Friday, November 22, 2013

A Reel Review: NEBRASKA

The latest film from  Alexander Payne, NEBRASKA, is the director’s latest chapter in his ever-growing bible of human frailty stories; a bible which in recent years has produced the Oscar-darlings SIDEWAYS (2004) and last year’s THE DESCENDANTS. In this chapter, Payne teams up with an oft-forgotten screen legend for a road trip through the heartland of America and the heart of an old man.
Woody (Bruce Dern) is an 80-something, confused and crotchety old man who is convinced that he has won a million dollars in a Publishers Clearing House-type sweepstakes. Unable to drive he begins the long hike on foot from Montana to Nebraska, despite the objections of his youngest son David (Will Forte) and his wife Kate (June Squibb).

NEBRRAKSA sets itself up as a run-of-the-mill road trip flick coupled with a father-and-son bonding story. Once David and Woody hit the road and get detoured to the small town where Woody grew up, things take a different and welcome turn. As word gets out over Woody’s imminent yet unlikely fortune, family members and old friends begin to show up with their hands out, and through all this Woody’s life story begins to unfold. David gets to know his father by seeing and hearing his past, and NEBRASKA becomes more about life in general than one man’s desperate attempt to claim his winnings. There are no grand statements or definitive answers given about how we should be living our lives; NEBRASKA is simply one intimate look at the way one person has lived his.
Director Alexander Payne does remarkable work with his main character. Woody is unlikeable at first; he is mean and miserable, answers questions in one word answers, and can’t understand any person’s feelings of love and/or attachment. But what makes Woody so loveable is Payne basically turning him into a little kid. Woody is so sincere in his want to travel to Nebraska that you can’t help but to hope that there just may be a pot of gold for him. Woody may be an angry old fart, but his sincerity is as genuine as a little kid who has just been promised a trip to the toy store; they don’t forget and they don’t let go.

Payne has put together a beautiful looking film. Shot in glorious black and white during a time of year when the trees are leaf-less and the farmlands are bare, the film presents a stark and stunning look at the landscape. Payne also pays close attention to, without being distracting, the simple lives that inhabit the small towns in the farmlands which are one street long.
Bruce Dern proves his acting chops are still as sharp as ever. Dern, who turned 77 this year, is an actor who has worked alongside the likes of John Wayne and Alfred Hitchcock, and here he turns in a performance which makes you believe that his old friends are still there on set with him. Dern is funny and miserable, but at the same time pulls your heart out with a single, tragic-looking glance. It’s a performance that he has been working up to his entire career. Will Forte shows his inexperience through the film; never really coming close to matching Dern or giving enough to make us care. June Squibb (who turned 84 this year) turns in a fantastic performance as the equally cantankerous wife, and Stacy Keach turns in a great peformance as Woody’s old partner/villain looking to cash in on the supposed fortune. A lot of the cast is composed of real-life locals, which adds to the great sense of realism to the film.

The finale doesn’t go for any bombastic speeches or teary-eyed embraces, but instead takes things slow and easy just as it would have played out in real life. There is still a great amount of heart to be had, making NEBRASKA a nice place to visit, and a pleasure to live in.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Reel Facts & Opinions: The Re-mixing of NOSFERATU

This week, the classic German expressionist film NOSFERATU, often regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema, will finally see its debut in the glorious blu-ray format. The silent film from 1922, which was loosely based on Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, has been remixed with its original score in modern-day 5.1 surround sound.

Movie fans can easily be offended when their favorite films get a home release which has been altered from the version they fell in love with on the big-screen; just ask fans of STAR WARS, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, SNOW WHITE, or even BLADE RUNNER. While there are reasons for making changes from the theatrical run to the home release, such as artistic license, directors cuts, and technical reasons, purists would be quick to point out that in the case of NOSFERATU, a film that was made in 1922 has no business being mixed in the modern-day 5.1 surround sound format. It does seem silly that a silent film would receive such an upgrade, but by looking back at NOSFERATU’s rich history, it’s easy to understand the Why behind this move.

