Film Blog

12 Years a Slave – A Missed Opportunity?

posted by the hanging out team - Sunday, January 26, 2014

12 Years a Slave is adapted by screenwriter and novelist John Ridley and directed by Steve McQueen from a memoir written 150 years ago, by Solomon Northup.  It tells the true story of a black man born free in New York State, tricked, drugged and snatched off the streets of Washington and sold into slavery in the South.

There are great performances from all cast members with, Chiwetel Ejiofor holding on to the dignity of Northup, making the audience question what you would do if your freedom and power were taken away over night. Lupita Nyong'o makes a stunning debut as Patsey, a field slave who was born into slavery.

McQueen effortlessly draws you along the journey of the film with strong powerful visuals that tackle and immerse you into the ugly realities of slavery head on.

We get a well composed continued shot of Solomon's wondering face full of hope, fear and loss after a conversation with a sympathetic carpenter Bass, played by Brad Pitt, then his view falls onto the audience, engaging you into this moment of reflection on the journey he’s been through.

We also see Northup become the victim of an attempted lynching by his overseer, as he dangles from a tree by his neck, his toes scrabbling on the ground desperately trying to keep him self from dying. McQueen shoots this scene as a punishing long take from a distance. It’s length and intensity impresses on the audience a feeling of crisis.

The film has a very swift end, that feels rushed and I was left wanting more of Solomon Northup’s journey as a free man in New York. What was everyday life like for black people during that time in the free North? An opportunity was missed here to delve deeper into this story, as I think only then would the audience have truly been able to feel the real contrast between having freedom in one moment and then losing it all in the next.

You can watch 12 Years a Slave until the 30th January at the Rich Mix in Bethnal Green.

Elam Forrester, Hanging Out Project Writer

Django Unchained

posted by the hanging out team - Thursday, February 07, 2013

 image is copyright of the Weinstein Company

The name Tarantino brings with it some expectation when walking in to a screening of one of his films. Apart from the inevitable controversy, trailers, and interviews (including a particularly toe curling channel 4 one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrsJDy8VjZk) announcing its arrival, the very fact that it carries the name Tarantino meant I went into that cinema screening with rather a lot of presumptions; it was going to be violent, bloody, frenetic, and over the top, and, well, I wasn’t wrong.

‘Django Unchained’ is set in 1858 in the America’s Deep South just before the abolition of slavery. It’s a period in American history which seems to be getting some cinematic attention recently (courtesy of Mr Spielberg as well as a certain presidential vampire hunter), but Django is a very different beast from them both. The film follows a former dentist, now bounty hunter, Dr King Schultz, who buys the freedom of the slave Django to help complete a job. Along the way, the narrative turns to revenge as Django, aided by the doctor, enacts his vengeance on those white racists who’ve abused him, his wife, and other slaves in numerous different and brutal ways.

‘Django Unchained’ has its entertaining scenes including a particularly comic one in which the Ku Klux Klan struggle with the shoddily cut eye holes in their home made hoods. There are great performances; a brilliantly vile Leonardo DiCaprio chews up the scenery and sneers as he does so as the slave owner and business man Calvin Candie, and Christoph Waltz does a decent job as Dr. King Schultz. The mix-tape like soundtrack of contemporary pop songs woven in with the period setting works, and there are some tense moments, particularly in a scene round a dinner table, in which Dr Schultz and Django try to dupe the pernicious Mr Candie. The problem is these moments occur within a film which feels completely over-stuffed, and way over-long.

There are exciting, frenetic sequences of hyper, explosive, ‘watered-down-ketchup’ style violence where Django bloodies up his oppressors, but they sit uneasily with another type of violence. Slaves are tied up, whipped, abused, and ripped apart by dogs, and these moments don’t sit well alongside the stylized pulpy violence more familiar to Tarantino. Another irk of ‘Django Unchained’ is its use of racial epithets. The dialogue is peppered with that n-word, and contrary to the director’s claim, it doesn’t seem to me to be there for the purpose of historical accuracy (instead I imagine the gleeful grin on Quentin’s face as he wrote them in, “oh boy, oh boy, this is gonna make ‘em mad!”).

It’s unfortunate, because there is a better film in there somewhere, but ultimately ‘Django Unchained’ is too much; too long, and far too indulgent.

Showing now at Rich Mix cinema, click here for details.

By Nicholas Beer.

Recent Posts


Michael Fassbender Man of Steel black man Benghal Tiger Zanzibar Best Director Louisiana Madonna fieldslave Christoph Waltz CGI Rich Mix British epic cotton Black Friday Prometheus Solomon Northup Paul Giamatti west end pub Drama Taran Killam One Love nine Academy Award Hanging Out Project Scoot McNairy Deep South Jamaica Joseph Logsdon The Harder They Come freedom Chris Chalk Brad Pitt marek tarkowski John Ridley Devyn A. Tyler Joe Walker Rob Steinberg Slavery Memory Loss channel 4 interview Michael K. Williams Robert Redford Quvenzhané Wallis Jonah Robots of Brixton Benedict Cumberbatch Yvonne Deutschman Dementia Illustrator free North Quentin Tarantino African American tricked carpenter Bass Best Picture Christopher Berry freeman Saratoga Springs walk the line Factory Fifteen Kilburn Felicity Paul Dano screenwriter Patsey Sean Paul Science Fiction controversy Russell Crowe Kelsey Scott Sue Eakin Dede Gardner New Orleans Sean Bobbitt Kibwe Tavares novelist Adepero Oduye 1853 Regency Enterprises Michael Fanti Bill Pohlad Bryan Batt Stoker Frank Langella Ang Lee Henry Caville Platt HBO TV Magnolia Cameron Zeigler overseer Michael Shannon Bethnal Green Dwight Henry Hans Zimmer Garret Dillahunt Bob Marley Sly and Robbie Rick Elgood Alfre Woodard 2014 Golden Globes short film Writer Steve McQueen Slaves violence The Avengers Washington Brixton Riots Jamie Foxx 2013 Sundance Film Festival United States Jeremy Kleiner Peter Sarsgaard Richard Parker drugged Sundance Film Festival Lupita Nyong'o Don Letts Django Unchained Destrehan Britney Spears Elam Forrester Shaggy Morgan Heritage Robot and Frank Best Actor Sarah Paulson Arnon Milchan Poster Cherine Anderson The Life of Pi Superman Anthony Katagas true story Trevor D Rhone Leonardo DiCaprio revenge lynching violent historical 12 Years a Slave Wyclef Jean Bill Camp Ky-mani Marley film Sizzla Ruth Negga Bocage Bob Marley’s son Hanging Out Idris Elba Zack Snyder Jay Huguley Oscars memoir 150 years ago 50th Anniversary of Jamaica’s independence America long take New York State best motion picture Chiwetel Ejiofor Fantasy


    Business Hubs

    Tuareg Productions LTD
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space