Sunday, October 27, 2013

12 Years a Slave review

This film is directed by Steve McQueen. The art house director, not "The King of Cool". Just wanted to clear that up.
I've heard a lot of people call 12 Years a Slave 'the best movie they never want to see again'. I couldn't disagree more. While 12 Years a Slave is a damn good film, I would love to see it again. Many people are saying how gruesome and visceral it is. It was hard to watch at parts, sure. Yet, I feel like multiple viewings would be helpful in getting a truly full experience from the movie. All the terrific performances and techniques the movie has are just too good not to see again. Some movies, like Lincoln for example, were very well done, yet so incredibly boring that I wouldn't want to sit through it again. 12 Years a Slave isn't boring. I know the reason people wouldn't want to see it again is because of how sad and violent it is. Even so, I'd still want to recreate the incredible experience it was to see this film again. The movie is really gritty and bloody. but that's how it should be. A movie about the horror's of slavery shouldn't be sugar coated and censored. Therefore the sheer bloodiness of the film is unfortunately necessary. I hope the academy doesn't snub McQueen with a Best Director nod like they did with Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino last year for the subject matter of their movies. 12 Years a Slave is well acted, directed, and shows an unbelievable true story for what it is: a tale of survival and horror. It's not Hollywood-ized or made into some heroic adventure tale. Yeah, it's heartbreaking and sometimes very painful to watch, but it works. I think it's safe to say 12 Years a Slave is one of the better films of the year. Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a well-to-do free black man with a nice family living in Saratoga, New York. One day, he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. His past life is stripped away and everything that once mattered to him is seemingly forgotten. Even his name is changed. He is first a slave under the kind Master Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch). Unfortunately, Ford's second in charge, named Tibeats (Paul Dano), is quite cruel and hates Solomon right away. A series of brutal events leads Solomon to serve under the crueler and angrier Master Edwin Epps (Micheal Fassbender). There, he is worked hard and beaten. Northup's will is put to the test. At Epps' plantation is where he spends most of his time in the film. Solomon's fantastic skill of playing the violin is of some help, but he is still targeted by Epps and his wife. Some of the most depressing and harsh moments take place in this point of the movie. As harsh as they were, they were necessary in making the movie as realistic and gritty as it is. I can't stress that enough. As I said before, the performances are terrific. The best being form Chiwetel Ejiofor and Micheal Fassbender. I feel like Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt could have given some truly memorable portrayals here, but they are only given a very small amount of screen time. I have no doubt whatsoever that Ejiofor will get a Best Actor nomination and I hope Fassbender will get a Supporting nod. The acting, while good, isn't the only good part of the film. McQueen does a great directing job here. Regretfully, I haven't seen Shame or Hunger (yet!) but I already know he will go on to be one of the great directors of our time. 12 Years a Slave is filmed with a certain character-based realism that almost made me believe I was there. At the end there's a close up shot of Ejiofor's face with the background blurred out. The rack-focus close up technique ,especially used with Chiwetel Ejiofor, just shows how worn out and weary the once free man was. It's powerful stuff. I was expecting 12 Years a Slave to be a pretentious over-hyped bore. It wasn't any of that. As much as I loved Prisoners, I think '12 Years' tops it as Best Movie of the Year So Far. Believe the hype. 12 Years a Slave is damn good. I give 12 Years a Slave 5 out of 5 stars. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at  

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