12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

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Jeff
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12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#1 Post by Jeff » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:44 pm

12 Years a Slave has got awards-bait written all over it. If it gets Chiwetel Ejiofor some long overdue attention, I'm all for it.

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Professor Wagstaff
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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#2 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:03 pm

This actually looks like a strong showcase for some great performers, even if it is awards-bait.

Has the MPAA made this distinction of "Violence/Cruelty" before in their rating advisory or would this be the first time?

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knives
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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#3 Post by knives » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:06 pm

I don't think, however much I love the cast, I could put up with another case of McQueen's editing and lame attempts to deal with big issues.

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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#4 Post by criterion10 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:17 pm

Very excited for this one. Shame was my favorite film of 2011, and I still maintain that McQueen is one of the best directors working today. It will be interesting to see what he does with this subject matter.

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mfunk9786
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#5 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:09 am

That looks like an incredibly moving story. McQueen's visual ability and lack of restraint w/r/t portraying difficult subject matter and themes will be a good match for material like this.

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FakeBonanza
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#6 Post by FakeBonanza » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:06 pm

It is an awards-bait-style trailer, but the content of the trailer suggests that the film could potentially be far more than awards bait.

I've yet to see Hunger, but I very much enjoyed Shame for its cinematography and performances (the script is another matter). I primarily think of McQueen as a visual stylist, so it will be interesting to see what he can do with a story that seems to have far more narrative depth than his previous two films.

It is nice to finally see Chitewel Ejifor in the starring role of a large production.

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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#7 Post by criterion10 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:17 pm

The trailer is certainly done in a familiar and awards-friendly style, but I still think that McQueen will be able to bring his own artistic vision to the film.
FakeBonanza wrote:I've yet to see Hunger, but I very much enjoyed Shame for its cinematography and performances (the script is another matter).
I thought Hunger was great, and Shame was even better. One interesting thing to note is that this will be the first film that McQueen does not have screenwriting credit on, so it will be interesting to see how that affects this film.

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colinr0380
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#8 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:46 pm

FakeBonanza wrote:It is nice to finally see Chitewel Ejifor in the starring role of a large production.
Someone never saw Kinky Boots, a strange melding of the two big 90s hits of The Full Monty and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and yet another film in that vaguely offensive subgenre suggesting that much of England outside of London can compensate for or replace the loss of an entire industry/way of life by going down a bizarrely narrow, often sexually oriented economic path!

bdlover
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#9 Post by bdlover » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:50 pm

Looks like a job for hire this one, an aggrandized HBO movie of the month, and yet potentially more interesting than either of the previous two works. Looks pretty good for $20m too, given all the star names. Almost looking forward to it.

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Lowry_Sam
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#10 Post by Lowry_Sam » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:35 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
FakeBonanza wrote:It is nice to finally see Chitewel Ejifor in the starring role of a large production.
Someone never saw Kinky Boots, a strange melding of the two big 90s hits of The Full Monty and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and yet another film in that vaguely offensive subgenre suggesting that much of England outside of London can compensate for or replace the loss of an entire industry/way of life by going down a bizarrely narrow, often sexually oriented economic path!
...maybe Cyndi Lauper can also turn Personal Services into a Broadway musical so you can add one more title to that growing offensive subgenre.

rohming
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#11 Post by rohming » Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:56 pm

it certainly looks well-made but zzzz....

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Jeff
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#12 Post by Jeff » Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:23 am

Apparently the film is indeed winning all of the Academy Awards this year, with Chiwetel Ejiofor looking particularly unstoppable. While I didn't love McQueen's last two films, I think Ejiofor is maybe the most underrated guy out there right now, so this is great for him. The Hollywood Reporter 's headline is, "Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave Met with Shock and Awe at World Premiere." Raves from IndieWire and HitFix too.

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domino harvey
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#13 Post by domino harvey » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:44 am

Hopefully this at least deflects liberal guilt noms away from the Butler, which I can't believe is still actually considered an Oscar sure thing by many

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Luke M
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#14 Post by Luke M » Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:02 pm

Happy to hear this sounds like the real deal.

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Finch
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#15 Post by Finch » Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:44 am

A mixed take on the film by Walter Chaw

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hearthesilence
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#16 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Sep 07, 2013 9:19 am

NYMag reporter believes it will win Best Picture and possibly Best Director and Actor based on a first-hand account of the audience/press reaction to the film.

