12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave


12 Years a Slave.  Rating:  5 (out of 5).   Solomon Northup, a free black man living in upstate New York, is abducted and sold to slavery in the 1800s. This year’s Oscar Winner for Best Picture (amongst other awards) comes to VOD on March 4.  Critics loved this movie, New York Post calls it “The “Schindler’s List” of slavery films.”

Starring: Alfre Woodard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Garret Dillahunt, Michael Fassbender, Michael K. Williams, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson
Rating:  R
Genre:  Biography, Drama, History




The San Francisco Chronicle thinks, “”12 Years a Slave” is anything but reticent. It is brutal, at times too brutal, and though the title of the movie lets you know the horror ultimately ends for one man, the viewer cannot for a minute think of that as a happy ending.”

Miami Herald writes, “12 Years a Slave is at times difficult to watch but always impossible to turn away from: It’s the true story of one man used to illustrate the travails of millions, some of whom, like Solomon, managed to find a way to survive and endure.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer notes, “12 Years a Slave is history, but it resonates, in profound ways, in the here and now.”

According to The Boston Globe, ““12 Years a Slave” is to the “peculiar institution” what “Schindler’s List” was to the Holocaust: a work that, finally, asks a mainstream audience to confront the worst of what humanity can do to itself. If there’s no Oskar Schindler here, that’s partly the point.”

NPR says, “Rife with visceral beatings, multiple lynchings and an almost casual air of psychological cruelty, 12 Years a Slave is anything but easy to watch, but it is powerfully moving.”

New York Post calls it “The “Schindler’s List” of slavery films.”

The Washington Post thinks, ““12 Years a Slave” isn’t just a cathartic experience that happens to be an astonishing formal achievement: It works its emotional power precisely because it’s so elegantly constructed, from the inside out.”

Chicago Sun-Times writes, “Unflinchingly directed by Steve McQueen, led by Ejiofor’s magnificent work, “12 Years a Slave” is what we talk about when we talk about greatness in film.”

Los Angeles Times says, “Uncompromising to the end, “12 Years” insists on saying to us, this was how it was, deal with it.”

New York Daily News notes, “McQueen has made a film comparable to “Schindler’s List” — art that may be hard to watch, but which is an essential look at man’s inhumanity to man. It is wrenching, but 12 Years a Slave earns its tears in a way few films ever do.”

According to USA Today, “Set mostly in the pre-Civil War south, director Steve McQueen has fashioned a deeply evocative, and brilliantly acted drama, that graphically and poetically depicts the wide-ranging evils of slavery.”

The Wall Street Journal writes, “The film is amazing, and in every way good.”

Chicago Tribune says, “While this is very much a McQueen picture, with visual flourishes and motifs unmistakably his, the historical urgency and staggering injustice of the events keep McQueen and company utterly honest in their approach and in their collective act of imagining Solomon Northup’s odyssey to hell and back.”

The New York Times thinks, “The genius of “12 Years a Slave” is its insistence on banal evil, and on terror, that seeped into souls, bound bodies and reaped an enduring, terrible price.”

Entertainment Weekly gives the film an A rating, and further writes, “Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is an agonizingly magnificent movie: the first great big-screen dramatization of slavery.”

The New York Observer says, “Whole sections of 12 Years a Slave may be too unbearably wrenching for even the bravest soul to watch. But the impact is so profound that it would be a crime to miss it.”

According to The New Yorker, ““12 Years a Slave” is easily the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery.”

Time calls it “a document that is raw, eloquent, horrifying and essential.”

Variety says, “Based on the true story of free black American Solomon Northup’s kidnapping and imposed bondage from 1841 to 1853, this epic account of an unbreakable soul makes even Scarlett O’Hara’s struggles seem petty by comparison.”

The Hollywood Reporter notes, “Despite the upsetting and vivid brutality, Fox Searchlight has a winner here that will generate copious media coverage, rivet the attention of the black public, stir much talk in political and educational circles and appeal to film audiences who crave something serious and different.”

The Village Voice writes, “12 Years a Slave takes the spirit of that prose and arranges it with painstaking, distracting care for the camera. Ejiofor carries it inside him, hidden. And still, the light shines through.”

According to The Christian Science Monitor, “’12 Years a Slave’ is a necessary, if stiff, look at the history of slavery.”

New York Magazine notes “McQueen’s directorial voice—cold, stark, deterministic—keeps it from attaining the kind of grace that marks the voice of a true film artist.”

Tampa Bay Times says, “The closest comparison is Schindler’s List, with its unblinking immersion into a historical tragedy, bringing the unspeakable into discussion. But make no mistake. There has never been a movie like 12 Years a Slave, which is Hollywood’s shame. Miss it, and that mistake is yours.”

