The new Paranormal Activity isn’t an all time classic that’s gonna redefine the genre, but damn if it wasn’t fun. See it in a crowded theater and have a blast.
Jesus, Eddie was a maniac.
My favorite witch.
Here are the updated rankings:
- The Wolf of Wall Street
- The Act of Killing
- The Spectacular Now
- Stories We Tell
- Fruitvale Station
And here’s the review of the presumed favorite:
Spoilers start as soon as this type stops being bold. Just letting you know.
The reviews for 12 Years a Slave are, in a word, glowing. It has topped many best of the year lists and has been called a masterpiece. An instant classic. I even saw one early review that claimed it to be the best film of the past 10 years. So needless to say, my expectations were pretty high. What I ended up getting was a beautifully shot, skillfully acted film that, to me, didn’t quite live up to the hype, but was still an overall fine work of art.
The film is based off of the memoir of the same name, written by Solomon Northrup. In 1841 Northrup, who was a free man living in Saratoga Springs, New York, was approached by two white men about a potentially lucrative deal performing in a circus they were a part of. Northrup was a talented fiddle player and the men wanted him to play for a short period of time, then he could return to his family. Solomon agrees and goes out with the men for a night of celebration. Unbeknownst to Solomon, the men drug him during their celebration and he wakes up the next morning in chains, waiting to be sold into slavery. Northrup is shipped to New Orleans and told to forget his past as a free man and is given a new name: Platt.
As Northrup/Platt, Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a beautiful and moving performance. He is a proud man being reduced to nothing. His first owner, William Ford (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), is a seemingly nice man who takes a liking to Platt. Platt shows early on that he is smarter than the other slaves, and even smarter than some of Fords’ hired hands. One of the hands, John Tibeats (Paul Dano), doesn’t take too kindly to being shown up by a slave and goes full on Percy from The Green Mile*. After a physical altercation between John and Platt, Ford decides that the only way he can keep Platt safe is to sell him to a different plantation. Platt’s new home belongs to Edwin Epps. As Epps, Michael Fassbender gives a horrifying performance. He believes that his ownership of slaves is justified by the bible. He also repetitively cheats on his wife with a female slave named Patsey. Patsey is played by Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o in her American film debut, and she knocks it out of the park. Ejiofor, Fassbender, and Nyong’o are all virtual locks for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress nominations, respectively. Brad Pitt plays Northrup’s saving grace as a Canadian man named Bass who gets word of Solomon’s kidnapping and slaving back to New York where papers can be shown that prove Solomon’s freedom. But he’s only onscreen for maybe five minutes and just uses a less exaggerated version of his accent from Inglorious Basterds.
*You remember Percy from The Green Mile right? While everyone else was warming up to John Coffey (Rest in peace Michael Clarke Duncan) Percy kept antagonizing the big man. I HATED Percy and you’ll hate John. Paul Dano makes sure of it.
As I said earlier, the film is beautiful. With every shot, from the gorgeous wide shots of the fields to a near close-up of a back being whipped, you feel like you’re right there alongside the actors. Director Steve McQueen has a strict, unflinching vision. He intended to show just how brutal slavery was and he holds nothing back. I didn’t enjoy the sound nearly as much though. While the use of the old slave spirituals are very effective, I thought that Han Zimmers’ score was actually a bit much at times. Maybe it was just me, but at times it was very loud and off-putting and it took me out of a scene or two.
Maybe I should have tempered my expectations a bit. I bought into the hype and was expecting a world class masterpiece. While i didn’t get that, I did get an undeniably great movie. It features powerful, moving performances and belongs on every Top 10 list, for sure. But in the end, It’s moving, but it didn’t move me the way The Act of Killing did. It’s stunning, but it didn’t stun me like Gravity did. It didn’t floor me like The Wolf of Wall Street did. In the past, 12 Years a Slave might have been number one or two on my year-end list, but the competition is just too stiff this year. A