The glorious format of 5.1 is the most commonly used layout in theatres and home systems. It employs five full bandwidth channels and one low-frequency channel. The most common misconception about the format is that its sole purpose in life is to make everything as loud as possible. Not true. Surround sound is not about volume, it’s about presence. Surround sound seeks to replicate any given environment as close to reality as possible. Think about where you hear sounds from in a crowded room or busy city street…you hear it in all directions. That is what surround sound replicates and filmmakers today edit their films with that in mind.
It’s worth pointing out that many films which were made prior to the 5.1 era have been released on blu-ray in their native-sound format. The blu-ray release of KING KONG (1933) presents its sound in the front speakers only, just as it would have sounded in 1933. But the history of NOSFERATU points towards surround sound since its debut. As a silent film, it was intended to have a live orchestra performing the score live during the projection. A good orchestra, a really good  orchestra, should be able to wrap up the listener in a four-walled room of sound; literally enveloping a person in its music. With the glorious blu-ray format presenting NOSFERATU’s visuals in its originally intended pristine glory, it seems only right that its orchestration be given proper treatment as well. Today’s tech has taken NOSFERATU back to its intention; a perfect marriage of sights and music. After all, the original, full name for the film, when translated to English, is NOSFERATU: A SYMPHONY OF HORROR.

What say you?

Monday, November 18, 2013


“You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”
Today marks the 30th anniversary of Bob Clark’s A CHRISTMAS STORY.

Loosely based upon the short stories and semi-fictional anecdotes of author Jean Shepherd’s book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, with some elements derived from Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories, A CHRISTMAS STORY is a simple tale of a little boy who wants nothing for Christmas except for an official Red Ryder, carbine-action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle (with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time), and must overcome many obstacles to get it.
Ambiguously set in the time frame of the late 1930/1940’s, A CHRISTMAS STORY takes place in a fictionalized version of the hometown of author Jean Shepherd…who would provide the narration in the form of an adult version of the main character, Ralphie. That main character was played by a then 12-year old Peter Billingsley, and he was joined by veteran actor Darren McGavin (as the Old Man, Ralphie’s father), and Melinda Dillon (as Ralphie’s mom)…who landed role thanks in part to her performance in Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977). Inspired by Shepherd’s great collection of short stories based in part on his own childhood, the film marvelously unspools many sub-plots and situations, all with the connecting thread of kids and the spirit of Christmas.

The film had moderate success at the Box Office and gained lukewarm reviews upon its initial release. In years since, A CHRISTMAS STORY became wildly popular due to television airings and home release; becoming cemented in pop-culture and a holiday foundation. Its reputation has grown and is now considered to be one of the best films of 1983. In 2007, AOL ranked the film as the No. 1 Christmas movie of all time. IGN ranked it as the top holiday-themed film of all time. The American Film Institute (AFI) has the film on several Top 100 lists including 100 Laughs, 100 Movie Quotes, and 100 Movies. In 2012 the National Film Registry selected the film for preservation in the Library of Congress for its significance. Fans of the film gobble up merchandise in the form of clothing, toys, decorations, and lamp-replicas, and the house which served as Ralphie’s childhood home has been lovingly and faithfully restored down to the finest detail and is now a major tourist attraction
As a wee-lad, who like Ralphie, received his first BB-gun on a Christmas morning, and who had a younger brother as his best friend, A CHRISTMAS STORY was a film which this Blogger instantly connected with in the early 1980’s and still does do this day. With the film being played on cable TV in a 24 hour marathon, it is standard viewing during the holidays, and no matter how many times it is seen during that 24 hours, you cannot help but to watch it each time. It is a perfect film; packed with many great quotes and full of heart-and-soul, and despite being set in the 1930’s, has a story which is undoubtedly played out in real life every Christmas. That makes it timeless, and that makes it this Blogger’s No. 1 Christmas movie, ever.

"Next to me in the blackness lay my oiled blue steel beauty. The greatest Christmas gift I had ever received, or would ever receive. Gradually, I drifted off to sleep, pranging ducks on the wing and getting off spectacular hip shots."




