a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Epps’

I See “12 Years A Slave” for the 2nd Time! Still spellbound!

Seeing “12 Years a Slave” for the second time was quite an intense experience. It really held up. And seeing it with a paying New York  inter-racial audience was very interesting. They were spellbound to put it mildly and so was I.

It was very interesting that the audience was so mixed, which shows that it’s reaching different demographics. Which is great.  And people did gasp at some of the most horrific scenes. And they applauded wildly when for one brief intense moment Solomon Northrup breaks out of his slave role and beats the living daylights out of the horrid white overseer played by Paul Dano.

Dano is really excelling in these creepazoid, slimy roles this year, having also just been seen in “Prisoners” as a pervy offender. He’s truly hateful in “12 Years a Slave”, one of the worst characters in it.

I was so overwhelmed by Chiwetel Ejiafor as Solomon Northup, the title character, and also by Michael Fassbender’s tremendous turn as Master Epps, Solomon’s final owner, that I didn’t mention how terrific Paul Giamatti is as another noxious slave dealer who sells Solomon, who he re-names “Platt” to his first owner in the movie, the benevolent(but not so) Benedict Cumberbatch.

This is also the scene where the naked slaves are  casually displayed like livestock in Giamatti’s home. Giamatti, whom we all know as usually a genial boob, here is completely hateful as the pragmatic slave dealer, who slaps Northrup across the face so hard, you, the audience, feels it, too.

He also sells Eliza, the mother (Adepero Oduye)of two young children to Cumberbatch and splits up her family, selling her son to one person and keeping her mulatto daughter for himself. It’s horrifying.

I also never mentioned how frightening Sarah Paulson is as Mistress Epps. No Scarlett O’ Hara, she,  no fragile Southern Belle. The White women in this film as all just chillingly, matter-of-factly evil,,just as bad as their husbands, if not worse.

She is insanely jealous of her husband (Fassbender)’s seeming obsession with the beautiful Patsie, the slave, who picks so much cotton, Epps calls his “Queen of the fields”. Mistress Epps violently scratches and scars Patsie (Lupito Nyong’o)’s face in one midnite scene where a restless and bored Epps awakens his drowsy slaves in the middle of the night and has them dance for him.

The love triangle between the two Epps and Patsie was clearer to me the second time around and both Michael Fassbender and Lupito Nyong’o’s performances grew in grace and stature. Fassbender underplays Epps for most the film I realized this time. He only raises his voice and his fists and his whip when he is truly angry. And he does obsess in a very sick S&M way over Patsie. And yes, he does violently and repeatedly rape her, too.

Patsie seeks comfort and support from Mistress Shaw, a former slave who married her white plantation owner, and now is the mistress of her own domain, and has her own slaves as servants, at a very charming tea party. You also see Patsie looking at her as a role model. Could it be in the back of her mind that she might supplant Mistress Epps? Alfre Woodard is a treat in his too small role.

So much horror is piled upon horror in the masterful film directed by Steve McQueen, that the first time you see it you are so swamped by the constant brutality, the smaller incidents just get blurred into one stupefying whole. Images like Solomon screaming “help!” from his basement jail, as the camera objectively pans up to a tranquil matte shot of Washington, D.C. in 1854.One notes that the capitol dome was still under construction then. And nobody hears Solomon scream.

And when an unrecognizable Brad Pitt turns up as the scraggly bearded, white Canadian house builder Samuel Bass, you cheer his arrival. An incipient Abolitionist, he’s the cavalry riding in a the last-minute. And yes, as the title implies, there is a happy ending. And it’s Pitt. He’s also the producer of this film, which, according to director McQueen, would never have been made without him.

It also becomes clear that Fassbender and Nyong’o are going to sail to Oscar victory in their Supporting Categories. NOBODY is going to be able to touch them. Their performances are staggering, unforgettable, as is Ejiafor’s. But his Northrup is so powerful that you really do need to see it again to get all the nuances McQueen has built into their performances and into the film. Pitt and McQueen are also Oscar-bound as producer and director of this unforgettable film.

And the audience? There was a lot of audible sobbing at the end, but then when the titles coming up, thunderous applause. And this is something you never see happening with the general paying public. But applaud they did!

I’ll say it again, it’s a masterpiece of our times that you CAN NOT miss.

