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Non-Review Review: 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave is a harrowing and moving piece of cinema. The most profound and cutting of the recent studio films to explore slavery in America, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is almost relentless in its probing explorations of the systems an structures that allowed and reinforced that slavery – it’s hard to watch at points, providing a deeply unsettling glimpse at the suffering that man is capable of inflicting upon his fellow man.

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Watch! First Twelve Years a Slave Trailer!

Shame was one of the best movies of 2012. So it stands to reason that I’m looking forward to the next collaboration between Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender. Twelve Years a Slave looks to be a decidedly larger-scale affair than either of the duo’s past collaborations, based on the epic and heart-wretching true story of Solomon Northup, a man born free and then sold into slavery. The cast is also a lot more impressive, with well-respected character actors (like Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor) standing alongside Brad Pitt. It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out, even if it does look a bit more like conventional Oscar-bait than Shame or Hunger.

Of course, that could simply be a stylistic decision made when cutting up the trailer, given the success of other slavery-themed epics (Lincoln and Django Unchained) at this year’s Oscars. Either way, UK and Irish audiences won’t know until 24th January 2013.

Check out the trailer below.

Non-Review Review: Salt

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. It’s the final post I’m doing as part of it, looking at last year’s pretender to the “super spy” crown.

I pride myself on my suspension of disbelief. Richard Donner convinced me that a man could fly. My favourite film of 2008 was about a man who dressed as a flying rodent who took on a psychotic clown in downtown Chicago. I recently enjoyed a movie where the inner workings of a computer were represented as neon motorbikes. The film of the year features a crack team of specialists who break into people’s dreams and steal their ideas (or plant new ones). And yet Salt taxes my suspension of disbelief.

Are they arresting her for a Salt?

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Non-Review Review: Serenity

“Love,” someone suggests at a key moment in Joss Whedon’s big screen sequel to his cult television show Firefly, is what keeps a ship afloat, “Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells ya she’s hurtin’ ‘fore she keens. Makes her a home.” In a way, it’s hard not to feel that he could just as easily be talking about this particular movie adaptation. Serenity is a movie which by all rights shouldn’t exist. Based on a television show unfairly cancelled by a network which couldn’t bring itself to offer it a fighting chance, it seems odd to see the series transitioned to the big screen in search of closure. The movie is itself an act of love – an act early in the film confused (understandably) with madness – love for the show, for its concepts and for those who gave it the benefit of the doubt that its own producers couldn’t.

Thank god there's a master at the helm...

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