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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#17 Post by Clodius » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:13 pm

I cannot wait for this film. There really isn't anything I'm more excited for this entire year (The Grandmaster was good, but didn't blow me completely away). This film is the only one I really can imagine living up to Zero Dark Thirty from last year, which may not have been the absolute truth about hunting OBL but was the only film I left last year totally speechless and HAD to see multiple times.

Also, having read that review by Walter Chaw, it seems excessively harsh. It really hammers the film in comparing it to the memoirs it's based off of, which is never a fair way to judge a movie. I'm more interested in the way Steve McQueen interprets the material here, rather than how well he keeps to the source material. The other big complaint Chaw seems to have with the movie is that it doesn't seem to have a bigger theme than "Slavery is bad". While having greater themes present is almost always a good thing, I can also understand films focused on a certain event/movement/social issue sacrificing that opportunity to focus on the matter at hand. I haven;t seen the film, so I can't say that Chaw is absolutely wrong, but even examining his critiques I'm still very excited for this film.

bdlover
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#18 Post by bdlover » Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:08 am

Given the response they've managed to generate, a strategy of premiering in non-competitive North American festivals does perhaps seem plausible. In Cannes or Venice, whilst a contender, the film would've been by no means a shoo-in for the awards and this might've blighted the Oscar campaign I guess. I think it remains to be seen though whether Academy members will genuinely warm to the brow-beating the film by all accounts delivers. Smart money still on The Butler?

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pzadvance
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#19 Post by pzadvance » Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:11 pm

Clodius wrote:Also, having read that review by Walter Chaw, it seems excessively harsh. It really hammers the film in comparing it to the memoirs it's based off of, which is never a fair way to judge a movie. I'm more interested in the way Steve McQueen interprets the material here, rather than how well he keeps to the source material. The other big complaint Chaw seems to have with the movie is that it doesn't seem to have a bigger theme than "Slavery is bad". While having greater themes present is almost always a good thing, I can also understand films focused on a certain event/movement/social issue sacrificing that opportunity to focus on the matter at hand. I haven;t seen the film, so I can't say that Chaw is absolutely wrong, but even examining his critiques I'm still very excited for this film.
I agree that Chaw seemed a little too hung up on adaptation discrepancies but his more general criticisms spoke to the heart of everything that I was concerned about with this film. It does seem possible that McQueen's artistic voice might get lost in the process of bringing us a Major Social Issue film. His previous work has been so nuanced and complicated in its exploration of themes and vices and struggles of power, it would be a shame to see that get glossed over in favor of turning in a more anonymous, straight-ahead "prestige" work.

This is all likely a pointless exercise in expectation management, but it worries me to have a guy as smart as Chaw confirm those fears. Here's hoping he's wrong.

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HistoryProf
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#20 Post by HistoryProf » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:05 am

I've used this slave narrative in classes before, so I was unbelievably excited to hear it was being made into a film - and then I heard McQueen was directing and my expectations plummeted. Hunger was extremely over-rated, and Shame was as vacuous a piece of pointless cinema as I've ever seen. It's mystifying to me how he can show flashes of brilliance visually, but be incapable of telling a story worth giving two shits about. But with this material, if he can't summon any kind of caring or sympathy from the audience he might as well hang it up. I will see it once again with high hopes based on the reviews coming out....but I keep telling myself that his first two films had the same hype. I just don't really understand the pairing of him with this material....but hey, at least it's not Spielberg. He's 0 for 2 for me, but I sincerely hope he knocks this one out of the park.

do we know when it's opening wide?

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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#21 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:56 am

It gets a limited release (presumably NY/LA) on October 18th, beginning a word-of-mouth roll-out towards a wide release.

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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#22 Post by bdlover » Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:23 pm

A more reserved response from Screen.

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domino harvey
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#23 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:55 pm

I was an invited guest at an early screening of this and I'm afraid that the film is almost exactly what you'd expect/fear/guess: a well-made, competent, wholly average film which will no doubt sweep the Oscars. I wish I could say I loved it or hated it, but the simple fact is it's a good if unspectacular film that has very little new to say. The performances are good-- expect sure-thing noms for Ejiofer and Lupita Nyong'o, and Fassbender gives the best perf in the film so it'd be nice if the Academy finally recognized him for it. Should Nyong'o win for Supporting Actress, which seems almost certain now that Margo Martindale has been rendered impotent, it'd be another in a long line of wins for characters the Academy voters feel sorry for winning rather than the actual performance. The parade of familiar faces grows thinner as the narrative proceeds, but special consideration should be given to Paul Giamatti who proceeds over the film's best attempt at saying something of interest during a slave trading auction by proclaiming that his sense of decency extends no further than "the length of a coin." It's a good line, far better than the Hallmark-ready aphorisms Ejiofer is frequently stuck with, but that kind of insight into the learned normalcy of slavery is infrequently present.

