No More Excuses From the Usual Suspects
Just call him the Black Steve McQueen. Acclaimed artist and director Steve McQueen has only made two feature-length films so far, but so far so good! Plus, his subject matter from Bear to his most recent art installation in Amsterdam is actually interesting. Not a Madea in sight!
Hunger and Shame are both tough films to digest in moments because they strip away all pretense. You’re not watching a self-indulgent project, a comic book tale or a remake of a remake. My new favorite actor Michael Fassbender has been getting a LOT of buzz after working with the director which I’ve discussed in previous posts. That has segued into other roles and good press begets success.
His next project, Twelve Years A Slave is based on the auto-biography of Solomon Northup, who was a Freeman kidnapped and enslaved before regaining his freedom. This is one aspect not often covered when slavery is mentioned. My only issue is the casting of a black actor who isn’t African-American, but Chiwetel Ejiofor will certain bring gravitas to the role.
He did cast a black woman as a white male’s romantic interest – unlike one American director who allegedly fired a black actress for dating white men
Spike Lee. McQueen at least doesn’t appear to have such personal control issues and hang-ups.
So I say, you know, I say, this girl [Nicole Beharie] could be Brandon’s [Michael Fassbender] girlfriend, but what was interesting about it was the objections about it. People say, “Oh, that wouldn’t happen. That wouldn’t exist.” What? I don’t exist? It was a very odd thing, having these conversations about a love interest that was a black woman with Brandon. It was interesting, that. It was fascinating.”
Of course, the bit of unexpected development was how reel and real life converged as the co-stars are now dating. I guess he has great instincts and an adventurous spirit that defies convention! In fact, during the Newsweek Filmmakers Series when baited with the question of dismal film opportunities in casting black actors (which was especially ridiculous considering it was referencing the US film industry and he’s not American), McQueen lobbed it right back to his panel members who are white males.
You know we have to evaluate people places and things to determine whether they benefit us and to what extent. In his work across mixed media, documentaries or movies we’re not being ignored and we’re not being denigrated. This is not a permanent blanket endorsement but I haven’t seen any evidence of anti-BW behavior so he gets an enthusiastic thumbs up right now.
Plus, I get a kick out of McQueen’s elocution of upper-crust Brit-speak. You do realize most British actors have been trained to remove all regionalism for a generic higher-end dialect? As an example of more working class speech just watch an episode of Coronation Street for contrast.
Instead of arguing with other directors about their use of the N-word or defending depravity, light-skin worship and criminality, we have a high profile director doing something intelligent. So again, I’m not here to tell you what to do, but offering you examples to critique on your own. It’s nice to be able to feature something uplifting isn’t it?