Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1979.
A seasoned FBI agent pursues Frank Abagnale Jr. who, before his 19th birthday, successfully forged millions of dollars' worth of checks while posing as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a legal prosecutor.
Based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty personified by a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.Written by
There is so much badness in our modern world and, because of the non-stop flood of digital information, it's coming at us ALL the time. Therefore, if I'm going to see a film about a horrible subject (which I'm not opposed to), I want to feel like I'm being subjected to it for a reason. I want to feel that the filmmaker has something to add to the conversation about it, draws some conclusions, makes a point that hasn't already been made. Otherwise, I feel like that much more badness has been added to my life for little purpose.
That is my problem with "12 Years a Slave," a formally accomplished film but one which left me cold. It's two hours of watching the absolute worst humanity can inflict on itself, and beyond the fairly obvious point that slavery was a horrible dark stain on American history, there isn't much point to be made and certainly no sense of enlightenment on the subject. It's a film executed to make its audience feel bad, and it succeeds tremendously on those terms. But it fails in most other ways that make great movies truly great. I felt terrible for the slaves depicted in the film in the abstract, but the individual characters are never fully developed enough to feel bad about them as actual people. It's a hectoring film, one scene after another of hateful, brutal violence (physical, sexual, emotional) inflicted on one set of human beings by another, and the problem is that the people who will actually go to see this movie don't need to be told how terrible this kind of human evil is, while those who might serve to be enlightened on that subject wouldn't see a movie like this in a million years.
Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a solid performance in the central role of a free black man who's kidnapped and sold into slavery for a dozen years. But his character never really came alive for me, and that limited the impact of Ejiofor's performance. Michael Fassbender is just asked to play crazy as a villainous plantation owner, while Brad Pitt shows up toward the film's conclusion and makes a speech about the evils of slavery right before our main character is rescued. This scene and Pitt's appearance as pretty much the only white person in the movie who's not either evil or indifferent seems a bit convenient given that he's a producer of the film.
Sarah Paulson is memorable as Fassbender's equally villainous wife, while Alfre Woodard has a tiny role that teases us with the more complex issues about black and white relations in the slavery-era South that this film could have addressed had it been more interested in something other than the literalness of human suffering.
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