Friday, November 15, 2013


After languishing in stupid romantic-comedy films for a decade, actor Matthew McConaughy has been on a meteoric rise back to respectability; from his fun role in MAGIC MIKE (2012), to his sadistic hit-man character in last year’s KILLER JOE, and his mysterious drifter character in this past summer’s MUD. Here in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, McConaughy continues his ascension by shedding 90 pounds to play an AIDS patient, and gives a performance to match the visual shock of a sick and dying man.
Ron Woodroof (McConaughy), is hard-partying cowboy whose freewheeling lifestyle of sex, booze and drugs is brought to a screeching halt when he is diagnosed with HIV, which eventually leads to AIDS. Unable to find help through conventional FDA-approved treatments, Ron strikes out on his own selling un-approved drugs and treatments to dying AIDS patients, aided by his new gay crossdressing friend (Jared Leto) and against the wishes of his conventional medical doctor (Jennifer Garner).

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB sets itself up as a conventional mortality tale. It’s a tale of a hard-partying, self-centered man who dramatically changes when he finds purpose. Its classic storytelling of finding life when facing death, but what makes it work is the dramatic turn the film makes around the half-way point. In the early goings, Ron is a self-centered racist homophobic prick who rips off his friends and cares for little but himself. Even after he is diagnosed with HIV, it is difficult to feel sorry for the character.
However, once Ron goes into business for himself, the film, and the character take on a different meaning. DALLAS BUYERS CLUB is based on a true story, and takes place during the early days of the AIDS epidemic in America; an America which was divided over how to combat the virus. Ron becomes an advocate for dying patients by throwing the finger (literally) to the FDA by selling un-approved drugs. More than just a drug dealer, Ron becomes a 1980’s Robin Hood, and the new purpose he has in life sells the film and the character. Director Jean-Marc Vallee keeps a brisk pace with the humor well-timed, and he creates some of the most realistic and believable characters ever seen on screen.

Matthew McConaughy turns in the performance of a lifetime. The 90-pound weight-loss is shocking to see, and he literally vanishes into the character as he is often difficult to recognize. McConaughy matches the look with a strong, tragic performance; knocking every emotion out of the park each second he is on screen…and as difficult as it is to watch, you simply cannot take your eyes off him. As good as he is, the show is nearly stolen by a crossdressed Jared Leto, and the rest of the cast which includes Jennifer Garner, Steve Zahn, and Dallas Roberts are also excellent.
The finale doesn’t quite go for an emotional gut-punch but instead uses a matter-of-fact ending which is proper justice for the film. By the time the credits appear we have been on a roller-coaster ride with McConaughy’s character, making DALLAS BUYERS CLUB worth joining.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reel Facts & Opinions: Ain't So Bad Movies

Since the dawn of the mighty cinema, mankind has been writing about movies; in newspapers, magazines, blogs (ahem), websites and in books. In the world of publishing books, there have been countless releases celebrating the all-time great films in history...but how many have been written about the greatest bad movies of all time?
There have probably been many, most of if not all taking the approach of ripping and thrashing cinematic disasters and flops. But a new book by Film Threat critic Phil Hall, entitled The 50 Greatest Bad Movies of All Time, chooses not to hack up and bury those bad films, but to celebrate them.

We all see bad movies. They’re everywhere, and some of them don’t even know that they are bad. And what exactly does make a bad film? Personal taste goes a long way. People who have built-in dislike for Westerns, gunplay, or anything with Adam Sandler would (or should) know enough to say far away from those types of films. No one wants to sit through an intolerable experience, so choosing wisely goes a long way. There are however, films out there which show a great amount of potential because of the included actors, directors, writers, etc…but then fall dreadfully short of expectations. Going in with an open mind certainly goes a long way, but no one wants to see a steaming turd on the screen with their favorite actors or directors being the cause of the stink. This Blogger has always had one simple rule: Don’t bore me. The biggest sin a movie can make is to be a bore-fest, and the cause of that can come from any aspect of the film; writing, acting, pacing, editing, directing, overall execution…or just a weak or absent story. If anything can be learned about a bad movie, it’s what not to do.
And then there are the films which are so outrageously awful they just have to be seen to believed, and in that awfulness, a good time can be had. Fun is a key element of enjoying film, and being amazed at a a bad film which thinks it is good can be as fun as a barrel of drunken muppets. Consider how director Ed Wood’s PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE from 1959, considered to be the worst movie ever made, constantly gets airplay on TV, re-releases on the big-screen, and consistent home-video sales. The film is so bad it’s great to sit through.

