finds herself possessed by eerie trances and uncontrollable impulses in dancer-filmmaker Lily Baldwin’s Swallowed, made as part of the dream-inspired omnibus Collective: Unconscious (2016). And David Cronenberg’s The Brood (1979) sets a mother’s rage loose on her daughter, taking the director’s obsession with bodily and psychological carnage to bloodcurdling extremes.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold: Criterion Collection Edition #452
The best-selling novel by John le Carré, about a Cold War spy on one final dangerous mission in East Germany, is transmuted by director Martin Ritt into a film every bit as precise and ruthless as the book. Richard Burton is superb as Alec Leamas, whose relationship with the beautiful librarian Nan, played by Claire Bloom, puts his assignment in jeopardy. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a hard-edged and tragic thriller, suffused with the political and social consciousness that defined Ritt’s career. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with le Carré; a selected-scene commentary featuring director of photography Oswald Morris; an audio conversation from 1985 between director Martin Ritt and film historian Patrick McGilligan; and a trailer.
Masterclass: Alex Ross Perry and Robert Greene on Big Ideas and Small Budgets
Known for his piercingly intelligent, stylistically ambitious explorations of alienation and misanthropy, independent filmmaker Alex Ross Perry has been busy at work on two projects: the soon-to-be-released Golden Exits and a live-action take on Winnie-the-Pooh. While Perry was editing his latest film in Columbia, Missouri, with his frequent collaborator editor-director Robert Greene (Kate Plays Christine and Actress), the two sat down at the city’s Ragtag Cinema for a conversation about Perry’s career. For the second installment of our Masterclass series, we’re presenting their candid discussion, in which Greene gets Perry to open up about bringing ambitious ideas to the big screen on a shoestring budget. Watch video of the complete event, and catch our limited engagements of Perry’s first three features: Impolex, The Color Wheel, and Listen Up Philip.
Friday Night Double Feature: That Hamilton Woman and Anna Karenina
The luminous Vivien Leigh takes the lead in these two lavishly mounted period dramas. In Alexander Korda’s 1941 That Hamilton Woman—reportedly Winston Churchill’s favorite movie—she is transported back to the Napoleonic Wars, injecting glamour and intrigue into the story of an ambassador’s wife who has a scandalous affair with a British Royal Navy officer (played by Leigh’s real-life husband, Laurence Olivier). And in Julien Duvivier’s 1948 adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, she embodies the tragic dimensions of the book’s iconic heroine, a married woman who falls into a fateful romance with a count.