Twelve Years a Slave tells the true tale of Solomon Northrop, a freeman from New York who is drugged and betrayed and illegally sold into slavery in Louisiana of the 1850’s. There, stripped of his dignity and personhood, he endures the entire gobsmacking, nauseating gamut of white racism (from careless to sadistic), and survives, albeit barely, with a massive and insurmountable scar on his psyche.
It’s a fierce, burning film and absolutely necessary. It is brutal and razor-sharp and unstinting in its observations of white supremacism, and it gives the audience none of those characters Hollywood usually throws out as a sop for whites to identify with and to assuage their guilt. Continue reading “Twelve Years a Slave”
Poor Liam Neeson. With his travel luck, he should probably never leave home. After Paris, that thing in Berlin, Istanbul – oh and that flight from Alaska too – he’s now an air marshall on a flight from New York to London that’s in the process of being hijacked by a dastardly criminal who sends him text messages. So, doubted and thwarted on all sides, our Lee charges about the plane, socking passengers in the chops and generally taking names and kicking ass, until such time as he determines who exactly the bad guy is.
It’s all faintly ridiculous – not least because Lady Mary is working the aisles alongside Patsy the slave, and that bloke from Law and Order is actually flying the plane. But you know what? The quality of the supporting cast means they’re all suspects (Julianne Moore in a bit part? Rocking!), the action bundles along at such a pace that you’re not at all bothered by the incoherence, and Liam Neeson is Liam Neeson. Don’t expect Oscars, but do enjoy the ride.