Other films which are celebrated in Phil Hall’s book (prepare yourself for the outrageousness of these films), are THE CONQUEROR (1956), in which John Wayne plays Genghis Khan. CHE! (1969), in which Jack Palance played Fidel Castro, and VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET (1960) which had Jerry Lewis playing an alien. All titles which are so unbelievable to read about in print they nearly demand to be viewed. The book takes a look at these films, along with the stinkers made by notable Hollywood names such as Stanley Kubrick and Clint Eastwood.
A good film can be found anywhere, as can a bad one. One of the best things about the movies is that they unite people, and discussions about shitty movies can often be more productive than the talks over a good one.

What say you?

Friday, November 8, 2013


THOR: THE DARK WORLD, the first sequel to the God of Thunder’s own franchise, is a film which has a lot in common with its predecessor. Both films serve several purposes; to tell Thor’s story, to expand the ever-growing Marvel Movie Universe, and to serve as a small piece in the slowly building overall story of superheroes and supervillians. The difference between the two is that the sequel seeks to strike a better balance of small and large-scale storytelling. Enter THE DARK WORLD.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) re-unites with his true love Jane (Natalie Portman) and his estranged brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to combat the dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston)…who seeks to unleash a terrible power which was taken from him by Odin’s (Sir Anthony Hopkins) father thousands of years before.

THE DARK WORLD is a film with a lot going on. Director Alan Taylor (TV’s GAME OF THRONES) really shows his TV background as he spends a lot of time weaving many storylines around the backdrop of a potential universe-shattering threat. THE DARK WORLD is a story about sons and fathers and their fathers before them; a story about family and betrayal with a few love triangles and several battles which are the culmination of every large-scale science-fiction and fantasy film ever made. It seems like a lot, and it is, but this where Taylor’s TV chops come through. It works because every scene is very well written and constructed. Each character in the fairly large cast gets his or her moment and gets just enough of development. As the story evolves and the universe the characters inhabit keeps getting bigger (literally), Thor himself gets a little lost in it all and he loses a lot of his own arc, but it’s a minor gripe as the film is just too enjoyable. On top of it all, THE DARK WORLD is loaded with many twists and turns; perhaps the most unpredictable superhero film ever made.  
The film seems to be specially tailored for those who have been along for the Marvel ride since 2008; it literally is built upon the foundation laid down by the many films before it. Actions from characters in previous Marvel adventures play heavily in THE DARK WORLD, but they are never a distraction and serve a purpose in motivating and developing characters. Hoever, the main villain is very underdeveloped and is more of a plot point than a character.

Alan Taylor has put together a fine looking film, with brisk pacing and eye-popping battle and action scenes. CGI is obvious and at times a little cartoony, but for every bad render there are 20 or so better ones. Humor is aplenty and well-timed, including a gut-busting cameo which will bring down any theatre house.
There may not be two actors who enjoy playing their characters more than Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. Both seem to have a blast in their roles, and together have perfect chemistry; the banter between them by way of bickering and fighting is tremendous and always lights up the screen. Natalie Portman, despite her beauty, still seems out of place in all the goings on, but her acting never suffers and her character actually has things to do this time. Christopher Eccleston is wasted by way of a weak villain, and his acting is buried underneath too much makeup. The rest of the large cast is excellent; Sir Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard…whose character is still suffering from his experiences with Loki. Thor’s best buddy-warrior pals are all in their prime form, played beautifully by Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, and Tadanobu Asano.

