Author Topic: 12 Years A Slave  (Read 7067 times)

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MacGuffin

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12 Years A Slave
« on: July 15, 2013, 07:16:26 PM »
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Release date: December 26, 2013

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Premise: In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.
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jenkins

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2013, 08:12:25 PM »
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uhhh, what an oscar release date. i hope it gets any award that it may get. i'd watch the movie tomorrow

i was trying to think how that (me watching the movie tomorrow) would happen. mcqueen and actresses, during afi fest and at grauman's egyptian theatre, presented shame for its city arrival. please let there be no wonder for how excited i would be for that same event with this movie. the answer is "very excited" and "you'll probably cry a lot, mcqueen bristles melodramas that barely exists without him"

matt35mm

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 01:12:32 PM »
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I remain very interested in the movie, but I didn't really care for that trailer. I suspect they took all the interesting parts out, so that it would look like a Ron Howard movie.

Reelist

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2013, 02:55:20 PM »
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I guess from now on I should scroll down and read the comments before watching any trailer,

It's working already. Thanks, Matt. I will not watch this trailer based on your review.
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wilder

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2013, 04:52:59 PM »
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Thought Hunger was great, but I completely lost trust in McQueen after Crash Shame. One pattern I'm seeing in his films is that he tends to come into material with a definitive moral bias, and attempts to impose that bias on scenes instead of approaching each scene individually to find the unique truth of the different situations at hand. Regardless if the bias McQueen comes into the material with is right or wrong, it taints his ability to fully explore the drama of whatever story he's telling, so the films become exercises in proselytization.

jenkins

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2013, 05:25:12 PM »
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you've described the base of melodrama. he makes melodramas. he heightens the particular emotions of his characters in a way that folds the patterns of his cinematic textures. those textures don't disclose the indefinite. you're aiming your own morals at mcqueen's deliberate disregard of your morals, and you've concluded by saying that aside from that point, he's tainted because he can't take you where you want to go

he doesn't go where you want to go. no. he goes where his characters go. the arrangement installs itself inside the character. that's a melodrama

you compared the movie to crash, and i can guess which crash you mean. that insult has become a consistent insult within certain cinema communities, and betrays what you express. you don't like it when they attempt to make the rules, and when they think they've  assembled rules into narrative. exactly. the same for cinema. no rules. go at what you go at

from hunger, to shame, and clearly to 12 year a slave, mcqueen explores what's happening to his characters, and how it's happening. i cherish the cinema he uses for that goal. the individual is the truth he gives

i reread this and my summary is "gogogogo mcqueen"

wilder

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2013, 05:44:18 PM »
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you've described the base of melodrama. he makes melodramas. he heightens the particular emotions of his characters in a way that folds the patterns of his cinematic textures.

I'm a big fan of melodrama, but the definition I subscribe to (one of many competing ones), is a story that unfolds with heightened emotions without visible causality, but that still strikes notes that feel emotionally true. This is why Sirk movies work for me, some Fassbinder, and why I'm a big fan of Todd Haynes. Due to our slightly differing definitions, and the personal subjectivity of mine, we might have to agree to disagree. All I can say is that the emotions McQueen portrays in attempt to to create a psychologically sound portrait of his characters (at least in Shame) strike me as patently false and two-dimensional not for the sake of simplicity or deliberate artifice, but because the very psychology of the characters in the script is unsound. Something as heightened as the scene in Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life, where James Mason, under the effect of the drug Cortisone, is cruelly making his son do endless math problems while his wife implores him to stop and see his family as he did before he became under the influence plays with more emotional believability to me, despite its heightened nature, than anything represented in Shame.

you're aiming your own morals at mcqueen's deliberate disregard of your morals, and you've concluded by saying that aside from that point, he's tainted because he can't take you where you want to go

he doesn't go where you want to go. no. he goes where his characters go. the arrangement installs itself inside the character. that's a melodrama
[...]
mcqueen explores what's happening to his characters, and how it's happening.

That's not what I'm saying at all. There's an obvious demonization and slant to the portrayal of the scenes he includes in his movies, and in the very arrangement of the scenes themselves. It's hammering the same note over and over instead of showing us a reciprocal dynamic we can draw our own conclusions from. It's the equivalent of making everyone a foil character in your script except your lead.

jenkins

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2013, 06:20:19 PM »
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what melodrama are you watching? you're not watching sirk, fassbinder, or haynes. you're watching ray. when you describe that ray scene, you're describing causality. i understand your fear of a word scramble here, and i think that's happening. "patently false" and "two-dimensional" has compounded the scramble

unsound psychology has been the launchpad of criticisms against the movie, and befriends the patent and the dimensions. if you want what ray did, which is a want that i also support, you have it when brandon jogs when he does. there's the disconnect you long for, there's the psychology. the scene is necessary because it's his run into a direction that's being built from the path of his life. what happens after that, what happens to his sister, is not his end, it's a question of what his end is, and every person who sees shame has the same question for themselves. the complexity here -- if we cracked the complexity, you'd find your unsoundness. and i believe the unsoundness is his own
 
