Oscar Pool Stash Forced Watch: When the week began, I still had eight movies in my Pool Stash, 8 flicks I won last year on Oscar Night and which I had to watch (with all DVD extras) before the next. I managed to watch six of them. They were not all good. This is their story...
#OscarPoolResult: Of course I'm keeping it. Really should get my hands on the first two films.
#OscarPoolResult: Going back in the pile so it can torture someone else, but not before I tape some of the Angel bashing for my OHOTMU or NOT podcast.
#OscarPoolResult: Curse my eyes, I'm keeping it. At least for its Trek connection. But I'm not endorsing it!
#OscarPoolResult: OUT OF MY HOUSE!
#OscarPoolResult: Thought for sure I would throw it back, but it survived.
12 Years a Slave is pretty much what you expect it to be. Like all slavery and Holocaust movies, it's a harrowing horror show, filled with injustice and indignities, building awareness about a shared dark history, but in this case, though it is a true story based on a book written by its protagonist in the mid-19th Century, a free black man kidnapped, taken South and sold into slavery, it's also a film about one man's endurance and tenacity. I do find problems with it, however. The leads are great, but their characters flatten out over time, with little nuance or evolution. Or perhaps this is the result of director Steve McQueen not tracking those 12 years very well. Events could indeed happen over just 2 or 3. Only the fact Solomon Northup's family members have aged and grown up by the time he rejoins them tells that tale. You don't feel it during the film. Smaller parts are even as well served, accents are all over the place, and what I imagine is dialog straight out of the book sounds stilted and strange. The story IS worthy of course, and where McQueen shows brilliance is in his images, editing and sound design. He creates beautiful atmospheres, uses interminable takes to put his point across, uses the landscape to contrast the horror... Strong film making. I just wish every other aspect did the subject matter justice as ably. The DVD has a couple of unimpressive featurettes.
#OscarPoolResult: This was probably the best film in the pile, objectively, so little doubt about whether I would keep it.