And Then…He Didn’t Like it…Jeff Wells, that is, and “Saving Mr.Banks”

I feel very sorry for Jeff Wells right now. He flew half-way around the world to post his review of “Saving Mr. Banks” and he was well, disappointed by it. That’s really a bummer. To spend all that money and sit for ten hours in coach, to see a movie that you thought you were going to love, then didn’t…

Well, you can read Jeff’s reaction here at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

But the ones who benefit by this are we, his readers, who are delighted by these dramatic,colorful postings. So thank you, Jeff, for doing this for us.

Long story short he didn’t like the movie. AND he didn’t like Emma Thompson‘s performance as P.L. Travers, one-note and irritating. Grating, I think was the word.

But all the others who’ve seen it and there are PLENTY of reviews all over the internet now, seem to LOVELOVELOVE Emma Thompson’s tart take on Travers. the Australian/British authoress of “Mary Poppins.

The praise for her is unanimous except for Jeff Wells. Most feel the film though isn’t what it’s cracked up to be and are up-and-down on Tom Hanks’ Disney.

Gregory Ellwood of www.hitfix.com feels, however, that Hanks will win his third Oscar for playing Walt Disney. His “Capt. Phillips” is a huge hit, and he’ll probably get a nomination for that, too.

But will T.Hanks be able to knock out Michael Fascintating Fassbender in that category?

Jared Leto, who is in drag for “Dallas Buyer’s Club” is the other name that keeps cropping up in that category’s conversation. But the Academy is queasy about giving Oscars to drag queens. Remember Jaye Davidson in “The Crying Game”?

I was soooo sure that he’d win, but OF COURSE, they gave it to Gene Hackman that year for the “Unforgiven.”

Fascinating Fassbender, however….that’s a TITANIC unforgettably frightening performance! If you’re scared during “12 Years a Slave“, it’s Fassbender’s evil Epps that you’re scared of…Just saying…

They DO reward scary villains in this category. Javier Bardem  as Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men“? Remember who frightening he was in that Dutch Boy haircut?

And Fassbender is playing a real-life character, too. There was a scary slaveholder named Epps. There was. Versus an amiable Walt Disney? Crazy stuff…

Michael Fassbender’s Non-Campaign for Oscar for “12 Years A Slave”

Michael Fassbender’s declaration in the current GQ mag that he’s not going to campaign for an Oscar for his Supporting Role(really a lead) In the monumental “12 Years A Slave” is just a tiny bit disingenuous to me for voila! There  he is on the cover! Looking great, I might add, and very much a winner already.

At Toronto, he seemed to me to be cramming every minute with press time. I sat through a press conference with him and the director Steve McQueen and the rest of the brilliant cast. And he was of course, fascinating. http://www.FascinatingFassbender.com is a website that is worth checking for all things up to the minute on Fassbender.

But at that press conference, he talked openly and freely and feeling about the character of the slave-owner Epps that he embodies so magnificently and so frighteningly in “12 Years a Slave.”

“I don’t see him as evil or a villain. I see him as a person. A businessman who is protecting his property.” I wasn’t taking exact notes, but it was words to that effect that sort of stunned people there when he said it. Because he seems to be the absolute embodiment of evil.

But an actor, a really good actor, and Fascinating Fassbender is a brilliant actor, ALWAYS has to humanize a character for himself and see the world through that character’s eyes, as he has so memorably done.

He was on Charlie Rose, too, with Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiafor(I think you can watch that on You Tube on http://www.youtube.com/CharlieRoseShow.) So he did A LOT of publicity, and he did it early and now has gone off to New Zealand to film “Macbeth” and HE’s playing yes, Macbeth.

He did a lot of press already and now he feels he’s done enough. After “Shame” everybody in Hollywood now knows who he is, and then when he didn’t even get nominated(I knew he wouldn’t. And said so. All that nudity and urinating on camera! i mean, it was riveting, but the SWORM, the Straight White Old Rich Men, who form the bulk of the Academy were shocked.) And he was devastated when he didn’t get nominated, and now in GQ he says he wants no part of the process, which he found humiliating and this time is going to sit out Phase I of the Oscar season, which is now upon us.

October, November and early December is when you build buzz and the Oscar campaign machinery begins to shift into full gear. Then the nominating ballots are sent out around the holidays and the nominations themselves are announced in January, which is the start of Phase II.

But after the nominations come out in January and he starts winning awards(how can he not? I mean, they ALWAYS award the white guy, even a villain, in a black movie, like they did just last year for “Django Unchained”s Christophe Waltz) and he’ll come back to pick up his trophies the same time Mo’nique did in Phase II.

And this year the Oscars aren’t being handed out til MARCH! Because of the Olympics, so it’s a super-long Phase II.

Like The Terminator, he’ll be back.

I predict these things.

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