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"12 Years a Slave" review


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#1 of 23 Yavin

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Posted October 18 2013 - 09:10 PM

This film definitely earns its place as one of the must-see films of the last decade. Ejiofor and Fassbender turn in a couple of amazing performances. There are a lot of big names in the cast as well, but the majority of the roles are brief. It covers some hard-to-watch subject matter, but McQueen knows how to handle it without overwhelming audiences. Ultimately, it's an inspirational movie that everyone needs to watch.

 

4.5 out of 5. Here's my review: http://cinematically...laveReview.html

 

And here's an excerpt:

 

 

12 Years a Slave is more than the sum of its parts. Throughout its runtime (which, frankly, is less than expected for a historical drama of this scope), McQueen spares no punches in showing the audience the brutality of the treatment endured by the victims of slavery. Some of it can be difficult to watch, but there's no sugar-coating the subject matter. Luckily, McQueen handles things with a deft touch so that none of the material overwhelms the viewer with its heaviness. Ultimately, the film isn't heavy-handed or emotionally manipulative -- it lets events stand for themselves. Consequently, audiences are left to focus the incredible true story of a man who endured intolerable circumstances yet never gave up hope or his will to survive.

Edited by Yavin, October 18 2013 - 09:23 PM.

Read all my reviews here.


#2 of 23 schan1269

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Posted October 18 2013 - 09:34 PM

Three features...

 

Three ridiculously good movies.



#3 of 23 Brandon Conway

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Posted October 21 2013 - 09:50 PM

With sobering conviction, McQueen points his camera at the complex social structure that was the institution of slavery, in all its sadness, violence, fear, unrighteous dominion, and breadth of pain. No one piece of art can encompass the whole, but the sliver of insight here compels reflection far beyond its isolated runtime. Perhaps the saddest scene in the film for me - because it is so simple on its face - is the brief moment when Solomon as a free man shops with his wife and children, as another man - an "owned" man - somberly looks upon the scene in the background. The sheer audacity of fate and wrongheaded social custom is the only barrier between Solomon's freedom and his own, and no action is taken on his behalf by anyone, because to unsteady the ship is to unsteady one's own course and risk upsetting the façade of the status quo. 10/10


"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#4 of 23 Vic Pardo

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Posted October 23 2013 - 08:43 AM

This film definitely earns its place as one of the must-see films of the last decade. 

 

What prevents it from being one of the must-see films of this decade?  :unsure:



#5 of 23 schan1269

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Posted October 23 2013 - 08:51 AM

What prevents it from being one of the must-see films of this decade?  :unsure:

 

Ok, grammar police.

 

Technically you can use "last" to refer to now.



#6 of 23 Patrick Sun

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Posted November 01 2013 - 01:10 PM

Saw the film, probably will never watch it again due to the uncomfortable subject matter, but well-acted and well-directed, totally see Oscar noms for Ejiofor and McQueen, and perhaps even a supporting nod for Fassbender.

I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
 


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#7 of 23 schan1269

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Posted November 01 2013 - 01:58 PM

I'll be paraphrasing...and don't quite remember if it is was Samuel L or Morgan that said it...

 

"I don't need to see a movie that is going to punch me in the gut, again."



#8 of 23 Brandon Conway

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Posted November 01 2013 - 02:48 PM

That type of film experience is not for everyone, but when done right and when I'm in the right mood for an exploration of the human condition through the art of film it can be an enlightening experience.


"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#9 of 23 TravisR

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Posted November 01 2013 - 03:10 PM

Saw the film, probably will never watch it again due to the uncomfortable subject matter...
 

Same here. Excellent movie, I hope lots of people see it, that it makes people think and that it's highly successful but much like Schindler's List, it's not a movie that I see myself being in a hurry to watch again.

 

Chiwetel Ejifor is excellent. Michael Fassbender is chilling and equally good. Beyond the basic story and that it starred those two guys, I didn't know anything about this movie so I pleasantly surprised to see so many wonderful actors (Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Michael K. Williams, Brad Pitt, Garret Dillahunt and Alfre Woodard) through out the movie. Actually everyone from the top down to the extras were absolutely believable in their roles.



#10 of 23 Tino

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Posted November 11 2013 - 04:59 PM

Excellent film. Will be the front runner at this years Oscars giving Gravity a run for its money

This incredible film has been gestating in me ever since I saw it last week. Can't get it out of my head. Great performances all around. One of the years best. It will forever be THE "slave" movie.

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#11 of 23 DaveF

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Posted November 29 2013 - 12:48 PM

Exceptional movie. And despite the marquee cast, it avoided Important Movie syndrome.

And a surprising, I think atypical, score by Hans Zimmer.

But as an experience, Gravity is more moving. 12 Years depicts impotent mortals being cruelly toyed with by gods of chaos. It is so terrible, so random, so inexplicable, that I am pushed beyond my bounds for sympathy and watch with a more clinical detachment.

As Patrick says, I'll probably never see this again. But it was excellent and I'm glad I saw it once in the theater.

#12 of 23 Jason_V

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Posted November 29 2013 - 07:43 PM

I'm going to second, third or whatever we're up to: I don't need to see 12 Years a Slave ever again.  I am very happy I did see it today, and I knew what I was getting myself into.  It's raw and doesn't pull any punches in what is shown on screen.  When you read about our American history in a textbook or on the page, your brain can create the picture or it can block out the fact that these things happened to real people.  The story we're presented here might have been embellished in places, but the fact remains people were treated this way by other human beings.  Even if half this movie is fiction, the other half is still true.

