It’s now the time of year when films are carefully marketed and strategically released into theaters in the hopes that they will be fresh on the minds of those making the big decisions come award season in the early part of 2014. To this point, there are large quantities of good quality films coming out every month, and it is often tough to review all of them. On top of my traditional full-length reviews, I’ve decided to change it up a bit and give you a brief rundown of what else is in theaters and a little bit of info about each. (NOTE: these films are available now or coming out this weekend – they are not all award quality…)
Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an incredible performance as Solomon Northup, a free black man living in the pre-Civil War United States era, who is kidnapped near his home in the Northeast and sold into slavery in the South. In a twelve-year struggle to stay alive and find his way home, Solomon witnesses first hand the cruel and inhuman slave practices, as well as some unexpected compassion and sympathy from a few people he encounters while moving from plantation to plantation.
This film will make you feel ashamed and almost uncomfortable as it is heartbreaking to watch how slaves were treated – raped, beaten, killed, starved, forced to live in horrible conditions – all in such an abusive way for the mere pleasure of the white plantation owners. Watching the mistreatment of these slaves, I found myself at times wanting to look away, and yet with no clue what to expect, the audience seemed to be holding their breath in anticipation of what would happen next. 12 Years A Slave gives you a wide range of emotions from sadness, to concern, to disgust, to angriness, all culminating in a heart warming scene as Solomon is returned to his family after a long and tiresome journey.
12 Years A Slave should warrant attention come award season and could potentially be one of the greatest historical pieces ever. This film makes you reflect hard on how slaves were treated, how people turned their backs on issues such as this, and what it was like for someone like Northup. Unlike the recent film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which is set in a similar period, talks about slavery and the fight for black equality, 12 Years A Slave is an edgy, bare bone, accurate account of one man’s hard fight for freedom and survival. The film also features notable performances from Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Lupita Nyong’o, and Brad Pitt.
12 Years A Slave is rated R for violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality. Running time is 2 hours and 14 minutes. Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars. (more…)