The Top 10 Films of 2013

12 Years a Slave

12YAS-Poster-ArtSteve McQueen’s third film (following Hunger and Shame) and a bona fide masterpiece, 12 Years is an unflinching, uncompromising look at slavery in the American south. It’s painful and emotionally harrowing, and makes no attempt to make anyone feel good about not only this history but the long-reaching effects of it, which we’re still feeling today. 12 Years is not The Help, congratulating white people for ending racism in 1962. Instead it holds up a mirror to an ugly, unavoidable truth and asks only that we accept it and then figure out how to move on from there. It’s a beautiful film, almost lyrical at times, even for all the ugliness it contains. And with a central message of hope and survival in the face of soul-crushing despair, it’s one that, even though there are no easy answers, doesn’t give up on the possibility of healing. It’s not an easy watch, but it’s a necessary one. Continue reading “The Top 10 Films of 2013”

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CIFF Review: Blue is the Warmest Color and August: Osage County

Going to have to double up some of these reviews or else I’ll never be able to keep up. I’m already like, a week behind here. Anyway, I’ve seen two movies at CIFF that on the surface have nothing to do with one another but which ended up connecting in my mind, thanks to a series of tremendous performances. The French import Blue is the Warmest Color and the professionally lit talent show that is August: Osage County both revolve around top-notch acting, but what struck me about them is how each approaches acting from different angles, one completely naturalistic, the other mannered and theatrical. They’re both valid approaches for storytelling, and these two movies typify how differing ways actors work can be used to drive a narrative. Continue reading “CIFF Review: Blue is the Warmest Color and August: Osage County”