There's some nice technical proficiency here-- many reviewers have mentioned the savage climactic whip-beating, but the most impressive aspect is how it all unfolds brilliantly in one take. The opening counter-balance between Ejiofer's memories of his loving marriage and his forced masturbation of a white woman jolts like little else in the film as well. There's some nice use of bridging and the sound design is well-utilized. I enjoyed the score but also give props for the occasional use of avant-garde music (Not every prestige pic features a Constellation records song credit!) to highlight scenes of unease and tension. I am a little bewildered at how this all adds up to a satisfying/uplifting/let's throw awards at this experience, but what else is new

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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#24 Post by Finch » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:17 pm

Mixed review from Ed Gonzalez at Slant
But that flash of emotional intensity is scarce in 12 Years a Slave, because McQueen, as is his wont, is largely content to craft images and sounds that strongly convey atmosphere and evoke great horrors, but are less visualizations of human feeling than artistic posturing. Take the film's opening shot, an artfully framed overhead of a plate containing a drab piece of meat and bread and a few blackberries whose juices the educated Solomon, who's warned to feign illiteracy for the sake of his survival, will use to craft a letter to potential saviors back in New York. McQueen only implies Solomon's realization of how he can repurpose the blackberry juice as ink, transfixing us instead with the beauty with which the juice circles around the plate as Solomon tilts it from side to side. This manner of giving primacy to the fastidiously composed image over human emotion is repeated when Solomon, after his intentions have come to light, burns the letter he's written, the embers of the flame suggesting a vast universe's dying stars. It's an impossibly gorgeous image, poetic in its implications, though it isn't preferable to the one that was meticulously left off screen: the dissolving of hope from Solomon's face.
To be fair, McQueen's impersonal approach to his subject matter isn't solely to blame for the failure of 12 Years a Slave, a safely anecdotal mosaic closer in spirit to Edward P. Jones's The Known World than to Toni Morrison's radically constructed Beloved. John Ridley's adaptation of Northup's autobiography cheapens Solomon's experience by presenting it as an educational string of episodic horrors. The film, which really only hints at the length of Solomon's ordeal in the old-age makeup a customarily nuanced Ejiofor dons in the last scene, moves from one stately, platitude-rich set piece to the next, featuring characters who enter and exit their scenes after having unimaginatively illuminated a different facet of the slave narrative. There's never a sense of how these people, by and large distractingly (though not unimpressively) played by a who's who of actors, live their private lives in between the very hectoring scenes that spotlight their public role in the history of slavery, and the effect is off-puttingly manufactured.

Walter Chaw persuasively argues to the moral compromises that were made in bringing this story to the screen. Not having read Northup's autobiography, I can only attest to how audiences, through Solomon's interactions with different white men, are dully schooled on the sliding scale of racism. The extent of William Ford's characterization is that of a gentleman who comes to understand Solomon as one too, but if he doesn't free his slave it's because his humanitarianism is easily understood as being subservient to his thirst for property. Solomon's subsequent master, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), sees his racist psychopathy staged as a sideshow attraction; as the filmmakers are unconcerned with the roots of the man's many contradictions and conflictions, he registers only as a fumbling, drunken archetype. It's almost a given that he cheats on his wife, Mary Epps (Sarah Paulson), with one of his slaves, Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o), and almost unbelievable that, when Solomon is sent by his master to a neighboring plantation, his meeting with Mistress Harriet Shaw (Alfre Woodard) is only an excuse for us to learn how female slaves spared themselves a lifetime of horrors by marrying their masters.

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mfunk9786
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Re: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

#25 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:28 pm

Great!
mfunk9786 wrote:Yay - Rex Reed hated this!
Metacritic wrote:New York Observer
Rex Reed
Nov 8, 2011
0/100
Melancholia is his latest pile of undiluted drivel, nauseatingly filmed by a wonky hand-held camera and featuring a crazy, mismatched ensemble headed by Kirsten Dunst, who won an acting award in Cannes last year for looking totally catatonic.
Whenever Rex Reed hates something and/or Ed Gonzalez gives it a "look at me!" middling review, it's a good sign for the high quality level of a film.

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