Steve McQueen (b. 1969)
Five Easy Pieces (1995)
One of a trilogy of seminal early films by this talented filmmaker, Five Easy Pieces outlines the themes and artistic strategies that have guided McQueen’s work since he emerged in the mid-1990s. Marked by spatial, temporal, and narrative disjointedness and ambiguity, the work’s movements cohere into an orchestrated meditation on film itself. Its five "pieces" are united as experiments in cinematic form—the rhythmic exercises of the bodies throughout it are mirrored by the focus of the camera through formal experiments that resemble those of early modernist photographers such as Aleksandr Rodchenko and László Moholy-Nagy. Because it implicitly connects the history of photographic representation to both race and sexuality—foregrounded, for example, by the camera’s fixation on the dancer’s swinging buttocks and breasts—Five Easy Pieces also heralds the prominence of social issues in McQueen’s oeuvre to date.