There are two post-credit scenes; one of which draws the curtain back on an even larger universe and is a peek into just how insanely huge of a plan Marvel still has in store for us. THE DARK WORLD finishes on a spectacular note, opening up a great many things to come while sending the theatre home with a galaxy-sized grin. This is the movie the God of Thunder deserves.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reel Facts & Opinions: The Invincible Wolverine

Earlier this week, it became known that 20th Century Fox has begun talks with director James Mangold for a direct sequel to THE WOLVERINE, which came out this past summer. Mangold, who also has the Oscar-darling WALK THE LINE (2005) on his resume, will presumably be teamed up again with actor Hugh Jackman, who has owned the role of the clawed, self-healing mutant since 2000.
THE WOLVERINE was one of this past summer’s pleasant surprises. The film earned decent reviews from critics, and its worldwide box-office haul of $413 million was enough to earn its money back and get a sequel greenlit. Providing everything stays on schedule, this proposed sequel will be the eighth time Jackman has appeared on the big-screen as Wolverine; X-MEN, X2, X3, X-MEN ORIGINS, a brief cameo in X-MEN FIRST CLASS, this years THE WOLVERINE, next year’s X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, and the following years proposed sequel (presumably 2015).

Providing this sequel happens, eight appearances as one character will put Jackman into the history books. Why so many times out as the same character? Well, the box-office numbers show that people love to see him there, and sales of his likeness on posters and action figures take the point further. His take on character has even inspired the comics to re-adapt Wolverine based on Jackman’s likeness. He’s been effective, iconic, and most of all; popular.
And it’s in that popularity where Jackman’s eight appearances makes a little obscure history. Consider that Harrison Ford only played his ever-popular Indiana Jones four times, and Sean Connery, who is widely considered to be the definitive James Bond, appeared as 007 seven times.

Other popular, and repeat performers include:
-Leonard Nimoy as Spock: 8 appearances (only counting movies)
-Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger: 8 appearances
-Roger Moore as James Bond: 7 appearances
-Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa: 6 appearances
-The HARRY POTTER kids (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint): 8 times as their respective characters.
-Reaching further back in time, Charlie Chaplin played The Tramp in over 30 films, and long-running casts from The Three Stooges and Blondie brought their actors back for tens and dozens of appearances.

It’s an obscure footnote in movie history, but still worth noting. It’s very possible that Jackman could appear a dozen times before he turns 50, which would clearly be the most appearances ever for an actor as one single character. The refreshing sidebar to all this is that Jackman has been spreading his wings (or claws?) enough to avoid being typecast; his turn in LES MISERABLES (2012) earned him an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win. Let’s also not forget that he is a talented singer and dancer, and has a Tony Award on his shelf. As he gets older and better at what he does, so will his Wolverine.

What say you?





Monday, November 4, 2013


Despite having won the top prize at this year’s famed Cannes Film Festival, the French-speaking film BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR has not been without controversy. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the film has been singled out for its long, graphic sex scenes between two lesbian lovers, which has earned it the dreaded NC-17 rating here in the United States; a rating which has unfortunately taken attention away from the movie behind it.
Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) is a 15 year old student, who after a breakup with her boyfriend, falls for Emma (Lea Seydoux), a lesbian, blue-haired girl she randomly encounters in the street. Adele and Emma begin a romance which lasts several years before encountering bumps in the road.

At its core, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR is a true love story. Beginning with the initial attractions, to the first date, to the first time of intimacy, to the first signs of trouble to the heartbreaking breakup and aftermath. It’s a simple story that has been done before, but here it works because French director Abdel Kechiche never takes focus away from his characters, especially Adele. The film never has a scene without Adele, who is experiencing love for the very first time and takes us along with her every step of the way. Halfway through the film, things jump ahead several years to show Adele and Emma’s relationship suddenly on the rocks, and the sudden change in shift is not only painful to Adele, but to us as well since we have been with her the whole way. It’s a great love story executed greatly, and the fact that it is about lesbian lovers is nearly irrelevant.
Director Abdel Kechiche has shot and edited a very plain-looking, yet effective film. There is very little artistry being done behind the camera, as everything is shot naturally and the dialogue is empty of any melodrama or brevity. The film has a very natural feel to it, has virtually no scoring, and often feels like voyeurism. Kechiche constantly fills the frame with the characters faces, and thanks to some remarkable performances by his two young actresses, every bit of emotional bliss and pain is up front and center, and felt right down to the core. A few scenes feel like they run on a bit long, and a few are redundant, which makes you feel every bit of the three-plus hour running time.

