It’s impossible to call “12 Years a Slave” an enjoyable film, but it is exceptional in every respect, making it a warranted 133-minute nightmare.
Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man living happily and comfortably in upstate New York with his wife and two young children – until he’s abducted, shipped off to the south and sold into slavery.
“12 Years a Slave” is a beautifully brutal experience. Solomon is a loving father and husband who’s earned his good fortune, so watching him lose everything he holds dear in the most vicious manner possible is crushing. Hope and pray all you want; this movie is called “12 Years a Slave,” so no one’s coming to save the day. Solomon is heading straight towards years and years of slavery and that awareness infuses each and every step of his journey with an astronomical amount of dread.
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When the trailer for “Zero Dark Thirty” plays before a screening of “Argo,” you can’t help but to wonder if our society is crazy for having turned these devastating and/or historically significant events into sources of entertainment. However, as someone who wasn’t around during the Iran hostage crisis, the fact that I was moved enough by “Argo” to go home and Google until I had a thorough understanding of the situation goes to show that Ben Affleck did a better job than my history teachers ever could.
Centered on the true events of the Iran hostage crisis, “Argo” begins with the revolutionaries storming the U.S. embassy in Tehran. All of the embassy employees are taken hostage save for six who seek refuge at the Canadian ambassador’s home. The revolutionaries are unaware of the escape, but are slowly piecing together the paperwork the staff desperately shredded mere moments before the invasion, so it’s only a matter of time before they assemble the office roster including pictures of each and every employee.
Back in the U.S., the State Department works to figure out a way to get the six out safely and discreetly. Exfiltration expert Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) proposes the idea of using a Canadian film as a cover. In an effort to make the endeavor as thorough as possible, Tony joins forces with make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to make the sci-fi film “Argo” a semi-reality.
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Like most aspiring filmmakers out there, Gareth Edwards emerged from film school expecting to get to work on his very first feature. It didn’t take him long to realize that that’s not how the business works and things take time. Lucky for Edwards, for him, the long haul was worth the wait because he’s got an impressive film to show for his very first feature.
Monsters follows the journey of Andrew and Sam (Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able), two Americas forced to trek through Mexico’s “Infected Zone” in order to make it home to the states. Six years ago, a NASA space probe carrying samples of alien life forms crash landed in the area, releasing the specimens. Now, this quarantined section of the country is home to creatures that will not hesitate to attack intruders. Regardless, Andrew and Sam are desperate to go home and take their chances in the jungle.
Just as fascinating as the story, is Edwards’ personal journey to getting the production up and running. Not only had the idea been gestating in his mind for quite a while, but he also went about shooting the film in a very unusual way. With just his leads, a producer, soundman and a Spanish translator, Edwards got to work, taking things one step at a time and just rolling with whatever came his way. In the end, it looks like Edwards is going to have to stock up on a lot of medicinal cream because there’s tons of buzz around Monsters and while most of us would take that as a good thing, Edwards can’t shake the fact that the concept of having “buzz” sounds a bit more like having an STD than relating to positive word-of-mouth. Now that I’ve just made “buzz” sound even more grotesque, enjoy the video interview with Edwards below.
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Something needs to be made clear concerning Monstersimmediately; it is not a monster movie. If you walk into this one expecting a barrage of massive man-eating creatures, you’ll be disappointed. There are some monsters, but they’re far from the focus of this unbelievably low budget production. Monsters is more of a love story than anything, a love story with gigantic glowing octopi in the background.
Monsters kicks off six years after a NASA space probe carrying samples of alien life forms is destroyed while attempting to reenter the earth’s atmosphere over Mexico. Strange creatures began to appear and a large section of the country was quarantined and deemed the “Infected Zone.” Scoot McNairy stars as Andrew Kaulder, a photojournalist based in Mexico paid the big bucks for snapping shots of post-creature attack carnage until he’s assigned to escort his boss’ daughter, Samantha (Whitney Able), back home after she’s injured. He isn’t thrilled about the gig, but agrees to take her to the Mexican border of the Infected Zone where she can hop on a ferry and return to the states. But of course, things don’t go as planned and Sam and Kaulder wind up resorting to the more dangerous travel route, straight through the Infected Zone.
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