The Arizona Republic thinks, “The acting is outstanding, the direction assured if straightforward. 12 Years a Slave is a history lesson of the best type. It’s brilliant. But, more crucially, it’s important. It’s brutal truth that demands to be seen.”

Charlotte Observer writes, ““12 Years” shows the cruelty of denying not only someone’s freedom but his identity. Take away the essence of a human being – whether he’s in fetters or not – and you destroy him.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes, “What “Schindler’s List” was to the Holocaust, “12 Years a Slave” is to what has been called “the peculiar institution”: ultimately hopeful, but uncompromising in its commitment to exposing a tragic chapter in history.”

The Austin Chronicle says, “Brutal yet elegant, 12 Years a Slave is a beautifully rendered punch to the gut about the most shameful chapter in American history.”

According to The New Orleans Times-Picayune, “The performances are tremendous as director Steve McQueen and company offer audiences an opportunity to get the closest they’ll ever come to witnessing first-hand the American institution of slavery.”

Rolling Stone writes, “Proving himself a world-class director, McQueen basically makes slaves of us all. It hurts to watch it. You won’t be able to tuck this powder keg in the corner of your mind and forget it. What we have here is a blistering, brilliant, straight-up classic.”

The Globe and Mail notes, “12 Years A Slave is probably the film event of the year, but worthiness in itself can be deadly – even if it does win Academy Awards. Fortunately, 12 Years a Slave is also exceptional as a film.”

The Guardian thinks, “Stark, visceral and unrelenting, 12 Years a Slave is not just a great film but a necessary one.”

Slant Magazine notes, “Solomon almost appears deaf to the world. This is because the film practically treats him as passive observer to a litany of horrors that exist primarily for our own learning.”

TimeOut London says, “McQueen’s film may be stylistically traditional, but its outlook is as confrontational and uncompromising as any ripped-from-the-headlines drama.”

Movie Nation writes, “It’s a challenging, serious and inspiring film, not the japing blacksploitation burlesque that was “Django Unchained.” McQueen and his stellar cast take us on a difficult journey, an odyssey that will make you want to avert your eyes. It is to their great credit that we don’t.”

Salon thinks, ““12 Years a Slave” offers no false Hollywood catharsis along with its muted happy ending, because we’re not free from the curse of slavery yet. Looking at it, the way it really was, is a start.”

TimeOut New York says, “Though McQueen continues to work his themes of suffering and spiritual transcendence (his debut, 2008’s Hunger, dealt with activist Bobby Sands starving himself to death in prison; 2011’s Shame looked at a sex addict’s attempt to kick the habit), this unflinching, unforgiving drama is not about a slave, but about slavery itself.”

According to IndieWire, “More than a powerful elegy, “12 Years a Slave” is a mesmerizing triumph of art and polemics: McQueen turns a topic rendered distant by history into an experience that, short of living through the terrible era it depicts, makes you feel as if you’ve been there.”

A.V. Club gives the film an A- rating, and further writes, “12 Years A Slave is all about sea change, and not just for its unfortunate hero. Before everyone’s eyes, a visual virtuoso has transformed into a great storyteller.”

IndieWire (The Playlist) thinks, “This revolving door of graphically rendered brutalities might feel like its own punishment if not for an array of astonishing performances that’s practically a one-stop Oscar-nomination shopping spree.”

Slate calls it “an Overpowering Portrait of the Horrors of Our History.”

The Dissolve notes, “McQueen’s use of ultra-violence operates to repulse rather than arouse. His film is a tough, soul-sickening, uncompromising work of art that makes certain that when viewers talk about the evils of slavery, they know its full dimension.”

According to Reelviews, “12 Years a Slave is by no means light entertainment but it provides a more worthwhile cinematic experience than about 90% of what’s out there and the impressions it leaves aren’t easily dismissed or dispelled.”

RogerEbert.com writes, “”12 Years a Slave” is a somber, meditative, almost poetic film that delivers the horrors of bondage stripped down and head-on.”

Film.com gives it an 8.6 rating, and calls it “Among the cinema’s most grimly accurate depictions of slavery.”

Total Film says, “Visceral, vital and anchored by its earnest performances, this is a potent portrait of a shameful historical truth.”

Empire Online writes, “Falling between the twin pillars of the art house and prestige period flick, 12 Years A Slave is history lesson as horror film, powerful, visceral and affecting. And after years of being great in everything, Chiwetel Ejiofor shines in a lead worthy of his immense talent.”

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