12 Years A Slave: Of Human Bondage

by Ethan Alter October 18, 2013 12:41 pm
<i>12 Years A Slave</i>: Of Human Bondage

12 Years a Slave may be the first time that writer/director Steve McQueen has dramatized the slave trade as it was practiced in pre-Civil War America, but it's far from his first movie about the concept of slavery. Both of his previous films revolve around characters that are bound to metaphorical -- if not necessarily literal -- masters and suffered pain and torment in the course of their enslavement. McQueen's debut feature, Hunger, is a portrait of imprisoned Irish Republican Army volunteer Bobby Sands (played by the filmmaker's regular muse, Michael Fassbender) who starves his body in service of the higher ideals preached by his cause. The director followed that up with Shame, in which Fassbender plays a well-heeled New York businessman whose daily routine is dictated by his various addictions. Both films also depict their characters' predicaments with a bracing lack of sentimentality and overt moralizing, qualities that are similarly instrumental to the success of 12 Years, which may not be McQueen's best movie overall (I'm still a big booster of the undervalued Shame), but nevertheless remains an exceptional piece of art that brings this period in American history to life in a horrifyingly -- but necessarily so -- vivid way.

Five Questions for 12 Years a Slave Director Steve McQueen

by Ethan Alter October 14, 2013 6:00 pm
Five Questions for <I>12 Years a Slave</I> Director Steve McQueen

Since it first screened before rapt audiences at the Telluride Film Festival, Steven McQueen's 12 Years a Slave has been this fall season's leading Oscar contender. Based on the true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man sold into slavery in 1841, the film is a sober, frightening and deeply emotional depiction of the horrific institution and unfortunate legacy of the American slave trade. In New York recently for the film's local premiere at the New York Film Festival, McQueen discussed how the movie came to be and the experience of working with his favorite leading man, Michael Fassbender (who plays one of Solomon's masters), for the third time.

The Top Ten Films of 2013

by Ethan Alter December 20, 2013 4:05 pm
The Top Ten Films of 2013

Never mind the bollocks -- here's the best movie of 2014.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, March 4, 2014

by Ethan Alter March 4, 2014 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Jennifer Lawrence gets her Hunger Games face on.

Oscars 2014: Our Gut Reaction to the Nominations

by Ethan Alter January 16, 2014 10:03 am
Oscars 2014: Our Gut Reaction to the Nominations

Oscar voters do the hustle, American style.

New York Film Critics Online 2013 Awards Results

by Ethan Alter December 9, 2013 11:11 am
New York Film Critics Online 2013 Awards Results

The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO), of which TWoP's Moviefile is a voting member, met yesterday for its fourteenth annual awards ceremony. Here are the results from the meeting.

Previewing the 51st New York Film Festival

by Ethan Alter September 26, 2013 4:01 pm
Previewing the 51st New York Film Festival

It's that time of the year again when Manhattan's Lincoln Center area transforms itself into a mini-Toronto and/or Cannes with the start of the annual New York Film Festival, which runs from September 27-October 13. For its 51st year, the NYFF has programmed a wide range of cinematic offerings, from star-driven Oscar contenders (like the Opening Night feature, Captain Phillips) to anniversary retrospectives (like a 20th anniversary screening of Richard Linklater's last-day-of-high-school masterpiece Dazed and Confused) to experimental fare (like the sort-of documentary Manakamana, which consists of a stationary camera positioned inside a cable car in Nepal that records the various passengers comings and goings). Visit the festival's official site for the full rundown, but here are some of the highlights we particularly wanted to draw your attention to:

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