12 Years a Slave (2013)


It is just over two years since I first saw this as an in-flight movie.  At the time I wanted to appreciate this film on a decent screen, something I have only just managed.  Revisiting my first thoughts I actually still agree with everything I said.

Perhaps not fully appreciated on a small screen set in the back of the chair in front, but it was still possible to appreciate the horror that plantation slaves had to endure daily.  This abhorrent episode in human history is captured not only in some horrible scenes of trading the human cargo but also by a couple of stand-out gruesome torture scenes.  Steve McQueen lets the camera linger on one of these moments, prolonging the agony while the audience is desperate for it to stop.  The opposite is true for the other awful scene as the camera is whipped around between victims and perpetrators, echoing both Chiwetel Ejiofor’s state of mind as well as the torture itself.  Surrounding the excellent Ejiofor is tremendous support including Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lupita Nyong’o (Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress).  A lot happens for a film just over two hours long, but it never feels rushed, which is a testament to both the screenplay and the direction.  An excellent and important film which I must revisit on a screen worthy of its power.

But, well, you know, that’s just, like, er, my opinion, man.


1001 Movies

At the end of March 2012 my contract came to an end on my then job; 4.5 years working as a Microbiologist for the University of Aberdeen.  As a leaving present I got some wine, some beer, a framed photo and this rather enormous book.

So this “new project” is a sort of life-project kind of way! I am under no illusion that I would ever manage such a feat; still it would be nice to make quite a dint in the list.  At a quick count I’ve seen 160 (actually 183 now) on the list.  So just 841 to go then!  Organised in chronological order the book ranges from Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) from 1902 directed by Georges Méliès, all the way to the Coen Brothers True Grit in 2010.  There are all the classics that you would expect to find, as well as (to me) surprise entries such as Groundhog Day, This is Spinal Tap, or Young Frankenstein.

There is a nice checklist at the beginning of the book which I shall keep on top of, but I will also now label all films I watch with 1001 Movies (and probably retrospectively label others) to keep track of them.  So here’s to watching lots of great films, and many thanks to everyone in my lab who contributed to the gift.