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Posts tagged ‘Hunger’

At NYFF, ” 12 Years a Slave”s Magnificent Achievement Dwarfs All Others

“12 Years a Slave” I’ve never really seen anything like it. I feel it is one of the greatest films of all time, Simply one of the greatest films ever made and yes, I saw it first at TIFF, where it leveled all comers, and now over a month later at the NYFF, the impact is the same. Nothing has changed. It’s a month later and really there’s nothing going to stop it.

It won the Audience Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and this is just the first step in the many, many awards that are going to come its’ way. It’s seriousness makes “Django Unchained” look like a joke. And yes, it did win two Oscars. Both for the two white men who were nominated. Quentin Tarentino who got his second Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Christophe Waltz, who stunned all Oscarologists (EXCEPT Tom O’Neil at www.goldderby.com) who didn’t predict it. Waltz won of course for Best Supporting Actor.

This year it will be very, very different at the Oscars I predict. But if we look at the precedent being “Django” as the only other film in recent years to have Slavery as its’ main subject , the white guy in Supporting, this time Michael Fassbender, might just get lucky and win just as Waltz did. He’s playing the evil slave owner Epps, who prides himself in “breaking” troublesome slaves. Being sold to the Eps plantation is akin to being sent to Hell.

And Fassbender, who’s star has been on the rise for years now, mainly due to his other two collaborations with British director Steve McQueen, the harrowing “Hunger” where he lost something like 40 pounds as a Irish hunger striker, based on a true story and yes, also as the lead in “Shame” playing a slightly lighter topic as a sex addict, who is naked for sooo many of the scenes in that film. Also, he’s in “X-Men:First Class” and so he’s well situated to FINALLY be nominated for “12 Years a Slave” and he may win.

The film is certainly going to win Best Picture. Despite “Gravity”s overwhelming box-office achievement this weekend, I don’t think the Academy is ready to embrace 3-D, even yet. And since so many voting members watch the nominated films on screeners or DVD copies of the nominated movies, at home on their television sets, 3-D and certainly IMAX is going to look like not much of anything, compared with the gargantuan thrill it provides on the biggest of Big Screens. It should pass $100 million domestic at the box-office in the next week or two. At most.

But all this is to say that “12 Years a Slave” is going to look just fine on DVD. It’s a film of intense close-ups, and unflinching brutality. And of course, it takes a British director to finally tell the truth of this utterly American horror story that was slavery in the pre-Civil War South. McQueen could become the first Black director to win an Oscar. I think if they give it to the film they are going to give it to him, too.

And also his leading man,  the extraordinary British actor, Chiwetel Ejiafor, who as the freeman kidnapped and sold into slavery, is called upon to do things that no actor in the history of film has ever been asked to do before. He’s breathtaking! The levels of pain AND strength, the inner resources and resilience of spirit he brings to Solomon Northrup are astounding. And his and director McQueen’s intelligence inform every shot. It’s staggering in its’ immensity. But it’s all done utterly realistically and  with total naturalism.

The unimaginable atrocities that are depicted here are ALL TRUE.

And last but not least, we have to praise the Oscar chances, and the rise from complete obscurity of its’ ingénue star, Lupita N’yong’o, the young African-American actress, who plays Patsie, the beautiful slave who endures the most unmentionable cruelty, sexual and otherwise by Fassbender’s evil Epps. She will be nominated for Best Supporting Actress for sure, and will give Oprah Winfrey a run for her money in that category.

It’s overwhelmed all comers I feel at the New York Film Festival, just as it did previously at Telluride and Toronto. You see, nothing much has changed since audiences saw it in September. And oh yes, I have seen something like it before! It was also in the capable hands of Fox Searchlight and the name of the film was “Slumdog Millionaire” which debuted and wowed at Toronto and went on to wow the world and win every prize in sight, including the Oscar. It’s one of those kind of years. The word is unstoppable.

“X-Men:First Class” is exactly that! Michael Fassbender is a Magnetic Magneto!

Topping the box-office charts this weekend and packing the fanboys and everyone else in  is the “X-Men” pre-quel, now called “X-Men:First Class” and it really is a first class entertainment. An Action Hero flick with pyrotechnics galore. But it’s Irish actor Michael Fassbender as the most magnetic Magneto imaginable that powers this flick into the stratosphere. An actor I’ve admired greatly in many smart Indie films like “Hunger”, which was on my year’s 10 Best List that year,”Fish Tank” and many, many more. He makes smart choices and smart directors seek him out.

And here he is in the role he was born to play. I never thought of him as an action hero. I just thought of him as a very, very talented, but underappreciated actor. Although he works constantly, his really good work in a big film of two years ago “Inglorious Basterds” went pretty much unnoticed. He was also doing sword and sandal duty in “300” in a Supporting Role.

Supporting roles will no longer be something you see him in because he’s the real break-out star of this very well done popcorn movie. It’s NOT in 3D thank goodness. I hate those glasses. They sometimes make me quite sick.

And the lead in this film is James McAvoy as Xavier, and he and Fassbender really make the chemistry, the human, acting kind of chemistry, not just the CGI- kind these super-heroes are constantly capable of producing really work. There are ACTORS here! And the best of the younger generation I might add, and attention must be paid.

I will go see every sequel to this prequel from now on because their dynamic duo dynamism is dynamite.

Less successful, but I don’t rate her much as an actress anyway, YET is the least deserving Academy Award Nominee of All Time Jennifer Lawrence, who certainly nails the babe-licious part of this character, who when she turns blue and scaly, often sheds all her clothing at the same time. Since I don’t think she has much range ALREADY, the blue make-up, with the yellow CGI cat’s eyes, made her look like she was acting more than she actually was.

There was a certain poignancy that she exhibited as Mystique and she’s certainly easy on the eyes. And VERY TALL. That they kept pairing her with the much shorter James MacAvoy (she’s his adopted sister, or something like that), I kept wondering how many boxes he was standing on or how many holes she was standing in, to make them look equal in height. But they do! That’s one of the neatest special effects of all in this special effects laden movie.

I couldn’t keep who did which effect and who has what super power straight, there are so many mutants in this movie.

Oliver Platt plays the small part of one of the only humans in this mutant-filled movies, but his only super power seemed to be that he was simply fat. But at least he WAS a human.

Kevin Bacon seems to be having the time of his life as the villain of villains here. You really need a score card to keep all the Super Heroes straight in this movie. I’m not an X-Man addict, so I can’t parse them all and who they all turn into later. Although I do remember vividly Ian McKellen’s gleeful, older Magneto. An Action Hero At Last! At age 60 something!

And one of the indelible moments I have with Sir Ian, was when I was interviewing him in his dressing room on Broadway back in 2001 and he had a Gandalf figurine and a Magneto one, too, and he made them fight with each other! Hilarious! He was on Broadway with Dame Helen Mirren having a gay old time screaming at each other in one of Strindberg’s more strident pieces “The Ghost Sonata.”

And my favorite Michael Fassbender moment was when I was interviewing him for “Fish Tank” and I was the one who broke the news to him about the death of a mutual friend, the great Irish movie critic, Michael Dwyer, and how he nearly burst into tears, when he realized he was here in NYC and was missing the funeral that was taking place in Dublin.

Michael has a great, sensitive soul and will make a great, great movie star.

Unfortunately, both these interviews were for print, so I never got either of them on camera, for my TV show, but I look forward to many, many more with these two terrific stars,James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender acting their hearts out in and giving class to “X-Men:First Class.”

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