 

Out of the entire movie, I was able to stomach everything except one sequence near the end.  The very quick shots and the small details got me to wince and look away.  Those are things I really don't need or want to see ever again.

 

Their dignity stripped, their most basic human rights violated, treated as nothing more than property to be used and abused...a system that was seen to be normal and not atypical.  That's what I keep coming back to in the same way I kept going back to the concentration camps from Schindler's List

 

Ejifor and Fassbender are locks for Oscar noms; I'm less sure about the movie itself.  It'll get a nomination, though I don't know if the Academy is going to give it Best Picture.  This is easily tied for the best movie I've seen this year (the other is Gravity).



#13 of 23 Robert Crawford

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Posted November 30 2013 - 03:23 AM

I can't bring myself to see this film.  I've talked with other family members and they feel the same way.  Perhaps, I will view it when it comes out on BD, but I don't want to see this in a public viewing.


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#14 of 23 Michael Elliott

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Posted November 30 2013 - 09:11 AM

I thought it was good to very good but I'm going to fall well short on calling it the best movie of the year and it's doubtful that it will enter my top ten.  Ejifor is certainly the best thing about the film but I thought some of the story telling was a tad bit off.  It just seemed like there wasn't a full, complete story being told and things just jumped around a bit too much without a flow IMO.  One minute he's free.  Then he's kidnapped.  Then he's being looked at as a "good" slave.  Then he's being abuse.  Then he tries for freedom.  So on.  The film just seemed like a bunch of vignette instead of a full movie.  I also thought the score was wonderful on its own but put with the images it just didn't work for me and I found it to be way too overdramatic.  The images on screen speak for themselves so you don't need the score blazing to show the horrors of a whipping. 



#15 of 23 schan1269

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Posted November 30 2013 - 01:17 PM

You'll think differently of 12 Years a Slave if your Antebellum type of movie is Mandingo/Drum instead of Gone With the Wind.



#16 of 23 Michael Elliott

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Posted November 30 2013 - 03:01 PM

Hated MANDINGO but DRUM is watchable. 

 

 

Edit to add:

 

The end credits talking about what happened after the events in the movie left me wanting to know more.  I must say that I was shocked to hear of the possible fate of Solomon and wonder if this "rumored" news was kept off the film because the thing was already depressing enough and the filmmakers didn't want people to know (or think) that his

Spoiler


Edited by Michael Elliott, November 30 2013 - 03:06 PM.


#17 of 23 Tino

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Posted November 30 2013 - 06:28 PM

I thought it was good to very good but I'm going to fall well short on calling it the best movie of the year and it's doubtful that it will enter my top ten.  Ejifor is certainly the best thing about the film but I thought some of the story telling was a tad bit off.  It just seemed like there wasn't a full, complete story being told and things just jumped around a bit too much without a flow IMO.  One minute he's free.  Then he's kidnapped.  Then he's being looked at as a "good" slave.  Then he's being abuse.  Then he tries for freedom.  So on.  The film just seemed like a bunch of vignette instead of a full movie.  I also thought the score was wonderful on its own but put with the images it just didn't work for me and I found it to be way too overdramatic.  The images on screen speak for themselves so you don't need the score blazing to show the horrors of a whipping.


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#18 of 23 Michael Elliott

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Posted November 30 2013 - 06:37 PM

Don't tell me. You thought Carrie was a better film right? ;)

 

I've still got a few of the Nov/Dec films to see but I'd rate Side Effects, Trance, The Place Beyond the Pines, Disconnect, Mud, Fast & Furious 6, What Maisie Knew, This is the End, Before Midnight, The Bling Ring, 20 Feet from Stardom, Fruitvale Station, Elysium, Blue Jasmine, Blackfish, The Spectacular Now, Don Jon, Gravity, Carrie, Bad Grandpa, All is Lost, Enough Said, Prisoners, Captain Phillips and Blue is the Warmest Color slightly above this one.



#19 of 23 schan1269

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Posted November 30 2013 - 06:53 PM

I've still got a few of the Nov/Dec films to see but I'd rate Side Effects, Trance, The Place Beyond the Pines, Disconnect, Mud, Fast & Furious 6, What Maisie Knew, This is the End, Before Midnight, The Bling Ring, 20 Feet from Stardom, Fruitvale Station, Elysium, Blue Jasmine, Blackfish, The Spectacular Now, Don Jon, Gravity, Carrie, Bad Grandpa, All is Lost, Enough Said, Prisoners, Captain Phillips and Blue is the Warmest Color slightly above this one.

 

:popcorn:  :rolling-smiley:



#20 of 23 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted November 30 2013 - 07:10 PM

The end credits talking about what happened after the events in the movie left me wanting to know more.  I must say that I was shocked to hear of the possible fate of Solomon and wonder if this "rumored" news was kept off the film because the thing was already depressing enough and the filmmakers didn't want people to know (or think) that his

Spoiler

 

The ultimate fate of the Solomon Northup is unknown. He was freed in early 1853 and ultimately lived with his daughter Margaret's family in Queensbury, NY, which is about an hour up the Northway (I-87) from Albany. He became an active voice in the abolition movement and toured the Northeast and eastern Canada giving lectures on slavery and his experiences. He disappeared in 1858, and rumors persisted in the press that he was again kidnapped and enslaved. However, by this point he was 50 years old and would not have made an attractive purchase in the South. It's more likely that he died, either of natural causes while traveling in an area where his remains could not be identified, or was kidnapped and killed: either by racists who didn't appreciate his outspoken views, or by associates of his original kidnappers who wanted to prevent him from testifying against them.






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