Like the rest of the film, the sex-scenes (three in total; the characters actually spend more time talking around the dinner table than they do in bed) are very plainly shot. Where most filmmakers will hide and obstruct things with dim lighting and shadows, Kechiche and his fearless actors let it all hang out in very well-lit surroundings; nothing to hide here at all. Despite a few glances of genitalia this is a soft NC-17, and it never distracts or derails the bigger story that is going on. The very first sex encounter between Adele and Emma goes on for seven minutes, and although it feels a bit gratuitous at first, by film’s end a purpose behind it is revealed.
By the time the climax rolls around it suddenly becomes clear that BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR is not only a love story, but a well-hidden and well-executed coming-of-age tale. This was Adele’s first venture into true love and heartbreak, and although we have seen her come a long way through the film, when she walks off into the sunset it’s clear that she still has a long way to go…and we would love to join her again as she forges ahead. That’s the mark of a well-developed character in a well-developed story. BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR has all the elements of a great film and knows just where to put them.


Friday, November 1, 2013

A Reel Review: 12 YEARS A SLAVE

Director/writer Steve McQueen’s 12 YEARS A SLAVE is simply the most devastating, powerful, and brutally honest look at slavery in the United States ever filmed. Based upon the real-life memoirs of Solomon Northup, it is clear in its intention to portray slavery as the darkest chapter in American history. But most importantly, doesn’t let that get in the way of telling a very compelling character story.
Solomon Northrop (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man living in New York with his family when he is kidnapped into slavery and sold by a slave-trader (Paul Giamatti), to a kind and fair plantation owner (Benedict Cumberbatch). After an incident with one of the masters (Paul Dano), Northrop, stripped of his real name and re-named “Platt”, is then sold to another plantation which is run by a ruthless and villainous drunk (Michael Fassbender) and his malicious wife (Sarah Paulson).

12 YEARS A SLAVE never once hides the ugliness of slavery. Northrop is literally stripped of his identity, beaten within an inch of his life, and turned into anything but a human being. While the beatings are raw and unabashed and the living conditions are exposed in all of their disgusting glory, 12 YEARS A SLAVE never loses focus of its main character. We are with him the entire way as the film never has a frame without him. Every bit of emotion is powerfully pulled out of Northrop and into the audience, and it is a harrowing and immersive big-screen experience. The film is a trip through a hellish nightmare, telling the story of just how much one man can endure.
Director Steve McQueen, through his excellent camera work and sound-editing, creates a magnificent atmosphere from the very beginning. The heat of the deep-south can be constantly felt, as can the sickening crack of a whip against bare skin. Many scenes go on for one long take with no cuts; executed so well you wonder just how they pulled it off. Scenes filmed at night which are lit only by candlelight and fire are stunningly beautiful, and McQueen generates just as much emotion as he does tension and dread. Somehow, McQueen makes the most disgusting scenes ever filmed difficult for us to turn away from, because we are so emotionally invested. Hans Zimmer provides an incredibly moving score which strikes below the cockles in every note.

Performances are tremendous all around. ­­­ Chiwetel Ejiofor is astounding in bringing about a wide range of emotions, and McQueen’s lingering camera gives him the opportunity to hit us in the gut just from the look on his face. Michael Fassbender and Sarah Paulson make for the two most despicable villains ever to grace the silver screen, and why they are that way is gracefully and excellently explored. Paul Giamaitti and Paul Dano are also very good, as is Brad Pitt who shows up near the end for what amounts to an extended, yet effective cameo. The show is nearly stolen by Lupita Nyong’o, who plays a fellow slave who becomes a victim to constant rapes and beatings. Benedict Cumberbatch struggles with his southern accent, which makes him the weakest out of the large and exceptional cast.
The ending can loosely be considered a happy one, as Northrop’s harrowing journey has not only taken a toll on himself, but on the audience as well; you can be promised dead silence when the film fades to black and the credits roll as everyone tries to comprehend what they just saw. It would be dismissive to call 12 YEARS A SLAVE a slave-film, for it is ultimately about the human spirit…and those kind of stories and films can be timeless in the hands of master craftsmen. Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor prove exactly that in this film; it is expertly constructed, brilliantly performed, and timeless in its impact.