Archives for the month of: November, 2013

“12 Years A Slave” is directed by Steve McQueen, screenplay by John Ridley, based on “12 Years A Slave” by Solomon Northup, written about his abduction and the 12 years he spent as a slave.

Wow.

I’m not really sure where to start with this write-up.

The movie is challenging and is a must-see. It is emotional and doesn’t flinch from all the issues surrounding slavery in the southern United States before emancipation. Cruelty, suffering, weirdness, violence, rape, whippings, blood, enslavement, betrayal, love, hate, mercy – this film encompasses and expresses it all.

The cast is stellar – Chiwetel Ejiofor (uh, yeah, I remember him from Kinky Boots!), Michael Fassbender etc. – seriously, the only disappointing performance was Brad Pitt and he has to be forgiven as he is one of the producers…also, I don’t take him seriously as a Canadian.

I loved the texture and pacing of this movie. Every scene that took our breath away with visceral violence or outstanding cruelty, was balanced by a moment of beauty, reflection and silence. I really appreciated this as it gave me time to process what had just happened and come back to the story ready and able to take more.

There are not a lot of moments in this film that are redeeming to humanity – the characters, both slaves and owners, live miserable lives and are unhappy with their situation. One of the most powerful moments in the film for me, was a very brief dialogue about murder vs mercy – it floored me and continues to haunt me.

When you see this movie – see this movie! – take someone with you who you can talk to after the movie is over. One of the things that we often overlook is how some films are intended to be digested and discussed with others who have experienced the film at the same time. My companion and I talked about this movie for about 2 hours after seeing it and then got back on the phone the next day to talk some more.

That this film is based on a real person, who was free and then sold into slavery and then managed to get freed, is incredible. One of the things that my companion and I talked about was that although this film is grounded in history, this still happens today and we need to continue to be aware of the injustice and inhumanity of slavery.

Challenge yourself, see the film, think about it, talk about it.

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“Captain Phillips” is directed by Paul Greengrass, screenplay by Billy Ray, based on the book ‘A Captain`s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea’ by Richard Phillips and Stephen Talty.

Well.

Tom Hanks can do no wrong.

Another stellar movie, another stellar performance by Tom Hanks.

The story is based on true events that happened back in 2009. Does anyone else remember this? I remember reading about it the news – pirates – of course I remember pirates! It was scary and surreal.

The movie feels like a doc – it isn’t pretty, neat or tidy. There is grit and violence.  The story unfolds at a steady clip and doesn’t rely on narrative devices or give time for reflection or contemplation.

This film was the upper limit of my tolerance for realistic violence, but I didn’t find it was overdone or gratuitous, it served to move the story and characters forward. And often, it was the threat there violence could happen at any moment.

Edge of the seat tension – even knowing the ending from the news stories, it was harrowing and scary in the “oh man! this really happened!” kind of way.

I don’t know what else to say about this movie. Go see it. Tom Hanks is wonderful and this is another example of how he continues to grow and challenge himself as an actor. And how he continues to challenge us to grow and challenge ourselves as movie goers.

Bravo.