12years

Steve McQueen‘s Hunger dazzled me with its meticulously constructed tableaus, its daring long takes, and its incredible central performance by Michael Fassbender. When I saw that film, I believed its director to be one of the best filmmakers on the planet. It boggled my mind that that was McQueen’s first feature film – if that was where this person was beginning, I couldn’t even imagine where he’d end up.

12 Years a Slave, out in theaters now, is the latest step by McQueen on his filmmaking journey and it is indeed incredible. It’s McQueen at his most mature and accessible, delivering a film that has the impact of an emotional wrecking ball. Hit the jump to see my video review.
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12-years-a-slave-TIFF-review

Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free northern man who was kidnapped and sold into bondage in the 1840s, 12 Years a Slave doesn’t shy away from the horrific aspects of a slave trade that existed for hundred of years, sweeping up more than 12 million souls. Familial separation, abuse, torture, the idea that the slaves were no better than beasts; it’s all laid bare for the audience to witness.

Though not a “light” film by any measure, this is a well-executed drama dealing with a horrific historical occurrence. Director Steve Mcqueen has proven that he’s a burgeoning young auteur, a vibrant force that should deliver us a slew of great films in the decades to come. Just as with his previous film, Shame, this is a gutting experience, and McQueen, as channeled through the extremely capable cast of Chewitel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, and Brad Pitt, crafts a two-hour story that can’t help but leave you drained as the credits come up. Read More »

Devils Knot

One of the most prestigious film festivals in North America, the Toronto Film Festival, has begun to announce its line up for 2013. The event takes place September 5-15 and as usual, the line-up includes pretty much every highly-anticipated awards contender scheduled for release through the end of the year.

Just a few examples are the Jackie Brown prequel Life of Crime, Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club, the star-studded August: Osage County, Idris Elba in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, the West Memphis Three film Devil’s Knot (above), Jason Reitman’s latest Labor Day, Jason Bateman’s debut Bad Words, Ron Howard’s Rush, the Wikileaks film The Fifth Estate, Mike Myers’ documentary Supermench, Matthew Weiner’s You Are Here, Hugh Jackman in Prisoners, Keanu Reeves’ Man of Tai Chi and Alfonso Cuaron’s space drama, Gravity.

And they haven’t even finished announcing everything. Below, read everything in this first wave. Read More »

12-years-a-slave-header

The new film from director Steve McQueen (Shame, Hunger) is based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man who was kidnapped and held as a slave for over a decade. In 12 Years a Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Northrup, and we see his horrific journey and what amounts to years of imprisonment as a slave as he is tormented by captors and owners.

The impressive cast also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Dwight Henry, Quvenzhane Wallis, Lupita Nyongo, Scoot McNairy, Michael Kenneth Williams and Garret Dillahunt. The story is wrenching — if Django Unchained played fast and loose with history, this is the film that attempts to tell the story of a slave’s emancipation from more true-to-life details. The trailer has an air of Oscar bait about it, but the emotions it calls up are undeniable. And knowing the way McQueen’s films work, the trailer could be a much more audience-friendly experience than the final film will be. Read More »

Twelve Years a Slave (2)

The name Solomon Northup may not ring a bell for most people, but Steve McQueen and his star-studded cast could help change that this winter with Twelve Years a Slave.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup, a free man who was tricked and sold into slavery as an adult. He spent a dozen years working on plantations before eventually finding his way to freedom once more. Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight HenryPaul Giamatti, Michael K. Williams, Alfre Woodard, and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o are also among the cast. See the first official stills from the movie after the jump.

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Director Steve McQueen‘s last two films, Hunger and Shame, were relatively intimate affairs with smallish casts anchored by Michael Fassbender. In contrast, his upcoming Twelve Years a Slave, boasts a far more expansive cast — and what a cast it is. In addition to established names like Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Brad Pitt, the lineup also includes up-and-comers like Pariah actress Adepero Oduye and Beasts of the Southern Wild star Dwight Henry. Now, with shooting already underway, Henry’s Beasts co-star Quvenzhané Wallis has apparently been added to the roster as well.

The first photo from the set shows Ejiofor and Wallis alongside an adult actress and a child actor. It looks like the foursome comprise the Northrup family, though we don’t have enough info at this point to say for sure. Check out the image and read more about the film after the jump.

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I’m starting to suspect Steve McQueen watches the same TV we do. The British director of Hunger and Shame has already cast Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, Saturday Night Live‘s Taran Killam, and Raising Hope‘s Garret Dillahunt in his upcoming Twelve Years a Slave, and he’s now added another small-screen favorite. Michael K. Williams, a.k.a. Omar Little on The Wire, has just boarded the cast, which also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Brad Pitt. More details after the jump.

UPDATE: A few hours after this post went up, it was announced that Beasts of the Southern Wild star Dwight Henry had also joined Twelve Years a Slave.

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Here’s an update to the developing news on Steve McQueen‘s third film, Twelve Years a Slave, that is pretty minor in terms of word count, but potentially huge for the movie. We know that Chiwetel Ejiofor will play Solomon Northrup, a free black man kidnapped in Washington in 1841 and made to serve as a slave for over a decade. Michael Fassbender, who featured in McQueen’s last two films, Hunger and Shame, will also play a role.

Brad Pitt‘s company Plan B is producing the film, and now the actor will take a role in the movie, too. Read More »

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