TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE

Briefly: In years past, when a director had a film that was likely to be in contention for a Best Picture Oscar, you wouldn’t hear about him signing on to do a TV project. But the reputation of TV has changed and regardless, 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen isn’t your typical director.

And so, McQueen has announced development efforts to create a series for the BBC that will chronicle several decades of black experience in London. The director told the Daily Mail that he’s going to workshop the series with a set of actors, and that the drama will be set in West London. Calling it “epic in scope,” he explained that it will follow a set of people from 1968 to 2014. ”I don’t think there has been a serious drama series in Britain with black people from all walks of life as the main protagonists,” he said. Speaking to Deadline, Ben Stephenson of the BBC called it a “major drama.”

There’s a lot of work to be done on this one yet, so we might not see it for a while. Will it incorporate any stories of the ’81 Brixton riots, which McQueen was said to be exploring for a film some time ago? That’s something we don’t know at this point.

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steve-mcqueen-armond-white

12 Years a Slave was my favorite film of the year, so I was pretty disappointed when I read in outlets such as The Guardian and Variety  that former /Filmcast guest Armond White had heckled Steve McQueen during the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. Sure, White was no fan of 12 Years a Slave, as demonstrated in our /Filmcast review of the film with him. But shouting down a man during an evening meant to praise him? It struck me as wildly inappropriate. The Chair of the NYFCC, Joshua Rothkopf, agreed and issued a public apology. 

You can listen to some low-quality audio of the incident at Filmlinc.

I asked Armond White to respond to the allegations. I have recorded our conversation and I am releasing it in its entirety as a bonus /Filmcast episode. After the jump, you can download the episode and find some transcribed excerpts from our conversation. Note that this audio file is a combination of two separate recorded files, but none of Armond’s remarks were abridged. You can read Armond’s latest “Better Than” list at CityArts. See also Luke O’Neill’s essay on “The Year We Broke The Internet.”
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12-Years-a-Slave-Steve-McQueen

Who will be nominated for the Best Director Oscar this year? We’ve got a pretty good idea now that the nominations for the Directors Guild of America’s own awards have been handed down. Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), David O. Russell (American Hustle), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Paul Greengrass (Captain Philips) have been honored with nominations for the 66th DGA award. Three of those (McQueen, Cuaron, Greengrass) are first-time DGA nominations.

Historically, this nomination set is a very good predictor of where the Oscars will go, but last year was a bit of a tradition breaker, as only two of the five DGA nominees got Oscar nominations, and the DGA winner, Ben Affleck, was not among them. (Ang Lee won the Oscar.)

Meanwhile, this is another major guild that has looked past Joel and Ethan Coen and Inside Llewyn Davis; Spike Jonze is another director of significant achievement in 2013 who didn’t get a nomination. 

The full list of feature directorial nominations is below, with accompanying notes from the DGA. Read More »

LAT-director-roundtable

We’ve spoken often of how the best thing about awards season is that filmmakers are given the chance to talk at length about their films, and not merely on their own, but with each other. THR had a long set of video roundtables late last year featuring many people responsible for some of 2013′s best films, and now the LA Times site The Envelope is getting in on the action.

The director’s roundtable from the outlet features   Spike Jonze (Her), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks), J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost), Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said) and Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), with the crew of directors talking about their early inspirations, reacting to criticism, luck, failure, casting, and far more. Read More »

THR-directors

As we mentioned a few days ago, one of the great pleasures of the award season, which does arrive each year with a grand set of problems and irritants, is that filmmakers are given more opportunities than usual to discuss their work, and some of those opportunities are more extensive than others. THR has created a series of “creative roundtables” over the past few years, in which likely Oscar candidates talk with each other about their work.

Below you’ll find the new directors roundtable, in which Steve McQueen, Paul Greengrass, David O. Russell, Ben Stiller, Alfonso Cuaron and Lee Daniels discuss all manner of topics related to filmmaking. Make time for the 50-minute talk; it’s very much worth it. Read More »

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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shame-steve-mcqueen

12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen is the latest in a long line of film directors to end up on HBO. He’s got a new drama project brewing for the channel, with World War Z co-writer Matthew Michael Carnahan, music producer Russell Simmons, and The King’s Speech and Shame producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman all working on the development.

McQueen and Carnahan co-wrote and McQueen will direct the New York City-set tale that is being described as “Six Degrees of Separation meets Shame.” Read More »

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 »

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