your 2nd portion: there's a sex journey towards the movie's end that bolsters all those claims. the journey, in my opinion, establishes the realm of the movie's melodrama. here is where you find my reason for calling it a melodrama -- the heightening emotions are all that are happening. i didn't even mention when he kneels himself on the ground. how else could you end such a journey? there are notes to this, there are hammers to this, and mcqueen gives us the notes, shows us the hammers, and the character continues his path toward the dimensions you seek. he seeks them too

wilder

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2013, 06:59:42 PM »
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My memory of Shame is that the emotional moments the characters portray are arrived at preemptively before the interactions (shown in the film) that would create them. This is different than excising emotionally explanatory scenes from a narrative that leave the viewer with gaps about emotional progression to fill on their own, but still showing an evolving story. I believe this applies to those other filmmakers as well as Ray. That specific scene in Bigger Than Life isn't the best example of this specific narrative style, only the heightened emotions, but plenty of other portions of that movie do represent this storytelling technique. The difference is an evolving understanding of character even if progressing artificially rapidly, which is brought about by the new experiences and people they encounter over the course of a film. There was almost nothing in Shame that evolved the story from the place Brandon started at, very little that aroused new emotions relative to the beginning act of the movie, and so what is left is a static portrayal. In lieu of progression there's, like you pointed out, a magnification of those initial emotions, but even this magnification is brought about by scenes rooted in dubious starting points, manufactured out of a desire to prove an unsound thesis instead of an interest in creating actual drama. Nothing we see creates new insight. This is why I describe Brandon as two-dimensional. I reject the idea that melodrama is an excuse to eschew dramatic principles for the end of portraying intense emotion rooted in nothing.

Apart from Shame's fitting or not fitting into the definition of melodrama, the movie made me feel nothing, which for me stems directly from the movie's dramatic weakness.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2013, 07:04:12 PM »
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My memory of Shame is that the emotional moments the characters portray have been arrived at preemptively before the interactions (shown in the film) that would create them . . . the movie made me feel nothing, which for me stems directly from the movie's dramatic weakness.

I had exactly the same experience with Shame. It barely registered.
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jenkins

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2013, 07:28:48 PM »
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this would be easier for me if i couldn't see where you're coming from. i do. my intention wasn't to portray a definition for melodrama, my intention was to portray mcqueen's link to creators before him. if there's a better word for shame i'd want to learn it, and if there's a better history for this type of creation, i'd watch and watch it

i don't think you shouldn't want the parts you want. i think those parts are there in a way that you don't want to see. the emotions are the drama, the emotions are fissured because the character is, and i felt every bit of the movie

wilder

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2013, 07:33:21 PM »
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i think those parts are there in a way that you don't want to see.

Elaborate? At the end of the day the movie made you feel and it didn't make me feel, so there's really nowhere to go from that. Curious what you're seeing that does it for you, though.

jenkins

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2013, 08:05:36 PM »
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an elaboration would swell the mentioned and require a multitude of references. how can i shorten this --

sex. creation, and an attempt to wire into creating oneself. as what kind of person has brandon created himself? shame shows the routine and displays the size, the battles, the failures, and the injuries, of those and those around brandon

Kellen

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jenkins

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Re: 12 Years A Slave
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2013, 03:45:14 AM »
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nice. i like and appreciate the spread you've supplied

the release date is now october 18

the marrow of this movie will bring its awards, as anticipated (championed) by multiple reviews here and elsewhere. walter chaw and tim grierson engage perspectives of the skeleton. chaw himself describes this: "No one in their right mind would argue that slavery is good, so, really, taking that as a given, what else is 12 Years a Slave saying? For me, what it says loudest is that Steven Spielberg would have directed this movie if he hadn't instead bought the rights to The Color Purple." quotes from those reviews that target the movie --

chaw:
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At the end of the day, the problem with 12 Years a Slave is that it's neither fish nor fowl: neither a Steve McQueen film the equal of the abstract existential artistry of his Hunger and Shame, nor a straight costume adaptation without room for challenge.
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Hunger and Shame were mimetic where 12 Years a Slave is diegetic.

grierson:
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12 Years A Slave eschews an inspirational tone and avoids making Northup a symbol of the human spirit or a man whose imprisonment is meant to be a spark for profound character growth.

In truth, Northup’s inner life is kept somewhat opaque, the depth of his anger and sorrow largely hidden from view.
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With its first-rate production design and costumes, 12 Years A Slave is visually rich, but McQueen and his long-time cinematographer Sean Bobbitt have done a commendable job turning the beautiful Louisiana locations into both an Eden and a hell.
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But the broader approach to storytelling on McQueen’s part robs 12 Years A Slave of some of the precise, up-close vibrancy that was the hallmark of his earlier films. As a consequence, this new film feels a little less personal, although that criticism should not dismiss the intelligence and feeling on display.

as an admirer of mcqueen i'll say if the movie didn't already have unappreciative reviews, i'd be more worried. yet the tone of criticism is different for this movie from his others, and i don't already know what it'll be like for me. looking forward to this movie

 

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