Wednesday, November 20, 2013

3 Thoughts on 12 Years a Slave

1. It's brutal, difficult, heartbreaking... - As you would expect, a film about slavery is very difficult to watch.  I can't say that I've seen many (aside from Django Unchained, the last one I remember is Amistad).  12 Years a Slave is a story based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film does not shy away from the horrors of slavery and the existence of true evilness. I didn't cry while watching the movie, probably because I was expecting the brutality, but I did have to look away from the screen a few times.

2. It's stunning, beautiful, inspiring... - This movie will be in my top 10 of the year (possibly top 5).  Steve McQueen made an absolutely stunning film.  The story tells itself, I think it would be hard to make a bad movie out of it.  McQueen, however, did something that is uniquely "him".  He juxtaposed some of the most horrific images you will every see, with some of the most beautiful images of America.  He inserts his style into the film and gives film geeks something to smile about  Just like he did with his 12 minute single take shot in Hunger, and his breathtaking tracking shot of Brandon running in Shame, 12 Years a Slave has several moments where I inhaled deeply and went "wow". Most notably were the awkwardly long moments focused on Solomon that forced the audience to absorb his situation. During one focused shot, someone in the audience yelled out "really, come on". While some audience members sat watching a historical drama, I was watching the new Steve McQueen movie and I was in awe.

3. Why is Brad Pitt in this movie? - I have one complaint. Ok...maybe two, but they are related.  Brad Pitt is the worst casting decision ever.  I say this as a HUGE Brad Pitt fan.  First, by the time he shows up, the audience has forgotten that he is in it, so it breaks the attention span of the audience.  Seriously, he appeared and suddenly I heard whispers all around me "that's Brad Pitt!".  Second, he was awful.  My friend argued that he felt out of place because he is "supposed to be Canadian" (haha), but I argued that he felt out of place because he was out of place.  My second (minor) complaint  is Michael Fassbender.  I'm not as crazy about him as most girls are (gasp!! I know). He's excellent in previous McQueen movies, but he wasn't the highlight here.  The southern accent is hard to do (especially to make it sound natural and not a caricature), and he struggled with it.  I could hear his Irish accent peaking through almost every word and it was really distracting.  The rest of the cast is flawless.  Chiwetel Ejiofor is incredible. He is definitely the front-runner for best performance of the year.

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